Atlassian’s Jira is an extremely powerful issue tracking and project management tool, but it’s not the world’s most intuitive piece of software. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, are pretty much the de facto standard for managing virtually anything in a business. It’s maybe no surprise then that there are already a couple of tools on the market that bring a spreadsheet-like view of your projects to Jira or connect it to services like Google Sheets.
The latest entrant in this field is JXL Spreadsheets for Jira (and specifically Jira Cloud), which was founded by two ex-Atlassian employees, Daniel Franz and Hannes Obweger. And in what has become a bit of a trend, Atlassian Ventures invested in JXL earlier this year.
Franz built the Good News news reader before joining Atlassian, while his co-founder previously founded Radiant Minds Software, the makers of Portfolio for Jira, which was acquired by Atlassian.
“Jira is so successful because it is awesome,” Franz told me. “It is so versatile. It’s highly customizable. I’ve seen people in my time who are doing anything and everything with it. Working with customers [at Atlassian] — at some point, you didn’t get surprised anymore, but what the people can do and track with Jira is amazing. But no one would rock up and say, ‘hey, Jira is very pleasant and easy to use.’ ”
As Franz noted, by default, Jira takes a very opinionated view of how people should use it. But that also means that users often end up exporting their issues to create reports and visualizations, for example. But if they make any changes to this data, it never flows back into Jira. No matter how you feel about spreadsheets, they do work for many people and are highly flexible. Even Atlassian would likely agree because the new Jira Work Management, which is currently in beta, comes with a spreadsheet-like view and Trello, too, recently went this way when it launched a major update earlier this year.
Over the course of its three-month beta, the JXL team saw how its users ended up building everything from cross-project portfolio management to sprint planning, backlog maintenance, timesheets and inventory management on top of its service. Indeed, Franz tells me that the team already has some large customers, with one of them having a 7,000-seat license.
Pricing for JXL seems quite reasonable, starting at $1 flat for teams with up to 10 users. Larger teams pay per user/month, with prices that go down to $0.45/user/month for licenses with over 5,000 seats. There is also a free trial.
One of the reasons the company can offer this kind of pricing is because it only needs a very simple backend. None of a customer’s data sits on JXL’s servers. Instead, it sits right on top of Jira’s APIs, which in turn also means that changes are synced back and forth in real time.
JXL is now available in the Atlassian Marketplace and the team is actively hiring as it looks to build out its product (and put its new funding to work).