Praecipio Consulting

Praecipio Consulting


Recent posts by Praecipio Consulting

5 min read

How to Implement an IT Modernization Strategy - 1st of a 5 Part Series

By Praecipio Consulting on May 28, 2021 10:15:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-May_How to Implement an IT Modernization Strategy- Part 1 What is IT Modernization

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: blog aws optimization saas it digital-transformation
5 min read

7 Non-Negotiables When Choosing an Atlassian Business Partner

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 8, 2020 2:25:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_7 Non-Negotiables When Choosing an Atlassian Business Partner2 (1)

Ask any project manager what the number one contributor to a successful project result is, and they will tell you that it’s having the right people on the team. That goes for vendors too. Because behind every consulting gig are people making decisions that influence your company’s future. 


The decision to select an Atlassian Business Partner is a big one. The stakes are high, with perhaps millions of dollars and people’s careers hanging in the balance. A bad vendor decision could haunt you for a decade or longer. 

The process to choose a vendor usually starts with a referral or by viewing the Atlassian Partner Directory. However, with over 50 Platinum Partners distributed across the globe, it can be overwhelming. After visiting a few of the partner websites, you may be no closer to a decision.

Christian_Lane

Christian Lane, CEO of Praecipio Consulting, an Atlassian Platinum Partner, offers his thoughts on how to approach the partner selection process to ensure your project is delivered on time and within budget. 

 

He starts by sharing his recommended list of “must-haves.” In his opinion, any vendors not having these should be immediately disqualified. 

Look for relevant experience

To be approved as an Atlassian Partner, you must have smart people. All companies can easily add up the years experience among their people and come up with an impressive number. But that’s not the differentiator between firms. Don’t accept a general numerical answer. Dig deeper and ask for specific experience in your industry and what the scope of those projects were. 

Executive involvement

There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a person that isn’t empowered to make decisions. You want top levels of management to be familiar with your project and understand its strategic value. This way they can apply their leadership and senior experience to add value. You want them to ask questions about workflow, reporting, integrations, and how it relates to the overall goal of the project.  

Rate of repeat business

As the saying goes, “The best predictor of future success is past behavior.”  Ask the vendor about their rate of return business. It’s perhaps the clearest indicator of a company's performance and customer satisfaction. Lane adds, “72% of our business last year was from repeat clients. Any competent firm should be able to tell you their number. If they don’t know it, that's a red flag in itself.” 

Percentage of revenue from change orders

Avoid the bait and switch. Managers want to deal in absolutes when it comes to money and time required to get the job done. You don’t want to fall in a trap of working with a vendor only to be told that your request wasn’t included in the original scope. For example, at Praecipio Consulting, we have a defined process to expose any and all needs of a project. By clearly defining the work from the start, you avoid missed expectations and expensive changes. For our team, this process starts with defining the problem in the sales process and includes engineers and other technical people. If there are any limitations or features to add for the solution, they contribute to the conversation. All parties move in lockstep, and a delivery commitment is made. The process has proven to work, as only 2% of our revenue last year came from change orders. Lastly, pay attention to how much value is delivered before the signed contract. 

Listed in the Atlassian Partner Directory

Only choose a partner from the official Atlassian Partner Directory. These companies have demonstrated their expertise and willingness to dedicate themselves to the software. They have to make an investment to be included, and their business model revolves around partner support. Using any other firm not vetted by Atlassian should be approached with extreme caution and is not recommended. 

Platinum Partners have the most experience and have been doing this type of work the longest. They have been recognized as the best and have inside knowledge about new products, features, and beta testing. For example, our leadership team members have participated in panels, councils, and have had an influence in building the software and program itself. 

What do they stand for? 

Commonly referred to as mission, vision, and values, look for what drives the vendor beyond earning revenue. Do they share your same morals and values? Besides words on a website, do they walk the walk on issues like social justice and environmentalism? Lane says he has seen more customers comment recently on their social injustice stance and Praecipio Consulting's commitment to the 1% pledge initiative. “We’ve always been socially aware and decided to build a company that leaves the world better than we found it. I’m proud of our ideals. As part of our hiring process, we want to make sure employees can get behind our causes and work toward the greater good. When clients recognize our efforts, it fuels our fire to want to do more.”  

Net Promoter Score

Ask vendors what their Net Promoter Score (NPS) is. NPS is a commonly accepted simple score of how likely customers are to refer you to their peers.

  • 0-6 are detractors, meaning they will tell people to stay away from your firm and NOT hire you.
  • 7-8 are passive promoters, meaning they will praise you when asked
  • 9-10 are active promoters, meaning they will go out of their way to tell peers about your good work 

Praecipio Consulting holds a lifetime NPS score of 71 (for context, the industry benchmark for software and tech companies is 28). Our team is proud of this score because they put so much heart into every project and seeing their clients' delight with their work is the ultimate payoff. 

Lane adds that the less quantifiable metric is “Ease to do business with.” Entering an agreement to work with an Atlassian Partner is a big commitment in terms of time. Are they responsive and U.S. based? Are they flexible and adaptable? And do you enjoy working with them? There has to be good chemistry to get the best result. Lane concludes, “Business is hard enough as it is sometimes. Don’t spend your valuable time working with difficult people. Control all the variables you can and make the most informed partner choice you can.”

Topics: blog do-good pledge-1% nps atlassian-solution-partner social-justice
4 min read

How to Have a Stress Free Holiday

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 4, 2020 2:01:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_How to Have a Stress Free Holiday Vacation (1)

In just a few weeks, the holidays will be here. Your partner may be already making needed plans to enjoy the much-needed downtime at home. But inside, you may have an uneasy feeling about work projects. Can you afford to take off and not fall woefully behind? Will important software-based projects stall? Or worse, crash and burn?

If the thought of taking PTO comes with mixed feelings, this article is for you. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we’re business process experts. Every day we work with executives from the world’s most respected companies. We surveyed our partners to learn their advice on how you can take time off to recharge your batteries and have your team keep projects moving at the same time. 

Christian_LaneChristian Lane, our CEO, begins the conversation. “I love taking time off. It’s essential for my well being, and we require everyone in the company to do the same. It’s a non-negotiable. But when we do have key team members out, we have set expectations.”

 

 

Announce your plans and block off your schedule

Let your coworkers know not to schedule anything for you during this time, and be aware of these dates when you are discussing project deliverables. 

Bust your tail for 3 weeks prior

Put in extra hours if you have to, but I prefer to better use the time already allocated for work. Staying focused and being productive now will help you have peace of mind later. 

Empower your #2

For executives in senior management, there may be time-sensitive decisions that need to be made in your absence. It’s important to have a second-in-command that has full authority to make most decisions while you are gone. Have a meeting with this person about the parameters of this responsibility and make sure the other players on your team are aware of who you have delegated to. In addition to leaving decision authority in capable hands, you’ll likely see this person respond well and appreciate the trust. Understand that mistakes may happen, but it’s also a learning opportunity. 

Joseph Lane, Atlassian automation expert and one of our partners at Praecipio Consulting, takes a more tactile approach. He stresses that in the Agile mindset, effective managers must use the right tools that are purpose-built and customizable to keep critical business functions working effectively. If any project relies on any one person for completion, this potential single point of failure is problematic for the organization and stressful for the employee. When this key person needs rest and relaxation, business stops, and that’s expensive. 

joseph_lane selfieMore specifically, Lane is referring to the Atlassian suite of products: Jira, Confluence, Trello, and others. When used to their fullest potential, team members can work independently if needed and collaborate following a quality assurance process the company developed. Users and managers can almost instantly view the progress on a project and comment. Lane recommends having a clear system for accountability and escalation when challenges arise. If this is clearly defined before a manager goes on vacation, team members can bring in more people, access more resources, or find vendor partners to solve problems. Failure to have these processes in place means that projects could stall and teams lose momentum. Lane summarizes, “Be more process-oriented than person dependent.” 

Christian Lane encourages everyone on software teams to develop a mindset for responsibility. That means if you find a problem, you own it. See it through to a solution. He loves the idea of stress-testing your systems by creating fires. “It keeps people on their toes,” he says. An example might be inserting a snippet of code that wreaks havoc. Engineers must backtrack and see where it was introduced. Also known as chaos engineering, it’s the practice of experimenting on a software system in production to build confidence in the system's capability to withstand turbulent and unexpected conditions.

Still, totally unplugging, although the healthiest option, isn’t always possible. Lane tells a story of when he was conflicted about taking his laptop on an overseas vacation. “On one hand, if I took it, I knew I couldn’t help myself and work. On the other hand, if there was a legitimate emergency and I needed to log in, I wouldn’t be able to.” 

In the end, he decided to travel with his computer and stay disciplined to only look at his Atlassian enabled dashboard when he logs in. If he saw all green lights, he would close the laptop after just 5 minutes or so per day. 

In the end, great leaders are measured by how well the business continues without you. As leaders, our job is about driving continuous improvement. When you take off time, operations may not be improving and optimizing, but they should still continue. 

A recap for a stress-free holiday:

  • Announce your plans, block off your schedule
  • Bust your tail for 3 weeks prior
  • Empower your #2
  • Use the right Atlassian tools 
  • Have process and systems for escalation in place
  • Develop a mindset of responsibility
  • Stress-test your systems

 

Topics: blog holiday atlassian-solution-partner work-life-balance
1 min read

Praecipio Consulting joins the Aha! Partner Program

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 9, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Aha!

We’re excited to announce that Praecipio Consulting has been selected to join the Aha! Partner Program as an inaugural partner. Recognized as the world’s #1 roadmap software, Aha! serves over 5,000 companies and 400,000 users. The Aha! Partner Program provides customers with access to a small and highly specialized group of certified partners that includes Praecipio Consulting. As a partner, Praecipio Consulting offers a wide range of product management and development services to extend the power of Aha! products.

Partnering with an innovation thought leader and one of the most respected SaaS companies will enable Praecipio Consulting to expand our reach and build on our current portfolio of cutting-edge technology solutions. Ultimately, our partnership with Aha! will allow us to better serve our clients  and advance their businesses. As one of the first partners, we benefit from the opportunity to deliver new services with close support and collaboration from the Aha! team. 

“We are honored to join the Aha! Partner Program as an inaugural member. Our diverse clients have varying sets of requirements, but common to them all is the need for a world-class product management solution. Aha! is a leader in this space and is a welcome addition to our portfolio of  technology solutions,” says Praecipio Consulting Founder & CEO, Christian Lane. 

"We are thrilled that Praecipio Consulting has joined our partner program to help customers innovate even faster and build products that customers really love. They are recognized experts in helping organizations achieve their digital transformation — by leveraging robust technologies and process frameworks like Agile, ITSM, DevOps, and ESM. We look forward to working closely together." — Brian de Haaff, Aha! co-founder and CEO. 

Praecipio Consulting also looks forward to what this partnership will bring as we continue pushing boundaries in the digital space with Aha!

Topics: technology technology-partners aha
3 min read

Enterprise Service Management Blog Series (Part 2): Three Key Benefits of ESM

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 5, 2020 4:48:47 PM

2020 Blogposts_What is Enterprise Service Management-2

If one system can do with relative ease what it used to take multiple systems to do, it makes sense to use that one system, right? Following up on our first blog post of this series, we continue to explore the benefits that ESM brings to an organization. 

Historically, the toughest part of this statement had been that one system could not do what multiple systems could, resulting in a need to keep those multiple systems in place. However, software has advanced to the point where this is not the case anymore. As an example, Jira Software was originally developed for software development teams to track bugs and was not feasible for an HR or Legal team to use. Today, its flexible workflows, security controls, ease of visibility, and several other characteristics have allowed all teams within the organization to use Jira. This has given way to the rise of Enterprise Service Management (ESM) as teams realize that they can simplify their software landscape and reduce the number of systems in play.

Consider three specific benefits of replacing multiple systems with one:

  1. Eliminate clunky handoffs. The toughest part of the process to understand and improve the handoff from one system to another. In addition to evolving teams, the work itself tends to change physical form, from an Excel spreadsheet to a Jira issue to a Salesforce ticket and so on. This creates unnecessary steps in the process and requires extra time to convert and understand the work. This behavior is not the result of intelligent design, but rather a factor of history and the way things evolved. Condensing to one system helps eliminate these physical shifts, resulting in cleaner handoffs and reduced process time.
  2. Include a rich history. When an item moves from one system to another, its history can get lost. A classic example is when a developer has a work item without the original business requirements or design thoughts from upstream teams. Cutting down to one system provides the team with the ability to receive the entire history of the work item. This rich history provides valuable context, eliminates confusion, reduces process time by decreasing the time spent understanding the problem, and decreases the possibility of rework due to misunderstood context. 
  3. Reduce Costs. One license paid to one vendor generates economies of scale and minimizes costs related to using multiple licenses. It typically increases bargaining power with the vendor and decreases cost per seat. Additionally, maintenance and training costs both decrease. If an employee works in one system, compared to several, that translates to only one training session versus multiple sessions. Better yet, keeping the training budget the same and committing to several training sessions on one system will further increase people’s proficiency in that system, boosting their productivity and performance. Maintenance then becomes easier as the IT team only has one system to monitor and keep running. Similar to training, when you invest time into only one system, it encourages deeper learning within the team and drives results in better support of the system, further minimizing costs due to less downtime and incident recovery time.  

Not to mention, using one system as opposed to several brings additional benefits of improved communication and data insights. Understanding the workflow and developing patterns is much easier in one system than it is when work transfers through several systems. Furthermore, when teammates only have one system to check instead of several, they are more likely to communicate faster and better understand problems. 

Finally, a benefit not to overlook is the fact that employees like working within a single system. In our experience, employees enjoy seeing work flow through to different teams and appreciate the ease of using a single, connected, and integrated system. Furthermore, with one system to monitor, teammates have improved visibility of work coming up the pipeline and can follow the progression of the work they’ve completed. This leads to a better understanding of upcoming work, as well as a greater sense of accomplishment when they can see their work completed. 

In the next of this series on the topic, we will explore the ROI of ESM based on our experience with a client, demonstrating how implementing ESM best practices can save you money while improving your processes.  

Topics: blog enterprise process-improvement service-management cost-effective
4 min read

Enterprise Service Management Blog Series (Part 1): Why ESM Is Hardly A New Concept

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 22, 2020 12:45:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_What is Enterprise Service Management

Michael Porter, a former Harvard professor, is one of the founding fathers of business strategy. He lent credence to the field by developing several ideas, frameworks, and theories around strategy that have been utilized, debated, and taught for four decades now. You may be familiar with his 5 Forces model, which is used to analyze the competitive landscape of a given industry, or his course titled “Competition and Strategy”, a requirement for all first-year Harvard MBAs. Though his ideas and theories are certainly not perfect and have evolved over the years, they laid the groundwork for modern businesses to think about their strategy, their position in the market, and their ability to move forward.

And when you think about it, it’s weird that some consider Enterprise Service Management to be a new business process management trend. Let me explain. 

In 1985, Porter co-authored an article with Victor E. Millar in the Harvard Business Review titled “How Information Gives You Competitive Advantage”. In it, he laid out a central argument that said with the explosion of computer usage, companies would have access to a ton of information, flowing freely through the organization, that would allow managers to make more informed decisions faster. This, Porter argued, would fundamentally change how business was done and provide new ways for companies to stay ahead of their competitors. 

Consider this excerpt from Porter’s article:

“The value a company creates is measured by the amount that buyers are willing to pay for a product or service. A business is profitable if the value it creates exceeds the cost of performing the value activities. To gain competitive advantage over its rivals, a company must either perform these activities at a lower cost or perform them in a way that leads to differentiation and a premium price (more value).”

In other words, to gain an advantage over competitors, companies must perform their value activities at a lower cost or in a way that adds more value. Porter foresaw the drastic increase of information that would be available to businesses with the shepherding of the digital era. He logically concluded that such information, if used and communicated correctly, could be advantageous to managers looking to make decisions around the value-added activities in which their business engages.

The prediction of a sharp increase in the amount of information has certainly come true. In the era of big data, companies gather, store, process, and use more data than ever before. The problem is that typically this information is siloed, only about one particular subject, or only accessible and understandable to a few highly-skilled workers. This is the problem that enterprise service management will solve to bring Porter’s 35-year-old vision to fruition once and for all.

Enterprise Service Management (ESM) holds that the (mostly digital) processes that have been championed and used to gain efficiencies by IT teams for so long apply to the business as a whole, as seen by the adoption of similar processes and technologies in departments like HR, Facilities, and Procurement. ESM suggests that an organization should have a tool, which typically takes the form of a piece of software, that allows information to flow easily, quickly, and freely through the organization (sound familiar?). At Praecipio Consulting we have grown fond of referring to this as an operating system for business - one central piece of software that is used nearly ubiquitously in the organization, one that allows work to flow from division to division, team to team, teammate to teammate, with no loss of information and an attached, rich history.

Consider the typical lifecycle of the development of a new offering by a business - whether that be a software feature, physical product, or a new service offering. Marketing will research the market and determine where gains can be made. They will pass intel along to Product, which will develop these insights into a new product idea. The Product team will work with Development to create requirements, Dev will build it, QA will test it, and then it will be released to the market. Along the way, Marketing will generate buzz, Sales will sell, Legal will validate legality, HR will manage employees working on the offering, so on and so forth. In short - it takes a village, a coordinated effort among teams from different parts of the organization to deliver the new offering to market. 

The logic of a single system which transmits work in this lifecycle with no loss of info and rich history is apparent, as is the cost savings garnered from a single license paid to a single vendor, maintenance and training for one system instead of several, and usage of an efficient process unmarred by clunky handoffs to other systems.

To achieve this business process nirvana, we have long advocated for the usage of Atlassian’s Jira, Jira Service Management, and Confluence products. Similar to Apple, Atlassian set out to develop products that work together seamlessly, but unlike Apple, Atlassian has retained that characteristic and further developed it to the point that these three products work together in harmony. The malleable and flexible nature of these products has helped them evolve from those used exclusively by software development teams for bug tracking to those used by IT, HR, Legal, Marketing, Customer Service, and several other business units. The ability of these products to merge these disparate units within a business shows an exciting step forward and potentially a culmination in Porter’s vision of a connected and integrated business.

In the next articles that will form part of this ESM blog series, we will further explore the logic and numbers behind enterprise service management, and why and how it can help your company. 

Topics: blog best-practices enterprise service-management atlassian-products jira-service-management frameworks
2 min read

Team Coleson Golf Tournament Fundraiser for JDRF Austin

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 4, 2019 2:42:08 PM

Praecipio Consulting has been an active member of Pledge 1%, the movement to build corporate philanthropy, since 2015. The mission-driven non-profit asks members to pledge 1% of equity, 1% of time, and 1% of profits to a variety of charitable causes. Praecipio Consulting has fostered on-going relationships with the Colorado River AllianceDam that CancerTreeFolks, and the Coastal Conservation Association, to name a few, since becoming involved with the Pledge 1% initiative.

Our most recent “Do good in the world” event was participating in the Team Coleson Golf Tournament fundraiser, where the proceeds went to benefit JDRF Austin, an organization that champions for millions of adults and children affected by type 1 diabetes (T1D). Praecipio Consulting identified with JDRF because of their commitment “... to funding research that improves life for people at all ages and stages of the disease.”

On September 28, 2019 at Avery Ranch, Praecipio Consulting’s team members Esme Huber and David Gorder played their hearts out, knowing that the competition was all in good fun, but stakes were high for those suffering from the disease. Each dollar raised would go towards critical research to identify everything from how to have a higher quality of life (even while being afflicted by T1D), to eradicating the disease entirely. Team Coleson’s campaign has raised to date $52,700 for JDRF Austin.

We are deeply humbled that our staff would volunteer their personal time to help families cope with the autoimmune disease that affects millions of Americans—both young and old. JDRF works tirelessly to find preventions and better treatments through critical research, in order to—hopefully, one day—find a cure for type 1 diabetes. If you would like to help families affected by type 1 diabetes, you can visit JDRF’s website to make a donation

Topics: do-good
2 min read

How to Solve Too Many Jira Email Notifications

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 20, 2019 8:03:00 PM

“Jira sends too many emails.”

When I tell people I consult on the Atlassian suite, this is usually one of their first comments. I’ve worked with many clients who set up filters in their inboxes just to reduce the amount of Jira emails they see. 

Getting Jira to send fewer emails is actually surprisingly simple. Here are 3 ways to do it effectively:

How to Create a Jira Notification Scheme

If you’re receiving too many emails from Jira, the first place to look is the notification scheme. Notification schemes tell Jira when to send a notification and to which recipient. For example, an effective best practice is to send an email to the Assignee when an issue is created. A good Jira environment, except in rare cases, will only alert users who are directly involved in the issue, such as the Assignee, Watchers, and the Reporter. 

To check your notification scheme, go to Project Settings, and then to Notifications. Make sure to note if the scheme is being used by any other projects so you don’t accidentally change any of that project’s settings.

Check if Add-ons are Sending Emails 

Automation for Jira (one of my all-time favorite Jira add-ons), Enterprise Mail Handler for Jira, or JEMH as it’s commonly known, as well as a host of other add-ons in the Atlassian ecosystem can be configured to send emails. This is a commonly used practice to get highly specific emails to a targeted audience. Visit the Add-ons (also known as Apps in some later versions) portion of the Jira Administration page and check out the configuration of these add-ons. You may find that there are outdated, redundant, or unnecessary rules resulting in extra emails.

A good way to recognize an email from an add-on is that it will typically not look like a regular Jira email. It may have different formatting, include different pieces of information, or have a note describing which add-on sent it.

Batch your Email Notifications

Starting in the Jira 8 version, Jira notifications can be batched. Batching email notifications means that changes within the same ten minute period will trigger a single email. Therefore, if a user updates an issue field, then adds a comment, then adds an attachment to the same issue within a ten minute time frame, only one Jira notification email will be sent, instead of three. You can read more about this behavior on the Atlassian Support confluence.

No Need to Stop Emails from Jira

Atlassian Jira can easily be an important application that is part of your daily workflow. Don’t let Jira take over your inbox - With these simple steps, you can take control of your Jira email notifications (and your sanity). 

Interested in more Jira tips? Check out our blog “Guide to Import Linked Issues into Jira from CSV”.

Topics: jira blog best-practices how-to email-notifications
3 min read

Agile Coach vs Agile Consultant: The Difference

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 9, 2019 12:17:00 PM

Agile has become quite the buzz word within the software development community. Some of the most successful software companies are known for how Agile they are and how often they can release code in production. However, before becoming Agile in software development, these companies first embraced and implemented the Agile framework across the entire organization–not just with the technology team, but with HR, Finance, Biz Dev, Legal, etc. And this isn't something that they accomplished overnight. 

Becoming an Agile organization, which can take a minimum of six months to achieve, involves undergoing a massive organizational transformation – redesigning everything, from strategy, processes, teams, governance, and work culture. This is why many companies decide to hire experts when they are implementing this methodology. Not only is it an enormous undertaking, but being Agile is instrumental for the future success, sustainable growth, and continuous improvement of an organization in an increasingly complex marketplace. 

So, when you are ready to bring in the right help for successfully achieving and sustaining Agile within your organization, you may be wondering if you should hire an Agile Coach or Agile Consultant. Before understanding the differences between Agile Coaching vs. Agile Consulting, you should ask yourself:

  1. Is our organization already Agile or are we trying to be?

  2. How mature is our team?

  3. What are our pain points?

  4. At the end of this engagement, what does success look like?

Now, let's shed some light on the differences between an Agile Coach and an Agile Consultant:

Agile Coach - A Subject Matter Expert

An Agile Coach plays a similar role to the one a teacher plays in school. They studied Agile methodologies and have been trained on how to teach those methodologies to others. Agile Coaches help train all teams within an organization and manages the implementation process in order to carry out a solid transformation. The coach works closely with each team and walks them through the steps of fully embracing and adopting the Agile framework. Instead of actually doing the work for the team, Agile Coaches equip their students with proper training, education, guidance, and resources so that they can successfully implement and sustain the Agile methodology. Working with Agile Coaches is typically a longer engagement. 

Some of the most common reasons for hiring an Agile Coach are:

  1. Organization is new to Agile methodologies and needs guidance (i.e. companies undergoing Agile transformations)

  2. Scaling Agile, working across all teams or at the enterprise level

  3. Improving performance, visibility, and predictability (portfolio planning)

Agile Consultant - A Business Consultant 

An Agile Consultant, on the other hand, is a practitioner. As the word practitioner suggests, he or she puts the Agile framework into practice by using their extensive experience with Agile to navigate roadblocks and quickly resolve any problems that are preventing the organization from achieving their desired results. Unlike the Agile Coach who provides guidance, the Consultant actually does the necessary analysis and problem-solving to put your organization back on track for success before handing the reigns back over to your teams. Essentially, an Agile Consultant provides a more short-term solution.

The most common reasons for hiring an Agile Consultant are:

  1. Problem-solving: You realize the problem is beyond your teams' capabilities and you need a specialist.

  2. Your organization is not seeing the effective outcomes associated with the Agile methodology. 

  3. You want advice on what issues need to be resolved and how to quickly tackle them.

Difference Between Coach and Consultant

Now that you understand the key differences between an Agile Coach compared to an Agile Consultant, you are one step closer to hiring the right expert for your organization and even that much closer to accomplishing a sustainable Agile framework. Even though a Coach and a Consultant play different roles, they are both equally essential in promoting cultural change and overcoming the obstacles that come with successfully embracing, implementing, and practicing the Agile methodology. 

Is your organization undergoing an Agile Transformation? Learn how our approach empowers organizations to achieve a successful Agile transformation in a sustainable and scalable manner, which drives business performance and propels our clients to be disruptive, innovative leaders in their industries.

Topics: blog scaled-agile process digital-transformation agile
3 min read

Our Pledge to Not Give T-shirts at Atlassian Summit 2019

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 21, 2019 11:05:54 AM

As a Gold Sponsor for this year’s Atlassian Summit, we get it - t-shirts are cool. And at past Summits, we’ve given away some awesome t-shirts but this year when you come by Praecipio Consulting's booth, expect to be given something much more meaningful... Something even life-changing.

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Our Pledge

We got to thinking about what we do as a company and what our customers expect of us. As a consulting company leveraging the Atlassian product suite, we deliver the best in-class technology solutions to our clients. Helping companies run their business seamlessly through processes and technology is just one way Praecipio Consulting improves the lives of those around us. We also seek to be caring stewards of the planet and helping those in need. Three years ago, we joined the Pledge 1% Movement, and since then we've donated 1% of our time, equity, and profit to nonprofit organizations. We contributed to great causes, such as volunteering at an orphanage in Nicaraguahonoring veterans, helping out with a tornado disaster relief, raising money for the Flatwater Foundation, and organizing a Colorado River cleanup.

Our Commitment

Giving away t-shirts this year just didn’t cut it, especially when you think about what it takes to make a t-shirt... Did you know that growing the cotton necessary for one t-shirt requires more than 2,700 liters of water? Many resources are needed to manufacture and transport the product. Additionally, caring for a t-shirt leaves no small footprint. Most of us use 40 gallons of water to wash a load of laundry and 5 times more energy to dry a load.

So, this year, Praecipio Consulting is doing something different. In lieu of receiving a t-shirt, Summit attendees that stop by our booth will choose who we (Praecipio Consulting and Workato) will contribute $10 (the cost of a t-shirt). Summit attendees will choose from1 of 4 amazing nonprofit organizations that are making a difference every day: 

Flatwater Foundation is dedicated to providing those diagnosed with cancer, their families, and loved ones access to mental health therapy and family support, including traditional and non-traditional methods of psychological counseling.

TreeFolks has engaged thousands of volunteers to plant more than 2.8 million trees in Central Texas. Planting trees is a powerful means of connecting people with their communities, as they clean the air and water, provide habitat for wildlife, produce fresh fruit for neighbors, and provide shelter.

SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) serves survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence through prevention, advocacy, and comprehensive services for individuals, families, and communities that have been impacted by abuse.

Colorado River Alliance believe that a healthy, flowing river is imperative to the long-term well-being of their communities and state. Their mission is to champion the long-term vitality of the Texas Colorado River through education and engagement.

Our Responsibility

By taking this step to do our part in conserving the environment and fulfilling our corporate responsibility, we do not claim that we'll never print another t-shirt again; we do promise that we'll be judicious when we do. 

We look forward to seeing everyone at Summit, please make sure to stop by our booth 1106 to easily contribute to these causes!

Topics: atlassian-summit community culture do-good pledge-1%
3 min read

Could Testing Be the Missing Link for Effective Agile Transformation?

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 20, 2019 7:03:00 PM

NOTE: The following is a guest post by Tricentis Director of Product, Ryan Yackel.

A modern testing platform is a critical, but often overlooked, element of successful agile transformation. Could QA (Quality Assurance) be the missing puzzle piece in your quest to deliver higher quality software faster?

The pace of software development is accelerating, and technology teams face increasing pressure to adopt agile development and continuous delivery models so that their businesses can more quickly respond to customer demand.

But your first-mover advantage will suffer if you are first to market with mediocre software.

If you fail to deliver high-quality digital experiences at the pace today’s users demand, you risk alienating customers. In the case of defect-ridden software, poor user experience, or a catastrophic bug, you risk losing significant market share and damaging your reputation.

Software Testing

In the rush to beat the competition to market, organizations are transforming software development and delivery processes. But too often, business leaders fail to prioritize QA transformation, and QA teams are stuck using ineffective legacy solutions that were built for outdated waterfall environments. The reality is that as long as your testers are using legacy QA tools, your transformation will remain incomplete.

Legacy QA tools like Micro Focus Quality Center cannot accommodate modern development workflows. (Year over year, Micro Focus Quality Center (HPQC) has been among the least recommended testing tools for agile teams in VersionOne’s State of Agile Report.)

Legacy tools do not integrate with open-source automation tools, which limits testers’ options for accelerating test cycles and makes it impossible to integrate QA into continuous delivery pipelines. This means QA teams lack visibility and are not able to test new code as it is written. Development is further delayed when developers cannot quickly access test results and mitigate issues QA has found. As a result, releases are delayed, and quality inevitably suffers.

When testing occurs at the end of a development sprint, bugs are often embedded in the code, where they are significantly costlier and more time-consuming to correct. As a result, the myth of the QA bottleneck persists. Or worse, the QA process is rushed, and organizations end up with defect-ridden releases that fail to provide the high-quality experiences their customers demand.

Development and QA

If you can integrate quality into agile and DevOps processes, instead of treating it as an afterthought, testing can occur almost simultaneously with development. When a tester finds a bug, he or she can alert a developer to address it right then, instead of after lines of dependent code have been written on top.

With the right approach QA can help speed development by helping developers identify potential defects early. That means that QA is no longer pressured to complete testing quickly as the last step in a sprint. With a truly agile testing approach, QA can become a strategic enabler of business success, rather than a bottleneck.

Integrated Testing

Successful agile organizations have adopted modern test management tools like Tricentis qTest to successfully integrate testing into modern development and delivery processes. Tricentis qTest offers a real-time Jira integration and centralizes test automation management across frameworks and tools – including out-of-the-box integrations and a robust API for test automation management. qTest also offers testers in DevOps environments a single platform for unifying tests that run through continuous integration with other tests.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you accelerate your agile transformation by modernizing testing.

Topics: blog best-practices devops testing digital-transformation agile software-development tricentis
3 min read

5 Reasons to add Atlassian Confluence to Your Mix of Business Tools 

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 11, 2018 2:20:00 PM

Atlassian Confluence is a wiki platform that allows document creation, collaboration, and management. It is a one stop shop for document storage and knowledge sharing. It integrates seamlessly with Jira, has powerful add-ons, and enables knowledge sharing, storing, and managing within teams. Confluence allows teams to create spaces for their area of focus while also giving visibility to content from one team to another in an organized manner.

Remember that really important document your colleague sent you months ago that you thought you didn't need? Or at least you thought you didn't need, until a new team member joins the organization and you're asked to provide that exact document for them to get insight into the work being done. As you navigate through your inbox, it begins to feel a lot like traveling through a vortex of information where that really important document just can't seem to surface. After wasting valuable time searching your inbox, you find that the document is actually stored in another location outside of your email. Confluence can save the day by reducing the wasted time fishing for knowledge based documents.

Here are the most common reasons why Confluence should be added to your mix of Atlassian tools:

Confluence and Jira Software are a meeting of minds

Capturing product requirements is part of a product’s lifecycle. Confluence's product requirements blueprint helps define, scope, and track product or feature requirements. Within the blueprint, teams can collaborate on gathering user stories in a table format specifying the changes needed and any additional notes. Once the table is filled out, the user stories can be highlighted and, with a click of a button, create issues directly in Jira. This allows converting ideas into trackable pieces of work in Jira. Each time the associated Jira issue is updated, teams have a dynamic report into the current state of each user story in their Confluence product requirements page.

A space for your teams to collaborate

As organizations grow, cross-functional teams become more apparent. For example, before development teams make software updates in Atlassian's software development tools, they collaborate on new features with product managers to assess what's feasible from a software development aspect. As these teams work together to meet the same organizational objectives, collaboration becomes the key to ensuring knowledge and ideas are shared.

Add-ons provide extended functionality

Atlassian products are well known for their powerful add-ons that allow for more features and Confluence is no different. Add-ons extend additional features outside of the native functionality of Confluence. If there is a feature you want, there's probably an add-on that provides you with the functionality you need. Add-ons allow you to optimize content inside of Confluence with dynamic reports, diagrams, data forms and much more.

Keep your teams’ process progressing forward

Confluence coordinates and aligns your team as work is being done. Whether you're iterating changes in your code in Bitbucket or deploying code in Bamboo, Confluence gives you a single platform to populate your technical documentation. If a new team member joins your team, they have insight into the work that's being done; reducing friction in knowledge sharing while keeping your team moving forward.

It can make your team smarter

Every team has a unique style of sharing knowledge. Confluence allows you to share knowledge in a variety of formats, helping create a more versatile experience for users consuming the content. Whether you're creating runbooks for technical processes or simply creating a table for a team schedule, Confluence supports the format you wish to create. Additionally, Confluence streamlines knowledge sharing by allowing you to standardize your teams’ documentation process, which reduces the friction in searching and learning for team members.

Confluence gives teams the freedom to store, share and manage knowledge in a single platform. Documents no longer have to live in separate areas, breaking down communication barriers and knowledge sharing among teams. Please contact us to learn more about Atlassian Confluence.

Topics: jira atlassian blog confluence collaboration
2 min read

DevOps + Atlassian = Doing it Right

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 17, 2018 11:00:00 AM

You've probably heard about a lot of the benefits DevOps teams enjoy - more effective investments, less stressful deployments, increased collaboration and visibility, and a healthier, happier, more empowered team.  With such encouraging results, the choice to take on a DevOps approach becomes an easy one. The trickier question, then, is what products can help your team take on that approach?

Fortunately, there are thousands of applications to help get you there.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of applications to help get you there.

We've worked with hundreds of clients across virtually every industry, and we have encountered untold numbers of applications, tools, and solutions along the way. In our experience, the Atlassian stack is a top choice.

We typically see a lot of added value with each team using an Atlassian stack:

Cost-effective

The overall solution is more cost effective. Atlassian prefers to spend money on product development, rather than supporting a gigantic sales team. This enables them to build best-in-class products while keeping the price tag favorable.

Integrations

Every application in the solution is integrated. Again unlike other companies, Atlassian produces products across the entire DevOps infinity loop, which results in a number of standalone products that integrate extremely well. It's kind of like the days before Apple became a dongle company when all of their products just worked together.

Customizable

Teams can customize the products to meet their needs. Not all teams want to work the same way. Differences as large as Scrum vs. Kanban or as small as where to record Acceptance Criteria can be easily managed.

Numerous applications

The Atlassian marketplace has over 1,700 different add-ons, meaning there are options to extend into nearly any other existing application in the DevOps space. If that somehow doesn't cut it, there's also middleware like Workato to help bring systems together.

Atlassian prefers to focus on building products that people love, and we've seen and confirmed for a dozen years that teams love using the products. And after all, isn't empowering teams what DevOps is all about? 

Topics: atlassian blog devops process-consulting tools consulting-services atlassian-products
2 min read

Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Time Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 27, 2018 11:00:00 AM

In an age where there’s a tool for every toil, we’re fortunate at Praecipio Consulting to be able to work with the best tools available. As an Executive Assistant who survives on staying organized, ahead of the game, and juggling with an exceptional attitude is just part of the day-to-day. If you hear “How do you do it?” you are not alone. How do I do it? The right tools.

Finding tools with exhaustive capabilities, that are simple enough a non-technical user to navigate, isn't an easy task. So here are my top three tools that help me find the most success in my day-to-day.

Calendars 

I live, eat, sleep, and breathe with my calendar - ok not that extreme. But, our team does use Google calendar, and from your first day, the expectation is that it’s up-to-date and detailed enough that others will have the information needed in order to make scheduling meetings with you a breeze. Establishing this as a best practice will help teams maintain prioritization, eliminate duplicity, and create a more cohesive dynamic.

Task Management 

Jira serves as our task management tool. I will either assign tasks to myself and/or manage tasks for other projects or teams. Jira is an Atlassian workflow management tool that helps teams plan, track, and manage tasks, tasks within larger tasks, and prioritize projects while eliminating the common silos and blockers associated with project management.

Communication

Team chat and collaboration tools are a necessity for productive teams and there are a couple of good options out there to choose from. Our team currently uses Stride, an Atlassian chat platform that facilitates a more communicative environment; however, we will be moving to Slack soon. Stride helps our entire (local and remote) team stay connected, engaged, and informed. Several of our team members are constantly on the road traveling to visit clients, so having a communications tool is very important.

Ultimately, no one wants to drop the ball, fall behind, or be so overwhelmed they have a case of the Mondays every day. So use the tools you have, and make sure you are maximizing the tool's capabilities. If you aren't sure that you have the right tools to be successful, pioneer the charge for change and introduce one of the tools I mentioned. Who knows, it just might work! We all want to get the job done and sometimes the path to completion can be challenging, so why not make that path smoother for the next person or the next trip? Pick a tool, put it in place, and practice good process.

Topics: blog
8 min read

Praecipio Labs: Control Systems with Neural Networks

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 15, 2018 11:00:00 AM

What, why?

My favorite class in college was Neural networks for non-linear control systems which was way out of my league but I wanted it, so I powered through. I majored in mechanical engineering and studied computer science and electrical engineering because of a passion for robotics. This class blew my mind. Life being what it is, I went off to build a career which took me away from machine learning until recently. Things have come a long way in the intervening years and I wanted to recreate the approach we used in this class.

The animations that we created were what most captured my imagination because they would show the controller learning and improving.

 

information

 

The animations that we created were what most captured my imagination because they would show the controller learning and improving.

 

My old code is unreadable. Between my decade and a half of improved coding style, and the early NN libraries that we used, I didn't glean much what code I still have. I spent a while trying to untangle that mess before just doing it from memory and filling in the gaps with frog DNA.

The experiment

I created a simple universe in which a rocket that can only move along the Y-axis. It is given the task of moving from its current position to a goal state along a "minimum jerk based trajectory." The rocket has a single engine that can fire downward. Since it has a mass of 1000kg it needs to produce a thrust of 9800N to hover (I think, it has been a while). Anything less than that and the rocket will lose altitude, anything more and it will gain altitude.

This required some serious way back machining to build the physics engine which tracks the current position, velocity, and acceleration of the rocket for a given timestep. Acceleration is calculated and velocity, and position are integrated from there.

def updateState(self):
        self.time += timeStep
        #calculate the current acceleration based on thrust  assuming it is instantaneously applied
        self.accelerationY = (self.thrust/self.mass) + gravity
        #calculate the speed based on acceleration assuming it has instantaneously changes and is constant
        # (we could += here but it makes the physics harder to follow)
        self.speedY = 2*self.accelerationY*timeStep + self.speedY
        #calculate the change in height given our current state assuming everything is constant over the time step
        ##NOTE: oddly self.accelerationY**timeStep creates an imaginary number
        newY = self.accelerationY*timeStep*timeStep + self.speedY*timeStep + self.y
        #the ground is 0
        if newY >=0:
            self.y = newY
        else:
            self.y = 0
            self.speedY = 0


While this approach requires iterating over time, this update method is an easy way to measure the effect of changing the thrust over the timeSteps. Any thrust profile can be plugged in to see what the rocket would do. For example, one could leave the thruster off of 2s and then apply 10,000N of thrust. In that scenario, the rocket would free fall for 2s and then continue to fall before overcoming gravity and gaining altitude.

