Morgan Folsom

Morgan Folsom


Recent posts by Morgan Folsom

3 min read

Individuals and Interactions Over Tools Doesn't Mean No Tools

By Morgan Folsom on Feb 1, 2021 11:00:00 AM

"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"

It's an important line from the Agile Manifesto – one that establishes that the focus when trying to work in an Agile way is the people. However, we often see this used as a justification to provide inadequate tools to teams. In a well-run Agile organization, you shouldn't have to think about the tools - they should support the work that the team needs to do without getting in the way. Organizations often make the mistake of implementing tools to make teams work in an Agile way. However, tools are in and of themselves not enough - the people and processes behind them are what makes a business go.

However, this doesn’t mean we should ignore the tools we use, opting for whatever’s cheapest, easiest to setup, what we’ve always used, or something that’s “good enough.” Rather, we should take the exact opposite approach and select our tools purposefully, deliberately identifying the tools which best empower employees and promote processes. Because of this, there are two properties of utmost importance when considering a new tool: the tool should allow our team to run with the process that best meets our team’s needs, and the tool should help our team members work better together.

To fit the first of these criteria, the tool should be customizable in a way that allows your team to use your own process. Much of enterprise software today shoehorns teams into predefined configurations and settings which the tool manufacturer thinks are best. This leads to frustration, difficulty in using the tool, and potentially costly transitions to new software. In our experience, every team is at least a little bit different, and even two teams that want to implement the same fundamental process will find they have a few differences they would like reflected in the process. Because those differences tend to arise from the uniqueness of your team, they are important to capture in the tool in order to give your team the tools that best meet your needs.

Further, a good tool will promote communication and collaboration between teammates, inside or outside of the tool. Information tends to get lost when team members do their work in one system but communicate that work in another. For this reason, an ideal product will allow for conversations to take place within the product, ideally directly on the work item those conversations are referring to. Historical conversations should be preserved to allow for a look back on what decisions were made and why, and the tool should have options for how users are notified of important communications. Further down the collaboration path, handoffs should be made simple if not automatic, and any approvals should be doable within the tool. Finally, high-level or detailed status reports should be visible and accessible by any team member who needs or wants to see them.

These two crucial properties are two of the reasons we like Jira. Atlassian’s strategy for a long time has been to develop applications to meet the 80% of needs that are shared by most teams, such as collaboration features, malleable processes, and easy visibility of work, while allowing the remaining 20% of needed functionality to be determined by individual teams and sourced in the Marketplace. The result is a product which delivers good performance out of the box, but can be optimized to meet the needs of any team.

Consider the role that Jira plays in Agile. A large portion of the functionality is built in: Kanban and scrum boards, backlogs, issue types, workflows, and sprint reports. However, the software is customizable to the point that it works equally well for teams that have a quick, simple process with a few issue types and teams which have a complicated process with several rules, handoffs, and types of work. It doesn’t matter to Jira whether your version of Agile requires multiple manager sign-offs before it’s done or if your team lives on the edge, skips QA altogether, and goes straight to production. The point is that the software fits your process, not the other way around. Regardless of process, there are several mechanisms for the team to stay in touch along the way. Every issue can be commented on and allows for @-mentions to draw attention quickly. Email notifications are sent out at times decided by the team, not at arbitrarily defined times decided by the tool’s developers. Progress is simple to see on a board, and every user has access to generate reports or build dashboards to collect information relevant to them, reducing the need for repetitive status reports.

Most organizations will purchase a tool, kick it around for a few years, then junk it because it “doesn’t work right” or “doesn’t make sense for us.” Don’t let this happen to your organization. Pick your tools with care and optimize them for your team. And if you need help, talk with the experts, and get great advice!

Topics: jira tools atlassian-products agile
2 min read

Should my Jira Service Management instance be separate from Jira Software?

By Morgan Folsom on Jan 29, 2021 2:04:24 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Should my Jira Service Desk instance be separate from Jira Software-As companies grow either organically or inorganically, many are faced with the decision of whether they should consolidate or keep their Jira instances separate. Today I'm going to address one specific flavor of this conundrum that I am often asked about, specifically with regards to separate instances of Jira Software and Jira Service Management. Some organizations choose to have separate instances for Jira Service Management and Jira Software, but I am here to tell you that is probably not necessary!

Although Jira Software and Jira Service Management are different products, there is no need to keep them separate. The most efficient companies use both in a single instance, so that teams can collaborate much more easily. As organizations adopt DevOps or start to think about it, one of the first things that is looked at is how IT interacts with the development organization. If these two groups are working in separate Jira instances, collaboration and clear understanding of ownership and handoffs is much more difficult. For example, It is much easier to link an incident that was submitted to the service desk to an associated bug if all of those tickets live in the same instance. While you can link to tickets in other instances, that requires users be licensed in both and have a clear understanding of where the work lives. Working in a single instance removes the need for potential duplicate licenses and ensures teams can communicate clearly. 

