3 min read

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

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

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

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

What is Advanced Roadmaps?

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

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

How do Advanced Roadmaps work?

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

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

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

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

Advanced Roadmaps is not just a visual tool

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

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

Trello 101: An Introduction

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

2021-q4-blogpost-Trello 101 - An introduction to using Trello_1

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

What is Trello?

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

Boards

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

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-boards

Lists

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-lists

Cards

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-cards

Labels

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-labels

Adding Team members

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-members

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

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

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

Which Atlasssian Products are Right for my Business?

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

2021-q4-blogpost-Atlassian- Which Application is Right for my Business?_1

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

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

Jira Software

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

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

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

Jira Service Management

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

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

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

Jira Work Management

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

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

Confluence

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

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

How Can Applications Be Used Together?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get early access to Atlassian Data Lake for Jira Software

By Kye Hittle on Apr 23, 2021 2:00:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Data Lake Preview

What's a data lake?

Read up on the basics in our explainer.

At Praecipio Consulting we understand that the data contained within your Atlassian tools is a critical asset for your organization. To help customers more easily access their Jira data, Atlassian has developed Data Lake! As of March 2021, Data Lake is available to preview in Jira Software Cloud Premium and Enterprise.

Warning! Beta software should not be used for production purposes. Breaking changes are likely as Atlassian tweaks this functionality based on user feedback. Not all Jira data is currently available and permission levels are limited but Atlassian is quickly working through its roadmap. In addition only English field names are available, as of now. Therefore, any information presented here is subject to change.

Data Lake allows you to quickly connect the best-in-class business intelligence (BI) tools you've already invested in to query the lake directly.

Compatible BI Tools include:

  • Tableau
  • PowerBI
  • Qlik
  • Tibco Spotfire
  • SQL Workbench
  • Mulesoft
  • Databricks
  • DbVisualizer

Jira-Data-Lake-preview

Data Lake uses the JDBC standard supported by many BI vendors. Supporting an open standard provides tremendous flexibility and power in reporting on your Jira projects.

Once you've identified the components of your BI solution, you'll follow three basic setup steps:

  1. Configure the JDBC driver
  2. Connect your BI tool(s)
  3. Navigate the Jira data model

You'll need your org_id and an API token for your Jira Cloud instance. Except for creating an API token (if you haven't already), there's no config required within your Jira instance. There are instructions for connecting to various BI tools in the Atlassian community Data Lake Early Access group. In addition, you'll find posts and diagrams to assist in answering business questions using Jira's data model.

If you're a Premier or Enterprise customer and would like to access the Early Access Program for Data Lake, complete this form to request access. You can also post questions and feedback for the devs in this group.

Are you interested in unlocking the power of data stored in your Atlassian tools? We're a Platinum Atlassian partner with years of experience helping customers leverage their Atlassian investment for even more value, so get in touch!

Topics: jira atlassian blog enterprise jira-software atlassian-products business-intelligence data-lake
4 min read

Why Upgrade Your Atlassian Stack?

By Suze Treacy on Apr 16, 2021 11:18:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why Jira-Confluence upgrades are importantOne key component of managing your Atlassian products is managing their upgrades. Upgrades can present a daunting and significant time investment for many companies, generally involving apps, custom-developed plugins, and integrations, with a large number of users dependent on their success.

You know what upgrades are and that they're important. So why am I talking to you about them? Imagine the scenario, you're busy, you haven't had a chance to check in on the latest Atlassian security vulnerabilities and the emails you've received about them have been missed. You have also had higher priority work eating up team time, which has prevented the planning and execution of your Atlassian upgrades. One day, your instance comes under attack through one of the vulnerabilities exposed in the CVE. Your data is potentially exposed. An urgent, large, expensive, complex effort ensues in order to secure the instance; after 3 days, 2 full sweeps of the instance and multiple upgrades, the vulnerabilities are mitigated and your instance is safe.

Are you confident in when your applications are due an upgrade? Let's review a few common reasons why an upgrade may be recommended:

End of Life Policy

Once Atlassian has released a major feature version, it, and all iterations related to that major version, are supported for two years. After that, the versions are considered End of Life, and you will no longer receive support from Atlassian for any issues which arise. It is when reaching this point, that many people start considering upgrading their instances.

Security Vulnerabilities

Every Wednesday, Atlassian releases any new security vulnerabilities which have been identified for their server/data center products. These vulnerabilities include a security level, which is based on an Atlassian-calculated CVSS score for each vulnerability.

Severity Rating System followed by Atlassian:

Atlassian_severity_rating_system

Although there may be opportunities to mitigate security vulnerabilities in your current version, it is recommended to patch or upgrade immediately when a Critical vulnerability is identified. Vulnerabilities with a critical score generally result in root-level compromise or servers or infrastructure devices, or are straightforward to exploit.