The code below was used to allow the trained neural network controller to fly the rocket and try to achieve its goal. Given the current state (time to goal, position, distance to goal) the network outputs a thrust to apply for the next time step. Because everything in the neural network is normalized we have to scale the output via hugeify(). My rocket is called dragon too.

thrust_normal = dragon.controller.predict( state )
dragon.thrust = hugeify(float(thrust_normal), thrust_min, thrust_max )
dragon.updateState()
state = dragon.getState()

 

Results

Naturally, I tuned all of the hyperparameters for the best results. I learned a bit about why this network performs well with those parameters. I again found that it took a surprisingly few number of neurons to achieve the goal, and more neurons generally didn't improve things. Increasing the batch size improved the quality of the output (I assume because the network could see more of the time series in each training epoch). The dramatic change in learning takes places around 19 epochs, and beyond 100 epochs there is no real improvement in learning (presumably overfitting at this point).

The path is simple. Starting at a height of 15m, moving at 0 m/s, fly up to 50m over the course of 45s. The minimum jerk trajectory to achieve that goal looks like this

image2018-8-2_16-18-2

and after 100 epochs of training the neural network produced this trajectory like this

image2018-8-2_16-20-8

What I trained on is the thrust for a given state (time to goal, position, distance to goal) and the thrust curve doesn't look as nice (by picking and choosing it can look better). The left is my calculated minimum jerk trajectory, the right is the output of the neural controller.

image2018-8-2_16-23-54

image2018-8-2_16-24-13

 

 

 

 

Here is an overly simplified animation of the resultant trajectories over a number of training epochs. Each path briefly flashes to the screen before the animation plays. Each marker remains at its final position so you can see how each run compares.

 

 

If you are curious, here is the output from the network after 100 epochs. The code is here. This was our approach in the aforementioned class. Generate tons of positional data and then animate it rather than have the simulation and controller working together in real time. I plan to move to a framework like OpenAI's Gym for future work.

 

Improvements

For the animation, I wanted to use an actual rocket looking figure, and scale fire coming out of the nozzle proportional to the magnitude of thrust but will tackle better animation next time.

I really wanted to approach this problem with a recurrent neural network since it is a time series problem as presented. I was unable to figure that out in the time I had for this effort but will revisit it. I think an approach like a text generator would work but need to noodle through some of the challenges unique to this problem.

Finally, I was happy to have a network that output a thrust rather than something like an acceleration or displacement but how I got there was weak. Generating training data requires solving for the physics to determine the "correct" thrust and this is flawed in a few ways:

  • if we can perfectly model the system we don't need a NN controller to try to learn the dynamics
  • this system cannot handle the dynamics changing (e.g. mass changing from burning fuel) or a hundred geese landing on the rockets nose

Another area of interest is replacing the trajectory generator with yet another neural network. My current thinking is that I can use a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to train a generator on the trajectory creation skill and feed in actual minimum jerk trajectories to the discriminator. There are still problems with this approach but it will be worth the exercise if only to build a successful GAN.

Anyway, another fun toy project completed.

Topics: blog
3 min read

The Five Things You Should be Automating For More Effective Incident Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 14, 2018 11:00:00 AM

 

Guest blog post by Erin Jones, Partner Manager, xMatters

Access your monitoring platform and find the alert. Export the data report. Create an issue in Jira, then attach the data report. Search assignees and add all necessary parties to the ticket. Spin up a chat room for the incident to facilitate swarming. Log into your StatusPage and let your users know about the incident, at each stage, as you can now finally get around to resolving it.

These are all the things Incident Managers may find themselves doing when a major issue or outage occurs - and all of these put together increase the time to when your teams can actually begin working on fixing the issue. Not to mention, if this incident occurs in the middle of the night - imagine repeating all these steps, under stress, and at 2 a.m.

When the average cost of downtime is $300,000 per hour, doing all these steps manually can easily add six figures to this total - so, why aren’t you leveraging proactive notifications to decrease this time?

We’ve assembled a simple checklist of the top proactive measures you should be automating to decrease time to report and engage for a faster time to incident resolution.

  1. Create a Jira Issue

With the push of a button from the xMatters notification, you can create a Jira issue in your team’s project, including issue type (as you’ve customized it for your use case) and proper assignee. Plus, the data from the incident alert in your monitoring tool (ex. Splunk, Dynatrace, AppDynamics) will automatically be added to the issue - so your assignee and watchers have all the information they need to get started on the issue 

2.              Start a Chat  Room

Swarming is one of the most effective ways to get your team collaborating on incident resolution in real time. From xMatters, you can also push a button to start a chat room in HipChat, Stride, and/or Slack. Then, select from your on-call schedule to pull in the necessary people. And just like with the Jira automation, your monitoring alert data appears in the chat room without any additional work.

3.              Spin up a Conference Bridge

            Need to get the right people on the phone? You guessed it - another button click and you’ve got a Conference Bridge with the right people invited to join. No more logging into your call system, setting up a number, and texting/ emailing folks to share this info. Now, you have more time to get to what matters. 

4.              Notify Stakeholders

At this point, you have stakeholders needing updates - but you probably don’t have the time to stop working and craft an email with all the information. By customizing your Comm Plan[DG3]  in xMatters, all this can be automated too. Simply set up who needs to know what and when (i.e. “Email this list of people only for a P1”) and you have one less thing pulling you away from resolving your incident. 

5.              Post to StatusPage

            Outside of your internal teams, you also have other important stakeholders: your customers. To keep them up to date on the issue and your steps to resolve, click the StatusPage button in xMatters to automatically push updates. Not only does this let your clients know what’s going on (without added time away from incident resolving), but it also significantly decreases the number of new tickets you’ll get from clients who don’t know you’re aware of (and working on fixing) the problem.

Automating any of the five above steps drastically reduces your mean time to resolve - and with xMatters, you can easily accomplish all five. Optimizing your Incident Management process saves your company money and keeps your teams, stakeholders, and clients happy. Plus, it makes those 2 a.m. outages a lot less stressful. 

Ready to implement these 5 steps to faster MTTR?

Contact Praecipio Consulting about licensing and implementing xMatters.

 

Topics: blog itsm
2 min read

Page Results Rankings in Confluence

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 13, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Search engines have the ability to house a plethora of information that helps users find the answers they're looking for. As more information gets pumped into a search engine or knowledge base, the importance of finding what's relevant becomes increasingly important.

Search results and ranking go beyond search engines like Google. Confluence is a wiki tool used for team collaboration in a variety of environments. Businesses utilize Confluence as their knowledge base, making it their go-to documentation and collaboration toolFinding a page with the solution that fits your search criteria in Confluence as quickly as possible reduces the time spent on searching, and increases the time spent doing the task at hand. 

It's important to note that all unrestricted Confluence pages have the same chance to appear in search results. However, there are a few approaches to weighing how Confluence pages are ranked. 

Page popularity

Pages with similar content will rank according to the number of incoming links to the page. The more pages linked to a particular page will tell Confluence that the content on that page is of high importance, resulting in a higher rank for that page. 

Frequency of search term in page title and content

Confluence calculates how many times a search term appears in page titles and content. This is especially true for page titles. Matching terms in page titles based on a search criteria are given the highest priority. For example, if you search "insert example" in the quick navigation search bar, Confluence will return pages with "insert example" in the title as the highest search results. 

Page Weighting

For each piece of content, Confluence applies weights based on:

  • Content type - such as user profile, blog post, etc.
  • The type of field in which the search term was found - such as name, content body, or title
  • Age of the page returned

User profiles are a content type that has the heaviest weight, among all types of content. This results in a higher rank for all user profiles within a Confluence instance. Additionally, newer pages have slightly more weight than older pages. This doesn't confirm whether the page will appear first, rather it will optimize the page to potentially rank higher among other pages.

Having a better understanding of how these variables factor into how Confluence searches items can help you optimize content items and leverage the platform more effectively. 

Topics: blog confluence
3 min read

Metrics for ITSM in Jira Service Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 13, 2018 11:00:00 AM

There's a common saying that you can't manage what you can't (or don't) measure. Often attributed to Peter Drucker, the godfather of Business Management, the thought here is one must clearly define success criteria, establish a benchmark, and track variance in order to realize improvement and/or identify problems. A quick Google search returns articles both lauding and contesting this maxim. In a Forbes article from 2014, Liz Ryan writes, "That's BS... the vast majority of important things we manage at work aren't measurable, from the quality of our new hires to the confidence we instill in a fledgling manager." She continues to explain that by focusing too much on the numbers, companies often miss out on the big picture. 

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

While it's true there are intangibles in business and IT that are difficult to measure, there are several clearly defined metrics that can be reported on easily in Jira Service Desk. Personally, I'm a fan of measurement. I believe the acts of defining goals, baselines, and tracking variance bring about a shift in psychology that naturally increases the probability of achieving successful outcomes. Listed below are three important IT Service Management (ITSM) Service Level Agreements (SLA) and some links to Atlassian articles explaining how to implement them using Jira Service Desk.

MTTR: Mean Time to Resolution 

The R can stand for Resolution, Restore or Recovery. Whatever the translation, this metric generally measures the cycle time of unresolved issues. This can be measured as an SLA in Jira Service Desk, and reported on in a number of different ways.

Here's an article from Atlassian on how to do this: How to calculate Average Time to Resolution SLA for Service Desk

FCR: First Call Resolution

Also called First Contact Resolution, FCR measures the percentage of issues where the customer's needs are fully addressed within the first call or first contact with support. FCR is closely related to other metrics:

  • FCR and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction): Customers tend to be more satisfied when their issues are resolved within their initial call to support. It makes sense - they don't have to wait and check their email or the portal regularly to see issue updates. They just call support and their issue is resolved as a result.

  • FCR and CPT (Cost per Ticket): When FCR goes up, Cost per Ticket goes down. One of the key reasons for this correlation is that you have the customer on the phone or in the chat session. Capitalize on the opportunity of synchronous communication with the customer. In many cases, the support agent will need more information or will ask the customer to perform troubleshooting steps in order to resolve the issue. Having the customer available shortens the amount of time the agent dedicates to the ticket, lowering the MTTR as well as CPT.

For more information on the importance of FCR, see the Atlassian blog article: Why first-call resolution (FCR) matters.

CSAT: Customer Satisfaction

At the end of the day, it's all about customer satisfaction. Without customers, there would be no services to manage. Jira Service Desk has a built-in CSAT collection functionality that is easy to set up and extremely effective. Jira will send out a questionnaire on issue resolution to collect a score and record comments from the customer. 

Atlassian shares more about Collecting customer satisfaction (CSAT) feedback.

TL;DR

  • Metrics are important and they're here to stay.
  • Keep in mind, however, that they're only a proxy to the real thing. The better you define the success criteria, the goals, and the measurement logic - the closer you'll get to measuring the real thing.
  • The three metrics above are extremely important and there are links to how to set them up in Jira Service Desk
Topics: jira blog best-practices tips itsm
3 min read

The Intranet is Dead! | Praecipio Consulting

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 27, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Over the past few years, we have worked with a variety of organizations to help design and build intranets. The majority of these organizations were moving away from sites that were built on Microsoft’s SharePoint stack, and were looking for custom designs to better meet business needs. From creating intranets from scratch to simply offering a new look and feel, we have seen it all, and we know what works well and what doesn't. And we have noticed commonalities between organizations looking for an intranet solution. Organizations often share the same goals and challenges, and all can agree that the idea of building an intranet can seem daunting. 

Most organizations have common goals that include:

  • Improved collaboration between teams/departments

  • Improved searching for resources within the organization

  • A one-stop-shop for employees to consume relevant company information and applications

  • Corporate identity 

  • A system that's easy to update and maintain

These organizations also have common challenges:

  • Complicated customizations 

  • The need to find experts that work with development after the instance has been running

  • Integration with other tools 

  • Mobile access 

Yes, there is a solution. No, the Intranet is not dead. It is evolving.

Instead of the intranet serving as just a database, it can serve as a social and collaborative platform with the ability to archive information and documents. Having a knowledge base as an intranet can help organize documents and information in a hierarchical structure.

Intranet solutions based on Atlassian's Confluence can help users and employees locate and view information faster and use applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities – allowing businesses to publish information for their employees on a need-to-know basis and allow restricted access that is dependent on groups. An intranet is an efficient way to provide easy access to all authorized users within the organization, even on a global scale.

While Confluence can serve as an intranet and knowledge base for organizations, it falls short in meeting the 'Intranet 1.0' and 'Intranet 2.0' requirements, nor does it try to. Luckily, there is a solution. Linchpin, a fully personalized collaboration hub, focuses on modern team collaboration (Intranet 2.0) as well as the classic intranet (Intranet 1.0), and is based on Atlassian's Confluence.

The Linchpin suite adds modern intranet features at a lower cost on an easy-to-use platform. It was designed for large companies needing to communicate far and wide. Linchpin allows management the ability to distribute important information top-down with customization options for content dissemination. Linchpin turns Confluence into a modern, collaborative, user-friendly intranet.

Why Linchpin?

  • Integrates top-down communication aspects of large companies ("Intranet 1.0").

  • Reduces complexity through personalization based on language, location, department, etc. 

  • Improves social features by adding microblogging and beefed up profile pages. 

  • Integrates other enterprise applications making it the web cockpit for all things digital. 

  • Builds on a system your people already love and makes it the foundation of your intranet. 

  • Saves you tons of license fees compared to the usual intranet suspects (Sharepoint, JIVE, Salesforce, etc.)

With Linchpin Mobile, organizations can now bring the entire intranet to the palm of their employee's hand, no longer requiring them to be at their desk or in the office. The mobile feature allows all employees to stay connected, informed, and up-to-date on the latest company news, no matter where they might be. Employees can even customize the content they receive, search for colleagues, allow notifications, share pages, create collaborative works spaces, and more!

As organizations have the need for employees to collaborate and communicate, the intranet will be alive and well. To learn more about Linchpin and Confluence, check out our upcoming webinar.

Topics: blog confluence implementation consulting-services
4 min read

Save Millions in a Matter of Minutes with Jira Service Desk

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 23, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Automation saves teams from the monotony of repeatable processes. More importantly, it saves businesses time and money. According to a recent report by our partner Splunk and Quocirca, organizations face an average of 1,200 IT Incidents every month. Using automation to reduce the time it takes to resolve these incidents is a no-brainer. In this article, we'll describe how you can implement time and cost saving business process automation rules in a matter of minutes using Jira Service Desk.

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

Out-of-the-Box Automation with Jira Service Desk

Many tasks are iterative, time-consuming and potentially prone to error, and are therefore great candidates for automation. Jira Service Desk (JSD) offers out-of-the-box automation functionality that can be configured in the Project Settings of your JSD project. Some of the preconfigured automation blueprints allow teams to set up rules that can do the following:

  • Close resolved issues after a period of inactivity
  • Re-open issues when a customer comments on a resolved issue
  • Transition issues between 'Waiting on customer' and 'Waiting for support' statuses on comment
  • Notify agents when issues are at risk of breaching SLAs
  • Triage email requests based on keywords 
  • Update linked issues when related issues are transitioned or edited

Jira Service Desk also enables Custom Rules to automate business processes that are outside the predefined scenarios. 

 In the Jira Service Desk interface, users can easily add parameters for triggers, conditions, and actions to create custom rules.

The logic follows a WHEN → IF → THEN formula with the following options:

When (triggers):

  • Comment added
  • Comment edited
  • Issue created
  • Issue resolution changed
  • Status changed
  • A linked issue is transitioned
  • Participant added
  • Organizations added to issue 
  • Approval required
  • SLA time remaining

If (conditions):

  • Issue matches (JQL)
  • Comment Visibility (internal/public)
  • User type (customer, not a customer, agent, not an agent)
  • Comment contains (key phrase)

Then (actions):

  • Transition issue
  • Add comment
  • Alert user
  • Edit request type
  • Edit issue
  • Webhook
  • Send email

Automation in Practice

Setting the priority of incoming incidents

The Priority field in Jira can (and should) be used to help triage incoming incidents upon creation. That being said, exposing the field to Service Desk customers is usually not a good idea, as most people tend to over-emphasize the priority of incidents affecting them. One of the best ways to set the Priority field is to use one or more data points to automatically set it while the issue is being created. We helped a Fortune 15 Technology company implement a Prioritization Matrix that calculated (among other things) the custom fields Impact and Severity to set the priority of the issue. 

  • The field Impact can be used to measure the number of users affected with values such as 1, 2-10, 11-50, 51-250, 251-1000, 1001+. These values could also be represented in words such as "I am impacted", "My team is impacted", "My organization is impacted", "The whole company", or for customer-facing incidents, "1 user impacted", "Several users impacted", "All users impacted". 
  • The field Severity can be used to measure the degree of impact. Some standard values that we've seen used for this field are, from least to most severe: "Enhancement", "Inconvenience", "Normal", "Critical", and "Blocking."

A similar solution is described in more detail in this Atlassian Support article: Calculating priority automatically

Save Millions–Really?

“The average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end."

Gartner

According to Gartner, “The average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end." Using the average downtime cost of $5,600 per minute, the average company hits $1,000,000 in just under 3 hours. So, yes, millions are at stake and the costs can add up very quickly.

Almost any reduction in mean-time-to-recovery (MTTR) can represent a cost savings, and a quality service desk can help achieve those savings. The Jira Service Desk automation functionality is intuitive to use and the short time it takes to implement will pay dividends by saving your employees time and by avoiding lost revenue by resolving IT incidents more quickly. 

Learn more about how Jira Service Desk is the right ITSM solution for you. And if you're already using Jira Service Desk but need to maximize your investment and implement ITIL best practices, we can help.

Topics: jira atlassian blog assessments optimization consulting-services itsm
2 min read

Jira Service Desk: Accelerator vs. Custom Implementation

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 23, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Once organizations make the decision to adopt Jira Service Desk, they often choose one of two implementation options: they either do it themselves or engage a consultancy for a custom implementation—neither of which is ideal for any but the largest enterprises. Few organizations have the skillsets to do the work in-house, and a custom implementation can be both pricey and time-consuming. Fortunately, there’s a third option: An Accelerator implementation by Praecipio Consulting.

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

There are distinct differences between a traditional Jira Service Desk implementation and an Accelerator implementation by Praecipio Consulting. To choose the best implementation method for your organization, it’s important to understand how the options differ as well as your organization’s requirements.

Let’s look first at a traditional implementation. Because of the scope of a Jira Service Desk implementation, an experienced consulting firm will work iteratively to ensure your satisfaction throughout the process. The consultant(s) will meet with your stakeholders daily to gather requirements and demonstrate the previous day’s deliverables. With the right consulting firm, this process will result in a top-notch Jira Service Desk deployment that meets your exact needs. However, the deployment will take several months.

A traditional implementation is ideal if your organization requires:

  • Multiple, complex workflows
  • Heavily customized workflows
  • Heavily customized interface
  • Flexibility

A Accelerator implementation is also performed in an iterative manner. However, the scope of the project is much smaller. Instead of building out complex custom workflows, the project provides prescribed configurations based on ITIL best practices. Our team applies its extensive experience to build out industry standard workflows with improvements that we’ve identified over the past decade. As a result, we deliver a Jira Service Desk implementation in just three weeks with workflows that are a step above the textbook recommendation.

An Accelerator implementation is ideal if your organization requires:

  • Rapid delivery
  • Basic workflows such as service request, change management, and incident management
  • Minimal time spent configuring using prescribed methods and schemes
  • Deployment based on industry best practices
  • A solid foundation for future growth and/or customization

The bottom line: An Accelerator implementation allows you to trade customization for speed of delivery and cost. Many small and mid-sized organizations make this trade willingly as they have little need for heavy customizations. If this sounds like you—or even if it doesn’t—our consultants would be happy to discuss our implementation options with you. Check out praecipio.com to learn more about our Accelerator options and other ITSM resources.

Topics: jira blog assessments itsm jira-service-desk
2 min read

Five Signs You Can Forgo A Custom Jira Service Desk Implementation

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 23, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Implementation

In many walks of life, the word custom is synonymous with time and money. This is particularly true of technical solutions, and Jira Service Desk is no exception. It’s not unusual for a Jira Service Desk implementation to result in an intensive months-long project involving significant resources for the development of custom workflows. If that doesn’t sound ideal, you’ll be relieved to learn that there’s another option: A Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting.

Quick Start implementation is exactly what it sounds like. We get you up and running with Jira Service Desk in weeks rather than months, allowing you to realize a speedy return on your investment and reduced time to value. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we take our baseline best practice implementation and tune it further to fit your organization's needs.

So how do you know if this approach is best for you? Here are five signs that you can safely forgo a fully customized Jira Service Desk implementation and realize the benefits of Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting.

1. You’re not looking for bells and whistles.

Jira Service Desk is touted as an enterprise-grade service desk platform. But the nice thing about it is you don’t have to be a large enterprise to take advantage of its benefits. If you know you don’t need extra customizations, don’t let a large consulting provider tell you otherwise. You can still realize Jira’s value by implementing common workflows that we have developed for other organizations over the last decade under ITIL best practices.

2. Your service organization is small, new or both.

As service desk organizations grow, their workflows tend to become more complex, and Jira’s flexibility is an advantage. However, if your organization is small, new or both, you probably only require basic workflows. Don’t worry—you can always take advantage of Jira’s flexibility later when you have a business need to evolve your workflows.

3. You want to adopt ITIL—but haven’t a clue where to start.

As a framework of best practices for delivering IT services, ITIL aligns IT services with the needs of the business. While Jira Service Desk is ITIL certified, it requires careful oversight and expertise to implement. The out-of-the-box workflows require some tweaking to enable you to fully realize ITIL’s benefits—but there’s not a lot of variation from one implementation to another. A well-experienced consultancy can implement ITIL-compliant workflows without significantly increasing your implementation time or cost.

4. Your organization has a low-risk tolerance.

Every project has some risk associated with it. It stands to reason that the longer, more complex the project, the higher the level of risk. If you can’t afford to wait months to use Jira Service Desk “in the field” and demonstrate success, then you need a Quick Start. Once you realize a quick win with an industry standard implementation, then you can go back and expand your implementation. 

5. Your organization lacks the necessary resources.

A custom implementation is great if you lack the necessary skills in-house, but it won’t necessarily remove the burden from your staff. Their input will be needed to determine what workflows are needed and how they should be customized. Relying on these resources for several months can have quite an impact on productivity and morale.

If any of the above are true for your organization, then we encourage you to consider a Quick Start implementation. Our number one goal is your success and we are committed to helping you realize your goals. Contact us and we’ll help you determine if a Quick Start is right for you.

Topics: jira atlassian blog assessments implementation optimization process-consulting consulting-services itsm
3 min read

Five Things to Love about Jira Service Desk

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 17, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

Over the years, Praecipio Consulting has developed and implemented service desk solutions for a range of clients using Jira's powerful out-of-the-box capabilities and a few key add-ons; however, there was always something missing. When Jira Service Desk was first introduced, we were excited to see Atlassian embracing their customer (and partner) feedback. Over the few short years it has been in the market, Jira Service Desk has revolutionized the way teams serve their customers both internal and external. If you couldn't tell, we're in love with Jira Service Desk. Here are five things to make you fall in love with it too. 

Customer Portals make requesting help easy

Jira Service Desk provides customer-friendly portals to assist your customers in creating Requests. The portal can be configured to speak your customer's language while providing Agents pre-set information describing the customers' issues. Give your request types custom names and icons while mapping them to existing Jira issues. Add your company's branding, color schemes, and flair to personalize your Portals. These customizations look great and are a great way to automatically triage and resolve your customers' requests.

Approval tracking and visibility

Visibility is key when it comes to approvals. By assigning an Approver to an issue, Agents can see who needs to approve Requests at each step. Approvers will be listed on the Agent view as well as the Portal along with the details of what they're approving. Once the Request has been approved, this decision will be recorded with the ticket and can be referenced at any point during the lifecycle of the work. This helps everyone keep track of the official stamp of approval.

Handy Automation

Jira Service Desk has many out-of-the-box automations to trigger different steps in your workflows. Using automation to facilitate interaction between Customers and Agents stops support Requests from getting lost. Since a Request can almost always be 'Waiting on Customer' or 'Waiting on Support', you can use automation to transition between these two statuses when someone comments on the Request. When the ticket is 'Waiting on Support' and the support team asks a question in a comment, this Request can automatically move to 'Waiting on Customer'. Never worry about tickets being forgotten again! If you don't see what you need, create a custom automation rule using simple When, If, Else, Then logic to automate everything from a Notification to a Workflow Transition. 

SLAs that work for you

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should help increase visibility into how a team can best work together, not something that adds pressure to situations outside of your control. Configure SLAs so that they are paused when a ticket is 'Waiting on Customer' or 'Blocked'. This lets you understand how your team is working while measuring performance in a fair, practical way. Using Jira Query Language (JQL), tune your SLAs to a specific Customer, Request type, even Priority or Severity to ensure your team meets or exceeds your Customer agreements. 

Confluence Knowledge-Base Integration

Integrate your Confluence knowledge base to help your customers fix their problems before they're submitted to the team. While a customer is typing in a request name, Confluence uses SmartGraph (tm) to suggest articles that relate to the request. The suggestions could be articles with similar words in the title or articles that other Customers have clicked on while submitting similar requests. Customers can self-serve and ultimately finish what might have gone through the entire support process. This saves the support team time and helps the customer get their problem fixed right away.

While there are many more reasons we love Jira Service Desk, these five things make us here at Praecipio Consulting fall in love with it even more every day. If you haven't experienced this for yourself, contact us for a demo or visit our collection of ITSM with Jira Service Desk Webinars here. We're more than happy to share the love. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog itsm jira-service-desk jira-service-management
4 min read

DevOps ROI: Streamline Processes, Improve Outcomes

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 3, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Investing in technology should be exactly that: an investment. Technology should accelerate your business and allow you to deliver products and services to your customers more quickly. In a word, DevOps. At Praecipio Consulting, not only do we help organizations adopt DevOps best practices, but we work in it every day with our products and even within our services organization. Investing in the right technology to drive your DevOps initiatives should net you a significant ROI, but why?

At Praecipio Consulting, here's why we believe in DevOps:

  • Deliver value faster and more efficiently
  • Deploy more frequently, fail less, and recover faster
  • Unleash the power of high performing employees

But how do you measure the ROI of that investment? Start by measuring the bottom line of your employee's impact.

You can measure the potential impact of savings and value by calculating the Cost of Downtime and Cost of Excess Rework happening in your organization. DevOps helps companies reduce waste by eliminating costly hand-offs and rework. The best way to measure this impact is to calculate these costs and establish a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that focuses on reducing these costs. First, let's look at how these two are calculated:

Cost of Excess Rework

Cost of Excess Rework = Technical staff size × Average salary × Benefits multiplier × Percentage of technical staff time spent on excess rework

At a moderately performing small- to medium-sized business with 250 engineering staff, times $105,000 average salary, times an average benefits multiplier of 1.5, times 22% of technical staff time spent on excess work equals $8.66M (cost of excess rework) *

250 * 105,000 * 1.5 * 22% = $8,662,500

Rework can come in many forms: Defects, missed requirements, unused or poorly written tests or test cases, repetitive manual actions, etc.. While there is no way to completely eliminate rework, there are ways to reduce it through the automation of processes in key points of your DevOps lifecycle. Assuming the Technical Staff size, average salary, and benefits multiplier are fixed, the reduction in the Percentage of technical staff time spent on excess rework will have the greatest impact in moving the KPI to reduce this cost. Review your current manual or repetitive processes and automate them. Even small changes can make a big impact. If we reduce the rework percentage by five percent: 

250 * 105,000 * 1.5 * 17% = $6,693,750

That's a reduction in cost of $1,968,750! 

Cost of Downtime

Cost of Downtime = Deployment frequency × Change failure rate × Mean time to recover × Hourly cost of outage

At a moderately performing organization that features 32 deploys per year, times 38% in change failure rate, times 2 hours mean time to recover, times $500,000/hr cost of the outage, equals $12.16M. (cost of downtime) *

32 * 38% * 2 * $500,000 = $12,160,000

While you instinctively know that downtime is expensive, you also know that downtime is inevitable. Instead of implementing complicated or burdensome change control processes to eliminate this risk, focus on the change failure rate. While there are other ways to reduce costs by reducing the mean-time-to-recovery, which we address here, allowing teams to continuously deploy to production-like environments automatically means a reduction in the change failure rate. As we saw above, even a small change can make a big impact. If we reduce the change failure rate by five percent: 

32 * 33% * 2 * $500,000 = $10,560.000

That's a reduction of $1,600,000!

Keep in mind, the examples above are based on a moderately performing organization. These are ‘on average’ numbers, and it is important to take the costs of your organization and apply them to these formulas. The costs will only go down as performance increases when you streamline processes and adopt DevOps.  Also, remember that every organization is different, and every organization has its own business model, but you get the idea.

Knowing these formulas will help you establish a greater cost savings and a higher value proposition to your organization and customers. You need to start looking for the right tools and training to make your technology transformation a reality.

What could your organization do by recovering this lost time and resources?

  • Allow additional brainpower to be dedicated to innovation? DevOps training, with proper implementation, will increase your organization’s productivity and create a culture of high-performing, innovative teams.
  • Purchase tools that allow for tighter integration and automation? DevOps tools, when using agile methodology, work best to track planning, building, continuous integration, deployments, operations, continuous feedback and team collaboration. Giving a better view of the Big Picture. 
  • Deploy quality products and/or services quicker, with fewer bugs? High performing DevOps teams deploy 200 times more frequently with 2,555x faster lead times.
  • And the list goes on…

Knowing how to determine the cost of downtime and excess rework are two key factors in calculating your DevOps ROI. Add this to the right tools and training and you have a formula to streamline processes and improve outcomes while saving on cost.

The Praecipio Consulting formulas:

Tools + training = process improvement

Process improvement = cost savings and increased value (goal)

Our knowledge and expertise of DevOps processes and the Atlassian Suite can help our clients operate more efficiently, at a lower cost, and with greater results. Our time-tested delivery model ensures you see measurable ROI from your Atlassian tools.

Looking to make a DevOps transformation? Contact us today.

* = 2016 DevOps Data Report

Topics: blog devops optimization process process-consulting roi consulting-services
4 min read

Reduce the Costs of Outages by Using Jira Service Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 3, 2018 11:00:00 AM

During an outage, if you feel like your computer is on fire, chaos is abounding, and the world is coming to an end, it's typically a good sign that your incident management process could use a bit of tuning. Gartner indicated in a now-famous blog post that an outage typically costs an organization $5,600 per minute of downtime. An hour-long outage at that rate can cost an organization nearly $350,000. As Amazon or Knight Capital will tell you, that number can be significantly increased if it occurs in a revenue-generating system. 

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

IT teams must find a smart, stable response and resolution to these incidents, usually very quickly in hopes of calming down a manager doing his best Vernon Dursley impression. With the myriad of tools available, at Praecipio Consulting, we've seen IT teams develop creative solutions to acknowledge, respond, and ultimately resolve downed services and systems. But like most processes, we've also seen overly-complicated procedures requiring messy integrations that are unreliable, at best. The key to managing an outage gracefully is to understand not only that the system is down, but ownership, recovery procedures, and communication. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we typically see three big inhibitors IT teams face in reducing downtime:

  • working in multiple systems 
  • alert overload 
  • lack of communication and visibility

Working in Multiple Systems

As microservices become more prevalent in IT organizations, ops engineers are frequently required to work in several disparate systems, resulting in costly context switches that impact productivity. In addition to the (very expensive) wasted time that this incurs, information can be lost in the transition. An effective solution is a single system with several integration points, where information can flow into and be actioned on. Reducing the need for context switches helps users retain information and provides a single source of truth. As a bonus, after the incident is triaged and resolved, the information on how the incident was resolved is all in one location.

This is just one of the many reasons we love the Atlassian products. Jira Service Desk, in combination with Confluence as a knowledge base, can serve as the central location for all things outage. Whether or not the creation of a request is triggered automatically or manually, the creation of a central ticket where the team can swarm, communicate, and collaborate is essential in dealing with the outage quickly. Coupled with the knowledge base filled with Standard Operating Procedures, the IT team can reduce the chaos and confusion of an outage and move toward resolution. Notifications can be sent automatically through Jira Service Desk to any interested parties using Filter Subscriptions and the root cause analysis can be shared via a page in Confluence. 

Alert Overload

There are a plethora of wonderful monitoring tools in the market today providing a wealth of information to system engineers. The problem is that during an outage, we don't want to wade through a mountain of data to figure out what happened. Instead, we need a way to reduce the noise and get straight to the source of the incident.

Enter companies like Moogsoft, who specialize in aggregating all of that data and sifting through it to identify cause and effect. Building out timelines of when certain alerts were triggered and applying machine learning to identify patterns can greatly reduce the time it takes to get to a root cause.

Of course, an integration into your single system for work is critical. The information should funnel in automatically, thus enhancing the system instead of pulling users away from it. Integrating alert systems into Jira Service Desk to trigger the creation of an Outage, running out of disk space, or even access alerts is invaluable to an IT team looking to respond and resolve as quickly as possible. 

Lack of Communication and Visibility

We spoke with a client recently who was reminiscing on 70-person emergency bridges, recalling how chaotic and comical they were. After a good laugh, we were glad he was able to reminisce on those times, as for many IT teams this is still an all-too-real part of the job. 

We prefer systems that provide an integration with a collaboration tool and enable a user to proactively reach out to the right support. Ideally, once we're in the communication and collaboration stage, relevant information has already been gathered to a single ticket. Spinning up a chat room from that ticket, and then using an application like xMatters to proactively alert the on-call members of the right support group, enables us to quickly and effectively get the right people looking at the issue. When integrated with Jira Service Desk, the chat room is created via the click of a button and if integrated with an asset management tool such as Insight by Riada, the right people are automatically notified and can join the conversation. 

Connecting the right people with the right process in the right tools empowers IT teams to quickly and effectively address incidents. While we all know incidents are painful, the process to identify, work on, and resolve them doesn't have to be. Having a mission control system that intelligently handles alerts, allows for proactive notifications, and promotes collaboration can drastically reduce the time spent working incidents. 

How we can help

If you're interested in learning more about how you can establish your own mission control system, give us a call. We can assess your current toolchain configuration and provide next steps on how you can move forward with the technology you have, or help you find the tools that work best for your team. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog assessments process-consulting consulting-services itsm
2 min read

Less Meetings, More Collaboration

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 26, 2018 11:00:00 AM

https://www.atlassian.com/blog/teamwork/types-of-meetings

Have you ever been in a meeting and thought, "Why am I even here?" and then started daydreaming or doing other work on your laptop? After meetings that drudge on and on, it's easy to leave them more confused than when you started.

Meetings are the worst! Of course, there are tons of tips on how to run an efficient and productive meeting, but how about being more efficient and productive by NOT scheduling meetings. Skip them! Well, not really. There are situations where a meeting is necessary, but many of our daily meetings are pointless, calendar-eating blocks of time that we will never get back. 

Atlassian tools offer so many different ways to facilitate collaboration without sitting around a table at a specific time of day, requiring people to be engaged. Everyone's workloads are scattered throughout the day, and asking them to align priorities during a very specific block of time is not necessarily the best way to get people to collaborate effectively. Instead, creating a Confluence page focused on a specific topic - providing an outline of the work items that need to be addressed.  'Mentioning' your colleagues with the @mention feature notifies them about changes to the page, and they can collaborate when it works best for them. If a specific approval is needed from management, or if you need a colleague's feedback, you can leave an inline comment, which will notify them of your request or comment. If more discussion is needed, any team member can create a Stride room, that references the Confluence page. This will allow team members to actively collaborate on the topic. The communications can happen at a faster rate, allowing for more depth conversation (without a meeting).

This method will encourage and promote engagement with your remote employees and give them a seat at the table (so to speak). If the topic requires inputs from others not originally part of the conversation, it's easy to add them to the Confluence page or Stride room. They can quickly read the conversation and get up to speed.

Many people have a tendency to conclude meetings with no structured outcomes, deliverables, or expectations of team members. When you are using Confluence as your collaboration tool, it's easy to create tasks directly on the page. Since all Atlassian tools can be very transparent, team members are more accountable for completing the follow-up on time. In this example of a Confluence template for meeting notes, you can quickly add team members to a page, capture goals and discussion items and assign tasks:

Ditch the meetings – let those calendars breath – give people their time back, and do it all while accomplishing more, in less time. 

Topics: stride blog
3 min read

Mitigate Risk with Secure Content for Confluence

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 26, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Sensitive information and the security of that information is becoming increasingly critical for organizations across the globe. GDPR, PHI, HIPAA, PCI, and other sensitive information legislation has had a profound effect on what information can be stored where and who can access this information. At the same time, the need for centralization and collaboration for disparate teams has also increased. At Praecipio Consulting, we believe balancing the need for security with collaboration is a critical concept in content management. Secure Content for Confluence Server and Data Center helps users store and manage sensitive information while balancing Confluence's powerful content collaboration. 

As the number of users and amount of content begins to grow in Confluence, security becomes almost impossible to manage. As teams are encouraged to collaborate, the need to protect sensitive information such as passwords, data, reports, etc. also grows. While restricting pages can be a solution to protecting sensitive information, the ability to scale Space or Page content restrictions becomes impossible. Manual intervention from a Confluence or Space Administrator is required or, in the worst case scenario, sensitive information is unintentionally exposed putting the organization at risk. The more the users use Confluence, the more challenging content organization becomes. Without the use of the Secure Content macro, we've seen teams use page restrictions, complex page trees, page or excerpt include macros to manage confidential information. The downside to this approach is the lack of structure it creates inside of Confluence. If there are several restricted pages created separately from the page discussing the primary topic, not only does this make the content severely disorganized, it introduces an unnecessary risk of accidental exposure of sensitive information. In order to prevent clutter inside Confluence spaces and mitigate risk, Secure Content protects sensitive information inside the relevant page eliminating the need to create or reference additional pages. 

Secure Content for Confluence Server and Data Center can mitigate this risk with its inline content encryption and robust, yet flexible, permissions. To ensure content is only visible to authenticated users, Secure Content blocks are encrypted before being stored in the database and are only decrypted when an authorized user provides their Confluence credentials. The Secure Content block evaluates the password and if it matches the user's Confluence password, it will authorize the user to either read or read and edit the content inside the block. Additionally, Secure Content uses symmetric AES encryption with a key that is determined when the plugin is first installed. This key is inaccessible even if a user has access to the Confluence Database itself. 

In addition to the encryption functionality, assigning permissions for a Secure Content block helps the owner of the block manage the visibility of each user or user group. There are two conditions that must be met before content is decrypted and displayed for a user or group. First, the user/group must successfully be authenticated using their Confluence password to access the block. Second, the user/group must have permission to read/edit content in the block. Aside from the owner of the block, who will always have read/edit permissions, both conditions must be met to give users entry into the protected content. 

Every Secure Content block is assigned a key. A Secure Content key is a self-made unique identifier that allows users to add the block on different pages with the same properties as the original block. This is especially useful for organizations that have hand-offs between teams. For example, an operations team may provide 24/7 support for their internal or external customers. During an incident, credentials to access or reboot a system can be easily shared in a central location and perpetuated to both business-hours operations personnel and off-hours operations personnel. This prevents sharing of credentials through unencrypted channels such as text message or email. It also prevents duplication of effort, allowing users to spend more time troubleshooting and resolving the issue. 