Occasionally teams use separate instances due to security considerations. However, in almost all situations your security concerns can be addressed by project permissions, application access, and issue security. There are few cases that Jira's native security features won't account for. 

Finally, let's look at this from a user experience perspective. One of the most prominent complaints that we see as organizations undertake their digital transformations are that users have to keep track of too many tools, a pain that I've felt in my career as well. Trying to remember where to log in for a specific subset of your work can be a headache. If your Jira Service Management and Jira Software instances are separate, they'll have two separate URLs that users have to navigate to. Signing into multiple locations and using different URLs adds an extra step where there need not be one.

Since you've already made the great decision to use both Jira Software and Jira Service Management, you might as well reap the benefits of the easy connection between the two so your teams can focus on what matters, rather than managing their tools. 

Are you looking to merge your Jira instances? Contact us, we know all about how to do that, and would love to help.

Topics: jira atlassian blog optimization tips integration project-management jira-core merge jira-service-management
4 min read

How is Confluence Cloud different from Server/Datacenter?

By Morgan Folsom on Dec 18, 2020 1:06:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_How is Confluence Cloud different from Server-Datacenter-

If you've recently moved from a Confluence instance that was hosted by your organization to one on Atlassian's cloud, you may be noticing some differences in how the tools work! The experience is quite different, and we know that can be a bit overwhelming if you've spent a lot of time getting used to the server UI. The change will require some adjustments, so we've provided a quick overview of things to keep an eye out for so you can get back to expertly collaborating with your team.

Navigation

Let's start with getting to Confluence! You can of course access your instance via the new link provided by your IT team https://yourcompany.atlassian.net. But, if you're looking to get to Confluence from your linked Jira instance, the application switcher looks a little different. The application switcher now lives in the grid icon(Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 11.09.36 AM). Select that and you can navigate to any linked applications, including Confluence. 

Creating pages

Page creation looks different in the new view - you'll notice that there is now only one option to create pages, the Create button. This functionality has made it a lot more intuitive to create pages from templates! In Server, users need to consciously make the decision to create from a template (selecting the '...') or a blank page. Now when creating pages available templates will appear on the right, allowing you to filter and search through templates. With this new navigation you can even see previews of the templates before you select them. 

Keyboard shortcuts

This is the change that threw me off the most when switching between the products, because I rely very heavily on shortcuts! Here are three that I use a lot that have changed:

Action
Server/Datacenter
Cloud
Insert a Macro { /
Start an ordered list 1. 
Change header level Cmd/Ctrl + 1/2/3... # / ## / ###

 

To see a full list of shortcuts, you can select Cmd/Ctrl + Space while editing a page and a dialog will appear and display all of your options. 

Page layouts

The experience in Confluence Cloud is more mobile friendly, so pages are more narrow by default than previously. However, you can still expand your pages to span full screen if you've got a lot of content. Opening the page layout options hasn't changed - you select the icon in the editor. However, the page layout editing experience has changed so you can work on it within the body of the page, instead of at the top.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 11.24.48 AM

You'll notice the arrows pointing out - those allow you to span full screen for either the entire page (top) or the specific section (bottom). The same options to edit layouts are available but you can see them in-line instead, which makes for easier navigation while working them into your pages. 

Panels

The Panel macro is one of my favorites - I like the ability to break the page up visually, and they are a great way to do that. Atlassian has revamped how panels work in Cloud so that instead of having separate macros for different types of panels: Panel, Info, Warning, Note, Success, etc. they are all just one macro, and you can switch the coloring as needed by selecting different icons. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 11.28.05 AM

Macros while viewing a page

The last change I want to highlight is perhaps my favorite. When editing Confluence previously, you might've noticed that when you insert macros, many of them appear different while editing vs. viewing the page. In cloud, we now see that macros like the Jira Issues macro pictured below actually shows the content while editing now. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 11.31.30 AM

Switching between tools or views can be tough, but with Atlassian's cloud platform you'll see a lot of changes that make the user experience run more smoothly. Now you've seen some of the changes, you're ready to hit the ground running!

Thinking about switching to Cloud? Contact us to talk about how we can help!

Topics: jira atlassian migrations server cloud data-center confluence-cloud
2 min read

How to Get Involved This #GivingTuesday

By Morgan Folsom on Nov 30, 2020 2:14:24 PM

Blogpost-display-image_SJ- Giving Tuesday blog

Now that we're rapidly coming up on the end of 2020, I'm taking time to pause my life and find things to be thankful for. Under normal circumstances, this exercise can be a great way to wrap up the year; after this year, though, let's just say that I had a harder time than normal pulling together a list. The truth is that despite it being a tough year, I do have a lot to be thankful for – I've made it through this year with a job and a home, something that many people are not experiencing this year.