Current security advisories can be found here:

https://www.atlassian.com/trust/security/advisories

New Functionality/Capabilities

Did you know that there is a new feature release for Jira Software every 6 weeks alone? Atlassian encourage users to submit bugs and feature requests at jira.atlassian.com. This public forum allows users to vote for and comment on submitted issues, and the Atlassian team utilize this and other feedback as a factor in their decision for what to implement next.  Platform releases contain the most significant changes, while Feature releases contain new features, changes to features, changes to supported platforms and removal of features. Feature releases can be designated as Enterprise releases, which, generally designated annually, are preferred for companies who need time to prepare for upgrades, but still want to receive critical bug fixes.

Compatibility with other Server Components

From time to time, Atlassian add and deprecate support for other server component platforms which work alongside your Atlassian application. For example, did you know that in Jira Software 8.6 and Jira Service Desk 4.6, support was added for PostgreSQL 10 and deprecated for Internet Explorer 11, whereas in Jira Software 8.8 and Jira Service Desk 4.8, support was deprecated for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and PostgreSQL 9.4 & 9.5. To ensure optimal operation of your Atlassian instances, it's just as important to upgrade components of your server architecture, as well as your instances themselves.

Plugin Support

If you are one of the many teams who utilize plugins within their Atlassian applications, plugin compatibility and support is another area to be aware of when considering upgrades. Has support been deprecated for the plugin with the Atlassian version you're running? Is the plugin still supported when you upgrade to your target version? Atlassian have developed the Universal Plugin Manager, available in both Jira and Confluence, to enable you to screen for any compatibility problems prior to starting your upgrade. There are 4 categories for Compatibility which plugins can fall into - Incompatible (the plugin is not compatible with the target version), Compatible, Compatible if updated (the plugin is not currently compatible, but will be once running the compatible version), and Compatible once both are updated (the new version of the plugin isn't compatible with your current instance version - you need to upgrade your instance prior to updating the plugin).

Unable to Skip a Platform Release

When considering which version you'd like to upgrade to, it's important to consider your current version and your target version. When upgrading, it is not possible to skip a platform release - therefore, for example, when considering a Jira Software upgrade, it is not possible to jump from a 6.X release to the 8.X release and skip the 7.X release, you would need to take an intermediate step to upgrade to a 7.X version. Due to the functionality changes being much greater between platform releases which are not adjacently sequenced, there are more edge cases, and thus, greater risk, when navigating an upgrade spanning multi platform releases.

For assistance with upgrading your applications, partner with Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services team! Our team, fully dedicated to the Atlassian stack, offer peace of mind through managing, supporting, and maintaining your Atlassian tools, enabling you to maximize the benefits of your Atlassian applications while allowing your team to focus on their core roles. Working with our Managed Services team offers tribal knowledge and best practice from over 10 years working in the tools, allowing us to enable your Atlassian stack is optimized and operating at peak performance.

For more information on Managed Services, or anything else Atlassian related, contact us, and one of our experts will be glad to talk with you.

Topics: blog managed-services marketplace upgrade version-control-system atlassian-products marketplace-apps
2 min read

Managed Services: The Power of a Part-Time, Full-Stack Atlassian Admin

By Suze Treacy on Feb 18, 2021 12:50:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_The power of a part-time, full-stack Atlassian admi-1Do you find yourself tasked with administering Atlassian tools on top of the normal duties of your job? Have you ever been faced with an Atlassian question that is out of your wheelhouse? Are you interested in improvement opportunities to configure your instance and architecture to Atlassian best practice standards? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then read on!

With a wide range of Atlassian products available, and a marketplace full of apps to accompany those, it's hard to find admins who specialize in everything. Particularly with the Atlassian toolset being highly configurable, administrators should be able to analyze a request and advise the correct path forward, balancing functionality available to them, with corporate governance and best practice processes. Here at Praecipio Consulting, we have the answer to this unicorn, part-time, full-stack Atlassian admin, through our Managed Services offering.

Atlassian Experts, Best Practice

With over 10 years of Atlassian experience, our team has knowledge across the full stack - whether your question is about hosting considerations, tuning, networking, infrastructure, process-related, Marketplace Apps, or anything else, we can advise and implement functional, practical, industry-specific, best practice processes to maximize efficiencies among your teams. As we are squarely focused on the Atlassian toolset, your IT teams can focus on all of their other tasks, driving productivity and innovation among your team.