Combining security and collaboration, Secure Content for Confluence Server and Data Center is the perfect solution to managing sensitive information while leveraging the powerful collaboration abilities in Confluence. It relieves the administrative burden of managing Space and Page restrictions and mitigates the risk of exposure of sensitive information. It allows organizations to maintain an organized content structure without compromising the security of critical systems or personnel. Secure Content makes managing sensitive content inside Confluence organized and protected. Try it free from the Atlassian Marketplace here

If you run into issues with your Secure Content macro, please contact support@praecipio.com for troubleshooting help or information on Secure Content. 

Topics: atlassian blog secure-content-macro consulting-services
2 min read

Three Weeks to an ITIL-based Service Desk—No, Really

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

If you’ve attempted a Jira Service Desk (JSD) implementation on your own or reviewed proposals from consulting firms offering to do the work, chances are a three-week implementation sounds pretty far-fetched. But I assure you, not only is it possible—it’s something we do regularly.

Jira Service Desk is a highly regarded service desk platform. When an organization decides to implement the platform, they’re often eager to leverage its flexibility and enterprise-grade capabilities to increase team productivity, meet demanding service-level agreements, and improve customer satisfaction. Just one thing stands in the way: implementation.

Most organizations consider two options for implementing Jira Service Desk. They either do it themselves—provided they have the proper skillsets—or they hire a consulting firm to do the work. For some, implementing Jira Service Desk is not always as simple as it looks, and organizations that choose the do-it-yourself option are often disappointed several months later when they aren’t realizing the platform’s full benefits.

Engaging with a consulting firm may seem to be the logical choice then. However, this isn’t the best option if you hope to see a return on your investment sooner rather than later. An experienced consulting firm will work iteratively, meeting with stakeholders daily to gather requirements and demonstrate the previous day’s deliverables. With the right consulting firm, this process will result in a top-notch, custom-built Jira Service Desk deployment—but it will take several months.

If you do not have the time and/or budget for a customized implementation, then you might consider a Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting. We have over a decade of experience with successful service desk implementations using Jira, and we have taken this experience to build schemes that deliver a faster implementation based on ITIL best practices. With a Quick Start implementation, we get you up and running with a functional Jira Service Desk implementation in just a few short weeks.

Come On. Three Weeks?

Yes! Two critical factors make a Quick Start implementation possible. The first is the fact that most ITSM organizations don’t need heavily customized workflows. In fact, what most service organizations need is a properly configured service desk that meets ITIL best practices. By forgoing unnecessary customizations and implementing Praecipio Consulting's Quick Start, we can significantly reduce deployment time and, subsequently, the costs associated with it.

The other piece of this, of course, is expertise. Based on our 10+ year, varied and extensive experience working with companies of all sizes, we can give you exactly what you need and nothing you don’t. We have taken real-world application and experience with industry-leaders to implement JSD and ITSM/ITIL based on best practices to provide companies with processes that are a step above the textbook recommendation. As a provider that knows ITIL, Praecipio Consulting can deliver an industry-standard implementation of Jira Service Desk—with lighter customizations to make it yours—in half the time it takes for a traditional deployment.

Some organizations, unfortunately, never realize the benefits of a Jira Service Desk adoption because they get stuck in the implementation phase. Don’t let that be your fate.

Download our white paper to learn more about our Quick Start implementations or give us a call at (512) 266-8271.

Topics: jira blog implementation process-consulting consulting-services itsm jira-software
4 min read

Using Scrum and Kanban Boards to Improve Communication

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

The ability to 'see the big picture' and have a clear understanding of the work teams complete is something our clients ask for often. With a product like Jira Software, anything is possible; however, there are tools within the project management software platform that are built specifically to help users stay in the know and track project statuses. 

Out-of-the-box, Jira comes equipped with three powerful task boards that teams and managers can use to manage projects and gain better visibility into the work being done: Scrum board, Kanban board, and Agility board.

Tracking issues on a board will open up views into the work that you're looking for and they are simple to set up.

Step 1: What do you want to see?

Step 2: Board Selection

Step 3: Share and Use 

Step 1: What do you want to see?

It's common for organizations have a lot of issues in Jira, but do you need to see all of them, every day? Probably not. The first step in setting up a board is to understand what it is you want to see. Boards can be built to import every issue from every project, or by a JQL filter, which can display a very specific set of results. Using a filter is traditionally more useful and manageable. Either way, it's important to understand the scope of your board to make sure that when you're looking at it, you are only seeing the items that are important to you. You can use one, or a combination of these approaches. Keep in mind that an issue can live in multiple boards, and any updates that are made to an issue will appear on any board where the issue is displayed.

Step 2: Board selection

Jira offers three boards that you can choose from (assuming that you are on Jira Software): Agility, Kanban, and Scrum. Even though they seem very methodology-specific, choose the board that works best for you and/or your team - and it's not just for software or development teams.

Kanban Board

Kanban is all about continuous flow. With this in mind, there are a lot of different uses for this board such as a team that is not practicing scrum or a project manager who wants to visualize the work happening on their project. Recently, Atlassian added the ability to have a backlog option for Kanban boards which will allow you to specify a status that would represent work that it's quite ready for prime time.

Pro tip: Define your swim lanes to organize your work. By default the swim lanes will be set to look at priority but there are a variety of options to split your work into meaningful views.

Scrum Board

Scrum promotes commitment to a subset of work for a specified time period. The Scrum Board focuses on looking at your backlog of work and pulling issues into sprints which the team will focus on completing in a specified period of time. If your team has a sizable task that they are trying to parse into manageable chunks of work, this may be the board for you as it allows users to focus only on the subset that you've committed to for that period of time.

Pro tip: Check the "Days in Column" option found in the "Card Layout" section of the board configuration to ensure your work flows appropriately. 

Agility Board

Agility boards are the newest boards in Jira Software. They're perfect for teams that want to quickly jump in and get started and don't require any complicated configuration. This is a great board selection for projects that may be looking at a single issue type or if all issues follow the same workflow. 

Pro tip: If your Jira Project is for simple task tracking, use a business project and use an Agility board. Its simplistic design is perfect for the Executive with too little time and no "technical" skills.

Step 3: Share and Use

Now that you've chosen (and hopefully created) your board, make sure to use it as a communication tool. Too often we see boards created but not used during meetings with team members. There is a lot of power in seeing the work displayed for the team so everyone can have a complete understanding of what the progress looks like on a continuous basis. The more you use the boards to communicate progress, the better the information will be as its submitted to the board.

Pro tip: It's important to note that when you share the board with others, you need to make sure that your filter is shared with those who will need to view the board. 

Now that you have a better understanding of what the boards can do for you, go out and create a few for your teams. Experiment with different board views to see what works best. If you're still not sure, contact us! We help teams in every industry make the most of their Atlassian tools and business processes.

Topics: jira blog scaled-agile process-consulting consulting-services jira-software
4 min read

Stay Agile with Jira and Confluence

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

As a marketing professional, I had a limited exposure to Jira before I joined Praecipio Consulting. Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian solutions partner, and now, I eat, sleep, and breathe the Atlassian toolset. But before I really knew what it was, I used Jira Software to collaborate with a distributed team on a project. It was an interesting experience using Jira, because this was a ticketing system for 'IT guys and coders,' not for precious marketing professionals - right? I had been happy - or at least at peace - with using Microsoft Project, Sharepoint, One Note and Excel spreadsheets, along with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation software. But when I saw my first kanban board, and how easy it was to create, organize and visualize work in process, I thought this was a great way to begin an agile marketing shift.

While I'm still getting used to an all Atlassian world, I'm excited to share with you how ticketing software, originally designed to track software bugs, along with other Atlassian tools, have shown me a path towards an agile marketing future. So, here's my 101-level guide to using agile methodologies and tools to manage marketing projects.

Marketing Tasks = Jira Issues/Tickets

Think of your marketing activities as Jira Issues. For example, say you're hosting a webinar next month. Login to Jira, create a new epic for the webinar, give it a name, provide some additional details (the sky is the limit, you can customize the kind of information you want to capture) and click save. 

But wait. A webinar has a lot of subtasks within it: you also need to set-up a landing page, attach a form, create thank you emails and internal notifications, schedule the speakers, write a script, create the presentation, setup dial-in info, and a lot more. You can add all of those tasks, too, under the webinar ticket and create a nice, tidy place to track all activities. And, just like marketing automation tools that let you automate repetitive actions, you can create a Webinar Issue template that generates all of these recurring tasks each time you plan a new webinar, saving a lot of time and repetitive work.

There's a lot of work up-front to set up your tasking, but once you've done it you can continuously improve and become increasingly efficient and fast only making small adjustments.

Tracking Assets and Tasks 

Now that you have a task list of marketing activities, you have to create the actual assets. You write email and web page copy. Your designer creates beautiful graphics. Your digital folks create tracking links and create a home for all this precious content to live. Confluence gives you a place to create or simply store these assets in a single repository. And you can link the individual tasks from Jira to these pages in Confluence, giving you immediate, bidirectional access between tasks and the actual work product. This is pretty handy and makes team collaboration a breeze.

Again, you have to do some advance planning and preparation to make this work seamlessly. But it's worth the effort in the long run.

Using a Kanban Board

With marketing activities and their related subtasks entered into Jira, and a place to house your marketing assets, you can start managing a project. What should the team be working on first? Where are we on the case study copy? Is Elaine finished with the banner ad artwork? A Kanban Board lets you see where these tasks are in their lifecycle, from "Backlog" to "In Progress" to "Complete" (you can customize these labels, as well). At a glance, you can see how much work is done, how much is in flight, and what's coming up. Do you think the white paper project is more important than the brand guidelines update? Move the brand guidelines to the backlog and focus on the white paper.

With a Kanban board (and even other boards, like Scrum and Agile), you can adjust your work priorities instantly, making it easy to see who is doing what and when it will be done. Ultimately, agile boards help teams improve communication and collaboration.

Plan Alignment

Kanban boards are super cool, as are scrum boards. Portfolio for Jira, too, can help you create a marketing roadmap to visualize all your projects over time and track resource availability and capacity. Once you've got your marketing ducks in a row, Portfolio will allow you to not only visualize a plan the way you've designed it but also create variations. That's pretty dang neat! Admittedly, there's a lot of work required to make the best use of this tool. But again, once your organization is actually organized, your project management can become amazingly powerful and useful.

Now what?

Now, we've learned that Jira is a powerful tool that welcomes all - not just software and IT teams. And if you didn't know about Confluence or any of these awesome planning tools, you owe it to yourself to consider them for organizing your marketing plan. If you're interested, start by checking in with your IT or software development teams. Chances are, they are using Jira and possibly Confluence right now. There's your starting point. And if you want a demo, or to purchase licenses, or need help getting started, let us know!

Topics: jira blog scaled-agile best-practices confluence marketing collaboration agile
4 min read

Agile Batch Size: An Ode to Laundry

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 4, 2018 11:00:00 AM

One of the most difficult concepts to explain in agile is the concept of Batch Size. It's a principal tenet of Lean Product Development and is an ACTUAL principle in SAFe (# 6 to be precise). However, when we work with our clients to evaluate their practices and processes, we see product backlogs in the scrum boards of hundreds of items. In one case, a client used the concept of a Groomed Sprint to define what part of the Backlog had been groomed and prioritized by the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Team.

What we have here, folks, is a failure to right-size Batch Size. 

I've been thinking about this for a while. What is the best non-Agile example of Batch Size? It wasn't until I discussed it with my husband for the 4th time in two days that it clicked: laundry. 

Laundry is something we all need to do, but don't enjoy. And work is that way too. Sometimes we have a great laundry day: it's not on the floor, it's not stinking up the bedroom(s), it's moving through without being the only thing we accomplish that day. It's a good laundry day. Sometimes, though, it's a horrible laundry day. It's been put off so long that it's almost overwhelming: it's everywhere and is likely the only thing that's accomplished that day. Picture this: it's laundry day at your house. Individual piles are consolidated into a Big Pile. The Big Pile is sorted into smaller piles according to color, fabric, and cleaning products. The smaller piles begin to make their way through the system one at a time. 

I know what you're thinking: Amanda, we all know how laundry works. Bear with me. 

A smaller load of laundry requires less time per batch to both wash and dry. If you've ever flown into a blind panic when realizing you need clothing for the next day and have washed a single set of clothes, you know what I'm talking about. It takes less time for the washer to fill, agitate, rinse, and spin than the extra large load. In addition, it takes much less time to dry a single set of clothes than a whole dryer full of jeans. However, this is wasteful. It wastes energy and water and time because you still have that Big Pile you have to deal with at some point. And you know you do and you will. At some point. Before your husband decides to drag three laundry baskets across the house. And they're full of jeans and work shirts. <sigh>

Thinking about the above scenario another way, instead of lumping everything together into the Big Pile, why don't we pre-sort? Doesn't that make a smaller batch size and make it easier to flow through the system? Yes, but also no. Pre-sorting does take some of the handling out of consolidating laundry into the Big Pile by making smaller batches. However, those small batches can add up to a Big Pile if not adequately moved through the system when they're ready. 

What if, instead, we right-sized the batch? What if, based on the color, fabric, and cleaning products, we put the batch through the system when it was determined to be the right size? Not so big that the Big Pile must be broken into smaller batches to flow through the system, but not so small that we're wasting resources including, the most precious resource of all, time? It's time to right-size your laundry. Just as it's time to right-size your work. 

Within any agile framework, this is the essence of throughput. When requirements come to the Team in a Big Pile, the Team must break the Big Pile into consumable smaller batches. These batches must also be prioritized: clothing needed in the next day, versus clothing needed next week, versus something you've worn once and likely won't wear again for a few weeks or until a special occasion. Just as we prioritize our laundry, so too must we prioritize the backlog. What is the immediate need? What can wait a few weeks? What is a nice-to-have? Note: in the extended metaphor, nice-to-have is dry cleaning. Not something you need, but sits on a hangar in your closet, is reassessed as an outfit every three months, and ultimately placed back in the closet in favor of the clean laundry. So too should those nice-to-haves be removed from the backlog to be addressed every once in a while to see if there's a current need. Either put them back in the closet or donate them. Deprioritize items in the backlog or remove them altogether. 

How can you tell the batch is the right size to move through the system? Much like laundry, it's trial and error and feedback into the system. You didn't come into this world knowing how to do laundry. And there have been plenty of times that you've accidentally thrown a red sock into a load of whites or bleached something in your darks or even shoved too much into the washer only to have to run the dryer three times to get it adequately dried. So what did you do with this information? You learned from it. In fact, you retrospected on what you did and learned from it. I see what you did there, Amanda. So too will the Team learn from each batch of work that flows through the system. Within a retrospective, the Team should look at their batch size estimates and make adjustments for future work. This allows the Team to establish a predictable velocity with which to plan future work. Much like you've figured out how to do laundry efficiently over time (hopefully). Either way, it all comes out in the wash. 

Topics: blog scaled-agile process-consulting consulting-services
3 min read

Achieve GDPR Compliance with the Atlassian Stack 

By Praecipio Consulting on May 25, 2018 11:00:00 AM

What is GDPR?

If any of your partners, employees or customers are citizens or businesses in the EU, its time to review your company's compliance strategy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new European Union privacy standard that mandates the ability for someone to have access to their personally identifying information (PII) and have the ability to change the information or "be forgotten" by requesting the removal of that data. These requirements can make achieving backward compliance standards very difficult. This new privacy law will impact everyone, from C-level executives to new hires and likely every department to include Human Resources, Information Security, Compliance and more. Regulations surrounding GDPR will affect most organizations, large and small, regardless of whether your business does business directly in the EU.

With the right tools and know-how, companies using Atlassian products like Jira and Confluence can not only achieve forward compliance by the May 25, 2018 deadline but also attain assurance that pre-existing content is compliant as well.

Why GDPR?

GDPR was designed to strengthen and unify data for European Union residents, regardless of where their data is used, processed, or stored. GDPR essentially legislates a lot of common sense data security ideas, like minimizing the collection of personal data, deleting personal data when no longer necessary, restricting access, and securing data through its entire lifecycle. But compliance violations can have costly consequences including Fines and penalties Your organization can face damaging penalties of 4% of annual global annually or 20 mil. euros. 

The GDPR Checklist

Backward compliance

Praecipio Consulting has over 11 years of expertise in Atlassian products alone. As an Atlassian Platinum Partner, we have full-service solutions ready to go to get your organization's pre-existing Atlassian application data within GDPR compliance quickly and confidently.

Praecipio's Solutions Consultants come armed with the tools to identify, review, and address the content that may not be in compliance throughout your Atlassian stack. We will conduct a thorough scan of your application's existing data to include all version histories. We produce reports that help your teams identify violations, use that feedback to improve and refine our search algorithms to ensure the highest level of coverage possible.

  • Identify: we use tools and techniques developed in-house to locate potentially non-compliant data within JIRA, Confluence and other Atlassian applications.
  • Review: We then provide a detailed analysis and report of our findings and conduct a thorough review of potential violations with your team.
  • Address: Praecipio then incorporates findings from the review into further refinement of identification and generates an execution plan to redact pre-existing content to ensure compliance of your legacy data.

Maintaining Compliance in Confluence with Secure Content 2.0

Once your data is fully reviewed and in compliance, you'll need solutions to keep it that way. After all that effort and expense, you don't want to be one Confluence page edit away from a violation. For Confluence, Praecipio Software offers Secure Content 2.0 to easily secure and limit access to sensitive page content. We use 256-bit encryption to ensure any new content will not expose your organization to penalties in the future.

Your organization can invest considerable time and expense to get your Atlassian data GDPR compliant, but you'll need the tools to keep it that way. Praecipio Software's Secure Content Confluence App, available on the Atlassian Marketplace, gives your team an easy and safe way to store content securely that is both encrypted and with granular-level access control. This means sensitive data is securely encrypted on your database and access set by the author at the group or even individual level.

Secure Content is designed for robust security and ease of use. Ideal for shared, sensitive content such as passwords, data, reports - anything you need to restrict access to; anything that would likely fall under the 'identify and remove' GDPR regulation requirements.

Features Include:

  • Owner Report macro: See all your Secure Content in one place. Drop it on any page and be a click away from all of your Secure Content across the entire Confluence instance for time-saving administration and editing.
  • Transferable ownership: Control of Secure Content blocks can be optionally transferred by the Confluence administrator if needed. Or the owner can lock it down to make sure they maintain complete privacy and control, even from Confluence administrators.
  • Implicit rendering: Less sensitive but still protected data can be optionally made to render automatically with the rest of the page content but only to Authorized users.
  • Access request: Non-Authorized users can request access with a single click, alerting the content owner immediately for action via Confluence notifications.

Custom Compliance Solutions

Praecipio Software's custom development solutions can be engaged as well to address your organization's unique GDPR data security and compliance concerns.

Topics: atlassian blog assessments confluence process-consulting secure-content-macro consulting-services
2 min read

Turbo Kit for Jira and the Case of the Missing Millions

By Praecipio Consulting on May 21, 2018 11:00:00 AM

https://www.praecipio.com/jira-jql-turbo-kitSmall errors can cause big problems. In 2007, a car dealership hired a promotions firm to mail 50,000 scratch-off tickets to potential customers, with one lucky winner designated to receive a $1,000 prize. However, the first 30,000 tickets were all mistakenly printed as winners, adding up to a $30 million mistake. Obviously, the dealership was unable to honor the pay-out, and instead offered $5 gift cards to the numerous lucky winners.

Perhaps a comma in the wrong place caused the prize value to skyrocket? Whatever the reason, this error was caused by inaccurate data.

Data Accuracy is Important

Data accuracy is important, and while Jira provides a solid foundation for data collection, Turbo Kit for Jira can enhance your data with field validation

As agents and customers are entering information into a Jira issue, key data points will need to be stored correctly for future retrieval.  For anyone working directly with customer issues that refer to a specific item number (e.g. policy, product, part, account) it's necessary to be able to lookup the ID of the specified item. Collecting the ID, however, isn’t always a straightforward task, and often involves multiple conversations with the customer. People will often leave fields blank, enter the wrong type of ID reference, or enter a number with a typo, and many other errors that contribute to data inaccuracies. 

Turbo Kit for Jira offers field validation ensures that people provide the right information. Organizations typically have standardized formats for their ID numbers, often consisting of a string of letters and numbers with a specific number of characters. By checking the count of numbers and letters entered into the field, Turbo Kit for Jira can validate that the ID is formatted correctly before it's submitted.

Validated Data Will Show You the Patterns You Care About

Reporting is huge. Identifying trends in the information that's reported on can help your organization recognize what is and isn't working and where energies are being focused.

If you're curious about what type of insurance policies have the most associated issues, you can filter issues based on the insurance policy field. Maybe you'd like to see how many open tickets related to the newest insurance policy 'NEW1234'. But if half of the tickets had 'NEW-1234' written in the Policy custom field, the extra dash could prevent these tickets from showing up in a search. If all of these ticket policy numbers are written in the same way, you'll be able to query the entire set in a search. Turbo Kit for JIRA and its field validation enables these reporting conditions so you can get a more accurate picture of what's happening in your organization.

Mystery Solved, Case Closed

Is your company able to survive a $30 million mistake? Do you want to end up a cautionary tale because you didn't enforce data validation and other data best practices in your Jira instance? It's elementary, my dear Watson. With Turbo Kit for Jira on the scene, the data mystery is solved and this case can be closed.   

Download a free trial today to see how Turbo Kit for Jira can help protect your organization. 

Topics: blog process-consulting turbokit consulting-services
12 min read

Project Estimation

By Praecipio Consulting on May 21, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Work smarter, not harder. Easier said than done.

However, in agile software development, there are some things teams can do to begin working smarter and more efficiently. 

Many companies still estimate the amount of time a project will take in hours. But this approach, typical of the waterfall methodology, can lead to cost overruns and missed deadlines. "(Humans are) terrible at estimating how long something is going to take. We're just not good at it," said Christopher Pepe, Chief Technology Officer at Praecipio Consulting. "But what we are good at is estimating the relative sizes of things." And so he makes this point in his story above on story points vs. hours, and why companies should adopt this agile concept of planning and managing development projects.

But first, what is a story point? According to Dan Radigan in his article The secrets behind story points and agile estimation, "Story points rate the relative effort of work in a Fibonacci-like format: 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100." Story points provide an abstract way of understanding how complex a project is, and how much work a project will take. 

In a comparison between agile and waterfall time estimates, Steve Cooke at Swarm Online writes "The reasoning behind using points rather than hours, is that it might be difficult to estimate in units of time at speed. Also, the speed at which the team can deliver points of effort will depend on the skills of the individuals in the team. Team A might not be as fast as Team B but the relative size of the stories remains the same."

If you want to know more about how using story points could help your team with project estimation, reach out to us today. 

 
 
 
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Topics: blog scaled-agile process-consulting
2 min read

How ChatOps Can Connect Your Remote & Traveling Workers

By Praecipio Consulting on May 3, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Have you ever missed a deadline because your team couldn’t get aligned? Maybe a key team member was traveling, or you spent too much time discussing the plan instead of implementing it. Have you ever tried to “rally” through email? It starts out with good intentions; but 43 messages later, someone was left off the thread, and you’re trying to determine action items by sifting through a lengthy email chain.

Connecting the dots in email is one thing, but working with distributed teams adds to the complication. According to The State of the Remote Job Marketplace report, 3.9 million (2.9%) of the US workforce works remotely at least half the time. Historically, employers required workers to be local or work in the office 5 days a week. This requirement has shifted over time, as employers have taken advantage of new communication technologies to connect their workforce. But with a geographically dispersed team, how do you ensure they are working together effectively and efficiently? The answer is ChatOps!

So, what is ChatOps? And how can it help your organization collaborate effectively and efficiently?

ChatOps is a “collaboration model that connects people, tools, process, and automation into a transparent workflow.” Using a chat application like Atlassian’s Stride will centralize and streamline your discussions, planning, and action items; while improving the following areas:  

  1. Swarm on an Issue – Instantly connect with team members in chat rooms to discuss needs and action items. Include your traveling teammates in the discussion by using the Stride mobile app.
  2. Decide on a Clear Path Forward – Real-time decisions can be implemented and assigned in Stride using the Decisions and Actions functionality.
  3. Resolve Issues Faster – Centralizing your discussion in Stride will quickly determine objectives, cutting down on unnecessary cycles.
  4. Ensure transparency – Tasks (Actions) are tracked in Stride and visible to others. Team members can view what tasks are pending or completed, and how it impacts current workflows.

No matter where your teams are located, you can increase your productivity by embracing the ChatOps philosophy and using Stride. If for no other reason, do it for the Giphy App.

Interested in learning more about ChatOps? Contact us today.

Topics: stride blog implementation process-consulting teams collaboration remote-work
2 min read

Taking Out the Trash for Earth Day 2018

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 24, 2018 12:35:00 PM

Praecipio Consulting is dedicated to doing what we can as a company to take care of our Mother Earth. As important as the environment is to every human being sharing our Earth, Lake Austin and its well-being was particularly important to all of us at Praecipio Consulting. When Earth Day 2018 was upon us, we knew what our passion project needed to be. We signed up as a company to help clean Lake Austin, not because the lake is such a fun part of Austin life, but because it desperately needed it.

Keep Austin Weird

Austin is known as a college, techie or even a hippie town (#KeepAustinWeird after all), but it’s also a family town and a real city where many of us love to live and work. Because Texas weather is kind to us throughout the year, we have many weekends swimming, boating, or simply enjoying one of many awesome restaurants on the lake. Sadly, with that enjoyment of the most beautiful and relaxing parts of our city, comes a whole lot of our trash.

According to the City of Austin website, “each year City staff and volunteers pull 250 tons of trash from Lake Austin (in addition to the 6,500 tons removed annually from Austin streets). Some of these discarded items were dropped directly into the river, but most trash washes in from the creeks or through storm drains from land-based areas, such as streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and parks.”

Keep Austin Clean

Once we committed to cleaning up the quarter-mile of Lake Austin that was assigned to us by the City, we had to start planning the logistics. Who has access to a watercraft? How do we even transport a watercraft and how many do we have the ability to transport? How many life vests do we need? Does anyone have access to personal floatation devices? And, of course, as our company has to put our staffs’ safety first, we needed to know who was a strong swimmer to actually remove trash from the lake and determine who was able to help in other ways.

After months of logistical planning, we successfully removed a ridiculously tremendous amount of trash from Lake Austin. To say that is was a “feel good” kind of day is an understatement.

Praecipio Consulting made a commitment to our community, both small and large, by getting involved and doing our best to make a positive difference in the world around us. We are so proud of our staff’s 100% participation in our clean-up event and extremely humbled to be a part of such a large-scale operation with fellow volunteers all throughout Austin. One thing is for sure – we will see you all again next year!

Praecipio keeps Austin clean ...

Praecipio keeps Austin clean ...

Praecipio keeps Austin clean ...

Topics: austin community culture do-good
1 min read

Praecipio Consulting is First Atlassian Solution Partner in New Relic Navigator Program

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 19, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Praecipio Consulting was recently named one of the first New Relic Navigators in New Relic's Partners Program. As an Atlassian Enterprise Platinum Solutions Partner, Praecipio Consulting has also developed strong partnerships and expertise with a variety of complementary technologies, like New Relic, to ensure its customers are implementing the most effective solutions.

The New Relic Navigators Program was designed to help organizations interested in using New Relic to drive speed and visibility for joint customers with cloud migration best practices.

The program required Praecipio Consulting sales, delivery, and support team members to become trained and certified as New Relic Certified Performance Pros, learning all there is to know regarding the New Relic platform and how to build its capabilities around services for cloud migration and application performance monitoring.

Praecipio Consulting, founded in 2006, is a business process management and technology consulting firm leveraging the Atlassian toolset to deliver first-class solutions for DevOps, Agile, and IT Ops practices. Praecipio Consulting services include process and technology consulting, managed services/hosting, and product and software development. As an Atlassian Platinum Solutions Partner and process expert, Praecipio Consulting leverages the best technologies and methodologies to enable true DevOps transformations.

Topics: blog new-relic process-consulting itsm
15 min read

Hello World From Praecipio Labs

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and other advanced technical concepts are not new to Praecipio Consulting's engineers. In their spare time, they like to experiment, solve problems, and test ideas in a variety of areas. And the way they see it is they succeed, or they learn. Praecipio Labs, formalized in 2017, has really been around since the beginning. Whether it was a problem that needed solving, or it was just innate curiosity, Praecipio Labs was there to dig in and find a solution - or just have some fun! Most of the team's activity includes a variety of topics that may not be beneficial today, but are interesting nonetheless - like AI, improving advanced systems configurations, and much more.

So, who's the fearless leader?

Christopher Pepe, the Dragon of the West, oversees Praecipio Consulting's more technical endeavors. Having studied neural networks in college for robotic control systems, he has recently revisited the topic to enjoy some of the advancements that have been made. As artificial intelligence is held up as the greatest thing the universe has ever known it seemed like the right time to jump back in. Together with a ragtag team of interested engineers, Christopher is leading the Praecipio Consulting machine learning think tank to see if they can converge on a future that is better than a bag-o-if statements.

Some of Pepe and team's early projects included the Jira Toaster and Beer Me Jira. That was just the beginning. Today, Praecipio Labs is beginning to experiment with applications for machine learning. 

Pepe's recent experiment with text generation with neural networks is one of the many learning opportunities. We explored with Pepe his most recent experiment. 

 
 
 
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Concept

Using neural networks to generate text is certainly not novel but is a fun exercise. It is also a fairly simple problem since there isn't much preprocessing to create training data. (In most data science and AI exercises one spends the majority of the time formatting and processing data.) The idea here is simple, we want to train a neural network on a given body of text (corpus) so that it can generate similar text. In this way one can generate text in the voice of the author.

I took on this experiment to build an AI that could speak in my voice. As with any worthwhile endeavor, I learned more than I accomplished.

Approach

People approach this problem with either character based or word based inputs. Character based means that if your input is "Hi there Bob" then the network is fed "H", "i", " ", "t", "h", "e", "r", "e" and so on. If word based then the network is fed "Hi", "there", "Bob." Character based approaches allow the network to do cool things like create new words. Word-based is an easier approach and in our approach was the more successful choice with less training. Our approach used a wide-ish, shallow network instead of a deep network. That means our model memorized the corpus rather than learning the meaning of it.

Training data

In all training problems, you need a large set of training data that has inputs and corresponding outputs. For instance to build a tweet sentiment model one needs 1+ million tweets with an associated sentiment label (0=mad, 1=annoyed, 2=flat, 3=happy, 4=overjoyed) and the quality of that training data determines how good your model is. That's a big task to build on a novel data set.

On the other hand training, a text generator is a simple process. The input is some number of words and the output is the next word in the corpus. Using this paragraph as an example one input might be "On the other hand training a text generator is a" and the associated output value would be "simple." The next input would be "the other hand training a text generator is a simple" and the output would be "process." 

Stepping in this way over the corpus a number of times the network eventually converges to an acceptable point.

Goals

GPU Training

To get anywhere with deep learning one really needs to train on GPUs. There are some nuances to using GPUs on AWS, and to writing code that will take advantage of multiple GPUs. This project allowed us to figure out a successful approach to using AWS for training our models.

Intro to Recurrent Neural Networks

My intro to neural networks was in college using plain old fully connected, feed forward networks for non-linear control systems  (it was a bit more state of the art back then but would still be a fun project). Life and career keep me focused elsewhere and I've only recently jumped back in. There are a dizzying array of new architectures, and approaches to interesting problems to solve. I have long been interested in time series problems and have been focused on recurrent neural networks. This was a simple but non-trivial challenge to write from scratch.

Results

After 84 epochs the loss function was minimized to 0.1195. Providing a random sample of text from the corpus as a seed the network produced this output:

 to merge completed stories and bugfixes as quickly as possible into develop so that integration and quality testing can begin sooner. merging a feature branch into the develop branch should start a build and potentially deployment to an integration testing environment. deployments can be manually triggered, but the if automatic then one is always testing the tip of the develop branch. integration and qa testing should always be occurring on the develop branch. feature branches are where developers write their code. this keeps their work isolated from other developers until it is stable. stories are sized so that a feature branch lives for 1 to 3 days. many feature branches make up a deliverable epic. features are integrated into develop by way of pull requests. pull requests are gated merges. before the feature branch can be merged into develop the code must go through a review. this can be forced with permissions or by a convention that the team uses. the merged pull request also provides a single commit to use for cherry picking features. cherry picking process again note that this process circumvents best practices  

The source corpus content is listed here. You can see that the network simply memorized and regurgitated the source.

The Develop branch is the shared branch that developers use for integration testing and to accumulate features from the product backlog. The aim is to merge completed stories and bugfixes as quickly as possible into develop so that integration and quality testing can begin sooner. Merging a feature branch into the develop branch should start a build and potentially deployment to an Integration Testing environment. Deployments can be manually triggered, but the if automatic then one is always testing the tip of the develop branch. Integration and QA testing should always be occurring on the develop branch.  Feature branches are where developers write their code. This keeps their work isolated from other developers until it is stable. Stories are sized so that a feature branch lives for 1 to 3 days. Many feature branches make up a Deliverable/Epic. Features are integrated into develop by way of Pull Requests.

Some generated samples varied or had incomplete sentences but overall this model did an excellent job of recreating the source document.

I, and the team, look forward to sharing more experiments and tests like this one soon.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog artificial-intelligence software-development machine-learning
12 min read

Custom Macro Parameters | JavaScript

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Introduction 

Custom macros are a popular, supported, and versatile addition to any confluence page. Confluence users are able to use macros by making their own, searching the macro library, or by getting access to additional macros through add-ons. If you are making your own macro through an add-on, you will know that the parameter types, aka fields, are limited to the following: 

    • boolean - displays a check box.
    • enum - displays a select field.
    • string - displays an input field (this is the default if unknown type).
    • spacekey - displays an autocomplete field for search on space names.
    • attachment - displays an autocomplete field for search on attachment filenames.
    • username - displays an autocomplete field for search on username and full name.
    • confluence-content - displays an autocomplete field for search on page and blog titles.

Using JavaScript and Soy templates, you are able to inject custom parameters into a macro. The following tutorial is an example of a custom field injected into a basic macro form. The goal is to create a multi-select drop down menu comprised of static predetermined menu items. Note- JS functionality to create a multi-select list and the CSS are not included. 

 

Steps for injecting an element into a macro 

Building the macro

Example code of plugin.xml 

<xhtml-macro name="macro-list" key="macro-list" class="your.class.name"  documentation-url="#"
             icon="/path/to/yourPic.jpg">
    <category name="external-content"/>
    <parameters>
        <parameter name="User" type="username"/>
        <parameter name="Page" type="confluence-content"/>
        <parameter name="StatusSelect" type="string"/>
        <parameter name="Status" type="string"/>
        <parameter name="Width" type="percentage" default="100%"/>
        <parameter name="Max Results" type="int" default="30"/>
    </parameters>
</xhtml-macro>

 

Macro prior to injecting content

*Note: The "Status" parameter is not visible in this image. That is because the element is hidden with CSS. More on why the element is hidden in the JavaScript section. 

 

Configuring the Soy template multi-select code

{template .multiSelect}
    <div class="status-container">
        <div class="closed-status-margin status-selected-container macro-input-fields text">
            <span class="aui-icon aui-icon-small aui-iconfont-arrow-down select-icon" onclick="toggleStatuses()"></span>
        </div>
        <ul class="status-list hide-statuses">
            <li value="created" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Created</li>
            <li value="deleted" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Deleted</li>
            <li value="sent" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Sent</li>
            <li value="correct" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Correct</li>
        </ul>
    </div>
{/template}


JavaScript injection

JS code with explanation

//Run function on ajaxComplete to capture edit macro view.
$(document).ajaxComplete(function() {
    //looking for the macro-list macro to start running
    if( AJS.$("table[data-macro-name = 'macro-list']")){
            //must verify that the MacroBrowser is available to prevent errors
            if (AJS.MacroBrowser) {
            //override command that selectes the ds macro and the field/s selected
            AJS.MacroBrowser.setMacroJsOverride("macro-list", {
                fields: {
                    //calls anonymous function on string fields
                    "string": function (param) {
                        //checks specifically for the string input we want to inject to
                        if (param.name == "StatusSelect") {
                            //calls our function with the input's selected string param
                            return handleSpacesLookup(param);
                        }
                    }
                }
            });
        }
    }
});
//globally available but only called if the above criteria is met
function handleSpacesLookup() {
    //grabbing the div that surrounds our selected input/param
    var paramDiv = AJS.$(Confluence.Templates.MacroBrowser.macroParameterSelect());
     
    //create a variable for our desired template
    var docStatus = path.to.your.template.multiSelect();
     
    //setting a variable to the paramDiv that corresponds to our desired input area via ID
    var select = AJS.$("#macro-param-div-StatusSelect", paramDiv);
     
    //adding our docStatus element to the selected div
    paramDiv.append(docStatus);
 
    //return the selected/created element to the macro
    return AJS.MacroBrowser.Field(paramDiv, select);
};
  
//Functional logic for the multiselect not included.
 

Completed front-end example with JavaScript

Why is the Status Parameter Gone? 

The drop down multi-select captures the user's selection on the front end. When passing the macro form information back to the server via the preview or the save button, the Status Select format is not readable. To make sure that your information is able to be parsed, you may insert relevant information into another macro field. In this case, the user's responses are sent to the hidden Status parameter each time he/she makes a change to the StatusSelect. On save or on preview, only the hidden information is sent to be parsed. 

 

Potential Issues 

  • I only see an empty field when opening the edit macro, I can only see my field when reloading the page with the editable macro, OR I am getting null variable errors. 

    This may be a JS async error, which could explain some inconsistencies. Make sure that this JS file is accessible to the page, that functions are properly nested, and that the initial if clause is triggered as expected. The edit screen and dialog boxes are not connected to a page reload so queries done "on load" of the page will not be caught at this point. Use .ajaxComplete or an event trigger to re-run necessary functions. 

  • My new element works but now I am missing functionality from other parts of my page.

    Make sure that your selectors are unique and as specific as possible. Try to limit using css and JS selectors by the AUI class names as these are repeated through out Confluence. 

  • I am appending my element but only see a blank input box. 

    Your parameter type may limit the content that can be appended to it. For example, select lists cannot have non-option items added to it and will instead render a broken input box. Confirm that your template has the appropriate wrappers if any. You may need to append your template to the container instead of the parameter. 

Topics: blog confluence tips javascript macros bespoke
3 min read

A Holiday Recipe for Planning Success with Portfolio for Jira

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 22, 2017 11:00:00 AM

https://www.praecipio.com/webinars/portfolio-for-jira-best-practicesIn our last blog post, we shared with you how Portfolio for Jira can be used to plan and visualize work for any department or line of business. Now that everyone has a seat at the table, let's make sure the meal is excellent by following a trusted recipe for Jira Portfolio best practices.  

There are only two simple ingredients for a successful Portfolio implementation: Jira configuration and data integrity. 

Jira Configuration

It's important to make sure your Jira entities  workflows, projects, boards and filters  are configured correctly. While this may seem like common knowledge, some organizations overlook even the simplest mistakes when configuring their Jira instance - it's important to make sure you cover all the basics early on.

 In addition, Portfolio entities must also be determined, such as hierarchy and parent links, dependencies, and permissions. Portfolio is customizable to fit your organization's needs, and like the importance of making sure your Jira instance is configured correctly, the same goes for Portfolio - its imperative that the time is taken to set up your instance that best serves your organizations needs. 

To start, you should determine a level of organization that is larger than an Epic. If an Epic is 3-5 Sprints, this larger concept should represent a longer timeline: perhaps 6 months. You can call it anything you want, but we commonly use 'Initiative,' which is Portfolio for Jira's native language. With the Epic Parent created, Portfolio's configuration needs to know you're adding a level, and then have it mapped appropriately to the issue type. The next issue type to be created is called a 'Story,' which will include all other standard issue types, and will live between an epic and a sub-task. You can use whatever taxonomy works best for your organization; however, we have one recommendation - keep it simple! 

