Rebecca Schwartz

Rebecca Schwartz


Recent posts by Rebecca Schwartz

2 min read

Queues vs. Dashboards in Jira Service Management

By Rebecca Schwartz on Apr 26, 2021 10:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_When do I use JSM queues vs. dashboards-When it comes to understanding the progress of work in Jira, Atlassian has some great options natively within Jira Service Management. Queues are available in each Service Management project in Jira and Dashboards are available in all Jira products. These features give users important insight into what teams are working on, but how do you know when to use which, and why? Having easy access to the progress of work in the system, as well as some of the stats that go along with the quality and completion of the work, is essential for any team's success. Below, I'll discuss the functionality of Queues and Dashboards in Jira and when one should be used over the other. 

What are queues?

Queues are groups of customer requests that appear in Jira Service Management projects. They are used by service desk agents to organize customer requests allowing the team to assign and complete customer requests quickly and efficiently. There are a few helpful queues that come with your service desk, but Jira Admins can also create custom queues if the ones in place are not the correct fit for the team. 

What are Dashboards?

A Dashboard is a page of reports and data visuals related to issues in Jira. Dashboards are customizable and can be tailored to meet the needs of various users throughout the organization. Individual users often create their own Dashboards to easily visualize what outstanding work they specifically need to get done. Teams can use them to see their overall progress of work. Management can use them to get a more high-level overview of the progress of work across the entire organization. Gadgets make up Dashboards and are often based on Jira filters or JQL. They typically come in the form of charts, tables, or lists. Dashboards are available no matter what kind of Jira project you're working in.

When to use queues vs. Dashboards?

Queues are great for agents and other folks who need to work on issues in a service management project. If queues are broken up by SLA's and/or priority, they help agents determine which issues are most urgent and need to be worked on ASAP. Then, agents can easily grab issues from the list and begin working on them. Queues don't give you any stats or overall status on work that's in progress or has yet to be completed. It's simply a way for those working on Jira tickets to organize them and decide what to work on.

While queues are limited to a single project, Dashboards can be used across multiple projects. They give more information on the work and can provide more details such as the time from creation to resolution, how many issues of a particular type were submitted in a given time period, and which agents completed the most issues. Dashboards are perfect for users who need to get an overview of what's going on, but don't necessarily need to work on the issues. Since Dashboards are meant for viewing Jira data, these pages are perfect to give higher-level users an insight into what's going on with the outstanding work. Using gadgets, these users can see where improvements need to be made if, for example, SLAs are continuously breached. They can also be used to see what works well for your teams. 

You have questions?  We have answers!  Contact us to schedule a call with one of our Atlassian experts.

Topics: jira atlassian blog tips service-management tracking project-management jira-service-management
3 min read

Microaggressions in the Workplace

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jan 22, 2021 3:42:46 PM

Blogpost-display-image_ SJ Blog- Microaggressions in the workplaceThroughout the course of this year, we've discussed implicit bias on our internal Social Justice team at Praecipio Consulting. Implicit biases are sub-conscious thoughts or stereotypes we have about a specific group of people based on their race, ethnicity, sexuality, age, appearance, etc. The feelings and thoughts we form based on these biases are ones we may not intentionally form or are aware of, but everyone has them. The team looked further into how these implicit biases affect the workplace and discovered they correlate directly to microaggressions. As we begin a new year, the Praecipio Consulting team is looking for ways to better our company culture, as well as ourselves personally, so addressing microaggressions and their effects on the workplace seemed like a great way to do this as a group, as well as individuals.

What are microaggressions?

According to Derald Wing Sue, microaggressions are the everyday slights, indignities, put-downs, and insults that members of marginalized groups experience in their day-to-day interactions with individuals who are often unaware that they have engaged in an offensive or demeaning way. The perpetrator of the aggression typically does not realize what they said or did toward the victim is offensive, which makes microaggressions even harder to call out or recognize. There are three types of microaggressions: microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations.