Preventative Measures

We're proactive, with bi-monthly cadence calls to discuss your long term goals and objectives, and monthly health checks to ensure your instance is secure, clean, and performing efficiently. We monitor Atlassian vulnerabilities, alerting you of any CVEs affecting your instance, alongside recommendations to mitigate. If you are hosting with us through Cumulus, we monitor your systems too, identifying and resolving issues before they become expensive incidents, and minimizing downtime.

Predictable Cost, Scalable Model

Whether you're utilizing Atlassian Cloud, Server, or Data Center, whether you need 9-5 support, or 24x7, we're always here to help. You dictate your monthly hours cap, enabling Atlassian administrative support at a fraction of the cost of hiring an admin. Even with the cap, it's possible to utilize more hours - managed services is scalable as your business and Atlassian needs grow.

Relationships

As Platinum Enterprise solution partners to Atlassian, we're big on relationships with our clients, Atlassian, and App vendors. When faced with issues, we can be the connection between yourselves and the answer you need, to discover the optimal outcome available for your circumstances. We're vested in your instances being healthy and working for your business: allow us to be a trusted partner in helping your business grow.

Praecipio Managed Services can help with your Atlassian needs, we'd love to talk to you more about our offering! 

Topics: atlassian blog implementation managed-services atlassian-products bespoke
3 min read

Individuals and Interactions Over Tools Doesn't Mean No Tools

By Michael Knight on Feb 1, 2021 11:00:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_People & Process over tools doesnt mean no tools-1"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: jira best-practices tools atlassian-products agile
4 min read

What's the deal with Atlassian's Jira Cloud migration tool?

By Bradley Ode on Jan 14, 2021 10:45:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Whats the deal with Atlassians Jira Cloud migration tool (1)Atlassian's Jira Cloud is more popular than ever as companies continue to see the benefits in cloud-based technologies. For those of you already on server, the latest announcement from Atlassian might prompt you get to a head start on looking at migration options. I had the opportunity to work with Atlassian's Jira Cloud Migration Assistant (JMCA) earlier this year and now is a more pertinent time than ever to share those findings. 

What is the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant?

Jira Cloud Migration Assistant is an add-on introduced by Atlassian earlier in 2020 to help clients migrate their data from Server to Cloud. It is a migration assistant and should be viewed as such. There are many things that JCMA does well, but it does come with it's limitations and should not be viewed as a one-and-done solution for most organizations. With that being said, companies with small Jira Server footprint will get the most use out of the tool.

At a glance

What can it do?

  • Jira Software and Jira Core Project data
    • Details
    • Roles
    • Screens and Schemes
    • Workflows
      • Most native workflow functions
  • Issue data
    • Most custom fields
    • Issue history
    • Rank
    • Worklogs
    • Attachments
    • Comments
  • Boards linked to projects being migrated
  • Active users and groups from User Directories

What are the limitations?

  • Jira Service Management- no Jira Service Management data can be brought over with JCMA at the time of publishing
  • Third party app data
  • User Avatars/Timezones/Passwords
    • Passwords will need to be reset after migrating unless the client is using SSO
  • Global configuration items
    • Since JCMA operates at the project level no system settings will be brought over
  • Certain custom fields
    • Single and Multi-version picker
    • URL
    • Select List (cascading)
    • Select List (multiple choice)
    • Project picker
  • Certain workflow functions
    • Validator: required field, field changed
    • Condition: user in group, in project role, field value, subtask blocking
    • Post Function: clear field value, update custom field, copy value from other field, delegating
  • Links to entities that are not migrated

I don't have Jira Service Management, but what's this you say about app data?

Unfortunately, Marketplace Apps will need to be handled on a case-by-case basis. The JCMA tool provides a mechanism for assessing which apps can be migrated from server to cloud, but does not migrate the data via the tool itself. Instead, the tool will scan your instance and provide links or paths (i.e. instructions) to external documentation if it exists.

These paths can be a bit confusing as you are taken to the individual app vendors' sites. These can be radically different from app to app. In our case, many apps did not have a path forward and, instead, we are prompted to contact the vendor.

What about users?

JCMA will bring over all active users and groups on each migration initiation (which may or may not be what you want). You have the option of giving the users product access before running the migration, but in my opinion, it is best to wait until after the migration in case things go awry. After running the migration, the users will need to be invited to the Cloud site.

Should I use JCMA? Or perhaps another method like site import?

When the instance to be migrated is small, well managed, and with little complexity, the JCMA tool will handle your data with finesse. The JCMA tool is also more useful in merges when you are trying to merge a small, relatively simple Jira Software Server instance with a larger cloud instance. This is due to the fact that the JCMA tool itself is very project-centric. However, an abundance of app data, complex workflows, and many external integrations can be some of the things that might stop an organization from using this tool. If you are in any way unsure, contact us -- we've got your back.