Adding the 'initiative' level allows your team to not only get a birds-eye view of your entire plan, but also how it aligns with overall business goals

Also part of your configuration recipe is the creation of a scrum board. Boards in Jira Software are driven by filters, and you should group them into a project or project category.  A word to the wise: Don't append your query with clauses that would remove workflow statuses or remove a specific tag of work. Let the board drive what your plan would display. Keep in mind if it's on your board, it's going to be in your plan.

Now that your Jira configuration is cooking with gas, let's dig into data integrity.

Data Integrity

Portfolio brings projects and plans to life; however, its powered by the data inputted into Jira. You've heard the saying 'garbage in, garbage out', right?' Avoid bad data at all costs and follow these simple steps to keep you Jira data clean.

You can start with keeping your backlog groomed by simply resolving and closing your issues. Closed issues will disappear from your backlog and will no longer show on your board, which means the Portfolio won't display them in the plan, either. Not only is this good practice in general for Jira Software, but it will keep your Portfolio plan accurate. If you have a task or issue that has been sitting in your backlog for a year or two, it's time to clean the pantry.

Maintaining hierarchy in Jira software is critical when using Portfolio. You must close out lower-level items before closing the parent - if you complete sub-tasks and close them out, it doesn't mean you're 'in progress' in the hierarchy. No progress will be seen on the story, epic or initiative just because you close or resolve a sub-task. You should be focusing on story completion and story throughput, instead of progress at the sub-task level. Make sure you are closing and completing story level to show progress in your plan overall - again, this will maintain accuracy in planning and forecasting.

Closing your story-level tasks will show your plan's overall progress

This blog post is full, but you can come back for tasty seconds and thirds in the Portfolio for Jira: Best Practices webinar coming up on November 30 at 11 a.m. CST.

Topics: jira blog devops process-consulting jira-software marketplace-apps
2 min read

Thanks to Portfolio for Jira, Everyone Has a Seat at the Table

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 21, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, we can't help but think about our favorite things this time of year. We have opportunities to see family, friends and relatives, enjoy good food, and talk about everything that happened throughout the year. It is great to catch up and visit about what's happened, and what's going to happen. It's a time when families and friends reflect, collaborate, and even begin planning for the next year (because all families get along perfectly, right?).

What if you had a holiday table year-round for your organization?

If a project is delayed, or a change needs to be made, wouldn't it be nice to update the entire plan and everyone on the team at once?

Atlassian's Portfolio for Jira is the solution. 

The core of Jira Software is a workflow engine. It allows you to track issues and tasks in a predefined, customizable workflow. Now, take this awesome workflow capability, and lay a forecasting and visualization tool on top of it - that's Portfolio for Jira. Atlassian’s Portfolio for Jira is the road mapping and visibility tool used to forecast and track long-term plans, increasing visibility and business alignment. Portfolio provides a living, breathing plan for teams and leadership to stay up-to-date on existing plans, all while forecasting new long-term plans.

The best part? It's not just for software teams. 

Portfolio for Jira organized existing marketing tasks (entered as issues) into releases and themes, giving our entire team the visibility we needed to stay on track.

Teams that can benefit from Jira Software: 

  • Human Resources
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Procurement
  • Legal
  • Sales
  • And more 

Because we track just about everything we do - including marketing activities - in Jira, the marketing team at Praecipio Consulting was able to use Portfolio for campaign planning and execution. As a test case, we launched a product marketing campaign for our newest add-on in the Atlassian Marketplace, Turbo Kit for Jira. Portfolio for Jira helped our team plan, forecast, manage, analyze, track and report on our campaign efforts. 

Change happens – all the time. Portfolio can help you, your team, and leadership stay well-informed on project and planning statuses, and it can also help you see the big picture and track business goals (not just your team or department!). It is the ultimate visibility tool. 

We'll dig into this a little more in our upcoming webinar Portfolio for Jira: Best Practices. Be sure to grab a seat at our table to learn more!

Learn more about Portfolio for Jira in the Atlassian marketplace.

 

Topics: jira atlassian blog marketing plan release training jira-software marketplace-apps
2 min read

Seeking Validation? Turbo Kit for Jira Takes Care of That

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 27, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Customizing workflows in Jira means taking control of your organization's transactions, but that also means quality assurance becomes critical. Fortunately, Turbo Kit for Jira not only provides the deep customization capabilities for workflow creation and customizing conditions, but also has a variety of validators needed to ensure transitions operate correctly and smoothly.

"The main purpose of a validator is to validate any info before performing any transition, such as moving a ticket/issue in Jira from 'in progress' to 'in review' or 'closed'," said Renuka Joshi, Software Engineer at Praecipio Consulting. "After creating validator in the workflow for specific transition, Turbo Kit checks to see if the value is correct and if the value is present on transition." Jira admins and power users can customize this kind of transition easily with Turbo Kit's JQL validator, comment validator, and modified field evaluator." 

Within Jira Service Desk, when a user transitions a workflow to "In Progress", Turbo Kit is enforcing data entry in the Comments field and Approval Notes custom field. Turbo Kit also enables the custom error message.

Turbo Kit's built-in JQL validator checks for specific conditions on custom fields and other supported fields for a ticket before performing a transition to ensure it works correctly before saving your workflow. For example, if a user writes a JQL function to check that the priority of the ticket equals 'medium', then before performing that particular transition, the function confirm that if the priority is not in that state,  the transition will be blocked. With a test issue key available in Turbo Kit, users can test the validators to make sure the JQL function is correct. "That kind of checking is performed automatically, which helps teams improve their quality assurance efforts," said Joshi. The JQL Validator is also capable of performing RegEx validation with the combination of Regex JQL Function, to ensure format validation on specific fields prior to transition.

Turbo Kit can also help enforce compliance with the capture of required data. For example, when creating a ticket, a user may not always know the required information to collect, such as story points, assignee, priority, etc. Validators built-in to Turbo Kit, however, can help ensure those critical data points are entered prior to the ticket closing by blocking issue transitions when required fields are empty. Error messaging related to these transition blocks can also be modified with Turbo Kit, giving your team full ability to enforce compliance and enhance usability. Examples of this type of validation include the comment field validator, where a comment must be entered into the long text field before the issue is allowed to transition in the workflow.

For more information about Turbo Kit for Jira, register for the in-depth product demonstration webinar on Wednesday, November 8 at 11 a.m. CT. 

Ready to take Turbo Kit for a test drive? Download it today from the Atlassian Marketplace.  

Topics: blog product-services turbokit jira-software
3 min read

Turbo Kit for Jira Makes Workflow Automation (and your life) Easier

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 27, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Automation is a popular theme for developers, consultants and everyday users of the Atlassian suite, especially within Jira, because it makes your life much easier. There's no shortage of ways to automate processes within Jira, including custom development and the Atlassian marketplace. Even we at Praecipio Consulting have used most or all of these add-ons. That is until we created our own automation tool: Turbo Kit for Jira.

One of Turbo Kit's most powerful functions is the create and set post function. With Turbo Kit installed, an option in the workflow editor allows the user to select the relevant transition. For example, the 'calculate set field values' function enables you to choose “to do,” and then move to “In progress”, and then add a post function. The target field can be a pre-existing custom field or a default Atlassian field, such as description or summary. The target field can be a string, drop-down field, or number field. When selecting a number field – this could be story points or a custom field - the user is able to select from a set of operators to format mathematical calculations. If your business need includes increasing story points on a transition, or increasing the severity of an issue, or decreasing the severity of an issue on transition, all of these (and more) can be automated in advance with Turbo Kit. This can be done to all workflows, projects or issues.

There are many potential uses for the calculate set field values function in Turbo Kit. In this example, a Jira admin is determining a repair cost by performing a calculation using data from the hourly rate, hours and discount fields.

The string feature in Turbo Kit enables the concatenation of strings to facilitate changes to the description field on transition. Turbo Kit users can also add and create a new description field based on content from a different field in a Jira ticket. This lozenge format, familiar to Atlassian users, is leveraged to form a calculation or a string concatenation. In certain examples, users can add their own custom content to that calculation field. 

In addition to number and string fields, Turbo Kit also provides post functions within the workflow for single select field options that recognize the contexts associated with that field. "Here's how Turbo Kit can make life a little bit easier! A Jira administrator needs to change an assignee or a number value associated with an issue on transition," explained Jillian Flook, Developer at Praecipio Consulting. "In some cases, this could be on an importance level or a more nuanced priority level that isn't available within the traditional priority drop-down list. And because the priority list is another field available for transitions with Turbo Kit, a user is able to move up one or down one." Turbo Kit for Jira offers a variety of supported fields, as well as custom fields. And don't worry about your custom fields. They will not be supported by Turbo Kit initially, but you can enter a custom field ID, and quickly view a list supported fields in a drop-down list. By using the custom field's ID, a user can select the sources in the calculation.  

Out of the box, Turbo Kit's supported fields and custom fields provide an enormous range of enhanced opportunities to leverage post functions and making your workflows much more powerful and easier to build. For more information about Turbo Kit for Jira and a closer look at is powerful new features, register for the product demonstration webinar on Wednesday, November 8 at 11 a.m. CT.

 
Topics: blog product-services turbokit jira-software
3 min read

Say Hello to Turbo Kit for Jira (and Goodbye to Unnecessary Add-ons)

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 25, 2017 11:00:00 AM

We’re excited to announce our newest add-on in the Atlassian marketplace, Turbo Kit for Jira.

Turbo Kit consolidates the features of multiple other marketplace products into a single add-on that provides enhanced search capabilities, additional post functions, and many other features to enhance your Jira instance.

The product's inception was informed by 10 years of field experience directly from our consultants who have implemented, customized and supported numerous, distinct add-ons to achieve the power that Turbo Kit for Jira now provides in one application. Turbo Kit for Jira not only simplifies the implementation and maintenance of a Jira enhancement, but also potentially at a significantly lower investment.

Powerful New Features

Turbo Kit’s key features include JQL-powered issue auto create, JQL functions, a Graphical field calculator and Special input fields, which are described below. 

Validators

Turbo Kit offers a powerful set of validators, conditions, and post functions. The auto create allows users to create new issues on transition based on JQL conditions. No scripting language is required to make this happen, which developers will appreciate.

Functions

Turbo Kit also adds new functions in the JQL function library, including a RegEx evaluator, date comparisons, time in status, status compare, issue link types, members of roles, and epic memberships, just to name a few. These functions not only can help users and administrator create more effective filters to drive dashboards, but can also be used with workflow post functions, conditions and validators.

"My favorite feature is the graphical field calculator and one that I call the most powerful post function ever," said Steve Kling, Principal of Development at Praecipio Consulting. "I’ve been developing in the Atlassian environment more than five years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Turbo Kit for Jira enables selecting a target field, based on either number or string, and providing real arithmetic calculations to create and calculate a field or the ability to string together a new value. And no knowledge of scripting languages, like Groovy, is required."

Special Input Fields

Jira doesn’t ship with any of the masks users might expect, such as SSN, phone number, zip code, or email address fields. Similarly, Jira does not offer out-of-the-box a Regex-based field where formats can be defined. But Turbo Kit for Jira, and its special input fields, enables reinforcement for that type of data entry. This mask provides an additional check to ensure that data entered into a field meets the field's data requirements, ensuring data compliance.

For more information about Turbo Kit for Jira and a closer look at is powerful new features, register for the product demonstration webinar on Wednesday, November 8 at 11 a.m. CT.

Designed for Atlassian Jira 7.0.0. - 7.5.1, Turbo Kit is available for download in the Atlassian marketplace for Server only. In the Turbo Kit for Jira marketplace location, you will find licensing options and pricing information as well as detailed user documentation. Give Turbo Kit for Jira a test drive today!

Topics: blog product-services turbokit jira-software
4 min read

How Samsung does lean ITIL® with Jira Service Desk

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 13, 2017 11:00:00 AM

October 12, 2017

This is a guest blog written on behalf of Jack Harding, IT Consultant at Praecipio Consulting and Larry Brock, IT Chief of Staff at Samsung Austin R&D Center and Austin AUG Leader. Based on their presentation “The Power of Process: How Samsung Implemented ITIL” at Summit San Jose 2017.


The IT team at Samsung’s Austin R&D Center had the talent to be successful. Yet, there were bottlenecks getting in the way of their efficiency and productivity. Poor communication, lack of visibility, bad process, and unorganized tools were hampering their ability to support the rest of the organization and realize their full potential. Sound familiar?

As an IT organization within a very successful processor design business unit, they realized they needed to do better or they could potentially cost their business unit speed and design quality – the things their reputation was built upon.

 

Samsung’s Austin R&D Center, with the help of Praecipio Consulting, decided to go lean and set up a simple ITIL®  implementation of Jira Service Desk for Incident, Problem, and Change Management processes. Over the course of only 3 weeks, they were able to mitigate those pitfalls and ultimately increase productivity across their IT organization.

What exactly is ITIL and how should my team use it?

ITIL®  (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is the most widely-used IT service management framework in the world. It’s essential for organizations to align the assets and functions of IT to the overall business. As the de-facto standard for ITSM, ITIL places your organization on the path to deliver the best, customer-centric service management.

The ITIL framework has been developed over the course of 25+ years and the entire library consists of numerous volumes containing thousands of pages of prescriptive process definition. While there is much to be gained from the specification as a whole, sometimes a lighter touch is needed – maybe even necessary. In Samsung’s case, they needed core ITIL processes but also needed to prove ROI quickly.

Before you even decide to implement a framework like ITIL, you should identify your team’s pain points and think about what processes are critical for your IT team. Most teams start with the four key ITIL disciplines, Incident ManagementProblem Management,  Change ManagementService Request Management, and decide which are the highest priority.

Find your pain points

Start by assessing your team. How do they communicate with each other, customers and other teams? Do they have the right processes? Are those processes being followed? Do customers have visibility into their request status? Some of the most common ITSM pain points that IT teams experience are:

  • Process: Processes are often poorly defined or not implemented properly within the tools

  • Communication: Teams work independently of one another and don’t focus on communication outside of their silo

  • Transparency: Customer or partner teams are often unable to see into pertinent processes and work items

Identifying these pain points will help you prioritize which ITIL processes to implement first and how to structure them for your team.

Samsung’s lean ITIL processes

Samsung’s Austin R&D Center had similar challenges. They didn’t have a process for incident, problem or change management, no single source of truth, disjointed communication and a total lack of transparency.

We realized, we have got to do this better than what we’re doing now. – Larry Brock, IT Chief of Staff, Samsung Austin R&D

They already had a clear process in Jira Service Desk for service request management, but none of the other core ITIL processes. They knew they needed structure for incident, problem and change management but needed help to implement them in a lean way. So, Praecipio Consulting helped them take these processes from just theory, to practice in order to see ROI quickly.

Process

The team began to define, publish and follow processes built from their own experience in addition to input and feedback from customers. They also built a multi-faceted workflow allowing for easy escalation of an event into an incident, while automatically generating and linking problem and change issues.

Communication

Praecipio Consulting helped the team create notification templates in order to build comprehensive and consistent messaging into their process. Using queues, they built an attractive change review dashboard with automated removal of stale and abandoned requests. Now, change issues have become the single source of truth regarding what IT has planned, in progress, and completed regarding infrastructure or computing environment.

Transparency

Because changes are now all documented, customers are finding creative ways to access and use this information, including in their own dashboards. The IT change calendar now shows when changes are scheduled and they’ve even seen it layered into Team and Department calendars outside of the IT team.

Evaluating their pain points and creating lean processes to improve productivity has helped them be more transparent within the team, with customers and key business stakeholders and has allowed them to provide better and more timely reporting. The ITIL framework is just that: a framework. It’s up to your team to determine what matters most and how robust or lean you want your processes to be.

Topics: atlassian blog implementation consulting-services itsm jira-service-desk jira-software
3 min read

The Good Place: Dysfunction in the Agile Organization

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 13, 2017 11:00:00 AM

By Amanda Babb, principal of Process Delivery

It’s been a great first week of the fall season of television. Some of my favorites have been rebooted, my alma mater was featured on a t-shirt, and one that I’m obsessed with has sparked a bunch of corollaries with what we do at Praecipio Consulting.

If you’ve seen a show called The Good Place, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a Sartre-esque comedy where Hell is other people. But there’s an architect. The Architect is responsible for developing the most diabolical experience (torture) for the four anti-heroes to make them question why they’re doing what they’re doing and why they’re doing it with the people they’re doing it with.

Cue the Agile Dysfunction discussion.

There is one key distinction between The Good Place and the real world, however, and it's the capacity people have for learning. If given the opportunity, the Team and The Architect can learn and, more importantly, learn from one another. In The Good Place, a Team is not allowed to self-organize, nor are they afforded the time to perform retrospectives. The Architect doesn’t know why the plan isn't working and hits the reset button. The Architect, while gathering data on every failure, does not take the time to perform a retrospective with the rest of the organization and ends up with a mutiny. We at Praecipio Consulting too often see dysfunction in organizations as a result of lack of learning. A mistake or failure is subject to the reset button, not discussed, analyzed, and ultimately acted upon to create a better way to work. 

The Architect gets frustrated and continues to reboot the four members of the team for multiple iterations. In the hundreds. The Architect dictates the constraints. The Architect dictates the other people involved. The Architect dictates roles. The Architect records results. The Architect resets the scenario every time something goes wrong much to the dismay of his own cast of players. 

Teams self-organize and question the mission. Teams figure out the solution. They work together to understand their situation while choosing to do what’s right regardless of direction. Sometimes with disastrous results: flying shrimp, mutant giraffes, a clam chowder fountain. All of these combine in a chaotic sequence forcing one of the main characters to finally stand up and admit being wrong. The team is not the villain. The team is simply questioning the nature of their reality and determining whether or not they can push the boundaries. 

I’m not saying there’s a villain or a hero in this narrative: the Team is not smarter than The Architect. They both have strengths in the scenario. The Architect’s frustration is our own everyday frustration: why won’t the Team just do what they’re supposed to? And the Team frustration is our everyday frustration: why does The Architect think we can’t understand what’s actually happening?

This is not to say The Architect is the villain either. There is a plan. This plan has been presented, approved, and is being executed. Small changes are presented each time the reset button is hit: let's try it again, but this time, add a member to the team. Let's try it again, but this time the main character is "The Best Person." Let's try it again, but without introducing any of the team members to one another in the beginning. And again. And again. And again. Because The Architect is a strong leader, the rest of the cast and crew continue to follow the direction of the plan, but without input for the next iteration. 

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." - Unknown

This is the number one dysfunction of agile organizations: the lack of a retrospective at any level. This is the first agile ritual that disappears at the Team, Program, or Portfolio level. How can the organization learn and grow without a moment to reflect on what it learned? By removing learning from the organization, you have removed trust, innovation, and efficiency. 

If you think you're in The Good Place, take a moment an perform a retrospective. You may actually be in The Bad Place. 

Topics: blog scaled-agile process-consulting training
2 min read

Flatwater Foundation | Dam That Cancer Fundraiser

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 14, 2017 12:29:00 PM

You may have heard of the movement to build corporate philanthropy called Pledge 1%. Praecipio Consulting has been an active member of the mission-driven non-profit since 2015. We have pledged 1% of our equity, 1% of our time, and 1% of our profits to a variety of charitable causes, including the Boys and Girls Club, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Coastal Conservation Association. “It’s not enough to just do good work, …” says Christopher Pepe, “… we want our company to do good in the world.”

Flatwater Foundation

In 2017, we chose a new-to-us charity to contribute tothe Flatwater Foundation. We earmarked the organization because of their unwavering dedication to provide those battling with cancer, and their families, access to mental health therapy to help cope with their loved ones diagnosis.

Our campaign to raise money for the Flatwater Foundation’s “Dam That Cancer” fundraiser began by entering a five-person stand-up paddle boarding team to complete a 21-mile athletic feat across Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. As physically challenging as that was, we were determined to accomplish the goal we set for ourselves. In addition to paddle boarding, we hosted and participated in events to help us raise money to reach our goal - We teamed up with Whitestone Brewery and in.gredients, and hosted an event to boost awareness and generate contributions to the fundraiser. We also hosted a charity Spikeball Tournament to raise additional funds for the cause.

Fundraising Feels Good 

In the end, we were ultimately successful. The Praecipio Consulting team raised $11,491 of our $10K goal, contributing to Flatwater Foundation exceeding its $600K goal. We are so proud of our staff committing to training on their own time, and enduring the grueling distance of Lady Bird Lake (while having fun), all in an effort to help families cope with the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in.

Course-Map-1-814x835

All of us who volunteered have been challenged, and yet enriched more than words can say. There’s a true feeling of camaraderie—we all know we’ve joined together for a cause and a purpose greater than ourselves.

Praecipio Consulting continues to support many charitable organizations that do great work for our community, but Flatwater Foundation’s “Dam That Cancer” is one that has become a part of our company’s culture. Praecipio Consulting’s staff feels a strong connection to their mission and their work; so much that even though our muscles are still sore, we know we’ll be back to support their work in the future.

5 min read

Kaizen: How A Consulting Firm Integrated JIRA, Salesforce, and Hubspot

By Praecipio Consulting on May 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM

In the consulting world, most work focuses on providing excellent client solutions. And Praecipio Consulting is no different in that regard. Specializing in the Atlassian suite, they consult on IT, DevOps, and several other areas to ensure client success and provide a great ROI. Praecipio Consulting began in 2006; in the past eleven years, they’ve evolved from a startup into an established consulting firm. In 2016, Atlassian awarded them the Atlassian Innovation Award for their work with the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the firm also produces its own add-ons for the Atlassian Marketplace. These add-ons include a DocuSign and Confluence integration, additional security layers for Confluence content, and a Docusign-Jira integration. They also are a Workato Consulting Partner.

But Praecipio Consulting is also distinct for applying kaizen to its internal operations. The firm seeks to continually improve its own processes, so it can work more efficiently and provide better client solutions. Automation has become an important component of the firm’s kaizen, allowing them to onboard customers and complete projects smoothly while conserving resources.

Seamlessly Connecting Salesforce and Jira

Praecipio Consulting uses Workato to connect Salesforce and Jira. The firm’s Business Development team uses Salesforce to manage the entire sales cycle. The Services Delivery team, meanwhile, uses Jira to manage projects but frequently needs access to information stored in the CRM, which serves as the system of record for customer data. “Rather than give them SFDC licenses for this narrow purpose, it made sense to sync Salesforce data to the program they use all the time: JIRA,” explains Michael Kuhl, a Principal at the firm.

Initially, these information silos didn’t exist. “Prior to adopting Salesforce, we used Jira to manage the sales cycle. It was okay, but Jira isn’t made to be a CRM. As we scaled, we needed to graduate to a real CRM,” Kuhl explained. The transition was challenging, however, because many of the firm’s business processes still relied on customer information being accessible via Jira.

Lightning-Fast Implementation

The road to integration wasn’t entirely smooth at first. “We tried using a popular Atlassian Marketplace add-on to create this integration, but it wasn’t a flexible tool,” Kuhl remarks. “It was focused on one use case — connecting customer service teams and development teams — and that’s not what we wanted. We needed a more all-purpose solution.” After experiencing its versatility first-hand at the Atlassian Summit, the firm settled on Workato.

From there, the firm quickly implemented the platform. Kuhl estimates he set up the first simple integration in about two hours. And the return, he says, has been multifold. The delivery team has all the information they need to work efficiently, and the sales team can focus on closing deals instead of answering questions about customers. Instead of waiting to have a conversation, the delivery team can just check Jira; it’s a smooth, self-service workflow. Kuhl says the firm also appreciates the complete peace of mind the integration affords. “We know the delivery team has all the info they need. Once we built the integration, we just turned it on. It just runs in the background; if there’s ever a problem, it informs Jira Service Desk, so our support team can address it. It all happens invisibly.”

Marketing Automation: Sending the Right Emails, Right on Time

The firm also automates their marketing with Hubspot and uses Workato to add extra muscle to their email campaigns. “When someone downloads one of our add-ons from the Marketplace, we wanted to automatically send an email that thanked them for downloading,” says Erin Jones, a Senior Marketing Analyst who handles the firm’s product and email marketing. But the Marketplace doesn’t have event-based integration built in, so Praecipio Consulting uses Workato’s scheduling trigger. “On a daily basis we query the Marketplace’s API to get the set of new downloads. If we find any new downloads, we then call the Hubspot API and create a Hubspot contact,” Erin says. The firm then sets properties on the Hubspot contact to define the sort of support they receive. “If there’s an existing Hubspot contact who then downloaded an app, they need to be tagged appropriately so we can email them with relevant updates or Marketplace information. In other words, we need to tie that contact to a specific product, so that their email says ‘Thank you for downloading Product X; here’s how to get started.’”

Erin explains that the firm used to do this process manually, but sought ought an automated solution as they expanded their product offerings. “Towards the end of last year, our product number increased, and we wanted to make sure that we were sending out the right emails–it’s important that people have an easy time using our products! Before we started using Workato, a marketing intern had to manually download the report from Atlassian marketplace, identify new users, and manually send emails from Hubspot. We are always trying to optimize our internal processes, so this was something we decided to automate,” she says.

A Seamless Transition

Praecipio Consulting appreciates the quick implementation Workato provides. “With Workato, we set this all up in under four hours. A team member–who had never used Workato before–picked it up almost instantly. He was very familiar with the integration at the end of those 4 hours. And we saw results immediately,” Erin says. “At the end of those four hours, we were kicking off the workflow. It was instant.” Though they didn’t try any other solutions before selecting Workato, the firm initially considered writing custom Python code for the integration. “That definitely would have taken more than 4 hours!” Erin laughs.

Improved ROI: No Interns Required

The firm has seen benefits beyond the initial quick implementation, crediting Workato with saving them thousands of dollars every year. “Automating a task that would otherwise require manual input saves us resources and time,” Erin explains. “Overall, the automation saves us five hours per week–which adds up to six weeks of labor per year! That’s about $5,000 we would have spent paying an intern, plus the invisible opportunity costs of responding more slowly to a new download.”

And responding quickly to downloads is key to making the new user experience wonderful, directly impacting the firm’s marketing ROI. “With Workato, our customers get this thank-you email sooner, so they can immediately install the product and use it to the best of their ability,” Erin says. “Having our customers instantaneously receive that email helps them onboard more smoothly and gives them a better feeling about adopting our product.”

Topics: jira blog jira-software
2 min read

Jira Reports & Dashboards

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 21, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Expert led, hands-on Atlassian training

This course is for those who are new to Jira dashboards and reports. You'll learn how to use Jira's out-of-the box reporting and dashboard capabilities to view and assess progress and bottlenecks within projects. In hands-on exercises, you'll create and configure a project dashboard and learn how to configure dashboard gadgets. You’ll also learn how to read Jira Agile reports, configure a wallboard, and create a multi-project dashboard. The course discusses dashboard best practices and pitfalls and how to ensure your reporting reflects the right metrics at the right time. This course should put you on the path to using one of Jira's core strengths: displaying project status visually on fully customizable dashboards.

High-level topics

  1. Overview of each of the major Jira and Jira agile reports - the purpose of each, how to use, how to read and interpret the data
  2. How to create a dashboard and populate it with gadgets
  3. How to create a dashboard that tracks multiple projects
  4. How to configure gadgets so they display data as you need
  5. How to create and use a wallboard

Who should attend?

Agile project managers, scrum masters, technical managers, Jira system administrators, or anyone looking to learn more about Jira dashboards and reporting

Level: Introductory

Suggested prerequisites

Familiarity with Jira Agile, Jira Query Language (JQL), and basic Jira functionality

Course objectives

After attending this course, attendees should be able to:
- Identify and describe the purpose of the most commonly used reports in Jira and Jira Agile
- Create a dashboard, populate it with gadgets and configure the gadgets 
- Read and interpret Jira and Jira Agile reports 
- Create and use a wallboard 
- Create a dashboard that tracks multiple projects

When

Friday, April 28th 2017 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM (CST) 

Where 

Praecipio Consulting - 5918 West Courtyard Drive Suite 450, Austin, TX 78730

As an Authorized Atlassian Training Partner and Atlassian Platinum Enterprise Expert, we deliver value-added instruction and expertise to help you increase your knowledge of and throughput with the Atlassian product suite.

 

Topics: jira atlassian scaled-agile training jira-software
3 min read

Uniting Tech Giants | DocuSign for Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 21, 2017 11:00:00 AM

By Tony Mann (DocuSign)
Shared from the DocuSign Blog  

An interview with Steven Kling,

Principal of Product Development at Praecipio Consulting

With DocuSign Momentum fast approaching, we sat down with Steven Kling, Principal of Product Development at Praecipio Consulting – makers of DocuSign for Atlassian – to learn about the experience of building a DocuSign integration and what he’s most looking forward to at this year’s Momentum conference.

Q: Tell us about what led Praecipio Consulting to build a DocuSign integration?
A: We use DocuSign extensively at Praecipio Consulting. From Statements of Work to contracts in our Sales team, to everything internally from HR to Legal. As an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, we use their suite exclusively for all of our processes, so an integration is something we wanted ourselves for Atlassian’s Confluence collaboration platform. We’re the experts in JIRA, Atlassian’s industry-dominating business, software, and service desk management platform, and we saw a huge potential market for regulatory compliance (FDA, SOX, etc) that required repetitive, signatures; especially given the various digital initiatives out there pushing adoption.

Q: What was the development process like?
A: I’m a veteran of many various integration efforts over the years; some more successful than others. One key factor is a strong partnership. DocuSign provided solid and reliable technical assistance the few times it was necessary to reach out. Nobody has a perfect API, but DocuSign’s is as close as I’ve seen with excellent documentation and a testing UI that made familiarization easy. It’s definitely one of the most well designed products I’ve worked with from an integration perspective.

Q: What lessons did you learn during the process that you can share with other people looking to build a DocuSign integration?
A: We learned a great deal about Adobe PDF, CSS and multipart http requests! We had thought we could rely on Atlassian’s bundled export utilities but these were not exposed APIs and we had to come up with our own export-to-PDF solution. It’s not something we had counted on. So make sure you know if the product you’re integrating with can hand you a pdf, or start cracking the books. As for multi-part http posts, we were caught between versions of Apache’s http offerings with wildly differing APIs for multi-part, which is required for sending documents. If you’re using Java you’re likely to use Apache, so go with the latest 4.5.x HttpComponents and be wary of which version when looking at examples and online documentation.

Q: What are the use cases and types of teams that can benefit from DocuSign for Atlassian?
A: We’ve got a suite of products to make any team that relies on signatures much more efficient and provide consistent traceability, built seamlessly into the Atlassian applications they use every day. My favorite example is an HR recruiter. Each new hire goes through stages of the hiring process that require signatures, but also captures a lot of personal information. Today’s standard at best is a repetitive set of documents sent via PDF in email attachments that, best case, are fillable but more typically must be printed, filled out, signed and scanned. The same information: Name, Address, Phone, SSN, etc entered each time. Depending on the HR team’s process, these will get saved to a share network drive or worse, printed and left on a desk or an unlocked filing cabinet. With DocuSign for JIRA, each needed document is sent automatically as the prospect’s JIRA is moved through the new hire workflow. Each DocuSign field (tab) filled in is captured as a JIRA field that can then populate subsequent documents further in the process and even on into the on-boarding tickets post-hire. Of course there are other use cases for Release Management, SOX Compliance, FDA CFR21 Part 11, Legal, and Sales – but the HR recruiter is as solid a value proposition I’ve seen. And its totally customizable to your current process. No major culture changes required!

Q: What can we look forward to seeing from you at Momentum 2017?
A: Well, on the developer track I’m going to focus on two things: First, a review of the use cases from requirements sign-off to release management for enterprise development teams and how DocuSign for Confluence, DocuSign for JIRA and DocuSign for HipChat (coming soon) can automate approvals and ensure traceably through the development life cycle. Then I’ll go into lessons learned, reviewing some of the technical challenges of integrating with DocuSign. I don’t think anyone has flexed the muscles of the DocuSign APIs as much as our team and we’re happy to pass on what we’ve learned!

See you at Momentum 2017

Make plans to catch Steven Kling’s presentation, Uniting Tech Giants: DocuSign for Atlassian (Thursday, May 4th at 10:00 AM – Developer Track) to learn more about how DocuSign for Atlassian can transform your approval processes, and to learn their best practices for DocuSign API integration.

Topics: atlassian blog docusign
4 min read

Ideation to Implementation with Lucidchart and the Atlassian Trio

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 22, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Guest post by Lucidchart

As the first third-party app to integrate with Confluence, Jira, and HipChat, Lucidchart allows you to add diagrams to each of these Atlassian tools in order to clarify your ideas and foster collaboration. The Lucidchart add-on will feel like a natural extension of your Atlassian apps. Using Lucidchart in conjunction with this powerful trio can improve the effectiveness of your team collaboration all the way from ideation to implementation.

Start your brainstorm in HipChat

How many times have you kicked off a project with a team brainstorm consisting of a stuffy conference room, a single whiteboard, and a designated scribe? And how many times have you failed to take a photo of that whiteboard and lost your entire brain dump to the eraser?  

Forget the whiteboard and the conference room. Start a brainstorming discussion within a HipChat room and use a Lucidchart diagram as your virtual whiteboard. By typing /lucidchart in the message bar of any HipChat group room, you can get your whole team collaborating visually. Every member of your team, regardless of physical location, can add ideas to the diagram in real time. Ideation is documented in an editable format for easy reference. 

Any time you need to resurface a particular diagram for further discussion, simply use the Lucidchart share button to post your document to a HipChat room to invite more real-time collaboration.  

Store your ideas in Confluence

Once you have all your ideas documented and organized in a mind map, flowchart, or other diagram, use the Lucidchart Confluence add-on to ensure safekeeping. Share your diagrams on a centralized platform that anyone at your company can access. Add your diagram to an existing Confluence page to clarify the ideas already there, or start a new page for your diagram and add necessary context—both help to ensure employees have the right information for streamlined project completion. 

Even if you make edits to your diagrams in Lucidchart, those changes will be updated in Confluence without you having to re-upload a single diagram. Confluence can become a centralized platform serving as a single source of truth as you begin to carry out ideas.

Take action in Jira 

As you begin implementation, you can plan, track, and report on your projects within Jira. Add Lucidchart diagrams to supplement complicated ideas with eye-opening visuals—make it easy to understand what action is needed. 

Attaching your diagram to a Jira issue eliminates the hassle of emailing documents back and forth and trying to keep track of the most updated version. It’s the most efficient way to communicate with your team. 

Start using Lucidchart and the trio

Lucidchart and Atlassian can save any department time and money as they develop innovative solutions. Here are a few ways you can start using the combination of Lucidchart and Atlassian within your organization. 

  •  Product: Start with a Lucidchart document in HipChat to brainstorm product design with your team. Add the diagram to a Confluence page containing other crucial data that the whole team can reference. Once you start building the product, attach the diagram to the appropriate Jira tasks to communicate work that needs to be done.
  •  Engineering: If you’re dealing with a project involving previously documented architecture, post the existing UML or network diagram back to HipChat for further discussion. Edit the document to reflect proposed changes and then embed it in a Confluence page or attach it to a Jira issue to convey the underlying architecture.    
  •  Marketing: Create a flowchart in your marketing HipChat room to map out the different email campaigns currently running. This chart will help you identify areas where you need additional emails or where you need to cut or consolidate emails. Embed the diagram in Confluence so you can easily reference it as you make the proposed changes to your campaign flows. Then add it to Jira to track the emails being adjusted.

Pairing Lucidchart with your favorite Atlassian workplace applications can improve the efficiency and communication of your team. Make visual thinking a key part of moving a project from the whiteboard stages to a finished product. Learn more about Lucidchart’s Atlassian integrationsIf you would like to use Lucidchart with your Atlassian tools, please contact our friends at Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog confluence hipchat implementation lucidchart product-services integration
3 min read

Join the Atlassian team at Amazon Web Services re:Invent!

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 22, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Re-posted from Atlassian

In the DevOps era, the technology tools you choose are critical for fostering innovation and overcoming development and deployment challenges, and creating a seamless experience between these tools is key to streamlining processes and maximizing productivity. And that’s why we are excited to be attending Amazon Web Services annual conference, re:Invent. Come join us at the event! Here’s what we’ll be up to:

Atlassian and Amazon Web Services for the Enterprise

Enterprises running on AWS can now leverage Atlassian’s collaboration platform for instant scalability, quick setup, and painless administration. At Atlassian Summit 2016, we announced that Data Center customers can deploy their Jira Software and Bitbucket Data Center instances to Amazon’s Web Services (AWS). With AWS’s Quick Start guides, powered by AWS CloudFormation templates for Atlassian, Data Center customers can deploy their Data Center instance to AWS in 10 minutes and standardize on one reliable platform that scales seamlessly.Stop by our booth to find out what’s new and get more info on an exciting offer for enterprise customers.

Find out how our own team went from a single Jira Software server instance to Jira Software Data Center on AWS at the talk: Case Study: How Atlassian Uses Amazon EFS with Jira to Cut Costs and Accelerate Performance. Add it your re:Invent agenda today!

AWS and the art of scale and interoperability

But our solutions aren’t just for enterprises. It’s easier than ever to scale your business with the power of AWS and Atlassian’s cloud platform. With about half of Jira Software cloud customers running on Amazon EC2 and 60% of Bitbucket users using AWS tools, we’ve created several integrations to help streamline your workflows and make continuous delivery and quick deployment a breeze. AWS CodeDeploy for Bitbucket,  AWS + Bitbucket Pipelines, and Bamboo Tasks for AWS are just a few examples of how easy it is to move between platforms to get the job done.

Check out all our AWS integrations here and get a demo at re:Invent.

Stop by our booth 2446 for a chance to win a complete HTC VIVE – Virtual Reality System or a new Echo Dot!

Developers: tap into our $200M Ecosystem

Developers can use our tools and APIs to build customizations for Atlassian products. Additionally, they can build hyper-growth businesses by selling add-ons on our Marketplace, which has reached $200M in sales, $100M of which were generated in the last year alone! Atlassian’s deep relationship with AWS allows us to provide the resources to get started fast and scale with ease.

Now it’s easier than ever to build an integration on AWS. In fact we are offering $100 in AWS credits for developers who launch an add-on in the Atlassian Marketplace between December 1 and May 1, 2017.  

Tackling devops together: come meet our partners

A powerful technology solution cannot stand alone. It has to integrate with other solutions in the market in order to truly offer an end-to-end devops experience. That’s why we’ll have several partners with us at re:Invent to show how you can combine the power of Atlassian, AWS, and the strong ecosystem surrounding these tools. 

Our Atlassian Platinum Enterprise Expert, Praecipio Consulting, will be joining us in the booth to discuss enterprise implementation and share their newest integrations- Docusign for Jira and ConfluenceSplunkPuppetXmattersRollbarWorkato and the newest addition to the Atlassian family, StatusPage, will also be in the Atlassian booth demonstrating how our solutions work together. Come by and check it out. 

See you there! Booth 2446

Topics: atlassian blog aws
8 min read

4 Phases of Agile DevOps | Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 15, 2016 11:00:00 AM

As Development and IT Ops teams look to be more efficient, decreasing their time to market and increasing product support, DevOps has become the predominant industry solution. There are many resources that paint a picture of the ideal processes for Development and Operations working harmoniously together- but how do we actual get there? Where should we start? 

We need to begin with the end in mind. Our end goal is to deliver customers the software they need as fast as possible. The software industry is faster and more dynamic than the businesses of physical products. We need to get our customers features so they can give us crucial feedback while beating our competitors to market. The faster release development goes from concept to code, the quicker we can make customer happy. DevOps is a broad term with a variety of meanings, but at the end of the day, it seeks to increase the collaboration and automation between Development and Operations so we can get more frequent and higher quality releases into the hands of our customers.

When it comes to collaboration and automation, a focus on process and the use of the Atlassian suite are the best way to get there.

