Confluence and Jira Software are both project management tools offered by Atlassian. Both can help teams get organized, share knowledge, and complete complex projects. But what are their differences, and how do they compare for different use cases? In this post, we’ll break down each tool’s strengths and weaknesses to help you decide which one is right for you.
Confluence provides teams with a place to write, edit, and comment on important internal documents. Anywhere from one to 10,000 people can collaborate in a single space. That’s impressive! Start using it for free today and get 2 GB of storage, unlimited spaces and pages, and room for up to 10 team members.
Jira Software helps teams of 10 to 35,000 run smoothly. The software makes planning and building new products easy, launching marketing plans, and managing finances—all from a central workspace. Like with most Atlassian products, you can start using it on the free-forever Jira Software plan for up to 10 team members.
Confluence and Jira Software Compared to the Best Project Management Software
We researched and tested a wide array of the best project management software to help you decide which one to use in your organization. Our top picks from that list are our Golden Eggs, which are solid alternatives to both Jira Software and Confluence in managing projects for various use cases.
ClickUp offers all the top-notch project management features you need at an impressively low price. Check out ClickUp’s free forever plan to get started.
Smartsheet brings teams who love Excel into the modern age, with several project views like Gantt charts that enhance sheet-based management of projects. Give Smartsheet a try with their generous 30-day free trial.
Confluence Compared to Jira Software
If you’re wondering what features Confluence and Jira Software offer, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s examine what these two project management tools can do for you.
Confluence is ideal for teams that are frequently collaborating on documents. The heart of Confluence is its spaces, each of which collects a set of documents or pages that your team works on together. Teams can choose from five types of spaces:
- Personal: organize your own notes, drafts, and goals
- Team: work together with others in one centralized, virtual location
- Software Project: keep track of a development project’s many moving parts
- Knowledge Base: build an internal wiki of best practices and SOPs for your team to reference
- Documentation: generate public-facing documentation to support your products or services
The pages you create within these spaces are stored on Confluence’s cloud, and you can control who has access to each page. Along with adding text to these collaborative documents, you can create tables, roadmaps, info panels, and much more.
If you’d rather not spend time creating your own pages from scratch, choose from over 70 Confluence templates for a quick start on common document and space types.
Confluence offers unlimited spaces and pages across all its plans. Depending on the plan you choose, you can also get 250 GB of cloud storage, software integrations for over 1,000 platforms, user permissions, team calendars, analytics, and automations.
Jira Software Highlights
Jira Software started as a way for software developers and IT professionals to track and fix bugs. It’s now a versatile project management suite with four main products:
- Jira Software: an Agile-based DevOps project management system specifically designed for software developers
- Jira Service Management: a customizable hub for incident management, asset management, knowledge management, configuration management, and customer service
- Jira Work Management: a broad project management tool complete with customizable projects, tasks, and subtasks, along with a calendar, board, and list views
- Jira Align: Jira Software’s project management solution for enterprise teams, ideal for managers and other top-level executives
These tools are designed to work individually or together, so you can choose the products that work best for your team.
For example, a small law firm could use Jira Work Management to organize all the work required to try cases across the team’s attorneys, paralegals, records clerks, legal secretaries, and IT managers. An IT manager could also use Jira Service Management to keep track of—and solve—IT issues.
In the same vein, an ecommerce store could organize product planning, sourcing, shipping, marketing plans, website development, content creation, and sales strategy across all its employees using Jira Work Management.
Confluence vs. Jira Software: Pros and Cons
Every software option you’ll look at is bound to have its strengths and weaknesses. Confluence and Jira Software are no exception. In this section, we’ll dig into where Confluence and Jira Software stand out and where they are lacking.
Where Confluence Shines
Knowledge base management: Gone are the days of referring to documents in a file cabinet or attempting to share folders stuffed with Word docs to dozens or hundreds of team members. Confluence keeps your team’s entire knowledge base in one easily accessible place. When someone on your team needs to see a company process, policy, or procedure, they can quickly access the document they need in your shared Confluence spaces.
Real-time editing: Whether you’re working remotely or collaborating side-by-side in the same office, Confluence’s real-time editing feature helps you and your team members stay on track. In-page comments, emoji reactions, GIFs, and likes make communication easy and fun. Automatic highlights allow you to see where your teammates are making changes. The Confluence dashboard also displays the most recently updated pages, along with internal blog posts you make to announce updates.
Integrations: As they’re both Atlassian products, Confluence integrates seamlessly with Jira Software. Our research showed that customers frequently use both products together—Confluence to collaborate on internal documents and Jira Software to manage workflows, IT issues, and software development. Confluence also integrates with a dizzying array of apps, from popular tools like Google Drive, Presenter, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, to more niche solutions like Loom, draw.io, and Gliffy.