My Experience

Overall, I found the JCMA tool to be a simple and effective way to transfer small amounts of project data to a cloud instance. It does what it says it will do, with only minor hiccups along the way. My experience a few months back is likely going to be different with yours as Atlassian continues to invest heavily in Cloud offerings. As always, do your own reading and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Further Reading

Topics: jira blog migrations cloud atlassian-products
3 min read

Atlassian Certification Program: Tips for Studying for your ACP Tests

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

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Atlassian Certification Program (ACP) tests 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 tests, and we have some great tips and tidbits to share that will help you prep for the exams 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

1. 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 do you tend to lose loose leaf paper so you prefer to type out what you've learned? Either way, my best tip to prepare for your exams is to organize your notes into a comprehensive study guide. 

Atlassian requires the completion of specific courseware before you can take the ACP 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 and then use macros and tasks to organize your notes with reminders of trouble areas 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 QuizletRepetition works wonders when studying for any exam, so be sure to review your study materials several times.

2. 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 test, 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.

3. Collaborate with others prepping for the exam

At Praecipio Consulting, we are all about teamwork. When other co-workers were also prepping for the test, 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). 

4. 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. While you study, it’s a good idea to create incentives and goals around the study material. For example, once you are through half of your flashcards, you can reward yourself with watching the next episode of your newest Netflix addiction or read a chapter of your favorite book. That way, you have something to look forward to while studying and have a structured pattern 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 blog agents training atlassian-products atlassian-certification-program
5 min read

What's Next-Gen Projects in Jira Cloud and When to Use It

By Amanda Babb on Aug 28, 2020 9:30:00 AM

Benefits of Next-Gen projects

NOTE: Jira next-gen projects are now named team-managed projects, although all the valuable features that have made them an indispensable tool for managing your team's work for years remain the same.

Atlassian has always held the concept of the team in high regard. As you may know, even their stock ticker is TEAM. And with many organizations pushing to Atlassian Cloud from their Server or Data Center solutions, it's no wonder Atlassian is removing barriers to entry for first-time users and admins. Whether you choose Standard or Premium, Jira Software adds the ability to create next-gen projects.

What is a next-gen project? 

Jira Software next-gen projects are a simple and flexible way to get your teams working. With some limited delegated administration, next-gen projects are created using a pre-defined template (Kanban or Scrum). These projects also come with three pre-defined roles: Administrator, Member, and Viewer.

  • Administrator: Updates project settings and can add other Administrators
  • Member: Can perform most functions such as create, edit, assign, and transition issues
  • Viewer: Can view and comment only

By default, if a user is added to the Jira Cloud site and provided access to Jira Software, they automatically become a member of every next-gen project (also known as Open). However, a next-gen admin can change the settings to be either Limited or Private. Limited puts all users of Jira software into the Viewer role and Private requires the admin to add a user to perform actions in the project. In addition, setting the project to Private hides the project from any search results. 

Each next-gen project operates similarly to a Classic Software project. You get either a Kanban or Scrum Board based on your project template as well as the reports you've come to know and love from the Server and Data Center products. One key difference is the addition of a Roadmap. Each next-gen project and board comes with a Roadmap. This allows teams to track start and end dates of the epics and better communicate with their product owners and stakeholders. 

The benefits of a next-gen project

Next-gen projects are flexible and delegate administration to the Administrators. This means the Administrator can create new Issue Types and Workflows, add unique fields, assign access to individuals or groups, and can enable or disable specific agile features such as enabling backlogs. This provides the ultimate flexibility for newly formed agile teams to work out their processes and data needs while performing their daily work. Let's take a closer look at each of these elements. 

Issue Types can be created on the fly at any time. As an Administrator, you can add up to 30 unique issue types to your next-gen project. By default, next-gen projects come with Epics, Stories, Bugs, Tasks, and Subtasks. If you remember, these are arranged in a loose hierarchy with Epics at the top; Stories, Bugs, and Tasks in the middle; and Subtasks on the bottom. Currently, any additional issue types will be added at the same level as Stories, Bugs and Tasks. If you'd like to add your own Subtasks or parent issues, feel free to submit feedback to Atlassian. 

Workflows are configured directly on your Board. Simply add a column to add a status to your workflow. That's it. You may also add rules such as assigning an issue or updating a field. Other Marketplace Apps can add automation triggers and the like to next-gen projects as well. 

Administrators can also add Custom Fields for your project. While Jira already comes with a robust set of Jira-created fields, you may choose to add checkboxes, people fields, numbers, dates, dropdowns and more. You can even change the order of the fields on the issue view to put the most important information at the top. 

