Jira and Confluence are by far the two most popular collaboration tools in the Atlassian stack. Whether you’re a Product Owner, Scrum Master, or Developer, you will sooner or later work in company and team that uses these tools for its collaboration.
But if this is the first time you’re working with Jira and Confluence, it’s only natural to think to yourself, “Hmm… Are they the same thing? And if the answer is a resounding no, then how are they different?”
Welcome to Get Agile Right! For the answers to your questions, and the ones you didn’t know you wanted to ask, read on below.
So, are they?
To make a long story short: Jira and Confluence are not the same thing. Although both are tools from the Atlassian stack, Jira is for issue tracking and Confluence is for document management.
So you use Jira to manage your team’s work, and Confluence to document that work. Many companies and teams use the two tools together, but they can’t necessarily substitute one another and be used interchangeably.
To help you understand exactly how this work, let’s take a closer look at both of these software products to understand the purpose and use cases for each.
What Is Jira?
In its simplest form, Jira is a project management software.
A good way to think of Jira is as a more sophisticated alternative to Trello (which, as a side fact, Atlassian acquired in 2017 for the sum of $425 million United States dollars).
With Jira, you can set up a project and invite your team members to it, then start a backlog and get down to writing user stories, tasks, and any other items you may have on your line of work.
You can then manage that work cyclically, by running Scrum sprints, or continuously, by visualizing it on Kanban boards. Teams who really know their stuff can do both, and manage their work with Scrumban.
There’s also the technical side of managing your team’s work, like connecting your Git repository to your Jira project—and setting up DevOps triggers based on commits, branches, and pull requests, for example.
Some of the things that you can do in Jira:
- Manage your product’s roadmap and backlog
- Define, estimate, track, and visualize backlog items
- Plan and manage releases and sprints
- Visualize branches, commits, and PRs for each backlog item
What Is Confluence?
Confluence is a knowledge management software, a.k.a. wiki.
Think of Confluence as a collaboration suite, like Google Workspace or Microsoft Office, but on steroids.
With Confluence, you create a wiki space where every member of your team can create and collaborate on pages with documents, tables, charts, and links to your product roadmaps and backlog items.
You can then extend and edit those pages, leave and reply to comments, and tag team members to get feedback and keep others informed about announcements and updates.
Basically, if you use Confluence right, you will never need to create a single document, spreadsheet, or presentation again. A bold promise, I know, but trust me when I say that I’ve been part of companies and teams that have made this happen.
Some of the things that you can do in Confluence:
- Create wiki spaces for your teams and projects
- Document your knowledge and collaborate on it with others
- Tag team members and link out to roadmaps, backlogs, and backlog items
Which One Should You Use?
Use Jira if you need to break down your work on a product backlog and manage the flow of work in Scrum sprints or on a Kanban board. Use Confluence when you need to document knowledge on a wiki and collaborate on it with your team members and colleagues.