10 min read

How To Decide Between Cloud and Data Center

By Praecipio Consulting on May 19, 2022 9:30:00 AM

Everything is Easier to Manage in the Cloud_Featured

Software and data have become the most valuable resources for modern businesses. As such, a central part of your overall business strategy should be fully harnessing the infrastructure on which you host your applications and data. Identifying the right hosting platform – like Atlassian, AWS, or another – enables organizations to remain flexible. It helps them scale successfully, meet their objectives more quickly, and respond with agility to business trends.

Not all businesses are created equally, which is why a “one-size-fits-all” hosting solution doesn’t exist. 

In this article, we’ll compare the benefits and drawbacks of hosting on the cloud vs. on-premises and specifically related to Atlassian Cloud vs. Data Center. Additionally, we provide insight to help you make an informed decision about which is the best fit for your business.

Cloud Versus On-Premise Data Center

Cloud software is hosted on a third party’s infrastructure and is accessible to an organization through a web server. The underlying hardware is often widely geographically distributed and complies with global regulations.

Traditionally, on-premise software was installed locally on data centers run by the organization. This model of data center has evolved to include “on-premise” data centers that use hybrid or outsourced infrastructures, including co-located servers running your apps, VMs, or private clouds. Although the servers aren’t on a company’s premises, the hardware is physically accessible and on-premises that you can visit and inspect.

Atlassian offers both categories of products for enterprise teams: Atlassian Cloud and Atlassian Data Center. First, let's introduce the options.

Atlassian Cloud

Atlassian Cloud is a delivery model for Atlassian products that host software on Atlassian’s globally distributed infrastructure. It enables your company to stay agile and invest more in your core business by freeing up your resources from having to manage security, upgrades, and maintenance. 

Atlassian offers a suite of collaborative tools to get work done at scale in a hosted environment. These tools include Jira Software, Jira Service Management, Trello, Confluence, and Bamboo just to name a few.

Atlassian Data Center

Atlassian Data Center is a self-managed solution that lets you control product hosting, ensure maintenance, and perform version upgrades yourselves. Unlike Atlassian Cloud, your company is responsible for managing security, upgrades, and maintenance, but you have the access and flexibility to build a custom-tailored solution. Atlassian Data Center also offers a similar suite of tools for teams to the one available on Atlassian Cloud.

In early 2021, Atlassian began the process of ending support for Atlassian Server, leaving Data Center as the only self-hosted option for organizations joining the Atlassian platform. Organizations with existing licenses can continue to use Server, but support for Atlassian Server products is scheduled for early 2024.

Breaking Down Pros and Cons

Let’s discuss the differences in control and support, ease of deployment, and cost benefits between hosting software in the cloud and on-premise.

Control and Support

Cloud environments are managed by a vendor that offers support, monitoring, and built-in reliability functions. These environments are highly available and can be set up quickly.

On-premise hosting, on the other hand, is controlled by the organization. This means that you can customize your systems and choose which tools to deploy. But this also gives you or an external partner the responsibility of managing them effectively.

Ease of Deployment

Atlassian Cloud and Data Center both present unique challenges when setting up infrastructure.

Cloud infrastructure is the simpler option when starting fresh with a new instance, but any other type of migration requires more careful planning and preparation. Setting up the new instance is normally simple, as it only requires you to sign up for a subscription, choose your configurations and then your new software is in place almost immediately and Atlassian takes care of any installation.

However, if you need to migrate an existing instance — which entails your users, apps, and data — you’ll be balancing cost, downtime, and complexity. We don’t recommend doing a cloud migration on your own, so it’s important to bring on an Atlassian Solution Partner to help successfully guide you through the migration process. 

In contrast, deploying applications on-premise involves setting up new hardware or configuring your existing hardware before you install any software. It also requires you to perform maintenance on your hardware and ensure software is updated and patched.

Even if you choose to deploy your application on a non-clustered architecture, much of this work is time-consuming and requires additional specialized staff. A more complex setup provides all the performance, scalability, and reliability you’d expect from a clustered architecture, but demands a correspondingly greater investment and more work.

To successfully deploy on-premises, you need to hire staff — not only to build and deploy your infrastructure but also to maintain it and ensure it meets regulatory requirements. You then need to document and benchmark your existing processes before optimizing your application.

Testing your deployment is the most intensive part of a deployment or migration. It can take 3 to 6 months to fully test your application for functionality, performance, and integration, after which your team is then responsible for ongoing infrastructure monitoring.

If you decide to hybridize your Data Center infrastructure, you can deploy Atlassian Data Center via cloud hosting infrastructure, like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Although this removes the burden of physical server maintenance, migrating is still a work-intensive and lengthy procedure.

Cost

Cloud service models free you from the expense of hardware, software, and additional IT professionals. Many businesses, especially startups and small companies, choose this option for its low upfront cost. Cloud hosting’s excellent scalability and high availability are expensive features to achieve in on-premise solutions. You don’t need to purchase the infrastructure (capital expense) with cloud environments you’re only left to deal with operational expenses.

Atlassian Cloud's monthly or annual subscription model can help organizations save money by eliminating upfront infrastructure purchases. A subscription also includes frequent updates to maintain up-to-date security features, which can become a significant recurring cost if your organization is responsible for its own updates. Additionally, Atlassian works around the clock to ensure that your data is secure, so once again, once less cost that your business has to incur. 

On the other hand, some organizations may have specialized needs that require data to remain within their jurisdiction. These companies must usually purchase and maintain all their hardware, ranging from the obvious — like servers, routers, and networking software — to the less obvious and often surprisingly expensive — like HVAC, fire suppression, and backup power solutions. In general, on-premise systems require significantly more upfront capital than cloud solutions.

Although it gives you precise control over your deployment, Atlassian Data Center requires an investment in staff. Even if you decide to run a hybrid architecture and avoid the costs of maintaining physical servers, your team still needs to maintain your infrastructure’s software layer. Security patches, integrations, and network performance become your organization’s responsibility. 

Comparing Atlassian Cloud and Data Center

Let’s look a little more closely at Atlassian Cloud and Atlassian Data Center. We’ll evaluate them based on a few factors that most organizations prioritize.

Time and Expense of Initial Setup

Depending on the scale of your infrastructure, setting up an on-premise architecture could take weeks. You need to install and configure all of the Atlassian products and infrastructure you need, and then migrate any data you currently have. You’ll need to do this for every product.

Atlassian Cloud is quicker to set up because Atlassian manages everything for you. If you are starting fresh with a completely new Atlassian instance, you could begin using your Cloud infrastructure within minutes — or seconds, if you use SSO.

If you are migrating your Atlassian instance to Cloud, things get a bit more challenging. While Atlassian itself provides free tools to support your team through the migration process, including the  Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket migration assistant resources. However, even with this help from these tools, cloud migrations present unexpected roadblocks — especially during more complex or specialized migrations.

That’s why we recommend going a step further and getting help from an Atlassian Solution Partner. An Atlassian Specialized Partner in Cloud, like Praecipio Consulting, guides you through the entire migration process, sharing their proven expertise to accelerate your journey to cloud. For example, during a migration with Praecipio Consulting, any legacy or duplicate tooling is adjusted and your architecture is cleaned up, giving you peace of mind and a refreshed final product at a lower cost than if you were to complete the move yourselves.

Skills and Expertise Required to Deploy and Maintain

Atlassian Cloud customers don’t need to manage instances because Atlassian provides and maintains the infrastructure. Cloud services are updated automatically, so you don't have to perform regular maintenance updates or worry about version compatibility.

At the other end of the spectrum, Atlassian Data Center offers more customization options, but it requires a higher level of expertise to manage successfully. You’ll need dedicated internal resources and skilled personnel to install, configure, upgrade and maintain instances.

Security

Atlassian handles all security concerns in its Cloud offering at the network, server, and application levels. This offering includes compliance with a broad set of industry standards, network security scans of both internal and external infrastructure, and regular penetration testing.

One of the main features of an on-premise setup is the additional control you have over your data. When using Atlassian Data Center, you have control over hardware and network security, but Atlassian manages application-level security for you.

Scalability Potential

Atlassian Cloud is inherently much more scalable than a Data Center. Atlassian Data Center also offers a solution with scaling potential, but the scalability is limited to the infrastructure deployed.

When using Atlassian Data Center, you need to forecast and build out capacity ahead of time to meet your predicted peaks. Many data centers are somewhat capable of being refitted to scale vertically, but horizontal scaling demands more space and power. You can easily scale out horizontally using Atlassian Cloud to get higher throughput and configure the environment to accommodate additional resources as needed.

Ability to Work Remotely

Atlassian Cloud is a hosted platform that you can use from anywhere, at any time. Team members can easily access Jira issues, Confluence pages, Bitbucket repositories, and other tools remotely from anywhere around the globe.

Atlassian Cloud also allows you to have teams of any size in the cloud and on-premis, working together in real-time. Employees working remotely can collaborate and access company products securely from mobile apps and browsers without signing in to a VPN. 

Data Center lets you stay flexible while retaining control over the security and stability of your instances. You can freely add nodes to your cluster to handle large numbers of geographically distributed users, and then use built-in features like rate limiting to prevent instability caused by external tools, automations, and infrastructure quirks outside of your organization’s control.

You can alleviate some of these concerns by using a content delivery network (CDN) to reduce peak load times on application instances running on Atlassian Data Center. This increase in performance extends to all your users, not just those who are geographically distant from your servers.

Cloud

A business with fluctuating needs requires a tiered pricing solution based on the number of users who access an instance in a certain period.

Organizations often have information spread across several different platforms. Your business may have messages on Slack, spreadsheets in Excel, and other documents in Google Docs. For example, you can bring these resources together using dynamic pages in Confluence Cloud to distribute communication materials and create company policies and marketing plans.

Confluence Cloud is used by many companies — such as Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Udemy — to create collaborative workspaces and consolidate information into unified dashboards.

Data Center 

In contrast, Data Center is better suited for organizations looking to meet specialized needs. It allows businesses to access their system’s back end and databases and create tailored integrations and add-ons.

For example, if you use Jira Service Management Cloud, you’re limited to specific customizations in some Jira plugin features, such as BigPicture Dashboard Gadgets or ScriptRunner scripting functions. However, you can use and freely customize these plugins by using them on Jira Service Management Data Center. 

Organizations that want to collaborate with their teams at a high velocity while meeting strict compliance standards can use Jira Service Management Data Center. Instead of having to build in-house ITSM systems, JSM Data Center acts as a single source of truth and allows you to extract and share data between teams without the complex processes of a conventional ITSM platform.

Conclusion

Unless an organization fully understands what it needs from its infrastructure and how the business might grow in the future, it can be difficult to determine whether to move everything to the cloud or run production systems in a data center. To evaluate how you can best serve your customers and employees, you must weigh the increased control and flexibility of Atlassian Data Center against the added and resource investment of staying out of the Cloud. Outside of specialized use cases, it’s often more beneficial to switch over to Atlassian Cloud.

Avoiding the switch to cloud will be more difficult to justify in a couple of years as support for Atlassian Server ends. So, organizations looking for longevity have an even stronger incentive to begin their migrations soon.

Although migrations have a reputation as formidable undertakings, there’s no need for them to be overwhelming. The tools provided by Atlassian offer a good starting point for simple migrations if your IT department is provisioned to handle the risks.

However, it’s worth using an Atlassian Solution Partner like Praecipio Consulting to help with your migration. Experienced migration experts provide peace of mind by helping you mitigate potential risks and by providing support throughout the entire process, from deciding on the best migration strategy to onboarding users in the days following a migration.

If your organization is ready to migrate to Atlassian Cloud or Data Center, reach out to the Praecipio Consulting team to learn how we can help you achieve a successful migration.

Topics: cloud data-center atlassian-cloud cloud migration
3 min read

Extending ESM: What is Problem Management and why do you need it?

By Courtney Pool on Apr 26, 2022 10:23:00 AM

2022 Q2 Blog - Extending ESM - Hero

If you've read our earlier blog, "Service Management is More Than an IT Service Desk," you're likely already aware that Enterprise Service Management (ESM) strategies often start (and stop) at the sharing of core IT service desk capabilities. Limiting the aspects of IT Service Management (ITSM) pulled into other business functions is a huge miss. Organizations that do so are restricting the potential benefits of their ESM strategies. We don't want you to risk the same. 

Instead, we encourage you to reach beyond the service desk and incorporate other valuable ITSM capabilities into your ESM strategies. One of the first capabilities we'd recommend starting with is Problem Management. After all, every team will encounter at least some problems, right? 

Now, let's talk about what this means for you.

What's Problem Management?

ITSM's – and ESM's – use of the terms "problem" and "problem management" can be, well, 'problematic.'

While most English speakers might use the word "problem" to represent any and every issue that arises, Service Management takes a narrower view of it. What could be called a "problem" in casual conversation might instead be an "incident" in Service Management, as the term "problem" is reserved for:

"A cause, or potential cause, of one or more incidents." Source: ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition

An easy way to understand this is to think of it in terms of the common cold. Sneezing (an incident) could have any number of underlying causes, as could its friends, Sniffling, Headache, and General Malaise. These symptoms all let you know that something is wrong, but addressing them at their source – the rhinovirus, in this case – is what ultimately resolves the symptoms and keeps additional from arising.

Problems in Service Management operate similarly. Addressing only a "symptom" is unlikely to remove the underlying cause – meaning that the incident will probably continue in the same place or even sprout up elsewhere. More importantly, multiple incidents can occur from a single root cause and could continue until addressed.

Problem Management seeks to solve this with approaches toward identifying and mitigating the causes and preventing the symptoms from recurring.

Why Should I Care?

In an IT context, problems can crop up anywhere and everywhere. We've seen problems crop up in just about every scenario imaginable. Even those who don't work in IT can likely immediately call out a few common IT problems because that rapid connection already exists in the minds of most. Once you get past the idea that "Problem" equals "Technology," though, you'll see that the need to address problems is also evident in all other business functions. This is especially true for any department with a person or team acting as the frontline of support.

To best answer why you should care, first ask yourself: does your department's support team deal with many of the same issues day in and day out? 

If yes, that's reason enough as to why you should care about problem management. Because yes, while you might be able to address all problems as they come in or point users to where they can go to help themselves, wouldn't it be better if those affected customers didn't experience issues at all? Why not fix the leak instead rather than continually bailing the water out of a flooding boat?

But if you're not convinced yet, here are some examples that might help.

Examples of Problems in Other Departments

The potential problems currently hidden within your departments might include:

  • Inadequate instructions on how to do things.
    • Do visitors get lost navigating your hallways? Are customers repeatedly calling or emailing for assistance with the same simple tasks? Are callers frequently ending up at the wrong end of the phone tree? If so, these are problems.
  • Critical safety issues.
    • Are all employees using their keycards to enter the building, or are they coming in behind others? Is there a particular door that always sticks and needs force to open? Is your talent team carefully identifying all callers before sharing PII? These could all be problems too.
  • Inconsistencies with company "messaging."
    • Are you sending out emails laden with typos? Do your blogs not read like they're intended for a specific audience? Is branding not being applied consistently on everything supplied to customers? Yep, you guessed it – these are problems too.

And these are just a few of the problems that may be plaguing all of your departments now. Therefore, it is essential to look past the constant stream of issues hitting your frontline support and identify those that are frequently repeated. Once you've identified those repeat visitors, problem management can help you understand and address their root causes.

If you want to learn more about how enterprise service management and problem management can help your teams, let's get in touch.

Topics: problem enterprise service management
3 min read

What is Advanced Roadmaps and how can it help your team?

By Michael Lyons on Apr 19, 2022 10:15:00 AM

2022 Q2 Blog - Advanced Roadmaps - What are they? - Hero

Does your team leverage Jira to track their work? Do you need a robust planning tool to organize work and timelines? Advanced Roadmaps is a great tool to accommodate those needs and much more!

What is Advanced Roadmaps?

Advanced Roadmaps is a tool within the Jira software that can help visualize, plan, and manage your team's work so you can further unlock your planning potential! It's designed to "empower your teams at scale," allowing you to plan and execute work with greater transparency effectively.

Advanced Roadmaps can be used by teams at a small business and enterprise scale. The tool can help groups and organizations track numerous work items, from day-to-day tasks to more significant initiatives. The tool is very customizable and can be built to suit your teams regardless of the methodologies they employ. We've seen both Agile and Waterfall teams benefit from using Advanced Roadmaps. 

How do Advanced Roadmaps work?

Advanced Roadmaps intakes work items from your Jira instance and add them to a visual plan. Multiple plans can be created depending on what the team or organization needs. For example, you can add work items from specific boards or complete projects.  Information across multiple Jira projects can also be included if you need to see how work interacts between projects. This allows for a centralized planning tool across your team or organization.

2022 Q2 Blog - Advanced Roadmaps - What are they? - Image Resized

Advanced Roadmaps has multiple features that enable teams to create meaningful visualizations for planning work. Work items can be filtered based on various criteria such as issue type, initiative, team, assignee, etc. Jira fields can be added or removed to provide additional detail to your work items. The plan can also be adjusted to display different time frames. For example, you can see how work is planned out for a month, a quarter, a year, or over a custom range of your choosing.

Users can save different views within the plan. So, if there is a view that you love, you can keep it and reference it whenever you need to! For example, we've seen views showing all the work for a small team and views that offer high-level detail of work spread across multiple groups. These views can assist teams in discussions during team meetings and can be added to enhance any project documentation you use.

Advanced Roadmaps is not just a visual tool

Visualizing work is just one of many ways that Advanced Roadmaps can help your team plan work. However, that isn't the only excellent quality of the tool. Making a tremendous visual plan is the critical first step in getting the maximum benefit of Advanced Roadmaps. Plans can assist teams in strategizing and communicating work effectively.

The tool can plan capacity, determine and manage dependencies, and communicate the work being done across teams and individuals. Leveraging these capabilities will help you and your team derive insights to maximize your productivity and success.

Conclusion

This is the first blog in our Advanced Roadmaps Blog Series. In this series, we will dive into topics surrounding Advanced Roadmaps and discuss how Advanced Roadmaps can be used as a strategic tool to help drive success in your business. These topics include Advanced Roadmaps Information Structure, capacity planning, reporting on dependencies, and use cases.  In our next blog, we will focus on how to structure information in Jira so you can make an effective plan! Please stay tuned!

Please reach out to us if you would like to learn more about Advanced Roadmaps and how it can help your business or team. We would love to help!

 

Topics: jira atlassian-products advanced-roadmap
3 min read

What is ESM? How can Enterprise Service Management help my company?

By Charlotte D’Alfonso on Apr 14, 2022 9:58:37 AM

2022 Q2 PCM-10012 Blog - What is ESM? - Hero

Enterprise Service Management is a phrase continuing to pop up more and more as organizations look to refine their business strategies to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Enterprise Service Management or ESM is the application of IT Service Management (ITSM) strategies, processes, and workflows to departments across the organization. ESM enables you to connect and empower your teams, streamline their operations, and track the progress of work (and ownership) in a more transparent manner.

ESM is the solution for handling the workday's inefficiency that comes along with departments working in silos, lack of governance, and accountability of who is responsible for what. And all those email requests that go back and forth trying to move an inquiry along the process. 

You might like: Why You Should be Using an Enterprise Service Management Tool

To take an enterprise approach, you can use a single platform such as Jira Service Management to standardize your process while allowing both customization and collaboration of departments.  For example, using the one platform, you can customize portals (service desks) for each department; utilize a single knowledge and information repository; track and report on outcomes, and automate routing and workflows.

Selling Enterprise Service Management

ITSM practices have been widely adopted by IT teams in organizations across the globe. But ESM is still a relatively new phrase for many businesses and organizations. Therefore, when trying to sell ESM to the Human Resources or Marketing teams, you must recognize their lack of familiarity with the terminology and processes.

Our blog on ‘Selling Enterprise Service Management to IT and Beyond’ illustrates the importance of focusing on outcomes rather than getting in the weeds with processes. Focusing on the needs of the individual business unit allows you to identify points of leverage and opportunity, resulting in a higher likelihood of acceptance and adoption.

Some Benefits of Enterprise Service Management

  • Reduced operational costs and improved efficiency
  • Workload reductions and self-service efficiencies
  • Higher satisfaction with customer experience and service
  • Increased governance and control
  • Better collaboration within and across departments
  • Maximize ROI on a corporate ITSM solution
  • Process standardization

Which Departments can use ESM?

We have found that every department sees benefits when implementing ESM. The number of departments only limits the possibilities. Almost every business unit provides an internal or external service for the organization. 

  • Customer Service: Proactively addressing issues and automating replies for standard requests, and providing a self-service option for customers.
  • Human Resources (HR): Onboarding new employees, security checks and audits, handling departures, dealing with a request for PTO or leave, health plan or personnel changes
  • Purchasing/Procurement: Processing purchase orders, building quotes, authorizing discounts and price adjustments, and communicating with vendors.
  • Facilities/Building Services: Managing requests for repairs, office furniture assets, relocations, and general maintenance.
  • Accounting and Finance: Approving expenses, sending invoices, tracking payments.
  • Creative and marketing teams: Creating stock images and templates, applying product changes to the website, tracking social media content, deadlines for deliverables.
  • Legal: Reviewing and approving documents, requests for standing contracts/forms, and certifying documents.
  • Admin/General Admin: Request office supplies, manage couriers/delivery services, and schedule meeting rooms.
  • Sales: Customer relationship management, pipeline management, etc.

Getting Started with ESM

Is your IT Department already using ITSM? How willing is your organization to adopt new software or processes? Are the existing pieces of software you’re capable of implementing ESM-type strategies? There are several questions you’ll have to ask.

Finding a service management program with templates, workflows, and the knowledge to help guide you through the process. Some businesses do it themselves, and some partner with a company like Praecipio Consulting, which has 15+ years of experience assisting companies to implement these principles.

You might start with ITSM or build onto your existing ITSM with a product like Atlassian Jira Service Management. Click here to learn all about ESM at Atlassian. However, if you’re trying to do it yourself, make sure you avoid these common ESM tool mistakes.

We’re proud to have helped many companies, like yours, successfully implement ITSM or ESM throughout their organization. So, contact us to get started today.

Topics: itsm enterprise service management
3 min read

Our Atlassian Team '22 Recap

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 11, 2022 12:51:46 PM

2022 Q2 Blog - PCM-10055 Atlassian Team Recap - Hero
Team '22 has wrapped and what an exciting week it was. The event served as an impactful place for innovators and problem-solvers to come together and interact with attendees and Atlassian customers. We're feeling so inspired to be at Atlassian's flagship conference helping teams focus on what matters most and discovering the power of their Atlassian investment. 

Our theme revolved around amplifying what's possible for teams everywhere. As a platinum sponsor this year, we participated in events like a Lunch 'n Learn Session on Work Management presented by Larry Brock, a Theater Session on Jira Align presented by Amanda Babb, an on-demand Breakout Session on Atlassian Cloud by Suze Treacy, and an on-demand Demo Session on Jira Service Management by Brian Nye.

Praecipio Consulting also delivered several training sessions, which allowed their students to utilize best practices and build on their existing skillsets. The team-led trainings included:

  • Jira Align Program Essentials delivered by Jack Harding and Brian Nye
  • Atlassian DevOps Essentials delivered by Luis Machado and Christopher Pepe
  • Planning with Advanced Roadmaps delivered by Amanda Babb, Ian VanHover and Dean Rizzuto
  • Bitbucket Pipelines Configuration delivered by Shannon Fabert and Jim Easterly
  • Managing Boards in Jira delivered by Shannon Fabert and Larry Brock

We heard motivating stories from speakers and listened to informative presentations about new Atlassian updates. Attendees were inspired to work differently, together. Some highlights of the keynotes include Jay Shetty's, "How connected thinkers will build the future", "Work differently, together: A new vision for Work Management" by Joff Redfern and Erika Trautman and "In conversation with Bob Iger", an inspirational talk with the Former CEO and Chairman of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger and Scott Farquhar, the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Atlassian.

"Being able to connect in-person after two years felt like an extended Atlassian family reunion. The continued growth in Atlassian and Marketplace products will provide lots of great tactical and strategic features. Team ’22 really renewed my excitement about our ability to help customers maximize the value of their Atlassian investment." - Joseph Lane, COO

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say 'Howdy!' and to those who attended any of our talks. Keep scrolling to read about our recap of the ultimate teamwork experience. 

2022 Q2 Blog - PCM-10055 Atlassian Team Recap - Keynote

We learned a lot during the Atlassian Team '22 Keynote Address. Atlassian continues to transform how teams collaborate and drive cultural change through ITSM, DevOps & Agile, and Work Management.

2022 Q2 Blog - PCM-10055 Atlassian Team Recap - Bottles

Praecipio Consulting had some of the coolest swag. Pictured above are the water bottles we handed out.

2022 Q2 Blog - PCM-10055 Atlassian Team Recap - Larry Brock  4ED5D3EC-C146-44C1-B797-9A66E62EDF39  2022 Q2 Blog - PCM-10055 Atlassian Team Recap - Shannon

Left: "Streamlining the DevOps Lifecycle with Jira Service Management" with Larry Brock
Center: "Jira Align Program Essentials" with Jack Harding
Right: "Bitbucket Pipelines Configuration" with Shannon Fabert

AMPLIFY WHAT'S POSSIBLE FOR TEAMS EVERYWHERE

We loved seeing old friends, making new ones, and connecting over all things Atlassian last week. Let us know if you have any follow-up questions about Team '22 and how we can amplify what's possible for your business teams. 

Topics: atlassian events
3 min read

Scrum Sprint Planning: How Long Should Sprints Be?

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 29, 2022 10:05:18 AM

2021-q4-blogpost-Agile vs. Scrum Methology- Whats the Difference?-1

Teams new to scrum face lots of decisions – one critical decision for teams to perform efficiently is determining sprint length. Every team's needs are different, and there's rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to planning the length and organization of your sprint.

What is Scrum? How long should sprints be?

What is Scrum? Scrum is an Agile framework that gives teams guidelines on how to complete their work. It contains sets of roles, ceremonies, and considerations for how your work is completed.

An Agile sprint is a concept in scrum that represents a time box, i.e., a short amount of time the team has committed to complete the work. And how long is a sprint in Agile? Sprints in scrum can be as long as you want; however, it's most common for sprint length to be between 1 and 4 weeks. Teams running Scrum sprints need to decide what makes sense for them.

We often see that team's first instincts lean toward the extreme: Either 1-week sprints or 4-weeks sprints. While there are arguments for the varying lengths of sprints in scrum, here are some standard variables that you and your team should consider.

Sprint Planning for Planned vs. Unplanned Work

Before sprint planning begins, it's essential to define what you want to accomplish during that sprint. Instead of using overarching strategic objectives to guide your team, sprint goals should be smaller, more attainable chunks of work that can be completed in a shorter timeframe. 

If you are an Agile Scrum team with high variability in your work, longer sprints may give you the necessary buffer to complete the job. If you've got a 1-week sprint (with 1 of your 5 days already dedicated to ceremonies), even one or two random pieces of work can prevent your team from completing the work in the committed scope.

On the other hand, if the team has unplanned work with a lower level of urgency, Scrum sprint lengths that are shorter allow you to include the work in your Scrum sprint planning within a shorter period.

As far as how to best manage work, Jira is a great tool to help teams achieve this. Here's a guide on starting, managing, and completing a sprint using Jira. 

Time Dedicated to Scrum Ceremonies

How much time per week should sprint planning to be spent in scrum, retrospectives, backlog grooming, and demos? Shorter sprints mean more time is spent in these meetings. This becomes even more essential if you do not have dedicated roles (scrum master, product owner).

What we see in 1-week sprints is that teams can lose a full day (twenty percent of the sprint!) of each sprint to demos, retros, and planning. So the shorter your Agile sprints are in scrum, the more often you're having these ceremonies.

Size and Scope of Tasks

Is your work small enough to be completed in the sprint length? For example, if you are often not completing work in 1 sprint, a longer sprint in scrum may make sense (or you may just need to work on improving properly sizing your tasks).

Feedback Cycle

How often do I want to see and evaluate completed work? Is it acceptable to go 4 weeks without demonstrating the work that's being done? Do you need to know every week? Sprint length determines how often you see sprint demos and complete sprint retrospectives.

Inspection and Adaptation

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to optimal Scrum sprint length, and iteration is the key to scrum - so don't worry if your first choice doesn't work for your team. That's what your retrospectives are for, after all!

For more background on how we do Agile at Scale, read our case study on how Praecipio Consulting helped an enterprise client accelerate their Agile transformation.

Is your organization going through an Agile transformation? Learn about this robust framework and how our team can help your organization drive successful business outcomes through our Agile at Scale implementations. 

Please reach out if you have questions or are considering how to migrate your team to an agile approach.

Topics: scaled-agile scrum sprint
3 min read

Join Praecipio Consulting at Atlassian's Team '22

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 15, 2022 4:32:37 PM

2021 Q1 Blog - Event - Atlassian Team 22 - Hero

We're excited to share that we'll have our boots on the ground at Team '22, Atlassian's flagship conference, and the ultimate teamwork experience. It's an extra special event for Praecipio Consulting this year, as it's our first time back in person since 2019 and our new 6kites family is joining us as well.

How to find us at Team '22

From April 5-7, stop by our booth and chat with us about new ideas, process-powered solutions, and all things in between. We look forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and connecting over how we amplify what's possible for teams everywhere through the power of Atlassian. In addition to our booth presence, here's a rundown of where else you can find Praecipio Consulting people:

Training Sessions on Tuesday, April 5:

  • "Jira Align Program Essentials" with Jack Harding from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
  • "Atlassian DevOps Essentials" with Luis Machado from 9:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • "Planning with Advanced Roadmaps" with #BigInKorea Amanda Babb from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • "Bitbucket Pipelines Configuration" with Shannon Fabert from 8:00 am - 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Lunch ‘n Learn Session on Wednesday, April 6:

  • "Streamlining the DevOps Lifecycle with Jira Service Management" Lunch ‘n Learn Session with Larry Brock from 12:30 - 1:30 pm at Lunch 'n Learn Area B

Training & Theater Sessions on Thursday, April 7:

  • "How Jira Align Supports SAFe®: Accelerating Your Digital Transformation" Theater Session with Amanda Babb from 12:15 -12:30 pm at Theater A
  • "Managing Boards in Jira" Training with Shannon Fabert and Larry Brock from 10:00 am - 10:45 am and 3:15 pm - 4:00 pm

Also, for anyone interested in joining our team and helping build the future with us, we'll hold in-person interviews in our meeting room during Team '22. If you'd like to schedule an interview, send an email to team@praecipio.com.

Amplify possibility

We’re proud of our rich history and the strong values that have guided us for the past 16+ years. As our company grows with the addition of our 6kites family and beyond, we’re excited about the new adventure that lies ahead of us.

Our Atlassian Team '22 theme this year represents the boundless opportunities we have to help teams get back to their purpose through good process, well-practiced. As we embark on this journey together, we invite you to get inspired by the endless possibilities to solve big problems, enable innovation, and create space for people to dream big in all areas of life. 

Be part of our journey

Stop by the Praecipio Consulting booth and join our in-person sessions to learn more about how we're helping teams focus on what matters most when you perfect the process with Atlassian products. Let us know if you have any questions about the event and for those wanting to learn more about our career opportunities, send an email to team@praecipio.com to schedule an interview.  

Topics: atlassian events atlassian-solution-partner
5 min read

Our Guide to Moving Applications to the Atlassian Cloud

By Chris Hofbauer on Mar 8, 2022 10:02:06 AM

22-marc-blogpost_Moving Applications to the Cloud-2

We get it. Migrating to the cloud can seem daunting. But it doesn't need to be. And, with Atlassian Server approaching end-of-life, the time to start preparing for your Atlassian Cloud Migration is now. In this blog you'll learn about the 6-step process Praecipio Consulting follows and how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate for over 15 years.

In the cloud, companies have an increased capability to scale efficiently, increased security, reduced downtime, and several other benefits. You can learn more about why you should be migrating to the cloud in 2022 in this blog.

Every Atlassian Cloud Migration is unique, but success is within your reach if you set yourself up for success with a thorough and well-thought-out plan. You can also download the 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook, where we go into a bit more detail about the steps and our partnership with Castlight Health.

1. Assess Your Applications

You will need to perform a deep analysis of your Atlassian application in the initial phases. In the assess phase, review all of the applications and the add-ons within the applications. You'll need to determine which applications are business-critical, optional, no longer in use, etc. Additionally, you'll need to develop an understanding of how these applications are used.

Not all applications are available in Cloud. The how is essential for determining if there are potential replacements. You don't want to experience any unexpected loss of functionality after the migration. If there are apps that are not yet available in Cloud, research any alternatives and implement these during your testing phase to ensure the functionality is adequate.

Another critical component to the assess phase is carefully considering any external integration. Any external configurations will need to be reconfigured as the base URL will be changed along with how Cloud performs API authentications.

2. Plan for Success

Once your assessment is completed and you have a good understanding of what will be migrated and what will be replaced, it is time to plan the migration. The first step in your planning phase will be deciding if you need Atlassian Access. Atlassian access provided centralized, enterprise-grade security across all Atlassian Cloud products.

If your organization uses a cloud identity provider, Atlassian Access can integrate directly. After the decision for Atlassian Access is determined, you should next set up your "organization" in Cloud. The organization provides the ability to view and manage all of your users in one place and leverage security features such as SAML SSO. Once the organization has been established, verify the company domain. This can be achieved by following the documentation: Verify a Domain to Manage Accounts.

Now that your Cloud site is set up and configured, it is time to choose a migration strategy. You can read this blog to learn about 4 Cloud Migration Strategies and their pros and cons.

3. Prepare Your Instance

In the Prep phase, it's important not to cut any corners. Prepping your migration can take weeks to accomplish; however, it's one of the most critical components to a successful migration. Therefore, you'll want to consult with your teams and the key stakeholders of your server instances.

Opening the lines of communication with these users will promote a smooth migration with minimal disruption in their work. After these teams are on board, you will want to check your current server version to ensure you are on a supported version of the server before attempting the migration. Then, with the assessment in hand, begin to clean up any data in the server instance.

In continuing to prepare your Cloud site, install any cloud app that will be used post-migration. Having these apps in place prior to the migration is essential so that the data can be brought over correctly during the migration event. Begin to put together an initial runbook with a step-by-step checklist of all the items that will take place, along with details of each of these steps. Document the estimated time that each step will take as well. The runbook and the timeline may change during the testing phase.

4. Test Everything

In the testing phase, you'll want to have done everything you can to prepare your instance for a successful migration. It will be critical to have a backup of your data. Regardless of any migration strategy chosen, you will want to have a backup of your server instance. Performing rounds of User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is vital to a successful migration.

Establish a list of users and teams that will navigate to a "migrated" cloud instance and have these users complete the day-to-day tasks that they would typically complete to do their work as completed. Any uncovered issues should be documented, reviewed, and the solutions added to the runbook. It is recommended that there be several test runs performed until the migration is successful, the runbook is completed, and all UAT users confirm functionality.

Once the tests are completed, prepare any training materials that users will need or find beneficial post-migration. Next, formulate a comprehensive communication plan and begin to execute this plan. Inform your users when this migration will occur, what downtime they can expect, how they can access the new site, how they will sign in, who they can contact in case of any issues, and provide any materials they can review to get acclimated with the Cloud environment.

5. Migrate Your Data

You are now ready for the Migration phase. During this phase, you will fix any last-minute issues and run through your runbook to begin to migrate your users and data. At this stage, be sure to set your server instance in "read-only" to prevent changes made during the migration. Next, perform the migration of the data apps, and begin QA once completed.

6. Launch Your Instance

Finally, the Launch phase. You have successfully migrated to the Cloud, now continue Cloud support and ensure that your users are successful.

Welcome your team to the cloud, communicate to the stakeholders that the migration was successful, be evident in the business decision to move to the Cloud, and provide the materials they will need to succeed in their job function. Set aside office hours to discuss and review any issues your end users may have. Once problems have been resolved or become fewer, you may begin to transition into a maintenance phase versus support.

Atlassian Cloud Migrations are complex, and you can do them yourself. However, we recommend choosing a partner with a history of success and expertise in helping companies like yours migrate to the Atlassian Cloud. Contact us today if you'd like to learn more and get started.

FREE EBOOK: 6 STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL ATLASSIAN CLOUD MIGRATION

Learn how to assess, plan, and launch a successful Atlassian Cloud Migration with our new eBook. We explore what you should expect before migrating, avoid common mistakes, and how we partnered with Castlight Health to guide them through successful cloud migration. Learn how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate, download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook today.

Topics: atlassian cloud atlassian-cloud
4 min read

What Happens During an Atlassian Cloud Migration?

By Shannon Fabert on Mar 1, 2022 9:52:09 AM

what happens during an atlassian cloud migration

Since 2021, Atlassian users across the globe have inquired about Atlassian Cloud products. In talking with multiple clients and users, the inevitable questions are 1) how do Cloud products differ from Server and Data Center and 2) what happens during a migration? 

First, for Atlassian Cloud products, the user interface is slightly different, not to mention downtime for database or application configuration changes such as upgrades are a thing of the past. While there are innumerable differences between the Cloud experience vs. your current Server experience, let’s focus on some of the distinctions that are explicitly associated with the migration experience and, most importantly, the transfer of data.

Atlassian’s Cloud Migration Assistant

As applications such as Jira and Confluence have been upgraded, most system administrators have seen an added System menu item of “Migrate to Cloud.” In three easy steps, one would assess applications, prepare applications, and migrate data. Easy-peezy, lemon squeezy. Here the migration process is focused on cleaning up any process transfers using the Cloud Migration Assistant, often referred to as JCMA (Jira) or CCMA (Confluence), etc. 

This is Atlassian’s free tool that migrates configurations along with data to get you up and running in the cloud smoothly. As an administrator, this would be my preferred option for an organization. The ideal migration would be the simple push of a button, waiting on the data to transfer into the cloud, and then team members fluidly begin work.

The reality is your migration experience and level of effort required is determined by your organization’s governance practices and the complexity of your environment, specifically your use of and reliance on add-on applications. Four years ago, the vendor app space was limited. Then, it was easy to take a cursory glance at available options and make the decision to stay with your on-premises environment. Today, the vendor app space has covered most use cases. It is less about the number of applications available to the cloud instances than nuanced custom use cases.

Assessing Your Applications

A full review of vendor applications is one of the first steps your organization should complete before you consider moving to Atlassian Cloud. Your organization should understand how the app is used, by how many people, and if it is a transferrable application. In some frequent use cases, native cloud functionality might prove to be a more viable option, as it serves as a way to improve your current processes and makes your configurations less complicated. Migration plans need to be made around apps that are part of essential functions. Therefore, it is imperative to work with key stakeholders regarding their specific use cases. 

It is also essential to review and understand your specific use case during your migration journey. More mature Jira applications often have very embedded processes that have been tailored to years of adoption. As an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, Praecipio Consulting has had a hand in these types of customizations. This can be an eye-opening experience for an organization because oftentimes they uncover that administration has been left to developers or super users without governance, and the reality is that customizations built using homegrown scripts need to be closely evaluated.  

Cloud Migration Case Study

For example, working with a marketing organization, we completed a cursory review of its workflows. In reviewing the workflows, we found custom scripts that were doing basic permission functions, which could have been controlled through update permissions schemes, conditions, and validators common to more advanced workflows. The scripts themselves were not problematic in the on-premises instance. 

However, the lack of administrative knowledge led to a less than ideal practice, and when moving to cloud, they would need to be built out using best practices for an easy transfer of data and fluid transition in use. Finding solutions for custom development work is worked through before the migration, which makes the migration easier and also allows team members time to get acquainted with the prescribed best practices and changes.

Free eBook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

Learn how to assess, plan, and launch a successful Atlassian Cloud Migration with our new eBook. We explore what you should expect before migrating, how to avoid common mistakes, and how we partnered with Castlight Health to guide them through a successful cloud migration. Learn how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate, download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook today.