As we enter the holiday season, the messaging that we see is increasingly commercial: Black Friday edges earlier into Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday tries to pull focus locally, and Cyber Monday pretends like we're not online shopping for the first two, making it a trifecta of commercialism.

Giving Tuesday is an annual celebration on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving that encourages individuals and organizations across the country to do good. What better way to wrap up three of the highest spending days of the year by looking at how we can support others?

What we're doing

Here at Praecipio Consulting, we've stepped back and taken stock as well. Supporting our communities has always been a core value here, and we've been a member of Pledge 1% for years. We are proud to spend our time and money with organizations like the Flatwater Foundation, TreeFolks, and Bamberger Ranch. This year, we felt like we had to do more. At the beginning of June, the company began matching employee donations and doubling VTO toward relevant organizations.

This #GivingTuesday, we'll be taking it a step further and doubling employee donation matching for donations made on Tuesday, December 1st, as part of our continued dedication to supporting our communities. 

How you can get involved

That's what we're doing, but what about you?

There are a lot of ways to get involved, even in the middle of a pandemic. Check out local resources to find organizations that are accepting donations or for volunteer opportunities (if you're comfortable!). Events like gift drives and meal delivery are also great ways to contribute while still staying safe. Don't forget to look at local mutual aid funds for opportunities for even bigger impacts in your communities. 

Topics: flatwater-foundation do-good pledge-1% treefolks social-responsibility
3 min read

Challenges in Managing Your Own Atlassian Instances

By Morgan Folsom on Oct 2, 2020 12:30:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Challenges in managing your own Atlassian instances

Are you having trouble managing your Atlassian instances? As tools like Jira become mission-critical to organizations, it's increasingly important that their maintenance is formalized, with dedicated resources who manage the tools. Let's walk through a few of the biggest challenges that we see and how Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services offering can help ease the pain.

 

Can you help if we don't have the technical experience to support the tools?

It's not uncommon that teams find themselves struggling to manage the specifics of Atlassian. Just because you've got a killer IT team doesn't mean they'll be experts on a whole new platform on day one! There are a lot of intricacies to the tools that can take admins a while to understand, especially when we're looking at Jira. On top of figuring out the technical aspects of maintaining the tools, you're also expected to help make process recommendations and changes for the teams that use the tool at your company. 

One of the biggest benefits of using a Managed Services provider is that you don't have to develop all of the in-depth expertise on the tools, because we've been there and done that. Our focus on the Atlassian suite means that we know the tools better than anyone so that in addition to answering your requests, we can anticipate issues because we know what to look for. 

What about about if our IT team is too small to have dedicated admins?

Maybe your team are experts at managing the Atlassian suite, but you're missing one major thing: time. Keeping your instances healthy requires ongoing maintenance, dedicating time for things like platform upgrades and marketplace app configuration, as well as triaging requests from your users to make the tools work for them. This is something that affects teams of all sizes and can be especially painful if you're part of a small organization. When you don't have dedicated Atlassian admins, the impact on your instances can be huge. If teams are only able to focus on addressing breakfixes and user requests, things like upgrading your marketplace apps can fall by the wayside. 

Our Managed Services team excels at thoroughly preparing for and executing upgrades, and regularly checking to make sure your instances and apps aren't affected by any critical security issues. 

Or what if we've moved to Cloud and don't know what administration we need to do anymore?

If you're one of the many organizations that have moved from hosted Server or Data Center instances to Atlassian's Cloud, you've probably realized that administration looks a little different now. Because a lot of the technical maintenance tasks aren't necessary anymore (woohoo!), your team gets to focus on making sure the instance is healthy from a process perspective. This kind of administration requires different skills from your admins – and while they hopefully have been providing this before, it's easy for this to fall through the cracks. 

Administration isn't just about creating workflows or fields, but making sure that the configuration in the instance aligns to industry and Jira best practice. Jira in particular is extremely configurable – with the right combination of apps and know-how, you can do basically anything, for better or worse. A lot of common configuration choices can be setting you up for future headaches – things like too heavy a reliance on scripting when out-of-the box configuration can do the same thing, making upgrades a pain and causing negative performance impacts. 

If any of the concerns above strike a chord, let us help

Topics: atlassian managed-services cloud atlassian-products atlassian-solution-partner
3 min read

Why Jira Won't Make You Agile

By Morgan Folsom on Sep 2, 2020 12:15:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Wont Make You Agile

It's no secret that here at Praecipio Consulting, we love Atlassianwe love Agile, and we especially love using Atlassian tools to Agile ends. The Atlassian suite (Jira, in particular) has been built to reinforce a lot of the concepts that are core to functioning in an Agile way, which is one of the many reasons that 83% of the Fortune 500 use it. So, setting up Jira is often one of the first steps companies take when they want to adopt the Agile framework. 

