ProForma Forms vs Jira Custom Fields
Before we jump into how to create forms, let's consider why we need them. Business teams need to collect specific pieces of structured data in order to carry out their processes. Forms are the best way to do this because:
- Forms allow teams to collect exactly what they need.
Jira was created for software development and collects the information developers need. That's not particularly useful to your Finance team, your HR team or your Marketing tea.
- Forms free you from the need for custom fields.
Remember, Atlassian has identified the number of custom fields as the top factor that can have a negative impact on Jira performance.
- Teams can build their own forms.
No need to heap more work on an overburdened Jira administrator, or try to translate business-speak into IT lingo. Forms put control over data collection in the hands of the people who use the data.
How to Start Creating Forms in Jira with ProForma
A user with Administer Project can easily begin creating forms by navigating to ProForma Forms under Project Settings. Once you’re in, you have the option of going to the template library to install ready-made templates, or creating a form.
We hope that you will check out the template library at some point, as a large array of forms and JSD process templates (a request type, portal form, workflow, and any needed secondary forms) are available to expedite your work.
For now though, let’s assume you want to create a new form. Click on +Create Form. A window will pop up giving you several options. You can start from a blank slate, make a copy form you have previously created and alter it to become your new form, or select a form from the template library and alter it to become your new form. (Note that selecting a form from the template library at this point does not mean you are installing the template. It merely means that you will be adding the form to your project.)
There are two reasons you should consider starting from a copy of an existing form:
- It will save you time. In the long run, well-designed form will save time for both customers and agents. But building forms can be time consuming, so give yourself a head start.
- It will help ensure standardization. If your forms use a consistent layout and wording, then your users will know what to expect and will find it easy to fill out your forms correctly.
What to Include When Creating Business Forms for Jira
The ProForma form builder will open once you’ve selected your starting point. Now it’s time to build your form. A few things to consider:
- Follow the Golden Rule of form building - Ask for everything you need, but nothing more. The goals is one-touch service. Collecting the right information, the right way, will mean you can respond to the request without wasting time going back and forth to pick up the missing pieces. Don’t ask for information you’re not going to use. Your users have better things to do with their time.
- Break your form up into sections. This will make it easier for the user to follow your logic and provide you with the information you need.
When it comes to creating your form questions, there are several things to remember:
- Use clear, concise and standardized wording. Leave out the “please”. Too much clutter on the screen can be visually overwhelming and confusing for your users.
- Beware of double-barreled questions. If you create a paragraph type question and ask the user to include three things in their answer, chances are you won’t get all three. You’d be better off creating three different questions.
- Use choice lists when you can. ProForma allows you to create combo boxes, radio buttons (single choice) or check boxes (multiple choice). If you’re asking users to choose a category and you want to aggregate the results later, these are much better options than an open-ended text field.
- Set validation rules. Another key to one-touch service is making sure the form is complete before it’s submitted. Set fields to “required” as appropriate. You can also use validation to enforce your business rules (ie. you are only allowed to request $50 or less in petty cash).
- Use the description property. Each question allows you to put in a description that will appear below the field. If the question is a bit obscure, you might want to put in an example so the customer knows what you’re looking for. You can also use this property to let the user know about any validation rules (ie. “Up to 250 words”).
- Think about reporting. If there are fields on the form that you will want to query for or report on later, consider linking them to a Jira field. This could be an existing Jira field or a custom field you create for this purpose.
What You Don’t Need to Include on Jira Forms
Since your forms will be attached to Jira issues, some fields that are traditionally included on paper, Word or PDF forms might not be necessary:
- Jira will automatically record the date/time the form was submitted so there’s no need to include those fields on the form.
- Jira also offers multiple options for approvals. Under any of these scenarios, Jira will record who gave the approval and when.
- Depending on the process, you probably do not need to create fields to record the outcome of the request. After all, that’s why you’re doing this in Jira. You can see what happened (or didn’t) by checking where the issue is in the workflow.
In cases where there is more information that needs to be recorded (internal documentation, justification for approving/not approving a request, etc,) you have the option of creating additional forms which can be added to the issue as needed.