Conclusion

The ideal situation for each organization is to have a seamless experience between Server and Cloud utilization. Depending on their on-premises version, there could be a need to deploy change management plans to ease user apprehension of the new look of their Atlassian applications. While the risk is low, the appetite for change can vary.

Hopefully, you have been working closely with the stakeholders in preparing them for these changes well before the actual migration. For most organizations, the “heavy lifting” happens in preparation before the actual migration. For large organizations, this could be a slow and daunting process.  

Whatever your journey to the cloud may be, it does not have to be done alone. Praecipio Consulting is an Official Cloud Specialized Partner in Atlassian Cloud migrations and can assist with the actual migration and prepare the organization for life after Server products.

Learn more about why you should be migrating to cloud in 2022 by checking out this blog. Also, if you’re interested in learning how Praecipio Consulting maintains a 100% Cloud Migration success rate, you should reach out to us here.

Topics: cloud atlassian-cloud cloud migration
3 min read

Cloud simplifies creating valuable workflows

By Luis Machado on Feb 22, 2022 11:04:51 AM

2021 Q1 Blog - Cloud - Cloud simplifies creating valuable workflow - Hero

Workflows are the backbone of every process in every business around the globe. Efficient workflows can help your business scale effectively. However, flawed or fragile workflows can lead to issues within your company, disruptions to your bottom line, and more. 

Until not so long ago, if you wanted to create a new way of working, you had to:
  • Create a request to solve this issue and make a business case for it
  • Once approved, brainstorm with stakeholders on ways to improve the process
  • IT had to create a development and test environment to code the changes and test them
  • Documentation and training
  • Launch with (hopeful) success

How long did this take? Days? Weeks? Traditionally, months.

Cloud shortens that time and provides several other benefits—such as reduced IT overhead, strengthened security, and more time spent focused on your customers and product. You can learn why you should migrate to Atlassian Cloud in 2022 here.

You can learn more about our approach to Atlassian Cloud Migrations and discover how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate.

Your Cloud and digital improvements won't provide greater customer satisfaction, staff enhanced capabilities, or lower costs unless you begin to apply DevOps practices and tools.

How do we make it faster?

Using the concepts of IT service management, and leveraging the right software, you can automate creating and approving requests or resolving an IT issue (incident). This approach can be applied to other business tasks such as sales, HR, marketing, and essential accounting functions. Cloud-based software lets you implement these processes with a few clicks or by pressing a button on an online catalog. Atlassian and their partners like Workato are leading the way in creating business as a Service process. 

If we look at Onboarding, for example, one of the most common workflows companies have a strong desire to automate. The steps to source an applicant, store their CV, arrange an interview, track the responses, make an offer, track the request and organize the start date, training, and IT of the new employee used to take several days. Now software can complete your onboarding process by your morning coffee break.

The same is true for:

  • Approval workflows – product or service improvements currently require many approvals from finance, security, users, operations, and even external suppliers. These hand-offs add days to time to market, which could be saved if you allow software to manage your approval process.
  • Creating application environments – we have seen where the request for a new environment took 11 weeks. Coding the demand to deploy process allows an entire domain to be ready in less than 10 minutes. Taking advantage of this, you can even code the removal of the environment if not in use saving money.
  • Automating payment of services (debit cards, online products like PayPal, online ordering) is nothing more than leveraging code for the cash flow from request to the supplier.

How do you take advantage of this new way of creating work?

Consider these questions:
  • What work processes are vital to you, and why?
  • How do they work today?
  • What is wrong with them today?

This is where a partner like Praecipio comes into the picture. Leveraging lean techniques like value stream mapping (VSM) that have been embraced by DevOps and ITSM the world over, we can work with your teams to design for your future. Making collaborative decisions on improving the workflow or outsourcing the workload to a SaaS provider (see Praecipio SaaS blogs) can be agreed upon. The goal is to introduce innovation, speed, and scalability with a cloud service enabled by software workflow products. We bring context and expertise to the table turn your ideas into reality.

Free eBook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

Learn how to assess, plan, and launch a successful Atlassian Cloud Migration with our new eBook. We explore what you should expect before migrating, how to avoid common mistakes, and how we partnered with Castlight Health to guide them through a successful cloud migration. Learn how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate, download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook today.

The goal is to have cloud-based operating models that can accelerate your strategy. Through 2020 and 2021, we've seen what happens to companies that do not react quickly enough. Ask for assistance and coaching, and go digital in 2022. Get started with your Cloud Migration by reaching out to the experts at Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: workflows cloud cloud migration
3 min read

Why you should migrate to Atlassian Cloud in 2022

By Luis Machado on Feb 15, 2022 1:33:07 PM

Why you should be migrating to Atlassian Cloud in 2022

It's 2022, and we're (hopefully) at a peak with Omicron, yet we still aren't sure what the future of work looks like. In 2020, classrooms went virtual and suddenly every meeting was online. Many businesses suffered plenty of losses, and some didn't make it. However, some businesses thrived, or at the very least managed to emerge from the proverbial storm relatively unscathed.

Two years later, what's next? If you didn't migrate to cloud, is there still a reason to do so? The answer is still a resounding yes.

The benefits of a Cloud Migration are still many

Data Center and Cloud offer different benefits, but for most customers, cloud is an excellent choice. Data center hosting is self-managed and requires more resources to keep it up-to-date and compliant with industry regulations. However, hosting on Atlassian Cloud provides several benefits:

  • Reduce total cost of ownership: Save on physical infrastructure, maintenance, support, and other admin costs. 
  • Eliminate downtime and maintenance:  Say goodbye to falling behind on updates and downtime. When you move to Atlassian Cloud, your organization automatically has access to the latest and greatest features of your Atlassian products.
  • Strengthen security: Keep your organization secure and stay compliant as Atlassian takes over safeguarding your data with their security best practices and rigorous testing. 
  • Keep your people happy: With its ease-of-use and improved performance, the user experience in cloud is more intuitive, seamless, and collaborative. 
  • Work from anywhere: It's not where you work, it's how you work. Distributed teams can securely access your Atlassian tools from anywhere and through any browser or mobile app.
  • Improve business agility: Cloud provides the flexibility to move faster, scale your instance successfully, have greater visibility into real-time data, and improve business agility.

You can find even more benefits of migrating to the cloud on our Atlassian Cloud Migrations page.

Are your business needs aligned with a cloud-based infrastructure? Organizations contemplated the pros and cons of maintaining their self-hosting capabilities versus something more in the realm of the SaaS model, which involves migrating your applications into a 3rd-party hosted infrastructure that manages everything for you.

On-premise versus cloud can cost your business more time and money and lead to an increased risk of vulnerability. So, the question "Should my business be in the cloud?" has evolved to "How can I get by business to cloud?"

Free eBook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

Learn how to assess, plan, and launch a successful Atlassian Cloud Migration with our new eBook. We explore what you should expect before migrating, how to avoid common mistakes, and how we partnered with Castlight Health to guide them through a successful cloud migration. Learn how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate, download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook today.

How to get your foot in the door

So, it's 2022, and you're looking to move your business into the cloud and accelerate your path towards digital transformation. But, given all the options out there, where do you even begin? If your company uses Atlassian products, it's a great place to start. Atlassian has already taken the position of doubling down on cloud, and it's not a matter of when you'll have to migrate, but when.

Atlassian focuses heavily on supporting their customers during their migrations and are making significant investments in their cloud-based products and feverishly improving existing features.

No two cloud migrations are created alike. There's a lot to take in between users, access, apps, strategies, and so much more. This blog covers some of the things you'll need to keep an eye out for in those first stages of your migration. Also, learn more about different types of cloud migration strategies in this blog.

Whichever way you approach it, 2022 and beyond are sure to be significant years for Atlassian Cloud migrations. So there's never been a better time to take the leap. If you're interested in how Praecipio Consulting can help you plan your Atlassian Cloud migration with confidence, reach out to us today.

Topics: cloud cloud migration
3 min read

4 Common ITSM Tool Mistakes with Enterprise Service Management

By Larry Brock on Feb 8, 2022 9:36:03 AM

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Are you “penny wise, pound foolish? ”If you haven’t heard the phrase, it means that someone is careful with small sums of money but wasteful with large sums. Unfortunately, this situation happens when companies go through implementing and using an IT service management (ITSM) tool. Why? There are lots of places where a plan can get off track and end up costing your organization time and money.

This blog explains 4 mistakes your organization could make and how to avoid them. Additionally, it will help you avoid pitfalls where money is saved upfront in tool selection and implementation, but ongoing costs (including opportunity costs) are higher than necessary.

You might also like: ITSM, ESM, or SM? What is Service Management and How Can It Help?

Mistake #1: Not appreciating the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an ITSM tool

The critical thing here, whether using an ITSM tool for just ITSM or as part of a broader enterprise service management approach, is to appreciate that the “sticker price” of the tool is just a tiny part of the overall TCO. For example, there are also the:

  • Implementation and set up costs, including process redesign, tool configuration, customization, and integrations
  • Training costs
  • Ongoing administration/management costs
  • Ongoing support and maintenance costs (if an on-premises tool)
  • The customer cost of upgrades, including changes to integrations.
  • The impact of underestimating the TCO of an ITSM tool is that the above costs might not be sufficiently budgeted for with the associated activities minimized or omitted as a result.

One of the biggest mistakes we see is insufficient investment in tool implementation. Such that I’ll often state that “the best tools get bad reputations from bad implementations.” Failing to invest appropriately in tool implementation is likely to limit the usefulness of the delivered solution and the benefits realized.

Mistake #2: Making a tool decision based on price rather than value

This is an extension of Mistake #1, but given its importance, it deserves its own “time in the sun.” Here, choosing the cheapest possible tool that “does the job” might also bring with it additional ongoing costs that far outweigh the initial “sticker price” savings.

For example, an organization might not implement a tool to their specific needs to save money – installing a “vanilla” version. This then leads to the organization using the device to run counter to what it needs. Unnecessary costs are then incurred elsewhere, perhaps due to a lack of automation, and there are the opportunity costs of forgone capabilities (and the associated benefits).

Ultimately, the customer hasn’t spent the time entirely understanding the implications of implementing and then using the tool. Whereas engaging an experienced professional can keep organizations from stepping on easily avoidable implementation and cost, land mines.

Mistake #3: Not including enterprise service management needs into the tool selection process

Avoiding this mistake might also help your organization avoid Mistake #2 – with the various needs of enterprise service management and individual business functions helping to ensure that the selected tool has the required flexibility.

Notably, it’s about involving the relevant business stakeholders as early as possible in the requirements gathering/agreeing process. The IT organization shouldn’t be assuming what different business functions need from what will now be a pan-enterprise ITSM tool.

  • Missing capabilities
  • Difficulties in extending the solution to other business functions,
  • Low adoption levels
  • And more

Mistake #4: Sticking with an ITSM tool that’s unfit for enterprise service management

This one’s pretty simple to explain. It’s where – due to financial restrictions or the fear of change – an organization attempts to execute their enterprise service management strategy using an existing ITSM tool that’s unable to deliver against their needs.

It’s the proverbial “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole” – with it similar to the earlier mistakes in that your organization has an ITSM tool that can’t do what you need it to do. Or at least not without extra effort and costs. Here, even if ESM strategy execution is possible with the existing tool, it’s likely to be both suboptimal and more costly than it needs to be.

If you want to know more about avoiding these and the other common mistakes made when using your ITSM tool for enterprise service management, then reach out and talk to an expert.

Are you interested in enterprise service management but unsure how to generate buy-in from the rest of your organization? Then, we’ve got a blog for you here. Also, you can find 5 things to look for when selecting an enterprise service management tool here.

Topics: best-practices itsm enterprise service management
3 min read

Selling Enterprise Service Management to IT and Beyond

By Luis Machado on Feb 1, 2022 10:15:00 AM

2022 Q1 Blog - ESM - Selling Enterprise Service Management to IT - Hero

Last year 80% of organizations had accelerated their digital transformation strategies due to the pandemic (Source: 2021 State of Service Management Report). In addition, the rise of the remote-working employee, in particular, has necessitated the need to replace manually-reliant ways of working with digital workflows that better suit the parameters of distanced working. 

IT Teams across the globe have had to advance their adoption of digital-first practices and processes to enable as much of the global workforce to work from home. As a result, many of those teams have implemented ITSM (IT Service Management) practices and are beginning to use a similar framework across their organization: enterprise service management. Learn the 6 benefits of implementing enterprise service management or ESM tool.

Enterprise service management uses IT service management (ITSM) principles and capabilities (including the ITSM tool) by other business functions to improve operations, service, experience, and outcomes – offers a ready-made solution for this corporate need for digital workflows.

You might also be interested in ITSM, ESM, or SM? What is Service Management and How Can It Help?

So, how do you implement a tool historically used by IT across a broad and diverse organization?

Selling Enterprise Service Management to the Wider Business

An important thing to appreciate when selling enterprise service management to the broader business is that the name will not resonate with the business functions looking for digital workflows and perhaps more overall digital transformation capabilities to solve their pandemic-related challenges. Another is that the IT personnel selling the value of enterprise service management to business colleagues need to “stay out of the weeds” – focusing on the outcomes rather than the minutia of ITSM.

Focus on the needs of the individual business function(s). If valuable, these can be matched to specific enterprise service management benefits – that sit under the umbrella of “better, faster, cheaper” – such as:

  • Optimized operations through best-practice digital workflows and other digital enablement capabilities
  • Improved employee and customer experience and satisfaction
  • Greater speed of operations and outcome delivery
  • Increased employee productivity – for both service requesters and service providers
  • Reduced costs – at both an operational and business level
  • Increased agility and scalability – especially with automation reducing the reliance on manual operations
  • Better meeting governance, compliance, and legal or regulatory requirements; plus, improved risk mitigation
  • Greater insight into operations, services, experience, and outcomes, plus improvement opportunities 
  • Amplified workflow benefits through the use of AI-enabled capabilities

Each of these benefits should be described in business function examples and terms, mapping to the business function needs to be provided—for example, the ability for HR personnel to collaboratively work on employee onboarding tasks while geographically distanced. For example, this blog shows how a legal team benefits from implementing enterprise service management. The above is a long and involved benefits list; it might be best to start with a punchy “What’s in it for you,” which could be your “elevator pitch” for enterprise service management. Then, hopefully, you’ll know what’s best to promote in the context of your organization and its challenges – with perhaps the need to tweak it slightly for each business function based on your knowledge of their specific requirements.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of enterprise service management and how to best sell it within IT and the broader business, then reach out, and let’s start talking.

Topics: enterprise it enterprise service management
3 min read

How Legal Teams Benefit from Enterprise Service Management

By Suze Treacy on Jan 25, 2022 10:15:00 AM

2022 Q1 PCM-7689 Blog ESM - How legal teams - Header

Corporate attorneys, paralegals, and legal teams bring tremendous business value to the organization. The nature of their work might be something of a mystery to the rest of their workplace, but they play an important role in defending companies from risk and trouble. If their work wasn’t already complex enough, add on a pandemic that scatters your teams to the wind, prevents in-person meetings, and even makes the courtroom process digital. You’re in for a bit of a headache if your processes aren’t digitized, which essentially means they aren’t effective in today’s landscape where the pandemic and distributed teams continue to be part of our day-to-day lives.

The presence of friction and bad processes can expose a company to risks and vulnerabilities they might not experience otherwise. Especially if they’re unprepared to handle emergency circumstances. Is your team as prepared as they need to be?

If this all seems familiar, and your legal team needs to add digital workflows and other optimization to its traditional working practices, then this blog can help. Let's discuss what can be delivered through the use of a Service Management approach to back-office digital transformation.

Is the Reliance on Manual Practices Hurting Your Legal Team?

Legal teams, like many other business functions, have operated for years using a hybrid of manual and email-based processes. It has worked, in some sense, because the work got done. However, the logistical impact of remote working has highlighted the many issues of manually-based operations, including delays and human error. These are some of the ways manual processes can negatively impact your legal team:

  • Lack of clarity into staff workloads, progress against targets, future demand levels, and team performance
  • The absence of automation creates more manual work, taking time away that could be spent on process improvements or other work
  • Harder to build out practices and processes that are efficient and scalable as your organization grows and evolves

Learn what other organizations and teams think about Service Management and its importance in the workplace in our 2021 State of Service Management Report.

This lack of visibility into operations, service, experience, and outcomes makes it difficult to understand the true level of performance (in terms of success) and to identify key issues where improvements are needed.

Creating a Legal Digital Working Environment Using Service Management

Similar to how a Service Management approach supports the employee onboarding process, Service Management offers a variety of capabilities to legal teams that range from service design, through operations, to performance management and improvement. Here are some of the benefits your legal teams could experience by implementing a service management tool and practices.

  • Digital work intake – rather than new work requests being submitted by paper or emailed forms, a legal self-service portal can be employed. The portal can also be used in conjunction with knowledge management for self-help. In addition, there’s 24/7 availability of legal self-help capabilities, including where employees want to check the status of their open legal requests.
  • Leveraging focused digital workflows – with each designed to match particular needs relative to the work request type, the involved business function, or both. These employ automation where possible and benefit from service level targets, notifications, alerts, approvals, escalations, and associated reporting and analytics to optimize performance. 
  • More-effective knowledge access and use – legal staff are archetypal knowledge workers and as such will benefit from the ability to quickly identify, access, and use collective knowledge.
  • Improved collaboration capabilities – whether this is as simple as quickly bringing a colleague onto a particular piece of work or the ability to work with others outside of the legal team or the organization.
  • Superior reporting and analytics – given that work is now handled digitally “from cradle to grave” it makes it easier to gain visibility into operations, performance, demand, and improvement opportunities. For example, to optimize legal staffing based on demand relative to the required number of people and specific knowledge and skills. Especially where self-help and automation ease some of the pressure on legal personnel.
  • Improved governance, risk management, compliance, and security – for example, the digital workflows make it easier to benefit from internal controls and audit trails. Plus, modern service management tools offer granular security permissions such that access to information can be limited down to specific groups and even individuals.

If you would like to learn more about how service management can accelerate the operations and outcomes of your legal team, get in touch with us at Praecipio Consulting!

Topics: legal service-management enterprise service management
9 min read

How to Use Appfire's Configuration Manager for Jira Cloud Migration Tool

By Luis Machado on Jan 18, 2022 10:15:00 AM

2022 Q1 Blog Partner - How to use Appfire's Config - Hero

Recently, Atlassian announced their shift in focus to the cloud and the decommissioning of their server product. As a result, Atlassian customers are no longer asking "if" they're moving to the cloud, but instead "when" and "how can we get there?"

Anyone who's ever been through migration can tell you that it can be a painful process. No team wants to sift through years of accumulated data to try and identify what stays and what goes. The process is about as appealing as cleaning the attic out of your grandparents' house. And potentially with more surprises. So, teams are looking for ways to make the process as smooth and surprise-free as possible.

The Praecipio Consulting team has empowered our clients to make their transition to the cloud as smooth as possible. We are constantly exploring the ecosystem, searching for options and partners to assist in that effort.

We've had the opportunity to do beta testing for a Jira add-on developed by our good friends at Appfire, which is an evolution of their Configuration Manager for Jira product (CMJ for short). The CMJ Cloud Migration Tool is Appfire's answer to the "how" part of companies' question.

We'll review some of the tool's current features and functionalities, explore potential use cases, and finally, talk through some possible features we're excited to see in the future.

 

The Migration Process

Let's walk through what migration looks like using the CMJ Cloud migration tool. We won't get into the nitty-gritty details of the process, but it's essential to understand how the tool functions at a high level to provide context around the features we're covering.

Setup

The setup process is straightforward, but there are a couple of pieces.

  • You'll first install the tool like any other add-on from the marketplace on your server instance. This app is free, so you can explore the features and functionality as much as you want.
  • In addition to having the on-prem app, you'll need to install a cloud counterpart as well. You can get a trial license for this app, which can be installed in the same manner as any cloud add-on.
  • Next, create an API token for your cloud site. This is what allows the on-prem add-on to talk to your cloud environment. A step-by-step process for setting up an API token can be found on Atlassian's Support site.
  • Once you've created your token, you can create a connection between your on-prem site and your cloud environment.

Create a Migration

With your environments all set up to talk to each other, you can now plan your migration.  Under the main page for CMJ, you get a dashboard that tracks the ratio of projects and issues you've migrated in your instance, as well as a list of reports around the migrations you've created. We really like the dashboard for this tool. It's sleek and clean and also provides some great information at a glance.

Creating your migration is easy and straightforward:

  • Create your migration and name it.
  • Attach your previously configured cloud connector (or create a new one).
  • Select the projects you wish to migrate.
  • Run the Analysis.
  • Review and resolve any data conflicts.

There's some nuance to be worked through with this. The above example is a simplified representation, but we wanted to highlight the core capabilities' value.

 

Key Features

Expanding a bit on our outlined process above, I'd like to emphasize that the CMJ Cloud Migration Tool does a couple of things well that I want to highlight, as these features would potentially bring a lot of value to a migration given the right situation.

Error Handling

Like its on-prem migration counterpart, the single best feature that this software has to offer is the ability to handle error correction against your data prior to migrating. Using the in-line correction tools, there's no chance of accidentally migrating broken data to your cloud environment, and you don't have to wait through the entire migration process to the end to receive errors. The analysis function checks the data before migrating to give you a clean and detailed overview. As a migration architect, one of my responsibilities is assessing the environments intended to be migrated, and sometimes that means telling clients that their baby is ugly. No migration is perfect, though, and usually, the older the instance, the more potential there is for issues.  The CMJ Cloud Migration tool does a great job of helping you tackle these issues to make sure none of that erroneous data attempts to make its way into your cloud environment.

Selective Migration

You can effortlessly get an overview of the projects and issues that exist on your instance and get an idea of how much of that data has been previously migrated. This can help you keep track of what's being migrated over a period of time to help facilitate phased migrations for those larger enterprise customers that just have way too much data to move in a single migration window. This can also be handy if you have specific teams that are ready to move to cloud while others still need more time or if there are some projects that are not intended to be brought over. Combined with the ability to choose all or a subset of projects in the migration creation phase, you get a lot of flexibility.

Conflict Avoidance

For combination migration/merges, this feature is handy. One of the main challenges around migrating to cloud comes up if you have both an existing cloud environment and an on-prem environment that you're looking to migrate and merge into one. With any merge migration, you will have data elements that may conflict from both sides. This could be custom fields, workflows, or any global Jira object.

We often see (especially with clients looking to do a merge migration) that some efforts have been to duplicate work in both environments. Either because one team decided to start over in cloud, or maybe the permissions were set up as such that a certain group couldn't access data that was in one environment or another. Whatever the reason, it's not uncommon to have duplicate or conflicting data.

The CMJ tool allows you to identify and resolve those conflicts in-line during your migration or as part of your testing, so you can get a full sense of what to expect, and make a plan to resolve them. This is something that normally has to be done in a painstaking manner prior to the migration, or results in a lot of man-hours utilized for cleanup in the target instance after the fact.

 

What's coming in the future

In its current state, the CMJ Cloud Migration Tool offers a lot of great features and functionality. It's a top contender for companies looking to do a migration from an on-prem Jira instance to the cloud. There's a lot to be excited about from Appfire's roadmap for the tool. In particular, there are several features that we're really excited to see come to fruition.

Cloud to Cloud Migration

Right now, cloud-to-cloud migrations are one of the most nebulous types of migration engagements that we perform, as there is currently no available solution for directly merging two cloud instances together. The process involves exporting and importing the cloud sites to an on-prem solution and re-importing the final product into cloud. This can be a complex and cumbersome endeavor, depending on how the cloud sites are configured, because of the feature differences between cloud and on-prem. Suppose the final evolution of the CMJ Cloud Migration tool allows users to have as smooth a merge/migration process in cloud as they do with merging server/data center instances. In that case, that's a massive win for everyone.

Jira Service Management

While the climate around migrating Jira Service Management (JSM) projects to the cloud is improving, it's still a bit of a wild west trying to get these projects migrated. JSM projects are currently a liability regarding cloud migrations and an immediate complexity increase if they're present. Having a fully fleshed-out solution for migrating these projects would be huge and provide some much-needed stability and reliability to the process.

Rollbacks

One of our favorite features of the CMJ tool is the rollback functionality. If there is an error in the migration, the app immediately kicks off a rollback and provides an error log when complete.

There's nothing like this that currently exists for cloud migration.

Once the data is moved, it's still there. If something is wrong and you get only a partial migration, it can be a bit of a bear to restore the instance to a usable state. Having a rollback functionality built-in that will revert the target instance to its pre-migration state automatically is not only a time saver but grants peace of mind.  This can also be useful in testing; sometimes, with migrations, it's hard to pinpoint what's going to work and what's not without just testing the migration. A rollback feature frees up the time it would take to restore a test environment if there are still adjustments to make.

 

Conclusion

Every migration is different, and it's essential to find the right tool for the job. The CMJ Cloud Migration Tool has a lot to offer out of the box, and the roadmap for future features looks incredibly promising.  In fact, during beta testing, the Appfire team shared with us that the Cloud Migration Tool successfully performed a single migration of 100 projects, 200k issues, and over 2 million configuration changes — so it's built to handle those large, customized, and complex Jira instances.

If you're an enterprise customer with a large instance and a lot of history behind it, you're going to need a solution to match. We encourage you to consider CMJ for your migration project, and if you are looking for a partner to help guide your organization through the process of an Atlassian Cloud migration, reach out to Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: jira technology-partners cloud migration
5 min read

Why You Should be Using an Enterprise Service Management Tool

By Luis Machado on Jan 11, 2022 10:28:01 AM

2022 Q1 Blog ESM - Why You Should be Using an ESM Tool - Hero

Enterprise Service Management solutions are beginning to make their way into every part of the organizational structure, breaking down silos and improving how teams work. Service Management uses IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities in other business functions to improve operations and outcomes.

The best way to understand how Enterprise Service Management solutions can transform your organization is to discuss the value that a Service Management approach brings to your teams.

3 Benefits of a Service Management Approach

While Enterprise Service Management might still be relatively new in people's minds, despite being a "thing" for over a decade, ITSM has been evolving for over three decades. There are many reasons for its success, including the following benefits that apply to both ITSM and Enterprise Service Management scenarios:

  1. Service-based thinking moves service providers from a supply view of the world to a demand-based view. This allows them to be better aligned with business wants and needs, including consumer-like services and support.
  2. The use of best practice Service Management guidance – using ITSM bodies of knowledge such as ITIL 4 – helps service providers to optimize their service delivery and support capabilities. After all, we've discussed how ITSM and ITIL aren't that different. This framework will help your business function to be all three of "better, faster, cheaper" in terms of the better operations:
    • Providing better outcomes and service experiences
    • Realizing efficiency gains and reduced operational costs.
  3. The consistency of operations leads to better outcomes and helps to improve employee morale and satisfaction.

These benefits are all then enabled and enhanced by using fit-for-purpose technology in the form of an ITSM tool that offers capabilities such as digital workflows, self-service, service request catalogs, knowledge availability, automation, and orchestration, collaborative abilities, and anytime and anyplace access.

Enterprise Service Management not only delivers optimized capabilities and a better service experience but also allows the service provider/receiver "dynamic." Service provider capabilities are now designed around the employee's needs rather than individual corporate service providers, such as human resources (HR), facilities, IT, etc.

6 Benefits of Using an Enterprise Service Management Tool

There are many enabling capabilities provided by an Enterprise Service Management tool, as outlined earlier, that can be directly translated into benefits for service requesters, service provider staff, and your organization as a whole. For example, employing fit-for-purpose technology allows you to:

  1. Facilitate the optimization of practices/processes and the people that work within them. The available digital workflows allow work to flow faster, as do technology-enabled knowledge management capabilities. This results in better outcomes and experiences, with associated productivity improvements for both service provider staff and the people they're serving.
  2. Offer a greater choice of access and communication channels to employees. With consumer-like omnichannel support available via chat (and chatbots) and self-service/help capabilities as well as the traditional telephone, email, and potentially "walk-up" channels. The use of self-service/help capabilities also increases the speed of resolution and minimizes the associated business function "handling" costs.
  3. Help manage demand for service and support. With self-help and chatbots, along with knowledge management, in particular offering the opportunity to deflect new requests and calls for status updates.
  4. Provide greater visibility into business function operations and performance, with the ability to better understand what has been achieved and what still needs to be accomplished. Plus, the identification of continuous improvement opportunities across operations, services, outcomes, and employee experience.
  5. Offer improved collaboration capabilities. Making it easier for work to be passed between, or worked on collectively by, various people and even across teams in different business functions.
  6. Provide a better return on investment (ROI) for the corporate ITSM tool. The more the ITSM tool – or what now might be called an Enterprise Service Management tool – is used to save time and money, the better the ROI for the tool.

ESM & AI

In addition to the traditional people and process technology-enablement, the growing availability of artificial intelligence (AI)-based capabilities in enterprise service management tools provides even higher levels of available benefits. For example, through intelligent automated ticket triage or chatbots as the first customer touchpoint. The impact of AI on enterprise service management will be covered in more detail in a future blog.

To Wrap Up

As you can see, the benefits of employing an Enterprise Service Management tool cover a broad spectrum of areas that impacts overall organizational performance. Like you, we examined business professionals about their adoption and thoughts regarding Enterprise Service Management tools. You can download the 2021 State of Service Management report here. Additionally, if you're still unsure if you should be calling it ITSM, ESM, or SM, you can check out this blog.

If we've convinced you that Enterprise Service Management tools can help you reduce friction, increase transparency, and increase your return-on-investment, then reach out, and we'll be in touch.

Topics: best-practices service-management enterprise service management
4 min read

4 Cloud Migration Strategies: Their Pros and Cons

By Isaac Montes on Jan 4, 2022 9:57:00 AM

2022 Q1 Blog Cloud - 4 Cloud Migration Strategies - Hero

You have decided that moving to Cloud is the right decision for the future of your Atlassian products. Now, how do you go about doing so? Migrating to the Atlassian Cloud can be a complex process that could have a big impact on users, data integrity, and system performance, so there needs to be a strategy in place to meet any business requirements specific to your organization and industry.

We will cover the 4 cloud migration strategies you can implement when moving to Atlassian Cloud. Note the importance of planning properly for the cloud migration, deciding on your migration strategy, and carrying out that strategy first requires an assessment of your Atlassian footprint. 

Clean-Up and Migrate

When we use this strategy, we are looking at evaluating your source instance and cleaning up anything that may not be deemed necessary to migrate. All the necessary data is then migrated to the cloud at once while leaving behind items in the server for reference.

Pros:

  • Only one migration outage
  • Can reduce the time of the outage
  • End up with an improved instance
  • Potential performance improvements
  • Reduce costs

Cons:

  • The outage window may be longer than other methods due to the size of the data
  • Requires additional time to clean and prepare the instance

As-Is Migration

Migrate your entire instance at once with one migration outage. This includes all instance data and users.

Pros:

  • Reduced costs
  • Timeline is reduced
  • Less effort and simpler process
  • One migration window
  • Can migrate Service Management and Advanced Roadmaps

Cons:

  • Increased downtime depending on the size of the instance
  • Unnecessary data and users may be moved to the cloud increasing cost and complexity

Phased Migration

With a phased migration, we take the approach of cleaning and migrating but with an extended timeline and without having to move everything at once. Users and instance data are moved depending on a scheduled plan. 

Pros:

  • Outage times are reduced
  • Possible phased user onboarding
  • Cleanup can happen while migrating
  • Easier phased adoption of Atlassian Cloud

Cons:

  • Does not support Service Management and Advanced Road maps
  • May support fewer third-party apps
  • Overall longer process may increase the cost
  • Multiple outages
  • Increased complexity
  • May require a third-party app to meet business requirements

Clean Sweep

If on-prem (server or DC) data is not required and teams want to start using the cloud right away, starting fresh on a brand new instance may be the simplest of strategies.

Pros:

  • No downtime required
  • Server can be kept for closing out projects or archiving
  • Easier to onboard new teams
  • Allows clean slate to improve processes and implement new things

Cons:

  • Old on-prem data will not be available on the Cloud instance

Conclusion

Every company and industry has different needs, but our experts have the experience necessary to make yours easy and efficient. If you are considering a move to Atlassian Cloud but are worried about how this new environment will impact your mission-critical apps and add-ons being, we’re here to help!

Free eBook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

There are 6 steps to any successful Atlassian Cloud Migration process. We've created an eBook to explore each step in detail and demonstrate how we've maintained a 100% migration success rate. Download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook here.

Want to learn more about the Cloud Migration process? Check out this blogs on the Pros and Cons of Cloud Migration and this on 4 Things to Look Out for When Migrating to Atlassian Cloud.

Topics: atlassian atlassian-cloud cloud migration
4 min read

An Agile Approach to New Year's Resolutions

By Amanda Babb on Dec 21, 2021 12:09:26 PM

2021 Q4 PCM-5235 Blog Agile - An Agile Approach to New Year's Resolutions - Hero

Happy (almost) New Year! Like most people, I was happy to close the door on 2020 and am ready to move past 2021. Thankfully, 2021 brought some relief, but even still it was another challenging year. While I'm grateful for the growth both professionally and personally that each year provided, I have high hopes for 2022 and that it’s not “twenty twenty, too”.

Every new year provides us the opportunity to retrospect on the previous year and plan for the new one. I, for one, do not make New Year's Resolutions. Several studies show that only 8% of New Year's Resolutions are successful. The reasons for failure range depending on the group of people surveyed. Athletes, for example, have a fateful day: the second Saturday in January. Whereas others may see a slightly longer time frame before failure (the second week of February), it's disheartening to set and fail at a New Year's Resolution.

Each of the studies (of which there are countless) seem to agree on the success factors: setting smaller, attainable goals in shorter time frames. For those Agile evangelists out there, this sounds VERY familiar.

Setting SMART Goals

The first step in setting any attainable goal is to think SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Roughly 55% of New Year's Resolutions are health-related. Let's look at one of the most common examples: "I want to lose weight."

When we hold this basic statement against the SMART standards, it fails. And, to be honest, so will you. Instead, let's reframe this within the SMART framework: "I would like to lose 20 pounds by May 31."

This fulfills all the SMART criteria of setting a good goal. Now that we have a good goal, how do we attain it? Let's look at our Agile frameworks to help us fulfill our goal of losing 20 pounds by June 30.

Set Yourself Up for Success: An Iterative Approach

If you've ever tried to fulfill a New Year's Resolution, you know there are tons of factors that can impact your results. Weather, holidays, birthdays, sheer lack of desire...any or all of these can impact your ability to attain your goals. Instead, break these down into incremental smaller goals and measure your attainment in shorter timeframes. Think of your big goal as an Epic (the what) to be broken into Stories (the how), and you will attain that goal.

The Epic: 20 Pounds in 5 months

The Stories: 4 Pounds per Month

See? Doesn't that already sound easier? But you need to take it even further. Thinking of each month as a Sprint, you should set yourself a Sprint Goal for each month. How are you going to build better habits to lose the 4 Pounds per Month?

  • Walk 30 minutes twice per week
  • Reduce meal delivery service to once per week
  • Cook a vegetarian meal once per week

However, the critical thing to remember is not to start your first week with all three. Remember, you're trying to set yourself up for long-term success. It should look something more like this:

  • Walk 30 minutes twice per week by the end of January
  • Reduce meal delivery service to once per week and continue to walk 30 minutes twice per week by the end of March
  • Cook a vegetarian meal once per week, continue reduced meal delivery service, and continue to walk by the end of May

Instead of starting all three goals at the beginning of January, gradually iterate into them. Spend the time to focus on a single, smaller attainable goal to build the habit.

Meet Your Goals: Measurement and Retrospective

While attaining your goal is binary (I did it or I didn't do it), the key to success is to measure against it and retrospect on a regular cadence. Instead of obsessing over the pounds per month, measure against the smaller goals.

  • Walk 30 minutes twice per week
    • Mark on a calendar when you walked each week
    • Use a fitness tracker and specifically call out when you walked each week
  • Reduce meal delivery service to once per week
    • Set the day of the week to have food delivered (e.g. Thursdays)
  • Cook a vegetarian meal once per week
    • Mark on a calendar when you cooked a vegetarian meal
    • Set the day of the week to cook the meal

Each week, take a moment to review your calendar or your app or however you track these items. However, do not beat yourself up if you missed a week. Really dig into why the miss happened. Was it a particularly stressful day and ordering delivery was easier? Was the weather too cold or snowy or rainy that week? Either way, you don't have to "make up for it" the following week: simply try again.

As you engage in 2022, remember you don't have to start on your resolutions right away either. If you've failed every year in January, then shift your goal to a February start. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Interested in how you can apply similar logic to meet your business goals and increase your ROI on projects? Reach out and our experts would love to help.

Topics: change agile
3 min read

The Risks of Using a Data Center: Final Fantasy XIV

By Luis Machado on Dec 17, 2021 11:00:44 AM

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It’s not often my personal and professional contexts cross paths, so I feel the need to jump on it when it happens. Dominating video game news and social media is the unfortunate situation plaguing Final Fantasy XIV. Produced by Square Enix, the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) has seen unprecedented and unexpected growth these last 12-18 months.

Their problem: They use physical data centers to house and operate the game during a global supply chain shortage and pandemic.

Their solution: They’ve temporarily discontinued the sale of all new games and paused their extensive free trial until they’re able to find an adequate solution.

Some History about Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV or FF14 for short) is a game that has had a storied past. Initially, it launched in 2010, receiving some of the worst reviews of any game I’ve ever seen. The game was destroyed, rebuilt almost entirely, and relaunched in 2013 to lukewarm fanfare. Over the last decade, the studio has worked tirelessly to rebuild its reputation and player trust. The game has just launched its fourth expansion, Endwalker, in December of 2021 to immense celebration and excellent reviews from the players who could access the game (namely those who could log on in off-peak times).

Traditionally, player populations within online games are easy to predict: when new content is released, players return for a few weeks before sliding off again. FFXIV’s previous expansion, Shadowbringers, bucked this trend, with players coming online and joining in increasing numbers throughout its lifecycle. Unfortunately, with the semiconductor shortage, supply chain issues, and COVID travel restrictions: Square Enix has been unable to fix the problem.

The Problem with Data Centers

If your infrastructure is based on physical servers, then this becomes a critical piece of business that can have substantial financial ramifications down the road. Not to suggest that it’s not essential if you’ve virtualized your infrastructure in the cloud. Still, it’s certainly much easier to recover from, and the impact is potentially not as dire.

Since FFXIV is hosted on physical servers, the only way to increase their capacity is by purchasing more hardware and getting it added to the data centers or possibly standing up a new data center (which is something they’re trying to do). But, as we said before, they’ve been unable to get their hands on new parts. 

How Players are Impacted

Thousands of players in a queue means your login time can be upwards of 2,3, even 4 or 5 hours. You have to sit here during this time, by the way. System errors and queue limitations mean you can be errored out at any point. It’s caused a lot of consternation and outright anger within the FFXIV community.

How Square Enix is Impacted

At this point, the company has suspended new sales of the game and has refunded nearly a month of game time back to the players while they work to fix their congestion issues. All of this translates into lost revenue. Having a great game that’s fun to play means nothing if people can’t buy it.

Imagine if They Used the Cloud

First, let me start by stating that the company and the game’s director have been interviewed on this topic before. Porting a decade-old online game to the cloud is something they’ve looked into in the past. They deemed it too costly and too high a risk to take on with the resources on hand.

Now, imagine if Square Enix had FFXIV’s infrastructure hosted in the cloud, this launch would have been a whole different story, possibly as one of the most successful expansion launches to date and one of the greatest MMO comebacks in history. All the increased need for capacity would be a couple of clicks away, or maybe it would just happen if they had some infrastructure as code implemented.

What Happens Next?

It remains to be seen how this will continue to unfold. Square Enix has several game patches already scheduled to be released to keep the content flow going. This means it might be time for interest to die down but might also continue to fuel customer frustrations if the company cannot resolve its issues.