 The infinite loop of developing and supporting products that customers need and want with DevOps and the Atlassian Suite.

Image source: Atlassian 

Selling DevOps

The pain of hectic firefighting and troubleshooting make the need for DevOps obvious on the frontline, but getting alignment and investment at the organization level can be pretty difficult. Successful implementation is going to require buy-in and support from a variety of stakeholders and many levels. Before we can get our hands dirty, we need to convince everybody to spend the time and money to get these processes and tools in place.

Here are three ways to get the ball rolling:

One for the Book Club: Phoenix Project

Everybody has those business books that revolutionize the way they manage their work and companies. The Phoenix Project by Eugene Kim narratively addresses and exposes the gaps in processes between teams and points to a DevOps prescription to unblock cross-team work. We highly suggest recommending it to your teams, as it's a great way to get everybody on the same page and really see the value of DevOps.

Build a Business Case

At the end of the day, businesses exist to make money. To invest time and effort, we need to calculate the business return. The 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs does a brilliant job showing the financial reasons to adopt this shift.

The ROI of reducing excess work with DevOps according to 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs

Image Source: Puppet Labs

Phase 1: Go Agile

To get the real benefits of DevOps, it requires a shift in mentality and how we manage work through our teams. As we break down our requirements into smaller individual user stories, we can flow the work through the features through the process faster. By having the structure, ceremonies and processes in place to accommodate smaller pieces of work, we can get our customers the features they need and incorporate their feedback to iterate the next, improved release faster.

Here are some helpful ideas to help your teams go more Agile: 

  • Get Up, Stand Up | Simply doing stand-ups doesn't mean you're all the way agile, but it's a great way to get our teams into the mindset. Keep them short and reduce the headaches of status updates and emails. Fill everybody in on what you did yesterday, what you're doing today, and what pesky blockers are in your way. It's facilitates more agile and responsive team collaboration and support (the heart of DevOps).
  • Iterate Everything! | Speed up that Agile transformation, breaking down your waterfall projects into smaller sprints so you can always reprioritize and adjust as needed. Start with your software teams and spread out to your IT Ops projects and even marketing projects. Start in your own department: find the planning spreadsheets with those idealistic due dates, set up a backlog, and start sprinting!
  • Agile Boards | Once you're planning and executing in sprints, track and visualize it on a Jira Software board. Avoid those dreadful status meetings and send out the link to the board to keep everybody informed. Also, throw some wallboards up around the office so everybody can see your team killin' it. 

You'll know you're a lean, mean, agile machine when your software teams are cranking out stories in a steady cadence of sprints. Over time you'll see that velocity stabilize - then you can accelerate!

Phase 2: Get with Gitflow 

Git and Gitflow is a great way to help our dev teams increase velocity. As we're working with smaller stories, we need to be able to collaborate effectively with on our code base so we're not stepping all over each other. Version control systems of the past aren't going to be able to keep up with our blazing fast development teams. Bitbucket and the underlying technology of git are going to let our teams build user stories and merge them into the code base without wasting time messing with annoying versioning issues and costly code conflicts. 

  • Start with the Basics | Start by learning (allthethings) about how to effectively manage your branches and build in code quality with Atlassian's Git Tutorials and the Git Getting Started guides. Share them with your team so everybody's on the same page and knows the difference between a commit and a pull request.

  • Move to Git | If you haven't made the cutover to Git quite yet, get your team and managers onboard by sharing the benefits and how it will help ship more code. Once folks are convinced, learn why Bitbucket is the Git solution for professional teams and helps with pull requests, branching strategies, permissions and scalability. When it's time to actually move all that code over, see how we helped Splunk get git and 4 times the number code reviews completed. 
  • Start Branching | With the tools in place, it's time to start branching! Learn more about some common workflows to better handle branches here. Utilize those pull requests to build in code quality as you go. Eventually your Dev team will be humming with full Gitflow and your Ops teams will be in love with the clearly designated branches.

  • Automate, Mate | The marvelous integration between Bitbucket and Jira Software lets us automatically update the Jira issues based on what's going on in Bitbucket. Developers don't need to switch context anymore to keep the ticket up to date, and the whole team gets an accurate idea of what's actually going on. Check out our Automation Webinar to learn more about the powerful workflow triggers that make this possible.


The Gitflow branching strategy shown above utilizes different branches for specific roles like hotfixes and releases to help manage larger and more complex projects. 

 Image Source: Atlassian

Phase 3: CI/ CD

The next phase is how we define the crucial handoff between Dev and Ops. When our units of work and code changes are smaller, we're going to need to deploy more often to get those features to our customers. Before we ship it to the ops team and production, we need to ensure quality as our individual features come together. This is where good Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment practices along with Atlassian's Bamboo are vital to successfully shipping our product. Catching bugs and issues before they go to production is going to help both the Dev and Ops teams sleep better at night.

  • Learn about Bamboo | For on-prem Atlassian users, Atlassian's Bamboo is the CI/CD solution that allows professional teams to build their CI/CD pipeline. You may be using Jenkins or other open source teams, however the deep integration points and improved build management make it the right choice for professional teams.
  • Integrate with Jira | Once you have Bamboo up and running, leverage the integration between Bamboo and Jira Software.
  • Bitbucket Pipelines | If you're an Atlassian cloud user, Bitbucket Pipelines is a new, powerful solution in Beta that lets developers build, test and deploy directly from Bitbucket. Developers have the power as they can define the environment and tests for their specific branch with YAML file style configuration.
  • Dockerize Everything! | Docker and containerization is the latest craze sweeping the IT world as teams look to deploy applications to any environment faster and easier. Check out our Docker +Atlassian webinar to learn more about how. As partners with Docker, we love to helping teams harness this cutting-edge technology.
  • Automate Testing | Automating testing with tools like Charlotte, QA Symphony, and Zephyr (which integrate with Bamboo and Jira) gives your development team an even more agile edge. Get efficent, high-fidelity testing to expedite the finding and squashing of bugs to ensure your next iteration is the best version.

Phase 4: Harmonize with Support

Once the story is shipped, the process does not end. Now it's time to keep the product working and collect that vital feedback we need.

  • Check out our webinar, DevOps with the Atlassian Suite, for a full picture of how development and operations are going to work in harmony.
  • Set up a product feedback service desk in Jira to really hear your customers and integrate directly with development teams.
  • Learn how to set up your Service Desk teams for success with our ITSM webinar.


By implementing the right DevOps tools and processes, you'll see the faster shipping of higher quality and better supported releases. As your Development and Ops teams continue to execute these lock-step processes, you get more agile by good practice. Take the steps to start implementing DevOps today by contacting us to get up and sprinting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation bitbucket bugs continuous-delivery bamboo branching devops docker distributed-version-control-system process-consulting qa-symphony sdlc selenium software sprint testing version-control-system workflows tracking continuous-integration cloud development integration it operations release-management marketplace-apps
3 min read

Expedite Approvals with Confluence

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM

According to IDC's 2015 report, The Document Disconnect, 76% of executives and managers in sales, HR, procurement, legal, and other departments estimate that fixing the “document disconnect” can lead to document process issues impact revenue recognition or create auditor issues. As process improvement experts, we at Praecipio Consulting love saving our clients money by mitigating wasted time and helping them do work faster. With that in mind, we've compiled our top 4 tips to get faster approvals leveraging DocuSign for Confluence to integrate your mission critical document tools. 

1. Maximize Your Macros 

Confluence macros add significant value to your document drafting process with their features and functionality. Just select from your macro options and voìla - your desired information appears! By utilizing the out-of-the-box DocuSign for Confluence macros, you can simply drop the macro for your DocuSign tabs (ex. signature, initials, date, title, and more!) into your document right inside of Confluence. Adding this functionality to your document drafting allows you to save time otherwise spent selecting and adding these approval actions outside of Confluence, and also ensures that your document collaborators can see the macros you're adding and where.

Select from the menu of macros to inform your signee of what do provide.

2. Template-ize It! 

Think of the documents you create the most frequently. From sales and marketing to HR and legal, every department has documents that need signatures and approvals on a daily basis (often multiple times a day). Save your team countless hours by creating Confluence templates for these frequently used documents and reduce unnecessarily wasted time. Your Space administrator can add these templates (including the aforementioned DocuSign macros) to your instance, in the spaces you need them, so you can now spin up your next contract with the click of a mouse. 


In Confluence, click 'Create' and get prompted with both custom and out-of-the-box templates.

3. Streamline Sending 

It's simple logic: the faster you send your document, the faster you can get approvals. However, cumbersome sending processes can keep you from firing off that contract as quickly as you'd like. Leverage DocuSign for Confluence to send documents from Confluence (including all the attachments and pages your heart desires) to not one, not two, but as many recipients as you want! Set action type and order in this same step to determine who needs to sign, who needs to receive a copy, and the sequence in which these actions will occur. 

When adding recipients inside your organization, names are pulled from your Confluence user directory so you can send even faster.

4. Track in Real-Time  

Being able to see where your document is in the approval process is invaluable when you're waiting for that proverbial ink to dry. DocuSign for Confluence provides real-time status notifications so you can track your documents, from sending to completion. By simply clicking the DocuSign lozenge at the top of your Confluence page, you see what stage your document is in and who has completed what action. Additionally, clicking the status to see approval actions on the document in DocuSign. This level of visibility allows you to see when you're DocuSign envelope has been created, sent, and signed to give you the most accurate document tracking. 

View the status of all your DocuSign Envelopes in one streamlined view.

Improving processes relies heavily on cutting our unnecessary intermediary steps that can become blockers. It's these steps that, unchecked, can cost a company thousands of hours that could otherwise be spent focused on core competencies. As process experts, we recommend to all our clients- from 20 person startups to Fortune 5 enterprises- to ask themselves the following questions regarding their processes:

  • Can it be repeated? 

  • Can we automate it?

  • Can we eliminate unnecessary steps?

By optimizing your repeatable e-signature processes with DocuSign for Confluence, your organization not only saves time, but also reduces document processing issues that cut into profit or jeopardize compliance with auditing agencies. 

Ready to expedite your e-signatures? Get DocuSign for Confluence and start getting your fastest approvals.

Topics: atlassian blog confluence experts hipaa marketplace process-consulting regulation sign service-level-agreement tracking compliance docusign e-signature fda integration productivity atlassian-products marketplace-apps bespoke
3 min read

3 Ways to Start Using Docker Today

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 16, 2016 11:00:00 AM

With the rise of CaaS (Containers as a Service), many organizations as well as cloud service providers (including Amazon, Google, and VMWare) are looking to container deployment to expedite releases with new, lower strain on dependencies. Offering flexible deployment in addition to heightened security through resource isolation and microservice architecture, Docker allows companies to spin up consistent, stable, and secure environments for everything from development to sales demos. 

O'Reilly's  2015 State of Containers and the Docker Ecosystem  found 65% of organizations polled are leveraging containers, of which 78% of those specifically use Docker. At Praecipio Consulting, we've partnered with Docker to offer integrated CaaS solutions for teams leveraging Atlassian, helping industry-leaders do work faster, better, and at a lower cost. 

How can integrating Bamboo with Docker deliver unprecedented ROI for your organization? Get your team up and running with Docker using our 3 expert tips!

1. Get the Docker Toolbox

Whether you're building a house or building a release, the right tools are critical. With Docker, you can easily download the tools you need to get started containerizing builds today! Simply visit Docker's site   to download everything you need to start working with containers on your local machine. It includes the Docker client, Compose, Quickstart Terminal and Kitematic. Now your machine can run Docker in a virtual machine directly on your local machine. Start playing with images and containers either through the command line or using Kitematic!

Kitematic (Beta) lets you visualize and manage the containers through a simple yet powerful graphic interface.

2. Get Visual with Docker Hub

A shared value of both Atlassian and the OpenSource community is collaboration, which Docker intrinsically promotes with Docker Hub. Docker Hub is a great way to find, share and collaborate on Docker Images. The Image is the template for each individual container including the dependencies your code needs. Start with one of these to start working with your code in containers right nowWhether you need an Apache web server, a Python-based  environment , or  a Redis key-value store , there's a Docker Image to work with to run your service.

DockerHub let's you easily search and find the latest and greatest Docker Images to run your software.

3. Scaling Container Deployment for the Future

Docker's impact on the future of software development extends far past DevOps, paving the way for unprecedented innovations in technology.  At this year's AtlasCamp, Atlassian Developer Advocate, Nicola Paolucci brilliantly breaks down how we can use containers, Docker's orchestration tools, and micro-services to build applications of the future.

How various Docker tools enable micro-services in containers to run in harmony. Source: Atlassian

Docker + Atlassian Expertise

Ready to take your DevOps to the next level with Docker and Atlassian? Contact us to learn how we help teams from development to sales leverage Docker and Atlassian for more agile deployment.

 

Topics: blog aws google caas
5 min read

Top 5 Ways Atlassian Facilitates DevOps

By Praecipio Consulting on May 11, 2016 11:00:00 AM

 

DevOps is an organizational practice that's gaining rapid traction in the software development world. According to RightScale's 2016 State of the Cloud Survey, DevOps adoption rose from 66% to 74% in just one year, with enterprises embracing it at 81%. Essentially, DevOps is a joint effort based on agile methodology that brings the development and operations teams together for the entire software development lifecycle.


The value of this practice is that the traditional power struggle and finger pointing between owners of two different phases of the delivery process – building vs. supporting – is replaced with a faster and more flexible team that delivers higher quality output. In fact, Puppet Lab's 2015 State of DevOps Report found that high performing IT teams who embraced DevOps reported 60 times fewer failures and 168 times faster recovery rate. They also deployed 30 times more frequently with 200 times shorter lead times!

In order to maximize and reinforce DevOps best practices, teams need the right tools and infrastructure to support their mission. What started as a software company for software companies that now serves 50,000+ organizations like Facebook and NASA, Atlassian offers a suite of products that support the most agile development processes, including DevOps. By encouraging visibility, prioritization, automation, continuous integration, and documentation, Atlassian empowers DevOps to deliver the most value to the end customer.   

Visibility

The Atlassian suite promotes visibility and transparency internally within the company and externally for clients. This ensures that no one is left in the dark about issues that may arise and encourages accountability for all. Let's say, for example, that a customer has reported a software bug by submitting a Jira Service Desk ticket. A customer support representative then updates the status of the ticket to "Investigating" and begins to explore the problem. (This act notifies the customer that her problem is being looked into.) When the rep tracks down the problem and realizes that it's a replicable bug, he marks the issue as high priority, adds internal comments describing the problem, and transitions the status of the ticket to "Confirmed." Using the Jira add-on, Bob Swift Create on Transition, the status change automatically creates a new bug issue in the dev team's Jira project, copying over relevant information and linking it back to the original issue. This transparent process benefits the customer in that she stays informed about what's going on (and feels that her problems are important to the company and being resolved), and it benefits the DevOps team because they have end-to-end understanding of the problem at hand.

Prioritization

With a constant stream of requested work coming from both internal and external sources, it's sometimes difficult for a DevOps team to prioritize effectively. Huge and costly problems can arise when fires aren't triaged appropriately and put out in time. Atlassian can help with prioritization through filters that identify different issue statuses during a workflow and automated alerts using email or instant messaging. Going back to our example, the Create on Transition add-on serves as a filter between customers' service requests and the DevOps team's Jira project. Instead of getting flooded with tickets, the team can rely on customer support to verify and submit bugs on behalf of the customer, embedding prioritization into the process. If issues are automatically assigned, Jira can notify team leads by email when a new bug issue enters the team's project. If newly created issues are not automatically assigned, the team can rely on ChatOps using dedicated HipChat rooms for individual projects or even priorities within a project. Jira can create automatic notifications that appear in HipChat, and devs can click through the message directly to the Jira ticket. This integration allows for immediate response and keeps the team focused on what's important now. 

 

Continuous Integration 

Continuous integration (CI) is an agile practice that requires devs to consistently integrate code into a shared repository, allowing teams to detect problems sooner and without the extensive backtracking. Atlassian's suite of products work in unison to make continuous integration happen seamlessly. After fixing the aforementioned bug, a developer can commit her changes in her Git feature branch and push them up to Bitbucket, which then kicks off a build in Bamboo. When her build and test come back clean, she creates a pull request to merge her code into master. Once her change is approved and merged into master, the release manager builds and deploys the updated master branch to Bamboo. This tight integration of Git, BitBucket, and Bamboo – paired with some marketplace add-ons – allows for a seamless hand-off from development to operations and back again.  

 

Automation

With complex and intertwined workflows involving multiple stakeholders, automated triggers save teams valuable time and energy by taking care of redundant or peripheral tasks. Going back to our example, when a workflow trigger picks up on our developer's merged pull request, it transitions her issue from "In Progress" to "Done." This status change then triggers a post function that invokes the Jira add-on Bob Swift Update on Transition. The add-on updates the original Jira Service Desk issue submitted by the customer and adds a comment that says the fix will come in the next release. Automation allows our developer to maximize her time completing actual work, like squashing bugs and creating hot fixes, instead of devoting time to process compliance. (A DevOps team can even create automated CI builds in Bamboo to ensure code quality.) Automation keeps the customer happy and in the know, while taking out an unnecessary layer of communication between development and customer support.

 

Documentation 

During the entire end-to-end process, Atlassian tools capture and log information at every point in the workflow, including hand-offs, in the form of status changes, comments, or the like, and this history is archived by versions. By leaving behind a well-documented trail of breadcrumbs, teams can better understand the complete story of a workflow. They can identify what went well and what didn't in order to plan for continuous improvement. Furthermore, documentation helps the next developer pick up where a previous developer left off or replicate their workflow, leading to scalable organizational knowledge. 

By adopting DevOps and supporting the effort with Atlassian tools, teams can create conditions for delivering value faster, more sustainably. By improving quality – and thus value – through visibility, prioritization, automation, continuous integration, and documentation, organizations are able to increase profit without increasing operation costs and encourage a culture of continuous improvement. To learn more about how DevOps and Atlassian can empower your organization to work faster and smarter, contact Praecipio Consulting.

 

ABOUT BRYAN ROBISON

Bryan is Principal of Technical Delivery at Praecipio Consulting where he helps clients implement Atlassian's developer tools and provides technical guidance across Praecipio Consulting's lines of business. When Bryan isn't delivering best-in-class business technology solutions, he enjoys a good crawfish boil and some quality time strumming his guitar.

Topics: blog devops process-consulting
3 min read

Three Reasons Why Developers Love Docker

By Praecipio Consulting on May 6, 2016 11:00:00 AM

A smooth running production environment is a beautiful thing. But how do we get there? And how do we ensure that all of our production, staging/test, and development environments stay in sync in order to get there? Today, it seems like everyone in software development is talking about Docker and containers. In fact, according to the 2016 State of the Cloud Survey by RightScale, Docker adoption doubled from 13% to 27% in just one year. Furthermore, 35% of the organizations surveyed reported that they have plans to adopt it soon. 

Why has Docker adoption skyrocketed and how can those using Bamboo for continuous deployment reap the benefits? Check out three reasons why developers love Docker, and how it can provide value for your dev team. 

But first... 

What are Containers?

A Docker container packages software in a complete filesystem with everything it needs to run – such as code, runtime, system tools, system libraries – guaranteeing that it'll always run the same on any environment. Docker is all about creating consistency and encouraging collaboration. It revolutionizes how we share our environments the same way Git has changed code collaboration. At its core, Docker is about utilizing the least amount of operating system resources and dependencies needed to run an application. This focus on maximizing efficiency leads to a painless, more collaborative, and seamlessly integrated environment to test and deploy applications. 

Sourcewww.docker.com

1. Test without surprises

A crucial part of the development process is testing, whether on a local machine or in a virtual dev environment. With containers, every environment is exactly the same so changes and unexpected dependencies won't interfere with testing – saving developers time and energy from tweaking problematic environments and instances. 

Running containers on your local machine using Docker Quickstart Terminal lets you test in a consistent environment.  

2. Collaborate with consistency

Unexpected dependencies are already a hassle for one developer and becomes an even bigger headache when other devs enter the picture. Unknowns in an environment are amplified with each new team member – who knows what's on their machine or which version of Java they're running? With Docker, consistency facilitates collaboration. By starting with a known configuration in a common container, devs are always on the same page about which version to use; it's right there in the container.

Share your Docker Images with a registry like Docker Hub.

Source: https://hub.docker.com/_/hello-world/

3. Integrate with Atlassian 

Atlassian, the leader in enterprise software for collaboration and issue tracking, is the perfect complement to Docker. By pairing Docker's consistency with Atlassian's integration and automation, collaboration between development and IT ops becomes seamless. Using the new Docker Hub 2.0 with Atlassian's Bamboo, source code can be automatically built and deployed to an identical development, test, or even production environment. No more requesting environments from the IT ops teams; triggers will automatically fire from your approved pull request in Bitbucket to spin up a lightweight container in your QA environment almost instantly. Without the excess back and forth, you can go from source code to a running application in minutes. 

The Docker Task in Atlassian's Bamboo let's you run, build and deploy images and containers with ease.

Docker is picking up a lot of traction today and rightly so. Docker containers provide consistency in the turbulent world of software development environments. They allow dev and operations teams to get customers the applications they need now – all while providing a consistent environment that makes working together a whole lot easier. 

To learn more about how Docker and Atlassian can help your dev team work faster and smarter, contact Praecipio Consulting.

About Brendan Kelly

Brendan is a Consultant & Solutions Specialist at Praecipio Consulting where he enables the sales team through technical discovery, training and product demos. When Brendan isn't delivering best-in-class business technology solutions, he can be found in the Austin Green Belt hiking and bouldering. 

Topics: atlassian blog automation continuous-delivery bamboo docker optimization process standardize testing continuous-integration deployment development environment integration cicd
7 min read

Seen It, Solved It: Jira Service Desk for ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on May 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Growth Through Change 

"Organizations that do not or cannot evolve will not last." In the business world, change is constant and necessary, especially when it comes to meeting the dynamic needs of customers. ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a methodology that helps organizations effectively manage change while putting the customer at the center of the process. ITIL prescribes processes to ensure the customer's needs and requests are handled with ease – from acknowledgement of an issue through the application and evaluation of the solution. One of the greatest values of the ITIL methodology is that it embeds continual improvement into the process. The ITIL framework can be leveraged by anyone, including non-technical teams, to better manage change and serve customers. Atlassian's fastest growing product, Jira Service Desk, facilitates ITIL adoption in an organization by encouraging traceability, collaboration, and reporting. 

As business process experts certified in ITIL, we leverage the ITIL methodology in unison with Jira Service Desk to institute best practices for our clients. Here are 5 real-world examples of how Praecipio Consulting helped our clients implement lasting organizational change by embracing key ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement. 

Automation

"Using service automation to streamline both simple and more complex workflows of course impacts the overall efficiency of the organization... it also allows for a much better end-user experience for everyone at the company." - ITIL beyond IT: What is Service Automation & Service Relationship Management?

Problem: A major utility company powering the U.S. Eastern seaboard was manually reporting security equipment issues and coordinating with external vendors to fix the issues. This manual process was prone to errors and didn't allow for tracking of service level agreements (SLAs), which would determine which vendors were breaching their contracts. The company was using spreadsheets to track these crucial assets and their maintenance. The spreadsheet system was inefficient and created duplicate versions – leading to confusion, frustration, and waste. Furthermore, the spreadsheets could not track SLAs for Acknowledgement or Resolution for vendors.

Solution: To reduce redundancy and enforce SLAs, our experts implemented Jira Service Desk for the major utility company. By replacing their spreadsheets with Jira Core and Jira Service Desk, we helped them add a level of automation to their workflow. This reduced waste of time and resources, allowed for better communication with third-party vendors, and created a clear path for escalation. The custom configuration we created for the company maintained their security, while also allowing vendors to be a part of of the conversation. Furthermore, reporting features from both Jira Core and Jira Service Desk allowed for a central point of truth. The utility company could check the status of service tickets and see how well vendors were adhering to their SLAs. Through the process of improving their security equipment reporting and vendor coordination, the company found other areas of improvement and have chosen to continue working with us to maximize those workflows. 

Visibility

"It can be very difficult to know the health of your service desk, run reports, and find way to improve your support if you don’t have the right data." - The ABCs of Jira Service Desk: measuring success

Problem: A major U.S. waste management company wanted to adopt a more structured reporting system, replace an old enterprise software application, and incorporate the ITIL framework into their organization. The company's goal was to standardize tools in order to improve communication and rally around a consistent project management methodology. The waste management company desired a suite of tools with the ability to integrate functions across IT service areas, leading to better service for the end customer.

Solution: In addition to implementing several other Atlassian products, our experts helped the company leverage Jira Service Desk to achieve their business goals. We helped them create a central application with the ability to distinguish request types through a structured workflow. This included a more robust user interface to better triage issues and send them to the appropriate teams. The ability to categorize requests and label them with levels of urgency allowed the company to have better reporting, leading to improved enforcements of SLAs. 

Knowledge Base

"[A knowledge base] gets [customers] the help they need at the speed they’ve become accustomed to – i.e., in the time it takes to swipe around on their phones – and it frees service desk agents from stressing out while anxious customers wait on hold or answering the same question over email for the 10th time this week." - 4 tips for getting started with knowledge management

Problem: A large, private U.S. university wanted to revamp an old software application and replace it with a more robust and dynamic knowledge base. The university's goal was to increase usability for both their students and faculty regarding technical and campus-related questions, deflecting tickets by providing requesters with FAQ's and other resources to help them self-serve to find their answers. 

Solution: Our experts helped the university leverage Jira Service Desk and Confluence to achieve their goal. Combining Jira Service Desk with Questions for Confluence (a Confluence add-on that provides a knowledge base inside the already powerful wiki tool) allowed the university to implement a centralized knowledge database. Jira Service Desk allowed for better help engagement using queues and other helpful functionalities. Questions for Confluence empowered external users to help themselves by accessing a database of pre-answered questions, without tying up service desk agents with redundant problems.

Change Management and Evaluation

"Listening to your customers is the single most important thing you can do for the health of your company." 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

Problem: The largest provider of support services to general and multi-specialty dental groups in the United States needed the ability to receive and respond to client feedback in addition to handling client issues. They did not have a clearly defined process for patients to interact with the organization and to raise issues. Their marketing team was searching for a new software tool that would manage feedback in a way that led to issue resolution and change management. The team's ideal tool would be able to enforce and report on multiple SLAs through issues submitted via the company's public website.

Solution: Our experts helped the dental corporation adopt Jira Core and Jira Service Desk to manage issue tracking and change management. With Jira Service Desk, the company was able to cleanly sort through client feedback and create a workflow to address issues that arose. Beyond managing client feedback, the dental corporation also used these tools for clinical tasks, billing, and other activities that needed life cycle tracking. In addition to tracking, the Atlassian tools helped the organization evaluate the effectiveness of their changes and quantified the improvements made – empowering all teams, not just marketing, to better serve their customers. 

Continuous Improvement

"With a single-product approach, configuring an SLA or modifying a workflow is easy, because they share core processes." How Jira Service Desk approaches ITSM 

Problem: A major U.S. insurance company was using three different software applications for code management, issue tracking, and service desk management – leading to inefficiencies and miscommunication. Their use of three separate applications resulted in duplicate tickets and the inability to enforce SLAs across the organization.The insurance company wanted to improve these processes and embrace ITIL's practice of continuous improvement. 

Solution: Our assessment encouraged the company to adopt a single application, Jira Service Desk, to provide a single source of truth. With Jira Service Desk, there was a common point of collaboration for issue management. This reduced duplicate tickets and saved valuable time and resources. Leveraging entities, workflows, and issue linking, we helped the insurance company align their processes to make reporting and enforcing SLAs easier, more efficient, and more effective. By strengthening their ability to track what changes are needed and to act upon those needs, we helped them develop a cycle for continuous improvement.  

ITIL for One, and ITIL for All 

"Just because one service desk streamlines the IT and service departments, it doesn’t mean that other teams can’t also benefit from them." - 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

These real-world examples from our clients highlight how ITIL and Jira Service Desk can help organizations evolve and change – without the growing pains. ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement aren't just for IT teams. These powerful ideas also provides immense value to other parts of any organization, technical and business teams alike. At Praecipio Consulting, we excel at leveraging the ITIL methodology and Jira Service Desk to help organizations do what they do better. Want more proof? Contact us to learn how we can help your organization evolve and do your best business. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation business confluence process standardize workflows traceability collaboration continuous-improvement integration it itil itsm jira-service-desk operations reporting white-paper
3 min read

Unifying Distributed Teams: A Conversation About Dog Treats, Tortilla Chips, and Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 20, 2016 11:00:00 AM

 

One of the things I love about my parents is that any time we get together, I can talk to them about work stuff. My brilliant parents are retired and – to be honest – bored with retirement, so it's an intellectual treat whenever I visit. Mom is a retired teacher with two master's degrees (cue awkward conversation about the whereabouts of my one master's degree), and Dad is a retired portfolio and project manager also with a master's degree (again, cue awkward conversation). During our talks, we have fun and insightful discussions about anything and everything- and we love using whatever's at hand to make a point. This time, the topic was disconnected teams, and the props at hand were dog treats and tortilla chips. Yes, you read that right: dog treats and tortilla chips. Stay with me.

We were munching on tortilla chips at the kitchen island and talking about how disconnected business organizations today could be. Mom brought up the point that it seems, for example, many c-level executives are removed from the day-to-day operations of their organizations. This is true... and necessary. Good leaders cultivate others into leaders, and c-level folks should be able to focus on delivering the mission and vision, while trusting that day-to-day operations are taken care of. The reality, however, is that this division of work usually leads to some disconnect between teams and executives.

This phenomenon is illustrated below using tortilla chips (sharp executives) and dog treats (trusted business teams). 

Note: There's no implication that one is better than the other. Both are in the same genre of deliciousness i.e. snack food. The difference is that their intended end users are different. 

Sure, both dog treats and tortilla chips are on the same countertop. In fact, they're actually only distributed across an area of two feet. But, even with a 12 megapixel camera, it's really hard to see the forest for the trees – see the granite countertop for the dog treats and tortilla chips. In other words, it's easy to get tunnel-vision into one's immediate team or project and forget about the rest of the organization. This disconnect makes it hard to get everyone on the same page... err, countertop.  

Using this groundbreaking analogy, I then proceeded to come up with one of the best explanations for what I do at Praecipio Consulting every day: getting teams on the same page

In this analogy, each of the dog treats and tortilla chips represents a team in an organization. Each of these teams may be in the same office, building, country, or, increasingly, anywhere in the world with a strong internet connection. The problem that most companies struggle with is bringing these disparate teams together – getting everyone on the same page, moving in the same direction, and towards collectively defined goals. In order to achieve this, most organizations embrace the colocated work model. They believe that, if everyone is in the same place, it's easier to get folks to collaborate and work together. Other organizations, especially technology companies, embrace the distributed work model, which allows teams to work remotely. 

The reality with collaborative work is that geography alone does not determine how effectively teams work together. Rather, the only surefire way to foster effective teams is through a clear understanding of the mission and vision and a clearly defined communication process. Instances of communication can take the form of a workflow, product requirements doc, or simply a quick conversation. Regardless of its form, communication is key, and all organizations are looking for a better way to communicate – from concept to launch. 

There's a reason Atlassian, our principal technology partner, chose TEAM as their stock ticker. They believe their products can bring teams together through improved communication regardless of location. At Praecipio Consulting, we help teams find ways to connect, plan, and execute better and support their efforts with software solutions. This is what I do day in and day out – helping companies come together to achieve more.

Mad props to Mom and Dad for bringing up the topic and prompting my creative juices. 

Note: No humans or animals were denied delicious snack food in the making of this blog post.  

 

About Amanda Babb

Amanda is Principal of Delivery at Praecipio Consulting where she brings her extensive project management and Atlassian expertise to some of our largest clients. When Amanda isn't delivering best-in-class business technology solutions, she can be found playing golf, working on cars, and spending time with her dogs, Leonard and Howard. 

Topics: atlassian blog teams
5 min read

All-Star Incident Management: How to Be Like Mike

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 21, 2016 11:00:00 AM

The best teams sync with each other. Think of the intangible magic conjured by the Championship-sweeping Chicago Bulls of the 90's, helmed by Michael Jordan. They ran their offense to perfection, playing to the strengths of each team member and executing each step in perfect rhythm to put points on the board. Any member of those teams will tell you their success came not only from having high-performing people but from working together within an established offense, or process. Because they bought in and trusted the process, each team member knew his responsibility at all times. The team ran time-tested methodologies for getting the win, adjusting as needed after analyzing the other team's strategy. Basketball is all about strategy, process, and teamwork.


Now think of that team that loses to the Bulls- that loses to everyone. The team that's always scrambling after a broken play, unsure of how to set up their offense or what to do after a missed basket. They spend the entire game – and all their focus and energy – trying to just keep up. These are the teams that don't trust in their process, usually because it hasn't worked in the past or they haven't learned how to work with each other. It's hard for each player to handle his responsibilities because he feels like he has to win the game by himself instead of together with his teammates. It's not a good way to win games, and it's certainly not a good way to structure your IT team.

As Atlassian Platinum Enterprise partners and experts in all things process, we've got your playbook for all-star incident management:

Top 3 Tips for Championship ITSM

      1. Track your failures for greater success.

Basketball teams use stats to identify strengths and root out weaknesses. Tracking areas for improvement is key. When agents solve issues in silos they can't tell when an issue reoccurs or causes other issues, indicating a root cause that should be investigated. Ability to link issues is paramount to give your problem-solvers visibility into what keeps going wrong and, ultimately, what should be changed to keep it from happening again. 

2. Success loves preparation.

The 90's Bulls probably lost count of how many times they ran the same plays during practice. The better we prepare, the more successful we are. In the IT world, reporting, documentation, analytics, and other functionalities of our ITSM tool of choice make it easier to prepare well. When we're able to forecast issues based on prior knowledge, we're prepared for what's ahead. Data like a team's sprint velocity or average resource allocation per type of project inform planning for all foreseeable project outcomes.

3. Establish repeatable processes.

Michael Jordan is one of the most successful athletes in history because he was the first one in the gym and the last one out. He was always running drills and perfecting his shot, establishing repeatable processes that became muscle memory. Applying this concept to your organization allows your team to handle day to day operations with relative ease - each agent knows what to do, and they trust in the established process. This is a key to effective incident management and it allows you to focus on improving and advancing solutions rather than fighting fires.

Seen It, Solved It: Major U.S. Insurance Provider

Ready to see these plays in action? Here's how these 3 tips helped our client do better work, faster.

THE PROBLEM

Issues are like potato chips: you never have just one. In a business, any single issue that arises is usually experienced by multiple end-users and often starts a domino effect that causes more related issues. Without the ability to see across all these related issues, each agent responding to an individual issue only sees just that, failing to see the forest for the trees and moving on with an issue fix that doesn't address the root cause.

A major U.S. insurance provider came to us with concerns about their incident management. They already knew that their processes were poorly designed and not well adhered to, but they needed help figuring out how to improve them. In particular, incidents were not well documented or properly managed, putting them at risk for violating regulatory compliances. The client's struggles included:

  • ITSM Processes with No Buy-In (Too complex, too outdated, or too redundant)
  • Lack of Integration Across Tools (Lots of time wasted in context switching, Inability to analyze across platforms)
  • No SLAs or Metrics to Gauge Effectiveness

In short: They were focusing all their time and resources trying to just keep up, but could never get ahead in the game.

THE GAME CHANGER

Enter Coach Praecipio Consulting and Jira Service Desk to deliver a slam dunk incident management solution.

 
New Process Playbook

Because our client had different tools for managing incidents, their lack of visibility across platforms led to slow speed to market with fixes. Jira Service Desk not only solves this issue, but also supports best practices for incident management. By standardizing automated workflows and establishing lean processes, our client is no longer burdened by redundancies and can gather meaningful metrics across incidents.

 
Pass to other Players, er... Tools

In order to deflect the amount of incoming tickets, Jira Service Desk integrates with Confluence to provide a self-serve knowledge base. By leveraging this integration, our client gets back time and resources, no longer tied up on tickets to which an answer already exists. Leveraging machine-learning, the Confluence knowledge base identifies frequently searched topics and strengthens its query language to provide the best answers to questions around incidents. 

 
Set the Shot Clock

As an insurance provider, our client needed to ensure that they stayed within regulatory compliance with vendors and customers alike. Configuring SLAs in Jira Service Desk allows for the client to start the timer the minute a ticket is assigned, tracking time to resolution and producing reports to identify SLAs in danger of being breached. By doing this, the client gains visibility into incident management and can use metrics against goals for continuous improvement. 

Be Like Mike

Like the Bulls' 1-2 punch of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the tandem of Jira Service Desk and experience-driven process expertise gives our clients a heightened ability to execute ITSM best practices and keep their teams in a cycle of continual improvement. Maximizing your processes makes your day-to-day work simpler, allows you to focus on higher level objectives for better business, and helps you get numbers on the board (with dollar signs in front!). 

Practice makes perfect- it also makes money. Michael Jordan and his teammates knew it, and the best IT teams in the world know it. Take your team's performance to championship levels with the right processes and the right tools- and, if you need help, think of Praecipio Consulting as your coach with a lot of championship experience. 

 

About Sam Besozzi

Sam is a Consultant at Praecipio Consulting where he delivers expert solutions to our top clients. He has an extensive background in process improvement and design and draws heavily from Six Sigma, Lean, and other efficiency-focused models. As a new Austin, TX transplant (originally from Ohio), Sam enjoys exploring his new hometown, hiking, and searching for the perfect taco.

Topics: atlassian case-studies blog analysis best-practices business experts implementation process process-consulting technology workflows support configuration consulting-services itil itsm jira-service-desk request
3 min read

HipChat Connect: Your New Mission Control

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Imagine you work in an office with a room for every job you do- each project, each team. However, there is no communication between rooms- so you have to walk from one to another if you want to share project information or ask questions. This seems ridiculous in real life, but yet business teams still fail to leverage integration of tools due to disparate legacy systems (“IT uses Product X while Business Teams are on Product Y”), lack of customization options (“I’m in HR. Why should I use the same tools as our dev teams?”), and disappointing functionality (“I have to use Product A for reporting, but it’s not in real-time and it leads to lots of email chains to track the conversation.”).  

That’s where Atlassian comes in.

Making software for teams of all types and sizes, Atlassian enhances collaboration by providing easy to use, dynamic tools that move at the speed of your business. With this ethos in mind, Atlassian has released HipChat Connect to the world in order to encourage teams to “live in” HipChat, integrating with all their other tools and endless add-ons. HipChat is now your control pit for everything your team needs, all in just clicks.

The week of November 9th marked Austin Developer Week, hosted by Atlassian and Capital Factory. During the week, developers (and even some business teams) were challenged to learn the HipChat Connect API and create their own add-on. On Friday, add-ons were demoed, and while most were only in their beta versions, excitement was stirred with the expectation to see many of these fan favorites on the marketplace soon.

Uber for HipChat

Why did we not have this at Summit? When you and your team want to grab a bite, simply order the Uber inside HipChat, Determining location, estimated time of arrival, and cost, your team has the info they need to hitch a ride- and they can! Easily “join the ride” to save your seat and, within minutes, you’re on your way to your destination. Props to Atlassian's Julien Hoarau for this awesome add-on, which he demonstrated live by ordering his Uber to the airport (which arrived speedily as planned).

Graphic Annotation

Presented by a developer for a design team, this add-on has functionality for your marketing department to your IT crowd. With built in annotation options for graphics- including text, circles, arrows (all the must-haves!)- it’s never been easier to point out an issue in a performance report, identify an area of improvement on a presentation slide, or circle your own face so you can be spotted in the latest company photo. 

Props via HipChat

Part of Atlassian’s appealing culture is their open sharing of kudos across the company. Everyone likes to be appreciated and, by integrating a reward notification system like youearnedit.com (based in Austin, TX), you can give public shout outs over HipChat. Give points to team members for work well done and track past kudos given in the side panel. Increase your instant karma and share the love across your organization!