Notifications on certain events can also be tuned to suit the team's need. For those already familiar with notifications, these events include: Issue Created, Issue Updated, Issue Assigned, Issue Deleted, etc. In a next-gen project, you can notify All Watchers, Current Assignee, Current User, Reporter, or a Project Role. Simply select the event and the people you'd like to notify, and Jira will take care of the rest. 

Last, but not least, there are nine separate Board features you may choose to enable for your next-gen project. This includes things like the Roadmap, Reports, Backlogs for Kanban, and more. 

There's no doubt that next-gen projects provide your team the ultimate flexibility in managing their work. With easily navigable menus and a simplified Administration interface, next-gen projects can be great for you and your team. 

The disadvantages of a next-gen project

One of the things we love about the Atlassian products is that they are super flexible and you can do pretty much anything you'd like with them. One of the things we hate about the Atlassian products is that they are super flexible and you can do pretty much anything you'd like with them. The same is true of next-gen projects. With ultimate flexibility and delegated administration, it becomes difficult to aggregate data across multiple projects. As a product manager, project manager, Release Train Engineer, or other person over several teams, you may find next-gen projects frustrating. 

Because the configuration of a next-gen project is unique to the individual project, gathering a status update is difficult. Not impossible, but you need a solid working knowledge of Jira Query Language (JQL) and good discipline from your teams to ensure they're transitioning tickets through the workflow. Creating custom Filters and Dashboards is your only way to aggregate data across projects. In addition, since each team can create their own custom fields, you risk data bloat. For example, one team may create a field called Bug Type using a dropdown and another may create Bug Type using checkboxes. While both are correct, to understand where Bugs are located, you have to add both fields to your filter. And the values may be unique per project as well. 

Work can only be estimated in Story Points, regardless if your project is Kanban or Scrum. This is also regardless of Issue Type. If you enable estimation on either a Scrum or Kanban next-gen project, every piece of work should be estimated and estimated in Story Points. Tasks, Bugs, and Stories all need points to establish a consistent velocity for predictability. 

Since there is a single workflow for all Issue Types, the team cannot split processes between types of work. If a Task follows a simplified process (To Do, In Progress, and Done), but a Story needs more detail (Backlog, Selected for Development, In Progress, and Done), the team cannot split these items into two distinct workflows. Every type of work must follow the same path through the board. 

There are additional technical considerations as well for things like Cloud merges (bringing two instances together) and Cloud to Server or Data Center migrations (moving off Atlassian Cloud to an On Premise solution). While these efforts are few and far between, all next-gen projects must be converted to Classic projects before these efforts start. 

Are next-gen projects right for you? 

At Praecipio Consulting, we believe you must use the right tool for the right job, and the same goes for next-gen projects. That’s why our team offers a variety of Product Services to ensure that your team can leverage these tools as effectively as possible to meet your goals. 

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

 

Topics: best-practices business-teams cloud atlassian-products jira-align next-gen-project
4 min read

ESM Part 1: Why ESM Is Hardly A New Concept

By Michael Knight 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: best-practices enterprise service-management atlassian-products jira-service-management frameworks
3 min read

Are Atlassian Tools Right For My Business?

By Brian Nye on Jun 3, 2020 12:15:00 PM

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Many businesses considering or have purchased one or more products from the Atlassian stack (Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, etc.) have thought, "Is this right for us?" If you are asking this question, you are not alone. Some question why a business would invest in tools that they are not even sure if they meet their business needs, and this is rooted in the fact that Atlassian tools are extremely flexible, perhaps too flexible. Combine Atlassian's flexibility with evolving process requirements and lack of true Atlassian expertise, and you get a toolset that doesn't fit your business needs. This doesn't need to be your reality. You just need some guidance, and Praecipio Consulting can help by doing an Atlassian Process Assessment.

What is an Atlassian Process Assessment?

Praecipio Consulting understands two things extremely well: business processes and Atlassian tools. Simply put, the Atlassian Process Assessment utilizes our core competencies to understand your business process challenges to put together a plan of action on how to get you on the right path to maximize the Atlassian technology stack. It doesn't matter if you are brand new to Atlassian or a long-time user, we can help you figure out the best approach for implementing the products. Here are some of the cases we have encountered during the last year. 

  • One business was in the process of transitioning from another tool to Jira. They were looking to use Aha! as their product roadmap tool but wanted to use Jira for their development teams. We helped them align Jira and Aha! from a process perspective, and we figured out how to structure Jira to support their agile development needs. 
  • A company was undergoing a merger, where two instances of Jira and Confluence were going to be used in a single instance. The entities that were merging used the tools differently based on their users' needs. They brought us in to figure out the best way to structure Jira in the new shared instance and also to correct years of system misuse. We provided a roadmap detailing out the order of operation needed to be successful in their efforts for simplifying and streamlining processes. 
  • One client had been using Jira and Confluence for many years to manage various teams, and they were wanting to see a more holistic, SAFe view of their work using the Atlassian stack. During the assessment, we evaluated not only their use of Jira and Confluence but also their SAFe implementation by identifying areas of opportunity for key agile practices. 