I don’t think there’s any way they could have predicted what would occur with this launch. But, on the other hand, if they had, they may have found it worth the cost after all.

We’ve worked with all kinds of companies in the past, game companies included. If you’re interested in seeing how we helped them prepare for the digital future, you can read about it here. Need to make your leap to the cloud? Get in touch with us; we can help.

Topics: data-center gaming risk
3 min read

Creating a Sprint in Jira

By Martin Spears on Dec 16, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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Jira is a great tool to help development teams manage their work. Because flexibility is one of many "flexes" (pun intended!) that Jira has, each Dev team can easily configure their boards to best suit their workflow. Jira currently offers two types of Agile boards, Kanban and Scrum. 

2021 Q4 Blog - Jira - Creating a Sprint - Create a Board ImageScrum is a more structured Agile approach. Scrum sprints have a quicker cadence, which forces more significant projects to be broken down into smaller stories/tasks. In addition, planning, review, and retrospective meetings are spread throughout. Check out our Scrum Master Basics series to get the low down on how to become a Scrum Expert.

Kanban boards are all about remaining flexible and improving on the iterative process. As a result, Kanban boards are better for teams with various changing priorities and projects. Unlike Scrum, their sprints are less rigid in length and allow you to shape its structure depending on team needs. Learn how to set up the best Kanban boards here.

Both boards can use backlogs, but Scrum boards also allow the teams to track their work in Sprints. Keep on scrolling to learn step-by-step instructions on how to create a sprint in Jira and set your teams up for success with Agile project management.

Do You Have Permission?

Creating sprints is controlled by the Jira project's "Manage Sprints" permission. It is a good idea to limit how many users have this permission. Typically, this permission is reserved for Jira Admins, Project Admins, Product Owners, and possibly Scrum Masters. The "Manage Sprints" permission controls which users can create sprints, edit the sprint properties, start sprints, complete sprints, and delete sprints.

Creating a Sprint

Once you have the "Manage Sprints" permission and are ready to create a sprint, go to your board backlog and click Create Sprint. If you do not see the Create Sprint button, chances are you do not have the Create Sprint permission for that project. Check with your Jira Admin or request "Manage Sprints" permissions.

After you click Create Sprint, the Sprint will automatically be named after your board, Board Name Sprint 1, and each subsequent Sprint will increment the count by one. 

2021 Q4 Blog - Jira - Creating a Sprint - Backlog Image

Starting a Sprint

Go to the backlog and look for the Start Sprint button when you are ready to start the Sprint. Traditionally, teams will only run one Sprint at a time. You can change this in the Global settings if your group allows parallel sprints. Once you click Start Sprint, a window will appear for you to check or set the start date and the duration.

2021 Q4 Blog - Jira - Creating a Sprint - Starting a Sprint ImageCompleting a Sprint

Complete the Sprint as scheduled. Any unfinished work or work not in the far-right Done column will be added to (rollover) the next Sprint. If future sprints have already been created, you will see the next sprint name. If no future sprints are available, Jira will create one using the Board Name and the next sprint count. There is a reason why they call it an Agile transformation journey.

The constant evolution of teams, marketplace demands, and business requirements is certainly an adventure. Let us be your guide as you navigate this journey! Reach out to us and see how we can help your organization implement best practices for building Agile teams.

Topics: jira best-practices sprint
4 min read

ITSM, ESM, or SM? What is Service Management and How Can It Help?

By Kye Hittle on Dec 9, 2021 10:15:00 AM

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There are many definitions and uses of the term Enterprise Service Management in our industry. It can be confusing but it's worth defining because Enterprise Service Management is a powerful framework you'll want to leverage extensively in your digital transformation. So, what is Enterprise Service Management or ESM?

Is it even called "Enterprise Service Management" now?

Let's start with the first word of this phrase, Enterprise. Earlier this year, Praecipio Consulting conducted a survey on the state of Service Management. One of the questions we asked attempted to get right to the heart of this particular debate:

Is it called "Enterprise Service Management"?

Responses Percentage
Service Management 39%
Enterprise Service Management 29%
Digital Transformation 12%
ITSM 11%
Digital Workflow Enablement 4%
Other 5%

Source: Praecipio Consulting 2021 State of Service Management Survey.

Service Management originated within IT organizations (and is often referred to as IT Service Management, or ITSM). Enterprise Service Management then was often used to describe the application of Service Management's principles and practices for teams outside of IT.

Service Management in Practice

A good way to get a feel for Service Management is to look at some examples of how it can help various functions within an enterprise. We've seen customers use Service Management to level up across their organization with amazing results.

Whether the customers are internal or external, every organizational function is in the business of providing service. The facilities team provides well-maintained, functional physical spaces. The accounting team provides financial record-keeping and reporting. Human resources provide talent recruitment, employment policy, and wellness programs. The IT helpdesk and customer support teams are also classic examples, and the list goes on.

While all of these teams serve different purposes, they all deliver services to customers. In that light, they share the practices and capabilities of Service Management. Each team needs to manage these common attributes in order to deliver an exceptional service experience Some examples include:

  • Request intake
  • Resource workload
  • Incidents (when things don't go quite as planned)
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Metrics and improvement
  • Change

Each team often has a variety of use cases for some or all of the list above. Problems arise when each team or department is using its own customized program or solution. For example, when teams try to work collaboratively, having siloed tools creates friction and slows down processes.

This is what Service Management was designed to address.

Frameworks Guide Us

The most effective way to adopt Service Management is to work from a comprehensive framework, like ITIL 4. Looking at the highest levels of ITIL, the practices, we get a sense of how it can be used to define and improve service delivery.

The largest ITIL practice area, Service Management, is comprised of 17 practices, including Service Desk, Availability Management, Change Control, Incident Management, and Validation/Testing.

Managing your organization’s service delivery using these practices produces an upward spiral of improvement and capability. As consultants, this is where we spend most of our time, designing and configuring the Atlassian Service Management tools to enable these critical practices.

In Conclusion

While it's tempting to start with tools as a solution to service delivery challenges, you must first begin with the practice and treat the tool as a supporting component. This enables you to define critical policy and strategy decisions that align the entire organization instead of losing focus and having to constantly reinvent the wheel. Additionally, this mindset will set you up for success in preparing your teams for the ever-changing business landscape of our digital future.

To read more about Service Management, check out our blog on how Service Management is More Than an IT Service Desk. 

There's a big wide world of Service Management out there and it can be a little confusing to navigate! Let us be your guide! Get in touch and let's determine how Praecipio Consulting can best help you adopt and accelerate Service Management throughout your organization.

Topics: enterprise service-management enterprise service management
3 min read

Workato 101: Everything You Need to Know

By Yogi Kanakamedala on Dec 2, 2021 10:15:00 AM

Workato 101 Blog Header

Workato is a powerful iPaaS (Cloud-Based Integration Solution) tool that enables your organization to integrate your go-to applications and automate workflows seamlessly. An easy-to-use, block-coding approach to building recipes allows you to unlock the ability to create limitless integrations and automation.

Building Blocks

Automations in Workato are defined by a recipe that contains step-by-step instructions on performing tasks or processes. A recipe is made up of two key components: a trigger and one or more actions. But before we can start looking at triggers and actions, we must first learn about application connections.

Application Connection

An application connection contains information that Workato uses to connect and authorize the use of an application. For each application, you need a new connection that has credentials to connect to the application. Workato uses the application's API to change its objects; therefore, it may require OAuth-based authorization, API keys, or other authorization methods.

First, make sure that your account has the necessary access to make changes within the instance.

For example, a connection made to Jira Cloud will require your email and API key, and a connection made to a hosted Jira environment will need your username and password. Once you make the necessary connections and Workato can access the application, a trigger can be configured to kick off the recipe.

Trigger

A trigger is the starting point for any Workato recipe, and almost any application can be configured to act as a trigger. Note, for all new applications, a new application connection is required. For example, a trigger can be a newly created issue in Jira. In this case, anytime a new issue is created, the recipe will start, and all of the tasks that you define are automatically executed.

Sometimes, triggers can be generic and could cause the recipe to run during unnecessary events. In this case, a trigger condition can be applied to eliminate excessive noise. To continue with the previous example, if you want to perform tasks on a newly created issue from only one project in Jira, then apply a trigger condition to ensure that the recipe starts when a new issue is created for that specific project.

Once the recipe's starting point is defined, you can add the subsequential actions required to complete—and eventually automate—your process.

Action

Before you start a recipe, you first need to define the process. This is done with the help of actions. An action is a single operation performed within an instance. For example, you can create issues or comments in Jira, post a message to Slack, update the standard of custom records in Salesforce, and much more.

Actions can also be logical elements such as conditions, loops, or error monitoring to help you create the desired automation. This can help perform more complicated processes and save time and resources for your business. For even more complex requests, you can run Ruby or JavaScript code as an action to help fill in the gaps between the built-in actions.

Next Steps

Workato is an effective tool when appropriately leveraged, unlocking the full potential of each device. Many of your day-to-day tasks can be automated to reduce human error and increase efficiency so your teams can instead focus on more critical tasks. For comprehensive information about any application connection, please refer to the Workato Documentation.

Our consultants are experienced in integrating a wide variety of technology platforms. Check out the press release on Praecipio Consulting receiving 2020 Workato Partner Award for IT Automations. We are ready to answer any questions you might have.

Contact us to learn more and see how you can maximize Workato to connect your go-to apps and align your entire organization with digital business goals.

Topics: workato integration strategic-solutions-expert
3 min read

Jira vs. Confluence: Which is Right for Your Team?

By Martin Spears on Nov 18, 2021 11:30:00 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-September-2021_Jira vs. Confluence- Which is Right for Your Team

Jira and Confluence are just two pieces of the Atlassian suite and they're some of the most recognizable tools for IT and business teams across all industries. Because they are both so flexible, versatile, and user-friendly, the use cases that organizations could come up with are endless. When deciding which tool is right for your team, it depends on the need you are trying to meet.

How would you answer this question: It would be great if my team could _______.

Here are some answers we've heard from customers in the past and the solution we would suggest: 

Business Need Graph

What sort of team is a good fit for Jira?

Jira can be leveraged for just about any team that is managing work or projects.  Jira can be adapted to just about any business process in any industry.  There are several Jira products to choose from depending on the type of work you are managing.  At Praecipio Consulting we have used Jira to implement process solutions for clients across many functions, such as Marketing, Legal, HR, Software, IT, Accounting, and the list keeps going. 

The point is that if you are trying to keep track of work items, Jira can be the right tool for you.  Jira also integrates well with lots of other applications, enabling you to customize solutions based on what is best for helping your team get work done.  If interested in reading more about this, check out our case study, World's Largest Beverage and Brewing Company Migrates to Atlassian ITSM Platform.  

What sort of teams should use Confluence?

Confluence is a wiki-style knowledge-sharing tool.  Confluence can be used to create, store, and share documentation for your organization.  Any team that wants to benefit from easily sharing knowledge about tools and projects can benefit from using Confluence.  At Praecipio Consulting we use Confluence to create templates for standardized project documentation.  We use these templates to create process designs, diagrams, marketing content, etc.  We also share documentation around company benefits and how-to articles for many of the things we need to be able to do as employees. 

Confluence makes it easy to create, organize, and share information.  If interested in reading more about this, check out our case study, Intranet Overhaul for Design Software Company Results in Improved User Experience.

So which one is right for you?

You can choose either Jira or Confluence based on your team's needs, but you don't have to choose just one.  These are complementary products that are designed to be integrated with each other.  You can use Confluence to track new product requirements and when integrated with Jira, you can turn those requirements into user stories for your development team.  When working on an issue in Jira, you can easily reference and link to a how-to article in Confluence. 

The best thing to do is take advantage of how easy it is to sign up and try the applications.  Get one or both applications and test them out to see if they work for you.  Take a look at this case study about a client in the gaming industry: Gaming Company "Stays in the Game" by Improving Usage of Atlassian Products. 

Our team offers a variety of Product Services to ensure that your team can be using these tools as effectively as possible to meet your goals. 

If you aren't sure how you would answer the question above or your situation is a bit more complex: let's talk. Praecipio has years of experience creating solutions and building environments that help businesses optimize and plan for the future.

 

Topics: jira confluence software
5 min read

How Spore-Infused Canola Oil Supports the Forest Ecosystem

By Christopher Pepe on Nov 2, 2021 10:00:00 AM

2021-blogpost-How Spore-Infused Canola Oil Supports the Forest Ecosystem

Last year I switched to grocery store canola oil to lubricate my chainsaw bar. I add Oyster mushroom spores into the oil so that they are dispersed while I cut. This method was developed by Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti and discussed in his book Mycelium Running. There doesn’t appear to be a commercially available product; however, by making it myself at close to the cost of conventional petroleum-based bar oil (~$15/gal), I improve my forest and should have some convenient forage this fall. I am still refining the process of infusing spores into canola oil, but if you are curious to try it, I’d be happy to swap notes.

Why vegetable oil?

Available since the mid-1980s, vegetable-based bar oil usage has grown more rapidly in Europe and is gaining adoption in the US. Workers’ occupational safety and health, and environmental protection are the biggest concerns caused by the thousands of gallons of petroleum-based bar oil that is left in our forests each year.

“Petroleum-based oils are known carcinogens and medical records show that they cause discomforting eczema and oil acne. In addition, prolonged exposure to petroleum-based-oil mist can cause irritation of the respiratory tract. Environmental damage caused by petroleum-based oil spills has had extensive attention from the media.[1]”

Whereas, canola oil “has excellent lubricating properties and some studies have shown up to 40 percent reduction in consumption without sacrificing bar-and-chain life.[1]” Again looking to Europe, we see that there are 80+ brands of vegetable-based bar oil in Germany alone. Austria has gone so far as to outlaw petroleum-based bar oil. Europe has even developed a standard (CEC-L-33-T-82) that measures the amount of oil that biodegrades over a 21-day period. Within that standard, products can contain some mineral oil additives. A popular choice in the US, STIHL BioPlus, degrades 93.8% in 21 days. Commercial vegetable-based bar oils cost about twice as much as petroleum products, which has hurt adoption. But with long-term environmental concerns and sustainability driving today's business decisions more than ever before, that additional cost will be more easily justified.

Canola oil is also a renewable product. It is worth considering that conventional agriculture relies on fossil fuels, and accounts for 10% of the US greenhouse gas emissions [2]. Canola-based bar oil is still seen as a net positive as it keeps the toxins in petroleum-based bar oil out of the forests, and we have the potential to change our agricultural footprint into the future.

Why mushrooms?

Saprobic mushrooms, the decomposers, are the cornerstone of returning nutrients back to the forest. Common native fungi include oysters and Turkey tail. As tree limbs and litter fall to the forest floor, saprobes reach up and consume them. Mycelium, the vegetative part of the mushroom, invades the tree litter, brings along water, and attracts insects that feed on the mycelium. Those insects attract birds and forest creatures to tear apart the rotting wood. The mushrooms start the process, decompose the most difficult tissues (lignin and cellulose), and invite the others to continue the job. This process converts wood back into the soil.

There are many functions that mushrooms serve in our world. Oyster mushrooms are known to feed on nematodes[4] and are effective water filters. They’re used by humans and other animals as food and medicine. Turkey tail mushrooms contain anti-cancer medicines, are aggressive decomposers, and protect against parasitic fungi. Many of our best medicines have come from mushrooms and many more are expected to be discovered, especially in the few remaining sections of old-growth forests. There are dozens of powerful mushrooms that humans have partnered with and countless more that we don't even know the value of yet. Perhaps they will share their stories someday.

Why use spore-infused canola oil?

Mushroom spores are everywhere. In fact, you have inhaled dozens since you started reading this article. Kathleen Stutzman, VFF’s Conservation Forester, gave me the sage advice that “the forest does not need you to be healthy.” Similarly, the mushrooms do not need me to find their way into deadwood. However, the choices that I make can help steer our forest in the direction I want it to go. By preferring some species, I can speed up decomposition and quickly build the thin soil on my rocky hillside. New research suggests that species like the Turkey tail will also ward off potentially destructive species like the honey mushroom[3], one of which is the largest organism to ever live on earth. While honey mushrooms likely serve a function in the forest, they also cause a lot of financial hardship for timber companies. The jury is still out on honey mushrooms in my opinion, but Turkey tail and Oysters mushrooms help decompose everything 3” and smaller that I leave behind, provide us food and medicine, and support the entire forest ecosystem.

In Conclusion

At Praecipio Consulting, our team consists of experts in the field to help and aid your team in meeting your goals efficiently and succinctly. To learn more about how we can partner with your team, visit our Consulting Services page to explore just some of the Solutions we can help implement. 

Not sure what exactly your team needs? Contact us today and we can talk with strategy would work best.

References

  1. https://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/html/98511316/98511316.html
  2. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/natural-resources-environment/climate-change/
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPeBYnGwo4Y
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBWzrlCBhCM
Topics: blog culture global-climate-crisis carbon-footprint green-team carbon-neutral social-responsibility
6 min read

How to Optimize Organizational Processes with Atlassian Tools

By Kye Hittle on Nov 2, 2021 9:00:00 AM

There are a multitude of technical optimizations you can implement to ensure your Atlassian tools are high-performing and provide maximum value. As a quick example, using your single sign-on (SSO) provider to log in to Atlassian products ensures a unified login experience and decreased time spent on user management. First, let's look at why organization-level optimization is so important.

A core ITIL practice: Continual Improvement

ITIL 4 (IT Library Infrastructure) is a flexible framework for managing services. From IT to HR to facilities to customer-facing support, we're all providing service whether our customers are internal or external. We at Praecipio Consulting champion the ITIL framework throughout our customers' organizations because it focuses on business value and embraces digital transformation. When the practices of ITIL are consistently applied across an organization, we've seen incredibly positive impacts on key metrics like profit, resolution time, customer & employee satisfaction, and more.

ITIL management practices are broken up into three areas: General, Service, and Technical. Continual Improvement is one of the critical practices in the General category. In fact, the ITIL handbook calls it out as "one of the key components of the ITIL Service Value System, providing, along with the guiding principles, a solid platform for successful service management." (ITIL® Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition, 4.6.2)

graph-sm-itil

(Diagram Source - Atlassian ITIL 4 white paper)

We recommend you start with Continual Improvement to establish a baseline assessment and identify priorities. Establishing a regular review and improvement cycle per the Continual Improvement practice guidance allows your teams to progress and adapt iteratively. We must stress: it's a practice, not a one-time activity. The cycle should continue indefinitely.

Survey says...

Earlier this year (2021 Q2), Praecipio Consulting conducted its State of Service Management Survey, which involved surveying respondents from various departments and who work with organizations of different sizes across various industries. You can watch our webinar and download the entire report filled with data-driven insights about how diverse teams-from Legal, HR, Marketing, and beyond-are adopting Service Management principles to address business challenges and improve ways of working.

One of the takeaways we learned from the survey was that the Continual Improvement practice is vastly underused.

Which Service Management processes and practices are being applied to departments outside of IT?

graphs_graph-sm-itil-2

 
state of service management 2021 report-1

 

Source: 2021 Praecipio Consulting State of Service Management Survey

48% adoption means half of the organizations aren't using Continual Improvement practices, despite its critical role in the ITIL framework.

Let's look at some easy ways Atlassian tools can help implement the critical Continual Improvement practice.

Confluence: your Continual Improvement home base

Make sure you have a place in Confluence for each team to gather and organize the outputs of the Continual Improvement practice in one place as they iterate through it over time:

  • Business vision, mission, goals, and objectives
  • Baseline assessments
  • Measurable targets
  • Improvement plans
  • Results to plan

As you roll out new processes or enhancements, leverage Jira tickets and/or Confluence pages for capturing user feedback. Remember, in Confluence you can quickly create Jira tickets by highlighting a sentence or two of feedback and clicking the Jira icon that appears.

The low adoption of Continual Improvement is often attributed to the practice getting "lost in the shuffle." It requires sustained commitment but the buy-in is often easier after participants and leadership see the systematic improvement it facilitates. To get started, schedule Continual Improvement activities and require they be maintained as a priority. If you have Confluence Team Calendars, schedule your team's recurring Continual Improvement activities so you stay on track.

When it comes to running Continual Improvement activities, Atlassian has created several great playbooks which include Confluence templates:

  • Health Monitor
  • Premortem
  • 4Ls Retrospective
  • Retrospective

Jira: reporting to guide Continual Improvement efforts

One of the primary drivers for using Jira to manage work is accurate, easy reporting on your process performance. How long is it taking to start working on issues and incidents? What percentage of requests are serviced within an appropriate timeframe? How many requests are for contract review? How many incidents were caused by circumventing the change management process?

The answers are at your fingertips when you start using Jira. Based on our customer engagements, here are a few tips and reminders.

Check the metrics

This seems obvious but in the heat of battle, it can be easy to sideline performance monitoring. Routine is your friend here. How often are the right people putting eyes on actual performance? Build in metric review to your recurring team and leadership meetings. Incorporate the data as a starting point into your Continual Improvement activities (e.g. Health Monitors and Retros). It can also help to automate pushing metrics to interested parties via filter subscriptions.

If you need advanced metrics that are not possible with the built-in tools, get in touch. The upcoming Jira Data Lake allows you to access Jira data using your existing BI tools. There are also several fantastic Marketplace add-ons for providing advanced analytics.

Let's look at a few often overlooked metrics.

Jira Service Management satisfaction scores

After issues are resolved, Jira Service Management can send the reporter a quick survey asking for a star rating and additional feedback.

jira service management-1

Again, don't forget to check these scores so you're not missing out on one of the most critical barometers of process and team performance: customer perception. The comments can be a rich source of discussion starters for your Continual Improvement reviews.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Some teams negotiate with customers for specific response and resolution times. Others create internal goals. Whatever your team's situation, we recommend establishing realistic targets in order to maintain a continual focus on this critical behavior. Jira Service Management allows you to easily set and track performance to whatever SLAs you establish. 

One of the benefits of SLA reporting in Jira Service Management is its visibility. Throughout the system at any time, you can see where every issue stands in relation to your service goals. Not only does this help prioritize issues in real-time, but it also gives support staff instant context into how the customer is experiencing the request interaction. Overall (aggregate) SLA reporting is also available for a high-level view.

MTTA, MTTR

These slightly intimidating acronyms are actually pretty simple calculations:

  • Mean Time To Acknowledge (MTTA): The clock starts when the request is submitted and stops when work on the issue starts. Note MTTA should be included in the MTTR calculation, explained next.
  • Mean Time To Resolve (MTTA): The clock starts when the request is submitted to Jira and stops when the team marks the request resolved (the timer restarts if the issue is reopened). This includes time to acknowledge and research the issue, coordinate with other teams/vendors, implement changes/fixes, etc. This is the critical metric for your customers, who are likely blocked until their request is resolved.

Like SLAs, these metrics give you a sense, in the aggregate, of process efficiency. It can lead to Continual Improvement investigations into why the numbers aren't on target. Maybe the backlog is too big (i.e. MTTA is a high percentage of MTTR) so tickets are waiting too long for an available team member to start working them. Perhaps MTTA is fine and the issue is a downstream process with another team that is blocking your team.

Continual Improvement continues

We've just scratched the surface of the ways you can use your Atlassian tools to drive your Continual Improvement practices and optimize your organization. Whether as a source of data-driven retros and regular health monitors or as the central hub for managing the assessments and plans generated from Continual Improvement activities, Atlassian tools will turbocharge your Agile work management journey.

Check out our blog and learn about whether Atlassian Tools are right for your business. If you're not sure you're realizing the full benefits of your Atlassian suite, give us a shout to discuss what parts of Atlassian optimization you should start focusing on today!

Topics: jira praecipio-consulting blog business-teams service-management continuous-improvement jira-service-management
4 min read

5 Things to Look for in an Enterprise Service Management Tool

By Mary Roper on Oct 11, 2021 11:00:00 AM

2021-q4-blogpost-5 Things to Look for in an Enterprise Service Management Tool

If you’ve seen the potential benefits of Enterprise Service Management (ESM) but are unsure whether your organization’s current ITSM tool is suitable for enterprise-wide use, you're not alone. Many teams often wonder if the use of IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities currently in place can be leveraged in other business functions to improve operations and outcomes. To help, this blog outlines five things to look for in an ITSM tool that will make it a fit-for-purpose ESM tool for your organization.

Before that list of five “things” though, it’s worth stating a key point when using your organization’s ITSM tool across the enterprise.

A key starting point when looking for an Enterprise Service Management tool

There’s no doubt that successful Enterprise Service Management, like ITSM, is dependent on fit-for-purpose technology enablement. It’s important, however, to not see ESM as simply the use of a corporate ITSM tool by other business functions. Instead, successful ESM requires a change in mindset to service-based thinking, and the intelligent adoption of ITSM best practices. Additionally, it also mandates the use of the ITSM tool in a way that doesn’t force-fit the other business functions to IT’s language and ways of working.

Importantly, there’s also a need for organizational change management to facilitate the execution of your ESM strategy delivery project. This is because this is the introduction of new ways of working and is thus a people change initiative not a technology.

5 things to look for in an Enterprise Service Management tool

The right Enterprise Service Management tool will help your whole organization, especially now that the need for remote and socially distanced working has limited the ability for people to work with manually reliant processes and practices. In many ways, the replacement of these with new digital workflows, in particular, is going to be an important need of your ESM tool. But this is just one of many things you’ll need. In fact, we recommend your chosen ESM ticks the proverbial boxes against the following list of five key needs:

  1. Non-functional capabilities – These are the capabilities that, while not directly delivering the required digital workflows, allow an ITSM tool to fully meet the needs of ESM. To start, there’s the need for ease of use – for both service requesters and service providers. In many ways, these need to be consumer-like, with “consumer-grade” the new “enterprise-grade” when it comes to corporate technology. Then there are needs related to scalability, domain separation, and appropriate access controls – with human resources (HR) in particular needing to ensure that employee-related information is only accessible by those authorized to do so. Finally, there’s a need for domain-specific knowledge management to ensure that searches for help or automated recommendations – again for both service requesters and service providers – are focused on the business function context.
  2. Core service management and digital workflow capabilities – These are the digitally-enabled capabilities that help work to both flow and to be achieved. This includes request handling, whether these are requests for help, information, service, and change. Where for business functions such as HR, terminology such as “case management” will need to replace IT’s “incident management.” Importantly, these digitally-enabled capabilities are not simply the ability to move work between different groups, there’s also the need for automated routing, queue management, notifications and alerts, approvals, and service level targets to help ensure that work is moving efficiently – from the initial need through to the required outcome. It also includes self-service and self-help capabilities which provide a structured work intake method and the ability to “deflect” simple employee requests (including employees requesting updates on their requests) respectively.
  3. Cross-capability enablers – These are capabilities that enable the employee-touching service management capabilities in #2 to work optimally. For example, knowledge management capabilities allow service providers to undertake work that’s outside of their individual experiences. It also enables the self-help capabilities that empower employees to help themselves to quicker solutions with a consumer-like service or support experience. Another example is reporting and analytics capabilities that not only help to ensure that operations and outcomes are meeting business needs and service-provider obligations but also help to identify improvement opportunities.
  4. Platform-based capabilities – The ability to create business-function-specific workflows and applications that extend ESM beyond the core capabilities (that were designed for ITSM scenarios). This can cover both capabilities that are applicable to multiple organizations (perhaps even industry-specific) that are created by the tool vendor, its partner ecosystem, or the tool customer. And capabilities that are somewhat unique to your organization – a bespoke solution to a business need or opportunity. Either way, the ability for business function personnel, and not just IT’s application developers, to create these extended solutions using codeless drag-and-drop functionality is a key enabler in both rapid cross-enterprise tool success and benefits realization.
  5. New technology adoption – These are capabilities that allow both individuals and teams to be better versions of themselves. Two timely examples are collaboration and machine-learning-based capabilities. In terms of the former, the aforementioned need for remote and socially distanced working requires digitally-enabled teamwork and wider collaboration capabilities. Whereas the latter offers a wealth of opportunities that allow business functions to be all three of “better, faster, cheaper.” Whether it’s the use of machine learning and automation to accelerate process operations and outcome delivery. For example, in intelligent request triage where the technology decides which group to route a request to based on historical data patterns and in the automated escalation of requests when circumstances change or a service-level breach is likely. Or the use of machine learning to share knowledge more effectively. This could be through the provision of automated recommendations to service-provider staff or context-based self-help knowledge provided to service requesters either via traditional portal searches or newer chatbot capabilities.

The above list of five things to look for in an Enterprise Service Management tool is not necessarily everything that your organization will need but provides a great start.  If you want to find out more about the opportunities of ESM and the tools that can facilitate this framework, reach out to Praecipio Consulting and we're happy to walk through the process. 

Topics: blog automation business-teams service-management consulting-services
3 min read

7 Steps for a Painless SVN to Git Migration

By David Stannard on Sep 10, 2021 10:24:00 AM

2021-q4-blogpost-7 steps for a painless SVN to Git migration

Praecipio Consulting is frequently asked about migrating from various software version control systems to Git-centered tools such as Atlassian’s Bitbucket. Excellent news time: this is definitely possible and can be done in a painless fashion! Some organizations confidently plan and migrate by themselves. But … there’s always a “but” … be forewarned - there isn’t an “easy” button. Your success depends upon investing the effort, both in planning and in communicating with your teams. However, many organizations prefer using experienced 3rd parties who will focus on doing something not considered an organizational core competency. Praecipio Consulting often assists clients in their migrations: our approach is based upon proven tools and processes honed by multiple engagements over the past 15 years. 

Nonetheless, there still isn’t an “easy” button and the client’s involvement is integral to the final outcome as unique aspects are often uncovered.

If you still use Subversion - also known as SVN - as your software version control tool, you can be forgiven in believing that you’re alone. Searching the web yields many documents from circa 2012 which often containing phrases similar to “… 90% of developers have already migrated to Git …”. However, as recently as 2018, literature also indicates that SVN is still used because its users value its strengths over Git.

So say your organization has a business need to switch from SVN to Git. This might be because your organization has distributed development teams, or maybe the usage of SVN negatively impacts attracting new developers who expect a distributed version control tool such as Git or Mercurial.

Bottom line: you need to adopt Git and also migrate some or all of the information contained in SVN to Git; this blog assumes this means a codebase.

To better understand the implications of a migration - I suggest Stefan Holm Olsen’s explanation. Stefan led the migration of an 11 year old SVN, commercial grade codebase to a new Git codebase. All while continuing active development (https://stefanolsen.com/posts/migration-from-subversion-svn-to-git/ and https://www.atlassian.com/blog/git/atlassian-svn-to-git-migration-technical-side).

Atlassian documents a simpler case of a single SVN subfolder being migrated to a new Git repository (https://www.atlassian.com/git/tutorials/svn-to-git-prepping-your-team-migration) This may be sufficient for some do-it-yourself organizations.

In either case, it helps that the migration team understands how Git works and also the differences between Git and SVN. (If not, I suggest a quick detour to https://docs.github.com/en/github/importing-your-projects-to-github/working-with-subversion-on-github/what-are-the-differences-between-subversion-and-git and https://git.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/GitSvnComparison.) Most software engineers and developers are already familiar with Git - hence the examples address the potential SVN knowledge gap.

Stefan described a 5-step general process. The following 7-step process results from adding a preliminary step, because similar to Agile, the human aspect is primordial. Having an internal champion or two will certainly help increase the odds of a successful migration. An intermediate Git repo step is also added, although the brave may choose to go directly to the final destination. Like any undertaking, communications and scheduling are critical.

  1. Plan your migration including the often overlooked human considerations:
     - What can remain in SVN? What can / can’t be lost?
     - Understand the impact to release notes and governance
     - Identify the impact to your CI/CD environment
     - Determine the timing of the actual migration (weekend, overnight, etc)
     - Train users on how to effectively employ Git
     - The comms plan: who’s communicating, how, and the regularity of the updates
  2. Identify users and their correct names pre & post migration
  3. Choose a location for your Git repository
  4. Prune the SVN codebase
     - Address multiple folders in SVN repositories
     - Thoughtful pruning of folders, files, old and unneeded branches
  5. Create an intermediate repository to support the migration
  6. Migrate from SVN to the intermediate Git repo
  7. Migrate from the intermediate Git repo to the target production repo

Migrating from SVN to Git should not be feared. There are known processes when migrating from source code systems. Some planning and a lot of communicating will go a long ways towards a successful migration. If you need an expert hand in planning and executing your migration, contact us, we would love to help!

Topics: blog best-practices migrations plan repositories svn git custom-development
3 min read

Tips For Setting Up Effective Kanban Boards In Jira

By Michael Lyons on Sep 8, 2021 3:01:34 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Tips For Setting Up Effective Kanban Boards In Jira

Jira's
 Kanban boards are great tools for tracking the progress of work being done by teams and for gaining insights into opportunities. Boards are highly customizable and can accommodate numerous types of processes. This flexibility is very helpful for teams that need to track a continuous flow of work in high volumes. If you are new to using Jira's Kanban board or are looking to get maximum results out of using the boards, we have a few tips that can help.

 These tips are meant to help make your Kanban board be as insightful as possible.

Reflect the Work Being Done

Boards are most effective when they are set up in a way that is easy to use, and match a team's work processes. You can add any number of columns to your board depending on how your team works. Statuses from your workflows can be mapped to the columns in any way. The option to customize is very helpful for teams, but it is important to align columns and statuses in a way that the user can efficiently move the work through the board. Designing a board that is inefficient can make the board frustrating to use. 

An effective way to map statuses for a Kanban board is to ensure that each status is mapped to a column, especially those statuses that are along the critical path. This helps the user navigate within the board seamlessly to provide updates on their work and track progress. This also prevents the user from having to take the extra steps to update issue statuses. Mapping each column to a status is by no means a requirement, but it helps to make these statuses available in the board so the user can quickly drag and drop the issue into a new column as work is being completed. 

Filter, Filter, Filter!

Work can add up when your team is very busy! All of this work can show up on the board and make it difficult to use if filters are not used appropriately. Luckily Jira provides a few options for filtering out issues. We recommend leveraging sub-filters and quick filters to help clear up yourboard. Sub-filters can be added to boards to help filter out issues that are older than a specific time frame or that have been moved to a certain status. We like to use sub-filters that filter out any issues that have been resolved or closed for more than two weeks, for example. Quick filters can be built to help filter down to issues that have certain field values or components. End users can interact directly with these filters and can toggle between them depending on the information they would like to see.

Leverage the Backlog

When issues are being created, it's important to discern which items are ready for work and which items are still being vetted by the project team. Boards that do not make priorities clear can cause confusion. For example, if a column has both an "Open" and "To-Do" status mapped, all work items within those statuses will appear in the column. Having so many of these items in a column can make it challenging to quickly determine the items that the team should work on.

Implementing a Kanban board with a backlog can help declutter the board and help users better identify work in the "To-Do" status. This is a feature that can be enabled within the board. All work items in an "Open" status form the backlog and do not appear on the board, while work in the "To-Do" status will appear in the first column. Your team will now know the items that take priority and are ready to be completed. 

Implement WIP Limits

Jira allows teams to set limits on the amount of issues that can be placed in columns. These limits should be based on what the team's work-in-process limits (WIP) are for processes. If the number of items in a column exceeds the maximum, the column will be highlighted. This gives teams insight into where they need to focus their efforts and shows them where opportunities are within the process. 

We are process obsessed: our custom-made workflows are designed by our teams of accredited and experienced professionals. If you have any questions about Jira or Kanban boards, please reach out to us! We would love to help.

Topics: jira blog kanban process process-consulting tips
4 min read

How to Report in Confluence with the Jira Issues Macro

By Larry Brock on Aug 31, 2021 12:57:07 PM

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One of the most powerful integrations in the Atlassian ecosystem is the native link between Jira and Confluence. For users working with both tools, the transition can be seamless if you do it right, but clunky if you don't. 

Now, what if I told you there was just one Confluence macro you could start using today that will immediately make reporting in Confluence easier and help you (and your team) keep track of your work? 

The Jira Issues macro is the go-to when reporting in Confluence.

Here are some tips to get your team to leverage this outstanding integration.

Insert an issue count for a Jira filter

Let's start small. Insert a link to Jira with the number of issues returned from a Jira search, written in Jira Query Language (JQL) or calling an existing Jira filter.  A Jira filter is a saved search written in JQL.

This is useful to pull up basic metrics for a high-level overview. The macro becomes a link to the filter, so if you want to review the issues in-depth, you can quickly hop over to Jira's issue navigator by clicking the highlighted issue count. The table below is an example of how our marketing team tracks employee blog post submissions.

Blog Status

To insert an issue count:

  1. Insert the Jira Macro
    1. Select the Jira create new in the top menu bar and select Jira Issue/Filter, OR
    2. Type { on your Confluence page, search and select Jira
  2. Enter in your JQL query
    1. To input an existing filter, type "filter = "Filter name", OR
    2. Type in the JQL directly, we'll use "project = PCM"
    3. Be sure to click on the Magnifying glass to execute the query
  3. Select 'Display Options' at the bottom of the dialog box to expand the options.
  4. Select 'Total issue count'
  5. Click Insert, and Voila!

Insert a single issue into Confluence

The macro can also link a single Jira issue to a Confluence page. That means not only can you see what issues are important (and what status they're in) in your documentation, but you can also see who's talking about the issue when you're in Jira.

Take, for example, this blog post. My progress is tracked on a Jira issue, linked to this very page in Confluence. Below you can see how it looks on the Confluence page I'm writing in. 

Jira ticket in Confluence

If I click on that link, I'll navigate to Jira where I can see under Issue Links, all of pages in which the issue has been mentioned. I can quickly see that this issue has been mentioned on the original page as well as another tracking Blog Content. 

Jira issue link

To insert one issue:

  1. Insert the Jira Macro and enter in your query (steps 1 and 2 above)
  2. Select one issue from the list
    1. If you know exactly which issue, you can simply type the Issue Key into the search bar and hit enter. 
  3. Expand the Display Options and select 'Single Issue'
  4. Select 'Insert'

Use the Jira macro to insert a list of issues in a page in Confluence

Remember that filter you entered in above? You can insert that filter into your page, too. Filters inserted with this macro are dynamic - that is, as the issues are updated in Jira, the Confluence page will reflect the most up-to-date information. You can customize which columns appear in the macro just like you can in Jira. To head into Jira, you can select the individual issues, or click on the total number at the bottom ('2 issues') to pull up the query in Jira.

Jira issue macro To insert a filter:

  1. Insert the Jira Macro and enter in your query (steps 1 and 2 above)
  2. Expand the Display options and select 'Table' 
  3. Edit the maximum issues and columns to display.
  4. Select 'Insert' to add to the page!

Create a Jira Issue from a Confluence page

If your issues don't exist in Jira yet, don't worry. This macro can create new issues in Jira if inspiration hits while you are editing a Confluence page. The issue will be created and you won't even have to leave the page!

Jira issue filter

To create a new issue:

  1. Insert the Jira Issue Macro
  2. Select 'Create New Issue' on the left panel
  3. Complete the form
  4. Select 'Insert'

No edit permission, no worries - you can also create issues from Confluence while viewing a page - simply highlight some text and then click on the Jira icon that appears. Create issues from Confluence

This one macro can solve many of your reporting needs in Confluence. What's more, you can provide context around the data instead of just displaying straight data. The Jira Macro is a great way to keep team members informed without navigating from Confluence to Jira and back again. 

If you have any questions on how Jira and Confluence work together, or any other questions on the Atlassian tech stack, contact us, and one of our experts will get in touch with you.

Topics: jira atlassian blog confluence tips integration macros reporting
4 min read

Waterfall vs. Agile: Choosing the Right Methodology

By Bryce Lord on Aug 26, 2021 2:52:58 PM

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Waterfall and Agile are both process methodologies with very different approaches to achieving the same goal: developing high-quality products. Where Waterfall focuses on strict requirements and planning, Agile provides a more adaptable approach where it's much easier to adjust requirements and timelines as the product develops. Both methods have their pros and cons, hopefully this article will help clear up which one is right for your project!

What is Waterfall?

