3 min read

7 steps for a painless SVN to Git migration | Praecipio Consulting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Get Started with Better Confluence Templates | Praecipio Consulting

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

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

Creating a Space Template

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

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

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

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

Getting Started

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Now what do I do?

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

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

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

Service Management is More Than an IT Service Desk

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

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August_Enterprise Service Management Should Share More Than IT Service Desk Capabilities

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

Looking at Service Management adoption levels

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

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

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

The adoption levels of Service Management processes by other business functions

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

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

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

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

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

Taking enterprise service management beyond the service desk

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

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

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

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

Examples of enterprise service management beyond the service desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to effectively communicate across all of your tools

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

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

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

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

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

Given that, here are my recommendations:

Jira

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

Confluence

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

Chat (Slack, Teams, etc.)

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

Email

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

Call (Phone, Slack, Zoom, etc.)

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

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

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

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

Work Should Be Pulled, Not Pushed

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

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

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

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

Which work environment would you rather be a part of?

Ignore Salt-N-Pepa: don’t push it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can We Talk for a Moment About Spreadsheets?

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

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

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

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

Individual Team Metrics: Scrum and Kanban

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

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

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

Program, Product, or Teams of Teams Metrics

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

Me: "How much time you got?" 

Three solutions come to mind for this one:

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

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

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

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

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

Enterprise Business Intelligence Integration

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

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

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

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

Trello 101: An Introduction

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

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_Trello 101 - An introduction

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

What is Trello?

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

Boards

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

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-boards

Lists

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-lists

Cards

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-cards

Labels

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-labels

Adding Team members

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

Trello 101 - An introduction-members

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

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

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

Can Scrum Masters have multiple roles on a team?

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 2, 2021 9:15:00 AM

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

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

Context Switching

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

Skills & Training

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

Conflicts of Interest

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

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

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

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

4 Things to Look Out for When Migrating to Atlassian Cloud

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

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

  • User Management
  • Automations
  • Size of Attachments
  • Apps

User Management

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

Automation

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

Attachments

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

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

Apps

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

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

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

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

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

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align?

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

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_What is a Portfolio in Jira Align-

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

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

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align? 

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

In Jira Align, a Portfolio has the following things: 

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

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

How Do I Define a Portfolio? 

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

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

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

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

Reporting on the Portfolio

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

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

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

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

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

Best Practices for Using Labels in Jira

By Courtney Pool on May 21, 2021 8:15:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-How to use labels in jiraJira has a multitude of ways to group and categorize similar issues, such as through projects, requests types, or components. Many of these are aimed at issues that exist within one project, though, making it a bit more difficult to track items across your entire Jira instance. This is where labels can shine.

Labels are basically tags on issues. If you have 4 different projects that may all see tickets related to the same customer, then a label for that customer would give you a great way to quickly gather an overarching view of everything that exists for them. You can also have multiple labels on an issue, allowing you to easily catch it in any number of buckets.

Like with many things in life, though, a watchful eye and steady hand are needed to really use labels effectively. With that in mind, we’ve identified a few best practices to help.

1. Labels should be used for informal grouping.

In other words, don’t count on just labels to be the driving factor of important reports or anything else you need to be accurate 100% of the time. Because new labels can be created by users from the issue screen directly, they are not and should not be viewed as a source of truth. They’re great at what they do, but be careful to limit the importance placed on them.

2. Try to limit the number of labels you have.

Labels are shared globally, which means the list can get very long, very quickly. To make them more effective, try to come to a consensus internally on the whens and whys of new labels.

3. Set up clear naming guidelines.

Limit the number of labels by making sure you have clear naming guidelines. This will be different from organization to organization, but we encourage you to discuss and decide on these guidelines early and to then check in periodically to make sure they're being adhered to. If you’re looking to label issues from ABC Law Firm, for example, you could quickly end up with labels for abc, abclaw, abc-law, etc. Without naming standards, you will dramatically decrease the efficacy of the labels as an informal(*) grouping tool.

