As a project manager, one of the common challenges in your day-to-day work is having to extract timely and insightful status updates from engineers. In my experiences, one-on-one or in daily standups engineers are very capable of explaining their current project trajectory provided you probe and question right, but having them put it on Jira or any other project tracking tool on a daily or even semi-daily cadence, is a different kettle of fish.
Absent of current and relevant information at hand, you won’t be able to navigate any risks to the project, resolve dependencies and communicate accurately to your stakeholders. So what do you do? It is all a matter of cultural engraining, but in my mind, there are two options, but both will entail getting rid of daily standups.
Daily Standups in Jira
Engineers already huddle over to provide answer their daily scrum 3-question ritual of 1) what did I do yesterday, 2) what will I do today, and 3) am I blocked on anything. In order to save time going around the table, an optimal approach would be to set a reminder in lieu of your daily standup, to have them update their tickets answering the three questions. This will alleviate them of the annoyance of having the entire team being blocked for 15 minutes (or even more!) and answering the same questions, and instead have them asynchronously and from the comforts of their chairs (or standing desks) provide the update in writing.
Converting daily standups into daily Jira updates, saves the engineers from being forced to verbally huddle in standups, and ensures project managers get written updates in a predictive and consistent manner.
Commit(ing) to Updates
Another idea may be to have the engineers engage in providing more meaningful updates earlier on, and this requires a bit of a re-working of how they code. By having a mechanism in place for engineers to ensure they commit to code at least daily, they can answer the scrum three-question status update in their git commits. Leveraging smart commits for Jira, the updates would then be synchronized with the ticket and provide project managers with the same high-fidelity insights, but without engineers having to engage in Jira, but stay within the confines and comfort of their terminals to provide commits and pushes.
Regardless of which option you advocate for, this is a cultural change initiative and you will have to sell it to the teams. You will have to explain why this would benefit both parties, how you will save them time in going to standup huddles and instead work from the comfort of their desks. Explain how this contract between you and the engineers will ensure stakeholders won’t hassle you.