Waterfall is a linear and sequential process methodology. It breaks up projects into several distinct phases, with a complete product being delivered only after the final phase is successfully finished. An example of these phases may be something like: 

Requirements > Design > Development > Testing > Implementation

These phases are completed in order, where all tasks associated with that respective phase are complete before the next phase can begin. The teams required in each phase can be distinct, and may require only slight overlap between phases. Both the customer requirements and timeline are established early on within the product development life-cycle. The Waterfall methodology really excels when product requirements are strict, and the goal is to provide complete product within a specified timeframe and budget.

Diagram-phases-01

As someone that comes from a background developing manufacturing processes, the waterfall methodology was basically a way of life. Every new product life cycle began with Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) and its phases:

Planning > Product Design & Development > Process Design & Development > Product & Process Validation > Production

These processes are followed in order, with a review at the end of each phase by their respective team. In most cases, shortly after beginning production for one project, the planning phase for the next project would already have started, and so on. The strict product requirements, tight deadlines and long lead times to design and build manufacturing equipment lends itself well to waterfall. Lead times for manufacturing equipment can range anywhere from 3 months to over a year depending on complexity, so establishing clear product requirements early is imperative. Any change to the product or process requirements could result in extreme delays to the project.

Pros

  • Project timelines, budget and progress are easier to manage and measure throughout distinct phases.
  • More hands-off for customers after initial requirements and timelines are established.
  • Detailed documentation is more readily available.

Cons

  • Need strict requirements very early on, changes to these requirements can be costly.
  • Less overlap and communication between teams makes collaboration more difficult.
  • The testing phase occurs much later in the project, so any issues found can be expensive and delay projects drastically.
  • Distinct teams, rigid timelines and budget constraints make it difficult to move back to a previous phase if issues arise.

What is Agile?

Agile is an iterative and highly adaptable process methodology. Agile focuses on breaking down projects into small product releases that can then be iterated on to make improvements. These iterations go through all phases of a project simultaneously. This allows a team member to be testing out one feature, while another is designing a different feature. With all of the phases of a project moving simultaneous, having a fully cross-functional team engaged throughout each iteration is imperative. After each iteration is complete, clients can review the most recent release and set priorities and goals for the team in the following iterations. The Agile methodology excels when requirements may need to adapt as the customer's needs develop, and there aren't strict requirements for timeframe and budget.

Diagram-01

Software development is one of the key uses for the Agile methodology. With new product requirements frequently coming up and an on-going timeline for completion, breaking the project down into continually improving iterations is a much better way to control changes. With each new iteration, clients will find new beneficial features they'd like implemented, and these feature requests will be turned into tasks to be planned for future iterations. The average time for an iteration is usually between 1 and 4 weeks, so clients frequently get a look at the current state of the product and are able to evaluate priorities for future iterations accordingly. Agile works incredibly well when requirements are not fully established up front, which is usually the case with software development projects.

Pros

  • Highly adaptable and works well when customer requirements are not completely established up front.
  • Fully cross-functional teams promote higher collaboration than distinct teams.
  • Frequent customer communication helps ensure requirements are being met and customer satisfaction is high.
  • Testing is performed concurrently with development during each iteration, leading to faster identification and correction of issues.

Cons

  • Tracking timelines, budget and project progress is more difficult across multiple iterations.
  • Additional iterations can lead to lengthened timelines and increased budget.
  • Documentation is usually lacking between iterations.

At Praecipio Consulting, we have more than 15 years of experience helping clients big and small become the best version of themselves; if you have questions on Waterfall, Agile, or any other process methodology, reach out and let us know, we'd love to help!

Topics: devops methodology project-management agile frameworks waterfall
3 min read

How to Get Started with Better Confluence Templates

By Martin Spears on Aug 24, 2021 5:45:00 AM

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Atlassian's Confluence is a powerful collaborative tool for teams to track information and content that may not make sense on a Jira ticket. One of the most powerful pieces of functionality in Confluence is the ability to use templates. While there are many templates provided out of the box, you also have the ability to create your own templates either globally or at the space level. Today we'll focus on creating a space template, and show you a few tips to get you started.Let's walk through some basics so you can hit the ground running on a space template.

Creating a Space Template

Before we talk about best practices, here's a quick overview on creating a space template.

The required permissions for creating a space template are Space administrator or Confluence administrator

An easy way to get to your space templates is to select the plus sign on the left navigation while viewing the space where you'd like to create the template.

Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_published

Then simply select "Add or customize templates for the selected space" and it will bring you to the space administration page to work on your template.Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_placeholder

Getting Started

Confluence is a great collaborative tool for sharing information, and templates should be used to make sharing that information easier.  When creating your templates a good best practice is to start with the end in mind.  When a page is created from the template, the page should be easy to read and the most important information should stand out. 

Now that you've got a blank template in front of you, think about how you want it to be used:

  • What is most important about this page?  
  • What info do we need to share/display?  
  • Who is the intended audience?  
  • Where would you expect to find the info you are looking for?

Once you've considered the above, we recommend starting with the layout. The template can be very easily organized using the page layout to space out information differently. Creating sections in the layout to divide up the information can be helpful when starting. You might end up combining some of the sections in the future, but this will give you some buckets to start sorting information into. On a similar note, we also have the Panel macro at our disposal. The panel macro provides a visible container for the information, and allows you to use color coded boxes and icons to call out specific information on the page.

Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_page_titleOnce you've sorted the information into sections, you can start guiding the user on how to fill out the template. We like to do this by using placeholder text. Placeholder text is only visible while editing the page created from the template, and can be used to provide tips to users (how to insert a macro, for example), or act as more detailed guidance on the purpose of the page.

Placeholder text can be added by selecting the sign in the template editor, and selecting Placeholder text. Once inserted, it will appear as grey text, as we see on the right side of the page. 

Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_space_adminBelow you can see what that same page looks like when published - the placeholder text doesn't appear at all. 

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August copy_How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates

Now what do I do?

The hardest part is over - you don't have a blank page anymore! Now you can explore things like macros, tables and labels to spice up the template even more. If your team is working with Jira data, don't forget you can use a Jira Issues macro to display it in Confluence. If you need to think bigger, check out our blog Five Ways to Make a Collaborative Team Space in Confluence.

And if you still have any questions on anything Confluence or Jira, or want to find out how to make your company the best version of itself, contact us, and one of our experts will get in touch!

Topics: jira blog best-practices confluence tips integration templates
3 min read

Agile vs. Scrum - What's the Difference?

By Rebecca Schwartz on Aug 19, 2021 10:03:00 AM

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Organizations are rapidly moving toward new work management styles, especially in the age of digital transformation. If you work in project management, you've probably heard the term "Agile" at some point in your career. Maybe you've considered taking this approach with your teams, and have already done some research. "Scrum" is another term you've most likely heard during your research. Although this is a term used in rugby, it is also a specific methodology teams use to work in an Agile manner. At Praecipio Consulting, we've assisted many teams 

with their move to Agile, using the Atlassian toolset to support and ease their journey. We've also worked with many teams who use Scrum specifically, but many use different frameworks - using Scrum is not a requirement to be Agile. Let's take a moment to understand the difference between Scrum and Agile.

What is Agile?

Agile is a project management style in which organizations use an iterative process to continuously deliver work while consistently receiving and incorporating feedback throughout the process. Flexibility is key, so teams can quickly adapt to market changes and customer needs. Agile has a set of principles and values organizations are expected to follow, laid out in the Agile Manifesto. The Agile Manifesto does not delve into specific practices and activities teams should follow in order to work in an Agile way: it serves as a north star for organizations to align to in their Agile journey. There are a few Agile frameworks teams can use to work in an iterative manner, such as Scrum and Kanban. Agile puts an emphasis on people over processes and tools, and gives autonomy to the people on those teams. With that being said, it is up to the teams to decide which framework works best for the way they work and the work they're delivering. 

What is Scrum?

Scrum is one of the many frameworks teams can use to work in an Agile manner. It is mainly used by software development teams, and relies on time-boxed iterations called Sprints. Sprints are made up of the work developers commit to completing within that iteration, typically 2 weeks. The work scheduled in each sprint is based on priority and team capacity, and is carefully estimated to ensure teams can commit the work they've delegated to the sprint. This framework is very detailed, and prescribes a set of specific roles and events, including:

  • A Scrum Master, who protects the teams and ensures they are able to do their work without impediments.
  • A Product Owner, who manages and grooms the product backlog ensuring the anticipated work aligns with the needs of the customer and business.
  • The development team who actually complete the work in the sprint.

As I mentioned above, Scrum is a way teams can work if they're on their Agile journey, but it is not the only option. There are other Agile frameworks that may work better for teams.

How Do Agile and Scrum Differ?

Now that we know a bit more about Agile and Scrum separately, it's easier to lay out the differences between the two. Agile is more of a general philosophy that paints a broader picture around working in an iterative, flexible manner. Scrum is a specific Agile framework and is more granular than Agile. Although both rely on iterations: in Scrum they're specifically time boxed and called Sprints. Scrum also prescribes specific roles and ceremonies, while Agile focuses on the overall principles in the Agile Manifesto. Scrum is also more focused on the team level and the delivery of work. Agile can be scaled across an organization using other work frameworks such as the the Scaled Agile framework, or SAFe, as well as Large-Scale Scrum, styled as LeSS. 

With that understanding in mind, maybe you're ready to start your Agile journey! The Atlassian tools, such as Jira and Confluence, are built to support Agile and the specific frameworks. Jira Software makes it easy to get started with Scrum by providing an out-of-the-box Project template. At Praecipio Consulting, we focus on ensuring the Atlassian tools facilitate your Agile journey by implementing best practices and incorporating our extensive experience working with Agile teams. Reach out if you have any questions around Atlassian and Agile - we're here to help.

Topics: blog kanban scrum project-management safe agile frameworks less
4 min read

What Exactly is Agile Methodology?

By Courtney Pool on Aug 17, 2021 12:22:47 PM

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Any person who's worked in or around software for any length of time has likely heard of Agile. Since the release of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, Agile has quickly spread through the industry, and even companies who aren't fully Agile sometimes claim to be, if only to check the box. Still, despite this popularity, we regularly receive confessions from people who admit that they don't fully "get" what Agile is, often from teams outside of software developers who want to know if Agile can help them too.

The Elevator Pitch

"Getting" Agile is a multi-step process, but knowing the elevator pitch is a great place to start. Agile is an iterative approach to software development and project management, with iterative being the keyword. Its primary focus is on delivering value incrementally, with those increments being faster, more frequent, and with fewer strings attached than some traditional approaches. Agile also acknowledges, accepts, and even encourages that risk and change are likely to pop up and need mole-whacking along the way, allowing for real-time course-correcting as needed.

This short description can help people navigate through many of the superficial conversations around Agile. If you want to impress though, knowing the details is the next step.

The Details

To really understand what Agile is, it helps to first understand why Agile is. Agile's origin is in software development, and its inception was a direct response to the rigidity of existing development methods like Waterfall. Despite this, its existence is not at all meant to be a critique of Waterfall, which is a valid methodology that still has uses in several scenarios; rather it's an answer to the "But what if...?" questions that plague so many projects, such as: 

  • What if I discover more requirements after development has started?
  • What if we don't catch a big problem because we waited too long to test?
  • What if we need to ship to market faster or more frequently?

Answering these questions is difficult in a Waterfall environment, and failure to answer them can be costly. This can be especially true in software, where conditions and criteria frequently change, and rapidity and innovation are critical factors in winning over users. Enter Agile, whose principles allow teams the flexibility needed to answer these questions as they arise while still meeting product and stakeholder needs.

While some interpret this flexibility as Agile having no rules, this could not be further from the truth! The Agile Manifesto itself includes both key pillars and guiding principles, which every organization purporting to be Agile should follow. Amongst the guiding principles are those that are arguably more nebulous, like "Working software is the primary measure of progress." Still, many are undeniably rules and not suggestions, such as the principle requiring the increments mentioned above: "Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. "

Beyond that, there are also rules associated with each particular Agile framework to adhere to as well.

You see, while "Agile" is the overarching methodology (or philosophy, some argue, an ongoing debate), the actual "doing" is often guided by the numerous frameworks within Agile, with more popular frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, eXtreme Programming, and the Crystal Method leading the charge. Of course, that's not to say that one can't simply follow the principles of Agile without needing a specific framework -- you absolutely can! -- but development teams may find it easier to work within a framework. Aiding this ease is that each framework has taken the Agile principles and hammered them into specific actions, ceremonies, and practices for teams to follow, reducing the need for teams to develop their own.

Knowing the pitch and the details is essential to understanding Agile, but "getting" Agile requires that you take it one step further and apply it outside the business.

The Real World Example

As mentioned, Agile is an iterative process that seeks to frequently deliver value while still allowing for the winds of change. One of the reasons Agile can work so well is, if you think about it in the simplest of terms, because most people do Agile every day.

No, seriously!

I recently moved and learned again how ever-present Agile is. I prepared for the move with a soft plan and a general goal in mind: get everything packed and ready by X date. I even took an incremental approach to it, regularly moving smaller and more manageable items over to the new house in the weeks leading up to the move. As is frequently the case, though, life had different plans, and I found myself scrambling to finish hours before the movers' arrival (see: winds of change). I could have chosen to stubbornly stick to my original plan, risking either an incomplete project or a financial blow from having to delay, but I instead chose the Agile approach. I reprioritized and adjusted my goal, focusing on readying the most vital components and shifting lower priority items to my next increment. 

And just like that, you're Agile!

So now you can quickly explain Agile to someone any time it comes up, dazzle them with a few specific details, and even deliver an analogy or two to help set it in. The final step? Contact us to find out how Praecipio Consulting can help you make it work for your teams.

Topics: kanban process tips agile software-development waterfall
4 min read

Service Management is More Than an IT Service Desk

By Kye Hittle on Aug 11, 2021 3:21:35 PM

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So, your organization is investing in an Enterprise Service Management (ESM) strategy. It’s a great move! But could it be doing more? Well, if your organization is doing what most organizations do, the short answer is a resounding “yes.” Now, you might think that the opportunity here is the wider use of IT Service Management (ITSM) capabilities across your organization – in other business functions – which will, of course, be beneficial when executed well. But instead, I’m referring to the wider use of available ITSM best practices. Especially since the new version of the ITIL ITSM best practice guidance – ITIL 4 – introduced so much new Service Management guidance.

Looking at Service Management adoption levels

The world of ITSM doesn’t see as much statistical data as it used to, unfortunately. This is also true for Enterprise Service Management, where any adoption-level statistics usually refer to how many organizations are “doing” ESM.

This, however, is a difficult percentage to pin down because of the likelihood that apples are being compared to oranges rather than other apples. For example, the corporate ITSM tool might be used by another part of the organization to fulfill a need, but there’s no Enterprise Service Management strategy. Or where there is a strategy being executed, it might be for half a dozen other business functions, but it could also just be for just one. It’s very similar to where an organization can quite rightly say that it has adopted ITIL when it’s simply using a small part of just one of the 34 management practices in ITIL 4.

What’s more interesting and relevant for this blog post is the relative level of ITSM/ITIL process adoption as part of enterprise service management strategies, i.e. the ITSM capabilities that are more likely to be shared and perhaps adapted for other business functions such as human resources (HR), finance, legal, facilities, security, procurement, and customer services/support.

The adoption levels of Service Management processes by other business functions

During Praecipio Consulting's recently published State of Service Management survey, we saw fairly broad adoption of some Service Management practices outside of IT. In fact, more than half of respondents told us that the top six practices were implemented in their organizations. That's a great improvement from previous surveys on this topic, but it shows there's still plenty of room to apply the power of the other Service Management practices. graph-praecipio

To download the entire report for a detailed look into Service Management adoption across a wide variety of organizations, follow this link:  2021 State of Enterprise Service Management Report - Praecipio Consulting.

Of course, the above percentages are also influenced by the relative adoption levels of each ITSM capability by IT organizations themselves. For example, if only 60-70% of IT organizations claim to employ problem management best practices, then it’s highly unlikely that the third of organizations that don’t use it would try to share the capability with other business functions.

The key focus is that Enterprise Service Management strategies or approaches are sharing ITSM capabilities that can be considered the domain of the IT Service Desk, such as the ability to deal with requests for help, information, service, and change, all while enabling capabilities such as knowledge management, self-service, and workflow automation/platform-based capabilities.

Hence, while we talk of Enterprise Service Management as the sharing of ITSM capabilities with other business functions, it’s only a small subset of ITSM capabilities that are commonly shared. And organizations and their various business functions could further benefit from the greater adoption of other ITSM capabilities.

Taking enterprise service management beyond the service desk

There were many opportunities to extend the use of ITSM, or ITIL best practice in particular, with ITIL v3/2011. The introduction of ITIL 4 not only increased the guidance content from 26 processes to 34 management practices, it also:

  • Presented the guidance from a Service Management, rather than an ITSM, perspective such that it’s more easily understandable and accessible outside of IT
  • Built the guidance around the concept of the co-creation of value through Service Management

The latter of these in particular is something that should now be included in the extension of Service Management capabilities – including the use of ITSM tools – to other business functions. The obvious caveat is that it’s highly unlikely to happen without IT itself transitioning from ITIL v3/2011 to ITIL 4 first.

This future transition offers up a suitable decision point for the ongoing focus of an organization’s Enterprise Service Management investments: if the IT Service Desk’s capabilities are changed in light of the new ITIL 4 guidance, then the same would also benefit the other business functions that currently operate their variants of the original ITSM capabilities. It’s also a great opportunity to understand which other ITSM capabilities – both old and new – would additionally benefit the operations and outcomes of these business functions.

Examples of enterprise service management beyond the service desk

Even before the release of ITIL 4, some existing ITSM/ITIL capabilities were readily suited for and would have benefited other business functions. Problem management is a good example, with Customer Service/Support departments and Facilities teams able to employ similar problem management capabilities to IT – across people, processes, and technology – to identify and remove the root causes of regularly seen/reported issues.

Another good example is Continual Service Improvement (CSI) – which is now simply “continual improvement” in ITIL 4. After all, every part of your organization would likely benefit from having a formalized approach to the improvement of operations, services, experiences, and outcomes.

With the broader scope of ITIL 4, there are many additional practices that can be shared with other business functions to drive improved operations and outcomes, such as organizational change management, risk management, service design, strategy management, and workforce and talent management.

So, your organization’s Enterprise Service Management strategy could encompass far more than the IT service desk elements of ITSM – where the benefits outweigh the costs.

Hopefully, this post has you thinking about your organization’s current Enterprise Service Management successes and the potential for even more going forward. If you would like to find out more about the opportunities to improve the operations and outcomes across your entire organization - or if you need to get started with Enterprise Service Management - get in touch with us at Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: blog best-practices service-desk service-management itil itsm jira-service-desk
3 min read

How to Effectively Communicate Across All of Your Tools

By Morgan Folsom on Aug 5, 2021 12:33:48 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Why more tools does not mean better communication_1

One of the coolest parts of working with the Atlassian suite is the ability to see the wide variety of industries that use the tools in different ways. In my role working with clients I have seen how every company has adapted the tools slightly differently to make them work best for their processes, and help them make that process even smoother.

 While doing so I get to see firsthand how they communicate internally and externally. 

It becomes clear that while many of the tools that we use in our day-to-day jobs are great at facilitating communication, it can be hard to figure out exactly which tool we should be using for what. Here at Praecipio Consulting, I could reach out to my colleagues or clients lots of different ways – a Slack message, a comment on a Jira issue, a comment on a Confluence page, an email, or I could skip all of that and just call them directly. Sometimes, I'll see a combination – a Slack message to verify if a call is okay, or an email that follows a comment on a Jira issue to make sure that I've seen it. 

While Jira and Confluence is often the most direct way, many organizations run into the issue of mismanaged notifications that means people filter out all of their notifications (for detailed guides on how to fix that in either tool see How to Solve: "Too Many Jira Email Notifications" or How to Solve: "Too Many Confluence Email Notifications"). Ultimately, what's most important is that the team is consistent enough in their usage that you know where to find the information you need. 

Given that, here are my recommendations:

Jira

Use Jira comments for all communications specific to the issue at hand. This keeps the information tied to the subject, easy to find in the future, and permanent. You won't have to worry about having deleted an email if you've got all of the comments on the issue themselves. 

Confluence

Follow the same guide as above – if you've got a Confluence page about a subject, keep the collaboration in one place! You can use either inline comments or page comments to track the communication. Even resolved inline comments stick around, so if you need to reference this in the future, no problem. 

Chat (Slack, Teams, etc.)

Great for informal chats, quick clarifications, and funny gifs – but I try to keep any official decisions either out of the chat, or copied to the issue/page that holds the content on the subject we're discussing. If you're using a tool like Workato to integrate your Jira and Slack instances, you can even have your Slack messages added to the issue directly. 

Email

If you're going to be emailing about a ticket, just include the issue key in the Subject and CC your Jira email address, and the email will be added to the comments of the issue. This way, for folks who prefer working in email, the communications aren't lost. Otherwise, I try to send as few emails as possible.

Call (Phone, Slack, Zoom, etc.)

I'm a millennial, so let's just say this is rarely my first choice. Most of the time, for quick conversations I prefer chat, but, especially as more workers are moving remote, this can replace the quick stop by your desk that you may be used to. 

Ultimately, the above is how I manage communications internally and with clients, but which tool you use for which purpose is far less important than that you're consistent. The less time you have to spend hunting down information the better, so agree as a team how you'll communicate and stick to it!

If you are having trouble managing your teams' communications, contact us and one of our experts will be glad to help.

Topics: jira best-practices confluence workato workflows culture slack
2 min read

Work Should Be Pulled, Not Pushed

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 29, 2021 1:08:14 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Work Should Be Pulled, Not Pushed

Pushing work is generally considered to be the process by which someone will finish their work and then hand it off to a teammate, regardless of whether or not that teammate is ready for it. This type of behavior is commonly referred to as "Throwing something over the fence" - 

though it can also elicit comparisons to seagulls, pigeons, or other mischievous birds who come in, drop something unfavorable, then turn and fly away. The clear implication is that a person who pushes work typically does not pay attention to nor care what happens after it leaves their hands.

Pulling work, on the other hand, is generally considered the action by which someone will finish up what they are currently working on, then go out in search of the next work item. Typically, there is a known stack of work that person can pull from, ideally ranked by highest priority. The implication in this case is that the person has completed their current work (or is blocked) and has the bandwidth for new work.

Which work environment would you rather be a part of?

Ignore Salt-N-Pepa: don’t push it.

In our experience, teams that have built a culture of pulling work see two main benefits: a better working environment and more accurate metrics. As described above, a push-heavy culture can result in friction, frustration, or even animosity between teammates. Perhaps just as detrimental, a push-heavy environment can actually skew the data and give misleading insights.

When the culture transitions to becoming pull-heavy, the seagulls – and their unfavorable somethings – disappear! Teams are better able to manage their workloads, and the data become clearer and more useful.

A simple way to begin establishing a pull-heavy culture is to add neutral zones at the points of handoff in your process. These neutral zones represent areas where no team is adding value – rather, the item is finished with the previous part of the process and awaiting the next part. An example would be a “Ready for QA” column. When the development team is done with an item, they can move it to the Ready for QA column. QA can then manage their own workload and pull the work into their process when they have the bandwidth to do so.

This change is likely to generate new insights and improve the way your team is working. For instance, it should now be possible to determine when an item is actually being worked on as opposed to idly waiting for someone to pick it up. This can better inform managers how throughput can be increased. Additionally, it becomes easier to focus on high priority items, as lower priority work should remain in the neutral zones until the high priority work is completed. Having a team lead periodically prioritize work in the neutral zone will further improve the process as team members can simply select the first work item that meets their skillset.

Create a more autonomous and less frictional environment for your team: focus on pulling work through your process, not pushing it. 

If you're curious on transforming your team's culture and create the ideal environment to get work done, contact us, we'd love to help.

Topics: best-practices service-management culture agile
5 min read

Can We Talk for a Moment About Spreadsheets?

By Amanda Babb on Jul 27, 2021 11:14:14 AM

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No, seriously: can we please take a moment to talk about spreadsheets? I have a very large bone to pick with them. Spreadsheet is a four-letter word to me; and don't get me started on workbooks! I recognize spreadsheets have their place in the world. I'm always in awe when I see the most complicated and fragile spreadsheet being used to manage a simple set of data to provide "insights" into the business. Even better, a spreadsheet that helps manage prioritization, planning, and execution reporting on a regular cadence. I've seen complex CountA and SumIf formulas, and Concatenate, and pivot tables, and everything else people can throw at them. And while I'm impressed at the craftsmanship, I'm also incredibly frustrated. The time it took to create and iterate on that reporting could have been spent having conversations about the work or checking in with a team or removing blockers. Instead, the extraction, manipulation, and reporting of easily-accessible, real-time data takes precedent. 

While it was published in 2014, I still reference an article when discussing data and reporting with our clients: This Weekly Meeting Took Up 300,000 Hours per Year. Yes, you read that right: 300,000 Hours. Per. Year! A single team extracting data, then aggregating it across several teams, then teams of teams, then programs, then everywhere else, all to be reviewed in a 30-minute executive meeting where the conversation was, "Are we on track? Yes? Great."  <sends weekly update deck to recycle bin>.

I hold no ill-will to the spreadsheet warriors out there. Instead, I view it as a simple case of "We've always done it this way." Well, what if I could show you a different way? What if, through the power of Atlassian, I could provide you real-time analytics? What if I could show you how to integrate Jira with a Business Intelligence solution? Or provide Program and Portfolio Management including planning and execution data in Advanced Roadmaps or Jira Align? How many hours would that save you or your organization when providing in-depth analytics to executive management? I promise you, this is all possible. 

Individual Team Metrics: Scrum and Kanban

Individual Team metrics are available for both Scrum and Kanban Teams under Reports in a Jira Software project. For Kanban Teams, both the Cumulative Flow Diagram and Control Chart provide flow metrics for the Team. While it may have been a while since you've taken a statistics class (if at all...I confess I tried hard to avoid them), spending ten minutes reviewing these reports will provide information on bottlenecks, flow trending, and backlog growth. Adding Quick Filters to your Kanban Boards will allow you to drill down into a specific subset of data on your board. Want to focus on Stories or Bugs only? Create the Quick Filters. 

Scrum Teams have nine (yes, NINE) reports available on their boards. Are you using the Burndown during your Daily Standup? Can you predict your release of an Epic or Version based on the throughput in those reports? Have you reviewed the Sprint Report to see what was added or didn't complete during the Sprint and asked why? The Scrum Reports will tell you what is happening during the Sprint (or happened, during the Retrospective), but it's up to you and the Team to ask why it happened. 

Need additional assistance to understand what these metrics are telling you? There's a training class for that. Praecipio Consulting is happy to help!

Program, Product, or Teams of Teams Metrics

Client: "Hey, Amanda, we're pretty good on the individual team stuff. Is there another way we can aggregate team data together?" 

Me: "How much time you got?" 

Three solutions come to mind for this one:

First, let's talk about Advanced Roadmaps for Jira. As always in the Atlassian tools, flexibility is key. When creating a Plan in Advanced Roadmaps, tying the work to the Teams by pulling in the scope of work is the first step. Whether it's a Board, a Project, or a Filter, aggregating data across multiple Teams, then tying the source to the execution team, provides you predictable velocity and capacity planning as well as execution reporting. 

  • You want Progress? You got issue count and story point or time-based progress.
  • You want to predict a milestone (read: release) date? You got milestone dates.
  • You want dependency maps? You got dependency maps.
  • You want to look at the Plan in a capacity view or a release view or a specific timeframe? You got custom views. 

Sharing all this information from Advanced Roadmaps in Confluence is amazing. While native in Confluence Cloud Premium, you can download and install the free app from the Atlassian Marketplace for Data Center. If you would prefer to simply share a link to the specific view of the Roadmap, that's available to you as well. 

Second, EazyBI. We constantly hear of clients looking for a more robust way to cube and concatenate data across their Jira instance. However, our clients tend to revert to what's comfortable: the spreadsheet. Instead, using an OLAP analysis and multi-dimensional calculations, EazyBI can provide the complex reporting when Jira's native Reports and Dashboards just won't do. EazyBI started as a purpose-built solution for Jira: it recognizes Jira's data structures and surfaces field data you may not be able to work with in native Jira. Since it's a unidirectional sync, EazyBI will not change your Jira data either. EazyBI can also integrate with other data sources including (sigh) a spreadsheet. 

Third, Jira Align. Here at Praecipio Consulting, we love Jira Align. The Program Room brings together all the information from multiple teams, i.e. an Agile Release Train. Every bit of data from Jira Software is aggregated to provide a clear understanding of the pace of the Train. The Program Board, the current implementation Roadmap with risk indicators, the investment data, the actual execution data, all of it is available in the highly-configurable Program Room. Burnups, Burndowns, progress by Epic, this is all available in Jira Align. In fact, there are over 180 reports available in Jira Align. And if that's not enough, Jira Align BI extends the already-robust reports into your existing visualization tools or your enterprise data lake. 

Enterprise Business Intelligence Integration

You may already have a Business Intelligence solution. Quite frequently at Praecipio Consulting, we hear our clients mention PowerBI, Tableau, or data lakes such as Hadoop or Snowflake. These powerful solutions are likely already embedded in your organization. And there's probably a SME out there just waiting to assist. Enterprise organizations usually have an integrations team to help connect Jira and other data sources. In fact, we worked with a large organization to consolidate Jira instances to better connect data to their business intelligence platform. In just 12 short weeks, they were able to analyze and report on their current execution progress simply by being able to feed consolidated Jira data into their business intelligence platform. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we have extensive integrations experience across a wide-range of technologies. We can recommend Atlassian Marketplace apps as a fit-for-purpose solution or we can work with third-party integration engines to help you map data for enhanced metrics. 

Take a moment to step back and really examine your use of spreadsheets. While, again, they have a purpose in this world, to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The spreadsheet is dead. Long live the spreadsheet. 

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices kanban scrum reporting support-live-music eazyBi jira-align advanced-roadmap business-intelligence
3 min read

Trello 101: An Introduction

By Luis Machado on Jul 23, 2021 12:21:13 PM

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Welcome to Trello 101! In this post, we'll be talking about the basic functionality Trello has to offer that can get you up and running quickly and start managing work for you and your team. We will explore the basic features of Trello and define some of the terminology used. To help illustrate some of these points I've created a template board you can copy over to get started and use to follow along with.

What is Trello?

Trello is an online application used for managing work. It allows for quick and easy team collaboration and empowers you with various methods of customization to tailor your workflow to meet any requirements. Think of it as a glorified digital white board with sticky notes you can use to record and track progress of different tasks! Either with a team or by yourself, Trello offers a way to turn your task list into a visual representation that you can interact with. The level of use ranges from simple beginners to complex power users, with automation and integrations built in. So without further ado, let's take a look at what makes up a board.

Boards

The first thing we need to do is establish what a board is. The board is essentially the personalized site that all of your information lives on: it's where all the organization happens, where you'll setup your workflow, create task items, invite team members for collaboration etc. Boards can be project or team specific, you can create a board for anything, you could even run a D&D campaign off of it. The sky's the limit.

Within the board on the right-hand of the screen lives your board menu. This is where you can manage your team members on the board in terms of their permissions, filter you view through the card search, utilize power-ups or setup any automations.

Trello 101 - An introduction-boards

Lists

Lists are essentially going to represent your workflow. In the example template, the vertical columns are your lists and represent the various stages that your work progresses through. This is the most typical use, but lists can also be used for establishing context on the board. The 'General Information' list houses the instructions for how the board can be used.

Trello 101 - An introduction-lists

Cards

Within the lists we have cards. Cards are the items of work that are to be performed or tracked through the workflow. Whenever you have a new task to track, you can create a card for it with a header and a description, and drag and drop it through the various lists as work progresses. In the template board I've created a few example cards to show the various functionality.

Trello 101 - An introduction-cards

Labels

Labels are a way to group tasks together. In the example of a software development project, you could have labels to represent the different elements like UI/UX, Localization, Codebase etc. In a team management setting you can have different labels for the different groups, you could also use labels to identify priority. They're customizable enough to serve whatever purpose you have for them. In the example board we are using them to identify priority of tasks. You can apply a label to a card by selecting the card and clicking on the 'labels' option in the right side menu.

Trello 101 - An introduction-labels

Adding Team members

Once your board is complete and you're ready to start working, you can invite team members to join your board by clicking on the 'invite' button in the top-middle of the board and adding their email address, or by creating an invite link to allow anyone with the link to join.

Trello 101 - An introduction-members

And that's it! You're ready to rock and roll. I encourage you to use the basic template to get started with to get a feel for how the site works. Once you're comfortable enough with it you can start to branch out into using power ups and automations. 

If you have any question on Trello, or any other Atlassian product, reach out and one of our experts will gladly help!

Topics: blog best-practices tips trello atlassian-products
2 min read

Agile 101: What is a Spike?

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 20, 2021 11:59:24 AM

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A Spike, in Agile software development, is a work item to support future work by the team that can't be performed without more research, design, or prototyping. Creating a spike allows you to dedicate time in a sprint to finding out more information in a defined time-box.

The benefit of using a Spike is that if the work turns out to be either more or less effort than you expected, it won't throw off the team's ability to get all of their committed work completed. No one wants to find out mid-sprint that a story is much more work than you thought because you didn't really know what it required yet. When running Scrum and trying to manage velocity, sometimes you need to build in room for uncertainty. It may be that there's a piece of work that needs to be completed, but we're not really sure how much work that's going to take. In these cases, using Spikes can be a huge help. 

How do I use Spikes?

  1. Create a ticket to represent a spike in your backlog
  2. Include the Spike in your sprint – Estimate the spike to determine how much effort should be dedicated to completing the spike
  3. Complete the necessary exploration or design during the Sprint to determine the estimate for the original story
  4. Close out the spike and update the original story with the new estimate

Using spikes in your sprints can make your teams more reliable – you've got a better idea of what's going on, with less pressure to know everything up-front.

Looking for more Agile 101? Check out Why Jira Won't Make You Agile.

And if you have any questions on Agile, contact us, one of our experts would love to talk with you and see if it's a good fit for your organization.

Topics: blog scrum tips agile
2 min read

Are Retrospectives Useful for Non-Scrum Teams?

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jul 15, 2021 11:34:08 AM

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If you work in tech, you've most likely heard of the term "Agile". Agile is a framework typically used by software and project management teams to deliver better quality work to customers in a more timely manner. Depending on the way organizations approach their journey to becoming Agile, there are various methods they can use to get there. One of the most popular Agile frameworks is Scrum, which proposes teams lean on time-boxed iterations, called Sprints, to complete their work. At the end of each Sprint, Retrospectives are to be completed. Retrospectives are meetings where Scrum teams discuss how to improve the way they work; they are typically held every 1 or 2 Sprints. They give the team a chance to come together and discuss what they liked, what they disliked, or what they felt could've gone better during the Sprint.  Many teams neglect to complete this step, even though it is one of the most important items teams can leverage if they're aiming to truly be Agile. Thinking about Retrospectives and their benefits made me realize how useful they can be for all teams, not just Scrum teams. 

Retrospectives and Non-Scrum Teams

Retrospectives are great for non-scrum teams in that they push teams to look back and reflect on the work they've completed. This reflection is key for future work, as teams can avoid past mistakes or time-eating efforts that negatively affected the efficiency of their last project. They can do the same for the items that lead to success in their previous projects so the team can consistently deliver their best work efficiently.

Additionally, retrospectives are great for promoting team unity and trust across the team members. When team members can openly share their honest opinions about how the team is doing, team communication improves, leading to better quality work and better relationships between team members. Any team can benefit from this, no matter how the team goes about completing their work.

Consistent reflection and analysis of completed work are excellent tools, even if the team isn't using Sprints and your work isn't necessarily time-boxed. At Praecipio Consulting, we hold retrospectives after the completion of every engagement. Looking back on the wins and losses, I can't help but feel a sense of pride amongst my team members on the work we delivered. Setting aside this time for the team to come together and communicate with one another allows our delivery teams to grow and bond with one another. Not to mention, the work we produce increases in quality and the processes behind that work become more efficient. 

If you are curious about Agile, and would like to see if it's a good fit for your organization's needs, contact us and one of our experts will get in touch.

Topics: blog scrum tips agile
5 min read

Which Atlasssian Products are Right for my Business?

By Michael Lyons on Jul 13, 2021 9:55:57 AM

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Are you considering using the Atlassian toolset, but aren't sure which applications are best for your team or organization? Well I'm here to highlight some of the great applications that Atlassian provides so you can make the right choice for your business. Atlassian's product suite is made up of applications that can unlock your entire organization's potential, from Software Development teams, IT Operations teams and Project Management teams to HR, Legal and Product Owners. You can even use the tools for everyday life! We at Praecipio Consulting love these tools so much that we use them in our day-to-day work.

I will be focusing on a subset of applications that can be used as a starting point for your organization. The applications are great foundational building blocks to start with when using Atlassian for managing work, providing service experiences, or housing documentation. These applications can be used on their own, or they can be used together to maximize team collaboration and efficiency, depending on what suits your team or organization best. 

Jira Software

Teams and organizations can use Jira Software as a tool for managing and tracking work in software development projects. This tool is extremely flexible and can be used by teams that leverage both Agile and Waterfall methodologies. It is highly customizable and can track all sorts of work in the software development lifecycle, including initiatives, epics, stories, and tasks, as well as other items specific to the team. Teams can create customized workflows to track statuses for work items to ensure work is being completed properly and the right individuals are involved to support the work. 

Groups that leverage both Scrum and Kanban can equally benefit from Jira Software. Scrum teams can set work for sprints and track the sprint progress directly in Jira. Visual tools such as boards, dashboards, reports and plans can be used to monitor and execute work. For Kanban teams, Jira's board visual is great for seeing the tasks the team is working on and can help determine where the team needs to focus. WIP (work-in-progress) limits can be set depending on what the team can achieve. 

Software, Gaming, Finance, and so many other types of companies find this tool useful to develop new technology. For example, the development of an App across multiple platforms is an excellent case for leveraging Jira Software. Product Owners can help drive improvements of their Apps with enhanced transparency, reporting, and collaboration through Jira Software. 

Jira Service Management

Teams that provide any level of customer service such as enhancement requests, PTO submissions, or change management often look to Jira Service Management as their main tool. Service desks are useful for taking on requests from both internal and external customers. Requests can be assigned and tracked in the application to ensure customers are getting all the help they need. Companies will also use this application to track changes through the business, such as bug fixes or upgrades. As with Jira Software, Jira Service Management can be customized to fit what the organization needs to ensure great service is being provided.

Organizations use this tool for IT Help Desks. If an employee needs a new laptop or to have a password changed, a request can be submitted through a customized service desk. The requests are sent to teams designated by the organization and can be resolved by those teams. Jira Service Management can be used by other groups within the organization as well, such as Human Resources. As described in one of our previous blogs, HR Teams can leverage service desks to onboard new employees. 

Jira Service Management is used for many different types of requests here at Praecipio Consulting as well. For example, our Marketing Team manages a service desk for Webinars. If someone has a topic to present, the service desk can be used to submit the idea. Once the idea is received, our Marketing team will work with the individual to plan and schedule the Webinar. 

Jira Work Management

Jira Work Management functions similarly to Jira Software, but is geared towards teams that are managing non-software development projects. Project Managers across multiple industries can use this tool to assign and track project work. Similarly to Jira Software, Work Management is customizable and provides great visualizations to monitor work and ensure projects are being completed on time. 

This tool doesn't just have to be used for company-related work: it can be used outside of work as well. For example, searching for a new house! The house buying process is extensive, and Jira Work Management can help outline tasks, assign work, and set dates and dependencies so you can purchase your next home in an organized manner.

Confluence

Confluence is a robust content management tool that teams can use to house important project materials, knowledge resources, and document templates. Within Confluence, spaces can be created for organizations and teams to organize documentation. Then pages can be created within the space where teams collaborate and share notes and documents on work being completed. This application can work for any sort of organization in any field, not just for technology groups. 