What to expect during an assessment

Praecipio Consulting conducts the assessments by meeting with various teams to discuss their overall business processes and what tools they currently use to support them. Typically, we interview small groups of people in similar roles (such as Scrum Masters or Program Managers) who have a comprehensive understanding of their current processes. We look for patterns of common challenges that teams across the organization are experiencing and result in inefficiencies. Once the patterns emerge, we propose recommendations about how to overcome those challenges and how to best represent the process in the tools. These recommendations are prioritized into an implementation roadmap so clients know how to go about making the changes in their organization. 

Throughout the assessment, the client's project sponsors gain valuable insights into how the business performs and the areas that the Atlassian stack can help make processes more efficient. Praecipio Consulting takes as many voices as possible into account so that we can get a "big picture" understanding of the good and the bad. That way we can give our expert take on what we should do going forward. We have seen hundreds of tool implementations across different industries, which allows us to confidently give you the best advice for making impactful changes to your organization.

What clients say about our Atlassian Process Assessments

After all of our engagements, a retrospective is held for the client to express the value they received from the Atlassian Process Assessment. Here are just a few of the things our clients have found valuable about the service:

  • A healthcare technology company said, "It was a positive interaction that presented a clear vision of what we want to do after the engagement so we can be tactical about our long-term strategy."
  • A telecom device manufacturer stated, "The consultant was able to navigate the personal nuances of our teams and provided us with great value that helped us move forward in our transformation."
  • An energy provider said, "We needed to take a step back to look at what we were doing and come up with a strategic roadmap. The consultant helped us understand the gaps in the path and charted a course that's in line with our practices so we are not trying to learn those ourselves. It was a good investment in what we need to do."

Are you ready to let our professionals take a look at your business? Our fresh set of eyes can provide you with new insights and guidance towards a more healthy and productive Atlassian implementation. Reach out to our team if you are interested in an Atlassian Process assessment!

Topics: blog process-improvement tools process-assessment atlassian-products
4 min read

How To Run D&D Campaigns With Trello

By Luis Machado on May 28, 2020 11:07:00 AM

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It’s 2020, and the reality for a lot of folks has seemingly changed overnight. Working from home, remote meetings, a whole slew of new tools to learn and master. It’s a strange new world, and not just for our professional lives but our personal lives as well. So how do we make the change? How can we adapt to this new frontier?

I’ve been playing games with friends on the internet for several years now, way before social distancing practices became the norm. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart, I can still lead a group of close friends through the dark, dangerous lairs and pitting them against frightening creatures, all for glory and the pursuit of the almighty gold coin. There are a plethora of tools available that allow people to play tabletop games without the table, such as Roll 20, D&D Beyond, Discord, Skype, among several others. But there is a distinct lack of tools available for the person running the game, the game master, the dungeon master, the decider of fates, and facilitator of adventure to keep it all organized.  

When running a game there is A LOT to keep track of: monsters, treasure, characters, towns, plot points. If you’re using an old school pen and paper, you’re going to need a mighty large binder. Naturally, the desire to digitize this content has led to some creative methodologies. The one that has stuck with me is using a site that falls right within my wheelhouse: Trello.

At its core, Trello is a tool that helps you manage lists for collaboration. You create a list and then populate it with cards. The title of the card shows up in the list, clicking on the card lets you see an expanded view with more detail. You can also add custom labels to create color codes.

I first came across this idea from a post on Reddit called "DMing with Trello". This method gives you easy access to a board for the DM (as in Dungeon Master!) screen to have frequently referenced rules and definitions handy, a way for tracking combat, and board for managing campaign-specific content.

Campaign Content

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While I'll breakdown how I manage my campaigns, how you organize your lists can vary. I started with making a list for the town Daggerford, where the players interact with each other. Each special location within the town has is its own Trello card. These locations, like a blacksmith, inn, or tavern can be listed for easy reference and the numbers in my list correspond to locations indicated on a map. The use of the built-in labels lets you categorize cards within a list, and the sorting view lets you filter the list with a specific category. So, if I’m looking for just blacksmiths, for example, I can filter the list for just that category.

dd2

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Clicking on one of the cards brings up a larger, more detailed view where you can keep your notes.

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Cards can also be formatted using markup to let you get as fancy as you want.  You can also extend functionality if you’re using Google Chrome by installing a browser extension: Trello Card Optimizer.

