Does Your Company Need a Jira Align Rescue?

July 25, 2023
Peter Jessen

Every business needs to make well-informed, timely decisions at multiple levels to adapt to changing market demands, but this kind of intelligent decision-making is only possible when data is aligned and connected across teams to the enterprise level. And that’s where Jira Align comes in. 

Jira Align increases visibility, coordination, and adaptability across an organization’s teams at all levels. For Jira Align to perform to its full potential, it needs to be handled with care. This means that Atlassian’s enterprise platform must be properly configured under the guidance of experienced, expert practitioners. 

When a Jira Align implementation is successful, organizations tap into the platform’s superpower of generating enterprise intelligence that shows how work tracks against strategic investments. With this insight, business leaders can make the informed, data-driven decisions they need to accelerate delivering value to the market.

However, not all Jira Align deployments go as planned. Maybe a company invested in Jira Align hoping to solve its software development planning issues. Or perhaps the data between Jira Align and Jira or Azure DevOps (ADO) isn’t syncing correctly.

Regardless of what the deployment-gone-bad scenario looks like, the good news is that in most cases, a Jira Align rescue is possible. In this article, we explore some of the main reasons why Jira Align implementations fail and how they can be saved.

Why Jira Align Implementations Fail

Usually when a Jira Align rescue is needed, it's due to a combination of people, process or technology factors there’s been a disconnect between an organization’s people, processes, or technology. Here are some of the most common cases where a deployment goes sideways:

  1. Your Implementation Team Lacked Experience With Jira Align

The most common reason for a Jira Align rescue is an inexperienced practitioner taking on the implementation. Jira Align is a powerful platform for achieving Agile transformation, but with that power comes the complexity of taking non-normalized, single-dimension data from Jira (or ADO) and transforming it into normalized, multi-dimensional Agile data and models.

When a practitioner doesn’t understand how to configure Jira Align correctly, it results in syncing issues, improper data models, and inaccurate reporting. It takes time to gain the expertise needed to configure and integrate Jira Align with an existing ecosystem.

This is why it’s important to work with an Atlassian Specialized Partner in Agile-at-Scale with a proven track record of successful Jira Align implementations. They understand the nuances of both Jira Align and scaling Agile principles across the organization. With their in-depth knowledge and extensive experience, they guide you through setting up Jira Align to drive value at scale. With over 20 years of combined experience with Jira Align, we’ve cleaned up several “failed” Jira Align deployments done by inexperienced practitioners. over the years. Sometimes the bad configuration is immediately obvious because of poor performance. Other times, it shows up as data not adding up.

In one example, an energy company relied on a first-time Jira Align practitioner who was still learning the platform. In another, a tech company was misled by a practitioner with much less experience than advertised. The configuration problems were obvious as soon as we looked under the hood – syncing issues between data in Jira and Jira Align, improper data modeling, and inaccurate reporting to name a few.

The good news is that a rescue is usually pretty straightforward in these cases – fix the implementation and train the people on how to take full advantage of Jira Align.

  1. Misunderstood Modeling & Standardization Requirements

The second most common implementation failure happens when an organization doesn’t understand Jira Align’s modeling and standardization requirements.

Jira Align requires standardization in key elements of the Agile process across teams and teams of teams (ARTs, Programs, etc.). The platform was built from the top down to support enterprise decisions-making, a design that naturally aligns with the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) since it is the most successful scaling framework based on adoption levels, value delivered, and case studies. However, Jira Align supports any scaling framework – custom or hybrid.

Any qualified practitioner knows that Jira (or ADO) must subordinate to Jira Align to unlock the platform’s enterprise intelligence.However, most clients assume that Jira Align can and must follow Jira’s non-normalized, non-object-based model. This common misconception leads to inaccurate data in Jira Align, causing syncing issues with Jira. When this happens, Jira Align will continuously wave red flags for these ongoing problems, which essentially boil down to poor user discipline and governance in Jira.

We’ve seen clients insist on making the platform accept non-standardized data from Jira – usually because of an urgent need for management to visualize data. They promise they’ll clean everything up later, only to face massive issues that could’ve been avoided with the right modeling requirements.

Fundamentally, you can’t expect a new “silver bullet” technology to solve all your problems without first  dealing with the people and process issues causing the problems in the first place.

But what happens when Jira Align is purchased for the wrong reasons altogether?

  1. Misinformed Purchasing Decision

People are a multi-faceted component of every Jira Align implementation. We’ve seen cases where key stakeholders decide to invest in Jira Align based on inaccurate information they’ve received or fail to ensure proper configuration after purchasing the platform. Unfortunately, without a partner who can help you change the hearts and minds of your leadership team, a rescue may be impossible.

We’ve seen several clients purchase the minimum number of 30 Jira Align licenses just to  use the platform, and then try to aggregate data from 1000 Jira users or more. This far exceeds Jira Align’s requirements, which is 250 active licenses to accommodate 1000 Jira users.  When this happens, it’s impossible to do what the platform was intended for: connecting strategy to execution.

This type of implementation can’t be rescued because there’s a disconnect between how the platform is designed and how business leaders want to use it. Jira Align is not built for old-school command-and-control management. When the platform is used daily and collaboratively across all teams, Jira Align supports robust visualizations that enable data-driven decision-making in real-time.

The disconnect in project management philosophy brings us to our last scenario where rescue can be difficult, if not impossible.

  1. Focusing on Top-Down Implementation

In many Jira Align implementations, the client wants to focus on modeling the strategy and portfolio levels of Jira Align instead of starting with the execution levels first. This is a problem because the platform is designed to work from the ground up. 

A big part of Jira Align’s value is its ability to improve alignment and visibility for all the teams and teams of teams that work together. Just like a skyscraper, any successful Jira Align implementation requires a solid foundation. This means starting with the team and program levels first.

There are many other anti-patterns related to people and Jira Align usage, all of which can be attributed to an inability to shift the organization’s mindset. Often, leadership’s failure to adopt a trust-and-verify mindset and properly understand the platform’s multi-dimensional value stream model results in an eventual need for a Jira Align rescue.

How to Save Your Jira Align Implementation

Fortunately, if your organization didn’t experience success with Jira Align due to one of these reasons, or another reason entirely, Praecipio is here to help. As an Agile-at-Scale specialized Atlassian Partner, our experienced and qualified experts know what it takes to unlock Jira Align’s powerful capabilities.

If your implementation needs rescuing, our seasoned Agile practitioners will analyze your Jira Align instance and determine how it needs to be reconfigured so that your organization can leverage the platform to connect strategy to work execution.   

If your Jira Align instance is not providing the value you had hoped for, reach out so that we can help you get the most out of your investment.

Looking for additional resources? Check out Amanda Babb’s collection of webinars, articles, and whitepapers for expert guidance on scaling Agile principles with Jira Align.

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