Three types of microaggressions

First, we have microsassaults. Microassaults are more obvious and are usually purposeful. They are often violent and directly target a victim. In the workplace, an example would be if a male coworker gropes a female coworker and plays it off as a joke.

Next are microinsults. Microinsults are the most common type of microaggressions. They are a bit more subtle and unconscious, especially compared to microassaults. They disrespect or demean another person, even if the perpetrator "meant it as a compliment." In the workplace, an example would be if a non-white co-worker was giving a presentation and an employee commented on how articulate the presenter is. 

Microinvalidations are very similar to gaslighting another person. They are often subtle and unconscious. Microinvalidations cancel the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of marginalized individuals. In the workplace, an example is when an LGBTQ+ employee confides in a straight employee about a microaggression they received, and the straight employee tells them they're overreacting. 

Microaggressions and the workplace

Although at the moment, a microaggression may feel like a joke or a harmless action to the person committing them, they have a large impact on the receiver, especially if the microaggressions occur repeatedly over a long period of time. Psychologists often compare them to death by a thousand cuts. Because of the manner of microaggressions, they are often not reported by employees. It’s important to understand what they are and how they affect others to ensure a safe and inclusive company culture. The first step in addressing microaggressions is to recognize when a microaggression has occurred and what message it may be sending. Think about your actions and your words: you may have positive intentions with your behaviors, but think about the impact they have on others. 

At Praecipio Consulting, the Social Justice team has compiled a Resource Library that the company can use to learn about a range of topics, a few geared toward microaggressions and how we can work to eliminate them from our environments. Below is a list of helpful resources around microaggressions that we have in our library. 

If you have read, watched, or listened to any of these resources, we'd love to hear your thoughts, and if you have any recommendations for other resources we should add to our library to learn more about microaggressions, let us know!

Topics: blog do-good social-justice social-responsibility
2 min read

Using SLAs + Automation to set customer expectations in JSM

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jan 19, 2021 9:51:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Using SLAs + Automation to set customer expectations in JSMWhen using Jira Service Management to manage your team's service desk, it's extremely important to ensure that your end-users have a good experience. Otherwise, they may become frustrated with the tool and stop using it to submit requests. With the broad range of clients we serve at Praecipio Consulting, we've found one of the biggest keys to a successful service desk is clearly setting customer expectations and meeting those expectations consistently. Jira Service Management comes with Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) that teams can use to set those expectations and give customers transparency around them. It's important to set reasonable goals for your SLAs, and with automation you can make it easier for your agents to stay on top of those goals so your customers are satisfied.

Here's how:

Automate alerts to agents when SLAs are about to be breached

For your SLAs, it's important to be consistent with meeting the expected goals assigned to them. This allows your agents to build trust with customers and encourages customers to continuously use the service desk for their requests. With automation, agents can be alerted when time is running out on an SLA. For the automation rule, there's a trigger titled "SLA Threshold Breached" that works perfectly in this scenario. This trigger allows you to set when an alert should send to the assignee of the request based on how much time is left on the particular SLA. The assignee is then made aware that they need to make progress on the issue and can stay on top of the SLA goal. This, in turn, leads to a happier customer and an increased sense of trust in your agents. 

Automate alerts to customers if a ticket is pending their response 

It's good practice in a service desk to configure so that if a ticket is pending a response from the customer, a "Waiting for Customer SLA" is set to give them time to respond. If the time passes on that SLA (we don't receive a response from the customer after a certain amount of days), the ticket is automatically resolved. Before we automate this though, it can be helpful to send out an alert to the customer to remind them that the ticket is waiting on their response. I've seen customers become frustrated when a ticket is resolved without alerting them that it was waiting on their response, as they simply forgot about their pending request. Sending out reminders sets clear expectations with the customer that the ticket has not made further progress due to inaction on their end and gives them the chance to interact with the request before it's automatically resolved. Other times, you may not receive a response from the customer because they no longer need your assistance. In these situations, the automation to resolve tickets pending customer action after the "Waiting for Customer SLA" is breached can save your agents time and effort, as they don't have to keep track of the time pending a customer response and manually resolve the ticket themselves.