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Combat Tracker

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The combat tracker is a series of lists. The first list is where I set the turn order (top to bottom). Each subsequent list is a round of combat, numbered accordingly, and the players and monsters are all cards. You can arrange them all in turn order and then advance them to the next round when it’s their turn by clicking on them and dragging them to the next list. 

Keeping track of combat can be particularly tricky in an online situation. Using Trello gives you an easy, straightforward way to do it.  In this setting, I use the labels for various statuses and ailments. Poisoned by a snake? Petrified by a basilisk? There’s a label for that! Lastly, I keep a card or two at the top of the initiative list for easy access to the music links I use.

DM Screen

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Last, but not least, is the DM screen. Set up in a similar manner to the campaign content, this board offers you the ability to quickly reference game rules that you frequently have to look up. How does grapple work again? What happens when a character is blinded? All these questions and more can be answered here, and you don’t have to worry about accidentally bending or tearing your rule book between sessions.

The DM screen is available as a public board that you can copy to your own account, allowing you to customize it to suit your game. I highly recommend using the Trello Card Optimizer with Chrome because it adds a lot of visual organization to your cards and board. 

Now get out there (and by "out there", I mean exploring the world of Trello from your home), and take a shot at organizing your game. As a final note, when the time comes to reunite with your players for an in-person session, you can travel light with just a laptop and have all your hard work available at your fingertips.

For more information on Trello and the Atlassian suite of products, reach out to your favorite Dungeon Master...er...Platinum Solutions Partner. Happy gaming!

 

 

Topics: collaboration project-management trello atlassian-products
3 min read

How to Plan & Track OKRs With Atlassian Tools

By Brian Nye on Jan 30, 2020 10:15:00 AM

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OKR: More Than Just a Buzzword

Like most of you, I have been challenged to establish my annual "OKRs" at the start of this new year. It seems that OKR has suddenly become a big buzzword that businesses have been throwing around the past few years. If you were like me before ever hearing of this acronym, you might be asking yourself: what is OKR, and what happened to the classics like KPI or SMART goals?

I decided to do some digging around to understand where this new buzzword comes from, and I learned that the term, in fact, has been around quite some time. More than 30 years to be exact! OKR was first introduced in the book High Output Management by Andy Grove, which was published in 1983. This term would later be used by one of Google's early investors, John Doerr, who used to work at Intel, and then it caught on at Spotify, Amazon and other big companies. That's when it gained traction to become the business buzzword that it is today. 

What is OKR?

Enough with the history lesson, what is exactly is OKR?

Simply put, OKR is a strategic framework that stands for (O)Objectives and (K)Key (R)Results. When setting your OKRs, the Objectives should be tied back to your organization's mission, vision, and strategic initiatives, and the Key Results are the measurable components that help you determine whether or not you are meeting your objectives. 

So, what is the difference between OKRs and KPIs or SMART goals? To start with, KPIs are are just measurements that represent output and don't tell you the entire story, whereas OKRs give you the big picture from the start to finish. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals are usually a bit more targeted and lack the full scope of the OKR methodology. You can think of OKRs as a collection of SMART goals and their respective KPIs. 

Plan & Track Your OKRs with Atlassian

Now that we understand the concept of OKRs, our next step is to establish them, and there is no better tool for this process than Confluence. At Praecipio Consulting, we dedicated a Confluence Space to our OKRs because we wanted to make sure that it is easily accessible to our employees. After all, we are all working together towards the same strategic objectives, and Confluence is the perfect collaborative space that allows us to check in on our goals and progress at any time. 

We started by organizing our OKRs by year so that we know what we have achieved in the past, as well as what we are working towards now and into the future. Within each year, we group our OKRs into overarching concepts that we refer to as "tracks". For example, we have a track for our 2020 OKR around "Climate Action Plan", and we use the Confluence Project Poster blueprint as a guide to document why this is part of our strategic objectives and who should be involved.

This also serves as a snapshot to get people excited about a track's children pages, which are the actual OKRs. Our OKR pages are custom templates that we built out and allow us to describe how we want our OKRs to look. More importantly, we use the page property macro to capture key pieces of information to display on that specific year's parent page, and we utilize labels that make the pages easier to reference.

For instance, one of the OKRs is to involve you, our community, by educating you and inviting you to join our efforts in overcoming climate change, which we do by providing your with content and information about organizations that we partner with via blog posts and webinars.  We will measure our success by the content we produce, the number clicks we receive on that content and the success stories shared by you as a result. 

To help with following up on OKRs, we utilize a Jira project for internal projects to track each OKR as an Epic and all the separate tasks as related issues. We use a Fix Versions as a grouping mechanism for the track so that we have visibility on how we are doing from a big picture perspective. 

