When it comes to project management software, almost every technical team has tried Jira at some point. But talk to 99.99% of them, and they’ll tell you they have a love/hate relationship with the app.
Since its early days as a bug tracker, Jira has ballooned into one of the most feature-heavy tools available for managing projects. But all that growth has resulted in some serious growing pains. Jira can be overly complicated, too technical, and ineffective for managing modern software teams.
On the other hand, an open-source tool like Redmine is simpler to use, led by a community of passionate developers and project managers, and free to use. However, it’s missing the level of support and feature updates you’d expect from a modern tool.
In this guide:
There’s no easy comparison between the two. And if you’re here, you’ve probably already done your best to compare features, balance their pros and cons, and decide which project management tool is right for your team.
So, let’s skip the high-level feature explanations and price breakdowns and get down to what really matters. As a project manager or software developer, which tool is better: Redmine versus Jira?
Redmine vs. Jira: The basics
At first glance, Redmine and Jira feel like complete opposites.
One is an open-source project supported by a community of volunteers, while the other is run by a multi-billion-dollar corporation with close to 6,000 employees.
However, despite their wildly different business models, they ultimately have the same goal: make it easier to run projects.
Both Redmine and Jira are designed for project managers and include powerful issue tracking, support for multiple projects, reporting, and other critical planning and project management features. Yet, despite their similar features, they take different approaches to how to manage projects.
We’ll get into that below. But to start, here’s a quick rundown of the high-level facts about Redmine vs. Jira:
|Main use case||Designed for software development teams. Other tools like Jira Work Management can be used for non-technical teams.||Customizable and adaptable to almost any application.|
|Pricing||Starts at $7.50/month per user (limited free plan for small teams).||Free forever.|
|Agile-friendly||Designed for Agile teams using Kanban and/or Scrum.||Requires an additional plugin.|
|Apps and integrations||3,000+ available apps.||Small selection of 3rd party plugins for Agile boards, CRM, checklists, and more.|
|Customer service||Limited to local business hours (24/7 support for higher pricing tiers and Enterprise plans)||Forums and community wikis only.|
|Standout features|| || |
Both tools are also regularly updated. So, it’s not worth it to list all their features here. Instead, check out their respective sites for the most up-to-date information–Redmine and Jira.
Looking for a tool that gives you the best of both Jira and Redmine? Try Planio for free for 30 days. (Or scroll to the bottom of the post to find out why Planio could be the best option for you!)
Jira 101: What you need to know about using Jira on your team
Let’s start with the basics of why 65,000+ companies use Jira.
To start, Jira is built for Agile and Scrum projects. With more and more development teams following the Agile methodology (or some version of it), many choose the tool that feels most made ‘for them.’
Yet, while Jira is designed for a specific use case, you can customize it for your workflows using the thousands of available third-party apps. There are Jira apps for everything from simple checklists to automatic cost tracking and test management.
Finally, for managers, Jira comes with more than a dozen Agile reports ready to go, including burndown charts, sprint reports, cumulative flow diagrams, and more.
As expected from a massive company with tens of thousands of customers, Jira is loaded with features. However, taking an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to a project management tool has its downsides.
Jira cons: The biggest complaints about Jira
Jira clearly does a fantastic job as an issue tracker and seems to be designed for technical teams. So, why do so many developers treat it as another four-letter word?
1. Jira is designed for project managers, not developers
Pretty much every project management tool is optimized for the planning stage of the project lifecycle. But once you start development, they become less valuable and can even become a roadblock when you need real-time feedback on code or to make critical decisions.
As you move from planning to actual coding, the responsibility to keep Jira updated shifts to developers. Manually updating issues is a pain. And trying to add more fidelity through subtasks or cloned issues is a mess.
As Justin James, Chief Architect at Cloud Development Resources, puts it:
“Jira has never once made my life as a developer easier or better… it’s overly complicated, and the workflow is painful.”
While this is a downside of almost every project management tool, Jira’s strict Agile-influenced workflow makes the issue even worse.