However (and this is a big one!), Jira, or any other tool, should absolutely not be the first step in your Agile transformation. 

Here's why:

Tools Won't Change Mindsets

If you've ever happened upon the Agile Manifesto, then you might guess where I'm going here. The very first line of the Agile Manifesto reads:

"Individuals and Interactions OVER Processes and Tools"

Agile is not something that you "do" to an organization by giving your developers Jira and having daily status updates that you call stand-ups. Rather, an Agile transformation is the process of rethinking how you deliver value to your customers from the ground up. It might sound like a big undertaking, and that's because it is! There's a good reason that "transformation" is the word we use to describe this process (I could insert a cheesy metaphor about butterflies, chrysalis, etc., but I think you get the idea). Now, while part of successfully running an organization means identifying tools that help your employees do their jobs well, the function of your process and tools is to support the individuals and interactions. 

Sure, we can use Jira to enforce some good Agile practices, but if teams don't know what the practices are or care why they're doing it, you won't get the same value out of them. The tools should be enforcing values that have been established, keeping teams from veering too off-path, but they are simply not an effective way of establishing values in the first place. 

Jira's not broken, you're just not Agile

While Jira can be customized to do almost anything you want, there are some structures in place that enforce Agile best practices. There are small things that work perfectly if your teams are well-aligned to best practices, but are huge headaches if you've got bad practices.

The most common example of this that I see is the struggle to manage sub-tasks in Sprints. Many teams use Sub-tasks to break down stories and bugs into smaller pieces of work. However, Jira will not allow you to close a Sprint if you've got stories with open sub-tasks. From a process perspective, this makes sense - your story isn't done until all of the work is done, which means you don't get credit for a story until it, and all of the work beneath it, are Done. Teams fight against this, wanting partial credit for the story that's not been completed. Ultimately, the problem here is not Jira - Jira is enforcing a good practice. The problem is the underlying process - maybe the team hasn't had the discussions about the Definition of Done, or they are getting pressure from above to complete a certain number of story points in a Sprint, or QA is not part of the team, so they're hitting bottlenecks along the way, etc. 

Examples like this come up often. Jira will enforce some fundamentals, and your failure to meet those minimum lines can make it look like the tool doesn't work for you. We can see another example in this hotly-debated blog titled Jira is an antipattern. This article posits that the use of Jira is a good sign that an organization's off-track, and while we explicitly disagree with the thesis, it highlights effectively why Jira cannot be the driver. Trying to use a tool to drive your Agile transformation can easily make it look like the tool is the problem, obscuring the underlying changes that need to be made. 

Ultimately, Jira is a great tool for supporting those Individuals and Interactions the Agile Manifesto highlights, but it is essential to remember that's just what it is: support. Trying to use Jira to drive your Agile transformations sets your teams up for failure if you're applying those rules and structures before even explaining what their purpose. 

When we say we love Agile, we mean it. If you'd like some guidance in your journey to Agile transformation and how to properly set your teams up for success with Jira, get in touch with the Praecipio Consulting team

Topics: jira scaled-agile jira-software agile
1 min read

Atlassian Hosting: What are my options?

By Morgan Folsom on Aug 20, 2020 2:15:00 PM

Atlassian Hosting options

One of the most important decisions that your organization has to make with regards to your Atlassian applications is which hosting option you'll use. Not only will you will want to review the differences between Cloud, Server, and Data Center, but unless you are using Atlassian's Cloud platform, you'll also have to make key decisions about infrastructure. Praecipio Consulting offers Cumulus Cloud, our managed hosting solution to help make your decision easier. 

Amanda Babb, our Principal Consultant, was recently invited to chat with the hosts of “CarahCast,” Carahsoft’s new podcast dedicated to bringing listeners the latest in Government IT case studies, technology trends, recent legislation news, and Government IT best practices. 

In the podcast episode titled “Hosting in the Cloud with Atlassian,” Amanda discusses Cumulus Cloud, our comprehensive hosting solution that manages server and data center editions of the Atlassian suite, the value it brings to the enterprise organization, and why it's different from any of the other solutions out there.

Listen to Principal Consultant Amanda Babb outline all of the above and more in this Atlassian Podcast with our partner, Carahsoft. 

Topics: atlassian migrations cloud hosting atlassian-products podcast
2 min read

Praecipio Consulting's Incident Management Solution Is Live in Workato's Automation Marketplace

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 31, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Praecipio is live in Workatos automation marketplace

Fun fact: At Workato's 2020 Partner Awards, Praecipio Consulting took home the Partner Award for IT Automations for the work that we did in collaboration with Workato and a leading animation studio to deliver an integrated Incident Management solution. The award recognizes our value in streamlining the incident management process through the integration of on-call tools, leading to improved resolution times and an enhanced experience for both the agent and customer.