4. Routinely clean them up.

Even with clear naming guidelines and a company decision to limit the number of total labels, you may still end up with some that are no longer relevant down the line. Set a regular time for somebody to go in, check them out, and determine if there’s any room for clean-up. Even better, cleaning up labels is as simple as entirely removing them from all issues, giving you the opportunity to swap them out for another if needed.

5. Don’t overuse them.

This one really echoes all of the points above, but it bears repeating: Don’t overuse your labels. If you’re looking for something to track issues for a very-important, super-vital, must-be-accurate report? Labels are likely not the answer. Have a certain issue type that can have 30 different permutations? Again, labels are likely not the answer.

Jira as a tool has many options for tracking related issues. And labels, in the right hands, can be a great means of doing just that — if they’re handled intentionally and in moderation. Don’t be scared to give them a try, but do keep these best practices handy to keep your labels as helpful as possible.

Contact us if you have any questions on labels, or in anything Jira: We are experts in all things Atlassian.

Topics: jira blog best-practices tips information-architecture
3 min read

Best Practices for Software Licensing Management

By Jessica Ellis on May 19, 2021 11:25:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-Best Practices for Software Licensing ManagementLet's make something clear: my.atlassian.com (MAC) is your best friend. Never heard of it? It's Atlassian's central license management platform. On the MAC website, you'll be able to see your license information and history, update technical & billing contacts, access license keys, and generate development keys. 

Over the last 6 years, I have helped hundreds of customers (from small businesses to Enterprise companies) with their license management. There are a few questions and frustrations that I see time and again, and based on that feedback, here are some of my top suggestions that will save you from future headaches.

Track your SEN’s

Your Support Entitlement Number (SEN) is a unique identifier that follows the life of the license. Even if the user tier or product name changes over time, your SEN never will. Consider it your “source of truth”. SEN’s can be found in your my.atlassian.com account, and are visible to all technical and billing contacts. I recommend sharing your SEN list with colleagues and procurement to make renewals more transparent. You can either export your license list from MAC, or include additional technical and billing contacts to open up visibility across teams and departments. 

Centralize your visibility

Once the Atlassian products gain popularity in an organization, I receive requests from different business units asking for their own instance or app for specific functionality. Logically, it makes sense to assign the technical contact as the person in charge of that instance or app. However, if you do that for each license you can splinter the visibility across the organization, making renewals complicated and time consuming.

I work closely with a global video game company who renews over 300 Atlassian licenses annually. Their organizing method has helped procurement streamline renewals, decreasing the amount of time it takes to identify who owns the license and what needs to be renewed. Each time a new license is requested I use the same technical contact email associated to the procurement department. After purchase is complete, procurement adds secondary technical contacts to the licenses in my.atlassian.com, giving the end user access to license keys. This allows procurement to see ALL licenses in MAC, understanding the entire license footprint and centralizing visibility when it comes time to renew.

Proactively transition your licenses

Life happens and people switch jobs all the time. I get a lot of requests from end users who inherit licenses but can’t see any of the licensing information or access license keys. How do you make sure the handoff is seamless before leaving? If you oversee the Atlassian licenses in my.atlassian.com, change the technical contact to the new employee information, or transition to another colleague who can retain access in the meantime. This will ensure continuity and give your organization a change management process for your licenses.

Co-term your end dates

Co-terming your license end dates can save you time during procurement cycles and allow you to plan for and estimate your annual licensing budget. If you have a variety of end dates it is best to co-term everything at once, allowing some licenses to be renewed for less than 12 months. Any new license purchased throughout the year can be co-termed (as long as the term is for 12 months or more). If this requirement makes the order too expensive, you can purchase your license for 12 months and realign to the co-term date on your annual renewal.

Co-terming is only possible for on-premise licenses (server and data center). Atlassian’s cloud licensing automatically “co-terms” the licenses on each cloud site to the same end date. However, at this time, if you have multiple cloud sites or Atlassian Access, they will have different end dates.