This application can be used to document daily meeting notes, standard best practices for an organization, and much more. Confluence can incorporate helpful macros to enhance the information being shared. For example, macros include drawing features for diagrams and templates for consistency across documentation. This application enables all of your teams and stakeholders to communicate effectively about projects.

How Can Applications Be Used Together?

I've discussed a small group of the tools that Atlassian offers. These applications can be used on their own, and you may feel the need to only use one. However, if multiple applications fit your needs, you can use them together to achieve operational excellence.  A common case is leveraging confluence and combining it with other Atlassian applications. Confluence, being a great documentation tool, combines extremely well with the applications discussed. Below you will see these combinations and effective use cases for each.

Confluence and Jira Software:  Confluence can be used to document daily notes for scrum meetings and create templates for how retrospective meetings should be organized. It can also be used to store any internal team notes on work being completed.

Confluence and Jira Service Management: Confluence can hold documentation on how to resolve a specific issue pertaining to the business.

Confluence and Jira Work Management: Confluence can be used to document discovery sessions about the project or even store your robust project plans. Drawings can be added to confluence as well for reference. 

The immense synergy between Confluence and all of these applications can help maximize the benefits of your Atlassian applications!  If you have questions about any Atlassian applications, please reach out to us, we would love to help! Best of luck in your Atlassian journey!

Topics: jira blog confluence jira-service-desk jira-software atlassian-products jira-work-management
3 min read

Tips for Being a Successful UAT Tester

By Luis Machado on Jul 9, 2021 12:48:44 PM

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User acceptance testing (UAT) is a critical practice to employ for a multitude of products and processes.  For the purpose of this article most of my examples will be within the context of migrating or merging instances for Atlasssian products. Nonetheless, these tips can be used for other avenues: I actually picked up these habits working as a QA tester for a video game publisher.

Context is king

When testing a product or a process, such as a migration or a merger of two instances, if you come across any issues, the most important thing you can do is provide as much context as possible so the developer or admin whose responsibility it is to correct the issue can have as best of an understanding as possible of how the issue came about. The best way to achieve this is by telling them what you did (repro steps), telling them what you expected to happen (expected result), and then telling them what actually happened (actual result).  By providing the steps you took and giving the context of what you expected from those steps, followed by what actually happened, it paints a better picture for the team in charge of dealing with it.

Screenshot or it didn’t happen

Speaking of pictures, we used to have a saying on the QA team I worked with: “Screenshot or it didn’t happen.” If you can provide a screenshot of your issue, you increase the chance that the person responsible for resolving the issue will be able to address it without any back and fourth.  Screenshots of any errors you see on pages, or incorrect configurations or data, help identify the exact issue, with no room for interpretation.  If you’re doing user acceptance testing, a screenshot of the UAT instance where the issue lives and what it looks like in production is even better. Again we’re trying to establish context for what your expectation was and what you actually saw.

Often during migrations or mergers, the individuals who are performing the work do not have the context of what the content is and what it should look like.  This is why user acceptance testing is such a valuable tool: It gives the users a chance to scope out the changes and see if anything looks wrong.  So it is the tester’s job to provide as much information as possible to resolve any issues. Here’s an example of an issue related to a migration:

  • Summary - Write a brief summary of the issue you’ve run into, it can be a simple statement, 2-3 sentences at most. (This can be optional depending on the medium for reporting the issue, if you’re using a Jira project to track bugs this would be important. If you’re tracking things in a table, the description would probably be sufficient)
  • Description - Provide a detailed description of what you observed. Include specifics like a link to the exact page or any particular tools used. This is a situation where less is less, more is more.
  • Reproduction Steps - Give a detailed step by step walkthrough of how you achieved the result.
  • Expected Result - At the end of the reproduction steps explain what you expected to see.
  • Actual Result - Also describe what you actually saw; be sure to indicate how this is different from the result you expected.
  • Expected and Actual results can sometimes be obvious or at least seem that way, just remember that it may be obvious to you but not necessarily to someone with a different context.
  • Screenshots - Where possible, include screenshots of the errors or issue you witnessed, and provide a comparison if possible to paint that contextual picture.

The most important thing to remember when doing testing of any kind is providing context. Always assume you can’t… assume anything! Treat it like the person you’re explaining the issue to has no idea what you’re talking about.  And if you have any questions regarding UAT, or how it can make the most of your processes, drop us a line, we'd love to help you out!

Topics: atlassian migrations tips gaming user-acceptance-testing merge
3 min read

Insight, Atlassian's Digital Asset Management Tool

By Kye Hittle on Jul 7, 2021 10:06:50 AM

insight, atlassians digital asset management tool

Previously, we looked at why digital asset management is important for your organization. Today, we're exploring Atlassian's solution for tracking your organization's valuable assets digitally: Insight. Remember, we are defining assets as anything that helps you get work done: lab equipment, computer hardware, cloud infrastructure, mobile devices, software/SaaS licenses, tools, work stations, furniture, etc.

In our industry, digital asset management is usually thought of as a component of "service management." Service management was traditionally considered an IT function (often manifested in the form of an IT help desk). In recent years, however, we have been implementing these practices across the organization—from legal to human resources to finance—because they dramatically increase the speed and quality of how work flows.

This expansion of service management practices beyond the IT organization means more teams are taking advantage of Atlassian's asset management tool, Insight. The impact of this trend is often quite remarkable as processes are formalized, streamlined, and consistently monitored. Teams using Insight get additional process benefits. Unlike inflexible, legacy Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs), Insight uses an open data structure which allows your teams to manage any resource important to their service requests. Including assets in your service management practices is a big step forward.

Think about how work gets done in any part of your organization: your process workflows. It typically starts with the (internal or external) customer submitting a service request, like a new employee onboarding, a facility request, a contract review, etc... The request is picked up from the queue by an agent who will take actions to move the work forward to resolution. Many actions may be needed along the way: obtaining additional information, forwarding to another team, making a configuration change, creating an account, procuring a requested item, repair equipment, provide updates back to the requester, etc. These actions are all turbo-charged and made easier through Jira's functionality and built-in fields. But is there something missing? Yes, assets! Almost every request involves procuring, repairing, replacing, upgrading, decommissioning, or dealing with assets in some way. A Jira issue, by default, doesn't include fields to track data related to assets.

We could employ custom fields to create a drop-down list of assets, but we quickly run into limits with this approach. As discussed in the former post, assets usually have many attributes, such as serial numbers, vendor/service contacts, documentation, relationships to other assets, etc... There's no way to stuff all of this information into a custom field. Using multiple custom fields is cumbersome for agents and for reporting/tracking due to data entry accuracy issues. In addition, we can't establish relationships between assets represented in custom fields; these are important for being able to see all assets located in a certain location or seeing what other assets will be impacted by removing or changing an asset, for example. We need an integrated solution that's tailored to managing our assets within Jira tickets.

Insight-company-assets

Insight's basic functionality allows customers and agents to link an issue to a complete, dynamic asset record. This is incredibly powerful by itself, but that's not all: with asset management handled by Insight, we can do so much more to help work flow smoothly as part of digital transformation initiatives. Insight can automate ticket assignment based on any asset attribute, like location, model, or vendor. This prevents front-line support from spending time reassigning tickets to the appropriate queue and removes that wait from the request's resolution time. Alerts to stakeholders can be sent automatically. Should safety and engineering teams be alerted when tickets involving security systems, networking hardware or other critical infrastructure are opened? Automated discovery can be a crucial feature for audit/compliance and having an accurate picture of what assets are being used to in your business. We are amazed at the flexibility of Insight to help customers manage all of their needs around assets.

Are your assets managing you instead of the other way around? If so, get in touch, and let's apply the power of Insight to your business.

Topics: jira blog asset-management service-management insight digital-transformation
5 min read

Pros and Cons of a Cloud Migration

By Luis Machado on Jul 5, 2021 12:23:50 PM

pros and cons of a cloud migration

Thinking a move to cloud might be the way to go for your company, but you're not exactly sure if such a move is right for you? There are a few questions you should ask yourself about your organization to understand the context of what a migration to cloud would mean for you.  As you're navigating the pros and cons associated with migrating from on-prem solution to cloud, you have to understand that how these factors are weighed largely depend on the context of your organization. Asking the following questions will help you establish that context:

Why move to cloud?

For context, the term 'Cloud' can be somewhat ambiguous, so if not otherwise stated I'm referring to cloud in the SaaS sense (Software as a Service), that is, maintained by a 3rd party and available in a cloud setting, such as the Atlassian product suite. There are other flavors of cloud out there, but the SaaS model is where we'll maintain our focus. The first question you want to answer is why? Why are you considering moving to cloud in the first place? Are there any specific pain points you are feeling in your current setup that you think might be alleviated by moving to cloud? Understanding what your potential need is for a cloud migration will help you to develop a business justification for the endeavor, as well as allow you to start to build the context of your specific situation. If the reason is "We're spending too much time on maintaining infrastructure for our on-prem solutions" then something like having no maintenance in a cloud environment would be weighed very heavily in your case.

What are you moving?

What are you going to be moving?  What does your current on-prem setup look like? How big is your userbase? What 3rd party add ons or apps are you using? Are you using a single instance and are wanting to consolidate in addition to migrating to cloud?  How much historical data do you have? These questions can help to establish the potential complexity of the migration you're looking to perform.  One of the major considerations that has to be factored into a cloud migration is the cost of entry. This extends from just the literal monetary cost to include time and human resources as well. If your company can't afford to divert labor to perform a migration, is it worth it for you to contract the project out to a 3rd party? Having an idea of what you are migrating will help you weigh the various options and give you perspective to consider the impact.

Pros

Now that you've established the context for you migration, let's take a moment to talk about the potential pros around migrating to cloud.  When comparing cloud to an on-prem solution, you can really break down the pros into four main points:

  • Accessibility
  • Scalability
  • Maintenance
  • Cost

Let's take a look at the first point, Accessibility. One of the great things about cloud is that it's accessible from almost anywhere in the world right out of the box. You don't have to configure any VPNs or allow lists, no special permissions groups to modify, all the data replication and content delivery is managed for you, and has a low cost to entry.

Scalability is another major pro in favor of a move to cloud and falls along similar lines as Accessibility, and typically goes hand in hand with Maintenance. The infrastructure behind the application or service is purpose-built on a platform intended to be scalable in order to support multiple customers.

Add to this the fact that you no longer have to be responsible for maintaining that infrastructure, you can focus efforts and resources elsewhere in your organization. If maintaining infrastructure is something in particular your business struggles with, making a shift to cloud can have a huge positive impact.

This leads us nicely into the topic of cost.  Depending on the specific context, cost can sometimes go either way: I'm including it in the pros section because I think in most cases, especially if you factor in for the long term, your costs overall will be lower with a move to cloud. Figuring costs in a cloud move takes some doing because there can be differences in the types of costs you'll encounter in a cloud setting vs. an on-prem. Again, because this can be pretty heavily dependent on the context of the specific situation being analyzed, I'll throw out a few common factors but I don't want to give any potentially wrong impressions. Cloud vs on prem costs infographic

In the table above I've done quick breakdown to illustrate the basic differences around Cloud and On-Prem, and I've added another column to include the option of moving to cloud as SaaS model vs self-hosted cloud. Cloud hosted and On-Prem hosted have some similar costs categories (licensing, infrastructure) but there is some reprieve you get from cloud specifically around the depreciation of hardware and maintaining the infrastructure. In a cloud model this is mostly tied to licensing and the monthly cost operating fees associated with the virtual hardware you have allocated for your purposes. Versus the more traditional model of maintaining physical servers, the personnel costs associated with that upkeep, and the cost you incur with depreciation. In a SaaS model this all mostly wrapped into the licensing cost, which is typically why licensing for cloud is both more expensive and more complex. 

Cons

There are of some potential tradeoffs and downsides to consider as part of a move to the cloud. The biggest areas that might cause you or your organization trouble include Control, Security, and Flexibility.

When you break it down, the concepts of control and security almost go hand-in-hand.  Control is probably the hardest thing to overcome when talking about moving your data to the cloud and understandably so. The bottom line of operating in cloud environment is your data lives somewhere outside of your organization and the infrastructure is managed by another entity. You're putting your data and your trust into someone else's hands. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can take some getting used to, and some adjusting of your internal methods or practices. Being familiar with the support process can help with this as know what information you can request and how to get it will help to alleviate some of the disjointed feeling when attempting to manage your application.

On the security front, if your company has very specific security requirements or has specific regulatory bodies you have to comply with, there is an extra layer of consideration when weighing the prospect of moving to cloud. It's important to first identify what those needs are and reach out to the cloud provider ahead of time to find out if those requirements can be accommodated.

Lastly it's important to consider that moving to a cloud application means you will not have access to anything beyond the application layer. This can mean workarounds previously in use with the on-prem solution may need to be re-considered or re-engineered, and there are potentially additional restrictions around API calls and traffic to/from the application. Spending some time discovering what your needs are vs what is available to you in a cloud setting will be key to realizing these potential pitfalls.

We are getting to a point where we're moving from "Is cloud the right choice?" to "Which form of cloud is the right choice?" Not all situations involving cloud are the same, and careful consideration and weighing of options is important for any potential move.  Having the right tools to plan and execute the transition as well as an understanding of the context of your environment can make all the difference when deciding how to move forward.

If you have any questions on migrating to cloud, have run into trouble implementing a migration, or simply want to see if your organization is making the most of its digital infrastructure and operations, contact us and one of our experts will reach out to you.

Topics: blog saas cloud digital-transformation cloud migration
2 min read

Can Scrum Masters have multiple roles on a team?

By Lauren Schroeder on Jul 2, 2021 9:15:00 AM

2021-q4-blogpost-Can my Scrum Master have multiple roles on a team?_1

A question that I'm often asked is: Why have so many different roles on a scrum team? If a developer on a scrum team has the experience to act as the Scrum Master as well, is there any harm in consolidating? Short answer: Yes!

Although having one team member covering multiple roles seems more efficient, it can cause more problems than its worth. Before putting a team member in multiple roles, it's important to consider the following challenges.

Context Switching

Statistics show that it takes an average of 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted. Jumping between tasks that require completely different mindsets and skills require a huge context shift. Having a developer who is switching between working on code and managing blockers for the team can actually reduce efficiency. It may be more effective to have a Scrum Master working as a Scrum Master for multiple teams. 

Skills & Training

The skills needed to be a successful Product Owner (PO) are different than those needed to be a Scrum Master, which are different than those that make a good developer! The Scrum Master should have a high level of emotional intelligence and act as a leader for the developers. Developers should be subject matter experts, familiar with the best practices and best ways to implement the PO's requirements.

Conflicts of Interest

The Scrum Team is designed to have certain checks and balances – each role is well defined so that they can focus on the subject matter they are there for. When you start consolidating roles, there's a high risk of conflicts of interests. This is very clear when organizations try to combine PO and Scrum Masters – after all, one of the major jobs of the Scrum Master is to protect the team from scope creep, represented by the PO. Additionally, the Scrum Master unblocks the development team if needed, and helps facilitate the scrum ceremonies – an important part of that requires allowing the team to work through issues before utilizing your authority to pull in outside stakeholders. 

It can be tempting to try and combine your Scrum roles, but we strongly recommend respecting the division of responsibility that has been established. 

If your teams are having trouble with their scrum roles, have any question or just want to chat, contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: best-practices management scrum tips project-management
3 min read

What is Jira Align: A Primer

By Amanda Babb on Jun 30, 2021 4:45:59 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-What is Jira Align- A Primer_1

A
couple of years ago, in Atlassian's annual flagship event formerly known as Summit and now known as Team, I was in a room full of people for two days providing training on Advanced Roadmaps for Jira on behalf of Atlassian. If you've never attended a live Summit event, the Kickoff Keynote is always a sight to see. One year, Scott and Mike dressed as Daft Punk and mixed music as DJ Kanban (I still nerd out on that one), you see announcements about the expansion of Pledge 1%, and, of course, new product announcements. Jira Align was acquired by Atlassian and announced at Summit 2019. I. Was. Floored. You see, we here at Praecipio Consulting were looking for a larger agile-at-scale solution for some of our largest clients. 

Enter Jira Align

After becoming a SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC) in 2015, I spent a lot of time with clients understanding intake and execution processes and facilitating them through the Atlassian product suite. These clients were either just starting their SAFe® journey or had been the earliest adopters and already implementing SAFe®. After implementing Advanced Roadmaps (then known as Portfolio for Jira) to support SAFe®, becoming the Atlassian University On Demand "voice" of Planning with Advanced Roadmaps, and guiding the course content with Atlassian, I was in love with Advanced Roadmaps. And I still am. Advanced Roadmaps is a powerful data aggregation, roadmap, and scenario planning tool for small- to medium-size organizations either as standalone entities or within an Enterprise organization.

Jira Align, however, brought forth a whole new realm of possibilities. Bringing robust framework expertise and combining it with an easy-to-use interface, Jira Align is THE solution for Enterprise organizations running agile-at-scale. Don't believe me? Atlassian is considered a Leader in the Gartner Enterprise Agile Planning Tools Magic Quadrant as of April 2021. Experience and third-party accolades aside, why is Jira Align so amazing? Let's take a closer look. 

Jira Software Integration

Unlike Advanced Roadmaps, Jira Align is a standalone product hosted either in multi-tenant or single-tenant cloud infrastructure. While there is an on-prem solution, of course, there are a lot of additional considerations if you have to choose this deployment. The connection between Jira Align and Jira Software supports both Data Center and Atlassian Cloud instances. The most critical part of the integration is the Jira Software Epic. Epics can be created in Jira Align and pushed to Jira Software or created in Jira Software and pulled into Jira Align. Keep in mind, when creating the integration, best practice is to isolate Epics into their own Jira project. Bringing in Stories and Sprints is also easier if a Jira project represents a single team. 

Rooms at Every Level

Whether you're just starting out with a single Agile Release Train (ART) or are running multiple ARTs, Jira Align provides the Program Room for each ART. This is the central hub for tracking the current Program Increment (PI) and planning the next one. Sprint Progress, investment runway, intra-ART and inter-ART dependencies, PI Burndown, it's all centralized within the Program Room. This provides Business Owners, RTEs, and Program Managers a clear view of the progress of the work in the PI. 

Jira Align also provides the Portfolio Room and Strategy Room. These rooms provide the progress towards Strategic Themes, Portfolio investments, progress toward long-term goals, and status updates. When properly connected to Epics in the Program room, Teams and ARTs can open the "Why?" tab on the Epic and see how their work is contributing to the overall strategy. 

Everyone's Favorite: Reporting

Jira Align has over 180 out-of-the-box reports. Each layer in Jira Align has a Track section pre-populated with the more popular reports for that section. For example, in the Program section, Jira Align provides Program Increment tracking, Program Increment insights, and Dependency Maps. If you're not sure what type of report you're looking for, simply click the Reports menu and ask a question in the search box. 

For those organizations that need to integrate with other systems or need more robust business intelligence, Enterprise Insights can be added to Jira Align. 

Want to know more? We here at Praecipio Consulting would love to walk you through how Jira Align can support your agile-at-scale transformation. Contact us!

Topics: atlassian blog scaled-agile integration reporting jira-align safe advanced-roadmap
3 min read

4 Things to Look Out for When Migrating to Atlassian Cloud

By Jerry Bolden on Jun 28, 2021 3:17:41 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Challenges moving from server to cloud

Migrating to the cloud can be a challenging move for any organization: there are many moving pieces to keep track of, and with the threat of negatively affecting both internal and front-facing operations, failure is not an option! Here are some key blockers to keep in mind when migrating to Atlassian Cloud from on-premise instances, so that you can review ahead of time just how prepared for a successful migration your company is:

  • User Management
  • Automations
  • Size of Attachments
  • Apps

User Management

User Management and how users are set up is a major difference when operating in Atlassian Cloud versus on premise. This is an important obstacle to understand and address, as the approaches for user management are different between cloud and on-premise. Key to this is how users are created and managed; equally important is identifying any users with missing or duplicate email addresses, since these cause problems with data integrity and users being able to use Filters and Queues in Atlassian Cloud. 

Automation

Automations are critical to research, as some automations may not be functional or even allowed in Atlassian Cloud: these will need to be identified and assessed to determine the balance between the value they bring and the level of effort of recreating them. 

Attachments

Size of Attachments becomes critical when using the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant, as this does not support migrating Jira Service Desk projects, which may require importing data via Site Import that forces attachments to be uploaded separately in 5 GB chunks, one chunk at a time. This alone will drive the migration of attachments to exceed a typical outage window, as the Site Import process must first conclude prior to uploading attachments. 

Jira Service Management utilization is tied to the size of the attachments as noted above. While JSM is used heavily it is currently not able to be migrated using the Jira Cloud Migration tool. With that being said this drives the use of site import. With this comes having to migrate the users and attachments separately. This becomes more moving parts during the migration outage and the coordination and timing will become even more critical.  

Apps

Jira Suite Utilities (JSU) / Jira Miscellaneous Workflow Extension (JMWE) / Scriptrunner are apps available in the Atlassian Marketplace that may be used in one or more of your current workflows. While these apps have helped to drive the creation of workflows and processes to automate certain transitions or enforce proper data collection, there is also no current migration pathway to Atlassian Cloud. While JSU has become part of the native cloud, JSU along with the other two apps must be manually fixed in all workflows migrated up to the cloud. You must run a query on your on premise data base to ensure you map out all transitions affected by the apps. Then once the migration to cloud is complete, they must be reviewed and recreated manually to ensure they are all working properly. Where possible utilizing the out of the box options, that mimic JSU, can help to move away from at least one app. 

Specific to Scriptrunner, one common scenario is the use of it in filters can cause them to no longer function, potentially causing boards and dashboard to render incorrectly. These filters must be rewritten using the Scriptrunner Enhanced Search functionality. One good example is any filter that contains the phrase "issueFunction not in" will need be rewritten as "NOT issueFunction in". It would be advisable, when doing the migration to Cloud, to open a ticket with the vendors for advise on how to fix scenarios with JQL that worked in Server/Data Center that no longer work "as-is" in Cloud.

Overall these key obstacles will get you on the correct path to understanding what you know will need to be done in preparation for starting the migration. This by no means is a complete list of the only obstacles that you can encounter, but we hope it will help you to be proactive in fixing obstacles before they become a blocker to the migration.

We are Atlassian experts, and understand how the move to cloud can be fraught with unpleasant surprises. If you have any questions, or are in need of professional assistance, contact us, we would love to help!

Topics: atlassian blog automation best-practices migrations atlassian-cloud marketplace-apps jira-service-management cloud migration
6 min read

Confluence, by Atlassian: Understanding the Software

By Kye Hittle on Jun 23, 2021 4:42:15 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Confluence Atlassian- Understanding the Software


If you've ever asked the question, "What is Atlassian Confluence?" you might have received one or more of the following common answers:

  • "It's a wiki."
  • "It's a knowledge base."
  • "It's an enterprise-friendly collaboration workspace."

And although these answers may be accurate, they aren't that illuminating if you're not already familiar with terms like "wiki" or "knowledge base." Confluence is meant to be used by everyone in your organization; every additional contributor increases the value of your instance. On your Confluence journey, it's important jargon doesn't intimidate users before they even get started! They are much more likely to jump in if you use simple, clear language and explanations.

As always, we're here to help! Let's look at each of these common methods of explaining Confluence and some alternate approaches.

What's a wiki?

Since most users are familiar with Wikipedia, Confluence champions may assume the first answer above ("it's a wiki") is a good way to employ the time-honored tactic of starting with something users already know. However, while most users have read a Wikipedia article, there is very little chance they've actually written or edited content on the site. This is where the analogy doesn't take us as far as needed for new Confluence users.

For most users, Wikipedia is just another read-only page on the web. Even if aware Wikipedia is user-editable, they almost certainly don't have the experience of easily creating and editing wiki pages and then having the content immediately available to other users. It's powerful, but hard to really "get it" if you haven't actually done it before.

This concept is critically important in understanding Confluence's value:

You can create and edit content that's immediately available to your team, or even our entire organization on Confluence. It's as easy as editing a document in a word processor but more powerful because you don't have to worry about how others will access the new content.

What's a knowledge base?

Next up in common ways to explain Confluence: the term "knowledge base."

This is even more unfamiliar to most users outside of IT. We may be able to better meet users where they are by using the phrase Frequently Asked Questions, aka the infamous "FAQ." Thanks to it's popularization as a go-to spot for answers on many websites, this might be a better entry point to explaining the value of Confluence as the central repository for an organization's knowledge.

We're all familiar with the struggle to find answers in our organizations. Our clients have tackled this challenge by centralizing their knowledge in Confluence. Users need to know:

Confluence is the single place where we store our FAQs. When you have a question, it should always be your first stop. Since you generate new organizational knowledge each day, help teammates (and yourself!) by storing answers, historical information, and future useful content in Confluence!

What's a workspace?

The problem with the term "workspace" is overuse. We hear it used to describe project management systems, collaborative editing in documents, physical locations (e.g. desks, lab tables, kitchens, classrooms), the main area of an application where content is manipulated, and even online portals. And that's just the beginning of things that get called "workspace."

We need something more precise when describing Confluence. Sometimes it's better to use an example to illustrate the value of Confluence instead of abstract jargon. Quickly explain how you or one of your teams have used Confluence. The more germane it is to users's daily responsibilities, the better. In other words, avoid using a software dev team's use case when talking to the accounting department. While Confluence can enable very complex use cases, stash those for advanced users. With new users, make it approachable and the value immediately obvious.

Drinking our own champagne

Recently at work I joined a three-person ad hoc team to reach out to attendees at Atlassian Community Events about career opportunities here at Praecipio Consulting. We started with a single Confluence page and simply attached one Keynote file as the starting point for our presentation. That's it. It took our team lead 15 seconds to create our team's "workspace."

During a subsequent remote meeting using collaborative editing we added sections to our page for talking points, an email template to event leaders, a table for tracking progress, and a Team Calendar to prevent schedule conflicts. All of us updated the document simultaneously. Additional meetings generated additional content sections, sub-pages (e.g. lessons learned), and more.

Because this was a one-time effort, a full project-management system or "plan to plan" would've taken longer than our actual project. But not having Confluence would've made it much harder to stay organized and make quick progress. Confluence is flexible and grew with us as our project evolved. Confluence also stores every edit as a previous version which can be referenced if the change information is ever useful (e.g. when did we reach out to a particular city last?). Since it was so successful, we'll likely repeat this effort in the future. Our work is stored in Confluence for when that day arrives. The wheel will not need to be reinvented, even though Confluence made that first round very efficient and effective.

That simple, thirty-second example of a one-page project "workspace" demonstrates several components that make Confluence so powerful:

  • Quick ramp-up and flexible for any kind of work
  • Evolves and grows with your team as needs change
  • Real-time collaborative editing allows everyone to stay on the same page, even in remote meetings
  • Add-ons and features, like Team Calendars, add deeper, dynamic functionality
  • Confluence automatically versions edits, allowing us to go back in time if needed

The Journey to Confluence Success

Making Confluence approachable for new users is a critical first step in successful Confluence adoption, but it's not the only one. Here are some other resources to ensure your success.

Professional Services

Confluence is easy to get started with, as long as users aren't intimidated by jargon. It's also easy for it to grow out of control without some guardrails in place. To prevent your Confluence from becoming an overgrown forest - and to make it easy, especially for your newer users - a good design for space organization, permissions, add-ons, and more will save you lots of pain. Praecipio Consulting engagements range from accelerators to get up-and-running on common Confluence use cases to custom-designed engagements tailored to your organization's specific requirements. Let's discuss what would work best for your situation.

Training

Atlassian documentation is great but most users don't read it. We offer instructor-led training to make sure your users get the practical how-to knowledge they need to be effective with Confluence from day one. Contact us for more details.

Atlassian University

For learning the basics of Confluence, you can always direct users to Atlassian University which offers on-demand online courses.

Atlassian Community

Finally, Atlassian has a thriving user community which meets online and in-person every day. Check the forums to see if your questions have already been answered or, if not, post it.

Confluence can dramatically streamline knowledge and project management. It can become one of your users' favorite tools for getting work done. We're experts and ready to help. Please get in touch and let us know how we can help.

Topics: atlassian blog confluence knowledge-base
4 min read

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align?

By Amanda Babb on Jun 21, 2021 1:55:35 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Old is new again - Conversations over Documentation copy_1

Have you heard of Jira Align? I feel like we've told you about Jira Align. Maybe a few times. We here at Praecipio Consulting can't say enough about it. Its ability to manage agile-at-scale for enterprise organizations is unmatched. 

When implementing Jira Align or expanding your footprint, however, it's important to understand the objects in Jira Align, as well as their definitions. It's also critical that your organization agrees on these definitions as a whole. With that in mind, let's discuss the Portfolio in Jira Align. What it is according to the product, and more importantly, how to define it in your organization. 

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align? 

A Portfolio supports a value stream. What is a value stream? It's a specific set of solutions that deliver value to your customers whether internal or external. Where a lot of organizations make mistakes is thinking that a Portfolio is a grouping together of projects that need to be complete in a fiscal year. There is no regard for strategic alignment to themes, no consideration for investments, and may follow a business-unit-esque structure. This is NOT how agile-at-scale frameworks define Portfolios, nor how Jira Align defines them. In addition, Programs (aka teams of teams or Agile Release Trains) support a Portfolio. This ties the execution to the strategy in Jira Align. 

In Jira Align, a Portfolio has the following things: 

  • A Strategic Snapshot
  • One or more Program Increments (PIs)
  • A budget for the Snapshot
  • Strategic Themes with allocation to PIs
  • PI budgets established
  • PI budgets are allocated across the Programs
  • Blended rate established for the PIs
  • PI budgets, per program, have been allocated to Strategic Themes
  • Portfolio Epics are created and have been connected to a Strategic Theme, scored, swagged, budgeted, and targeted to one or more PI

Ok, that seems like a lot, right? And it is. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." While you may have established goals (e.g. increase new subscriptions by 15% over last year), without tying goals to the PIs, allocating a budget, then creating Portfolio Epics, you have a wish, not a plan. 

How Do I Define a Portfolio? 

Depending on your organization, you may have to take a step back and really examine how you operate. There are many questions to ask your organization: how do we deliver value to our customers? Which programs support the value delivery? Are these programs truly cross-functional and able to deliver from idea to value in the hands of the customer? 

At Praecipio Consulting, one of our Portfolios is Client Delivery. This Portfolio delivers value to our clients by providing professional services around the Atlassian products and complimentary technologies. The solution (professional services) drives the definition of the Portfolio. Our Client Delivery organization is the delivery mechanism and is grouped into two delivery programs: technical and process. While these are not mutually exclusive, they do require specialization on the part of the teams depending on the services needed from the client. 

Can you break your value delivery, solutions, and execution mechanisms in the same way? If you're struggling to do so, it may be time to reevaluate your organization's definition of a Portfolio before defining it in Jira Align. 

Once the Portfolio is defined in plain language, then examine which Program(s) will execute against the Portfolio. Remember, a Program is a team of teams organized around the value delivery of the solution to your customers. The Program operates in their cadenced PIs, creates and ties Epics and Stories together to the Portfolio Epics to estimate and complete work. Without these links, you will not be able to understand your progress, investments, or overall health of the Portfolio in Jira Align. 

Reporting on the Portfolio

I know I've said this before, but there are over 180 reports in Jira Align. However, the most commonly used object is the Portfolio Room. There are three tabs in the Portfolio Room out-of-the-box: Financials, Resources, and Execution. In all three views, you will always see the Program Increment Roadmap. This gives you an understanding of the planning and progress of the PIs.

  • The Financials tab provides Budget by PI, Estimates, and Actuals in a single glance as well as Theme Effort vs. Value and Theme Budget Allocation against the ranked Theme Priority. 
  • The Resources tab provides allocated resources by theme based on estimated work in the PIs as well as team-week allocation Theme Effort Distribution against the ranked Theme Priority. 
  • The Execution tab provides Theme Progress, Points, and team-week efforts as well as Theme Burnup based on the number of points accepted. 

Of course, the Portfolio room is configurable based on the KPIs relevant to your organization. And a Portfolio manager can drill into any or all of the items listed above in further detail either by a specific PI or multiple PIs. Simply update the Program Increments you'd like to focus on and the Portfolio Room will update the data specific to those timeboxes. While Jira Align will suggest reports under the Track section of the navigation menu, again, you can simply ask Jira Align to provide the report you need under the full Reports section. 

Jira Align makes it simple to understand the health of one or many Portfolios in your organization. Best Practice is to start with one, iterate until you get it right, then expand across other Portfolios when ready. Praecipio Consulting's deep expertise with agile-at-scale frameworks as well as intimate knowledge of Jira Align can provide you the needed support when you're ready to take your teams to the next level: contact us and see if Jira Align is a good fit for your organization.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices portfolio portfolio-management reporting jira-align
2 min read

Old Is New Again – Conversations Over Documentation

By David Stannard on Jun 18, 2021 11:43:00 AM

2021-q4-blogpost-Old is new again - Conversations over Documentation_1

Imagine a world where businesses can concurrently develop next generation manufacturing processes while designing products based upon the as-yet-non-existent implementation medium. Imagine that they can do this all while reducing time-to-market and allowing the continued benefit of exponential growth in complexity every 18 months. Add a twist of “design-anywhere-build-anywhere” – and serve shaken; not stirred. Perhaps in software, the analogy might be "
develop applications on a language being implemented and SDKs that will also be created concurrently – trust us, it will be fine." At the same time, many graduates from engineering colleges were learning that the soft skills of communication and collaboration had higher impact to their success than the hard earned technical skills.

In the early 1990s, an organization is asked by several of its clients to help them address time-to-market pressures. The result: in 1992 Don Carter published a book founded upon a transformational approach called Concurrent Engineering based on consulting experiences. One impact that I remember well was the increase in actual conversations amongst the various constituents - breaking down the barriers between the silos was a key component of this philosophy. Coincidentally, the quality of results increased too, along with client satisfaction.

Back to the future... Literally!

There is even more pressure on businesses to reduce time-to-market, and there are few signs that this will change or needs to change. No time for creating voluminous documentation in semi-isolation that can't capture all aspects and are often subject to interpretation by the reader. The division between hardware and software development has blurred. In fact, hardware designs are created, modeled, emulated, and the proposed implementations are verified using specialized high level languages prior to implementation. The abstracts are subsequently decomposed into manufacturable entities while continuously confirming no unintended loss of the design intent using specialized tools such as formal verification tools. 

Businesses are and must continue becoming Agile – businesses are greater than having Agile development organizations. So the adoption of Agile, Scrum, and other practices continues unabated. There are even early discussions of what’s beyond these Agile practices that are standing the test of time after several decades of adoption. 

Two important aspects of the Agile Manifesto are valuing “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” and “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”. It was increasingly common pre-COVID that these teams were distributed geographically and even culturally. So while tools are a part of the solution – the need to communicate well and often has never been more important. This practice is standing the test of time.

A closing note to Scrum Masters who help teams live the benefit of the cross-functionality objective: Your Scrum teacher and Agile coaches have provided you with lots of reference material about building teams and communications. Now is a good time to revisit those references; one of my favorites is “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson et al. The book addresses situations with perceived high stakes, diverse constituents, and possibly highly emotions.

Looking for more Scrum tips? Contact us, we love to help!

Topics: scrum collaboration documentation agile software-development
3 min read

Does Jira do burndown charts?

By Mary Roper on Jun 16, 2021 3:33:00 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Does Jira do burndowns?_1

Good reporting capabilities are essential to Agile teams using Jira Software - and for good reason! Data visualization tools are essential for promoting good communication and collaboration. One of the most sought-after reports is included in Jira Software out of the box: the burndown chart. Read on to learn how Jira makes it easy to generate and share the burndown chart with your team and stakeholders. 

The Inputs

  1. A Scrum Board: In Jira, the burndown chart is accessible through Scrum boards only.
    • To create a scrum-type board, follow these instructions from Atlassian. Column mapping is a key configuration point, as it's the basis for the burndown chart. 
  2. An Estimation Statistic: Determine how your team will measure work, and set an estimation value on each of the issues in your sprint.
    • Jira accommodates for Story Points, original time estimate, issue count, or any custom field, provided that the custom field is a numeric custom field type.
    • We know that this can be a sticking point for your team and asked our Principle Amanda Babb to shared her thoughts about Scrum Team time tracking to help you along the way. 
  3. An Active Sprint: Once your sprint starts, begin to review your team's progress. 

The Interpretation

Once the sprint starts, you can review the burndown chart along the way to understand the amount of remaining work in a particular sprint and gather feedback on the sprint itself. Below are a few scenarios that the burndown chart captures:

Scope Creep:

Scope creep is often unavoidable, so it's necessary to understand when they occurred especially if you team is no longer on target to meet its sprint goal. Here, the burndown chart reflects an increase in scope

scope-creep-burndown-chart

Opportunity for Alignment: 

It's important for the team to collaborate and land on an estimate for each work item in the sprint - not so much for the actual estimate itself but more for the shared understanding based on the requirements. This is often seen in both over and under estimates on the burndown chart. Below, the burndown chart reflects where some work was overestimated; the team is on track to the work well before the end of the sprint. 

opportunity-for-alignment-burndown-chart

Plateaus: 

Plateaus on the burndown chart are typical when you have a team who is either new to Agile as a whole or new to working together. It's an indication that the team got off to a good start early on, but didn't carry the effort through the remaining work items. 

plateau-burndown-chart

Ready to learn how Jira Software can help your Agile teams collaborate and communicate while working in Agile sprints? Drop us a line!

Topics: blog scrum data reporting agile
3 min read

Scrum Master Basics – Part 2 of 3: The Definition of “Done”

By David Stannard on Jun 11, 2021 9:45:00 AM

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This is Part 2 of a series of 3 posts on Scrum Master Basics.  Here is Part 1

I have to admit, I’m biased. As a manager and a business person, I have a vested interest in my teams success. That success is built upon them achieving a sustainable pace of delivering value to paying clients while supporting their personal growth. 

The definition of “done” is a powerful tool. In my journey as an Agile Coach and Scrum Master, I have found that focusing on the team’s definition of ‘Done’ provides tremendous return on effort. If your team jokes about ‘Done’, ‘Done done’, and ‘Done, done, done’ - there is usually a gold mine of opportunity for continuous improvement.

I believe in the strong relationship between defining done and improving a team’s overall well being – I've seen it first hand. Conversely, I see high dissatisfaction within the team, from the Product Owner and people outside the team when there isn’t a clear definition. In the knowledge business, people like to create and provide things that others use; they generally hate building the wrong thing or things that aren’t wanted or used.

Here are a couple of real world examples from teams I've worked with:

1st example from a real demoralized team:

Scrum Team: “We define ‘done’ as the feature being ready for QA to test.”

Scrum Master: This is clearly an anti-pattern to delivering a potentially releasable unit of value. We’re doing Wagile, not Scrum!

Expunge that way of thinking permanently and never say it – ever!  Seek first to understand…

A Scrum Master should always assume that people are rational and therefore behave rationally. Dig into the reason for the definition. Perhaps this was the team establishing a working agreement based upon having a lone QA person and this was seen as a solution not a problem. I bet that they’d love some help that can result from simply asking “what can we do as a team to help you with your workload?See the world from their perspective. They may be transitioning from classical waterfall workflows and the team hasn’t adjusted to the concept of a cross-functional team.

Use the principle of “take it to the team”.

How can we (the Scrum team) help you? Help ourselves?

Scrum Masters also use individual 1-on-1 coaching – How can the team and/or I help you?

2nd example from a real team:

Scrum Team: “We define ‘done’ as the feature being implemented, passing tests, and meeting the acceptance criteria – but we never release anything.”

Finding possible root causes is again key. Problem solving requires an agreed upon statement of the problem and the desired outcome from a change. In this case – it appears that it is potentially releasable, so the team may have a variety of options such as exploring:

  • What is (are) the root cause(s)? Where does the team have the capability?
  • Discussing with the Product Owner as to why value isn’t being released?
  • What if we did a dark release so that we can keep our release ‘muscles’ toned?