And now, you can find this exact solution to in Workato's recently-launched Automation Marketplace, an online marketplace of best-in-class workflow automations across various business functions inside an enterprise. The Praecipio Consulting team created a solution around Incident Management using Workato and the Atlassian suite that seamlessly communicated to Jira Service Desk, Slack, AND PagerDuty. This recipe for success keeps agents focused on helping their users (rather than trying to figure out which tool has the most up-to-date information) and delivering an exceptional experience for the client's customers.

Head over to Workato's automation portal, where we outlined exactly how to implement this solution within your organization. And for more information about how we use Workato, check out our recent case study on Enterprise Service Management!

Topics: atlassian automation workato incident-management user-experience
1 min read

Is Going Agile Worth It? The Wall Street Journal Says So!

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 29, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Is Agile Worth It- The Wall Street Journal Says So

Agile is one of the hottest trends in the business world right now - but is it actually worth it? (short answer: Yes!). The Wall Street Journal recently published an article that discussed the importance of cultivating an agile culture for enterprises who want to move forward with their business and survive the pandemic. Check out how our client, ACI Worldwide, has made impressive improvements in their process, pivoting to the Atlassian suite to manage their work across the board, in this Wall Street Journal spotlight. 

https://partners.wsj.com/atlassian/built-for-change/aci-worldwide-paying-agility-forward/

Not only did these changes help ACI Worldwide increase its enterprise agility, but it also successfully prepared their organization to quickly shift focus and resources during a constantly-mutating global pandemic. 

Give the article a read and let us know what you think!

Topics: scaled-agile enterprise service-management safe agile
4 min read

Where Do Business Analysts Fit Into The Agile Organization?

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 8, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Where do Business Analysts fit into an Agile organization-

One of the hardest parts of an agile transformation (outside of, you know, changing up the entire way that your organization produces value), is aligning existing organizational structures to new Scrum team roles. This process is absolutely essential, and you must take into consideration both the current role as well as the personality and interests of your team members. 

This blog post will focus on how you can specifically map Business Analysts (BA) into your new Agile organization. Changing someone's job title requires sensitivity, and not every BA will exactly fit the description as outlined below. So, be sure to work with the individuals in your organization to find exactly where they should be. Don't forget that one of the key tenets of Agile is fast feedback and iterations! You may not find the right mapping the first time around, but some people will likely shift around as teams figure out how they work best.

What is a Business Analyst (BA)?

Let's start with the basics - what do BAs actually do? Before you can figure out where they'll go in the organization, let's start with establishing what role they serve. 

According to CIO.com, "Business analysts (BAs) are responsible for bridging the gap between IT and the business."

What this looks like can vary across companies and industries, but the BA role generally involves analyzing data to determine requirements, deliver recommendations and reports, and evaluate existing processes. Successful BAs are often very detail-oriented and effective communicators, which can make them an asset to any team. 

What are the roles in a Scrum Team?

Looking at Scrum teams, in particular, there are three primary roles:

  1. Scrum Master (SM): The Scrum Master supports the team members, unblocking them when necessary, and holding them to their commitments. Scrum Masters are the protector of the team – they ensure that the Product Owner and the organization respect the dedicated scope that the team has agreed to. 
  2. Product Owner (PO): The Product Owner owns the product (wild, I know!). They incorporate customer and organizational feedback to manage and prioritize the backlog of the team. 
  3. Development Team: A self-organizing team of developers that are responsible for determining the best way to implement the requirements of the Product Owner

So, where do they fit?

Let's compare. Which of the above Scrum Roles sounds most like a BA? Someone who has experience analyzing data and translating it to requirements will likely be well-prepared for...doing the same thing for a Scrum Team! Generally, where we see BAs succeed the most is when they take on a Product Owner role. 

Much of the work is the same in these two roles, with a focus on data-based decision making and effectively communicating requirements. A Product Owner must be able to clearly communicate their goals to both the team and to internal and external stakeholders. Additionally, these communication skills are also necessary for the process of gathering feedback from customers. 

On the other hand, we generally see less success in mapping BAs to Scrum Master roles, or (even worse) trying to have a BA function as both a Scrum Master and PO. The shift from product and data focus to people-focused work can be hard for experienced BAs, but it's definitely not impossible. 

Again, when trying to align your existing team members to scrum roles, being open to feedback and change is important! You are dealing with people, so even if on paper your BA is a good match for a PO role, if they are expressing interest in something more like a Scrum Master, your teams will benefit from leadership being open to this kind of shifting. 