…and Many More!

Austin Developer Week was only the tip of the iceberg for add-ons to come for HipChat Connect and, with the API made public on atlassian.com, it’s only a matter of time before the marketplace explodes with amazing possibilities for HipChat functionality. With ideas already spinning up around customer service, business team use, and culture-building, we can already see HipChat becoming our home base. 

Want a Custom Add-On?

Our innovative, inspired custom dev team loves a challenge. They’ve built add-ons for startups and enterprise organizations alike, working across the Atlassian product suite to enhance functionality, increase adoption, and maximize efficiency. Tell us what we can develop for you to keep your business running on all cylinders!

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hipchat collaboration culture developers marketplace-apps bespoke
2 min read

Hipchat: Customize Your Connection

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 29, 2015 11:00:00 AM

HipChat has long been the beloved messaging application for Atlassian users, developing integrations with Confluence and Jira to increase the seamless nature of the SDLC process with notifications and team and project-specific rooms. With the success of these integrations, Atlassian is raising the bar for HipChat functionality, offering up their API for other software producers to code their own connections to allow even more tools to team with HipChat. Recently, Atlassian held a HipChat Dev event in San Francisco for a handful of popular and innovative tech companies to dev and demo their HipChat plugins, opening the door for an all new level of HipChat functionality. New Relic, Salesforce, Tempo and other Atlassian-inclined software makers came together to tweak the HipChat API to get their products talking for an even more robust integration offering in the messaging system. With many new options becoming available, excited HipChat users can expect to see these plugins available soon, making HipChat a real-time communication hub for all aspects of the software development life cycle.

HipChat, Meet New Relic

New Relic, maker of integral tools to gain insight into the operation of your business processes, becomes a critical component of IT management when paired with HipChat. Using New Relic products like APM, Browser and Synthetics, companies gain real-time analytics for their SaaS applications to ensure that their platforms are running optimally for the best user experience. When integrated with HipChat, New Relic provides teams regular status updates, allowing issues to be addressed efficiently and expediently. Create a HipChat room for New Relic applications and stay up to date with your application performance leveraging the constant monitoring of New Relic with the constant communication of HipChat. 

Build Your Own Add-Ons

Atlassian enables users of Jira, Confluence, and yes- HipChat, with the ability to build customized add-ons for Atlassian tools and corresponding applications. The provided documentation allows the use of any web framework and any programming language to build with Atlassian's REST API to get the applications talking with remote operation over HTTP. With the unlimited possibility of integration, HipChat becomes a true force of functionality as more and more applications are tied into the tool. Give each dev team their own HipChat room built around their products to get the latest updates on their in-flight projects. Create a marketing room to allow your bloggers to see immediately when a new page view or comment comes through. With HipChat customized add-ons, your teams get the information they need, when they need it. 

Video courtesy of Atlassian

It's in the Numbers

Need more reasons to expand your company's collaboration beyond just Confluence and Jira? Atlassian has the stats the make the case for HipChat!

Statistics courtesy of Atlassian

Chatting cuts down on unnecessary, efficiency-draining emails, enhances collaboration between teams and delivers a platform for easy communication. Using Atlassian HipChat, your teams run at the speed of business with application integration, video chatting, and file sharing -- everything they need to work smarter and faster! 

Get Chatting

Revolutionize the way your teams work with HipChat! It's as easy to get as it is to use; simply contact Praecipio Consulting to learn about our extensive HipChat services, including: managed services and hosting, implementation, customization and licensing. HipChat is your central source of better business practices and Praecipio Consulting is your one-stop-shop for all your HipChat needs. Collaboration has never been easier, so get HipChatting today!

Topics: jira atlassian blog best-practices confluence hipchat new-relic rest-api integration
2 min read

Big News From Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 25, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Atlassian Reaches 50K Customers

Since their founding in 2002, Atlassian has disrupted the tech industry with their innovative products. Focusing on collaboration, integration, scalability and efficiency, Atlassian continues to change the way companies do business as we move more and more towards a global business model. Because of Atlassian, teams across the world can work seamlessly and in real-time on projects no matter where people are located. They've build products that not only keep up with the needs of today's industry leaders, but they are themselves industry leaders (reflected in their ever-growing Gartner rating). It's with that forward-thinking and must-have product suite that Atlassian has reached 50,000 customers! As Atlassian Solution Partners, we at Praecipio Consulting love nothing more than introducing these products and their capabilities to clients who enthusiastically adopt them with great success. We've seen first-hand how Atlassian brings the best in IT and business process solutions to companies of all sizes and industry, from the dev teams to the marketing teams, and could not be more excited to see what they will come up with by the 100,000 customer mark. 

 
Image courtesy of Atlassian

Meet The Newest Bitbucket Addition

One great example of Atlassian's cutting-edge innovation? Bitbucket! The Git repository that 1 in 3 Fortune 500 choose to help build and ship software is getting even better with the addition of Stash (now Bitbucket Server) to the product family. Now, dev teams have their choice of Bitbucket Cloud, Bitbucket Server (formerly Stash) and- for those with loads of code- Bitbucket Data Center. As more companies switch from Subversion to Git for their source code needs, Atlassian has developed the Bitbucket line of offerings to bring the most desired features a dev team could want: Git mirroring, large file storage, organization ability by project and more CI capabilities. Development teams love how Bitbucket helps them up their game and work smarter and faster, releasing better products with even greater ease. Among the biggest fans of Bitbucket is Splunk, an industry-leading operational intelligence company with a huge need for code storage and scalability. Check out what the folks at Splunk have to say about Bitbucket and how it's changed their way of doing business (for the better)!

Video courtesy of Atlassian

Get Some Atlassian in Your Life

Companies are moving to Atlassian everyday for a way of doing better business. Will you be Customer #50,001 (or #50,002, #50,0003...)? Praecipio Consulting can help! Contact us to learn how we can deliver custom solutions fit for your company with Atlassian and see why it's the top software choice of major companies worldwide. 

Topics: atlassian blog bitbucket continuous-integration data-center
2 min read

SAFe Cheat Sheet: A Guide to Scaled Agile Framework

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 23, 2015 11:00:00 AM

No matter the size of your organization or your industry, the end game of any company is to deliver the highest quality product to customers at the greatest market value, with the lowest cost of production. This school of thought drives the Agile methodology of software development, pushing for faster delivery of better products with the least amount of risk, and has fueled the scalable Agile solution for enterprise-level organizations: Scaled Agile Framework (or SAFe). Operating under the principles of Agile development, SAFe aligns the development and initiatives of all levels of the enterprise company- from agile teams to executives- for accelerated value delivery at a reduced risk. Leveraging short feedback cycles organized into sprints and release trains, the cost of deployment decreases as deliverables have clearer direction and requirements to ensure a better fit for purpose. 

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

What are the core values of SAFe?

What are the core values of SAFe?

 

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

The Atlassian product suite was created (and is continually innovated) to support best practices in the Software Development Lifecycle. To that end, the use of products like Jira Agile, Confluence and Jira Portfolio integrate to bring maximum traceability to every release, enabling teams to hit their deadline and their budget with the highest quality product. With Atlassian, you unlock the power of SAFe, leveraging Jira Agile, Confluence and Jira Portfolio to achieve the following objectives (and much more): 

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

Want to learn more about SAFe?

Ready to learn more about how Scaled Agile Framework brings best practices and greatest results to your enterprise organization? As Atlassian Platinum Enterprise Experts, we at Praecipio Consulting are here to help! First, check out our recent webinar on SAFe, Agile in the Enterprise, presented by Senior Solutions Architect, Certified Scrum Master, and soon-to-be SAFe Program Consultant Amanda Babb to get a more complete introduction to implementing Agile practices at the Enterprise level. Next, contact Praecipio Consulting to begin introducing SAFe to your company. We can assist you with anything from Atlassian product licenses, implementations and configurations (to get you the right tools for the job) to customized consultations and trainings on SAFe. 

Deliver your highest quality product and the lowest cost of deployment with SAFe, Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting!

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices confluence enterprise sdlc jira-software safe marketplace-apps
2 min read

Here Comes the Product Owner: Wedding Planning with Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM

When Praecipio Consulting Senior Solutions Architect and Certified Scrum Master Amanda Babb got engaged over the new year, her first thought (after "Yes, I'll marry you" of course) was that this was an affair for the Atlassian tool set. With family members on both coasts and Amanda and her fiancé residing in Texas, she knew Atlassian would be the trick to best practices in MDLC (Matrimony Development Life Cycle). "There was never a question." says Babb. "From the moment we got engaged, I got a Cloud instance." Establishing a Kanban board that will take Amanda and her family from gathering information about venues to the nitty-gritty tasks like purchasing the cake slicer, this Scrum Master feels confident in an on-time, on-budget release of an October 2015 wedding.

 

Amanda Babb, Sr. Solutions Architect & Bride-to-Be

With Jira, Jira Agile, Confluence, and Team Calendars in her arsenal of planning tools, Amanda began on-boarding her family, including Project Stakeholders, Mom and Dad. After spending time showing her parents how to use the tools, they were able to begin collaborating and creating tasks. "The first thing my dad did was create a bug in Jira called Fat Elvis or Skinny Elvis and how many," Babb happily shares, noting that they have ultimately decided not to have their wedding officiated by an Elvis of any kind. Aside from fun with naming conventions, her family has enjoyed the ease with which they can view and add to wedding details, as often these large-scale affairs get bogged down with endless email chains, binders and internet bookmarking. With Atlassian, Amanda is able to share everything from a budget table for tracking deposits to multiple wedding registries and even bridesmaid dresses. Like most Scrum Masters, this bride's biggest "blocker" is adoption, often having to remind her family that, "it's in Confluence!"

So what does Babb's fiancé Doug think about his bride-to-be's planning with Atlassian? "He likes that it's streamlined communications." Babb reports. "Since we have opposite work schedules, it makes it easy for him to respond quickly. All I have to do is mention him in a comment!" Once Amanda and Doug have become husband and wife, their Atlassian instances will continue to play a role in their marriage. Babb intends to continue using the products for household projects, increasing transparency and communication between the couple leveraging a shared knowledge base. 

On this Valentine's Day, Praecipio Consulting wishes Amanda and Doug (along with all the other Atlassian lovers out there) all the best! May your collaborations be harmonious, your issues quickly resolved and each of your iterations better than the last.

 

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

Love,

Praecipio Consulting

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices calendars confluence kanban jira-software
3 min read

Introducing New HipChat Server

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 9, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Effective communication is critical to the daily operation of your organization. Whether it's alerting your dev teams to the status of their latest release or brainstorming ideas for the next Happy Hour venue, your team needs a way to talk. With more companies operating disparately, the idea of around the watercooler conversations is now defunct and people look to technology to help them connect. It was this exact need that Atlassian sought to address with their chat platform, HipChat. 

During the lifespan of HipChat, 3.7 billion messages have been sent, 25 million files have been shared and 23 million video minutes have been logged, making it one of the most widely used chat tools on the market. Responding to the popularity and demand of HipChat clients, Atlassian has expanded the product offering to now include a host of features and functionality that propel HipChat into an elite, unmatched realm of chat tools that bring simplicity and reliability.

Meet HipChat Server

Behind the Firewall

With the increased capacity for file sharing and features like private rooms for sensitive conversations, the need for security in your chats is paramount. Now with a Server option, you can run HipChat behind the firewall for the utmost security to keep your private conversations truly private. HipChat Server is also ideal for those unable to run cloud applications, allowing HipChat to run on your own server (or outsourced server hosting, as offered by Praecipio Consulting!).

Increased Integration

Link your HipChat Server up with other Atlassian applications like Jira, Stash and Confluence to increase communication between teams and keep everyone up to date on projects. Is your team's latest build ready for release? With a DevTeams room in HipChat, Stash will notify your team! Tag a co-worker to review a document in Confluence? HipChat will let them know. Integrate with the HipChat bot lab (or build your own) to sync your HipChat Server instance to an unlimited number of applications for maximum traceability. 

Enhance Culture & Collaboration

HipChat makes it easy for teams to communicate, boasting features that make the platform your organization's key resource for staying in the loop on work happenings from presentations to co-worker's birthday plans.

  • File Sharing- No more asking "Did you e-mail me that file? Or did you share it with me in the drive?" Just HipChat co-workers your images, presentations and important documents. They'll have it at their fingertips in an instant!
  • Video & Phone Chat- With teams spread out all over the world, sometimes it's nice to hear the voice or see the face of a teammate you don't often encounter in your home office. Use HipChat's video and audio chat to stay in touch and up to date!
  • Team Rooms- Need a space to brainstorm? Get a room! Create rooms for group needs to discuss specialized subjects like Marketing or hold a private conversation for more sensitive information like HR.  
  • @Mentions- Get peoples' attention with the @mention feature in HipChat to let them in on the conversation. Additionally, using @all notifies everyone in a room of a conversation. 
  • Emoticons- Why lie? You know the awesome emoticons are the real reason you use HipChat. With HipChat Server, you get all your favorites: (mindblown), (allthethings) and, of course, (celeryman). 

New HipChat Server brings you all the functionality you know and love, from file sharing and video chat to those ever-entertaining emoticons, but with the added benefits of running behind the firewall. Interested in HipChat Server (or any other Server-versions of Atlassian products) but don't have the bandwidth to host yourself? Let us host for you! At Praecipio Consulting, we provide Atlassian hosting to companies of all sizes to ensure you get the instances you need without the organizational strain that comes from internal hosting. With Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting, you can bring your teams the tools they need to achieve their best collaborative practices (and play with some fun emojis while they're at it). Contact us to learn how we can bring new HipChat Server to your company!

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hipchat collaboration culture hosting integration
2 min read

Jira Portfolio Cheat Sheet

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM

For projects big or small, Jira Portfolio helps you plan it all! With the ability to pull work in progress in from Jira or push the work breakdown structure into Jira, Portfolio makes managing projects a breeze. With a little set-up and some good old-fashioned planning sessions, your organization can quickly view release schedules, track estimates and actuals to business strategy targets, and manage resources in one place. 

Setup is key with Jira Portfolio. Simply choose your plan type, then work right to left: Configure, Reports, Releases, People. Once you have the business strategy and available resources, then populate your Backlog. Importing an existing set of issues from a saved filter in Jira requires only a few clicks. Or, if you prefer, create your plan and push individual initiatives, epics, stories, and defects into a single project or multiple projects. For those that are truly Agile, plan and push Epics into Jira, then allow the teams to develop and estimate Stories. Synchronize your plan and you're able to predict releases and inform stakeholders.

Push 

Dial in your plan before work begins. Add level of effort estimates and link Epics and/or Stories together to create dependencies. Then let Jira Portfolio inform you of a missing skill set, plan your sprints, or predict the release schedule. 

Pull

Mitigate risk and communicate with stakeholders with ease. Importing in-flight work provides stakeholders with more accurate release schedules based on current work efforts. Mitigate risk by seeing how new work and dependencies affect the overall schedule. Flex resources across teams to fill skills gaps. 

Choose 

Which of the five key capabilities of Portfolio Project Management are you trying to manage: change, risk, resource, pipeline, or financial? Let the capability determine whether a push strategy or a pull strategy works best. The answer may be to use both strategies in the same plan. 

Learn more about Jira Portfolio and get an in-depth demonstration in the tool with our Introduction to Jira Portfolio webinar.

Topics: atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices integration marketplace-apps
6 min read

Top 12 Jira Questions of 2014

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 29, 2014 11:00:00 AM

On December 3rd, we went where no Praecipio Consulting webinar has gone before: We answered your Jira questions live! Between pre-submitted questions from webinar registrants, online Praecipio Consulting followers, and real-time queries from viewers, our resident Jira expert Christopher Pepe fielded the questions you most wanted answers to. We were thrilled by your response to the call for questions and feel the answers to be so helpful that we decided to share them with the Jira-using public at large! From new Jira users to experienced technical leads, here are the top Jira questions and answers for your inquiring minds.

 Q: We have yet to find a way to enter our estimates in a manner that gives us valid burn-down charts on agile projects and would like advice. The process we use is as follows:

  • Issues are entered into Jira (into the backlog) with a high level estimate.
  • When we get into a sprint, we'd like to create sub-tasks that reallocate the hours in the original task (e.g., a story is entered with 40 hours, then the team determines that there will by 6 hours of BA work, two 8 hour development tasks, 8 hours of QA, 2 hours of documentation, and some PM work that can be logged against the main story).

Presently, we see the subtasks showing as additive and in the scenario above it ends up looking like there are 72 hours. How would you recommend that we solve this?

A: (6:04) The way Jira handles time tracking, all of your time is rolled up, so your time is double-entered. Take the original hourly estimate, delete from parent ticket (as it misses the intent of the time-tracking) and either a) don't include time estimates in the original story or b) make your stories into epics and give all sub-tasks (tests, bugs, etc.) time estimates that roll-up to give a more accurate picture of time tracked. It's also worth noting that, as people are generally not the best at estimating time, one could utilize story points to track time and establish velocity across your Agile team. For example, this new feature will take x amount of time based on x amount of sprints (compared to previous tasks of the same type). 

Q: Can we delete Statuses from already published Workflows? 

A:  (9:26) Historically no (and I believe that's still the case). You have to copy the workflow and modify, or rebuild. Then map it back to your workflow scheme, deleting the status.

Q: We are creating different issues-types for different entities, User Story, Task, Test, Bug, etc. Does having these many different issue types create complication? Is it convenient to keep track of these issues? For Ex. 1 User story might have 3 Tasks, 2 Tests and 4 Bugs, isn’t that creating linking issues or traceability issues?

A: (10:42) This is a big question and the answer is really our whole business at Praecipio Consulting, as we seek to model your processes to Jira for connectivity across all systems. Creating an efficient data model in Jira can be challenging. You're taking the right approach in thinking about how to model your data. I can't advise you without knowing more about how you operate, but recommend you think about making your Stories into Epics in Jira Agile, and then add your Tasks, Tests, and Bugs to the Epic. That really simplifies the issue linking.

Q: Is there a quick way to see an issue's priority when looking at it on a board besides filtering it?

A: (13:54) Yes, the priority is shown by its icon. Hover over to see what it is. Agile packs a lot into a little space

Q: Is there a way to automatically move an issue to a different workflow when the issue type changes. Like any Post-Function?

A: (15:29) Jira will automatically do this. It means that your Workflow Scheme needs to have different workflows configured for the issue types. If workflows have different custom fields, Jira will force you to go through a mapping stage. No post-function is needed!

Q: What options for Pass Through Authentication exist? Are Add Ons the most often used method? Are there other ways of doing this without paying hefty prices? 

A: (17:44) Add-ons are really the only way. There are REST authentication resources so if you can control intercepting the username and password you can hand them off to the application, but if your mechanism isn't HTTP based its hard to get the token in the users browser. Atlassian's Crowd is a popular choice, providing a single-sign on platform for authentication through multiple avenues.

Q: Beside custom fields, what other system configuration items can cause poor system performance? Permission schemes? Notification schemes? If so what are some best practices for these? 

A: (20:35) The short answer is: lots of schema. Custom fields, complicated workflows and the like can contribute to slower performance. Finding bottlenecks is challenging. Many layers of monitoring is the best approach (Maybe you don't have a big enough thread pool or your disk access speed is too slow.) to make sure you can see what the JVM is doing. New Relic offers simplified yet robust monitoring capabilities for these purposes 

Q: When entering a custom field, what is the best practice for configuring the field for specific issue types/projects versus a global context (all issue types/projects)? We have custom fields that will only be used for one or two issue types and a subset of projects, but we have configured them as all issue types/all projects. Is there a downside to this configuration?

A: (24:35) I encourage new admins (and even seasoned ones) to use global context and focus their energy on designing screens and related schema to get a project to operate as expected. Context makes it hard to track down why a field isn't showing up or some odd behavior that's occurring.

Q: How can I make an issue editable when the status is already closed? Also, I am unable to add a transition from a closed issue to another status. 

A: (27:25) You should be able in the workflow editor to create a transition from closed. Jira may be blocking this, since closed issues are uneditable. The default workflow that comes with Jira, if copied, wouldn't allow you to edit a closed issue- so the properties associated with the workflow are copied too. You'll need to edit your custom workflow and delete this property or create your own. 

Q: Can we add more fields in ‘Test’ Issue-type, like currently there are Test Step, Test Data and Expected Result. Can we include columns for Module, Test Scenario, etc.?

A: (30:18) Yes you can add more fields by modifying the Screens and maybe Field Configurations. You may need to create your custom fields first too.

Follow-up: (in the Zephyr panel shown in the issue) No, that is not configurable. You should tell Zephyr that you'd like it to be.

Q: Can you fix the Jira header to stay at the top of the page when scrolling?

A: (37:26) There isn't a way in the Jira UI, but if you go and inspect the element, you will find that the header bar is just a div (and stuff inside it) that you can target with CSS or Javascript to fix the hold. In Javascript, present it to Jira by creating an add-on and install. This helps you control the context and action. If you only want it on issue view, you'd add the Javascript to the field configuration. Having this function as an add-on helps future system admins know that it's an individual, customized feature that can be found and identified.

(If you listen to the webinar audio, you also hear our Jira Expert cat weighing in on the subject as Christopher Pepe translates.)

Q: What are the benefits of a federated Jira instance?

A: (41:06) Atlassian has several resources on the benefits of managing multiple instances through federating. The only places where we really see people federate instances is in industry mandates (ex. industry permissions for viewing data) or when different groups within an organization need individual ownership. In this case, you'd create application links between the two instances to allow reporting from one instance to another; the pitfall is that you can only get results from one instance at a time. 

When it comes to Jira, there is so much to know and learn! At Praecipio Consulting, we bring our Atlassian expertise to Jira and the entire product suite through our webinars, trainings and full service offering. Still have Jira questions or want to apply our experience to your instance? Find out how we can answer your questions and get you your best instance by contacting Praecipio Consulting. 

Topics: jira blog scaled-agile best-practices training configuration consulting-services integration
3 min read

Everybody Gets a Pony! Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Hosting & Managed Services

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 15, 2014 11:00:00 AM

As the holiday season approaches, my family will undoubtedly ask me the same thing they do every year - What do I want? Since I was a little kid, I've always given the same answer to no avail, my request steadfast and unchanging: I want a pony. The likelihood of my receiving a pony this Christmas is still as unlikely as it's ever been, and I ask knowing that I'll be getting pajamas, stationery, and other non-pony related items like every previous holiday. While I repeatedly ask for the pony, the regular maintenance and upkeep (not to mention storage) of a pony is more than I can handle. Believe me, I'd still love a pony for Christmas. My life and schedule might permit some allocated riding time, but I don't have the resources or bandwidth to commit to everything else that goes into pony ownership. 

Wouldn't it be great to get something you really want, that would make your life better, and never deal with the time-draining, resource-monopolizing hassle of upkeep?

Companies around the world have recognized for years that the Atlassian product suite is the ultimate in scalable, reliable Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and business management products. Offering both Cloud and Server versions of the tool set, users get varying levels of functionality and add-on capability. While Server versions offer extra options, businesses often opt for Cloud instead, as it brings them an Atlassian-hosted solution. Now, with Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services, you get the benefits of a Server instance with the freedom of outsourced hosting by our Atlassian Enterprise Platinum experts. 

Our Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Hosting and Managed Services

5. Save Your Space

My hypothetical Christmas pony needs room to run and graze, so keeping it in my small, urban backyard is impractical. Likewise, software needs room to run and the power to do so. Server instances consume RAM and can slow the speed of other processes running concurrently. With Praecipio Consulting's Hosting services, we host your Atlassian instance on our dedicated Rackspace servers, giving you uninterrupted process flow and unburdened memory. Enterprise industry leaders choose our Atlassian hosting because it frees them up to do their business faster, increasing process and profit. 

4. Trusted Expertise

I love ponies, but am no pony expert (nor do I have time to become one). Similarly, you may not have the bandwidth or expertise to be your team's go-to on your Atlassian instance when something goes awry. With Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services, you get an Atlassian Platinum Enterprise consultant dedicated to your instance. By outsourcing your Atlassian expertise to Praecipio Consulting, we deliver the answers and results that your team relies on for continued functionality and success of your instance. Our consultants have a deep expertise around the entire product suite, stemming from years of implementations, configurations and optimizations - so you know your instance is in the best hands possible! 

3. Increase Time and Resources

Keeping up with a pony would require a significant portion of my time and finances to maintain - even if nothing was wrong with the pony. Your software also requires regular touches, from upgrades to regular maintenance, which can all take people, time and money away from your organization. Wouldn't you rather focus on your job and let someone else do the work? Praecipio Consulting can make that happen. Our Hosting and Managed Services include all the scheduled maintenance and upgrades required to keep your instance at its best. No more blocking out time in your schedule to perform that upgrade. Praecipio Consulting has you covered!

2. Maximized Performance

If I had a pony, I would want it to have the very best of everything- including environment. A stable, well maintained environment is as critical for pony care as it is for your instance and, using Rackspace servers, our Hosting ensures that your Atlassian platform has the utmost uptime and availability. You know you can always count on your instance to perform the way you need, when you need it. 

1. Rapid Resolution

Sometimes ponies get sick. Or wander away from the pasture. Or any other number of pony-related problems befall them. With all that I have to deal with in my daily life, I can't guarantee that I'll be the quickest person to respond to the needs of my pony. When your instance goes haywire, you need it fixed immediately. Downtime and system issues equate to lost time and money (not only spent fixing the problem, but in the stop of workflow). When your instance goes down, don't waste time and money- just call Praecipio Consuting and get it fixed quickly!

While getting a pony for Christmas may be something I can only dream of (along with the team it would require to house and maintain said pony), a well maintained, expertly cared for Atlassian instance is within everyone's reach with Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services. By letting us manage your Atlassian instance, you save time, money and resources while getting the best functionality and service for your software platform. Increase your ROI, maximize processes and drive down costs with our Hosting and Managed Services for your Atlassian products. We promise to take excellent care of your "pony."

Topics: blog best-practices managed-services reliability uptime hosting itsm
5 min read

Expert Tips to Enhance Collaboration

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 30, 2014 11:00:00 AM

While I may have seen Lord of the Rings, I've recently become keenly aware of my overall lack of knowledge around the ins and outs of the franchise. After creating a would-be "one does not simply" LOTR meme related to a new Atlassian product release, I HipChatted the idea to a co-worker for review. The following is the actual conversation that ensued:
 

 

Aside from the fact that I apparently need to re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my big take-away from the conversation was- thank goodness for Atlassian! At Praecipio Consulting, we leverage the collaborative power of the product suite for everything from content review to coming up with new ideas and innovations for our client work. Even with resources located across the country, I still get the input I need from our team with tools like Confluence, Jira and HipChat.

As an international company with offices from Australia to Austin to Amsterdam, Atlassian knows the importance of remote collaboration across disparate teams. With a product suite that facilitates communication and documentation, Atlassian helps organizations worldwide increase productivity with tools like Jira, Confluence and Stash. One could write code in Asia, then have a team member in South America review and merge it. Marketing initiatives begun in England can be aligned with corresponding product releases developed in Iceland with Jira Portfolio. The Atlassian line of products, designed for maximum collaboration, allows remote team members to bring their expertise to projects to achieve best results. Besides using the Atlassian tools to prevent misappropriated movie references, we also collaborate in other ways.

Everybody Needs an Editor.

While spell check has done wonders for catching errors, it is always good practice to have someone review your work before pushing to production. Jira and Confluence track activity by users, alerting page and issue watchers to edits made and keeping the general population abreast of developments via the activity feed. This allows your team to see changes made and weigh in with comments. If you have Confluence 5.7, you get even more editing power with the ability to leave in-line comments on documents and attachments for the most specific, efficient method of feedback. At Praecipio Consulting, our best collaborative practices include color-coded copy edits that delineate areas for re-write, removal of copy or verification of content accuracy. Using our colored copy system, it is easy to provide specific feedback during collaboration that the content owner can efficiently incorporate into the document.

To further standardize our review process, we created a custom Marketing Communications issue type in Jira with its own workflow. We now have the ability to track the progress all our content from In Progress to QA (review) to Publish. By assigning the issue to the user responsible for each step in the process, the reporter (the person who ultimately owns the project) can easily see when to expect the next content release. With reports and customizable dashboards in Jira, we can easily view our communications schedule to ensure that content is on track throughout the In Progress and QA phases for on-time publishing. Not only does this help us thoroughly review content before publishing, but it also streamlines our processes by avoiding multiple individual sub-tasks and instead tracks the workflow within the main communications issue for best collaborative practices. 

The Marketplace of Ideas

In 1859, philosopher John Stuart Mill raised the idea of "the marketplace of ideas" - a community of open, transparent discourse to find truth. Why not create a Marketplace of Ideas for your teams to share information and gain knowledge? 

With Atlassian tools like Confluence Questions, your entire organization has access to a centralized source of standardized information. Allowing users to easily search for answers, team members can add their own responses and up-vote the answers of others to make Confluence Questions even more robust. Identify experts in your organization with leaderboard reporting so you find your best resource for each project.

Jira Portfolio, Atlassian's most exciting new offering, brings disparate teams together through initiative setting to align all projects to your business strategy, from your marketing department to your dev team. The skill field for each resource gives you even more granularity when searching for the right person, allowing users to set competencies from UI to QA. 

We don't think John Stuart Mill was the one who coined the phrase, "two heads are better than one," but Atlassian users agree with it just the same. Introducing tools like Confluence Questions and Jira Portfolio bring best collaborative practices to your organization as your team begins sharing and learning together. 

Members Only

Getting others' feedback can be helpful, but sometimes you only want input from certain users. With permission setting capabilities across the Atlassian product suite administrators can determine the visibility of information to control who can edit and view data. For additional security for your most sensitive information, Praecipio Consulting's Secure Content add-on for Confluence brings you the ultimate encryption with a secure yet simple user interface. 

Need to discuss something with a specific team? Get a room! A HipChat room, that is. Security settings in the real-time chat software gives you the ability to create your own chat room inside your organization's lobby. Add permissions to decide who gets invited to the room and a lock icon will appear next to your HipChat room to let everyone know you're having a private party.

Atlassian's security and permissions settings give you the power to choose your collaborators and keep that secret project - whether a new hire or plans for the boss' birthday party - under wraps until release.

Secure Content provides an easy to use, secure location for your most sensitive information.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Atlassian facilitates best collaborative practices and your best processes with their entire product suite. You gain the full benefit of your team's expertise as they contribute to the CMS, share knowledge and align business strategy. Atlassian gives you the utmost transparency so everyone stays "in the know" and interacts in real-time. Getting efficient and documented feedback, you can seamlessly track user stories to stay involved in the collaborative process from ideation to release. As Atlassian product and process experts, Praecipio Consulting offers services around the innovative suite of tools to help you achieve best collaborative products and practices. We get you what you need - from process optimization to product licensing - to facilitate your best collaborative practices. The greatest ideas come from inspiration through collaboration. Harness the full brain power of your organization with the Atlassian product suite and Praecipio Consulting's best collaborative practices. 

Topics: jira blog best-practices confluence implementation process-consulting questions-for-confluence collaboration consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
4 min read

Jira for Asset Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 20, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Last year, companies spent a third of their budget on IT assets and related costs. Each piece of hardware and software equates to dollars, time, and resources. This can become costly when not well managed. Much like keeping a maintenance log for a vehicle, thorough documentation from purchase to hand-off  is required for every asset in your organization. Technology is central to your organization's operations and if not well managed it becomes a source of profit loss, unnecessary expenditure and endless frustration. Leveraging Jira, Atlassian's product and issue tracking software, you gain the documentation and visibility you need for best practices in ITAM (information technology asset management).

A large portion of ITAM involves tracking your assets from purchase to re-distribution. It is paramount to keep documentation of the details of your asset, as doing so facilitates informed decisions around your IT needs. There are multiple data points to collect with each new asset addition in order to implement best ITAM practices. Begin by gathering the following information:

  • Where is the asset being deployed?
  • How is the asset configured?
  • Who is using the asset?
  • Does the asset have a warranty?
  • What are the asset's requirements?
  • What are the asset's supporting applications?
  • What is the asset's maintenance history (if not new)?

Once these data points are determined, simply create a ticket in Jira including all information and attach documentation you have for the asset. Depending on the workflow of your organization, you may consider utilizing an automated asset inventory discovery tool to trigger Jira to fill in the details of the asset. This mitigates errors made when entering the information manually and ensures that, even if an asset is not spotted by a team member for logging, Jira will still capture it. Again, the more thorough your documentation, the more story points you have for your best ITAM. After creating a ticket for the asset in Jira, you immediately begin increasing your ROI with every action in the asset's lifecycle. 

Tickets for Total Traceability

With Jira's customizable issue types, workflows, and schemes, each asset is managed with fine granularity to ensure that at each phase of it's life cycle, informed and accurate decisions can be made regarding maintenance and overall value versus cost. 

Issue Types and Components- What kind of asset is it?

Create issue types to manage the lifecycle of a set of assets and components in your Jira Project to reflect the exact type of asset you're documenting. From hardware, software, and servers down to keyboards and mice, organize your assets according to type for at-a-glance reporting on asset lifecycle.

System Fields- Who is responsible for the asset?

In addition to the ability to document what kind of asset you're managing with custom issue types, you can also add to the system fields:

    • Summary- What is the asset name (ex. 22" Monitor)?
    • Assignee- Who is responsible for the asset? (This is typically the end-user, but will change throughout the asset lifecycle as maintenance is performed, the asset is re-distributed, etc.)
    • Reporter- Who is the asset manager (from procurement to end-user delivery)?
    • Labels- Describe assets (ex. brand name, asset type, new or used, etc.)

Custom Fields

Jira allows the creation of custom fields to capture the most pertinent information related to your assets. As seen in the screenshot to the right, you can track multiple variables associated with the asset, including CPU model, RAM speed and warranty period. Using query filters in Jira, you can easily search assets according to date acquired, current value and other data collected in the asset ticket.

Security Schemes

Certain asset information needs to remain private. By leveraging Jira's security schemes, you can determine who can view and edit issue tickets for ultimate security. Schemes can be changed at any time so administrators can set security according to specific asset managers and team leads.

 

Maximizing Your ROI

One of the biggest points of superfluous expenditure for companies is unnecessary costs associated with misappropriated or untracked assets. Caused by incomplete documentation, assets are needlessly purchased while others devalue as they sit unused and unmaintained. Consequences of poor asset management can be as steep as fees for violating licensing terms, which are critical for documentation and active tracking. According to a 2013 survey by KPMG, 86% of those polled were found to have inadequate and incomplete documentation on their assets, preventing them from achieving maximum ROI. Documentation on your assets informs your organization's decisions on budget forecasting and IT strategic planning. With Jira, you have a method of easily accessible, customizable reporting to make the best call.

Jira helps eliminate these oversights and redundancies with custom workflows to ensure your assets are always accounted for. By using the Assignee field, a member of your organization becomes responsible for the asset during that phase of its lifecycle. Beginning with the person who procures the asset, to all the team members who will interact with it- from the end-user to the IT manager to Finance- your assets are always traceable through Jira. With Jira custom workflows, you can determine the specific lifecycle of your asset, setting a standardized sequence of action types your asset moves through. 

Best Practices in ITAM

Avoid spending more than your asset is worth on costly, unnecessary expenditures related to poor ITAM. With Jira, you gain a robust, highly functional tool to track all your assets with maximum traceability. Leveraging best practices in ITAM with the powerful Atlassian products, you benefit from:

  • Avoiding unnecessary maintenance costs
  • Knowledge of your assets when working with vendors 
  • Preventing costly compliance penalties 
  • Strong cross-team communication at all stages of your asset lifecycle
  • Enhanced tracking of asset activity with assigned users and reporters
  • At-a-glance reporting for informed decision-making for stakeholders
  • Thorough documentation for
    • Audits
    • Re-Distribution
    • Budget Forecasting
    • IT Strategic Planning Decisions

85 Fortune 500 companies worldwide, including Pfizer and Boeing and Cisco use Jira for their high-level enterprise asset management needs. With Jira, you gain robust functionality, ultimate transparency across teams, and efficient reporting. A scalable software that grows with your organization, Jira provides a powerful asset management tool that gets you the highest return on your investment. More than just a tool for development teams, Jira offers asset management capabilities to streamline your business practices and lower your cost of ownership. Accounting for each asset in your organization, Jira allows you to track the life of your technology to ensure their value is retained and no unnecessary costs are added. Learn more about how Jira can increase your ROI and bring best ITAM practices to your organization by contacting Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog best-practices implementation consulting-services itam
5 min read

Top 5 Ways Jira Portfolio Increases ROI

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 15, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Your organization is made up of many moving parts- from team members, to products, to stakeholders. Everyone has different project management needs, and the larger your organization, the greater the need for best practices in project management. Nobody knows project planning and tracking better than Atlassian, who continue to build industry-favorite SDLC tools like Jira and Confluence to enhance your team's collaboration and visibility. This year, they raised the bar even higher with the release of Jira Portfolio. You can track real-time adjustments to product releases and analyze use of resources in one central location to determine the best course of action every time for reliable delivery.  

At Praecipio Consulting we are excited to offer our Atlassian expert services around Jira Portfolio, bringing you this revolutionary product from licensing to implementation, configuration, and training. As businesses around the world begin to catch on to the robust planning power of Jira Portfolio, Praecipio Consulting helps you get the maximum return on your SaaS investment. So, how does Jira Portfolio increase your ROI? Here are just a few ways...


5. INITIALIZE YOUR INITIATIVES

Seasoned users of Jira know about using the epic designation in Jira Agile to collect user stories from multiple tasks under a larger project heading, but now you can expand your business narrative with initiatives! An initiative aligns epics and corresponding user stories to link together all the moving pieces of your business processes. Unfamiliar with Agile practices? Use Initiatives to give each team a vision for their part of the story- whether you're the one developing the product or the one marketing it. Each team's actions in Jira track back to Jira Portfolio under the larger initiative plan to give PM's and stakeholders an accurate overview of how the initiative is developing to ensure an on-time delivery. Get all your resources from all involved teams on the exact same page with initiative-setting capabilities in Jira Portfolio.

Before Jira Portfolio: Countless cross-team meetings to convey initiative vision and goals

After Jira Portfolio: Epics and stories streamlined by initiative to keep your teams aligned under the same vision and goals

 

4. THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE RIGHT JOB

Who has time to work on the project? Who has the required skills? Finding answers to these questions used to take significant time- time that could be spent moving ahead on your project- that is, until Jira Portfolio. Now it's easy to search resources by availability and skill set to assign the right person to the right job. Never again have to guess whether your assigned developer has UI/UX experience- just check Jira Portfolio and see! Not only can you find the perfect person for the task by filtering searches for specific skills, but you can view their availability to determine if they have the bandwidth for your project. If only online dating were this easy!

Before Jira Portfolio: Mismatched assignees who may (or may not) have the skills needed to finish the job right, and on time

After Jira Portfolio: Find the perfect fit for the job by viewing resources' skills and availability 

 

3. EASY ESTIMATION

So, you've found your Mr. Perfect Developer or Mrs. Right Marketing Resource. How much time will it take these team members to complete their assignments? With Jira Portfolio, your resources gain the ability to project the time they need to get the job done. By documenting these estimates in Jira Portfolio, PM's get a percentage breakdown across teams and users for the most accurate, up-to-date forecast of your project timeline. User friendly charts and percentages automatically generate based on the estimated time required, showing you the workload make-up of your project. And, with report export capabilities, the only thing PM's have to do is press print and hand over the beautifully accurate and informative analysis to project stakeholders for easy and always available project tracking. 