Please note that the 3rd bulleted item shifted to exploring possible solutions. 

Two parting questions:

  • When should these discussions occur?
  • Who should be involved?

If you're wondering if Agile is a good fit for your organization, or have any questions on Scrum methods, contact us, we would be delighted to help.

Topics: blog scrum tips project-management agile
10 min read

ITSM and ITIL: Not So Different After All

By Yogi Kanakamedala on Jun 9, 2021 4:01:01 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-ITSMvsITIL

The change to remote work has forced Information Technology (IT) teams to quickly and efficiently serve their customers. Due to this, many people talk about using ITSM processes or ITIL strategies to help their teams. But what does this mean? Are they the same? Or completely different? What does an IT team implementing these practices look like? To understand this, we first have to understand ITSM and ITIL. 

What is ITSM?

Atlassian defines Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) as a way IT teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. 

The core concept of ITSM is the belief that IT should be delivered as a service

I think of ITSM simply as a set of tools you can use to improve your IT team. Just like you would use a handsaw to cut a piece of wood or a screwdriver and a screw to connect two pieces of wood together, you have to think about what you would like to accomplish with your IT team and which tool would be best for the job. 

ITSM processes focus on your customer's needs and services rather than the IT systems behind the scenes. These processes, when implemented properly, can help cross-department collaboration, increase control and governance, deliver and maximize asset efficiency, provide better and quicker customer support, and reduce costs across the organization. What are some of these magical processes? Glad you asked! 

  1. Service Request Management
    Any incoming inquires asking for access to applications, software licenses, password resets, or new hardware is classified as Service Requests. These requests are often recurring and can be made into simple, duplicable procedures. These repeatable procedures will help IT teams provide quick service for the recurring requests. Applying well-designed practices to your Jira Service Management application can streamline the process for an organizations' customer to create Service Requests and for internal IT teams to act on the Service Requests.  

  2. Knowledge Management
    The process of making, sharing, utilizing, and managing data of an organization to attain its business objectives can all be a part of Knowledge Management. Creating a Knowledge Base (KB) for IT teams to create content is crucial for teams to learn from the past and maximize productivity. Having a collaborative workspace, such as Confluence, for all teams to work within can help create one source of truth of information. KB articles can also be shared with your customers through the Jira Service Management portal to help resolve common or simple Service Request without having to contact the IT Team. 

  3. IT Asset Management (ITAM)
    IT Asset Management (also known as ITAM) can help ensure valuable company resources are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgrades, or properly disposed of. Because assets have a relatively short life-cycle, it is important to make the best use of all assets. Integrating tools such as Insight with your Jira instance can help track all valuable assets throughout your organization conveniently within Jira issues in real-time. 

  4. Incident Management
    Any process that is responding to an unplanned event or downtime will fall under the Incident Management bucket. The only goal of Incident Management is to make sure that problematic services are brought back to their original operational status in the shortest time possible. For any incident to be quickly resolved, the original reporter has to be able to quickly communicate with the proper IT team asking for help and the IT team must be able to easily communicate back with the reporter to gather any relevant information needed to solve the problem. Jira Service Management can help make this crucial communication effortless.

  5. Problem Management
    Taking lessons learned from an incident and determining the root cause of the problem so that future incidents can be prevented or, at minimum, limiting downtime is the basis of Problem Management. Once a root cause analysis is performed on an incident and documented within your Confluence instance, the impact of future incidents can be reduced. 

  6. Change Management
    Change Management can be used to control and understand the impact of changes being made to all IT Infrastructure. The Change Advisory Board (CAB), a group of individuals tasked with evaluating, scheduling, and validating a change, can be leveraged to better maintain and ensure the stability of your IT Infrastructure. By taking advantage of Jira, employees can easily suggest changes and the CAB will be able to review the proposed changes, approving and scheduling the change as they see fit. 

To see these processes in action, let's consider a tangible example that will help bring it all together:

"Austin Snow" is a new employee at your company. As part of the onboarding process, they will need a brand new laptop. As their manager, you submit a Service Request to your IT team through the Jira Service Management Help Center. An agent in your accounting department is then assigned to this task. Using information from a KB article that has been built out in a Confluence page, the agent can see that they are supposed to put in a purchase order for the new device. From the Confluence page, the agent also knows to add this new asset in Insight and assign ownership to Austin.

Once the laptop is delivered and Austin tries to access an application and finds that they get a 404 error message. Austin reaches out to the IT team through the Help Center to create an incident with them. The IT team then proceeds to investigate this issue. They can find the root cause of the problem and fix it. Using the lessons learned from this incident, the IT team performs a root cause analysis (RCA) for the problem. As a result of the RCA, it is found that a change to the organizations' infrastructure can help prevent this problem in the future. The IT proposed the change to the Change Advisor Board (CAB) who then investigates the impact of this change, weighs pros and cons and schedules an outage window to perform this change. 

As can be seen in this example, ITSM processes can help quickly fulfill requests, transfer knowledge, keep track of assets, respond to problems, identify the cause of a problem, and implement any changes needed to prevent problems in the future. 

What is ITIL?

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of best practices designed to support a company's IT operations. ITIL was introduced in the late 20th century as a series of books by a government agency in Great Britain in an attempt to help the British Government provide a better quality of IT service at a lower cost. ITIL v2 condensed all of the content in the early 2000s into nine publications. These two older versions are seldom used, most organizations currently implement ITIL v3 or ITIL 4.

ITIL v3

In 2007, ITIL v3 introduced the service lifecycle, a set of five core publications, to help organizations focus on continual improvement. The ITIL Service Lifecycle consists of five stages; Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continuous Service Improvement.

blog-graphics-01Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 3 Edition” (2007 - Updated 2011)

The Service Strategy stage helps level set the expectations of an organization so that a service provider can meet the organization's business outcomes. The Service Design stage helps the service provider gather all the requirements and create a plan to turn an idea into reality. The Service Transition stage is when the design from the previous stage is implemented and made ready to go live as smoothly as possible. The Service Operation stage focuses on making sure the services being provided are being fulfilled as agreed upon. Finally, the Continuous Service Improvement stage focuses on service provided staying agile and keeping up with the ever-changing needs of the organization. 

ITIL 4

Most recently, ITIL 4 took into consideration the latest trends in technologies and service management to help organizations as they undergo digital transformation. ITIL 4 consists of two main components; the four dimensions model and the service value system (SVS).

blog-graphics-03

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The four dimensions model lays out four key areas to consider to ensure a holistic approach to service management. These four dimensions are Organizations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, and Value Streams and Processes. The four dimensions have to work together to help ensure that any Product or Service provided to the customer is able to provide value in an effective and efficient manner.

For example, in the above Austin Snow use case, the Organizations & People would be the HR Team performing the onboarding, the IT team helping deliver the laptop, the Support team handling the outage, and Austin Snow themself. The Information & Technology would be all the tools, Jira Service Management, Insight, etc. that were used to help Austin. The Partners & Suppliers would consist of the internal IT team in charge of the service request and incident management or any other external team that as leveraged to deliver the request or fix the incident. finally, the Value Streams & Processes would consist of any well-defined procedures that were used to help deliver the service to Austin.

blog-graphics-02

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The service value system lays out how all the components of an organization have to work together to provide maximum value. To accomplish this, 5 main elements are used produce Value from an Opportunity or Demand; Guiding Principles, Governance, Service Value Chain, Practices, Continual Improvement. 

Guiding Principles help define how an organization will respond in all circumstances. These principles should be considered when making any decisions. Governance defines how an organization is directed and controlled and always stem from Guiding Principles. The Service Value Chain is a set of inter-united processes used to deliver a product or service to a customer. Practices are resources to help perform work. Continual Improvement is how the process can be improved to help provide the most amount of Value to an organization. When all of the elements of the SVS are implemented and used properly, an organization will be able to capitalize on every Opportunity. The four dimensions must be considered with all elements of the SVS to ensure a great quality of service is provided to your customers. 

ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 are essentially guiding the same fundamental ideas of service management. ITIL 4 takes a new approach to provide this guidance. It is important to consider the inner workings of your organization to understand a set of principles that will best mesh with your organization. 

How are they related?

Now that we have laid down a foundation for ITSM and ITIL concepts, let's explore the relationship between ITSM and ITIL.

Unlike the title of this blog may suggest, these two concepts are not opposing ideas. ITIL is a framework of ITSM, meaning ITIL takes the concepts and values of ITSM and lays out a set of defined best practices that organizations can easily apply to their business to help improve IT services. In other words, ITSM processes describe the "what" while ITIL best practices describe the "how". 

ITIL is not the only ITSM framework; frameworks or processes such as DevOps, Kaizen, Lean, and Six Sigma are also implemented by organizations. ITIL is the most popular ITSM framework to help improve IT service delivery.

In summary, ITSM is a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. ITIL, a framework of ITSM best practices, can be used as a set of guidelines to quickly adopt ITSM principles into your organization. These guidelines can then be continuously improved to be a perfect fit for your unique IT team. 

As The Digital Transformation(ists), Praecipio Consulting can help you integrate digital technology into all areas of your business. For more information, please check out these case studies: FORTUNE 20 ELECTRONICS COMPANY OPTIMIZES JIRA AND CONFLUENCE FOR ITSM BEST PRACTICES and WORLD'S LARGEST BEVERAGE AND BREWING COMPANY MIGRATES TO ATLASSIAN ITSM PLATFORM.

If you have questions on ITSM or ITIL, and wonder if your organization can benefit from these powerful methodologies, contact us, and one of our experts will be glad to help.

Topics: jira confluence process itil itsm digital-transformation jira-service-management remote-work frameworks
2 min read

Scrum Master Basics – Part 1 of 3

By David Stannard on Jun 3, 2021 10:13:00 AM

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Congratulations on becoming a Scrum Master (SM)!

Scrum is a tool that builds teams. It exposes the issues but not the causes and solutions. A Scrum Master helps their team grow through continuous improvement & collaboration. 

As a builder of teams, I’ve often seen smart employees and colleagues return from training and struggle with how to apply their new knowledge. Most often, failure occurs when the returning person takes an approach of telling people what to do and why the current approach is wrong.


Hence this 3 part blog series.

Some of the chief motivations for choosing Scrum are:

  • Delivering potentially releasable value at a regular cadence

  • Being responsive to change instead of steadfastly sticking to a plan

  • Eliminating waste / becoming leaner

  • Collaboration with clients instead of dry, incomplete, ambiguous contracts

In existing organizations, I’ve seen more successful outcomes and happiness when taking the “Start Small” approach. Mike Cohn in his book “Succeeding with Agile” observes “...there can be no end state in a process that calls for continuous improvement...”. 

Therefore, take incremental steps with your team – leave grandiose visions to the C-level. This increases the probability of success, which breeds confidence and momentum while reducing risk and investment. Similar to software development, your emotional stake in an incremental effort is much lower than multiple weeks of time investment; you’ll more easily throw away an approach that isn’t working. Your team learns experientially which requires trying, learning, adjusting, and growing together. Your team is a living system – so probe, observe, and adjust.

The noun “teams” is key. A Scrum Master’s success ultimately depends upon their ability to help them. You will require patience, the desire to learn about how to build teams, and a firm commitment to the values and principles of Agile. 

Assuming that you’re joining an existing team, here are a few concrete actions:

  • You’re about to change the dynamics of an existing team. So Meet the current SM and discuss the transition prior to showing up to the team’s ceremonies

  • Ideally, be invited to the ceremonies: attend – observe and assure the team that you aren’t planning any unilateral changes

  • Gain access to and review your team’s working agreement. Specifically – the definition of ‘Done’ - more in Part 2

  • Study their sprint board – more in Part 3

And remember – as Stephen Covey writes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – "Seek first to understand not to be understood"

If you're wondering if Agile is a good fit for your organization, or have any questions on Scrum methods, contact us, we would be delighted to help.

Topics: blog scrum tips project-management agile
2 min read

Agile Tips: The Purpose of a Sprint Retrospective

By Morgan Folsom on Jun 1, 2021 10:15:00 AM

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A sprint retrospective is, in practice, a meeting scheduled after every 1-2 sprints in which the team comes together to discuss how to improve the way they work. The meeting can follow several formats, with the most common consisting of each team member sharing what is working well, what isn’t working, and any new ideas they have to improve. Some examples of takeaways from the meeting might be “Our daily standup is helping to keep everyone on track,” “We need a better process for reviewing tickets after QA is finished with them,” or “Let’s try estimating with story points instead of time values.”

Retrospectives were introduced to make sure the team is constantly in communication about how to improve. This process is commonly known as a feedback loop, and is one of the hallmarks of any good Agile process. Feedback loops have been discussed as one of the most important parts to becoming successful, either as a team or as an individual, a claim backed up by copious amounts of business literature full of research and examples on the topic. A prime example of this can be found in Talent is Overrated by Geoff Collins. While not a perfect book by any means, Collins does a wonderful job of explaining the importance of feedback loops. The argument posits that the way humans improve at anything is to do the thing, look back on the thing and analyze it, figure out how to improve performance of the thing, then do the thing again. The retrospective helps teams to do the middle two parts of that process.

Here are some tips for running a successful sprint retrospective:

Get on a consistent cadence

Doing retrospectives too often will lead the team to resent them. Doing them not often enough will greatly reduce efficacy and result in an inability to put into action the ideas brought up in the meeting.

Prepare ahead of time

Before the meeting, encourage team members to spend a half hour thinking of what is working well, what isn’t working so well, and ways to improve. That way the team can most efficiently use everyone’s time when they come together for the retrospective.

Bite off what you can chew

Instead of trying to implement all the new ideas after every retrospective, focus on determining which ideas are the quick hitters: those that have a big impact, but are easy and quick to implement. By adding the one or two best quick hitters each week, the process will evolve at a sustainable pace. Over time, the team will likely run out of quick hitters, giving you a chance to implement the more intricate ideas. 

Are you making the most out of your teams? If you need assistance with Agile, get in touch, we'd love to help.

Topics: optimization process process-improvement sprint agile
5 min read

How to Implement an IT Modernization Strategy - Part 1 of 5

By Mary Roper on May 28, 2021 10:15:00 AM

2021-q4-blogpost--How to Implement an IT Modernization Strategy- Part 1 What is IT Modernization_1


When we initially set out to write a piece about how to implement an IT Modernization Strategy, we quickly realized there is not only a lot to consider when weighing the possibilities, but also a lot of context required to lay a meaningful foundation. We want to discuss what IT Modernization is and what it means for your individual business, as well as other terms and ideas to help define the overall picture. Join us as we unpack and discuss IT Modernization through this series of blog posts.

Part 1: What is IT Modernization

We'll begin by exploring the motive behind IT Modernization, and identifying the traits that make up the profile of an entity that is looking to implement IT Modernization in their enterprise.  Overarching themes include Digital Transformation, Capital Expenses vs Operational Expenses, Legacy Systems, how Cloud fits into the picture (because it's no longer a question of "if" cloud fits into the picture), as well as others.

There are several questions to ask when trying to nail down the motive- we'll be working through these questions in our series:

  • Why would you be interested in IT Modernization in the first place?
  • What are some of the apparent benefits of IT Modernization? 
  • What would IT Modernization look like in your organization and how?
  • What would a rollout plan look like?
  • When do you tackle certain things over others?

By the end of this series our goal is that you will have the foundational understanding of IT Modernization that will help you answer these questions.

The Basics

If you've worked with Praecipio Consulting before, you know we like to start simple - so let's begin with the basic question "What is IT Modernization?"  To oversimplify the concept, IT Modernization is a process of assessing an individual system or group of systems in your organization with the intent of establishing the best possible balance of cost and efficiency. One of the challenges we often call out is that this can look vastly different depending on the context of what it is being applied to.

As part of an IT Modernization strategy there can be some aspects of your business where it makes sense to move in a more digital direction, for example migrating on-prem resources to virtualization or the cloud. While the overarching goal may be to get to the cloud, there are different paths that you organization may take based on your specific context. In the case of moving  an application to the cloud, there are the branches hosting the application on a digital platform like AWS or moving completely to a more SaaS model and allow it to be maintained by a third party.  And of course, for some other aspects of your business it could make more sense to maintain an on-prem solution but update the infrastructure. The key thing to consider here is how you can balance the cost of maintaining whatever aspect of your business you're assessing with the amount of performance proficiency it is providing.

Another term you'll often hear mentioned in the same breath as IT Modernization is Digital Transformation.  It's true that these often go hand-in-hand, but the main difference to consider is that Digital Transformation gets into the explicit changes you have to make in order to keep pace with the digitization of aspects of your business, like products, assets, and processes. IT Modernization is more of a strategy for improving your business through cost savings, efficiency or improving on how agile your business can be. More often than not, Digital Transformation will be a key part of your IT Modernization plan, but they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

The Breakdown

With that in mind, let's start to identify the motive a business might have for exploring IT Modernization and what attributes make up its profile. The first question you have to ask is "Why would you even be interested in IT Modernization?" The short answer is every business should be thinking about IT Modernization on some level. We exist in a world where the only true constant is change, and as time progresses the main thing that we're betting on is that our technology and business landscapes will continue to shift. The most successful businesses will adjust business practices to match - if you're not willing to embrace the change and make it work for you, your competitor will, and they'll be happy to take your market share off your hands. Additionally, IT Modernization benefits the business, either by lowering your operating costs, or empowering you to be more efficient managing resources and development. Thinking about ways you can Modernize aspects of your business is just good business.

So how do you this? What does it look like?  Well, we've touched on the two key factors associated with Modernization: Cost and Efficiency.  There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to the approach and how you can execute modernization, outlined below.

The first approach would be considered a more traditional approach. This approach involves making incremental changes made over time targeting the most costly or bottlenecked aspects of the business. From this you can attempt to figure out how you can make them more efficient or cost less, or maybe a combination of both. The main benefit of an approach like this pertains to risk: changing pieces incrementally allows you to carefully consider those changes and their impact on the business as a whole. Incremental changes can also be very good for the bottom line since it allows you to budget changes over time.  One of the potential downsides to an incremental approach is it can be limiting. Taking the time to make incremental changes can take.. well... time.

On the other end of the spectrum there's the end-to-end or holistic approach.  This is about what you'd expect: instead of incrementally making changes you're making a plan to implement broad changes across your organization as a whole. This requires careful planning and consideration of what elements need to change in what sequence, to truly understand the potential impact across the organization. One of the benefits of this approach is it keeps the organization from advancing in a siloed manner, which can lead to less efficiency as a whole. In one instance, that might mean two different business groups moving their application to two different cloud solutions that offer the same functionality. Whether your approach is more incremental or end-to-end, it's important to try to take into account the potential impact across the business and ensure groups coordinate the efforts.

Modernization  Mechanisms

When it comes to implementing IT Modernization, it's important to understand that it is much more than a simple update to your technologies. Rather, the approach should be thoughtful and well planned, with an eye to the future and a willingness to embrace the new and sunset the old. At a high level it is important for your teams to identify out of its legacy software or assets what can can be invested in - whether through legacy software modernization or replatforming- and what should be divested from. Reaching a decision on the best path forward for each application will take time - legacy modernization is not an all or nothing endeavor. We'll spend dedicated time in future posts discussing how you can best approach application modernization. 

It's Just the Beginning

As you consider what IT Modernization means for your organization, keep in mind that there is not a one size fits all solution. Our goal in this blog series is to provide helpful context to help you define what an IT Modernization approach could look like and what success would mean to your organization.

At Praecipio Consulting, we enjoy helping our clients reach their IT Modernization goals and bringing teams up to speed with digital demand. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help, please reach out to us!

Topics: aws optimization saas it digital-transformation
5 min read

Data Lake Basics

By Kye Hittle on May 27, 2021 9:02:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Data Lake Basics

With Atlassian's upcoming release of Jira Data Lake for Jira Software Cloud, it's a good time to review the jargon we might stumble on in the reporting and business intelligence (BI) space. So let's jump into the (data) lake!

One word of caution: the BI industry has many players with varied opinions. Some terms get used and reused in multiple ways. One example is the emerging use of "lakehouse" - a combination of "data lake" and "data warehouse." Here we'll stick to as close to canonical as possible but expect to see terms used differently as you research.

Why does BI even matter? What are KPIs?

Your organization has systems (e.g. computer applications) which create and contain data. That data is extremely valuable for fact-based decision making in your organization. 

A CTO or CIO is able to more effectively allocate help desk head count with ready access to accurate metrics (also called Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs) like Mean Time To Acknowledge (MTTA) and Mean Time To Resolve (MTTR). (Note: MTTR is a tricky acronym. As Atlassian notes, there are at least four common incident management metrics that share this abbreviation! This stuff can be confusing...)

To provide these valuable, up-to-date KPIs to decision makers, we turn to BI. This industry is a dizzying array of technology components which take various approaches to achieving BI's primary objective: turning raw data into actionable insight. Often, we need to integrate multiple BI components to get from point A (data in the source system) to point B (reports used for decision making).

BI solutions often leverage a data lake or data warehouse to store business data.

What is a data lake?

A data lake is a central store of raw business data. The data lake is not typically used by the source systems whose data it contains.

The lake is designed to be accessed by tools like Tableau, PowerBI, and Qlik in order to analyze and produce insights from the data. We'll call these analysis and presentation applications "BI tools." To continue the lake analogy: if the BI tool is a fishing rod, then the data is the fish.

A data lake typically uses a file store technology but when it comes to Jira Data Lake, we don't really need to know much about the underlying tech because Atlassian Cloud takes care of choosing, configuring, hosting, and maintaining it for us. One less thing on our plate? Great!

All we need to do is connect our BI analysis and presentation tools (Tableau, PowerBI, Qlik, etc.) to Jira Data Lake. Boom! We're ready to start creating reports, graphs, dashboards, and whatever else we need to answer questions for our organization.

How is a lake different from data warehousing?

As mentioned earlier, some BI solutions use a data warehouse instead of a data lake. Some use both. While the line has blurred between the two, lakes are usually more unstructured than warehouses.

The initial data lake concept encouraged organizations to dump all of their raw data into the lake, including data from relational databases, flat files (e.g. CSV files), videos, and more. The promise that smart software and ever-increasing computing horsepower would eventually create solutions for accessing the overwhelming amount of data in the lake hasn't really come to fruition quickly enough. And many data lakes turned into data swamps. Lakes these days, like Jira Data Lake, are more purpose-built and have better designs for preventing a descent into swampland.

A data warehouse is more structured and normally designed with transformation processes on the front- and/or back-end that clean, normalize, and handle any other standardization before presenting it to our BI tools. These processes are represented by the "T" (Transform) in some more acronyms: ETL (Extract Transform Load) or ELT. The result is more predictable and accurate, but the cost and time to create these transformation processes is much higher.

Why use a data lake?

Why invest in this effort to centralize data in lakes or warehouses? Our BI tools can often connect directly to our application's database. Wouldn't it be easier to skip the lake/warehouse?

Eliminating the data lake or warehouse would simplify our solution design but experience has shown multiple issues with the direct-connect approach.

The most critical issue is often the potential load a BI tool can place on an application database. BI queries often require large swaths of data which can only be fulfilled through heavy workloads on the database. In addition, BI tools often don't optimize queries for performance. BI workloads can cause database contention and application stability should always be prioritized over BI needs. With today's easy-to-use BI tools accessible to a larger and less technical audience, this issue has only become more prevalent. Connecting our BI tools to a data lake prevents risking any application stability issues.

The next most common issue we see is needing to combine data from multiple systems. Since your organization doesn't just use one system, combining data across the organization is how so many powerful insights occur. For example, tying Jira KPIs to financial data is one way leaders can more easily understand technical metrics. But financial data is stored in the accounting system, not Jira. A direct connection to an application's databases only allows access to that system's data, preventing cross-system data analysis. While some BI tools allow you to perform "cross-database joins," performance is often unacceptable and some links are just not possible. Often the data from different systems needs to be cleaned and standardized before it can be linked for analysis. Doing this in a data lake/warehouse is far more efficient than attempting it "at runtime" in BI tools. When we first centralize our data we have the ability to combine data from as many systems as needed.

BI is all about trends over time. Some applications don't maintain much, if any, historical data. A direct connection to these systems doesn't allow for time-based analysis. The historical data simply doesn't exist. Lakes allow us to snapshot data at regular intervals in order to perform valuable time-based analysis.

Finally, with cloud apps like Jira Cloud, we don't have the option to connect directly to the application database. The only data access is often through APIs which can be slow for analysis and suffer from many of the same issues mentioned above. Jira Data Lake provides performant, safe data access.

Data lakes arose from the need for flexibility. No two organizations use the same systems or have the same data needs. Your organization's data needs will also change over time. The direct connection to an application database is too tightly coupled and doesn't provide enough agility to provide BI insights.

If you're wondering if this powerful new tool is a good fit for your organization, or have any questions about anything Atlassian, contact us, one of our experts would love to help!

Topics: blog management tips data business-intelligence data-lake jira-data-lake
3 min read

Should I get an Atlassian Certification (ACP) to be a Jira Admin?

By Luis Machado on May 26, 2021 10:07:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Atlassian Certification Program Should I get an ACP certification to be a Jira admin-To quickly answer the question: YES. At least that was the answer for me.  I’ve been an Atlasssian admin for nearly 7 years and I’ve only just this year received my first Atlasssian certification (ACP-600 in case you were curious).   It’s only recently that I’ve been able to really appreciate the value of getting certified, and I plan to go for as many certifications as I’m able to.  

Getting certified was something that I had thought about from time to time, but honestly I didn’t see how it would help me be better at my job.  I had put in a request with my employer to see if they would compensate me for the cost and never really heard anything back.  The cost was enough for me at the time that if my employer wasn’t going to worry about it, then I certainly wasn’t.

Fast forward several years and I find myself laid off, and in search of job. The layoff was budget related, the company was having some issues bringing products to market and so cuts were made all over. Even given that I found myself in a position and a state of mind that I hadn’t ever really considered I’d be in.  Those who have experienced being laid off know that it can actually be a pretty traumatic event, especially if it’s from somewhere you’ve worked for a long time.  I wanted to continue working in the Atlasssian ecosystem as it was something that I had become very familiar and very fond of.

After revamping and updating my resumé, I quickly realized that on paper I didn’t really seem to offer a whole lot to a prospective employer.  I had a decent amount of experience in my field but all I had to offer was my word.  Now, in an interview that could be enough.  If you can talk shop, and give enough context for the things you’ve done in a presentable and coherent manner, then an employer could potentially see the value in what you have to offer.

I was fortunate that eventually that actually happened for me and I landed a job with Praecipio Consulting, but before that, I had to fall back on other skills from previous jobs I had done.  Part of the requirements for companies that are Atlasssian Partners is maintaining a certain level of certification, being certified from the get go gives you a potential advantage. Looking back, I can see that me not having any certifications not only reduced my potential to even land that interview, but maybe also played a part in me being laid off in the first place. 

Certifications and similar credentials are there to prove to everyone else that you know what you’re doing and you’re continuing to grow, and learn, and become more proficient in your craft.  There is another aspect to this though that had not really occurred to me until now and that is, not only does it prove to others you have the skills to pay the bills, but also to yourself.  When you have something tangible that validates all the time and effort you’ve put into becoming the professional you are, it gives you the confidence to raise your own expectations.  This is something that is beneficial to the employer and employee alike. If I’m ever again in a position where I’m re-entering the job market looking for that next stage, I will be exponentially more confident that I’ll be able to find something, because I’m taking the time to ensure my resumé reflects my skills with official validation. 

So if you’re an Atlasssian professional, you like the toolset, you see yourself staying within the ecosystem and want to progress, do yourself a favor and start getting certified.  I recommend first going to your employer and seeing if they would be willing to cover the cost. Even if they’re not willing, it’s worth it for you to pursue it on your own.  It’s reassurance for the employer, but it’s an investment for the employee. One that will show dividends down the road, regardless of where it leads you.

If you have any questions regarding the Atlassian certification process: contact us, we'd love to talk you through your options.

Topics: jira atlassian blog training atlassian-certification-program
2 min read

Why Instructor-led Atlassian Training Is Better Than Online Courses

By Jerry Bolden on May 24, 2021 9:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why instructor-led Atlassian training is better than online coursesAs the world transitions to more virtual or remote work and training, it seems that more organizations look to the ability to perform training online. Not with an instructor, but just the class or lab. 

While it is true you can follow along with a course online, you cannot ask the course questions and get answers live, and the question you type in will likely only get a direct answer (if any),  not an in-depth assessment of the question and other considerations that could arise.  Having an instructor-led course makes sense for the same reason there is a Human Resources department in each company: they are in charge of onboarding and touching base with new employees as they transition into a company and its culture.  Sure, the tasks of onboarding can be done online, but who would be there to answer questions or concerns of the employee without a team dedicated to making each employee successful in a company?  Instructors have the same drive, which is to make not only the training successful, but to ensure each person successfully learns the program. 

Personal interaction and adjustments to the class can be very important, and are not easily done through online-only learning.  Instructors are able to give students the experience and anecdotes they have learned while using the product.  They are not only able to clearly answer questions and point the person in the right direction, but they can also teach some of the 'tricks of the trade' they have learned throughout the years. This can help people retain the information as it is a personal story to connect the person and the instructor.  

Interpretation of body language or inflection in a voice is something that once again can only be done with human interactions.  The ability to listen to a person's question and read them or their voice allows for a better set of answers given to questions.  An instructor can not only give the answer to a specific question, but also understand if that answer is what the person was truly looking to understand or is now just accepting that answer and hoping they will learn, later on, what they wanted to know.  This also allows instructors the ability to ensure they have clearly understood the question and, in turn, clearly provided the right answer to the question.  The minimal interaction an instructor allows is for clarity and answering of questions to be focused to each person.  

Finally, when you have instructor-led teaching, the instructor is able to understand the different levels of knowledge/experience in a class at any time.  This allows the instructor to help with "extra" learning by being able to teach different levels of information.  This ability is important not only for the instructor to ensure they are communicating at the correct levels to people, but also it helps to drive the most fulfillment from the training. As instructors adapt to the classes, they can still go over the information, but at times may go a little deeper into a demo if the class is showing they can handle the learning, thus giving them more value to the training and the time they are willing to invest in the class. 

Instructor-led training is not necessarily essential to learning how to use a system, Atlassian or others. Yet without an instructor, the value of the course is minimized and relegated to only the material on the screen.  Instructors are able to not only lend their experiences and learned knowledge, but also allow for different individuals to get more out of the training as they may be able to handle more advanced information.

Interested in getting your teams the tools they need to reach their maximum potential? Contact us, and one of our Atlassian experts can talk you through our training options.

Topics: atlassian blog teams training atlassian-solution-partner remote-work
2 min read

Best Practices for Using Labels in Jira

By Courtney Pool on May 21, 2021 8:15:00 AM

Jira has a multitude of ways to group and categorize similar issues, such as through projects, requests types, or components. Many of these are aimed at issues that exist within one project, though, making it a bit more difficult to track items across your entire Jira instance. This is where labels can shine.

Labels are basically tags on issues. If you have 4 different projects that may all see tickets related to the same customer, then a label for that customer would give you a great way to quickly gather an overarching view of everything that exists for them. You can also have multiple labels on an issue, allowing you to easily catch it in any number of buckets.

Like with many things in life, though, a watchful eye and steady hand are needed to really use labels effectively. With that in mind, we’ve identified a few best practices to help.

1. Labels should be used for informal grouping.

In other words, don’t count on just labels to be the driving factor of important reports or anything else you need to be accurate 100% of the time. Because new labels can be created by users from the issue screen directly, they are not and should not be viewed as a source of truth. They’re great at what they do, but be careful to limit the importance placed on them.

2. Try to limit the number of labels you have.

Labels are shared globally, which means the list can get very long, very quickly. To make them more effective, try to come to a consensus internally on the whens and whys of new labels.

3. Set up clear naming guidelines.

Limit the number of labels by making sure you have clear naming guidelines. This will be different from organization to organization, but we encourage you to discuss and decide on these guidelines early and to then check in periodically to make sure they're being adhered to. If you’re looking to label issues from ABC Law Firm, for example, you could quickly end up with labels for abc, abclaw, abc-law, etc. Without naming standards, you will dramatically decrease the efficacy of the labels as an informal(*) grouping tool.

4. Routinely clean them up.

Even with clear naming guidelines and a company decision to limit the number of total labels, you may still end up with some that are no longer relevant down the line. Set a regular time for somebody to go in, check them out, and determine if there’s any room for clean-up. Even better, cleaning up labels is as simple as entirely removing them from all issues, giving you the opportunity to swap them out for another if needed.

5. Don’t overuse them.

This one really echoes all of the points above, but it bears repeating: Don’t overuse your labels. If you’re looking for something to track issues for a very-important, super-vital, must-be-accurate report? Labels are likely not the answer. Have a certain issue type that can have 30 different permutations? Again, labels are likely not the answer.

Jira as a tool has many options for tracking related issues. And labels, in the right hands, can be a great means of doing just that — if they’re handled intentionally and in moderation. Don’t be scared to give them a try, but do keep these best practices handy to keep your labels as helpful as possible.

Contact us if you have any questions on labels, or in anything Jira: We are experts in all things Atlassian.

Topics: jira blog best-practices tips information-architecture
3 min read

Best Practices for Software Licensing Management

By Jessica Ellis on May 19, 2021 11:25:00 AM

2021-q4-blogpost-Tips & Tricks for License Management_1

Let's make something clear: my.atlassian.com (MAC) is your best friend. Never heard of it? It's Atlassian's central license management platform. On the MAC website, you'll be able to see your license information and history, update technical & billing contacts, access license keys, and generate development keys. 

Over the last 6 years, I have helped hundreds of customers (from small businesses to Enterprise companies) with their license management. There are a few questions and frustrations that I see time and again, and based on that feedback, here are some of my top suggestions that will save you from future headaches.

Track your SEN’s

Your Support Entitlement Number (SEN) is a unique identifier that follows the life of the license. Even if the user tier or product name changes over time, your SEN never will. Consider it your “source of truth”. SEN’s can be found in your my.atlassian.com account, and are visible to all technical and billing contacts. I recommend sharing your SEN list with colleagues and procurement to make renewals more transparent. You can either export your license list from MAC, or include additional technical and billing contacts to open up visibility across teams and departments. 

Centralize your visibility

Once the Atlassian products gain popularity in an organization, I receive requests from different business units asking for their own instance or app for specific functionality. Logically, it makes sense to assign the technical contact as the person in charge of that instance or app. However, if you do that for each license you can splinter the visibility across the organization, making renewals complicated and time consuming.

I work closely with a global video game company who renews over 300 Atlassian licenses annually. Their organizing method has helped procurement streamline renewals, decreasing the amount of time it takes to identify who owns the license and what needs to be renewed. Each time a new license is requested I use the same technical contact email associated to the procurement department. After purchase is complete, procurement adds secondary technical contacts to the licenses in my.atlassian.com, giving the end user access to license keys. This allows procurement to see ALL licenses in MAC, understanding the entire license footprint and centralizing visibility when it comes time to renew.

Proactively transition your licenses

Life happens and people switch jobs all the time. I get a lot of requests from end users who inherit licenses but can’t see any of the licensing information or access license keys. How do you make sure the handoff is seamless before leaving? If you oversee the Atlassian licenses in my.atlassian.com, change the technical contact to the new employee information, or transition to another colleague who can retain access in the meantime. This will ensure continuity and give your organization a change management process for your licenses.

Co-term your end dates

Co-terming your license end dates can save you time during procurement cycles and allow you to plan for and estimate your annual licensing budget. If you have a variety of end dates it is best to co-term everything at once, allowing some licenses to be renewed for less than 12 months. Any new license purchased throughout the year can be co-termed (as long as the term is for 12 months or more). If this requirement makes the order too expensive, you can purchase your license for 12 months and realign to the co-term date on your annual renewal.

Co-terming is only possible for on-premise licenses (server and data center). Atlassian’s cloud licensing automatically “co-terms” the licenses on each cloud site to the same end date. However, at this time, if you have multiple cloud sites or Atlassian Access, they will have different end dates.

License Management doesn't have to be stressful: Praecipio Consulting's extensive experience can help you better navigate and manage your licensing landscape. Contact us, we'd love to discuss your options.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices tips licensing
6 min read

All in Good Time with Atlassian’s Team Calendars for Confluence

By Kye Hittle on May 17, 2021 11:23:52 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Team CalendarsAh, a fresh, new month. For so long there was always at least one day where my email inbox was flooded with many, many calendar invites for recurring company-wide meetings, holidays, and deadlines. After carefully clicking “Accept” on each invite, I’d think, “there’s got to be a better way.”

Atlassian’s Team Calendars for Confluence offers a great solution, and it's included with Cloud Premium subscriptions! Let’s take a look.

TEAM CALENDARS FOR CONFLUENCE

 

Image source: Atlassian

What is Team Calendars for Confluence?

The plugin adds a Calendars tab to each space and you can create multiple calendars using built-in or custom event types. Each user also gains a “My Calendars” page which rolls up all Team Calendars they’ve watched. This is centralized, always up-to-date, and customizable calendar management.

Why use Team Calendars?

Clear the clutter. While Team Calendars helps avoid periodically flooding everyone’s inboxes with invites, it also prevents tasking someone to reissue invites to new team members who onboard mid-year. Even those of us who aren’t new can avoid getting peppered with calendar updates when inevitable changes occur.

Visualize. Team Calendars display events as a live calendar, which is a visual metaphor instantly grokked by most everyone. Select between week, month, list, or Gantt-like timeline views. Assign different colors and icons to event types to further visually distinguish your layout. We often see clients using Confluence tables to list out dates. Tables capture the event data but require unnecessary mental overhead to comprehend and can’t be combined with other calendars to spot opportunities and conflicts.

Crowd-source your calendars. Team Calendars allow any user to add and edit events, keeping calendars comprehensive and accurate. Most calendar systems don’t allow this or it’s too cumbersome. In Confluence, it can also be restricted when needed.

Let’s TAke Control of Calendars

At Praecipio Consulting, we’ve helped organizations use Team Calendars for an incredibly diverse set of use cases. Here’s how we suggest you get started. 

Corporate holidays and time off (vacation, medical leave, volunteer time off, etc.) are often some of the first calendars created since they have major impacts across the organization. Keeping these events in context with your day-to-day planning in Confluence increases their visibility and prevents conflicts.

Holidays and time-off are just the tip of the organization-wide event iceberg. Take a look at your work calendar and you’ll see lunch & learns, committee meetings, submission deadlines (expense reports, timesheets, benefits enrollment, etc.), social events, and more. Centralizing all of this in Confluence can result in a major productivity boost and a calmer work life.

Next, each team should consider the events unique to their work and create logical calendars to match. Marketing teams need to keep content creation, campaign schedules, and ad runs coordinated. Dev and product teams always need to have their release schedule handy. Client-facing teams may need to schedule around their clients’ external schedule of milestones, holiday, and deadlines. IT and service desks will need to keep support professionals informed of planned maintenance and outages. Each team will find they have many calendars and events to keep track of – and they’ll likely do a better job when using Team Calendars versus the invite model imposed by most calendar systems.

PRO TIPS

  • Designate a single calendar as the official organization holiday calendar. Have all other teams add it to the Calendars tab in their spaces. It’s inefficient (and dangerous) to have many different “Acme Co Holiday” calendars! Remember, Team Calendars makes it easy to reuse calendars and combine the calendars into one view! Many organizations choose to have this calendar live in a Human Resources space.
  • If you use Jira to track time-off requests, you can setup Custom Event Types which display these requests from Jira on the calendar to avoid duplicate data entry!
  • Use the Custom Event Types which allow Team Calendars to display live sprints, releases, and more from Jira. Using JQL you can specify exactly what’s displayed on your calendar, automatically updating as Jira changes.
  • If you are working with a client and they can provide an .ics file (usually available as an export option from most calendar services), you can quickly import hundreds of events into a Team Calendar so you can keep tabs on their events.
  • If there’s an existing calendar system you cannot migrate to Team Calendars, you may still be able to display the calendar feed within a Team Calendar. See subscribing to third-party calendars. Examples include Outlook/Exchange, Google, Teamup, Opsgenie, and PagerDuty.