Looking for more help in your agile transformation? Check out The ABCs of Agile or What’s the Difference? Agile Coach vs Agile Consultant! And if you are an enterprise looking to scale your business in a way where you still have financial control, learn How Jira Align Helps Enterprises Embrace Lean Budgets

Topics: scaled-agile business-teams
3 min read

Workato: A Recipe for Efficiency

By Morgan Folsom on May 19, 2020 9:15:00 AM

We'd like to feature one of our partners, Workato, and showcase just a few of the many reasons why we love working with them. Workato is a cloud-based automation and integration platform. We've told you about how we used Workato as an integral part of a full Enterprise Service Management (ESM) solution, and in this post, we cover how we leverage Workato at Praecipio Consulting to connect Jira and Salesforce. 

Our use case

Most of our use of Workato internally is in support of our Business Development and Account Management team. As an Atlassian Platinum and Enterprise Solution Partner, you might have guessed that we do a lot of work in the Atlassian suite. Between Jira and Confluence, we cover the vast majority of what we do as a business. However, there are some use cases internally that are better suited for other tools - specifically Salesforce. Even though we're using a variety of tools, Jira and Confluence remain our single source of truth, we need a platform that integrates Salesforce with Jira, and Workato helps accomplish this. We've got a wide variety of recipes to this end, but there are two I'd like to feature in this post. 

Lead management

One of the primary reasons that we see organizations trying to shift their work into the Atlassian suite (apart from all of the other reasons that Jira is great, of course) is cost, and we are no exception. We don't have Salesforce licensed for the entire company, as many non-Sales folks don't need to interact with it very often. We do use Salesforce for lead and opportunity management, though, and we all know that leads can come from anywhere in the company, not just Sales. 

With that in mind, we have Workato working behind the scenes so that any Jira user can create a lead in Jira, which is then immediately pushed to Salesforce. On top of that, we've got bi-directional sync set up so that when a lead that requires more effort comes into Salesforce, like a process demo or technical questionnaire, the issues are created and assigned out for the appropriate people to complete. This allows for both a more dynamic user experience (for example, I can create tickets in the tools I'm used to, and I don't have to bug someone on the sales team to create a lead for me in Salesforce) as well as better reporting since all of the information lives in one tool. 

Client contact information

Additionally, we also track all of our project management in Jira (seriously, we use it for just about everything). When we start a new project, we track it in Jira, but all of our client contact information is stored in the Salesforce. To solve the problem of syncing information in different tools, once we create an Epic for a client, Workato automatically pulls the contact information from Salesforce based on the customer selected. This way the project resources have access to everything that they need to hit the ground running, and we don't have to manually update information in multiple tools.

These are just a few examples of how we use Workato. Truly, the possibilities are endless. In a world where your daily work involves multiple tools, Workato makes the entire process move more smoothly so that your team can focus more on their actual work and spend less time working within the tools used to get it done. 

Want to learn more about this versatile, does-it-all tool? Check out Praecipio Consulting's solution in Workato's Automation Portal, or watch this Webinar that shows exactly why we love Workato.

Topics: jira automation salesforce workato
4 min read

Navigating a Pandemic in a Digital Age

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 10, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_NavigatingAPandemicInDigitalAge

Right now we're living in unprecedented times. With COVID-19 moving across the planet, families and businesses are having to learn how to keep moving forward amongst an onslaught of swiftly changing information. During a conversation with one of our technology partners, Splunk, they shared their current COVID-19 data aggregation:

splunk image

This got us thinking: How can we best stay informed during this crisis while still staying sane?

Check your sources

First and foremost, with public health emergencies, it is always best to stick to official agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Center for Disease Control (CDC), or state, county, and local agencies where appropriate. 

Outside of that, it is as important as ever that we check our sources before reading or sharing. Not all resources are alike, and with a situation as widespread as this novel coronavirus, not only is there a lot of information out there but misinformation as well. A study by MIT researchers determined that, at least on Twitter, false news stories spread faster and farther than the truth. There are many ways that both individuals and businesses can be sure that the information they are sharing is correct. As someone who reads a lot of news online, there are a few things that I check for. 

  1. Date: When was this published? Is it recent enough to still be relevant, or has it resurfaced due to a clickbait headline? If an article is old enough, try googling some of the keywords for more up-to-date information
  2. Authority: Who wrote the content? Look at both the website and the specific author for signs of bias and credibility. 
  3. Look & feel: Does the website look suspicious? Most of us have run into a website and immediately turned around - whether that means it's extremely ad-heavy, trying to trick you into clicking on things, or looks like it was made in the early '00s. Trust your instincts if something looks off. 

When in doubt, try searching elsewhere for the same information. If you can find it corroborated elsewhere by known reliable sources, you're probably good to go. Some large online platforms, content aggregators, and social media companies are doing their part to assist in this. Pinterest, for example, has limited all of the relevant search results to only internationally-recognized health organizations. Many major news outlets, like the New York Times and The Washington Post that have removed COVID-19 related articles from behind paywalls, are allowing people access to the content without a subscription. Even further, I'm sure you've noticed your inbox filling with notifications from every company you've ever interacted with, letting you know their contingency plan for their services and their employees. 

pinterest image

Right now, it is essential as both individuals and businesses to be sure that the data we're reading and sharing is clear and accurate. 