Improve Your Goal-Setting Process

OKRs are not new to the business scene, but they can definitely help drive business value and help you reach your strategic objectives. Confluence is a great tool that allows you to capture the "why" and "what" you want to do, and Jira can show you "who" and "how" the OKR is doing.

If you are interested in learning how Atlassian tools can help you with your goal-setting and other business processes, contact us at Praecipio Consulting, and we'll be glad to get you on the right "track". 

Topics: jira praecipio-consulting confluence process-improvement global-climate-crisis atlassian-products
4 min read

Accessibility With Atlassian Products

By Amanda Babb on Dec 10, 2019 10:30:00 AM

Student Diversity is Key for Learning

Over the last two years, I've had the pleasure of partnering with Atlassian University to provide a wide range of training, including in-person courses, virtual courses, and even being the voice of Planning with Portfolio for Jira. If I had to count, I've likely delivered training to close to 1000 students since 2017 as an Atlassian Certified Instructor, but this week was a first – one of my students was blind. 

When teaching an Atlassian University course, we provide students with access to a virtual environment to practice the concepts presented. Each student is also provided soft copies of the slides as well as a lab workbook to guide them step-by-step through the environment. This particular course, Confluence Server Essentials, provides new users the opportunity to learn about the basics of Confluence. Navigation, page creation, blueprint usage, and collaboration features such as @ mentions, comments, and blogs are all covered in the full-day course. 

My blind student had a laptop with accessibility features and used the Jaws Screen Reader to help navigate the different UIs of the applications. He also had a colleague to assist him if needed. As I started the course, he was attentive and eagerly participated in the discussions. However, when it was time for everyone to log in to their environments and start the first set of exercises, I noticed that he was starting to fall behind. 

During the exercises, his assistant had a technical issue with her own laptop and asked if I would step in while she talked to tech support. I sat down and watched as he tried to navigate his screen reader through the Confluence System Dashboard and eventually to the correct Space to continue through the lab. This was my first time working with a screen reader, and I spent quite a bit of time wondering how it chose which parts of the screen to read. However, once we got into a rhythm, I was able to help him navigate to the correct menu. By the end of the time box, we managed to complete two of the four exercises. 

Accessibility in Atlassian Products

Atlassian supports or partially supports accessibility requirements for Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket Server and Data Center products, in compliance with Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 (AA). At Praecipio Consulting, we developed a custom accessibility app for Jira, at a client's request, to accommodate sighted and non-sighted users. While support and partial support of accessibility are steps in the right direction, I still needed to find a better way to help this student. 

Enter the Atlassian Marketplace. If the functionality doesn't exist in the products themselves, we search the Marketplace for apps to add on to the instance. There are over 2000 apps available for Server, almost 1000 for Cloud, and nearly 700 for Data Center instances of the Atlassian applications, and these apps are generally tagged with additional information to further help you make the right choice. Through a quick search of all compatible apps tagged as Supported, I found two that looked promising: Accessibility for Confluence and Unstoppable for Confluence. Not knowing which one would work best, I tossed a coin. 

Because the Atlassian University lab environments work like a mini Server environment, they function the same as the customer instances of Confluence we work in every day. Following best practices, I wanted to test the installation of the app in a separate environment before installing it for the student. In my Instructor Environment, I found the user with the most administrative rights (as per the lab workbook) and installed the app. A quick check of the documentation told me the additional installation steps needed to activate it. As testing is important as well, I validated functionality myself first, and I was confident this app would provide the student with a better learning experience. 

A Retrospective on the Accessible Experience

Once installed and configured, my student was able to continue forward with the next two labs, including all exercises. Through exercises like creating a blog post, editing a page, and adding attachments, he was starting to understand how Confluence could help him with his daily tasks.

What did we do well?

  • Found an accessibility app and installed it
  • Walked the student through how to use it
  • Provided 1:1 instruction during labs to ensure understanding

What could we have done better? 

  • Communicated about the student before class
  • Researched screen readers to understand the best one
  • Asked the students for a solution

Going forward, I want to identify students with accessibility needs beforehand, so that I can prepare accommodations as needed. While I have thought about this as an instructor before, now that I've had the experience and have learned from it, I am better prepared to provide a better learning experience for all of my students moving forward.

We can all do great things if we communicate ahead of time. If you or your organization have accessibility needs, let us know! We can bring solutions and custom solutions as needed. 

Topics: blog confluence culture government corporate-responsibility accessibility atlassian-products social-responsibility
2 min read

Less Meetings, More Collaboration with Atlassian Tools

By Jill Cloud on Jun 26, 2018 11:00:00 AM

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: atlassian stride collaboration atlassian-products

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