We've seen so many clients reap the benefits of using automation to help their teams stay on top of their SLAs. Not only does it build trust with customers and in your organization; it also fortifies your service desk and improves your the experiences of your end users and agents! If you need help with SLAs, or anything else Atlassian, reach out and one of our experts will contact you ASAP!

Topics: automation service-level-agreement jira-service-management
3 min read

Atlassian Certification Program: Tips for studying for your ACP exams

By Rebecca Schwartz on Oct 21, 2020 12:45:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Atlassian Certification Program- Tips for studying for your ACP exams-1

Atlassian Certification Program (ACP) exams are a great way to enhance your Atlassian skillset and better leverage the tools at your organization. Atlassian offers a few different exams, depending on what aspects of the tools you're focused on and your current skill level. If you pass, you get a nifty badge you can place on your LinkedIn profile or email signature! Here at Praecipio Consulting, all of our consultants have taken at least one of the available ACP exams, and we have some great tips and tidbits to share that will help you prep for the tests and understand what they entail.

A little bit about the exams

  • Atlassian offers 6 different ACP exams
  • Exams are typically between 70-80 questions
  • Exams can be taken remotely due to COVID-19, but are proctored
  • Depending on the exam, the passing score is between 60-70%
  • You have 180 minutes (3 hours) to complete your exam

Take it back to your college days with study guides and flashcards

When studying for any exam, it's important to figure out how you best learn the material. Is it taking notes by hand so you don't have the distractions of a laptop? Or, are you more like me, where you tend to lose loose leaf paper so you prefer to type out what you've learned? Either way, the best tip I used to prepare for my exams was to organize my notes into a comprehensive study guide. Atlassian requires the completion of specific courseware before you can take the exams, and they provide downloadable PDFs for each exam topic. All of this information is great for your study guide. You can use a good ol' fashioned notebook for this, or, if you have access to Confluence, create your study guide there. I took notes on the courseware in Confluence, then used macros and Tasks to organize my notes and remind myself of topics that I needed to focus on. Because the exams cover a lot of material, flashcards are another great way to memorize information. There are several online services that allow you to create flashcards for free, such as Quizlet. Repetition works wonders when studying for any exam, so be sure to review your study materials several times.

Practice in a test environment

If your way of learning is by doing, a great way to prep is by reviewing admin functionality in your Jira or Confluence instance, especially if you have a test or demo environment. Project schemes, permissions (project and global), and workflow functionality can provide helpful knowledge around exam items. Chances are, if you're taking an ACP exam, you already have access to a Jira and/or Confluence environment, but if not, Atlassian offers a free Cloud instance if you're maintaining 10 users or less. Keep in mind that some exams only focus on Server functionality, but it's still great to get a visual for the items you'll be tested on.

Collaborate with others prepping for the exam

At Praecipio Consulting, we are all about teamwork. As I was prepping for my exam, so were several other Praecipians. We collaborated on our notes, shared our study guides, and had study groups. Sharing our thoughts and notes allowed us to each figure out our strengths and weaknesses around the exam material so we could help each other be successful. If you're the only one at your organization taking the exam, or are just deciding to do it individually, no worries - there are folks all around the world looking to get certified! If you venture over to the Atlassian Community, there are often discussions that folks have started to create study groups with members of the community (check out this post around the ACP-100). 

Stay in tune with your physical and mental state 

Prepping for and taking any exam is physically and mentally exhausting. It's important when studying to allow yourself breaks to better absorb the material. As I studied, I'd create incentives and goals around my study material. Once I got through half of my flashcards, for example, I'd watch the next episode of my newest Netflix addiction or read a chapter of my favorite book. That way, I had something to look forward to when studying and allotted plenty of time for brain breaks. When it comes to taking the exam, try to find a quiet space in your home where you can remain undistracted. If you get stuck on a question, mark it and come back to it - you've got 3 hours to get through the questions, so take your time! Remember, your well-being is a key factor in being able to focus and perform your best, so it's important to keep it in check.

