Rachel Wright on episode 10 of The BEST ITSM Show by Appfire

“What’s the difference between Jira Service Management (‘JSM’) and Jira Software?” Find out in this episode of Appfire Presents: The Best IT Service Management Show by Appfire.

Jira rockstar Rachel Wright joins Appfire’s Kerry O’Shea Gorgone to explain Jira Service Management (“JSM”) vs. Jira Software. We cover feature differences between the two, who should use each program, and some other Jira options that might work for you depending on the work you and your team do.

About the guest

Rachel Wright is an entrepreneur, process engineer, and Atlassian Certified Jira Administrator. She wrote The Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, and The Ultimate Guide to Jira Migrations: How to Migrate from Jira Server to Data Center or Cloud. She’s also a speaker, an Atlassian Community Leader and author of courses for new and advanced Jira admins and users.

She started using Jira and Confluence in 2011, became an administrator in 2013, and was certified in 2016 (the first year you could actually get certified). She’s the owner and founder of Industry Templates, LLC, which helps companies grow, get organized, and develop their processes. Rachel also uses Atlassian tools in her personal life for accomplishing goals and tracking tasks. She wrote her first book, the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, in Confluence and tracked her progress in Jira!

About the show

The BEST ITSM Show by Appfire brings you expert insights for IT service delivery, so your employees and customers have what they need to succeed. Get the right tech and tips for the right job at hand. Look like you’ve come from the future with all your new ITSM smarts. Every episode is a brisk 10 minutes—less time than it takes to provision a laptop or troubleshoot a tech support issue.


For your convenience, here is the transcript of this episode:

What’s the difference between Jira Service Management (“JSM”) and Jira Software?

Kerry:  Today we’re going to tackle the question what is the difference between Jira Service Management and Jira Software. To help us is Rachel Wright, entrepreneur, process engineer, Atlassian certified Jira administrator, author of The Jira Strategy Admin Workbook and The Ultimate Guide to Jira Migration. If anybody can help us with this, Rachel can.

Rachel, help, what’s the difference between Jira Service Management (JSM) and Jira Software? 

Rachel:  You know Jira is my favorite topic, so I love talking about this stuff. Jira has been around for almost 20 years now. When we got started, there was kind of one flavor of Jira, it ran on the server. 

Then around 2015, they started creating different application types. We went from Jira Core and Jira Software, the Core was renamed to Jira Work Management, and that is targeted more toward business entities at the organization, and then Jira Software is for software development with specific features for teams to help them check code, progress with the projects they’re working on. 

Jira Service Management, which used to be called Jira Service Desk, is the newest version, and that is tailored specifically to support teams. All of these work together, which is the great part.

Kerry:  Which one is Jira? When people just say Jira, which one do they mean?

Rachel:  I call it regular Jira, which that’s not a real thing, that’s just what I call it. That’s Jira Work Management today.

Kerry:  Jira Work Management, which is a different thing. 

Rachel:  It’s all the same application. It’s more features for different audiences built on top of Jira.

Kerry:  Okay. Jira Service Management, what are some of the features it has that make it specific to its audience? 

Rachel:  The first great thing is that it has a customer portal, so your non-technical users, or maybe your external users, can login to a very simple interface and request everything they want. They don’t have to be Jira users, you don’t have to license them, and they don’t have to know anything about software at all. It’s just like filling out any form on the web. So, that’s very popular. 

Also, it integrates with Confluence as a knowledge base if you have Confluence, so sometimes users can self-solve their problem without having to enter a support request.

Kerry:  That’s always preferable if people can fix it themselves.

Rachel:  Absolutely.

Kerry:  Are there more, or that’s pretty much the distinguishing features? 

Rachel:  Oh, there are so many more.

Kerry:  We only have 10 minutes. 

Rachel:  I know. We’ll get as many as we can in. There are great features targeted toward the support team as well. Those are the agents who fulfill the requests, or sometimes they call them the technicians. They have a different view that is specifically support related. They are in Jira, it looks like Jira, but there are some different features. Service level agreements, for example, to tell them how quickly we promised as a company that we were going to resolve this issue versus that issue. 