Before Jira Portfolio: Imbalance of time allocation per development phases; Searching multiple locations for data then keeping fingers crossed in hopes that the search provides an accurate forecast to stakeholders

After Jira Portfolio: Each phase gets the time it needs; One central location with reporting options that allows you to see your progress in a single glance 

 

2. SCRUM AND KANBAN- YOU GET BOTH!

Your methodology is personal to your organization. Often, teams within the same company, teams operate using different processes. Jira Portfolio meets the process needs of every team with options for Scrum and Kanban. Using Jira Portfolio's iteration-based scrum scheduling abilities, your project moves through a workflow based on completion of one to several week-long iterations. Need continuous scheduling ability? Jira Portfolio has you covered with the Kanban-style scheduling that organizes the stages of your workflow to align with a traditional process workflow, moving to the next step once the previous one has been completed and closed out. Jira Portfolio provides a project planning tool to fit any process methodology in your organization.

Before Jira Portfolio: Different methodologies requiring different software for different teams, preventing cross-team collaboration and centralized reporting for PM's

After Jira Portfolio: One SaaS to rule them all! Any methodology, or even multiple methodologies in the same organization, achieve the same traceability and process maximization

 

 

1. LET'S GET REAL

Perhaps the most exciting feature of Jira Portfolio (but really, how can we pick just one?) is the ability for real-time planning and forecasting. While this is nothing new for Atlassian users, Jira Portfolio takes it one step further, allowing administrators to project timelines based on resources, dependancies and completion of iterations. Need to spend more time in testing before release? Update your date fields, and the project tracking timeline adjusts to re-schedule your release date accordingly. How much time could you gain by adding an additional resource to a phase? No need to guess- just add the resource and Jira Portfolio shows you, based on the resource's availability and role, the new timeline to reflect the extra team member's projected contribution. Those who love to ask "What if?" Jira Portfolio allows you to explore different scenarios to determine your best course of action before making the call. 

Before Jira Portfolio: Guessing at deadlines and making partially informed decisions 

After Jira Portfolio: Real-time forecasting of scenarios to get your best course of action every time

Atlassian's new Jira Portfolio bring robust, flexible, dynamic scheduling capabilities to your organization for best project management practices. This exciting Jira add-on delivers big results, streamlining your organization's numerous projects for supreme visibility and providing thorough, accurate reporting. Masters of best technology and business practices, Praecipio Consulting is here to bring Jira Portfolio to your organization! A one-stop shop for all things Atlassian, we provide implementation, configuration, process consulting, training and anything else you need to get your organization using Jira Portfolio with best-in-breed practices. 

Ready to learn more about Jira Portfolio and how it revolutionizes business practices? Join us on November 5th for our Introduction to Jira Portfolio webinar, which includes a live demonstration of the application and a Q&A opportunity with Praecipio Consulting's Atlassian Expert Consultant, Amanda Babb. Contact us to learn how Jira Portfolio can maximize your project planning and how Praecipio Consulting sets you up for your greatest success.

All images courtesy of "Dilbert" by Scott Adams

Topics: blog best-practices optimization process-consulting training consulting-services portfolio-management project-management marketplace-apps
5 min read

Paying for Mistakes: The Cost to Fix a Software Defect and How to Avoid It

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

In 2002, a study by NIST reported the U.S. Economy spent $59.5 billion annually fixing software defects. Less than a decade later, Cambridge University found the cost to have risen (in 2007 to 2011) to a global cost of $312 billion per year. With technology becoming an ever-growing presence in our society- from smart phones to smart cars- the pressure to build infallible software is at the forefront of companies' minds. A software defect, which can be caused by omitting even one character in pages of code, can have far reaching repercussions.

These kind of non-conformance expenditures spent repairing software defects impact your Cost of Quality, costing your company profit and maybe even your professional reputation. Customer satisfaction fuels the reputation of businesses, and even a small software defect can translate into billions of dollars in lost revenue when people become frustrated over non-functional or mis-operating products. 

"To err is human." So, how do we reduce software defects caused by user error?

With the Atlassian product suite, you have security with well-documented, well-reviewed process capabilities- You just have to begin with the end in mind. This should be the mantra for any software development effort. To start, gathering clear requirements in Confluence will allow a team to have a single point of truth when in the early stages. Developers, QA, Stakeholders, Product Owners, Scrum Masters- everyone should be involved in the process. Before kicking off a new project, ask yourself:

  • What are we trying to create? (e.g. a new feature, an enhancement to an existing product or offering, a cleaner UI)
  • Why are we doing this and why is this a need? 
  • Who are the end-users and how will they be using the product?
  • Where in the application will this sit? (e.g. Is it middleware? Is it database transactions? ) 
  • When can we release this? 

These 5 questions can get ideas flowing. Recommendations regarding this phase include creating user profiles to help determine acceptance criteria. In Agile, the creation of user stories helps here too. By beginning with the end in mind and leveraging Confluence, there is no question as to what the expected function of the product is and what is considered done.

Once the requirements have been reviewed and agreed upon, now is where we start tasking. Within Confluence, selecting text and creating Jira tickets is easy once the applications are linked. These issues should be created with the mindset that after an iteration, the issue is complete and potentially shippable. 

Fail fast... then fix it!

These checkpoints in the SDLC process have the opportunity to make or break a deliverable's release, reducing extra costs to the company. Depending on the phase in which the defect is introduced, and how long it takes to catch, the losses can quickly add up. Finding an architecture issue in the construction phase will cost 10 times as much than if it were caught in its starting phase. A requirements issue found in post-release can cost up to 100 times as much to fix than if identified from the beginning. How can you ensure you're shipping a defect-free product that won't cost your company profit or credibility?

Take a moment to think about what potentially shippable means. These items have been developed, tested, re-tested, merged, and are ready to meet the outside world. With a click of a button in Stash, these items can be merged with the Master Branch and are now available for use. But to get to this point, the Scrum Team must have had some way to develop and test and merge and flag issues without affecting the Master Branch or Production System. Here's where integrating Jira, Bamboo, and Stash come in handy. You can create a feature branch, develop against it, and merge it with everyone else's branches to ensure there are no defects. Bamboo will see the new branch and build. Fail Fast. Within a short period of time, the team can see what they did (or didn't do) to make sure the units are potentially shippable- troubleshoot, fix, then merge again. When a build fails or a branch doesn't merge, defects can be filed in Jira and added into the Sprint. 

Accidents will happen.

Even with multiple checkpoints in place for accuracy, a user may spot a defect. In this case, leveraging Jira Service Desk can provide immediate feedback to customer service regarding the problem. By providing a way for customers to communicate their issue immediately, you are able to respond to their complaint- preserving the reputation of your business and gaining important information on what went wrong (so you can avoid it next time). Everybody makes mistakes- it's how (and how fast) you fix them that leaves a lasting impression with customers. 

Limit Defects, Avoid Loss, Increase Productivity

With the Atlassian product suite, user errors that create defects in software are identified and weeded out before your deliverable ships, allowing you to continually increase profit and get solid results. Best practices in robust tools like Jira, Confluence, and Stash help your organization achieve traceability and thorough documentation through continuous integration. Leveraging administrative and reporting functions, including permission setting and customized workflows, you can track project development and identify blockers in real time to mitigate profit loss. Atlassian further stacked their product line to increase visibility and keep deliverables on time and defect-free with their new offering, Jira Portfolio

Million dollar profit or million dollar loss? The omission in a single character in one line of code can be catastrophic to your deliverable, so early detection is paramount. Atlassian helps you catch those bugs before they turn into an infestation and with our extensive knowledge of best practices and process optimization around the product suite can maximize your defect defense. Learn more about how Praecipio Consulting can help you avoid those costly errors. With the money you save, you can treat your team to an Atlassian training course!

Topics: blog scaled-agile best-practices bitbucket confluence process-consulting roi consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
3 min read

JIRA Portfolio: Atlassian's Latest & Greatest Release

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 19, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Five major announcements at Summit 2014 weren't enough for Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike-Cannon Brookes. Sneaking in a "Number 0" announcement after such crowd pleasers as Jira Service Desk agent-based pricing and HipChat for Server and iOS8, the San Jose Convention Center nearly exploded when Mike introduced the world to Atlassian's newest addition:

 

Since Jira first hit the marketplace in 2004, usage has gone through the roof with worldwide adoption of the popular issue-tracking product by industry giants with enterprise needs. In ten years, Jira has only gotten better with age, as Atlassian continuously pushes to improve products based on user feedback. That kind of user response- from Atlassian Experts who implement Jira, to stakeholders looking for a larger return on their investment- drove the design, development, and release of Jira Portfolio. Designed for maximum traceability, projects can be easily viewed to enable strategic planning, provide project reporting, and link work amongst teams for greater consistency in realizing business initiatives. Jira Portfolio adds value to every Jira instance in your organization: from stakeholders needing at-a-glance analytics, to technical leads scheduling project delivery, to team members who need to see how their work fits into a larger context. 

ONE SOURCE FOR ALL

Standardization across teams is important in your business processes, especially in organizations with cross-functional team projects! Leveraging Jira Portfolio across your organization fosters collaboration amongst teams and provides supreme visibility. Jira Portfolio makes use of the integrative power that we know and love in Atlassian products, seamlessly communicating with your other tools including Jira Agile and Confluence, making it a major force of functionality in the world of technology solutions.

ON TIME, EVERY TIME

Jira Portfolio is a centralized home for business development projects that unifies your organization, allowing for project tracking in real-time across teams for incredibly accurate strategic planning. Never miss the mark on a scheduled release again! With Jira Portfolio, you can track projects (Yes, more than one project at a time!) from proof-of-concept to delivery thus cutting cost-of-change and continually improving business processes through the use of dashboards and workflows.

TELL BETTER STORIES

Keep your team fully informed with the integration and cross-team collaboration you get with Jira Portfolio. When builds grow from business initiatives, you can keep your devs clued into the strategy by linking projects with themes. With Jira Portfolio, your user stories have more narrative power, as epics and stories can now point to business initiatives and themes. Your dev teams can build products informed by the business initiative that outlines its place in the market. Your business team can see the development of the product they're marketing and advertise its upcoming release.

ALL OF THE FRAMEWORKS

Want Jira Portfolio but don't know how it will work in your framework? Atlassian washes those worries away with Jira Portfolio's Framework-Agnostic compatibility. No matter what framework your organization uses, Jira Portfolio will always be a perfect fit. 

LOW COST POINT

Jira Portfolio makes your Jira instance even more robust by driving down development costs, but your savings don't end there. Jira users can expand their Atlassian product suite to include Jira Portfolio, gaining the highest functionality of strategic planning software available at a fraction of the cost of competitors. 

With Atlassian's new Jira Portfolio, you can achieve your best business processes. Drive costs down with strategic planning, easy cross-team collaboration, and high-level reporting to take your organization to a whole new level. At Praecipio Consulting, we're just as excited about Jira Portfolio as our clients! And...we're thrilled to offer a first look inside the hot new offering in our upcoming Jira Portfolio webinar on November 5th. Join one of our Solutions Architects and Certified ScrumMaster, Amanda Babb, to learn how to unlock the power of Jira Portfolio.

Wherever you want to go with the Atlassian product suite, we'll take you there.

Topics: atlassian blog atlassian-summit best-practices process-consulting consulting-services marketplace-apps
4 min read

The Future of Atlassian: Blowing Minds at Summit '14

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 17, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Make a list of all the things you'd like to see in new and existing Atlassian products. Dream big. Get thoughts from other Atlassian users. Then- build, test, deliver and repeat. No, this isn't the Atlassian version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

It's the future of Atlassian- and your mind will be blown!

Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes kicked off Summit 2014 in San Jose, CA with an Opening Keynote that not only inspired the audience, but moved them to on-going applause as one-by-one new products and features were announced. For those of us streaming the presentation remotely, HipChat rooms all over the world were surely abuzz with excited talk about the new offerings, all of which were on our personal wish lists! 

Without further adieu, we present six more reasons that Atlassian is the shiz: 

6. The Atlassian Family is growing!


Atlassian is expanding- and we don't just mean their product line.

They've welcomed 9,000 new users (Many of whom we've introduced to Atlassian!), added over 300 new Atlassian team members, spent 1,600 hours giving back to non-profits and, most notably, opened a new office in Austin, Texas (but we're biased). 

It's a good thing Atlassian added to their ranks, because they are going to be very busy with the next 5 announcements!

5. HipChat comes to iOS8!

All the Apple users of HipChat had their (mindblown) when Atlassian announced the new HipChat app for iOS8.

The re-designed app allows you to view HipChat in your lock screen and go straight to notifications in an easy-to-use pull down screen for reading and replying.

Just when we thought we couldn't love HipChat any more than we already did! 

4. Holy Confluence 5.7, Batman!

Wouldn't it be nice to simultaneously work on a single, shared document in Confluence and offer in-line comments to collaborators on pages and attachments?

Atlassian thought so too- that's why they included these real-time, collaboration-enhancing features to their already robust CMS.

The fastest way to get your non-technical team members to love Atlassian? Introduce them to Confluence 5.7.

3. Unlimited Customer Usage of Jira Service Desk!

Since making its debut at Summit 2013, Jira Service Desk has quickly become one of Atlassian's hottest, most used products. Thousands of teams received thousands of requests through Jira Service Desk- and now, all those customers are FREE.

With new, agent-based pricing, you get Jira Service Desk 2.0 for your team to serve as many customers as you can. Just one price, no matter the size of your client base! 

2. Stash in the Enterprise! 

Stash is the latest Atlassian product, after Jira and Confluence, to join the Data Center offering- and it's set to be the biggest Data Center release yet!

The first high-availability Git repository, Stash Data Center is a dream for teams running mission-critical processes with no room for downtime and a great need for scalability. 

1. Introducing Jira Portfolio!

On the last day of Summit, attendees packed into Demo Alley to get a glimpse of the newest addition to the Atlassian product line: Jira Portfolio.

The world's largest companies leverage Jira for this purpose- and Atlassian is providing even more planning, reporting and traceability than ever before!

Improved strategizing, change response and growth planning? We're signing up right now!

Where are you going with Atlassian? 

Judging by the non-stop excitement and discuss by our team, nobody is more enthusiastic about the future of Atlassian than Praecipio Consulting! 

Our passion is improving your processes- making them better, faster and stronger so you can achieve best practices for your best product- and those are the tools Atlassian builds.

No matter if you're a new user, a small start-up or an industry giant- wherever you want to go with Atlassian...

...We'll take you there.

Topics: jira atlassian news blog atlassian-summit best-practices bitbucket confluence hipchat mobile jira-service-desk marketplace-apps

Jira Administrators Primer

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 10, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Want to learn more about effective Jira administration? This Jira Administrators Primer will cover tasks and best practices that every Jira administrator should know. Delivered by our very own Christopher Pepe, attendees from this session will help you become more proficient in maintaining your Jira instance.

Please contact us for more information or take a look at our other webinars.

Topics: jira administrator training webinars
2 min read

Hack the Code, Be the Change.

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 4, 2014 11:00:00 AM

What do you get when you put 10 developers in an 18th floor downtown Austin office with 24 hours worth of tickets, iced coffee, beer and pizza?

The 24-Hour Atlassian Hack-a-thon.

The first charity event for the recently-opened Austin office kicked off significant work around the Make a Diff website, where Atlassians, Experts, and developers around the city committed a full day and night's efforts towards resolving issues. To give back, all participants had to do was search for Jira issues by fields such as expertise, assign to themselves, and work to resolve. The charity model, as user-friendly as the Atlassian product stack itself, unlocks the power and skill set of people looking to make a difference in a collaborative, effective, and fun environment. 


Dave Nicholson, Atlassian Hack-a-thon Organizer, gives the team a pre Hack-a-thon pep talk.

Growing from the Atlassian Foundation, where one percent of profit, employee time, and company equity is donated to a non-profit, volunteers donated their knowledge, skills, and time towards improving the Jira plugin that drives the Make a Diff website. 

Praecipio Consulting's Bryan Robison, Senior Solutions Architect and Certified ScrumMaster,  jumped at the opportunity to donate time to Make a Diff. "I've participated in charity code-a-thons before....[those] code-a-thons [were] only 8 hours, so it's nice to have the time to accomplish more." The seasoned veteran's secret to maintaining his coding focus and stamina for 24 hours? "Stay hydrated." 

Bryan Robison of Praecipio Consulting, Scrum Master and glorious beard-haver

By the end of the Hack-a-thon, bleary-eyed, caffeine-fueled developers were able to resolve 19 Jira issues and vastly improve the user experience of the Make a Diff website. In 24 hours, countless lines of code were written; large quantities of snacks and soda were consumed; non-profits can now log on and find the skills they need more easily; and four sets of group push-ups and planks were completed. Volunteer and Praecipio Consulting Business Development Manager Shayla Sander is already looking forward to next year's Hack-a-thon. "Atlassian embraces socially minded endeavors. It helps us to achieve goals greater than ourselves." 

Gahndi said "Be the change you seek," and Atlassian puts their time and skills where their mouth is, listing the inspirational quote as one of their company values.

The user story of the July 2014 Hack-a-thon? A good time and a #goodhack was had by all. 

 

Topics: jira atlassian blog charity
1 min read

Brikit: Getting More From Your Confluence Investment with Theme Press

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 7, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Software developers have known for years that Confluence is the ultimate collaboration tool. While the value may be apparent for some parts of your organization, others might be intimidated by new technologies, preventing your company from reaping the full return on your Confluence investment. Accentuating the power of Confluence to share information, Brikit's Theme Press gives companies an out-of-the-box tool that will trigger a Confluence adoption craze across your whole organization. Perfect for company intranets as well as external use, the beautiful design and unrivaled usability of Theme Press gives you the flexibility to customize your website for your purposes.

At Praecipio Consulting, we customized our Confluence-based website utilizing Theme Press while incorporating new pages and content into the same design. Victor Vargas, Praecipio Consulting's in-house graphic artist, pushed Theme Press to the max and was excited about the results. "As a designer, it's an effective and robust platform to use." Our new website even caught the attention of Brikit founder Darryl Duke, who featured praecipio.com (at 6:54) in this online Theme Press demonstration. To that end, we at Praecipio Consulting are excited to add Theme Press implementation to our robust service offerings, bringing this innovative platform to new and existing Confluence users. Contact us to learn how Praecipio Consulting can revolutionize your Confluence with Theme Press.

Theme Press has taken Confluence outside of the development team silo and launched a simple, dynamic, user-friendly platform that increases adoption across your organization. With customization, endless design possibilities and the easiest of editing capabilities, Theme Press puts a new spin on an old Atlassian classic to bring Confluence to a wider audience than ever before. 

Check out praecipio.com at 6:54!

Topics: blog brikit confluence implementation technology-partners consulting-services integration marketplace-apps
4 min read

The Praecipio Consulting Way

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 3, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Whether we're finding new, innovative ways to bring the Atlassian suite to clients or challenging ourselves to live our healthiest lifestyle, Praecipio Consulting strives daily for good practices in all spheres of life. Our experts believe in pursuing greatness not only in technology service and support, but in our daily lives- from staying in great shape to having great times together. We're a curious and competitive bunch, which makes us leading Atlassian Platinum and Enterprise experts; it's also why you'll find amongst our team an assortment of outdoors-loving, musically-inclined, organic & sustainable cooking folks with a penchant for craft beer (We'll let Dave continue to believe Coors is a craft beer.) Praecipio Consulting understands that a happy, healthy team gives us a competitive edge, which is why we invest in our experts- mind, body and soul!

MIND

Praecipio Consulting's international reputation as a top Atlassian expert service provider is founded upon the collective experience, knowledge and innovative insight of our team. Enjoying an open work environment, both in our home office and through collaborative, transparent products like Confluence and Jira, our experts share visibility of information, allowing us to engage in discussion and dialogue that capitalizes on our various areas of expertise to provide the best solutions. Praecipio Consulting experts regularly weigh-in on projects, training and other issues to deliver the highest quality results to our clients every time. "This is the first job that's pushes me to be better," says Praecipio Consulting expert Hernan Montes. "I love being challenged to reach my fullest potential." Praecipio Consulting experts don't just provide great solutions to clients; they flex their technology prowess in Atlassian internal competitions and challenges such as the Tour de Confluence Questions (which our Charles Wells dominated!) and Atlassian's Dragon Slayer challenge. 

All we do is win!  Charles Wells repping for Praecipio Consulting in Atlassian's Tour de Confluence Questions

With twice weekly company "stand-up" meetings, our expert team shares their current projects and blockers to leverage our collective expert knowledge for the most thoughtful and efficient solutions to clients' most difficult issues. Beyond technology practices, Praecipio Consulting experts' outside interests keep their minds expanding. "We have a multi-lingual office, so you end up expanding your vocabulary without trying." says Marketing & Sales' Erin Davis. "Any given day, you might hear Spanish, French, German or Thai." Our experts love to learn and develop their creative abilities, from developing custom add-ons for clients to staying well read and informed in their downtime.   

Bryan and Isaac practice the Buddy System of code writing

BODY

Praecipio Consulting experts are an active bunch! When we're not rising to meet technology challenges, we're setting goals and making time to keep at our personal best. Each team member is provided a wireless bracelet that tracks and shares your daily activities, from how many steps you take to how long you sleep, allowing us to set internal goals and cheer each other on. "You won't meet a better team of people working to help each other improve professionally and personally." says solutions architect Brian Nye.  

Get on your feet for twice weekly Stand-Up meetings

With our home office in scenic Austin, Texas, our team capitalizes on the many outdoor amenities the city has to offer. Our weekly "Board Meetings" get our experts wakeboarding on the lake. The Praecipio Consulting team can often be found swimming at Barton Springs, hiking Enchanted Rock or joining a pick-up game of soccer at Zilker Park. When it comes to team get-aways, our company retreats allow for activity interspersed with productivity. We look forward to these opportunities to spend time together outside of the office- dreaming up some of our best plans whether in the mountains or on a ranch.

Some of the Praecipio Consulting team... at our 2014 Retreat in Roddy Tree, TX

SOUL

18th century poet Sir Thomas Moore once wrote "finding the right work... is like finding your soul in the world." At Praecipio Consulting, our souls find joy in our daily work through helping our clients achieve greatness- but it doesn't stop there! Our work environment considers our team's comfort and enjoyment. After all, who wants to work someplace they don't enjoy being? In between projects, Praecipio Consulting experts share downtime lounging in oversized bean bag chairs, or strumming on one of the guitars we keep on hand. (After all, Austin is the Live Music Capitol of the World!) Need a break from your desk? Try working away in our extra-large hammock (though if it lulls you to sleep, you will dream of Jira workflows). If we haven't mentioned it already, we enjoy a good beer. Carrying on the Atlassian tradition, Friday afternoon is Happy Hour at Praecipio Consulting- a great way to celebrate the week's successes and start making plans with co-workers for the weekend ahead. Yes, our team truly enjoys spending time together- even outside of work! "We're more than just a company- we're a family," says business development's Shayla Sander. Office manager and human resources' Robyn Lane concurs, "It's like working with your favorite brothers and sisters!" 

 

Praecipio Consulting's Shayla & Victor at the 2013 Austin Atlassian User Group SXSW Stash Bash

Praecipio Consulting believes that we do our best work when we're at our personal best! Mind, body and soul, our experts demand excellence of themselves to provide the highest quality client experience.  

Learn more about the Praecipio Consulting lifestyle by meeting our team and reading our blog. Want to join us? Check out careers  at Praecipio Consulting... and have a great day, y'all!

Topics: blog austin teams support
1 min read

Beer Me Jira

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 1, 2013 11:00:00 AM

 You may have seen our toaster video where Christopher configures and customizes Jira to control a toaster. Well, this year for Atlassian Summit 2013, we've taken Christopher's prowess a step further to do something not entirely useful again ... but ... think of the limitless opportunities. Check out this video to see Jira and Jira workflows pour beer. We leveraged Confluence for specifications and collaboration on the idea, Jira for managing the effort (imagine the number of tasks and sub-tasks) and of course Stash as our code repository. Way to go Chris - Praecipio Consulting and Atlassian for the win!

Beer Me Jira!

Oh yeah, did we mention we've gone Platinum?

Topics: jira atlassian blog bitbucket beer-me-jira jira-software
1 min read

We've Gone Platinum

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 13, 2013 11:00:00 AM

It all started seven years ago when Joseph and Christian Lane and Christopher Pepe took their years of software consulting knowledge and focused their energy on the Atlassian product suite.

Since then we have set big goals, worked hard and have grown in leaps and bounds. With clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 20 and 500 companies, Praecipio Consulting has proven itself as a leader in consulting on the full Atlassian portfolio. We're proud to announce that we are now one of four platinum experts in the US, and one of 25 in the world.

Praecipio Consulting is certified across the entire Atlassian product suite. Whether it's a complex Enterprise implementation, a custom add-on, or a deep-dive training for Jira admins and power users we have done it, and we can help.

We're excited and honored to have been named a Platinum Atlassian expert and can't wait to continue growing our business and helping businesses overcome their challenges.

Topics: atlassian blog enterprise implementation atlassian-solution-partner
1 min read

The Secure Content Macro for Confluence

By Praecipio Consulting on May 16, 2013 11:00:00 AM

That’s right, our highly anticipated Secure Content Macro is now available on the Atlassian Marketplace. Secure Content allows you to securely display sensitive data to the right people at the right time anywhere in Confluence.

How does it work?  Secure content blocks are stored, encrypted in the database, and are only decrypted when an authorized user provides their credentials. Users must be logged into Confluence to be able to decrypt a secure content block. Secure Content uses the currently logged in user and ensures that the provided password matches the user’s Confluence password. It’s that simple!

We’re thrilled for the release of this amazing plugin and hope you find it as useful as we have. Click here to download and begin collaborating in secret.

 

 

 

Topics: atlassian blog confluence marketplace secure-content-macro macros
7 min read

Migrating SVN to Git: How Atlassian Made the Switch - the Human Side

By Praecipio Consulting on May 16, 2013 11:00:00 AM

The following content was taken from Atlassian.com

This is the third blog post of a three part series where we focus on migrating the Jira code base from Subversion to Git. We wanted to share Atlassian’s migrating experience to those of you who are contemplating moving a large project to Git – without sacrificing active development. In our first post we discussed why we decided to make the switch to Git. In our second post we dove in the technical details of switching from Subversion to Git. 

Migration – The Human Side

So you might know that you can run a pretty slick migration from the technical side, minimize commit downtime and ensure high availability of your supporting infrastructure. But are your developers ready for the change?

The opinions of Jira developers on the migrations varied from, “Git is the most wonderful thing to ever happen to Jira,” to, “I know Git’s better than SVN but I need training,” to, “Just show me how to do what I currently do in SVN in Git”. It’s critical to address the needs of developers across this spectrum.

The VCS you use (along with some other core things like programming language, IDE, frameworks and libraries) is one of your core tools and one of the key areas where you develop skills. Your VCS is the vehicle for technical communication and collaboration. You need to ensure that all developers are fully on board to maximize their own potential. If a developer has any uncertainty or hangups about the tools they use – particularly their VCS - their work can be severely impeded. Atlassian prides itself on openness – people are encouraged to speak up and risk falling flat on their face rather than not speak up at all – but there are all types of companies where we can envisage people hiding, not speaking up about issues if they’re not comfortable.

Also, developers worth their salt feel a connection to the code they write and their infrastructure. The most productive developers feel an ownership of their environment. If you are going to change that environment, like their VCS tool, it needs to be a change that they own and embrace.

1. Your team will need training

Assuming that everyone in your organization can learn Git on-the-fly after the migration is finished is a recipe for failure. Git is fundamentally different to SVN. Being aware of this, making your developers aware of this, and preparing them for Git is critical in making the migration a success.

The first thing we did to get our developers ready was to run a couple of Git training sessions. For example, we started out with, “How to do what you do in SVN, in Git.” This included Git commands for things like committing and demonstrating what tools are available (developers at Atlassian use their IDE, SourceTree, gitg, and the command line to work with Git). More importantly, it focused on explaining the key differences between SVN and Git. What does it mean to have a local repository that’s a clone of the remote repository? What is a working copy? What is the staging area? Finally, a step-by-step guide to cloning the Git repository and getting started fast was introduced and published on our extranet.

Further, Charles Miller (our Confluence Architect) ran a seminar that was a real deep dive into how Git works internally – what data structures it uses internally, and how actual operations like committing work get done. This was optional for all developers, but some people learn by deep investigation which helps onboarding. Also, the more you delve, the more you discover that Git is a wonderfully elegant architecture internally which is valuable for any computer scientist to learn.

We developed these training sessions internally, however there are a number of external companies that run Git training if that is your preference.

2. Your team wants to know how the migration is proceeding

While we were running the migration, we kept the team up-to-date on the migration status via email and HipChat, our real-time group chat offering. Every time we reached a milestone, we let the team know. Every time we changed infrastructure, we let the team know – partly as a warning in case things break, but also to keep them updated on how things were progressing. It’s a satisfying feeling when you say to a team member, “Hey, you know that code review you just created, you actually created it off the Git repository,” especially if you can pull it off without anything failing during the change. This regular communication, from within the team, was huge in making each developer feel like they were up to date and owning the change. The worst outcome is if the team feels like this change is forced from outside, or if the tools they use every day are changing under their feet without them knowing.

3. Your team will need “Git champions”

Let me say this once again: Git is different to SVN and it can take a while for people to adapt. No matter how much you prepare, how much you educate – developers will run into issues when they start actually using it. Left unattended, these issues will reduce productivity and can spiral into hostility to change.

We marked a couple of developers who had Git experience as ‘Git champions’ after the move. Any time people had issues, or didn’t understand things, or just wanted to know, “What did I just do?” or “How did it work?”, they could pull in a Git champion to help them. This was critical to making the change as seamless as possible.

In practice, we found the major difficulty people encountered was not the differences between commands, but the differences in the conceptual model of working copy, local repository and remote repository. Developers had internalized the SVN model. I would say it took 2-6 weeks for each developer to reach the same familiarity with Git.

4. Don’t change your workflows too much too quickly

There are a number of really advanced Git workflows out there that allow you to put the “D” in DVCS. Branches, feature branches, forks and pull requests are just the start. If you switch to these advanced workflows at the same time as you migrate, you are either Albert Einstein leading a team of Nobel laureates, or you are setting yourself up for a fall. We took the principle of “success through stability” into our workflows as well. We started off with exactly the same workflow we used in SVN:

  • one or two stable branches for bug fixes; and
  • a master branch for new development work

As I mentioned above, our SVN workflow for getting bug fixes from stable to trunk was to manually patch each commit. We kept this workflow when first migrating to Git – each bugfix commit is manually cherry-picked into master. Why would we do this? Git is designed for merging – wasn’t it part of the reason we migrated? To maintain stability, we felt that the change to Git itself was big enough for developers to take on and that changing workflow would only complicate things.

5. Make small, iterative workflow changes

We made our first workflow change about two months after the migration – no more cherry picking. Stable branch merged to master with each commit.

Again, we invested in communicating this change to the team – the motivation why, and a series of steps for how to do it. We re-awoke the Git champions to assist people anytime they had a difficulty. It proved to be a smooth, easy transition. Making small, understandable, iterative changes is what made each change a success.

The Current State of Play – Distributed VCS, Decentralized Development

Once we had settled into a merging workflow, we started embracing the distributed workflows that Git enables.

I mentioned at the start of the article that one of our major products, Jira, now releases to our hosted platform every two weeks. We tend to run with separate teams in separate branches; this enables frequent releases by decoupling separate teams’ work from each other:

  • On the day-to-day level, one team’s changes do not affect other teams. Did Team A break the build? That’s not a problem.  Their changes are isolated to their own team – they only broke their own build and no other team’s development speed is affected.
  • On the two-weekly release level, one team not making the cut does not affect the release. If Team B did not get all their stories over the line, they do not merge back at the end of their iteration. The release can go ahead with everyone except Team B’s stories.

This does introduce challenges of its own. Merging multiple sets of changes at the end of an iteration runs the risk of integration conflicts that can cause bugs. In practice, this is mitigated by the fact that individual teams tend to be working on separate areas of the code base. However, if a team or teams are working on areas that are likely to conflict with other teams, they tend to work directly on the master branch. The teams that are running on individual branches pull regularly from master to get these changes regularly and catch the conflicts before they become critical. Thus far, keeping the lines of communication open has prevented these sorts of conflicts from becoming problematic.

Another complicating factor is geography. Jira’s main development is done in Sydney and Gdansk; but on any one day we might get commits from Atlassian teams in San Francisco, Boulder, or Amsterdam. Teams in different cities tend to run on different branches allowing us to get over the communication gap. To facilitate communicating the kind of potential conflicts I mentioned above, we use HipChat (our group chat product) for 1-1 and group announcements and communication; this works extremely well with our distributed team members. The real-time chat rooms kept conversations persistent so when someone logged on from a different time zone, they could check the status of the conversation and get quickly up to speed. Developers were pinged when they were mentioned in a room so they could respond to someone’s query without having to read through the whole conversation.

A quick note on branch strategies: some people advocate a ‘branch-per-feature’ workflow, where each individual story is developed on a feature branch. This is a great workflow if it fits your project. Some products at Atlassian use this. In Jira, our CI overhead is very high. Running what we would consider ‘adequate’ CI on every story that gets developed is not within the bounds of reality for us. Branch per team, however, is working out well.

Success

The migration turned out to be a great success. No developers’ time was lost in limbo where they could not commit. CI ran continually, and we maintained the ability to do a 5.0 release throughout the entire migration. Post migration, we hit each change successfully and today, developers are embracing the power that DVCS gives them. The proof of this is in the complete change in our release cadence. There is no way we could have shifted from a 90-day to 14-day release cycle without DVCS.

This is probably the fifth time I have mentioned this but I cannot stress enough the importance of communication to the rest of your development team. During the migration, do not be afraid of giving it a higher importance than the actual technical migration tasks. It gets the developers to own the change. For those reticent to change, communication decreases worry and helps developers love Git.

Topics: atlassian blog migrations svn git
6 min read

From SVN to Git: How Atlassian Made the Switch Without Sacrificing Active Development

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 15, 2013 11:00:00 AM

The following content was taken from Atlassian.com  

In this the first of a three part blog series which focuses on migrating the Jira code base from Subversion to Git. We wanted to share Atlassian’s migrating experience to those of you who are contemplating moving a large project to Git – without sacrificing active development. In our first post we discuss why we decided to make the switch to Git. In our second post we dive in the technical details of switching from Subversion to Git. In our third, and final post we will discuss how we managed the “human” angle to migrating.

Atlassian has been extremely excited about DVCS for a number of years and has invested heavily in DVCS. Atlassian has acquired Bitbucket – a cloud DVCS repository host, developed Stash – a behind the firewall Git repository manager and added DVCS support to FishEye, Atlassian’s code browsing and search tool. They have also added a myriad of DVCS connectors to Jira.

Along with Atlassian we believe DVCS is a great leap forward in software development. As part of this, Atlassian migrated the codebases for their own products and libraries from centralized version control systems (generally SVN) to DVCS. Some of these have been big migrations!

In this three part blog series we will  focus on the biggest migration Atlassian has done – migrating the 11-year-old Jira codebase from SVN to Git. What obstacles did they encounter? What lessons did they learn? And most importantly, how did they do it without sacrificing active development on Jira? We hope that sharing this experience helps anyone approaching a similar migration.

We’ll focus on Git, because Jira moved to Git, but everything in this series applies equally to Mercurial. At Atlassian, they use both.

Why DVCS?

Migrating a big code base is not without cost. The first thing you will need to answer – both for yourself, your bosses, and the people who work for you – is what will DVCS bring us, and why is it worth the cost of migrating?

We have used SVN successfully on many projects.  So has Atlassian.  And I am sure many people reading this article have also used SVN successfully. Since there is always a cost to migration, you may be inclined to ask, “If Subversion has met my version control needs for many years, why should I change?” To me, that is the wrong question. The real question is, “How can DVCS make what we do today even better?”

Git is known for several things.  For a developer working with code, it’s faster.   It allows for advanced workflows like feature branching, forks and pull requests – in theory, these workflows are all possible with SVN, however the difficulty of merging in SVN compared to Git makes them untenable.  But for anyone moving from SVN, the main benefit of Git is that because of its lightweight branching and easy merging, Git allows you to do your default SVN workflow better than SVN.

What do we mean by this? Let’s talk about how we actually develop and release software. Most of us work in a world where we have at least one released version of our software in the wild, which we call a “stable” branch. We maintain and contribute bug fixes to a stable branch while developing new features on a “development” branch (which is called trunk/master/default depending on which VCS you use).

When we commit bug fixes to stable, we need to get them into master too. SVN merge is known to be a pain and works solely on revision history – not actual content.  As a result, a lot of people avoid it, or they do it infrequently and not as part of their day-to-day workflow. How many projects have you worked on where stable and development branches have started to diverge, or diverged so significantly that the effort to bring them back together is a real project cost? Many have certainly been in projects where this has happened, and when we speak to other developers it’s a frequent occurrence with SVN. There are some strategies to deal with it.  For example, with Atlassian’s issues and tracking software, Jira, they ignored merging and required developers to make each commit individually to each stable and development branch, relying on QA to make sure that it happened correctly.

Git allows you to remove this pain. Git makes merging so easy that merging the entire stable branch into the development branch on each commit is a reality; it’s now Atlassian’s default workflow. So even if you don’t want to use feature branches or forks or pull requests immediately, Git provides advantages from day one.

And when Atlassian was ready, they were in a position to take advantage of the advanced workflows that Git allows. Before the switch to DVCS, Atlassian’s major products targeted 90-day release cycles. These 90-day releases went to two platforms: downloadable products for clients to install on their own servers; and a release to Atlassian’s  hosted cloud platform (Atlassian OnDemand) for which clients pay a monthly fee. Using branches as a core part of development workflow has allowed Atlassian to shorten this to the point where they now release major products to the cloud every 2 weeks.

The Switch

Jira is a decent size code base to move – 11 year’s worth of history, 47,228 commits across approximately 21,000 files. Atlassian averages about 30 different committers over a two-week period. More than that, the VCS is a real work-horse for a project like Jira. Builds, code reviews, scripts for releasing both product distributions and source… all these things have a rich tapestry of dependencies on the source code management system.

Their main goal in the migration was to minimize interruption to developers. This is about more than just the ability to commit code; it is about the infrastructure surrounding software development.

Atlassian has 3.5 years of history in Jira’s code review system.

Jira has a lot of CI. Atlassian runs approximately 60 build plans over different configurations and branches.

They have some other dependencies too – Jira has a somewhat complex release process that involves pulling together code from multiple sources. Atlassian also releases their source code to customers, which involves a different set of build scripts.

There is a tradeoff here between how fast you can migrate and how stably you can do it – Atlassian’s guiding principle was to optimize for stability over speed. If you set a deadline for your migration and it slips, what’s the worst that happens? Developers have to commit code to SVN for another week or so. Not the end of the world. It’s far worse if the migration interrupts developers’ ability to work and meet their own deadlines.

In the end, the migration took 14 days in total, with only a total of two hours where developers were unable to commit code. Atlassian were nearing the end of the development cycle for their latest release, Jira 5, and at no point were they unable to cut a release candidate.

Preparation

When preparing the migration, there are a couple of things to be aware of.

First, it will take time. The actual git-svn clone, which takes all of the commits in the SVN repository and replicates them in Git, took three days for Atlassian.

Second, you should prepare and think of all the dependencies your infrastructure has on your VCS. And know that if your infrastructure is sufficiently complex (like Atlassian’s), there will be things you never dreamed of and only discover when they break. So don’t beat yourself up when you encounter a dragon. Just slay it, and continue on your quest.

A migration like this is not something you can do overnight, or even over a weekend. It needs to be managed for a sustained period of time.

Migration – The Technical Side

Stably migrating is daunting but it is not brain surgery; there is a process Atlassian has employed to make it manageable. In part 2 of Atlassian’s Switch to Git series we walk through, step-by-step, the technical details on migrating from Subversion to Git.

Topics: atlassian blog management migrations svn technology git incident-management information
4 min read

Happy New Year - 2012 Recap

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 31, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Looking back, 2012 was a stellar year for both Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting. While Atlassian continued to expand its presence in the software development community, so did we! As the year comes to a close, we look back at all we’ve accomplished and are truly grateful for the opportunity to grow alongside such an awesome partner. As the year comes to an end, we can’t wait for the new opportunities that will arise. We want to give a special thanks to all of our clients, partners and friends for making 2012 so great, and wish each and everyone of you a prosperous 2013!