Good luck with your next exam, and let us know if your organization needs further support with how to best leverage your Atlassian applications. 

Topics: atlassian agents training atlassian-products atlassian-certification-program
3 min read

What is Customer Centricity in SAFe 5.0?

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jul 10, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_What is Customer Centricity in SAFe 5.0-

SAFe 5.0 puts a greater focus on the customer, placing them at the heart of all decisions around the product or service the business delivers. Although the technical and functional aspects of a product are key, the satisfaction of the customer ultimately decides the true fate of the solution. If the customer continues to have a positive experience, your business can continue to grow and thrive! In the updated SAFe 5.0 framework, Scaled Agile elaborates on Customer Centricity, which puts the customer at the center of all business decisions that guide an organization to not only meet customer needs but exceed them as well.

What is Customer Centricity?

Customer Centricity is the mindset that the business must adopt to provide a positive experience for the customer. With every decision business leaders make, how those decisions impact the customer must be at the forefront of their minds. For this reason, the organization studies market research and user insight to ensure they truly understand the customer's pain points and develop solutions to address them. Customer-centric organizations take new approaches to solving customer problems by using empathetic design, i.e. putting themselves in the shoes of the customer. In turn, the organization can fully engage with the customer and build long-lasting relationships with them. After all, this is what we try and capture in User Stories; however, in SAFe 5.0, we're capturing this information at every level of the organization to build the right solutions.

Why is Customer Centricity important?

Customer Centricity is important because customer satisfaction is the key to developing a business and maintaining it. If your solutions and services fail your customers, your business will also fail. This new focal point also matters because it allows organizations to get direct feedback and input from the customer. Listening to their ideas and opinions allows businesses to tailor the solutions to their exact needs, which increases company profits, attracts new customers, and enhances current customer relationships.

How does Customer Centricity Affect Me/My Organization?

As an individual and as an organization, this piece of the framework may change your mindset and the entire company vision when it comes to creating solutions. When in the decision-making process, whether on your own or collectively as an organization, the outcomes that affect the customer will need to guide those decisions. As an individual working on client solutions, you may sometimes get requests that aren't necessarily best practice. Using Customer Centricity, you can consult user and market research to arrive at a solution that is best practice while also satisfying the customer.

 

Our Thoughts on Customer Centricity

At Praecipio Consulting, we are excited about this emphasis on Customer Centricity, as we love providing an exceptional customer experience. While working on our projects, we gather customer feedback daily to ensure we're moving projects in the right direction. With this, we're also able to revise on an iterative basis, meaning changes are made consistently throughout the project, instead of piling up and causing delays at the end of the project delivery. We also find that this approach allows us to truly be customer-centric, as we are constantly engaging with the customer and strengthening our relationship with them. Internally, we keep a close eye on the updates to SAFe so we can practice it successfully, as well as guide clients through the changes as well.

 

If you are looking for more guidance on the SAFe's recent update and why it matters to increase your business agility, check out this post

Topics: scaled-agile safe customer-experience
4 min read

What Business Agility Is and Why It Matters

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jun 26, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_What is Business Agility in SAFe 5.0-

At the end of 2019, Scaled Agile released a new version of SAFe: SAFe 5.0. The new version came with its fair share of updates, arguably the most significant being the introduction of Business Agility. This new addition has become a major focus of the updated SAFe framework, and it is key for businesses to thrive in the digital age.

What is Business Agility?

According to Scaled Agile, Inc, business agility is the ability to compete and thrive in the digital age by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with business solutions. In previous versions of SAFe, the main focus was on the IT team. For organizations to truly thrive in the digital age, SAFe 5.0 places focus on the entire organization. Business Agility goes beyond IT teams and requires the involvement of any team that takes part in delivering solutions, whether that be marketing, HR, etc. Those teams should follow the principles and practices of lean and agile when creating products and services. If the entire business does this, the organization can remain competitive in ever-changing markets.