2. Jira defines your process – not the other way around
Jira is designed almost exclusively for technical teams using Agile development. However, ‘Agile’ means different things to different teams.
Agile purists say Jira is a step backward as it consolidates decision-making and is overly complicated. While those who are just trying to use Jira to jump on the Agile buzzword train are committing their teams to a process that might not be right for their goals.
It’s hard to change Jira once you’ve set it up–especially on a larger team. And instead of being truly agile, your team ends up stuck trying to fit their unique working style into a process they didn’t agree to.
As Dzmitry Hryb, who writes Jira usage guides, writes:
“...having all the configuration power in a single pair of hands isn’t the best choice when a team needs to implement changes to their Jira project.”
3. Jira is complicated
Project management tools are meant to bring order to the millions of moving pieces that make up a project. However, over the years, Jira has become bloated with features, apps, and customizations that make it more confusing than helpful.
Projects. Boards. Issues. Subtasks. Backlogs. Reports. System and custom fields. Workflow status and transitions.
In the right hands, these are valuable tools. But as many users complain, Jira is too customizable. And with many junior project managers trying to make their mark by defining a specific process, you end up with a complex system that only slows your team down.
Taking an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to a project management tool has its downsides.
4. Jira perpetuates synchronous communication
Teams thrive when they communicate asynchronously. And while it seems like Jira would help your team break out of the cycle of synchronicity, it often does the opposite.
Complex Jira projects are almost rarely up to date. And so when a PM needs an update or is trying to answer questions from an upset stakeholder, they need to go straight to the source.
As Dan Lines, founder of LinearB writes:
“Why doesn’t the exec or the PM just look at Jira? Because it’s not up to date. Why? Things change so rapidly that, in order for Jira to be up to date, engineers would need to constantly manually update tickets.
“One engineering manager told me recently that even teams he’s worked on that really care about Jira hygiene only capture about 60-70% of their real work activity. Most teams are closer to 50%.”
5. Jira is slow to use (poor performance)
Despite working with some of the biggest companies in the world, Jira is notoriously slow to use. Scaling any product is difficult. And while Jira has prioritized speed in new releases, it’s clearly still an issue. Just look at the top Google autofill suggestions when you type in ‘Why is Jira…’
Redmine 101: What you need to know about using Redmine
While Jira has grown into an industry powerhouse, Redmine has quietly grown and maintained a loyal fanbase.
First launched more than 15 years ago, Redmine has since been adopted by everyone from startups and agencies to Fortune 500s and academic institutions like Oxford University.
As an open-source project, Redmine isn’t ‘owned’ by any company. Instead, it’s freely available and updated by a community of volunteers.
(At Planio, we’ve been dedicated members of the Redmine community since almost the beginning!)
If you’re unfamiliar with open-source projects, this might sound a little intimidating. Why choose a group of volunteers over a massive company?
First off, Redmine’s community is obsessed with security and fixing bugs. Rather than chasing features or taking on technical debt to bring in bigger shareholder returns, Redmine’s product decisions are made by actual users, not executives. This means they’re more focused on stability and ease of use over growth at any cost.
So what does that look like in practice?
Teams choose Redmine because it’s simple to use, has an intuitive interface, and offers just enough customization and flexibility to work for any project without being overwhelmed with options (like in Jira).
Redmine is also free to use. However, you’ll need to sort out your own hosting and handle setup and maintenance yourself.
Also, thanks to being open-source, Redmine’s code is freely available to its community, who often spot and fix bugs often much quicker than at larger companies.
Redmine’s community is obsessed with security and fixing bugs. They’ll choose stability and ease of use over growth at any cost.
Redmine cons: The biggest complaints about Redmine
Redmine users love the project. However, it’s not for everyone. Here are a few of the major complaints about using Redmine.
1. Open-source, so there’s no ‘on demand’ support
The biggest complaint about using Redmine is that there’s no real-time support. As an open-source project, support is handled through community wikis and forums. This means that if you’re not technically savvy, there’s nowhere to turn when something goes wrong.