However...

Stop scrolling 

Amanda Mull recently wrote about plague dread, the specific anxiety that comes from an onslaught of information paired with a lot of unexpected time spent at home or alone. While it is important to follow recommended guidelines and stay informed about local and national announcements, there's nothing wrong with signing off once you get the information you need. My strategy for this is pretty simple: limiting screen time. When at home, it's easy to accidentally spend hours on my phone or computer, so I try to be conscious of this. When I can tell that all the scrolling is taking an emotional toll, I'll leave my phone in another room and focus on something else (have you seen this Buzzfeed list of quarantine hobbies?). 

These are certainly unprecedented times, but we're more connected now than at any point in the past, and that can make navigating situations like these a bit easier. For more information, see Praecipio Consulting's COVID-19 response to see how we're working through this crisis. 

Looking for tips on how your team can adjust to remote work? Check out How ChatOps Can Connect Your Remote & Traveling Workers or Less Meetings More Collaboration.

 
Topics: covid-19 work-from-home
3 min read

How to Solve "Too Many Confluence Email Notifications"

By Morgan Folsom on Mar 18, 2020 9:30:00 AM

confluene email notifications

We often hear feedback that Jira is too noisy, but Confluence has the potential to fill your inbox as well if you're not on top of your email preferences. If you've read our blog outlining the solution to reducing Jira notifications, but your users are still complaining about noise, it may be time to provide some guidance on Confluence notifications too. 

So if you're a user, let's talk about which notifications you're getting and how you can escape the inbox overflow. 

Watching a Space

If you use Confluence 6.13 or an earlier version, you may be required to watch a space when you first log into the instance. Watching a space means that you will receive notifications for all updates to the pages within this space, and this can be a harsh welcome to a new Confluence instance. If you are on one of these affected versions, a Confluence admin can fix this by disabling the Onboarding dialog globally. Confluence 6.14 and later removes this requirement, but it is still possible to watch spaces manually.

To identify which spaces you are watching:

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Watches.
  2. View Space Watches to identify which spaces you are watching.
  3. If you want to unfollow the space, simply click Stop Watching on the right side of the screen.

Watching a Page

In addition to watching entire spaces, you can watch specific Confluence pages. You can do this manually, or automatically if Autowatch is enabled on your profile. If Autowatch is enabled, you will be added as a watcher to all pages and blog posts that you've created, edited, or commented on. For users that contribute to a lot of content, this can result in a great deal of notifications. 

Disabling Autowatch is your best bet if you receive too many of these. To disable Autowatch:

  • Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Settings.
  • Select Email under the left panel labeled Your Settings.
  • Select Edit at the bottom of the page, and uncheck Autowatch

Additionally, to see all pages that you're watching:

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Watches.
  2. View Page Watches to identify which spaces you are watching.
  3. If you want to unfollow the page, simply click Stop Watching on the right side of the screen.

Recommended/Daily Updates

If you receive notifications that aren't tied to specific pages that you edited or watched, you may be receiving Confluence Recommended Updates or Daily Updates. This functionality will send updates and information about Confluence content.

If you're not interested in receiving these updates:

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Settings.
  2. Select Email under the left panel labeled Your Settings.
  3. Select Edit at the bottom of the page, and uncheck Recommended Updates and/or Daily Updates

Notify on My Actions

If you don't ever want to receive notifications for changes that you've made in Confluence, you'll want to be sure that this box is unchecked as well!

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Settings.
  2. Select Email under the left panel labeled Your Settings.
  3. Select Edit at the bottom of the page, and uncheck Notify on My Actions

Uncheck Notify Watchers

Help keep your team's inboxes clean by unchecking the Notify Watchers box when updating pages. Checking this only when you want to let your team know there have been changes to a page will help keep notifications relevant.

 

Now that you've updated your Confluence and Jira email settings, you can get rid of those inbox filters, and finally receive just the notifications that matter to you. 

Topics: best-practices confluence email-notifications
2 min read

Which Jira Product Do I Need?

By Morgan Folsom on Oct 29, 2019 11:53:00 AM

Atlassian, the developer of Jira, has a wide variety of products. If you're here, you're probably wondering about a few specifically:

  • Jira Software
  • Jira Service Desk
  • Jira Core

Particularly, what the heck is the difference between them? Which is better/ Which do I need to use? Can I use more than one? Take a look to learn more about each Atlassian Jira product and discover which tool makes sense for your team. 

Jira Software

When you're thinking of Jira, it's most likely you're thinking of Jira Software, Atlassian's biggest Jira (and oldest) product. If you're a user in a Jira Software Instance you can:

  • Work in Software projects
  • View issues in kanban or scrum boards
  • Run sprints
  • Track releases

If you're developing code or are running your teams in an Agile way, Jira Software is likely for you. 

