Jira Time Tracking Estimates: How to Turn on and Configure Them?

Tasks in Jira are not only vague descriptions of all the actions that must be performed in the project. They can also indicate the task's duration and compare it to reality - at least with Jira time tracking estimates. Here’s how to manage them!

Arkadiusz Terpiłowski


Timesheets & Time Tracking


How to configure and turn on Jira time tracking estimates?

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What are Jira time tracking estimates? 

Jira time tracking estimates refer to the Jira project management software feature that allows users to estimate and track the time required to complete tasks or issues. These estimates help plan and manage projects, allocate resources, and track progress.

What is included in Jira time tracking estimates? 

When creating or editing an issue in Jira, you can provide time tracking estimates using different units, such as hours, days, weeks, or story points (a relative measure of effort). The time estimates typically include the following:

  1. Original Estimate: This is the initial estimate of the effort required to complete a task or issue. It represents the best guess at the time of planning or creation.
  2. Remaining Estimate: As work progresses on an issue, the remaining estimate represents the estimated effort to complete the task. This estimate is updated regularly as the team better understands the work involved.
  3. Time Spent: This is the time logged against an issue to track the effort expended by individuals working on the task. It provides insights into how much time has been spent on a problem.
  4. Logged Work: Jira allows users to log work done on an issue, including the time spent, dates, and any additional comments. Logged work provides a detailed history of effort expended on the issue.

How to configure Jira time tracking estimates? 

What do I need to configure Jira time tracking estimates? 

You must have administrative access or project administration permissions to configure time-tracking estimates in Jira. If you have just an employee status, you won’t be able to to do that!

Configuring Jira time tracking estimates step by step 

To configure Jira time tracking estimates: 

  1. Select More in the upper right corner of the board of your choice and proceed to Board settings. 
  2. Select Estimation from the menu on the left side of the screen. 
  3. Adjust the settings by choosing to: 
  1. Use the Estimation Statistic to alert the way the issues are estimated on your board. 
  2. Should you want to track time in your project using different method, use the Time tracking section. 

Selecting None uses what you’ve defined as the Estimation Statistic to track progress, while selecting Remaining estimate and time spent tracks progress by subtracting the value from the Time spent field from the original estimate.

How to estimate an issue in Jira time tracking? 

To add estimates to Jira time tracking: 

  1. Find a backlog of your Scrum project. You must be an administrator or a project manager to do that! 
  2. Depending on the settings you have chosen while configuring Jira estimates, select an issue and enter an estimate in the Story points or Original estimate field. 

As your project progresses, the estimate will be compared to the time worked in the issue panel. Team members will also be notified about the time they have left to complete the issue - whenever they track time on that issue, they will see such information in their report. 

Jira time tracking estimates
Estimate showing the time left in the issue based on the Jira time tracking estimate

Additionally, you can use the same method to edit the time tracking estimates as you go - for example, when a scope creep surprises you. 

Jira time tracking estimates - common problems 

Jira time tracking estimate is not specified 

Sometimes, Jira time tracking estimate shows as not having been specified - just like in the picture below. 

Time tracking estimates in Jira
Jira time tracking estimate not specified 

To be able to create an estimate in such a case, you need to put the field Time tracking in Configure Screen option. Then, when creating or configuring an issue, remember to specify the original estimate in the dedicated field. This change will allow you to see both the estimated and remaining time in your issue panel. 

Jira time tracking - original estimate is required 

But what to do when an Original Estimate field is missing from your issue? 

The lack of Time Tracking field usually causes this problem. To add it to the issue: 

  1. Go to Issues and then Screens. 
  2. Select the screen scheme that's being used by the project.
  3. In this panel, you will be able to add and remove fields from your issues. In this case, you need to add Time Tracking field to the equation. 

However, if you still can’t see the Time Tracking data in your issue, you can access the project settings, then scroll to the bottom and click on the Field Configuration button. Then, find Time Tracking and make sure it was not hidden!

Can I use Jira time tracking estimates for long-term forecasts? 

Jira is a project management tool that focuses on a short-term perspective - for example, for sprints, weeks or months. However, while it excels in a more limited approach to planning, it is definitely not enough for the managers who want to get a bird’s eye view of their operations for the months or years to come. 

Jira time tracking estimates

What is a better choice for long-term estimates? 

Luckily for its users, Jira can be integrated with other tools that can expand its capabilities. Primetric is one of such tools.

Jira time tracking estimates - comparison

As you can see from the table above, Primetric is much better suited to providing the managers with key information they need to make critical decisions about the future of their business. 

For example, in the allocation below, you can see the exact extend of the task given to the employee in question, as well as their utilization compared to their assignment. 

Estimates for individual employees in Primetric
Allocation in Primetric with estimated utilization and costs

On the other hand, in Primetric you can also create the estimates for entire projects. Before they even start, you can calculate their costs or use the actual employees and their wages to assess the spendings on your side. 

Project estimates in Primetric
Project estimates in Primetric

Do you want to use Jira like a true expert? 

No problem - we have a wide array of resources that can help you do that. 

Go to Primetric blog and read about: 

Arkadiusz Terpiłowski


Arkadiusz is Head of Growth and Co-founder at Primetric. Prior to that, Arkadiusz was at the helm of his own software development company where he oversaw operations. A great enthusiast of process improvements, his personal mission is to make software companies more profitable and efficient on their path to growth.

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