Why does Business Agility Matter?

Business Agility matters because it allows the organization to focus more on the customer. If you have business agility, your organization is truly listening to the customer and readjusting the solutions to meet their needs. You have the flexibility to adapt to customer and market changes as they come, without having to restructure your entire organization. Business Agility involves more than just the IT team; it involves anyone who takes part in solution delivery. That means HR, Support, Finance, Legal, are typically onboard. Because of this, the whole organization is united behind one strategy and collective vision that delivers top solutions to the customer.

How does Business Agility affect me/my organization?

Business Agility is a new concept that Scaled Agile puts at the forefront of the updated framework and to achieve this is the ultimate goal of an organization, as it allows your teams to work more efficiently and deliver faster solutions. This saves you and your team time and resources in the long run while still allowing you to surpass customer expectations. Basically, Business Agility helps your organization thrive in an ever-evolving marketplace. 

Our Thoughts on Business Agility

Digital Transformation is no longer an option for organizations; it's vital for staying ahead of the constant market changes and emerging technologies. We're excited about the new addition of Business Agility, as we believe it's a tool that businesses can use to measure their growth and thrive in the face of disruption. With the inclusion of teams from all facets of the business (not just tech teams), it brings different groups together to innovate and deliver a high-quality product. 

 

At Praecipio Consulting, we consistently work cross-departmentally to collaborate and deliver the best solution to our clients. We love that with Business Agility, work is no longer meant to be siloed across departments, and value is placed around the customer vision instead. We use this principle of Business Agility daily and find it helps us to give the client what they need, not to mention that it brings us closer together as an organization. 

 

If you want to learn more about Agile Transformation or how SAFe can help grow your business, reach out to us!

3 min read

What To Avoid When Building Your Confluence Knowledge Base for JSD

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jun 10, 2020 12:30:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_What’s the difference between Affects Version & Fixed Version- copy 2

Building a successful Jira Service Desk requires a lot of moving parts. It can be difficult to find the perfect balance between ease of use for your agents (those who work on requests) and your customers (those who submit requests). One of the most important ways of achieving that balance is to create a great Confluence Knowledge Base (KB). If your articles are relevant, concise, and easy-to-navigate, your customers can avoid submitting a request, giving time back to both the customer and agent. Below are some common mistakes to avoid as you work towards creating your ideal Confluence Knowledge Base that is a reliable, single source of truth for your agents and customers.

Don't Put Your KB Articles in a Space Used for Internal Documentation/Non-Service Desk Related Content

If you create KB articles in a Space where non-service desk related pages already live, confusing or unwanted information may appear when customers search for help. This may push your customer away from reading the content and make their overall experience less enjoyable. Compiling your Knowledge Base articles in their own separate space is key to ensuring the most relevant articles show up when the customer uses the Service Desk. If you need to centralize documentation for both agents and customers alike, leverage page restrictions in the Space to allow for internal and external content.

Don't Create Lengthy Articles Using Technical Terms

When writing articles for customers, it's important to keep them top of mind. The customer may not understand the technical or team-related verbiage your agents typically use. It can feel daunting for them to look at a wordy article, so we suggest using bullet points, numbered lists, and mixed media (images, videos, etc.) to break up the content. Applying screenshots to your articles can also be useful, as it provides the user with a visual guide on out troubleshoot the issue on their own.

Don't Create Every Single Article From Scratch

Although they may not be useful for all of your articles, Confluence has built-in templates available for you to use when creating most of the content in your Knowledge Base. There are templates specifically for Troubleshooting articles and for How-To articles that have handy macros and formatting already incorporated. You can even customize these templates to better meet the needs of your users. If the out-of-the-box Blueprints aren't the right fit for your requirements, you can create custom templates (although you won't be able to create them from the Jira issue directly in the same way), which will save your agents time when creating articles and allow for a consistent user experience when navigating through the KB. 