License Management doesn't have to be stressful: Praecipio Consulting's extensive experience can help you better navigate and manage your licensing landscape. Contact us, we'd love to discuss your options.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices tips licensing
3 min read

Jira Service Management Request Types Best Practices

By Morgan Folsom on May 10, 2021 3:10:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Service Management Request TypesSince 2013, Jira Service Management has been Atlassian's solution to IT Service Management for both internal and external customers alike; more than 8 years of continual development has led to countless examples of how JSM has delivered value to its users. In this 2014 video, we can see how Puppet Labs used Atlassian's Jira Service Desk, now Jira Service Management, to resolve tickets 67% faster. Take it from Atlassian's ITSM Partner of the Year three years running, we love how JSM supports your IT governance strategy. However, when defining a service desk for your organization, one of the most important decisions that you'll make is around how you define your Request Types.

What are Request Types 

In Jira Service Management, the request type defines exactly what the customer sees and how the ticket moves and is displayed after it's been submitted. 

Request types allow you to map a single issue type to different kinds of requests. For example, you may have issue types like Incidents and Service Requests. That's how your IT team understand incoming requests and they have the benefit of being able to span multiple contexts. However, as an end-user, when I'm coming to the portal I'm not thinking in ITIL terms. I'm likely thinking more along the lines of "I can't login" or "I need a new computer." 

Request types allow you to represent both sides of the equation - the foundation of your portal are the issue types, but request types let you customize how they appear to customers in the portal. So, let's see what exactly we can do with request types.

What can I do with request types

  • Map a single issue type to many different request types: If there are multiple requests that follow the same workflow, you can utilize a single workflow across as many forms as you'd like!
  • Group requests: You may have multiple requests that can be logically grouped together, like Software and Hardware.
  • Change field display names: Even thought they're filling out the Summary field, on a request you may want it to say "What problem are you experiencing?" or "How can we help."
  • Show specific Jira fields: While an agent may need to see and edit fields like Team or Priority, you probably don't want your customer to see those on Create.
  • Preset fields: If certain request types have some constant information, you can preset fields without needing to modify the workflow or use any automation.
  • Customize how workflow statuses are displayed: If you don't need your customer to know that an issue is being escalated to Tier 2 or Tier 3, you can mask those statuses so all the customer sees is that the issue is "In Progress" and they won't receive notifications as it moves through that internal workflow. 

With that in mind, there are some best practices to keep in mind. 

Request type best practices

  • Think about the customer experience! Why are they coming to the portal?
  • Don't necessarily break request types or groups down by IT org structure. While this could be useful, there are lots of ways to route request types to the right place without having it affect the customer view.
  • Use hidden fields on your requests to simplify the experience - if you know a system wide outage is always urgent, don't make the user complete that field!
  • Use hidden components or Team custom fields to route to the appropriate queues. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we have the experts that can help you implement ITSM best practices across your entire organization.  Contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: jira blog best-practices tips request jira-service-management
2 min read

Test Driven Development

By Lauren Schroeder on Apr 28, 2021 11:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Test Driven DevelopmentWhen we're in the process of creating a product, we want to see the end result. We have a vision of what the product will look like and how we want to get there, so it's tempting to try to get the product running as quickly as possible. However, if and when the product breaks or needs to be updated, we are going to be responsible for fixing it. With that in mind, we look toward Test Driven Development (TDD)

Nobody likes folding laundry. It takes time, and not everyone appreciates the results (at least not initially). The next morning is a different story: When you wake up to a crisp stack of folded shirts, choosing an outfit is easy - there's no rummaging through a laundry bin and you know exactly what's ready to wear. Sometimes, an initial time investment such as folding laundry, can help us out in the future.

Testing the Feature

We could test manually, going through our list of features and testing each feature to make sure the product is operating as intended. Or, we might write automated tests once the product is finished. But like rummaging through a laundry bin, working through this retroactively can be complicated and we may miss important information.