2. ‘Free to use’ doesn’t mean free to run
Even though Redmine is technically free to use, you still need to either self-host and maintain it or pay for a hosted version like Planio. This can quickly add up at larger companies as you need an administrator or someone in the IT department responsible for keeping Redmine working properly.
3. The interface is outdated
Redmine is more concerned with functionality over aesthetics. And it would be a lie to say its interface doesn’t feel outdated. However, it’s a powerful tool if you can look past the lack of modern fonts and fancy UI.
4. Missing core features for Agile teams
While Jira has issues because it was built for Agile teams, Redmine has the opposite issue. Redmine doesn’t come out of the box with Agile features like Kanban boards or sprint planning.
Instead, these features require additional plug-ins. Alternatively, you can use a hosted Redmine solution like Planio that includes Agile boards and features.
5. Installation process can be a pain for beginners
There’s no denying that setting up Redmine takes effort and might be beyond the technical skills of many project managers. While other options are available, you should be aware that the initial set-up can be complicated.
Need help? We’ve written an ultimate guide on how to get started with Redmine.
So, is Redmine better than Jira?
Who wins the battle of Redmine vs. Jira? It depends on who you talk to.
Redmine is easier to use and has better performance, but suffers from a lack of dedicated support and not being Agile-oriented from the start.
At the same time, Jira has a more modern interface specially designed for Agile teams, yet is more expensive, clunky and slow at times, and can feel restrictive for teams that use a workflow that’s different from Jira’s ‘typical’ use case.
Each app comes with tradeoffs. But what if there was an option that gave you the best of both worlds?
7 reasons to consider a hosted Redmine solution (Planio) instead
If you’re excited by the ease-of-use, flexibility, and security benefits of Redmine, but are scared off by the lack of dedicated support, dated UI, and maintenance responsibilities, a hosted Redmine solution like Planio could be the best of both worlds.
Planio is built off the Redmine platform, which means you get the same attention to detail from the community of Redmine supporters. However, you also get access to a dedicated support team you can call, email, or message, and new features based on the latest versions of Redmine.
While paying for Planio means you’re not getting Redmine ‘for free,’ the added features more than make up for the minimal cost:
1. Out-of-the-box Agile support
Planio comes loaded with a Kanban-style Agile board and sprint planning features that make working in an Agile manner easy. You can create custom boards, drag-and-drop issues as you work through them, and track progress using Agile reports. (Planio is also built for traditional project management as well with Gantt charts and timeline views!)
2. Support and security
Planio is run by a small team of developers that is always ready to help talk you through issues or fix problems. Plus, as official members of the Redmine Security Team, we’re first to know about potential vulnerabilities and can implement fixes before they even become public knowledge.
3. Team chat, cloud storage, and more collaboration tools
Planio takes the basics of Redmine and updates it for modern teams. We’ve included a suite of integrated collaboration tools like team chat, cloud storage, and even hosted Git and SVN Repositories.
4. Powerful search and filtering
One of the bigger complaints about Redmine is its lack of advanced search options. As projects get complex, Planio allows you to quickly find the data you need by filtering search queries and issues lists.
5. Customizable workflows
Planio is customizable for how you work. Rather than making you stick with a pre-defined process, you can create custom role-based workflows that work with your team.
6. No maintenance to worry about
Planio is the #1 rated hosted Redmine solution. You’ll get Redmine updates automatically without any effort, and know that you’re always on the latest version.
7. Seamless data migration
Although switching tools can be expensive and time-consuming, the engineers at Planio (the same ones who build Planio!) are happy to migrate your data for free meaning there’s no hassle or cost for you! We’ll work personally with you to get your data out of Redmine or Jira and organized securely in your new Planio setup in no time.
And speaking of data, Planio is committed to protecting yours. We store your data in the highest-rated facilities in Germany with redundant off-site backups.
Want to know if Planio is right for you? Get in contact!
When it comes to Redmine vs. Jira, you’re not just stuck with two options.
And while there are hundreds of different project management tools available, we believe we’ve created something truly special with Planio. And we’d love to show it to you.
You can sign up and try Planio free for 30 days (with no credit card!) Or, get in contact to talk about how Planio can help!