Also cues, which are very similar to filters, it uses JQL, but they’re shared between the entire team. Then really nice, you can custom brand the emails that your customers get sent, and you can custom brand the language that is used for them, too. It’s really customer-focused and it’s just great to use. It’s so nice that companies don’t have to have two separate applications and make them talk to each other, you can just have everything looking like Jira.

Kerry:  That’s Jira Service Management, JSM. Okay. Then Jira Software, what do we have in Jira Software that is unique to that user base?

Rachel:  They’re doing different kinds of work. Actually, sometimes when a support request comes in from a customer, you need the help of a developer. Maybe some code is needed, so you link those issues together. The developer works in Jira Software, the support agent works in Jira Service Management.

Special features for the developer are integration with build tools like Bamboo or BitBucket. They have sprints, so they can track how much work they’re completing. Story points, so they can estimate in a different way that’s not time specific, it’s a relative measurement.

Kerry:  Based on effort, right? 

Rachel:  Right. Those boards are so popular. Everybody loves having their board. They login in the morning and they see where all of their stuff is. That’s a great status-based view where you see your work in columns based on how far along it is in its lifecycle.

Kerry:  If you could have your perfect Jira, what features would be in it, just Rachel’s Jira? 

Rachel:  This is a strange idea, and they’re kind of moving toward this. I would have Jira and Confluence be one application. 

Kerry:  Jonfluence or Cira? 

Rachel:  I like Jonfluence, that’s good. They’re integrating, so today you can create Jira issues from Confluence, you can create Confluence pages from Jira, but it’s definitely a different experience. I think it would be great if for the technical audience it could just be one application that is built right in natively.

Kerry:  That’s your wish list for the future? 

Rachel:  Yes. Never going to happen, but it’s a great wish for later.

Kerry:  You mentioned there are other versions of Jira for other audiences. Can you tell us about just a couple of them?

Rachel:  Sure. We have the three what I call application types, so Jira Work Management, Jira Software, and Jira Service Management. Then within Cloud, we have four different plans that have different features. There’s the free version, standard, premium, and enterprise. In addition to that, we have two other deployment types of server, which we know has been decommissioned but is still around for a while. And Data Center.  

You put those all together and there’s really a lot of options out there of how you want to use it and what you want to do with the software in your specific situation and environment.

Kerry:  That’s before you start putting apps into it. 

Rachel:  Right.

Kerry:  Appfire obviously has a lot of apps that can help you customize it and make it do things like manage your SLAs, for example, or create automations with canned responses that go out. There’s tons you can do in addition to the native functionality of any of these.

Rachel:  Absolutely. Or chat live with the customer who is submitting the support request. That’s the beauty of this whole platform, this whole ecosystem. If Jira doesn’t do it natively, somebody has written an app that does it, and you can bring that in very easily.

Kerry:  Then it’s really just a question of not so much which one is the real Jira, but which one is the Jira for your specific team. 

Rachel:  Right. And they all work together. It’s not like you have to have them all or you can only have one. They all work together. They’re targeted toward different use cases and different teams. 

For example, the business view. Business teams aren’t doing sprints, probably, and they’re not estimating their work in story points, so that stuff is not front and center for them. They have different views that are simpler. There are some new interesting views in Cloud, like a calendar view and a timeline view. 

It’s really purpose-built. That’s exciting to see. 

Kerry:  So, it all comes down to what the end user is going to need to use this for, which is what we should all be thinking about all the time anyway, how to make the end user’s life easier.

Rachel:  Absolutely. Yes.

Kerry:  Rachel, thank you so much for clearing that up for me. It’s a silly question that I had. Thank you. I appreciate that you’re always so gracious. Thank you. This is The Best ITSM Show by Appfire. For more episodes, visit Hub.Appfire.com. We’ll see you next time.

Last updated: 2022-06-26

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