Back to Basics Part 2: Why You Struggle to Connect Jira Software to Jira Align

October 19, 2023
Amanda Babb, Principal Solutions Architect

In our first article, we walked you through the Jira Software basics. The way Jira Software manages work hierarchy, prioritization, and planning is simple enough: your Boards run on making connections, ranking objects, and adding estimates. As with many things, once you and your organization understand the basics, then we can start talking about which exceptions are manageable and which exceptions will cause annoying downstream effects. 

In this article, we’ll review Jira Software guardrails and how they impact the integration with Jira Align. Atlassian has made significant strides in making the integration between these products more flexible. However, we must implement good governance when facilitating our work processes through our technology platforms. 

One Board Per Team 

In Jira Software, a Board is where the Team finds their work. All members of the Team go to the Board to find their individual work. All members of the Team look at the Epics in the Board, break out the Stories in the Board, estimate the Stories in the Board, and plan their Sprints in the Board. 

Why you have issues: 

  • Your Boards are Product-Based: Each board has multiple Teams contributing to the Product.
  • Your Boards are Project-Based: Each board spans multiple Jira Software Projects which change frequently. 
  • Your Boards are Program-Based: Each board has multiple Teams contributing to multiple Products and are used to manage capacity, not feature functionality. 

How to fix this: 

Re-align your Boards so that one Team uses one Board to plan and manage their work. This may take the form of leveraging Atlassian Teams, creating new Jira Software Projects to represent the Team (and add a Board to the new project), or you may choose to create a custom Team field to create Team Boards. Whichever way you choose, move only in-flight work to the new Project or Board. 

Why it matters:

The Team object in Jira Software is relatively recent. However, Teams have existed in Jira Align since its inception. Because of this, we need an object structure in Jira Software that represents where individual Teams complete work. Hence, the Jira Software Board. This is also the foundationof the integration with Jira Align: connecting Teams and Work to strategy.  

Clean Up Your Backlogs

In Jira Software, your Backlog is the list of prioritized work the Team is responsible for once the Product Owner has determined what the market and customers are looking for. The market shifts at least every quarter, definitely every six months, and absolutely every year. The Team is looking at the most recent market developments as reflected in their Jira Software Board. 

Why you have issues: 

  • Your Boards have Epics and Stories that have not been updated in at least 6 months. 
  • Your Boards have Epics that were completed and never officially marked as Done. 
  • Your Boards have Stories at the bottom of the Backlog that were abandoned but never resolved as Won’t Do. 

How to fix this: 

For Epics, mark them as Done. This removes them from the Board. If there are Stories connected to the Epics that have not been completed, transition the Stories to Done and set the Resolution as Won’t Do. This removes the Stories from the Board and sets the progress of the Epic to 100%. Then mark the Epic as Done.

If there are Stories that have not been updated in 6 months, transition the Stories to Done and set the Resolution as Won’t Do. This removes the Stories from the Board. 

Why it matters: 

Bringing junk data into any platform is a bad idea.This makes it more difficult to focus on what the teams are actually working on. Planning and prioritization become painful. Abandoned ideas, unclear requirements, and other junk data have to be sifted through before you can focus and the actual work can begin. 

Investing in organized data is key to connecting strategy and execution. When teams have access to high-quality data, they have a better understanding of their customers and can adapt products and services to meet their ever-evolving expectations. 

Using Sprints Inappropriately

In Jira Software, you can create a Sprint at any time. You can also create as many Sprints in a Board as you’d like. This is helpful for those running in a Sprint of Sprints or Planning Interval to ensure a given Team has planned all their work based on the market and customer needs determined by the Product Owner. 

Why you have issues: 

  • You create “bucket sprints” to manage Backlog Refinement and Prioritization because it’s too hard to look at the whole Backlog (see above). 
  • You use Sprints as Release or feature-functionality groups in your Backlog instead of Versions and Epics. 
  • You delete and recreate Sprints every time the Product Owner changes priority during Backlog Refinement. 

How to fix this: 

As mentioned above, mark Epics as Done and transition Stories to Done setting the Resolution as Won’t Do. This helps you right-size your Backlog and makes the board more manageable. Make the connection between Story and Epic and Story and Version. This also enables faster and more accurate reporting for the Team in the Board.

Focus on refining the Backlog using native functionality such as drag-and-drop and Quick Filters during Backlog Refinement. Clicking on an Epic and/or Version isolates the connected Stories to make refinement and estimation easier for the Team. 

Why it matters: 

Jira Align relies on structured time-boxes for planning and prioritization. Sprints roll up into Planning Intervals (or Quarters or Program Increments) to help you determine commitments to the business. Jira Align assumes each Jira Software Sprint represents an actual time increment with a related backlog of work. 

If a team uses “bucket sprints,” then Jira Align’s connector will attempt to insert the “bucket sprint” into a sequence of sprints belonging to a planning increment. This causes misalignment of the timeboxes and backlogs which leads to more confusion.

Advance Your Agile Transformation with Praecipio

At Praecipio, we’ve helped clients of all sizes untangle the technical debt of poor practices while also enabling users to follow best practices that drive enterprise agility. Combining Team-level Agility with Jira Software best practices is where Praecipio can help enable your Teams and Teams of Teams to put their best data forward. 

Want to know more about Jira Align? Check out this article to learn how to measure the success of your Jira Align implementation, and watch our on-demand webinar on how Jira Align enables data-driven decision-making.

Contact us to discuss your agility goals and how the Atlassian platform can help you improve performance outcomes. 

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