Don't Ignore Reports on the Usefulness of your Articles

Jira has several native reports that allow you to see how your Knowledge Base articles are performing. The Requests Deflected report illustrates how often your customers find articles useful. This report shows deflected requested and how often articles are viewed in the portal. The Requests Resolved report displays the number of requests that have been resolved with an article, those that were resolved without an article, and requests deflected in the portal. These reports are key for determining which articles are beneficial to your customers, which allows you to tailor your content to meet customer needs.

 

Now that you know what not to do when building your Confluence Knowledge Base, explore how Praecipio Consulting has answered other Service Desk questions, like How does Jira Service work with ITIL? or Can you really set up an ITIL-based Service Desk in 3 weeks?

Topics: blog confluence knowledge-base jira-service-desk customer-experience
3 min read

Step Up Your Zoom Calls With Virtual Backgrounds

By Rebecca Schwartz on Apr 21, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Zoom in the time of Coronavirus

The typical work week has changed drastically over the past two months. Your morning commute is now a five second walk, your dog is your most talkative coworker, and going out for lunch means getting takeout and sitting on your patio. Since we can't physically interact with our colleagues (or really anyone for that matter), the only "face-to-face" interaction we have are in Zoom meetings. Meetings in general can be pretty uneventful, so why not step up your Zoom game and add a Virtual Background to your video? Below are some options to get you started.

For film/TV junkies

Now's the chance to star in your favorite movies and TV shows! Marvel released backgrounds of Wakanda, Asgard, and more. DC Comics has done the same. Disney and Pixar have also joined the fun with backgrounds of Onward and The Little Mermaid. If you've always wanted to be an SNL cast member or a member of the Pawnee Parks Department, TV Guide has TV-themed Zoom backgrounds here

For the avid traveler

COVID-19 prevents non-essential travel, and for folks like me who had big trips planned during this time, a location-themed background can almost make you feel like you're on that trip. One of my go-to sites for travel deals, Airfare Watchdog, shared travel-themed backgrounds of some of the world's most beautiful destinations. United Airlines has flight-themed backgrounds as well. Travel to your destination during your hour-long Zoom meeting by starting with your background on the plane, then shifting to an image of your destination towards the end of the meeting!

For the happy hour enthusiasts

Did your team have a weekly happy hour spot they frequented? You can still enjoy that team outing virtually! Plus, virtual happy hours are a great way for the team to connect on a more personal level. Choose your favorite bar, have each team member use the same background of the inside of that bar, then make the bar's signature drink. Bottoms up and cheers to virtual happy hours!

For the client-facing worker

Zoom video meetings are great for internal meetings, but they're also extremely useful for client or potential client meetings. Showing your face along with your voice in a virtual meeting is much more meaningful and interactive. If you're frequently engaging with clients or potential clients, turn your camera on, and use your company logo or motto as your background! It helps builds better connections with your customer, and they remember what your organization is all about.

Try it for yourself!

To find your backgrounds, you can do a simple search on Google. I've used Twitter to find most of my backgrounds, just by searching for Zoom backgrounds. Once you find your perfect background you'll need to download it to your computer, so be sure the source you're using is safe. Below are steps to enable your Zoom virtual background:

  1. Once you've joined your meeting, on the bottom left of your Zoom screen, look for the Video Camera icon. Next to the icon is an up arrow. Click the arrow and select Choose Virtual Background.
  2. Zoom has some pre-installed backgrounds, but you can upload your own where it says Choose Virtual Background, hit the plus [+] sign in the box on the right, then select Add Image.
  3. Find the image on your computer, select it, then hit Open.
  4. The image will set to your video background, and Zoom will give you a preview of what it looks like. If you're satisfied, you can hit the red [x] at the top left of the Zoom Settings box. You're all set!

If you need support on enabling your Zoom background, click here to access Zoom's guide.

Topics: work-from-home

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