Using Your Calendars

Now that you’ve got calendars setup, you’ll always find them under the Calendars tab within your Confluence space. This tab rolls up all calendars in the space (including calendars linked from other spaces) so you can see holidays, time off, deadlines, and happy hours all in one place. 

But wait! There are additional convenient ways to access your calendars!

  • Embed a calendar into a Confluence page with the Team Calendars macro
  • Link to an existing calendar in another space so that it shows up in your space’s Calendars tab (example: most spaces will likely link to the official corporate holiday calendar)
  • Each Confluence user will see all of the calendars they’ve watched in their My Calendars page
  • Integrate Team Calendars into your personal calendar in Outlook, iPhone, etc. Share these instructions with your users!

MORE TIPS

  • Embed a calendar(s) into your weekly team meeting notes (automate this with a template). Many of our customers have reported dramatically decreased schedule conflicts when the calendar is right there, being reviewed regularly.
  • When viewing calendars in a space’s Calendars tab or all the calendars you’re watching in the My Calendars page, you can temporarily filter out unnecessary event types by unchecking the boxes displayed to the left of the type under its calendar. If you want to hide an entire calendar, click the menu (…) next to a calendar name and choose Hide Events.

Caution

Like all Atlassian tools, it’s easy and intuitive to get started with Team Calendars. Here are some more considerations to make it an even smoother journey.

Calendar Names. A Confluence space’s view permissions are used to determine calendar visibility by default. Team Calendars does not enforce unique calendar names. For admins and others who belong to many Confluence spaces, having 27 calendars all named “PTO” makes it hard to find the correct calendar. We recommend including the space name or key in each calendar name. For example, “PTO - IT Help Desk” and “PTO - Marketing.” 

Beware when deleting custom event types. Deleting a custom event deletes all events assigned that event type. Move events currently categorized under the event type to another event type before deleting.

Migration considerations. Atlassian does not officially support Team Calendars migration but you can export and import each calendar manually to move your calendars. Custom Event Types are great but if you’re migrating to a new environment, make sure you are using the latest version of Team Calendars in both environments, otherwise custom event types may be lost.

Help is here! There’s an entire section of documentation for Team Calendars. If you need Team Calendars licenses (or are looking to migrate to Cloud Premium, which includes Team Calendars), need to migrate your Confluence environment, or need assistance with any part of the Atlassian suite, get in touch with us!

Topics: atlassian blog confluence teams tips project-management confluence-cloud
2 min read

Why Digital Asset Management is Important

By Kye Hittle on May 14, 2021 1:37:00 PM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Why Digital Asset Management is ImportantWe're always looking for ways to keep track of our stuff, from old metal asset tags firmly glued to lids of the first "portable" computers to Apple's recent AirTag product release.

At work we call these "assets" because they cost money to acquire, maintain, replace, and are (hopefully) required for our organization's operation. (If assets are not being used, your digital asset management system should be highlighting that potential savings opportunity!) Keeping track of these items doesn't just make sense from a financial perspective, it's also required by law in many cases.

When it comes to asset management we're not just concerned with an item's current location. Surprisingly often, an asset's purchase price, age, vendor, warranty details, user assignment, support/maintenance contracts, service history, and any of hundreds of other details become critically important to keeping the asset—and therefore our business—running.

And we're not just talking about physical assets like desks, laptops, phones, tablets, tools, networking equipment, etc. The move to cloud means we can instantly deploy servers, licenses, and other IT infrastructure we'll never actually see or touch! How do I put an RFID tag on a cloud server?

With more devices and services being employed to operate our organizations every day, spreadsheets don't cut it. Given this amount of critical data to manage, the only way to keep up is to turn to digital transformation.

Traditional Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs)

The technology market has seen the introduction of many inflexible, expensive "solutions" to manage assets digitally. Traditional Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) have failed to deliver the necessary transformative power:

  • IT is overpaying hundreds of millions of dollars in unused features in these legacy CMDB tools
  • Customization requires specialized consultants (quickly adapting to the changing needs of the business is a core tenant of digital transformation)
  • Legacy tools often result in slowing down the flow of work across teams instead of enhancing collaboration between them

Praecipio Consulting is transforming organizational service delivery with an Atlassian alternative built to deliver maximum value: Insight, now built into Jira Service Management. It is a modern, flexible digital asset management solution to easily define collaborative asset tracking that best fits your organization's needs, right in Jira.

Atlassian Service Management saves companies money by retiring their legacy tools. This explains why Atlassian is ranked as a strong performer in this market, having a strong strategy, and achieving a rapidly expanding market presence.

From employee and contractor onboarding to incident management to asset intelligence, Atlassian Insight for Jira Service Management can quickly get your digital asset tracking under control and flex to meet your constantly changing business.

Digital asset management done right doesn't just require the best-in-class solution, however. It's a cultural shift in the way IT is delivered as a service. Contact Praecipio Consulting to get started on your service delivery transformation now.

Topics: jira atlassian blog asset-management tips service-management insight digital-transformation jira-service-management
3 min read

Jira Service Management Request Types Best Practices

By Morgan Folsom on May 10, 2021 3:10:00 PM

types-best-practices

Since 2013, Jira Service Management has been Atlassian's solution to IT Service Management for both internal and external customers alike; more than 8 years of continual development has led to countless examples of how JSM has delivered value to its users. In this 2014 video, we can see how Puppet Labs used Atlassian's Jira Service Desk, now Jira Service Management, to resolve tickets 67% faster. Take it from Atlassian's ITSM Partner of the Year three years running, we love how JSM supports your IT governance strategy. However, when defining a service desk for your organization, one of the most important decisions that you'll make is around how you define your Request Types.

What are Request Types 

In Jira Service Management, the request type defines exactly what the customer sees and how the ticket moves and is displayed after it's been submitted. 

Request types allow you to map a single issue type to different kinds of requests. For example, you may have issue types like Incidents and Service Requests. That's how your IT team understand incoming requests and they have the benefit of being able to span multiple contexts. However, as an end-user, when I'm coming to the portal I'm not thinking in ITIL terms. I'm likely thinking more along the lines of "I can't login" or "I need a new computer." 

Request types allow you to represent both sides of the equation - the foundation of your portal are the issue types, but request types let you customize how they appear to customers in the portal. So, let's see what exactly we can do with request types.

What can I do with request types

  • Map a single issue type to many different request types: If there are multiple requests that follow the same workflow, you can utilize a single workflow across as many forms as you'd like!
  • Group requests: You may have multiple requests that can be logically grouped together, like Software and Hardware.
  • Change field display names: Even thought they're filling out the Summary field, on a request you may want it to say "What problem are you experiencing?" or "How can we help."
  • Show specific Jira fields: While an agent may need to see and edit fields like Team or Priority, you probably don't want your customer to see those on Create.
  • Preset fields: If certain request types have some constant information, you can preset fields without needing to modify the workflow or use any automation.
  • Customize how workflow statuses are displayed: If you don't need your customer to know that an issue is being escalated to Tier 2 or Tier 3, you can mask those statuses so all the customer sees is that the issue is "In Progress" and they won't receive notifications as it moves through that internal workflow. 

With that in mind, there are some best practices to keep in mind. 

Request type best practices

  • Think about the customer experience! Why are they coming to the portal?
  • Don't necessarily break request types or groups down by IT org structure. While this could be useful, there are lots of ways to route request types to the right place without having it affect the customer view.
  • Use hidden fields on your requests to simplify the experience - if you know a system wide outage is always urgent, don't make the user complete that field!
  • Use hidden components or Team custom fields to route to the appropriate queues. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we have the experts that can help you implement ITSM best practices across your entire organization.  Contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: jira best-practices tips request jira-service-management
5 min read

A Carbon Neutral, Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

By Christopher Pepe on May 4, 2021 11:09:00 AM

Blog-A Carbon Neutral Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

In 2019 the Praecipio Consulting Green Team was given the goal of creating a carbon neutral future for the company as part of our Climate Action Plan. The Green team had already set its focus on Carbon, Human Health, and Sustainability. The net zero challenge was taken up with the goal of promoting those pillars. Praecipio Consulting has determined that the climate stabilization wedge of Proforestation best meets the company's environmental and human health goals. Our value "Maximize mutual benefit" is exemplified by the parcels that Praecipio Consulting has contributed to protecting. 

Finding our path

Praecipio Consulting initially rolled out a generous Green Stipend program to incentivize change in employees daily lives, and encourage others to do so as well. Through education and incentive we aimed to amplify the good that we could do. To reach carbon neutrality we would credit Praecipio Consulting for the carbon emissions that where eliminated by positive changes in behavior. Many employees improved insulation, installed new efficient windows, etc. Ultimately that program proved ineffective, however, it laid the groundwork for our future. The main issue was that the Green Stipend encouraged a holistic lifestyle change whose benefits were multifaceted, but the success of the program was only measured by the reduction in one's carbon emissions. The cost per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e, a standard measure used to model carbon footprint) was too high for the program to reach carbon neutrality on budget.

The Green team wished to retain the behavioral incentive component of the Green Stipend. Since inception, the Green team has delivered presentations via a monthly all hands State of the Business, on how we arrived at a climate crises, and more importantly, how individuals can change their behavior for a future that is reintegrated with the natural world.

Praecipio Consulting also needed to achieve its publicly stated goal of being carbon neutral in 2020 and beyond. One obvious solution was to buy carbon offsets from any number of sources. There are publicly available volunteer markets (also regulated markets for carbon intensive regulated industry but that does not apply to this type of business), as well as many afforestation companies that are replanting forests all over the world. Digging into each of these options ultimately made us feel that while we could check the carbon neutral box, it wasn't maximizing mutual benefit. Carbon exchanges offer very cheap credits with little insight into their source. Credits may come from a forest, or they may come from any number of other sources, some of which are of questionable utility to addressing climate change. Afforestation is a noble cause, and we support organizations involved in those activities like TreeFolks. However, a 1" sapling planted today will take decades to sequester any amount of carbon and we simply don't have that much time. We applaud these organizations, and will continue to fund them because we will need those trees in the future, however we felt we needed to do more now.

Proforestation

Since the 1600s the United States has cut most of its forests. Estimates vary, but it likely that at most 10% of our old growth forests remain and even in heavily forested areas there are surprisingly few undisturbed forests. Europe has achieved some of its carbon goals by purchasing wood pellets from the United States to power electric generation plants. Far too much of these wood pellets are made from clear cutting forests which removes carbon sinks and increases atmospheric carbon. This practice is considered carbon neutral largely due to an accounting error that there is little incentive in acknowledging.

Simply put, proforestation is a management practice where a mature forest is allowed to self-regulate. This is contrasted with active management for timber, biomass fuel, or other disruptive uses. The benefits of mature forest are many including habitat for native species, clean water, and obviously carbon storage. An important finding is that while a mature tree has a slower metabolism than a young tree, it still adds more biomass (mostly atmospheric carbon) than the younger, more vigorous whippersapling.

Because existing trees are already growing, storing carbon, and sequestering more carbon more rapidly than newly planted and young trees (Harmon et al., 1990; Stephenson et al., 2014; Law et al., 2018; Leverett and Moomaw, in preparation), proforestation is a near-term approach to sequestering additional atmospheric carbon: a significant increase in “negative emissions” is urgently needed to meet temperature limitation goals.

Each year a single tree that is 100 cm in diameter adds the equivalent biomass of an entire 10–20 cm diameter tree, further underscoring the role of large trees (Stephenson et al., 2014)

Human Health

Like all humans, Praecipians tend to find comfort, rest, and restoration when in the natural world. The human world is an amazing place filled with bright lights, sounds, and smells, that are largely ours (tho you are really Never Home Alone). The high intensity of the human world is especially draining. We can turn to meditative practices like church, yoga, and other mindful experiences to recharge, however, these are amplified when they occur in a natural setting.

Mature forests are magical and restorative places for humans to spend time. The practice of Forest Bathing has gained popularity, and the recent pandemic-induced shortage of any and all outdoor sports equipment has highlighted how people feel when they are in the natural world. Praecipio Consulting has focused on supporting forests in places that employees can enjoy and recharge. While the goal of keeping these forests wild and productive (with respect to ecological services, and not timber) they will be a refuge to Praecipians for many years to come.

Existing projects as of 2021 Q1

The following are significant proforestation and/or preservation projects that Praecipio Consulting has or continues to support. All are important ecological service providers with wild recreation opportunities. All had the potential to be used in an environmentally non-beneficial way and are now protected to continue to provide those services. The forests store 3 to 5 years of carbon emissions based on Praecipio Consulting's current operational model. Travel to customers was our largest segment of carbon emissions and the pandemic has eliminated that. If the post pandemic world is half as video-conference friendly that will greatly aid in our effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

Praecipios green path-table

Protecting existing forests is a powerful way to maximize the mutual benefit for all living things and promote a resilient and stable environment for life to thrive. At Praecipio Consulting, we pride ourselves of being a people-centered company, and we strive to do business while staying true to our values. Taking care of our planet is centered at the core of who we are.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog culture environment corporate-responsibility green-team
2 min read

Test Driven Development: How will it save you time?

By Lauren Schroeder on Apr 28, 2021 11:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Test Driven DevelopmentWhen we're in the process of creating a product, we want to see the end result. We have a vision of what the product will look like and how we want to get there, so it's tempting to try to get the product running as quickly as possible. However, if and when the product breaks or needs to be updated, we are going to be responsible for fixing it. With that in mind, we look toward Test Driven Development (TDD)

Nobody likes folding laundry. It takes time, and not everyone appreciates the results (at least not initially). The next morning is a different story: When you wake up to a crisp stack of folded shirts, choosing an outfit is easy - there's no rummaging through a laundry bin and you know exactly what's ready to wear. Sometimes, an initial time investment such as folding laundry, can help us out in the future.

Testing the Feature

We could test manually, going through our list of features and testing each feature to make sure the product is operating as intended. Or, we might write automated tests once the product is finished. But like rummaging through a laundry bin, working through this retroactively can be complicated and we may miss important information.

Many developers use TDD to prevent dealing with this "laundry". Instead of writing tests during the QA phase of development, developers write automated tests before anything else. Imagine a developer adding a new feature to software that allows the user to change the color of the background. The developer first writes an automated test to check whether the background color is changed once a button is clicked. The test may initially fail. They would then add the functional code and use the automated test to make sure the feature works.

Why would a developer want to spend extra time writing tests before building a product?

First of all, TDD keeps development simple and goal-focused. Features are added only when they can pass a specific test. This means that the developer has to make sure that each feature is necessary and the objective of that feature is clear. With no objective, it's impossible to write a test to pass your objective.

The TDD time investment leads to time savings in the future. Although it takes more time to include automated tests in the initial development of a product, there is potential for time savings in the future. When a product breaks, it's clear which part of the code is causing the failure. This means that QA may go more smoothly as bugs or product upgrades arise.

Test Driven Development-1Conventional development vs. Test Driven Development. Using TDD requires an initial time investment but can lead to time savings long-term.

Of course, TDD processes aren't the best for every team. When there are too many possible test cases (often seen in GUI development) it can become impossible to write tests for every functional situation. Like any set of processes a team uses, think about what makes sense for your situation. Does the product have finite requirements? Has QA testing used eaten away hours of time due to buried bugs? Making an early time investment can keep things orderly. Even if your sock drawer is destined to be a mess, think about how you're building your products.

Want to learn more about testing? Check out Could Testing Be the Missing Link for Effective Agile Transformation.

Topics: blog best-practices plan testing development agile
2 min read

Queues vs. Dashboards in Jira Service Management

By Rebecca Schwartz on Apr 26, 2021 10:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_When do I use JSM queues vs. dashboards-When it comes to understanding the progress of work in Jira, Atlassian has some great options natively within Jira Service Management. Queues are available in each Service Management project in Jira and Dashboards are available in all Jira products. These features give users important insight into what teams are working on, but how do you know when to use which, and why? Having easy access to the progress of work in the system, as well as some of the stats that go along with the quality and completion of the work, is essential for any team's success. Below, I'll discuss the functionality of Queues and Dashboards in Jira and when one should be used over the other. 

What are queues?

Queues are groups of customer requests that appear in Jira Service Management projects. They are used by service desk agents to organize customer requests allowing the team to assign and complete customer requests quickly and efficiently. There are a few helpful queues that come with your service desk, but Jira Admins can also create custom queues if the ones in place are not the correct fit for the team. 

What are Dashboards?

A Dashboard is a page of reports and data visuals related to issues in Jira. Dashboards are customizable and can be tailored to meet the needs of various users throughout the organization. Individual users often create their own Dashboards to easily visualize what outstanding work they specifically need to get done. Teams can use them to see their overall progress of work. Management can use them to get a more high-level overview of the progress of work across the entire organization. Gadgets make up Dashboards and are often based on Jira filters or JQL. They typically come in the form of charts, tables, or lists. Dashboards are available no matter what kind of Jira project you're working in.

When to use queues vs. Dashboards?

Queues are great for agents and other folks who need to work on issues in a service management project. If queues are broken up by SLA's and/or priority, they help agents determine which issues are most urgent and need to be worked on ASAP. Then, agents can easily grab issues from the list and begin working on them. Queues don't give you any stats or overall status on work that's in progress or has yet to be completed. It's simply a way for those working on Jira tickets to organize them and decide what to work on.

While queues are limited to a single project, Dashboards can be used across multiple projects. They give more information on the work and can provide more details such as the time from creation to resolution, how many issues of a particular type were submitted in a given time period, and which agents completed the most issues. Dashboards are perfect for users who need to get an overview of what's going on, but don't necessarily need to work on the issues. Since Dashboards are meant for viewing Jira data, these pages are perfect to give higher-level users an insight into what's going on with the outstanding work. Using gadgets, these users can see where improvements need to be made if, for example, SLAs are continuously breached. They can also be used to see what works well for your teams. 

You have questions?  We have answers!  Contact us to schedule a call with one of our Atlassian experts.

Topics: jira atlassian blog tips service-management tracking project-management jira-service-management
2 min read

Get early access to Atlassian Data Lake for Jira Software

By Kye Hittle on Apr 23, 2021 2:00:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Data Lake Preview

What's a data lake?

Read up on the basics in our explainer.

At Praecipio Consulting we understand that the data contained within your Atlassian tools is a critical asset for your organization. To help customers more easily access their Jira data, Atlassian has developed Data Lake! As of March 2021, Data Lake is available to preview in Jira Software Cloud Premium and Enterprise.

Warning! Beta software should not be used for production purposes. Breaking changes are likely as Atlassian tweaks this functionality based on user feedback. Not all Jira data is currently available and permission levels are limited but Atlassian is quickly working through its roadmap. In addition only English field names are available, as of now. Therefore, any information presented here is subject to change.

Data Lake allows you to quickly connect the best-in-class business intelligence (BI) tools you've already invested in to query the lake directly.

Compatible BI Tools include:

  • Tableau
  • PowerBI
  • Qlik
  • Tibco Spotfire
  • SQL Workbench
  • Mulesoft
  • Databricks
  • DbVisualizer

Jira-Data-Lake-preview

Data Lake uses the JDBC standard supported by many BI vendors. Supporting an open standard provides tremendous flexibility and power in reporting on your Jira projects.

Once you've identified the components of your BI solution, you'll follow three basic setup steps:

  1. Configure the JDBC driver
  2. Connect your BI tool(s)
  3. Navigate the Jira data model

You'll need your org_id and an API token for your Jira Cloud instance. Except for creating an API token (if you haven't already), there's no config required within your Jira instance. There are instructions for connecting to various BI tools in the Atlassian community Data Lake Early Access group. In addition, you'll find posts and diagrams to assist in answering business questions using Jira's data model.

If you're a Premier or Enterprise customer and would like to access the Early Access Program for Data Lake, complete this form to request access. You can also post questions and feedback for the devs in this group.

Are you interested in unlocking the power of data stored in your Atlassian tools? We're a Platinum Atlassian partner with years of experience helping customers leverage their Atlassian investment for even more value, so get in touch!

Topics: jira atlassian blog enterprise jira-software atlassian-products business-intelligence data-lake
2 min read

4 Things You Do Not Do When Starting Jira Service Management

By Lauren Odle on Apr 21, 2021 4:35:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_When do I use JSM queues vs. dashboards-Finding yourself in need of a solution where others can request for service, help and support without sending an email?  Do you have stakeholders constantly asking for status updates on things they emailed you 20 mins ago?  If so, you might be looking for a service desk solution, and Atlassian has a solution for you: Jira Service Management.  Here are four things you SHOULDN'T do when converting over to or just starting off with Jira Service Management:

  1. Forget about the portal.  At first it might seem like extra effort because you can utilize SLAs and automation without a portal, but you will be doing your customers and yourself a disservice.  That, and you might be spending more than you should.
    1. By utilizing the customer portal through request types, you can take full advantage of quick support request with helper text, self service functionality, and customer alerting, allowing your agents to focus on resolving requests, and your customer to have a simple portal for updates and visibility.
  2. Forget about approvals.  JSM makes approval auditing super simple.  Through simple query filters you are able to generate reports around approvals.  You can easily identify within the support requests, which approvals and who declined or approved.  And all of this can be done through the customer portal (see 1 above), with one click approval or denial.
  3. Forget about SLAs.  When tracking performance metrics in your Service Desk, Atlassian makes it easy to configure SLAs, allowing visuals references in the support requests and well as generating reports.
  4. Forget about Automation.  Through simple If..Then logic, Atlassian makes automating routine tasks a breeze.  Tired of aging support requests junking up your resolve status?  Add an auto-close automation to move them directly to Close without passing Reopen.

By taking advantage of the powerful out of the box features provided by Atlassian's Jira Service Management, you will be simplifying your life and delighting your customers. If you're wondering if it's the right fit for you organization's needs, or are looking for expert advice on all things Atlassian, contact us, we would love to help!

Topics: jira atlassian blog optimization tips jira-service-management
4 min read

Why Upgrade Your Atlassian Stack?

By Suze Treacy on Apr 16, 2021 11:18:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why Jira-Confluence upgrades are importantOne key component of managing your Atlassian products is managing their upgrades. Upgrades can present a daunting and significant time investment for many companies, generally involving apps, custom-developed plugins, and integrations, with a large number of users dependent on their success.

You know what upgrades are and that they're important. So why am I talking to you about them? Imagine the scenario, you're busy, you haven't had a chance to check in on the latest Atlassian security vulnerabilities and the emails you've received about them have been missed. You have also had higher priority work eating up team time, which has prevented the planning and execution of your Atlassian upgrades. One day, your instance comes under attack through one of the vulnerabilities exposed in the CVE. Your data is potentially exposed. An urgent, large, expensive, complex effort ensues in order to secure the instance; after 3 days, 2 full sweeps of the instance and multiple upgrades, the vulnerabilities are mitigated and your instance is safe.

Are you confident in when your applications are due an upgrade? Let's review a few common reasons why an upgrade may be recommended:

End of Life Policy

Once Atlassian has released a major feature version, it, and all iterations related to that major version, are supported for two years. After that, the versions are considered End of Life, and you will no longer receive support from Atlassian for any issues which arise. It is when reaching this point, that many people start considering upgrading their instances.

Security Vulnerabilities

Every Wednesday, Atlassian releases any new security vulnerabilities which have been identified for their server/data center products. These vulnerabilities include a security level, which is based on an Atlassian-calculated CVSS score for each vulnerability.

Severity Rating System followed by Atlassian:

Atlassian_severity_rating_system

Although there may be opportunities to mitigate security vulnerabilities in your current version, it is recommended to patch or upgrade immediately when a Critical vulnerability is identified. Vulnerabilities with a critical score generally result in root-level compromise or servers or infrastructure devices, or are straightforward to exploit.

Current security advisories can be found here:

https://www.atlassian.com/trust/security/advisories

New Functionality/Capabilities

Did you know that there is a new feature release for Jira Software every 6 weeks alone? Atlassian encourage users to submit bugs and feature requests at jira.atlassian.com. This public forum allows users to vote for and comment on submitted issues, and the Atlassian team utilize this and other feedback as a factor in their decision for what to implement next.  Platform releases contain the most significant changes, while Feature releases contain new features, changes to features, changes to supported platforms and removal of features. Feature releases can be designated as Enterprise releases, which, generally designated annually, are preferred for companies who need time to prepare for upgrades, but still want to receive critical bug fixes.

Compatibility with other Server Components

From time to time, Atlassian add and deprecate support for other server component platforms which work alongside your Atlassian application. For example, did you know that in Jira Software 8.6 and Jira Service Desk 4.6, support was added for PostgreSQL 10 and deprecated for Internet Explorer 11, whereas in Jira Software 8.8 and Jira Service Desk 4.8, support was deprecated for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and PostgreSQL 9.4 & 9.5. To ensure optimal operation of your Atlassian instances, it's just as important to upgrade components of your server architecture, as well as your instances themselves.

Plugin Support

If you are one of the many teams who utilize plugins within their Atlassian applications, plugin compatibility and support is another area to be aware of when considering upgrades. Has support been deprecated for the plugin with the Atlassian version you're running? Is the plugin still supported when you upgrade to your target version? Atlassian have developed the Universal Plugin Manager, available in both Jira and Confluence, to enable you to screen for any compatibility problems prior to starting your upgrade. There are 4 categories for Compatibility which plugins can fall into - Incompatible (the plugin is not compatible with the target version), Compatible, Compatible if updated (the plugin is not currently compatible, but will be once running the compatible version), and Compatible once both are updated (the new version of the plugin isn't compatible with your current instance version - you need to upgrade your instance prior to updating the plugin).

Unable to Skip a Platform Release

When considering which version you'd like to upgrade to, it's important to consider your current version and your target version. When upgrading, it is not possible to skip a platform release - therefore, for example, when considering a Jira Software upgrade, it is not possible to jump from a 6.X release to the 8.X release and skip the 7.X release, you would need to take an intermediate step to upgrade to a 7.X version. Due to the functionality changes being much greater between platform releases which are not adjacently sequenced, there are more edge cases, and thus, greater risk, when navigating an upgrade spanning multi platform releases.

For assistance with upgrading your applications, partner with Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services team! Our team, fully dedicated to the Atlassian stack, offer peace of mind through managing, supporting, and maintaining your Atlassian tools, enabling you to maximize the benefits of your Atlassian applications while allowing your team to focus on their core roles. Working with our Managed Services team offers tribal knowledge and best practice from over 10 years working in the tools, allowing us to enable your Atlassian stack is optimized and operating at peak performance.

For more information on Managed Services, or anything else Atlassian related, contact us, and one of our experts will be glad to talk with you.

Topics: blog managed-services marketplace upgrade version-control-system atlassian-products marketplace-apps
5 min read

How Do You Manage Releases in Atlassian Jira?

By Amanda Babb on Apr 16, 2021 11:05:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_How do you manage releases in Atlassian-At a recent Atlassian Community Event, I was asked to present on a topic of my choice. After some thought (and to be honest, a poll to our Client Delivery team), I decided on Release Management using Jira. It's a frequent topic of discussion with our clients: how can I understand what will be or is released? Also, what changed between what was in Production to what is in Production now?

I've seen many complicated solutions and I've seen many simple solutions. However, your team, your company, or your organization has to hash out the following: 

  • What is your definition of "Done"?
  • What is your definition of "Release"?
  • Are these two things in conflict? 

Definition of Done versus Definition of Release

As you may already know, in Scrum, "Done" is when the Product Owner accepts the story as complete, meeting all acceptance criteria, and packaged into a potentially shippable increment. While I agree with this definition, at the same time I challenge the phrase, "potentially shippable." This is where you, your teams, your operations teams, and your product managers need to have a conversation. Does "Done" and "Released" mean the same thing across your organization?

In one organization, they had four definitions of done: Done, Done-Done, Done-Done-Done, and Done-Done-Done-Done. In reality, they were defining the QA, deployment, and Production Release processes with the four separate definitions of "Done". This was also directly related to their use of Jira Software and how to demonstrate success to management. Notice I said success and not progress. The Teams wanted credit for code complete in Jira to demonstrate a predictable velocity. QA wanted credit for the test complete in Jira to demonstrate a continuous flow. Jira Release Managers wanted credit in Jira for integration activities before deploying to production. Operations wanted credit in Jira Software for the production deployment. As you can imagine, this was relatively messy in Jira and tying work from code complete through managing the release in Jira to Production was excruciating.

While Done may be clearer to your organization, "Release" may not be as clear. Different parts of the organization will have different definitions of Release. For a team, "Release" may mean the code has been deployed to a QA environment. For Operations, "Release" may mean deployment to Production. In the example above, "Done" and "Release" meant the same thing among the teams, QA, and Jira Release Management, but not Operations. Nor did it mean the same thing across the organization. Without clarity across the organization, tracking and managing Releases in Jira Software becomes nearly impossible. Clearly defining "Done" and clearly defining "Release" across the organization can drive organizational alignment. Once you understand these two concepts, you can manage these Jira releases in Atlassian using the following two methods: The Release Issue Type or Bitbucket Pipelines.

Method One: The Release Issue Type

Within your SDLC projects in Jira, create a new Issue Type called, "Release." This lets the organization know that, while code is complete, there are additional items that need to be fostered through the process. These may include documentation, release notes, a hardening sprint, or anything that can foster work from code complete to Production. The additional items can be managed as Sub-Tasks of the Release to understand the scope of work needed to move it through the process.

As with any new Issue Type, the Release in Jira will need a Workflow. The Workflow can be simple, however, we recommend using a Ready for Production Status in the workflow. When integrating Jira with Jira Service Management, the transition to Ready for Production is a perfect time to automate creating a Change Request. Your Operations team can review the change request with a link back to the Jira Release Issue Type.

How do we know which stories and bugs are tied to the Release in Jira? Do we link all the work to the Release Issue Type? No. I mean, you could, but why take the time to do that? Is it really a value-added activity for traceability? Is there another way to tie these things together that could be quicker and easier? The answer: Yes.

Even long-time users of Jira forget about Versions. If used properly, Versions can provide every team the status, progress, and any known issues in a single view in the Release Hub. This is true for all development activities AND the Release issue. By adding the Fix Version of the intended Release, every part of the organization can see the progress of the Release. Because JQL supports Versions, all items tied to a Fix Version can be displayed in other places such as a Dashboard or a Confluence page. With a little up-front discipline during backlog refinement, or sprint planning, or even big room planning, managing a release in Jira is as simple as adding a Fix Version to the work as well as the Release issue.

When managing Releases in Jira, once the Release issue has been deployed to Production, always go back and release the Version in Jira. Anything that is not in a "Done" status category can either move to the next Version or be removed from any Version entirely.

What if a story or bug spans multiple Releases? There is still only one Release issue per Version. However, I would also challenge you to take a look (again) at your definition of Done versus your definition of Release. Are you actually completing the work or are you pushing it forward again and again because there's a problem? In the next backlog refinement meeting and/or retrospective, ask why this continues to happen. Really dig in and understand whether the work needs to be moved to an Epic, de-prioritized, completed in the next sprint, or abandoned altogether.

Method Two: Bitbucket Pipelines

Using Bitbucket Pipelines still requires your organization to have a conversation defining "Done" and "Release". However, the entities that support these definitions are different when integrating Jira and Bitbucket Pipelines. The Jira Release is managed through the Pipeline and requires little human intervention. Instead, we work with a series of Workflow Triggers and automated deployments to determine where the Release is in its process.

You still need to create a Version in Jira. You still need good discipline during backlog refinement and sprint planning to ensure work is tied to the correct Version. You may also choose to halt the automation just before deployment to Production based on your Change Management processes. Clarify the process before implementing it in Atlassian.

After your Version is created and work is tagged with the Version, add Triggers to your development workflows. For example, you can automate a transition from Open to In Progress based on the creation of a Branch in Bitbucket. You can also automate a transition to Closed or Done once a Pull Request is merged. Triggers in Jira Workflows keep people focused on the work instead of Jira. But where Bitbucket Pipelines really shine is everything that happens after code is merged. Separate Pipelines can be created per environment. For example, if you need to manually deploy to production, a Pipeline can automate the process through build and deploy to a staging environment after it passes all checks. Commits, build, and deploy information is visible in the Development Panel of the individual story or bug. You can even quickly understand failures and receive additional information by clicking on the failure. For a specific Version, as long as work is tagged, you can aggregate the overall health of the Release in the Release Hub by viewing the Version. Status, success, warnings, and errors are available in a central location. If everything looks good, simply click a button and deploy to Production. Alternatively, if the staging deployment is successful, automate the production deployment in the Pipeline as well.

Which Release Management in Jira is right for you?

At Praecipio Consulting, we believe the answer is: "It depends." Regulatory compliance, risk tolerance, product uptime requirements, etc., may dictate which Jira Release Management method is right for your organization. And, to boot, the answer can be different for different parts of the organization. However, the critical first step to implementing release management using Atlassian Jira is to have a conversation. Are your definitions of "Done" and "Release" at odds with one another? What do they mean from a process perspective? Is there room for improvement in those definitions? If you can answer those questions you’re well on your way to having effective release management in Jira.

We here at Praecipio Consulting have extensive experience with both Jira Release Management best practices and the Atlassian suite of products, which we are happy to share with you to help you achieve more effective release management with Jira.

Topics: atlassian blog bitbucket process-consulting scrum tips project-management jira-software
3 min read

Can a Product Owner also be a Scrum Master?

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 12, 2021 10:21:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Can a Product Owner also be a Scrum Master-TL;DR: No!

Can one person hold both the Product Owner (PO) and ScrumMaster(SM) role in an Agile team? It's a question that a lot of companies starting their way through their Agile transformation will ask themselves (and us!). The Scrum team has three specific roles: Product Owner, ScrumMaster, and (most importantly) the Development team. It's clear why the question of combining SM and PO comes up so often - trying to figure out where current roles fit into the new dynamic can be a challenge for an organization, especially if your teams are now smaller and you don't have enough resources to fill the role of an SM and PO for each team. 

However, combining these roles is the biggest disservice you can do for your Agile teams. It may seem like a small tweak to the model, but given the functions of the two roles, you are setting up your teams for failure. Let's start with the definitions of these two roles so we can see why that is. 

Product Owner

The focus of the Product Owner is on the Product, as you might have guessed by now.  According to ScrumAlliance.org, "The Product Owner defines the what--as in what the product will look like and what features it should contain." The PO is responsible for maintaining the product backlog, and are responsible for communicating with stakeholders internally and externally to identify what the development team is working on. In their day-to-day, they are responsible for creating and prioritizing backlog items and communicating with the team expectations and acceptance of complete work items. 

ScrumMaster

The focus of the ScrumMaster is the team. "The ScrumMaster helps the Scrum Team perform at their highest level. They also protect the team from both internal and external distractions. ScrumMasters hold the Scrum Team accountable to their working agreements, Scrum values, and to the Scrum framework itself", as defined by ScrumAlliance.org. Where the PO is focused on What, the SM is focused on Who and How.  Arguably, the most important part of this definition is the emphasis on protecting the team. Internal distractions often come in the form of scope creep – new scope being introduced once work has already been committed to. In Scrum this often looks like new stories or bugs being introduced in the middle of a Sprint, and the job of the SM is to prevent this from happening as much as possible.

While I'm sure that we all know that some scope creep is inevitable (unless perhaps you're inhabiting the perfect utopia of business environments, in which case, I'll keep an eye out for my invite), but it can get out of hand quickly if there is no one on the team who is able to push back against the business. 

Okay, so why can't they be the same person?

By definition, the role of the ScrumMaster is to protect the team from the Product Owner (and the stakeholders that they are representing). Blurring the lines between these two roles mean that there is no one to push back when scope is added last minute, or ensure that the team is sticking to Scrum best practices, despite heavy workloads.

The most common outcomes that we see when these two roles are combined are:

  1. Tons of scope creep. Just, loads of it. All over the place.
  2. Sprint commitments are consistently not met because the team is being asked to do more work than they've agreed they are able to. 
  3. Product Owners assign out work to the team , as they are now "Managing" the team. 
  4. Buggier products –  after all, if I'm a developer trying to get through more work than I've acknowledged I can do, quality is inevitably going to suffer

Overall, not great!!

So what should I do then?

In a perfect world, you should have a single ScrumMaster per team, and Product Owner per product. This means that Product Owners can span multiple teams, if the teams are working from the same product backlog, but ScrumMasters are dedicated to a single team. If you don't have enough resources to commit to this model, in the short term, a ScrumMaster could potentially span more than one agile team - but I would say no more than 2 - after all, one person can only attend so many Scrum ceremonies while also being available to unblock their teams. 

However, the long term success of your Agile transformation means that it's time to start planning to fill those roles. Combining these roles will almost certainly decrease the effectiveness of your move to agile, as your teams are left unprotected and (likely) overworked. 

Looking for more information on Scrum best practices? Check out Sprint Planning - How long should sprints be? or Agile Batch Size: An Ode to Laundry

Topics: process scrum workflows project-management agile
2 min read

Jira Tips: Create from Template vs. Create from Shared Configuration

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 9, 2021 11:26:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Create from template vs. Create from shared configuration (1)

There are a variety of ways to create projects in Jira – whether from a predefined template from Atlassian or from a shared configuration with an existing project. As Jira administrators, this is one of the first questions you'll be faced with when onboarding new teams to the instance. Let's walk through the different strategies, and why we prefer creating from shared configuration. 

Creating from a template

Creating from the Atlassian templates will create a new set of unique schemes to that project - new items in your instance that are not shared with any other project. To create from a template, simply select one of Atlassian's predefined models on the 'Create Project' page. 

The benefit of using these templates is that each of your projects are self-contained, and a model has already been put together by Atlassian. Configuration is not shared with any other projects, even if everything is exactly the same. This means that teams can adjust their workflows, screens, etc. without affecting anyone else. This can be good for teams who don't share any processes with other teams using Jira, and allows project administrators more control over their projects. 

However, for organizations that are looking to scale and/or standardize, this can be a huge headache.

Creating from shared configuration

Using a shared configuration means that you are reusing existing and established configuration items in your instance. Rather than creating new sets of schemes when a project is created, you create based on another project. For example, if you created from shared configuration, both the old and new projects will use the same workflows, screens, and field configurations. Note that they won't share any Jira Service Management specific configuration items, like request types or queues. 

Additionally, once a project shares a configuration with another project, Project administrators can no longer edit the workflows without being Jira admins, which has the added benefit of supporting the goal of standardization and scalability in addition to administrative governance.

There are pros and cons to each of the above, but ultimately, it is recommended that whenever possible, projects should be created from Shared Configuration.

While templates allow teams to have more control over their projects, it does not lend itself to standardization or maintaining a clean Jira instance. Although IT teams often request more options for teams to self-service with Jira project configuration, in the interest of scalability, allowing any user to create their own Jira projects is not a best practice. Jira projects should not be treated as "projects", spun up or spun down on a regular basis: as a best practice projects should be long-lasting and consistent. Additionally, from an administrative perspective, it can be challenging to manage the sheer number of schemes and additional items when trying to troubleshoot issues or maintain the instance.

Looking for expert help with your Jira instance? Contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: jira atlassian blog administrator best-practices tips
17 min read

Atlassian SSO: Onboarding & Offboarding Contractors (5/5)

By Katie Thomas on Apr 7, 2021 9:45:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Resolution Blog Series, Pt. 5-1

Praecipio Consulting has partnered with our friends at resolutionan Atlassian Gold Marketplace Partner based in Germany that specializes in software development and network security, to bring you a series of blog posts about how to successfully implement single sign-on (SSO) with Atlassian tools. With more than 7 million users from 58 countries, resolution is the market leader for Atlassian Enterprise User Management Apps.

In the last article of these series on the journey to Atlassian SSO, we followed the steps of ACME, a company with large instances of Jira and Confluence on prem, planning a migration from AD FS to Azure AD.  