The following includes the 2012 milestones experienced by us and our awesome partner, Atlassian:

DECEMBER 2012

NOVEMBER 2012

OCTOBER 2012

SEPTEMBER 2012

AUGUST 2012

JULY 2012

JUNE 2012

MAY 2012

APRIL 2012

MARCH 2012

FEBRUARY 2012

JANUARY 2012

Topics: atlassian blog
2 min read

Praecipio Consulting Webinars

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 20, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Our monthly webinars are designed to help you become proficient with the entire Atlassian product suite. Wether you want to convince your team to adopt Jira or are in search of some handy tips and tricks for End Users and Administrators, our webinars are designed for any skill level.

 

Praecipio Webinars

Topics: jira atlassian efficiency management practices process tips tricks lifecycle
5 min read

Collaboration Best Practices - 3 Reasons Why Email Hurts Your Productivity

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 12, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The following content was taken from Atlassian.com:

One of the turning points for communication in the workplace was the invention of email. Historically it’s been the easiest way to make contact in any business relationship – short, pointed conversations with the teammates you work closest with, or quick messages to people you’re communicating with for the very first time. You could say it changed the way we all work. Since its inception, however, the notion that email is also a good channel for team collaboration is what’s holding us all back.

Email is great for communication, but not collaboration…

 

Email is an effective means for communication, but when it comes to collaborating with your team on projects and getting work done, it’s a major hindrance to your team’s productivity.

  • Group conversations grow unwieldy too quickly
  • Keeping track of the most current version of an attached document is the modern-era’s needle in a haystack
  • It’s nearly impossible to maintain clarity about what needs to get done, and by whom

At the end of the day, when it comes to collaborating with your team, email wastes A LOT of your time.

Don’t get us wrong, email is not all bad. It’s really effective at quickly and effortlessly communicating with others, but it just doesn’t scale. When it comes to productively working together with your team, it fails to help you get the job done. Here are three reasons why we feel email is killing your productivity.

1. Your email inbox is a lot like quicksand

You receive a ton of email each day (yeah, like you didn’t already know that!) – some of it’s important, some actionable, some is SPAM, and some is unavoidably pointless. As a result your mornings go wasted in your attempt to reach inbox-zero. It’s a losing battle. Each time you take a step forward, you take two back. You’ve likely tried all the organizational features your email client has to offer to control your inbox – labels, filters, multiple inboxes, smart inboxes – but at the end of the day, your morning consists of at least an hour of unavoidable email ground-and-pound. You also probably manage emails when you get home at night and even first thing in the morning when you wake up just to keep your head above water. I’m preaching to the choir here, right? The fact is that this is the norm these days and hardly leaves you anytime to get real work done.

Pro-Tip: Use the ‘Four D’s of Decision-Making’ model

According to a article published by Microsoft, of the email you receive:

  • 50% can be deleted or filed
  • 30% can be delegated of completed in less than two minutes
  • 20% can be deferred to your Task List or Calendar to complete later

With this in mind it’s good practice to decide what to do with each and every email you receive – you have 4 choices:

  • Delete it
  • Do it
  • Delegate it
  • Defer it

2. Your email inbox silos your team’s tacit knowledge

Email is regularly used to share and discuss work, but that doesn’t mean its supposed to. Attaching files and documents or linking to them via shared network drives makes for a complete mess. Countless versions of shared files and relevant follow-up conversations are trapped in email inboxes everywhere. Your inbox is a graveyard for valuable tacit knowledge, knowledge that gets buried deeper and deeper every minute of every day. It’s truly criminal.

So, what’s the real problem? Email is a tool that best serves simple communication, not discussion, and certainly not collaboration either. When you send an email asking someone to review your work, the most valuable piece of information being transferred is not the file itself, but the ensuing conversation. Regardless of the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to find this email in your own inbox later, no one else outside of the email thread has the opportunity to benefit from this transfer of knowledge, keeping stakeholders in the dark.

3. Switching context between work and email wastes a lot of time

The rate at which most people check their email is astonishing – it’s practically become a nervous twitch. Just like Pavlov’s dog, your email has you trained incredibly well.

The problem with checking your email so much is that you rarely have a solid block of time to get any real work done. Take into consideration that if you’re actually checking your email 36 times an hour, and it takes 16 minutes to refocus after handling an incoming email, your workday is basically non-existent.

Switching contexts is distracting, if not annoying, and your email is the number one culprit – destroying the focus you need to get your job done well.

Pro-Tip: Practice Timeboxing to increase personal productivity

Thanks to email, staying on track at work is nearly impossible. Timeboxing is a time management technique that limits the time during which a task is accomplished. Start with 25 minute intervals. Work on a task for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, then commit to email for 25 minutes, and finally take another 5 minute break. Repeat. Focus. Flourish.

If 25 minutes sounds like a lot of email time, it sure beats checking your email 36 times in a single hour. At least with Timeboxing you can put all of your energy both into your work and email respectively.

Is there a solution?

We’ve outlined the major problems with using email to collaborate with your team, and even provided a few tips to help avoid the daily snags of collaborative emailing, but these are just simple workarounds. They don’t necessarily get at the core of your problems, which is that email is not the best solution for team collaboration.

OK, we are Atlassian Experts so we’re obviously biased, but we encourage ut clients to use Confluence and HipChat, Atlassian’s team collaboration and group chat tools, as means to reach decisions faster with less email and fewer meetings.

Topics: atlassian blog business confluence efficiency enterprise management optimization process project technology value collaboration information
1 min read

Praecipio Consulting - Atlassian Enterprise Expert

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 15, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Along with Atlassian’s new offering of Enterprise level Jira and Confluence comes the Atlassian Enterprise Expert Certification. It’s designed to help Enterprise level clients find Atlassian Experts best suited to provide solutions to enterprise level problems. It’s hard to believe that it has been 6 years since our first enterprise deployment, and we are honored to announce that we are officially, Atlassian Enterprise Expert Certified!  

As an Atlassian Enterprise Expert, we have expert-level knowledge and success in the following:

  • Configuration,  analysis, development, and integration of large scale Atlassian installations
  • Diverse product experience with the entire Atlassian product suite
  • Hybrid tool chain experience with both Atlassian and non-Atlassian tools and their integration
  • Git, Mercurial and Subversion

Over the last 6 years, Praecipio Consulting has provided Expert Services to small, 5 person companies to large fortune 100 and 500 companies across several industries including the automotive, pharmaceutical, aerospace engineering, retail, gaming, and financial sectors. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog austin central business confluence efficiency management process technology texas value continuous-improvement information operations

Jira 5.2 Sneak Peek

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 26, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The Atlassian team has been working hard, and to prove it here is a sneak peek of Jira 5.2, soon to debut. With Jira 5.2, it’s easy to add, remove and swap workflows to find the perfect set for your project. Check it out:

 

 

Learn more and let Atlassian know what you think at here.

Topics: jira atlassian blog business process product-services technology information it
2 min read

GreenHopper Innovation Week

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 15, 2012 11:00:00 AM

 Between Atlassian Summit and the launch of  GreenHopper 6, the Atlassian team took a break to conduct an innovation week. Basically, the team had saved up their  “20% time” over a number of weeks to put it to use during one week.

Like all Atlassian 20% time, the team got to choose what they want to work on, in this case three neat features came to light:

GreenHopper TV

GreenHopper TV came out of the desire for our customers to be able to update their board on one computer and see the results on another. For instance, if Michael on the team in Sydney updates the GreenHopper Team board, I would see that immediately on my board when looking at it in Austin. This is a nifty new feature that Michael Ruflin and Brad Baker worked on.

Card Colors

One of the pieces of functionality that GreenHopper Classic mode included was the ability to change the color of the card, depending on its Issue Type. Martin Jopson and Michael Ruflin took that further in Greenhopper 6.0.2 with the introduction of configurable card colors based upon Issue Type, Assignee or JQL. How cool is that?! You can change the color of the card based on JQL – very useful if you want to color based on SLA, for instance.

Simplified Workflow

The simplified workflow was an approach to avoiding the complexity involved in adding an additional column to the GreenHopper board – add status, create draft workflow, add transition, add step, publish, etc. 

Michael Tokar worked on this one and managed a mighty feat – every new project and board created via the GreenHopper Getting Started page can opt to use the GreenHopper Simplified Workflow which enables the board owner to add columns to their hearts content.

Keep an eye out for goodness from GreenHopper Innovation Week. The team is working on some very cool stuff!

Topics: atlassian news blog greenhopper
3 min read

Jira Tip of the Month: Dot and Comma Dialogue Shortcuts

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 3, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Dot ‘.’ and Comma ‘,’ shortcuts

Take your fingers off that mouse! These keyboard shortcuts will help you become a Jira speedster, and get your co-workers to ask “Whoa, how’d you do that?”

Dot Dialog

When your on the Issue Navigation screen or viewing an issue, pressing ‘.’Will bring up an operations dialog menu.

From here, start typing the first few characters of the operation you wish to use.  For example, if you are viewing an issue and want to close it, simply type ‘.’ then ‘close’.

Here is a list of operations you can access using the dot dialog:

  • Start Progress — Set the issue’s Status to In Progress.
  • Resolve issue — Set the issue’s Status to Resolved and select the appropriate Resolution.
  • Close issue — Set the issue’s Status to Closed and if the issue has not already been Resolved, select the appropriate Resolution.
  • Reopen issue — Set a Resolved or Closed issue’s Status to Reopened.
  • Edit — Edit the issue’s details (Summary, Description, etc).
  • Assign — Select an asignee for the issue.
  • Assign To Me — Assign the issue to yourself.
  • Comment — Add a comment to the issue.
  • Log Work — Record the work done and time spent on the issue. This option is only available if Time Tracking has been activated on your Jira site.
  • Attach Files — Select a file, upload it and attach it to the issue.
  • Attach Screenshot — Select a file, upload it and attach it to the issue.
  • Voters — Opens the Voters list of the issue, where you can manage your vote and see others who have voted on the issue too.
  • Add Vote — Adds your vote to the issue. (This option is only available if you did not create the issue.)
  • Watch Issue — Become a watcher of the issue.
  • Stop Watching — Stop watching the issue. (This option is only available on issues you are currently watching.)
  • Watchers — Opens the Watchers List, where you can manage watchers of the issue.
  • Create Sub-Task — Create a new issue which is a sub-task of the issue.
  • Convert to Issue — If the issue is a sub-task, convert it to a standalone issue.
  • Convert to Sub-Task — If the issue is a standalone issue, convert it to a sub-task.
  • Move — Move the issue to a different project.
  • Link — Create a link between the issue and another issue. This option is only available if Issue Linking has been enabled on your Jira site.
  • Clone — Create a new issue which is an identical copy of the issue.
  • Labels — Edit the issue’s labels.
  • Delete — Permanently remove the issue.

(Note that some options in the menu will only be available if the operation is relevant to the issue, if you have the necessary permissions, and if certain features have been enabled by your Jira administrator.)

Comma Dialog

Similarly, if you are viewing an issue, pressing ‘,’ (available in Jira 5.1 or greater) will bring up the Go To Field popup.

Use the popup to edit issue fields in-line, without leaving the page. The following fields are available for editing:

  • Assignee
  • Summary
  • Issue Type
  • Priority
  • Component/s
  • Affects Version/s
  • Fix Version/s
  • Reporter
  • Description
  • Labels

Tune in next month

We’ll be delivering you tips and tricks every month, so make sure to keep you eyes peeled next month for another handy Jira tip. If you found this helpful, please visit Atlassian University - interactive tutorials and videos with tons of tips just like this one.

Topics: jira atlassian blog business efficiency management process tips tricks lifecycle
1 min read

AtlasCamp 2012: Intermediate Jira Plugin Training Course by Praecipio Consulting

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 18, 2012 11:00:00 AM

That’s right, only one day left until AtlasCamp 2012. Our developers eagerly await this day every year, so you can imagine our excitement when Atlassian asked our very own Christopher Pepe to design and teach the Intermediate Jira Plugin Training Course!

Christopher is one of our resident Atlassian experts, counting on over 7 years experience with Jira. Chris has designed training courses for many of our clients including NASA, and has even used Jira to control a toaster - so obviously we knew he’d be a shoe in.

The course will be designed for experienced Java programmers who have basic familiarity with writing Atlassian plugins. The course will demonstrate how to create a working plugin for Jira, implement a REST resource, store and retrieve custom data using Active Objects, and render a custom web panel.

Topics: atlassian news blog
2 min read

Jira: Not Just for Software Development

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 17, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Jira’s an issue tracking application, but its core flexibility and strengths mean it can become much more than a tool limited to a development group. Jira’s incredibly adept at helping teams track and accomplish tasks. Jira also has a masterful ability to manage life cycles - and it’s found great success in numerous use cases.

Use Cases

The following use case guides are meant to explain a bit of the details related to using Jira for a specific use case. The info you’ll find in here highlights much of what we’ve learned from working with clients in a variety of different industries, as well as our internal expertise and use of Jira.

For each of these use cases, we’ll attempt to highlight:

  • Particular Jira functionality specific to the use
  • Related plugins we’re aware of
  • Customization and tweaks
  • …and sometimes a sample file to help get you started

General and Non-Software Uses

Agile Software Development

Project Management

HelpDesk / Support / Trouble Ticketing

Test Case Management

This can be done by using either of the following approaches:

Requirements Management

Change Management

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile austin automation business efficiency enterprise issues management process services technology value tracking change cloud collaboration computing continuous-improvement incident-management information integration it itil itsm operations
6 min read

7 Ways Social Enterprise Apps Are More Than Just Talk

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 1, 2012 11:00:00 AM

by Ashley Furness

CRM Market Analyst, Software Advice
June 27, 2012

Until recently, I might have called Microsoft crazy to drop $1.2 billion on social enterprise app vendor Yammer. The business case for replicating popular social networking functionality in a corporate environment seemed dubious at best. Would there ever be a return on investment?

“Social is more than a trend, it is a revolution that is changing the way we work and collaborate. Powerful social tools, such as Chatter, help employees work faster and more efficiently—making it a strategic piece of the workforce.” — Dave King, Chatter Product Marketing Director

But then I talked to some corporate AtlassianYammerChatter and Jive users, all of whom claimed measurable gains from these tools in a variety of areas. Here are seven ways they derive value from social enterprise applications.

1. Streamline Project Management

Software developers at PerkStreet Financial use Yammer to facilitate scrum meetings, a key component of the agile software development methodology. Rather than hold their daily morning standup meetings in person, each member of the 37-person team posts “what I did yesterday,” “what I will do today” and “barriers to moving forward” using the hashtag #scrum.

Praecipio Consulting has helped in.gredients, a package free micro-grocer, leverage many of Atlassian’s products into extremely powerful tools for project management. Jira and Confluence for example, are used in conjunction to inform teams or others externally on goals, tasks, progress, and results. Confluence makes it easy for their teams to collaborate and share knowledge of Jira roadmaps, workflow, and tasks, or to document work, allowing users to delegate tasks with the “@”symbol.

The tag in Jira and Confluence allows users to quickly see what everyone is working on and chime in when appropriate. Similarly, Yammer can also delegate tasks to others with the “@” symbol. With Jive, users can also employ shortcuts such as an “!” to pull information into the thread from CRM and other enterprise systems.

2. Augment Transparency and Accountability

Since PerkStreet hosts all conversations on Yammer rather than trapped in someone’s inbox, management has continuous insight into the team’s progress.This also prevents work duplication and redundancies because everyone is literally on the same page.

“If you look at someone’s scrum over time, you can see whether they actually accomplished what they said they were going to,” PerkStreet COO Jason Henrichs notes.

Similarly, Jira and Confluence have allowed for Praecipio Consulting to increase its clients’ transparency and accountability even in the case of telecommuting among employees, who at times live in different states. Christian Lane, Managing Partner of Praecipio Consulting said, “the ability of the Atlassian product suite to increase transparency and establish accountability has allowed our business to grow and operate seamlessly across borders.”

3. Increase Communications Efficiency

HipChat, the newest member of the Atlassian family, is similar to Yammer and Jive. It’s a hosted group chat service that helps teams, or entire companies, collaborate in real-time. HipChat has a powerful API and comes loaded with integrations to Atlassian’s most popular products - JiraConfluenceFishEye and Crucible. These integrations allow you to get targeted notifications from products into the relevant chatrooms for your teams.

Salesforce surveys show enterprise wikis can reduce email by 30 percent and meeting by 27 percent.

FlexJobs founder and CEO Sara Sutton Fell said Yammer drastically cut down on her need to email, call or schedule a meeting to check in.

4. Find Experts Faster

Centerstance Inc. Managing Partner Greg Lueck says Chatter helps sales staff answer deal-specific questions expeditiously. He recalled one situation where a partner needed someone certified in Cast Iron software integration who spoke Mandarin. The resource manager working with the partner posted the query in Centerstance’s news feed.

“They had an answer within 30 seconds… in Mandarin,” Lueck remembers. In this and similar scenarios, the employee would have otherwise “relied on a central repository of all company’s experience that is located in one person’s head, or nowhere at all.”

Jive surveys show sales win rates increase an average of 23 percent, and time to find experts falls 34 percent.

5. Better Leverage Information and Insights

Social enterprise vendors have invested heavily in social and adaptive intelligence. These sophisticated algorithms suggest articles, files and experts based on the user’s position, connections, group memberships and resources they’ve previously accessed.

“Chatter knows what you care about based on your activities, making it’s value immeasurable,” King says of Chatter, the salesforce.com social layer. As a result, employees are better informed and can answer questions before they even know they have them.

“Imagine you have 10,000 people in an enterprise. Sales materials, RFPs are constantly flowing through system… Jive makes the most of this information by channeling it to the right people,” according to Jive Product Marketing Director Tim Zonca.

Additionally, HipChat stores full conversation history, so anyone new that joins a room can catch up and participate in the discussion.

“HipChat is incredible – perfect for product teams but fantastic for any team. Its use absolutely exploded at Atlassian, demonstrating the viral adoption potential of a modern communication system for teams,” says Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO and co-founder of Atlassian. “Connecting and sharing ideas in real-time helps teams move faster, and HipChat does this better than any other product I’ve used.”

6. Generate More, Better Ideas

Yammer provides several means for employees to contribute ideas–from responding to queries and surveys, to posting ideas in a group discussion threads. Users receive gratification when co-workers and leadership “like” their contribution. Then, they are continually rewarded as they watch project teams bring the idea to fruition.

With one advertising campaign, for example, Deloitte CEO Peter Williams asked employees for their ideas for a tagline. More than 38 groups formed that submitted 1,184 original concepts.

7. Boost Employee Recognition and Engagement

In the four years since Deloitte AU implemented Yammer, the turnover rate for active users has fallen to two percent annually–about 10 times less than for employees who don’t use it. Leadership attribute change to employees feeling more engaged and recognized for their work.

“In a company with 180,000 people, most employees rarely interact with leadership,” says Frank Farrall, national leader for Deloitte Australia’s Online Consulting Practice. “Yammer breaks down those barriers.”

Deloitte leadership uses Yammer to pull reports that identify employees with high engagement and positive feedback. The more a user interacts with groups, downloads articles and responds to queries with the same keywords, the more they are distinguished as thought leaders on a subject.

“This is one key way to rise up in the firm–get recognized as someone who drives connectivity,” Farrall added.

Deloitte layered gamification elements into Yammer to further drive engagement and recognition. Using the behavior platform Badgeville, Deloitte awards “badges” when employees report milestones in Yammer, such as completing segments in Deloitte’s Leadership Academy. Users can monitor their rank on a leaderboard that shows what they need to do to surpass the person immediately ahead, encouraging them to do more.

 

Topics: jira atlassian blog business confluence efficiency enterprise management practices process tips tricks value collaboration continuous-improvement operations
2 min read

The Powers of Persuasion - Atlassian and Business Process Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 26, 2012 11:00:00 AM

During our last Atlassian User Group meeting a few attendees asked us for pointers on how to convince their managers to implement or expand upon the Atlassian product suite as a Business Process Management Tool. To us the task seemed easy, especially since Process Optimization and Management are some of our founding principles.

After doing a bit of research we were a bit surprised by what we found. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Information & Management71% of executives had negative feelings concerning IT as a source of competitive advantage.

This is especially shocking since exploiting current capabilities while simultaneously developing new ones is a common theme among organizations. This idea serves as a baseline for strategic management and is crucial for adapting to changing environments. It’s through this delicate balance of business activities that the notion of Business Process Management (BPM) was born.

As BPM continues to be considered an important way for organizations to achieve a competitive advantage, senior management should be aware of IT’s ability to facilitate these processes. However, as the study pointed out, this isn’t always the case. In many organizations senior management’s reluctant to promote the strategic role of IT and instead, consider it just an automating tool.

This notion’s not only outdated but it also negates the entire philosophy of BPM, and the idea of developing new organizational capabilities.

So how can you overcome these seemingly insurmountable sentiments, standing in the way of cost-cutting, Business Process Optimization? According to the study, executives were most likely to be convinced of the almighty powers of IT when provided with substantial evidence of the following outcomes:

  • Assurance in the success of process re-engineering
  • Greater simplification in business process
  • Increased efficiency by at least 50%

So whether you are attempting to convince a coworker, boss, or yourself, being well armed with relevant examples of the above will come in handy.

Looking for relevant examples? Try the following case studies:

Topics: atlassian blog automation bpm business management practices process tips tricks continuous-improvement lifecycle operations
5 min read

Meet the New & Improved Bamboo OnDemand!

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 17, 2012 11:00:00 AM

If you’re a Bamboo OnDemand subscriber, you could be forgiven for feeling a stab of jealousy every time a new batch of awesome features comes out for the on-premises Bamboo offering.  ”When, oh when, will it be my turn?”, you pined.  Well, if you logged into your Bamboo OnDemand instance this morning, you already know that the wait is over.   Bamboo OnDemand is now roughly on par with Bamboo 4.1.  ”Roughly”, because there are still a few differences such as not being able to install plugins or use commercial version control systems.

The collection of features now available in Bamboo OnDemand is large enough to fill a book (regular readers know I’m not one for brevity!).  My strategy here today is to call out the biggest n’ bestest of ‘em, and point you to resources that’ll take you deeper in. So bookmark this page.  Reference it.  Love it. Repeat.

Better AMI Support

You’ll need to update custom any custom AMIs used by your build agents to make them compatible with today’s upgrade, but going forward this won’t be necessary.  In addition, BoD now offers a stock image for building on Windows as well as support for EC2 spot instances.

Read more about AMI & Agent Support here: Atlassian OnDemand Release Notes – July 2012

DVCS & External Repo Support

 

The people have clamoured for it, and so the people shall have it!  BoD can pull code from external Git and Mercurial repos hosted on Bitbucket, GitHub or on your own network.  That goes for SVN repos on your own network, too.  Using Git submodules?  No problem. Want to pull code from a hosted SVN repo and a Bitbucket Mercurial repo into the same build? Done.

Read more about DVCS & multiple repo support here: What’s New in Bamboo 3.3

Tasks

All your builders and post actions are belong to us Tasks.  Tasks are the granular steps that make up your Plan: checkout source code, call MSBuild, execute a script… etc.  Your existing builders were converted to Tasks as part of the BoD upgrade, and we think you’ll find it to be a great usability improvement.

Read more about Tasks here: Configuring Tasks

Manual Stages

Many users’ workflows require a set of requests and approvals for deploying code to an environment.  And many many users would like to compile, test and deploy to a QA env with each commit –but deploy to production much less frequently.  Manual stages let you construct a single pipeline, and add “gates” or “valves” to satisfy those use cases.  You’re welcome. 

Read more about Manual Stages (and other cool features) here: Bamboo 3.2 Release Notes

Plan Branches

For a couple of years, the developer community has been complaining that using short-lived branches to build new features simply doesn’t play nicely with continuous integration.  We’ve taken a big step toward proving them wrong.  As soon as Bamboo knows there’s a new branch in your repo, it will clone any associated Plans and point them at the new branch.  Branches are automatically discovered in Git & Mercurial repos, with auto-discovery for SVN coming soon. Très facile!

 

Automatic Merging

Because automatic branch discovery wasn’t enough.  We wanted more!  With each commit to a branch, BoD can now grab code from a second branch, merge the two, run your Plan against the merged code, and if successful, push the merged code to either branch.  Great for ensuring longer-lived branches don’t drift to far from the main line, or for two developers collaborating on a feature using their own feature branches.

Read more about Automatic Merging here: Using Automatic Merges

Test Quarantine

When I was a test engineer, I would’ve killed for this.  But you don’t have to!  No more commenting out tests or dorking around with your suite.xml file.  Just click a button to neutralize a busted test.  It’ll still get run so you can see when it’s fixed, and you’ll see your count of quarantined tests on each build result summary so you don’t loose track of them.

Read more about test quarantine here: Putting Tests in Quarantine with Bamboo 4 (Yes, the zombie apocalypse has indeed arrived.)

Jira Issues

BoD has issues.  And how!  Forget all that inefficient context switching, and create Jira issues from any build results page in Bamboo.

Read more about Jira Issues here: Top 5 Reasons Creating Jira Issues from Bamboo Makes Your Team Awesome-r

Broken Build Tracking

Team leads and scrum masters have better things to do than hound people to fix the build.  With broken build tracking you can assign one person to be the default owner of broken builds for each Plan, or have responsibility assigned to users who made changes since the last passing build.  Bamboo will nag them on your behalf until the build is green again.

Read more about Broken Build Tracking here: Bamboo 4.1 Announcement Blog

Failed Stage Do-Overs

Everyone needs a do-over sometimes.  Maybe a build config needed tweaking.  Maybe your QA environment down just as you were deploying to it.  Re-running only the Stage that failed can save you a whole lot of time.  And time is money, so… yeah.

Read more about Failed Stage Do-Overs here: Bamboo 3.2 Release Notes

Onward!

Bamboo OnDemand is now resting on a more stable platform than before, so expect fewer stability hiccups going forward.  We’ve also made custom AMIs for your build agents easier (even updated the templates, so you might not need to customize at all!), and made Windows images available by default.  Très facile (redux).

But it’s also the end of an era.  This is the last announcement I intend to write about BoD upgrades.  Why?  Because they simply won’t be a big deal anymore.  We’ve retro-fitted our upgrade process such that BoD will be upgraded with new versions of Bamboo at the same time, possibly even before, those versions are available for installation behind your firewall.  This is one “good bye” I think we’re all happy about!

Topics: atlassian blog bamboo business enterprise management practices process technology collaboration information it lifecycle
4 min read

How to Customize your Jira Dashboards

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 12, 2012 11:00:00 AM

About Dashboards and Gadgets

The Jira Dashboards is the first screen you see when you log in to Jira. It can be configured to display many different types of information, depending on your areas of interest.

If you are anywhere else in Jira, you can access your Jira Dashboards view by clicking the ‘Dashboards‘ link in the top left corner of the Jira interface.

The information boxes on the dashboard are called Gadgetsjira-4_1-jira-dashboard-example

If your user account has only one dashboard, the tabs on the left of the browser window will not be available and the dashboard will occupy the full window width.

 

You can easily customise your dashboard by choosing a different layout, adding more gadgets, dragging the gadgets into different positions, and changing the look of individual gadgets.

You can also create more pages for your dashboard, share your pages with other people and choose your favorites pages, as described in Managing Multiple Dashboard Pages. Each page can be configured independently, as per the instructions below.

 See the big list of all Atlassian gadgets for more ideas.

This gadget will only be available if it has been installed by your Jira administrator.

 

  The Firebug add-on for Firefox can significantly degrade the performance of web pages. If Jira is running too slowly (the Jira dashboard, in particular) then we recommend that you disable Firebug. Read this FAQ for instructions.

 

Creating a Dashboard

The dashboard that you see when you first start using Jira is a “default” dashboard that has been configured by your Jira administrator. You cannot edit the default dashboard; but you can easily create your own dashboard, which you can then customize as you wish.

To create your own dashboard:

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Tools‘ menu.
  2. Select either ‘Create Dashboard‘ to create a blank dashboard, or ‘Copy Dashboard‘ to create a copy of the dashboard you are currently viewing.

You can now customize your dashboard as follows:

 

If you are using multiple dashboard pages, you can only configure dashboard pages that you own.

 

Choosing a Dashboard Layout

To choose a different layout for your dashboard page (e.g. three columns instead of two):

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Edit Layout‘ link. A selection of layouts will be displayed:
  2. Click your preferred layout.

Adding a Gadget

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Add Gadget‘ link.
  2. A selection of gadgets will be displayed:

     Select a category on the left to restrict the list of gadgets on the right to that category.
  3. Click the ‘Add it now‘ button beneath your chosen gadget.
  4. Click the ‘Finished‘ button to return to your Dashboard.
  5. If the gadget you have selected requires configuration, you will be presented with the gadget’s configuration page. Configure appropriately and click ‘Save‘.

Moving a Gadget

To move a gadget to a different position on your dashboard:

  • Click the gadget and drag it into its new position.

Removing a Gadget

To remove a gadget from your dashboard:

  1. Hold your mouse over the top right corner of the gadget, until a down-arrow appears.
  2. Click the down-arrow to display the following menu:       
  3. Click ‘Delete‘.
Topics: jira atlassian blog implementation issues management optimization process-consulting project tips tricks tracking consulting-services
1 min read

Jira 5.1 Released

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 11, 2012 11:00:00 AM

We’re excited to announce the availability of Jira 5.1!

Jira 5.1 introduces a number of new capabilities for new and existing customers:

Inline Edit for Jira Issues

In Jira 5.0 Atlassian took the first step in making Jira easier and easier for end users – with new, fast Create and Edit dialogs.  In Jira 5.1, field edits, transitions, comments, and all your Jira actions can happen faster than ever.  With inline edit, any Jira field can be edited from the View Issue Page. The speed at which users work in Jira is dramatically changing on a daily basis.

Performance enhancements for large Jira instances

We know this is a big one for many of our largest clients. In Jira 5.1 two teams have been dedicated to performance: a Jira performance improvements team and a company wide Atlassian Performance Engineering team, specifically focused on Jira performance for large instances above 200,000 issues. Atlassian’s repealed the 200,000 issue limit as a result of the improvements, including a 40% improvement in throughput.

Issue Collector

The Jira Issue Collector lets you embed pre-configured or custom feedback forms into any web application or web site, so you can collect feedback, and use Jira to assign feedback items, or put them through workflow.  If you’re looking for a great demo for Jira, the Issue Collector is a great one: how to expose the power of Jira in a simple manner to people both inside and outside of an organization.

Lots More

And 5.1 comes with a whole lot of other enhancements: Disabling users, automatic time zone detection, improved search for Jira to Jira Remote Issue Links, and more than 42 new feature requests implemented and over 840 votes fulfilled.

Topics: jira atlassian news blog business efficiency management practices process product-services value lifecycle
1 min read

Information Economics and Confluence: Putting the I Back into IT.

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 27, 2012 11:00:00 AM

When it comes to IT, why do most organizations focus more on the T in technology than the I in information? The purpose of a good IT infrastructure’s to prevent information asymmetry and the implications that come with it. By properly managing your company’s information network you can create value through better decision-making.

Information asymmetry occurs when one party has more or less information than another. This can result in bad decision-making, and at times, unethical decisions. Regardless of the industry you operate in, treating information as an economic resource allows your business to yield higher than expected payoffs, resulting in a competitive edge.

The need for better collaboration both within and across business processes is a problem our clients come across often. Luckily the solution’s one we pride ourselves on offering.

Atlassian’s Confluence serves as an organizational wiki, connecting employees to information and each other. Confluence allows users to create, share, discuss, and discover documents, ideas, Jira issues, specs, mockups, projects – anything. By connecting your entire business in one place, Confluence allows for better integration. We love it and so do our clients!

Topics: atlassian blog bpm business confluence enterprise management practices process technology value collaboration information it
7 min read

Team Calendars 2.3 Released

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 26, 2012 11:00:00 AM

We’re excited to announce the release of Atlassian Confluence’s Team Calendars 2.3. For this Team Calendars release Atlassian focused a lot on helping you stay up to date with upcoming events in your team.

Here’s a list of highlights for this release…

Upcoming Events View

Atlassian’s created a new upcoming events view in the Team Calendars macro. It’s great for keeping your team informed of leave, travel or upcoming Jira project milestones. Embed it on your team homepage, or your project status page: 

 

Upcoming Events In Confluence Summary Email

Confluence 4.2 introduced weekly/daily summary email, helping you stay on top of popular and important content right from your email. Team Calendars now integrates nicely to these summary emails so you can stay updated with upcoming events in your team, project or company events right in your inbox: 

Learn more about using Jira Calendars to track your upcoming releases and issue dates.

 

Improved Confluence 4 Editor Experience

As of Team Calendars 2.2, Atlassian’s stopped adding new features for Confluence 3.5.x. You can now start taking advantage of all the new 4.0 editor plugin points.

Quickly Switch Calendar Views

Now that newer versions of Team Calendars support Confluence 4.0 or greater, you can start to make use of some of the Confluence 4.0 editor plugin points. So you can now quickly change calendar views using the editor property panel.

See Calendar Names

Previously, when you embedded a calendar on a page you would see something like “calendarID=349834j232″ in macro parameter list for the macro – which wasn’t helpful in identifying what calendars were embedded. As of Team Calendars 2.3, you will now see a preview of the calendar name(s) that you have embedded.

 
 

Other Improvements

  • For People Calendars, we now show the event summary in month and week views for some more context
  • To avoid any silly mistakes, Atlassian’s added a delete confirmation if you try to delete an event from the edit event dialog

Release Notices

  • Reminder: Team Calendars 2.2 was Atlassian’s last feature release for Confluence 3.5.x. Only critical bug fixes will be ported back to Team Calendars 2.2.x. These new features are available on Confluence 4.0 or greater.
  • The Email Summary Integration feature requires Confluence 4.2 or greater.

Upgrading to Team Calendars 2.3

Upgrading from a previous version of Team Calendars is straightforward. We recommend that you back up your Confluence database (which includes Team Calendars data) before upgrading.

  • In Confluence, simply click ‘Upgrade‘ in the Team Calendars entry of the Plugin Administration screen.
    Alternatively, download the latest release from our plugin exchange and install it via the Plugin Administration screen. This should upgrade Team Calendars to 2.3.0 (or higher).

Issues Resolved in this Release

 

 

Type
Key
Summary
Assignee
Reporter
Priority
Status
Resolution
Created
Updated
Due

 

 

 
TEAMCAL-652
Integrate with daily/weekly summary email
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
22/May/12
23/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-116
Add new “Compact List View” to macro
David Chui [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
11/Jun/11
10/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-246
Add month, week and list view to Team Calendars macro properties panel
David Chui [Atlassian]
Bill Arconati [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
27/Jul/11
16/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-664
Constructing a mail should not result in resolving resources over HTTP
David Chui [Atlassian]
Fabian Kraemer [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
25/May/12
04/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-533
Adding a new calendar UX – clicking OK should give “Adding…” feedback.
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
21/Feb/12
30/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-642
Macro placeholder image
David Chui [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
13/May/12
10/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-33
People calendar should show event description in month and week views
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
24/Apr/11
10/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-634
Space picker when creating a new calendar should span the full width of the field
David Chui [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
08/May/12
28/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-605
Delete Confirmation Required in Event Edit Window too
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Mark Russom
 
 Resolved
Fixed
12/Apr/12
30/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-668
‘Unable to format date/time’ error when viewing an event anonymously
David Chui [Atlassian]
Foo Guan Sim [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
28/May/12
28/May/12
Topics: jira atlassian blog calendars confluence release teams upgrade integration macros marketplace-apps
5 min read

Stash 1.1 Released: Simple, Secure Git Repository Management for the Enterprise

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 19, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Seven weeks ago the world met Stash – a centralized solution to manage Git repositories behind the firewall. Stash 1.0 was a huge launch! Atlassian’s been deluged with great feedback and already have small agile teams and large enterprises adopting Stash for their Git development.

Atlassian’s just getting started, and today Stash’s future begins! Stash 1.1 is here with more features focused on making your behind the firewall Git development simple, secure and fast.

SSH Support

Developed from the ground up with enterprise level security as a #1 priority, Stash now supports SSH in addition to HTTPS. Use standard HTTPS authentication or set up your public keys and connect to Stash via SSH, it’s your choice. This resolves Stash’s #1 feature request focused on adding security options to support SSH.

 

For those of you who chose to go the SSH route there can be some benefits for your team (depending on your setup):

  • Increased security
  • Ease of configuring automated systems, such as build and deployment servers (e.g. Bamboo)
  • Restricted access to pushing and pulling from Stash without compromising passwords

Developers are able to manage their own SSH keys. For those using multiple machines to work with their Git repositories or several automated systems pushing and pulling from Stash they can add as many keys as they see fit. And, have no fear Stash admins, you still have full control over SSH keys with the ability to grant or revoke the SSH keys of any user.


Do you understand your Git error messages? No matter what flavor of authentication you choose, Stash makes sure you know what’s going on when things go wrong. Unlike standard Git error messages, which can be confusing and contribute to the steep learning curve, Stash will provide you with user-friendly messages.

Standard Git error message when a repository does not exist

fatal: https://stash.atlassian.com/scm/STASH/nosuchrepo/info/refs not found: did you run git update-server-info on the server?

Stash Git error message when a repository does not exist

fatal: https://stash.atlassian.com/scm/STASH/nosuchrepo.git: Repository does not exist
The requested repository does not exist, or you do not have permission to access it.

Fast-er Browsing

Time = money, and who doesn’t like to save a few bucks? Stash 1.1 vastly improves productivity by providing a faster experience for you and your team to work with Git repositories. Development delivered fast and efficient!

Diff Power

Atlassian’s development teams consist of back-end coders, front-end coders, QA, performance testing, product management and even designers. They’re all part of the development process.

The designers on Atlassian’s team were looking for a way to utilize Stash to compare images. They posed questions like “Have you ever tried to find the subtle difference between two images? That difference may be small like a text change or as large as a page redesign. In many cases it is not obvious.” So, from Atlassian’s designers to yours, we introduce the interactive image diff viewer (careful, it’s hypnotic!).

Maybe not as exciting, but definitely useful is ediffs. When viewing a diff it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish textual changes. Stash solves this with the addition of ediffs to clearly see what textual changes were added or removed when comparing two revisions.

Recent Repositories

There’s a new item in the Stash header, Repositories, that shows you the few repositories you usually work with, even though there may be hundreds set up across your company. For those developers who work with several repositories and want to avoid several clicks to get back to those repositories meet Recent Repositories. Quickly navigate to the repositories you recently visited and save a few seconds in your day.

 

Mouse-less Productivity

Atlassian wanted to make it faster for their development team, and yours, to navigate Stash (Stash was developed with Stash ). When viewing changesets, browsing directories or jumping through your commit list simply press ‘J’ or ‘K’ to move from next to previous. Less mouse, more keyboard!

Check out the other time-saving keyboard shortcuts by clicking the image.

 

Simple-r Permissions

Git’s great, but administering access control to your repositories isn’t! For those organizations with complicated user management (especially in a corporate LDAP), Stash simplifies Git administration. Stash keeps you and your developers productive by providing a way to structure your repositories and manage permissions all in a matter of seconds.

  • Global permissions – delegate administration of projects to developers and provide them the freedom to create and manage repositories; no more requests to IT to create Git repositories.
  • Projects permissions – use the project structure to grant a simple set of project permissions to users and groups to control access to repositories; you can have confidence that the right developers have access permissions to a project.

The new permission screens provide an at-a-glance overview of who has access to your projects and makes managing permissions even faster. Without further ado – the new permissions screen…

Meet Stash 1.1 – 25% off for 12 more days

If you haven’t met Stash yet, now is the time. Be one of the early adopters of Stash and take advantage of th