Jira Service Desk

Jira Service Desk, on the other hand, is Atlassian's answer to ITSM (IT Service Management) —it gives you customer portals and the ability to allow unlicensed users to submit tickets to your team. 

If you're working as an agent in a Jira Service Desk instance you can:

  • Work in Service Desk projects
  • Work on tickets submitted through a customizable customer portal
  • View issues in queues
  • Track Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

If your team manages request intake (internal or external) and are tracking SLAs or service requests, Jira Service Desk may be your answer.

Jira Service Desk is ITIL certified, but any team can use it. For more information on this, watch this Webinar to hear how non-technical teams can use Atlassian.

Jira Core

Jira Core is Atlassian's business team offering. If you want to track projects without too many bells and whistles, Jira Core and its "Business" projects will get you there. 

With Jira Core any team can do things like:

  • Manage projects or campaigns
  • Track assets
  • Anything that requires moving work through a workflow

Jira Core ships with both Jira Software and Jira Service Desk, so if your organization has either already, then you can try out a business project today. 

So what do I do now?

Any Jira instance can have any combination of these three products, which makes it very easy to cover multiple parts of your organization.

Each offering brings a number of ways to make Jira work for you and your team, and each type of instance lets you customize everything from permissions to specialized workflows to better fit your organization. 

Now that you've got that figured out, contact Praecipio Consulting to help with your licensing needs or to simply help you get started.

Topics: jira jira-service-desk jira-software jira-core
3 min read

Jira Service Desk: Help Center vs Service Desk

By Morgan Folsom on Sep 20, 2019 8:51:00 AM

When designing Jira Service Desk implementation for your organization, there are tons of choices that need to be made. One important decision during this process is determining how to break down your service desk - Will you have one Service Desk for all of the teams working in the organization? Or will you build out multiple service desks and use the Help Center to route users to different Portals? 

This decision will dictate both user and agent experiences working in the tool - so it's in everyone's best interest to consider as many factors as possible when making this decision.

But before we jump into the pros and cons, let's talk about the Help Center a bit.

What is the Jira Service Desk Help Center?

Jira Service Desk comes with the Help Center out of the box. The Help Center is an aggregated view of all of the Service Desks in that Jira instance. Customers are able to view the Help Center to search across multiple service desks and knowledge bases, see requests they've raised across all service desks, and much more. 

The Help Center may or may not make sense for your organization. Below are some things to consider when designing your organization's Jira Service Desk. 

Benefits of Using One Service Desk

Jira Service Desk comes with a ton of out of the box functionality that can help you group work in logical ways. 

  • The customer can never go to the wrong place - the experience is simplified because there’s just one portal.

  • Since all agents are working in the same place, there is clear visibility across teams, preventing silos. 

  • Requests, queues and SLAs are customizable based on teams or org lines - making it easy to determine who needs to work on the request.

  • All of your work is in one location, which means that finding issues in Jira is simplified.

  • Although all agents are working out of the same project, you can use issue security to lock down sensitive requests. 

  • JSD Reports are straightforward - because they are project specific, you can access them in one place to easily compare metrics. 

  • As an admin, everyone is using the same schemes - which means less effort to set up and less overhead to maintain. 

Benefits of Using the Help Center

If you decide that breaking up the service desk makes sense - you're able to customize the underlying schemes in each project, so teams can have different workflows, issue types, issue security etc. 

  • Schemes are customizable - so different teams can follow different workflows, permissions, etc. if needed. 

  • Each service desk can have no more than 50 queues - so if you've got a lot of teams working on separate work, you'll likely run into this limitation (but run into a fairly confusing service desk first)

  • Each service desk can have one set of customers who can see all of the requests - so the Help Center does the job if you need to restrict which requests customers can see.

  • With the integration between JSD and Confluence, you have the ability to connect knowledge bases to your portal. Each service desk can have only one knowledge base, and the Help Center allows customers to search across them all to find the relevant articles, while also viewing only the relevant articles when viewing from a specific service desk. 

Designing your Service Desk Implementation

As you can see, there are quite a few things to think about here. Designing your service desk implementation may be an overwhelming idea, so a good starting place is to consider the end-users. Knowing what you know now, think about who will be using the service desk (agent and customer), and what would make sense to them. Are there agents who will be working in multiple service desks - how would they manage their work? Is it clear to a customer which project they should go to, or which request they need to use? For more information on customizing your help center, read this article from Atlassian. If you're in the research stage of your Jira Service Desk implementation, read Praecipio Consulting's advice on Accelerator vs. Custom Implementation

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

This means that we have the most experience working with Atlassian tools and have insight into new products, features, and beta testing. Through our profound knowledge of Atlassian environments and their intricacies, we can guide your organization as you navigate these important changes.

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