In particular, we had a detailed look at: 

  • How users from the Atlassian directories can be seamlessly migrated into Azure AD building a no code integration with User Sync 
  • How users can be mapped between Azure AD and the Atlassian applications even if usernames don’t match 
  • How to connect users from different organizations (ACME and CU.com, a consultancy firm) each with its own Identity Providers, both for authentication and provisioning purposes. 

In order to complete the setup, however, ACME needs to add some restrictions to CU.com users to answer the following questions:  

  • Who at CU.com must have accounts in ACME’s Jira and Confluence? 
  • How long should access be retained? 
  • How should access be revoked? 

Let’s look at how to automate the process for onboarding and offboarding consultants so that these are the answers: 

  • Who should have accounts? Only contractors assigned to active projects. 
  • How long should access be retained? Only for as long as the project is active. 
  • How should access be revoked? Automatically, as soon as the project concludes. 

How to provision only contractors assigned to active projects 

Let’s quickly recap what ACME needs to set up: 

Challenges 

  • Access to ACME’s Atlassian tools should only be granted to consultants who have been assigned to specific projects 
  • Consultants have a quick turnaround. It’s important to give them access quickly and deactivate them as soon as their assignments conclude. 
  • It’s also vital to ensure that consultants only occupy licenses of the Atlassian products while they´re on an active assignment. 

Implementation steps 

The approach has four steps 

  1. The group that gives consultants access will be operated from Contractor’s Okta and filtered in ACME’s User Sync connector. 
  2. Specific project permissions and roles in the Atlassian applications will be managed locally.  This has important implications, as the Okta and local group settings must coexist and not overwrite each other. 
  3. The synchronization between Okta and ACME will be scheduled to run every night (but users will also be updated when they login, eliminating waiting times entirely). 
  4. As a result of the synchronization, consultants who no longer are on active assignments will have both their access and their licenses revoked. 

Here’s the walkthrough: 

1. In the Okta User Sync connector configured in the section above, ACME adds a filter so that only consultants in a specific group are passed and enabled in Jira 
  • Go to User Sync > Azure AD Connector > Edit > Advanced Settings 
  • In Groups mandatory to sync a user, create a new entry group filter user sync
  • Add the group active-acme-jira-project Filter by active project
2. Now we need to tell User Sync which local groups may be added locally in Jira to these contractors. These are the groups that define what projects contractors have access to, and which roles they fall under.  

It's extremely important to add this information! Failing to do so results in removing access  to Jira projects:  

  •  every time the contractor logs in 
  •  with each user sync. 

However, we can protect groups in both contexts from the User Sync connector,  

  • To protect the groups in the connector, we go back to the Advanced Settings and add all the groups used to give permission to Contractor Unlimited consultants in the Keep these Groups field. Note that you can either include every group, or regular expressions, if there are any patterns. keep groups 
3. Now, we will schedule the synchronization at regular intervals to happen every morning at 3am using this cron expression: 0 0 2 ? * *schedule user sync with cron 
4. Finally, we will tell the connector to deactivate contractors who have finished their assignments so that they don't consume any licenses.  
  • In the cleanup behavior dropdown, select disable users. cleanup behavior disable users

What does this last step mean? Consultants will be automatically deactivated in Jira and Confluence following this process: 

  • When an assignment concludes, the consultant is removed from the active-acme-jira-project group 
  • At 3am, the user sync connector runs 
  • The user is removed from the active-acme-jira-project group in Jira, together with any other changes. 
  • As a consequence, the user is deactivated in Jira. 

Bonus trick: With the right SAML setting, if the consultant logs into Jira after they have already been removed from the active group, the login will succeed but will also result in the deactivation. 

We reached our destination! 

Congratulations! You have finished the journey to Atlassian Single Sign-On! Hopefully by this time you are on your way to an implementation that will last for many years to come. 

The sample implementation in the last two articles has offered a selection of very popular options among Atlassian on prem customers. As you have seen, User Synchronization is very often a cornerstone of the implementation, since it permits to use the Identity Provider as a single source of truth to automate user on- and offboarding. At the same time, it’s compatible with multi-IdP setups and access provision to partner organizations. 

However, the example is just that – an example. And it might be very different to what you need to solve. 

How can we help you? 

If you have any doubts or need help with advanced technical issues, there are several next steps. 

  • Our friends at Praecipio Consulting will be happy to help you get up and running. We go way back with a long history of shared implementations.  
  • If you need help configuring the resolution SAML SSO application or the User Sync standalone that can be combined with the Data Center SAML, we provide free screenshare sessions every day. 

Excited to see you there, very soon! 

Topics: atlassian optimization practices security collaboration human-resource sso
6 min read

Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

By Christopher Pepe on Apr 6, 2021 2:32:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

2020 – What a change!

By now, every technology leader has torn up their plans and strategies as they began a ten-month tactical, fire-fighting effort to move their organization to virtual. In some cases, they were able to assist with changing how people performed their jobs, not just their staff but everyone, in which case they now joined the Digital Age.

CIOs further realized that moving to digital required a move to the cloud, and with it completely new ways of working that took advantage of the internet capabilities and bandwidth. Transferring your data center to a cloud service provider is no more going to cloud than moving your teams to Zoom makes you digital. Cloud requires a different mindset, skillset, and culture on how technology will enable your organization.

2021 is the year CIOs can own the Digital watercooler and change their role to being a Business Technology Officer, integrating software into every aspect of how their company performs tasks and services customers. But first, CIOs must address new ways of hiring, financing, and benefitting from technology, their people, their processes, and their IT. Accelerating the path to digital and cloud is the only way to remain sustainable, competitive, and compliant going forward.

The path has two main steps: funding and the creation of a new operating model

  1. The innovation funding model – iterative investments using VOI as the guide to obtain technology value sustainably

Before you decide on your cloud service provider (CSP) partner and how to migrate your applications, you will need to determine how you fund the migration to enable your organization to do work better, sooner, and safer. You need to separate the process of budgeting – a plan on what resources will be required – and funding, which is the action of providing those resources.

Current budgeting practices limit moving to the cloud and digital by:

  • Asking individuals to annually decide what they will need – and how would you know in this VUCA world?
  • Constricting work to be feature-focused but with no indication of what it will add to customer satisfaction or help staff perform better
  • Adding to technical and cultural debt with no strategy as to paying it off

The central dilemma of every executive board is how to plan, fund, and prioritize technology activities. The current best practice is not to use cost savings as a goal and instead let that be an outcome as you do things differently aided by software. You can prioritize by:

  • Application review
  • Moving from a Project mindset to a Product culture
  • Cost of Delay
  • Creating platforms for products
  • Decide on the WHY of moving to the cloud and digital, on HOW it will help, and WHAT tasks will accomplish your goals
    • Faster time to market
    • Reduction of manual activities
    • Making work more compliant
    • Creating workflows that provide agility and flexibility to meet customer demand, staff requirements, competitive threats, and external issues such as Brexit or COVID19
  • Get your entire workforce and significant suppliers to be part of the planning and allow them to focus and contribute to the proposed strategy

Shift-left! Think as your customer or staff and deeply analyze your applications, products, and services. Which ones are unique to you, and which ones could you source from a SaaS provider? Which ones do you no longer need? Now group the applications into product groups and allow your IT teams to create platforms (see next section) to service these groupings from the cloud.

Many organizations follow McKinsey's advice to create a FinOPS team of cross-functional product business leaders or at least a team comprised of IT, Finance, Risk, and HR. FinOPS will frequently negotiate with stakeholders to allocate resources (money, people, etc.) to continue the innovation or improve services. They will base their decisions on the value of investment towards the company. Frequently repeating and communicating this interaction creates the ability to pivot or stop work quickly, creating new behaviors, and embedding new disciplines on technology use.

FinOPS will rely on analytics, reporting dashboards with real-time data, and automated processes to make decisions visible and linked to business activities. Leaders will have to coach a new culture of moving from CAPEX funding to OPEX. This team will also introduce training to upskill the entire organization on how technology is applied and that by making use of cloud and digital, they will not lose their roles.

Where needed, a partner such as Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting can help you begin this journey of becoming a sustainable business, maximizing resources while reducing costs and making the entire process transparent.

 2. You have the funding model, and now you need the digital cloud operating attitudes, behaviors, and culture to achieve scalability, agility, and continuity

Can you answer these questions?

  • Which business workloads are most important to your company?
  • What are your goals by business line for the next quarter and year?
  • What are your obstacles to these goals?
  • What are your strengths for achieving these goals?

Taking the answers to these questions, review what activities you have planned in your IT department. If a user story or request is not helping solve a problem or achieve a goal, stop it. The FinOps should ask these questions monthly, which will influence resource allocation decisions for technology tasks. Visualizing findings to the company will illustrate the importance of product stories while embedding the capability of pivoting or stopping work, as necessary.

Your operating model will require:

  • A compensation model mapped to the technical activities that are not divisive
  • A full review of your applications mapped to the business lines
  • A map of the way data flows throughout your organization
    • What it entails
    • How it is used
    • Storage, archival, and continuity requirements
    • Security and access obligations
    • Tools that maintain the applications
    • A full list of proposed enhancements
    • Server, network, storage, and operating system supporting them
    • If provided to a specific location, why and how

Using this list, technology leadership needs to help the company move from a project model to a product model. Services must be led by an owner fully accountable for the resources and associated workload, including packaging software into chunks (platforms) that can be used interchangeably throughout the company.

FinOPS and the Product Owners can collaborate on which business domains would benefit most from enhancing the applications used to provide their services. Management can utilize the model to ensure that the right CSP is chosen for each platform. As you mature, you can empower your development teams to decide the best CSP for designing and deploying platforms, be they SaaS or containers. At the beginning of your journey, the strategy should be to communicate the intent and collaborate on the outcomes.

FinOPS also needs to be cloud-savvy. The pricing and SLA options are numerous and complicated. You need to ensure that what you choose is the right decision. You also need to affirm the best path for migrating your application and data to the CSP. Should you port it as it is (provides little benefit), rewrite the application, switch the workload to a SaaS provider? Remember that the avoidance of technical debt, adding to cloud migration's complexity, must be avoided.

There is no shortcut or other option to having Product Owners. You cannot interject a translator or business analyst between what people call the business and your IT. You are all part of the same company, and technology needs to be owned by the business area that provides that service. Further, the people that support these services need to feel that they also own and contribute to these services. This change in attitude and behavior will reduce incidents, increase innovation agility, and enhance your employees' satisfaction, who will feel empowered to see their contribution to the business goals.

The cloud offers the capability of completely altering the way you use technology. Do you need a new instance or environment? Build it, use it, dismantle it, and all within a few minutes at a minimum cost. The software lifecycle of products will be a combination of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, depending on the services' platform. Data lakes can share information across the company powered by analytic and reporting tools that would not be accessible to you unless you are quite large.

Security and continuity are other strengths of the cloud as you adopt the framework used by your CSP. Using IAM and Zero-trust security concepts will ensure that you do not become front-page news. Product Owners will have to maintain the governance model required and test it as part of any software change using DevSecOps practices. Scalability, both up and down, is another cloud and digital feature, enabling you to offer new products that can sense and respond to demand.

Are you worried about regulations? Globally FinOPS and Product Owners are finding that regulatory bodies, such as the Bank of England, are moving to the cloud themselves and more than willing to help ensure that their mandates are provisioned accordingly by your CSP. Even if you use a hybrid approach of more than one CSP, which leadership needs to consider, the governance and management models exist via SIAM® to support cloud and digital operating models' best strategies.

The business product operating model is not to become vendor dependent but instead use microservices and containers so that you can migrate your applications as needed to another CSP or a different offering with little effort. This abstraction mode offers the best efficiency in technology enablement. The FinOPS and Product Owners will help to create the loose guardrails to be used by your staff and IT teams as they develop software provisioned products and workloads of your business

In summary

Done correctly, the number of technology instances and applications you currently maintain will decrease but not the requirement of technical skills. Your business flexibility behaviors should be to create agility via innovative use of software, cloud, and digital. Done correctly, the time to market and lower technology costs will be your outcomes. Let all of your organization be involved in the migration strategy as you join the Digital Age, and if you need help, Praecipio Consulting is here for you.

Topics: blog efficiency finance plan saas cloud culture digital-transformation leadership frameworks
3 min read

Jira Workflow Tip: Global Transitions

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 5, 2021 11:47:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Workflow Tip- Global TransitionsBuilding Jira workflows can be overwhelming. As Atlassian Platinum Solution Partners for over a decade, we at Praecipio Consulting have spent a lot of time building workflows (seriously, A LOT). 

One piece of workflow functionality that we often see either ignored or abused are global transitions. A global transition in Jira is a transition to a workflow status that is able to be triggered regardless of where the issue is in the workflow. These can be very powerful, and we use them in some capacity in almost all of our workflows. However, there are a few things that we put into place to make these transitions easier to use. 

When do I use a global transition?

While these are not appropriate in all situations, we recommend using them in situations where users should be able to move to the status from anywhere else in the workflow. The most common use cases are "On Hold" or "Withdrawn" transitions, where users should be able to place the issue there regardless of where it is in the life cycle. It is understandable that users shy away from global transitions, as without specific configuration they have the potential to be confusing to end users and open up the workflow in ways we may not want. Keep in mind that global transitions should not be overused - using direct transitions allows for processes to be enforced, while global transitions are great options when you need to remove an issue from its normal flow.

With that in mind, we recommend the following configuration on all global transitions:

How to configure a global transition

Transition Properties

Opsbar-sequence is a transition property that allows you to determine the order of all transitions in your workflow. To use it, you assign numbers to each transition, and Jira will numerically order them on the issue view. 

Global transitions generally belong at the end of the list, so we usually give them a high number (100 or  500) so no matter how robust your workflow gets, they're always at the end of the list of available transitions. 

Conditions

Workflow conditions prevent transitions from showing when certain criteria are not met. As a best practice, we always add a condition so the transition is not available from the status it's going to – e.g. if we have a "Withdraw" global transition that goes to Closed, the condition should be "Status != Closed". If this condition isn't present you'll see the global transition available when you're in the status it's going to. 

Post Functions

One of the biggest issues that we see with global transitions is around resolution. Jira resolutions are an extremely valuable tool, and if you don't configure your global transitions correctly, they can affect your data integrity. So, 

If the global transition is moving into a "Done" status (e.g. Closed or Withdrawn), add

  1. A post function that automatically sets the Resolution, OR
  2. A transition screen with resolution that prompts users to enter a resolution before the transition

If the global transition is NOT moving into a "Done" status, add

  1. A post function that clears resolution

With the above configuration, your workflows will be more user friendly while also ensuring that your Jira data stays clean. 

Still need more help with your workflows? Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Training Partner with a robust catalog of training, including Workflow help!

Topics: jira tips training workflows configuration atlassian-solution-partner
3 min read

Tracking CSAT through Jira Service Management

By Suze Treacy on Apr 1, 2021 5:03:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_How Jira Service Desk helps track CSATCustomer Satisfaction, or CSAT, is a customer experience metric measuring satisfaction with a product, service or support interaction. The metric is captured through a short simple survey to enable the customer to provide their feedback.

CSAT in Jira Service Management

Did you know that your customer feedback is collected by default within Jira Service Management Projects? This means that when an issue is resolved, the customer receives an email requesting their feedback through a simple question such as "How satisfied were you with our service?". That simple question is editable, and can be defined by your project admin.

Remember, if you're utilizing next-gen projects, site administrator access is required to edit your CSAT survey question

There's a handy Satisfaction report built into Jira Service Management, visible to project administrators and agents. This report displays average customer satisfaction scores, as well as individual scores and comments for the team. You can toggle the report anywhere from the past 48 hours, all the way up to the past year by month!

jira-service-desk-satisfaction-report

It's also possible to configure your own custom report to track satisfaction trends. For example, you may want to see satisfaction by assignee, satisfaction by service request, or even a trend graph to track satisfaction changes over time.

The Pros of CSAT

CSAT, a very popular methodology, offers a quick and easy way to entice customers to give feedback. This then provides a clear metric for you to understand customer expectations, and work to exceed them. With CSAT enabled, your customers will receive a survey every time their request is resolved. This enables you to track customer satisfaction at different stages of their journey with your team, making bottlenecks and areas for improvement clear, with very little effort on your part.

CSAT also offers a fast way to compare yourself to your peers. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the average CSAT score across the nation is 76.5% - that's just over 3/4 of your customers reporting a satisfying experience. This figure differs by industry - you may not be too surprised to hear that, in 2019, Internet Service Providers and Subscription Television Services reported low CSAT benchmarks of 62%, while Breweries reported a much more favorable CSAT benchmark of 85%. But remember, while it is useful to be able to compare yourself to your competition, the true value from CSAT comes when you analyze and utilize feedback to drive continuous improvement and better your own customer experience.

Considerations of CSAT

While CSAT is a useful metric to track, there are a few considerations to take into account. The customer who takes the time to fill out their satisfaction is likely one who is happy with the service they received. Customers who are unhappy, or just moderately satisfied, are less likely to complete the survey, which can skew the data. CSAT has also been found to be a poor measure of loyalty - although poor CSAT scores can predict attrition, a high CSAT score has not been found to be a reliable predictor of repeat business. Cultural differences should also be taken into account - different standards and expectations will affect the score that customers are driven to pick, which, in part, can make it difficult to understand true customer satisfaction.

So, CSAT isn't a unicorn which can address all customer concerns with support. However, it does offer a valuable insight; one which should be paired with other tools to track and measure customer satisfaction. At Praecipio Consulting, we can help you make the most out of the benefits of collecting CSAT in Jira Service Management, and use those results along with other anecdotal evidence such as customer comments, number of tickets raised, cadence call discussions, and repeat business, to drive change, improve your customer offerings, and ultimately, reap the rewards!

Topics: jira blog tracking reporting customer-experience jira-service-management
2 min read

Should Stories & Bugs Follow Different Workflows?

By Joseph Lane on Mar 31, 2021 10:07:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Should stories and bugs follow different workflows-The short answer: Not really. Stories and bugs are both software development items by different names. As such, the vast majority of activities and controls that we model for a story are applicable to bugs. The key distinction between stories and bugs often comes down to data. Bugs should include Affects Version/sSteps to Recreate, Expected Behavior, and Actual Behavior. How and when we require this data relies on what practices we're observing.

For teams using Kanban practices where there is a Backlog status and a Ready for Development status, the transition to Ready for Development can be used to capture required data based on issue type. In this simple case, we would have two transitions from Backlog, Ready for Dev and Ready for Dev - Bug. For each transition, include a transition-specific screen to capture the appropriate fields.  Example: SDLC Ready for Dev - Bug Transition Screen will include: Affects Version/sSteps to Recreate, Expected Behavior, and Actual Behavior in addition to any other fields needed in both cases. Then, leveraging your workflow conditions allow the Bug issue type to only use the Ready for Dev - Bug transition. All other issue types can default to the Ready for Development transition by explicitly checking that the current issue type is not a bug.

The considerations above work well in workflow cases where you have gated controls as a function of status change. This might apply to teams that include requirements definitions and design efforts within the story or bug life cycle (as might be the case with Waterfall). Additionally, this logical approach allows for workflow reuse which in turn decreases administrative burden and increases process consistency.

Scrum teams view Ready for Development a bit differently. Good Scrum practices dictate that product owners will refine their backlog as items are prioritized upward. Refinement provides all functional details necessary for the scrum team to be able to work the ticket including validation of bug reports and associated details. Once prioritized, the development team will review stories and bugs at the top of the backlog to make sure they understand the requirements. The work is considered Ready for Development at the moment it is accepted in to a sprint.

I hope this explanation helps you avoid unnecessary workflows!

Topics: blog best-practices bugs kanban scrum workflows software-development custom-development
2 min read

The Impact Installing Apps Can Have on an Atlassian Application

By Chris Hofbauer on Mar 30, 2021 1:30:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_The impact of apps on an Atlassian applicationPerformance and uptime are crucial when hosting any application. For the Atlassian suite, the use of apps can have a major impact on these hosting aspects. There are many third-party developers as well as Atlassian developed apps that are available to be installed within the Atlassian tech stack. Depending on the app installed, each of these apps will have its own impact on the application and its health. Many apps that may be installed are considered lightweight and the impact would be very minimal; however, there are apps that are resource intensive and can cause significant impact of application performance. The apps that tend to cause the largest impact on application performance are those that allow customization of scripts and manipulation of data within those scripts, especially if these scripts are capable of running on a particular cadence or during certain issue functions. Other app types that are frequently found as the culprit for performance issues are those that return long running database queries. Common impacts from these resource intensive types of apps are high CPU usage and high memory usage. When either of these metrics begin to rise, the server is forced to work harder in order to operate the application, which then can cause the application to face performance degradation, manifested in slow page loads, timeouts, or outages. 

There are best practices you can implement in order to prevent your apps from having an impact on your application's performance. It is highly recommended that you install apps that are supported and developed by a trusted developer. Be sure to also read any documentation and truly understand what the app does before installing. It is extremely important that the apps are always up-to-date as well: apps may have bug fixes in releases that are ahead of yours, and even though you may not be currently facing any issues with your release, it is best to be sure you are on the latest version so that you can prevent any issues that may already be known by the developers. We also recommend that you thoroughly test any app you are considering installing within a non-production environment. Running User Acceptance Testing in a lower environment will allow you to capture any performance issues that may come from the app. Following this approach will strengthen your instance and help prevent any potential impacts your apps can have on your Atlassian applications.

If you run into any trouble with your Atlassian apps, let us know, we'd love to help you make the best of your tools.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hosting marketplace-apps
3 min read

Getting the Most From Your Jira Service Management Automations

By Jerry Bolden on Mar 29, 2021 2:45:22 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Getting the most from your JSD automationsHow many times is the number of clicks, fields or screens having to be navigated through used as a reason that work efficiency is low?  It is a main way to discuss lack of efficiency by users of any system.  Well, Jira Service Management has automation built in for just these type of issues. And when leveraged properly, Jira Service Management automation can help drive closing out issues for users as well as ensuring customers feel engaged and informed.  

While time is a focus of most people, as it is the one thing that never stops: being able to use it effectively on things that NEED your attention is key.  Yet, the first hurdle most people have is identifying what actions do not need to be performed by someone.  Automations are things that can be based on inputs by a person, and therefore are always going to be selected the same. For example, filling in a customer based on name or filling out a number field based on selection of priority.  Once these are identified and agreed upon, you can then start to figure out the next phase: how to build the workflow around these to aid in the automation. 

One of the keys to automation is how the workflows are set up in Jira Service Management.  The workflow, when configured with either the correct transition or status or combination thereof, can facilitate the automation. Having a workflow set up to allow for automation based on a specific entry into a status or trigger of transition will helps both agents and administrators of Jira Service Management manage their work more easily.  On the administrative side, the proper set-up will allow for focused automation(s) and ensure they are easy to link without writing out complicated if-this-then-that statements.  On the Agent side of the house, the simple automation UI makes it easier for them to understand their triggers. The Agent can then move on to another issue until the need for follow-up arises. For example, transitioning a request to Pending Customer may pause the SLA, but automating the transition back to In Progress based on a customer comment alerts the Agent they've received their feedback. 

At this point you may be wondering what are some of the items that can be automated in Jira Service Management to ensure efficient flow of information.  Here is a list of some of the ways to use automation for communication:

  • Customer alerts for approval
  • Alerts for review of information
  • Alert them to closure of ticket
  • Alert to lack of response

The first part of the communication is understanding what YOUR customers will need from your team to understand what is happening with their issue.  For the most part, customers want to be appraised of receipt and communication of progress consistently.  With this mindset and communication to customers, you will inevitably save time by eliminating constant customer inquiry on what is going on with their tickets or the "do you need anything from us?" question.  While this can be a bit overwhelming at first, at Praecipio Consulting, this is one fo the many items outlined in our Accelerator for Jira Service Management implementation.  We have gathered best practices from many different implementations to put together a "starter kit" on automated communications. 

The other side of the automation for Jira Service Management is automating information based on user inputs.  By filling in specific fields based on user input or spinning up linked tickets to connect to the current issue, the automation inside of Jira Service Management for tasks that, while not hard, can become tedious, is where the Agents and Customers see the benefit.  Remember, the users main complaint centers on the amount of time they take to get the issue closed and move on to another one.  So while remembering that fields can be adjusted is a good thing, spinning up another issue that is linked is even quicker, thus eliminating the time to move information and instead having it done automatically by selecting the correct workflow transition.  

Overall, the key to getting the most out of the automation in Jira Service Management is first figuring out where you can save time for the users of the system.  Second, determine how to communicate to your customers in an effective manner that can be automated, but also ensuring your customers' satisfaction.  This should be centered on letting them know what is happening with their ticket and drawing them back in to the solution when needed.  As always, anything to remove steps (clicks) from the user is going to not only get more out of Jira Service Management, but also drive a higher usage of the system, correctly, back into your organization. 

We are experts in Jira Service Management, and would love to help you make the most out of this powerful tool.  If you're curious to see if Jira Service Management is a good fit for your organization, drop us a line and one of our experts will get in touch with you.

Topics: jira blog automation workflows jira-service-management
4 min read

How Service Management Capabilities Improve Employee Onboarding

By Joseph Lane on Mar 26, 2021 9:13:38 AM

Blogpost-display-image_How Service Management Capabilities Improve Your Organization’s Employee OnboardingHave you ever started work at a new organization as an eager new employee, only to find that you don’t have everything needed to “hit the ground running”? It might be that your laptop isn’t ready. Or you have a laptop but you’re missing a critical piece of software (or access to a critical online service). Of course, it’s not only the IT department that can fail to provide a new employee with what they need to be productive from day one. Human resources (HR) might have missed a new employee from the mandatory onboarding training course. Or the facilities team might have failed to arrange building access or to provide them with a suitably equipped place to work.

Alternatively, the issue might not be that these things are repeatedly missing on new employee arrival. Instead, it might be the necessary lead time has an unwanted business impact – that employees can’t start in their new role for two months while the manually-intensive employee onboarding process slowly grinds out what’s needed for them. Or it might be that recruiting managers need to waste their precious time “keeping on top of” all the various departments responsible for ensuring that their new employee can work productively from day one.

To help, this blog explains how Service Management can be used to improve employee onboarding operations and outcomes.

Why employee onboarding is a common issue

None of the above scenarios are ideal – for the new employee, the recruiting manager, and business operations – yet they still happen too frequently when the onboarding process and its many “splinter” sub-processes are manually intensive. It might be that the sheer complexity of all the moving parts, with multiple business functions needing to do “their bit,” causes the issue in terms of the logistics. Or it might be that the immediate lack of urgency for the individual tasks means that they’re a low priority in each business function’s work pipeline, such that some tasks unfortunately “slip through the cracks” when people are bombarded with a continuous flow of higher priorities. Or it might be that the high level of manual effort is the cause of organizational and provisioning mistakes being made.

As to how common onboarding issues are, a commonly-quoted employee onboarding statistic on the Internet – which is sadly from 2017 but still worth pointing to with an age caveat – is that:

Only “12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.”

Source: Gallup, State of the American Workplace Report (2017)

Thankfully, Service Management – the use of IT service management (ITSM) principles, best practice capabilities, and technology to improve business function operations, services, experiences, and outcomes – offers a digital-workflow-based onboarding solution that’s commonly one of the first adopted use cases of Service Management within an organization.

Plus, the global pandemic has made employee onboarding more difficult

While onboarding has traditionally been problematic for organizations, the operational impact of the global pandemic has made the potential issues worse. First, because new employees might be remote workers, meaning that any failure to fully enable them on day one is now harder for them to work around. For example, using a spare office “capability” isn’t viable when you aren’t in an office. Second, some of the various business function employees charged with setting up new employees might be home working, which makes it harder for the manually intensive process flows to work across what are now both functional and locational divides.

How Service Management helps with employee onboarding

The ITSM principles, best practice capabilities, and technology employed within Service Management offer a platform for business-wide digital workflows and optimized operations and outcomes. The technology, in particular, helps in terms of making employee onboarding all three of “better, faster, cheaper” through:

  • Workflow automation and service orchestration
  • Service level monitoring, alerting, and notifications
  • New technology-enabled capabilities, such as AI-enabled intelligent automation
  • Self-service portals and other digital channels
  • Knowledge management enablement
  • Dashboards and reporting capabilities

More importantly, Service Management not only helps internal business function operations but also the intra-business-function operations that are a big part of employee onboarding – with the need processed by both HR and the invocation of services from other business functions.

Examples of Service Management at work in employee onboarding

The digital workflows required to get an employee road-ready and productive from their first day of work can be taken back to the initial need for a new employee to fill an existing or new role. The initial workflows can therefore cover all of the following:

  • The line manager notification of the need to recruit (to HR)
  • The approval of the recruitment
  • Job description creation and/or validation
  • The advertising of the role
  • The screening of candidates
  • The interviewing of candidates
  • The selection and notification of the successful candidate

You might argue that this is recruitment rather than onboarding but, in a truly digital environment, this can be an end-to-end workflow such that the successful candidate’s acceptance of the offer, perhaps after personal negotiations, triggers the next set of onboarding steps. These can include:

  • The HR team sourcing and populating the required information in the new employee's HR record
  • The legal team making the appropriate background checks, processing contract paperwork, and ensuring that other legal necessities are met
  • The HR team arranging employee benefits, which could include a company vehicle lease agreement via either the corporate procurement or fleet teams
  • The HR team arranging and maybe delivering the required onboarding training – that covers employee polices, IT usage, finance-related “how-tos,” etc. – plus any other immediate learning needs (physical and/or virtual)
  • The IT team ensuring that the required devices, software, and access permissions for the role are all provisioned in time for the employee’s start date
  • The facilities team sourcing and provisioning the required working environment for office-based working, home working, or both
  • The security or facilities team providing appropriate physical access permissions and means
  • The facilities team providing corporate car parking facilities if warranted

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s indicative of how starting the employee onboarding workflow(s) – perhaps via a self-service portal – can trigger the prioritized execution of a wide range of required processes and tasks across multiple business functions using automation and logic. Where the enabling technology not only monitors and manages task progression, but it also integrates with other systems (for record updating, ordering, and provisioning), seeks task-related approvals when needed, provides reminder notifications, and flags up delays and other onboarding issues for appropriate human intervention.

Why wouldn’t your organization want to automate the end-to-end employee onboarding process with digital workflows to save time and costs and to deliver a better employee experience? If you would like to find out more on how Service Management can improve your employee onboarding capabilities, reach out to the Praecipio Consulting team

Topics: blog service-management cost-effective human-resource itsm digital-transformation
25 min read

Atlassian SSO: Killer Implementation of Single Sign On (4/5)

By Katie Thomas on Mar 22, 2021 7:33:45 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Resolution Blog Series, Pt. 4Congratulations on reaching the final destination in our very special journey to combine frictionless Atlassian applications with enterprise security! If you haven’t yet, you can have a look at the first article on the symptoms that your company needs a single sign-on solution and the second part on the existing opportunities to implement Identity Providers with your current infrastructure. 

With the goal of identifying realistic solutionsithe third article we reviewed the top SSO requirements for Atlassian Data Center applications:  

  • Are usernames consistent across user directories? 
  • Are there multiple sources of identity? 
  • Do you need to centralize user management on your Identity Provider? 
  • Is there a need to automate user activation and deactivation? 

Then, we mapped possible responses to competing alternatives so that you could tell when Data Center SAML could do the job, and when it would be better to look for an alternative in the Marketplace. Go back to our detailed comparison if you want to dive into the enterprise customization options! 

In the following two articles we will see the four requirements come together in a killer implementation of resolution’s SAML SSO. Let’s follow the steps of ACME Services Ltd! 

ACME is (obviously) an imaginary company based on the hundreds of customer implementations that our support team has guided to completion. 

The starting point  

  1. As part of a larger effort to centralize user management in a central team, the company ACME Services has decided to migrate their Jira and Confluence users from a local Active Directory where users login locally with username and password to Azure AD SAML SSO will be used to connect with the Atlassian applications. 
  2. ACME works for specific technology projects with Contractor Unlimited, a large consulting firmConsultants will need access to ACME’s Jira and Confluence applications with their existing Contractor accounts, hosted in Okta. 
  3. Obviously, only the contractors assigned to projects can have access, which should be revoked as soon as their assignment concludes. This step will be shown in an upcoming article. 

Note: While the scenario includes both Jira and Confluence, we will only cover the implementation in Jira as an example. Keep in mind that the steps are virtually identical for both applications! 

1. The migration from the local AD to Azure AD 

Username transformation with User Sync

Challenges 

  1. Usernames sent from Azure AD are different to the local Atlassian usernames:  first.lastname@acme.com versus first.lastname 
  2. ACME has a central IT department separated from the team of Atlassian admins, and collaboration between both teams usually takes time. To increase the speed of the implementation, it has been decided to transform usernames on the Atlassian application. 
  3. Users from Jira must be first migrated to Azure AD, since it’s a historic instance with thousands of existing tickets. 

Prerequisites 

In this guide we will focus on the critical tips and tricks, but will assume that you already have a basic working configuration that includes: 

  1. Creating a User Sync connector for Azure AD following the Configuration Guide for Azure AD. Do not sync yet! It's best to wait until the implementation is complete. 
  2. SAML SSO configured with your Azure ADHere is the guide 
  3. Having read, understood and followed our guide on how to migrate the Jira/Confluence internal directory to User Sync to retain user history, groups, etc. 

It’s convenient to configure User Sync and SAML SSO in this order so that you can select an existing User Sync connector to provision your users during the SAML SSO setup. 

Important note: Migrations can be messy, so it’s fine to recognize it if you have trouble solving the 3 prerequisites above. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either Praecipio or resolution –we regularly host free screenshare sessions with our customers to get their SAML SSO implementation ready for production! 

Implementation steps 

In this walkthrough, we’ll implement username transformations on both the SAML SSO login process and the User Synchronizations via API. You may we wondering why the transformation must be completed on both sides. We asked one of our engineers, and here's what he said: 

"What happens when the SAML SSO app searches for a user during login and the user is not found? That the login will fail. That's why you need to keep the transformations consistent on both sides. If User Sync creates username “example” stripping the email domain that is stored in Azure AD, and then SAML SSO searches for a user called example@domain.com without stripping the domain before looking it up, it will fail to find the user. 

  1. First, let’s instruct the User Sync Connector to copy user attributes from the local directory into Azure AD whenever a user is createdYou can find this in the advanced settings of the Azure AD connector you have just created. copy behavior
  2. Now we need to configure how usernames will be transformed as they are synchronized into Jira/Confluence from Azure AD
    • Go to Attribute Mapping in the advanced User Sync settings, and click on Edit for the username row Username mapping
  • Now it’s time to add the transformation. Here’s the regex example that would do the job of transforming elon.musk@acme.com into elon.musk: 

Regular expression: ^(.*)@.*$ 

Replacement: $1 email domain stripping

  • As in the example above, you should test with a real user whether the transformation works. 

    3. Now we need to configure the same transformation in SAML too. 
  • Go to Identity Providers User Creation and Update > Attribute mapping and click on Edit for the Name ID / username row username mapping SAML
  • Use the template from the dropdown to strip the email domain no code transformation templates
  • Click apply and save your SAML configuration. no code email domain stripping

Note: The no-code option to strip the email domain from a dropdown will be included in the upcoming release of User Sync, both as a standalone and as a feature of the SAML SSO apps. 

             4. Finally, ACME must change the priority order of the user directories, so that the User Sync dir
ectory is above the local one. To do this, go to User Management> User Directories in the admin section of Jira, and move the Azure AD directory to the top.directory rank 
  1. Connecting users from multiple organizations into the same Jiramulti-IdP setup

After the initial setup, Contractor Unlimited (CU.com) need access to Jira/Confluence. Since they also want to use SSO connected to their Okta, a new UserSync connector is configured for Okta. 

Challenges 

  • Implementing the most appropriate method of combining both Identity Providers (IdPs) 

The final decision is that Okta should be triggered based on the Contractor Unlimited email domain. An alternative would be to show an IdP selection page where users can select whether to log in with Azure AD or with Okta. However, the central identity team at ACME prefers the ACME login to be a more branded experience without a reference to Contractor Unlimited’s Okta. 

Prerequisites 

  • Setup Acme's SAML SSOnow with the Contractor Unlimited's Okta instanceFollow this guide. 
  • Configure a User Sync connector with their OktaFollow this guide. 

If you want to know more about the different IdP selection methods, you can watch this video tutorial. 

Implementation steps 

  1. Go to SAML SSO > IdP Selection 
     IdP Selection tab
  2. In the dropdown, choose select IdP by Email Address     IdP Selection by Email Address
  3. Now, let’s create a new rule item so that CU.com emails are routed to Okta for authentication add email rule
  4. In the rule, we’ll add the domain in the corresponding field. In this case, cu.com becomes cu\.comOkta email rule
  5. Now, let’s test the email of any contractor to check whether the rule is triggered.  test Okta email rule
  6. Let’s now repeat steps 3-5 for acme employees and Azure AD. The result should look something like this: email rules okta azure ad
  7. Finally, ACME decides to tweak the selection page a little bit so that it has the right look and feel
    To do that, they go to the page templates section of the SAML SSO configuration
     Page Templates tab
    and navigate to the IdP Selection By Email Page Template (2nd template) Selection Page Velocity Template
  8. And that’s how it looks like for them by simply changing the font and adding their logo!customized login page 

To be continued: Setting up an automated process to provision and deprovision consultants. 

At this point, CU employees have access to ACME's Atlassian tools. The door is open. But ACME still has to make sure that it the door can be closes so that only CU.com contractors who are actually needed can get in. 

In the next and final article of the series, we’ll look at how to set up an automated process for onboarding and offboarding contractors so that they always have access when they need it, and they immediately lose it when their project is over. Without manual work, and without any bottlenecks. 

Stay tuned!

Topics: optimization security resolution identity-management sso
6 min read

Root Cause Analysis: Leonard, Howard, and the 5 Whys

By Amanda Babb on Mar 10, 2021 9:50:40 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Root Cause Analysis- Leonard, Howard, and the Five WhysDIY or DIE!

For those of you watching from home, I have been on a home improvement journey for quite some time. Applying an Agile mindset to home improvement (or really anything I do) is one of my passions. Even at my most recent Women in Agile meeting, we discussed applying Agile concepts to daily life and feeding these back into building a great resumé. One of the principles of the Agile Manifesto reads: At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. We all know this applies to Agile development practices, but it also applies to IT Service Management. Specifically, Incident and Problem Management. For me, it applies to my recent home improvement adventure. 

Strong fences make great neighbors

My neighbor and I spent the better part of a Saturday fixing our mutual fence. You see, I have two dogs: Leonard and Howard.

 IMG_4511IMG_4512

Both are rescues. Leonard is eight and was "free to a good home" while Howard is four and was adopted from my county's animal shelter. Both dogs have been with us since their puppyhood and, as any dog owner will say, they are the BEST. DOGS. EVER. Except when they're not. This was not the first time my neighbor and I had to work on the fence. Observe one of the troublemakers in his natural habitat. 

IMG_4507

This epic saga started in May of last year. I would diligently fix loose boards, prop items against the fence to "patch" holes, and monitor their outdoor activity while I was awake (awake being the key word here: 3am barking and fence-patching sessions are no fun). I supplied my neighbor with fence planks because, well, they're my dogs. We fixed the section above and let the others lapse until a series of shenanigans prompted my neighbor and I to spend our Saturday replacing three additional sections. My neighbor and I became united in making sure my two didn't escape. While my neighbor "doesn't care" that my dogs are in his yard, my (very good) boys take the opportunity to break out of his fence and wander the neighborhood. Howard usually comes back, but Leonard meanders through the streets, swims in pools or the lake, and generally causes mayhem until I can coax him in my car to come home. 

IMG_4508

Not in my back yard...

Before this latest patch, I was determined to find the root cause. Previous to May of last year, this was not a problem. My puppers would frolic in the backyard and simply bark at other dogs in the neighborhood as they walked by. I made sure they were let out several times per day to make sure they were relieved in addition to daily walks. While I was traveling, they were also well-taken car