Ease of use: With a handy user dashboard, drag-and-drop editing, and a clean, intuitive layout, Confluence is easy to learn. Your team won’t need to spend hours learning how to navigate the software. The quick start tutorial that Confluence provides when you first log in gives any user enough knowledge to start collaborating right away.
Where Confluence Needs Improvement
Sharing permissions: If you rely heavily on restricting documents to certain groups of people on a team, Confluence may disappoint. The brand’s permissions feature needs some fine-tuning. Setting permissions is a lengthy process, requiring you to add authorized users to a space individually. If you want to add more than one person at a time, navigate to the Groups feature, create a group of people, and add that entire group to a space. To create the same permissions settings for a new space, you must go through a lengthy copying process—even that isn’t available unless you purchase the Premium plan.
Workflow management: Unlike Jira Software, Confluence doesn’t provide users with a way to create projects, assign tasks, and manage due dates. Using Confluence together with Jira Software or a third-party integration solves this problem, but if you want to use Confluence as a standalone project management service, you’ll be disappointed.
Exporting documents: Even though you can export files to a Word document or PDF, the process can be time-consuming and formatting issues after conversion are common. If you need to export a Confluence document to PDF and share it with a client, for example, you might need to tinker with the export function for a long time before the PDF looks just the way you want it to.
Where Jira Software Shines
Supports Agile workflows: Workflows based on an Agile framework break complex projects into manageable tasks and subtasks. If this is your team’s favorite way to work, you’ll love Jira Software’s Agile workflow abilities. Organize your work into Kanban boards, roadmaps, backlogs, sprints, dependent tasks, calendars, and lists. With Jira Software, everyone on the team can easily keep track of multiple projects in different phases of completion.
Collaboration: Like Confluence, Jira Software excels at fostering communication and collaboration. You can start a comment thread inside each task box, tag team members to make sure they see the updates and more. This collaborative focus is present throughout all of Jira Software’s products. In Jira Service Management, for example, users can create support tickets and start a conversation inside each one. You can also watch a ticket or task by clicking the little eye icon. This means you’ll receive an update each time someone on your team makes a change or adds a comment.
Customization: Teams really want to stay within their preferred workflow format, and sometimes, various projects within one company require distinct workflows. With Jira Software, you can customize this for each project you and your team tackle. The task boxes within each project are customizable, too. You can add links, descriptions, labels, checkboxes, dropdown menus, numbers, dates, and people to each task box. This high-level customization is one of Jira Software’s greatest strengths.
Versatile: Between Jira Software, Jira Service Management, Jira Work Management, and Jira Align, teams in just about any field can use Jira Software. From law firms to software developers to construction companies, Jira Software can be molded to fit your needs. Each Jira Software product helps you collaborate with others, manage projects, and produce work that your clients will love.
Where Jira Software Needs Improvement
Learning curve: Jira Software can be a powerful tool for you and your team. But you might want to sign up for a Jira Software 101 course at your local university before you commit to the tool. We’re joking…mostly. It takes some dedicated learning time to figure out how to use all Jira Software’s tools. The interface could also be a little friendlier to the average user. Before you start using Jira Software, make sure you set aside a couple of days for you and your team to learn how to use it.
Searchability: When you create dozens of projects with countless tasks and subtasks, you probably want to be able to quickly search and find what you want. But Jira Software makes this unnecessarily difficult. You must learn Jira Query Language (JQL) to search for things within your Jira Software workspace. Even though Jira Software touts JQL as a flexible search method, it involves (again) a steep learning curve. Jira Software seems to be aware that JQL isn’t the most user-friendly way to enable searching, asking users not to be intimidated by the search language. But even their cheat sheet is confusing. Some things—like a product’s search function—are better left in a simple, familiar format that people already know how to use.
Mobile device support: If you get a task update notification in your email while you’re riding the subway, for example, you’d want to head to the Jira Software mobile app to take a look at how your project is progressing, right? Unfortunately, Jira Software’s mobile apps lack some of the features we love about the platform. Syncing takes much longer than it should. The layout of the app is different than it is on the desktop and web interfaces. Comments may or may not be automatically saved. App shutdowns are frequent. Long story short? Jira Software’s mobile apps need some serious love.
The Last Word on Confluence Compared to Jira Software
Confluence and Jira Software offer helpful project management tools for many types of teams. Confluence excels at helping teams build internal knowledge bases, while Jira Software shines at project and workflow management.
If most of your work is document-based, Confluence may be all you need. It’s much easier to collaborate on documents in Confluence than, say, Microsoft Word or even Google Docs. However, exporting these documents into PDF or Word documents once you want to share them with people outside your organization can be tricky. If you need workflow management, you’ll need to use Jira Software along with Confluence. Jira Software does a nice job of letting users customize and track every single part of a workflow, project, task, and subtask. It could be a bit more user-friendly, though, especially regarding the search feature.
Remember, Confluence and Jira Software are just two of the many project management software services you can choose from. See our favorite choices in our list of the best project management software.