Many developers use TDD to prevent dealing with this "laundry". Instead of writing tests during the QA phase of development, developers write automated tests before anything else. Imagine a developer adding a new feature to software that allows the user to change the color of the background. The developer first writes an automated test to check whether the background color is changed once a button is clicked. The test may initially fail. They would then add the functional code and use the automated test to make sure the feature works.

Why would a developer want to spend extra time writing tests before building a product?

First of all, TDD keeps development simple and goal-focused. Features are added only when they can pass a specific test. This means that the developer has to make sure that each feature is necessary and the objective of that feature is clear. With no objective, it's impossible to write a test to pass your objective.

The TDD time investment leads to time savings in the future. Although it takes more time to include automated tests in the initial development of a product, there is potential for time savings in the future. When a product breaks, it's clear which part of the code is causing the failure. This means that QA may go more smoothly as bugs or product upgrades arise.

Test Driven Development-1Conventional development vs. Test Driven Development. Using TDD requires an initial time investment but can lead to time savings long-term.

Of course, TDD processes aren't the best for every team. When there are too many possible test cases (often seen in GUI development) it can become impossible to write tests for every functional situation. Like any set of processes a team uses, think about what makes sense for your situation. Does the product have finite requirements? Has QA testing used eaten away hours of time due to buried bugs? Making an early time investment can keep things orderly. Even if your sock drawer is destined to be a mess, think about how you're building your products.

Want to learn more about testing? Check out Could Testing Be the Missing Link for Effective Agile Transformation.

Topics: blog best-practices plan testing development agile
2 min read

Jira Tips: Create From Template vs. Create From Shared Configuration

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 9, 2021 11:26:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Create from template vs. Create from shared configuration (1)

There are a variety of ways to create projects in Jira – whether from a predefined template from Atlassian or from a shared configuration with an existing project. As Jira administrators, this is one of the first questions you'll be faced with when onboarding new teams to the instance. Let's walk through the different strategies, and why we prefer creating from shared configuration. 

Creating from a template

Creating from the Atlassian templates will create a new set of unique schemes to that project - new items in your instance that are not shared with any other project. To create from a template, simply select one of Atlassian's predefined models on the 'Create Project' page. 

The benefit of using these templates is that each of your projects are self-contained, and a model has already been put together by Atlassian. Configuration is not shared with any other projects, even if everything is exactly the same. This means that teams can adjust their workflows, screens, etc. without affecting anyone else. This can be good for teams who don't share any processes with other teams using Jira, and allows project administrators more control over their projects. 

However, for organizations that are looking to scale and/or standardize, this can be a huge headache.

Creating from shared configuration

Using a shared configuration means that you are reusing existing and established configuration items in your instance. Rather than creating new sets of schemes when a project is created, you create based on another project. For example, if you created from shared configuration, both the old and new projects will use the same workflows, screens, and field configurations. Note that they won't share any Jira Service Management specific configuration items, like request types or queues. 

Additionally, once a project shares a configuration with another project, Project administrators can no longer edit the workflows without being Jira admins, which has the added benefit of supporting the goal of standardization and scalability in addition to administrative governance.

There are pros and cons to each of the above, but ultimately, it is recommended that whenever possible, projects should be created from Shared Configuration.

While templates allow teams to have more control over their projects, it does not lend itself to standardization or maintaining a clean Jira instance. Although IT teams often request more options for teams to self-service with Jira project configuration, in the interest of scalability, allowing any user to create their own Jira projects is not a best practice. Jira projects should not be treated as "projects", spun up or spun down on a regular basis: as a best practice projects should be long-lasting and consistent. Additionally, from an administrative perspective, it can be challenging to manage the sheer number of schemes and additional items when trying to troubleshoot issues or maintain the instance.

Looking for expert help with your Jira instance? Contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: jira atlassian blog administrator best-practices tips
2 min read

Should Stories & Bugs Follow Different Workflows?

By Joseph Lane on Mar 31, 2021 10:07:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Should stories and bugs follow different workflows-The short answer: Not really. Stories and bugs are both software development items by different names. As such, the vast majority of activities and controls that we model for a story are applicable to bugs. The key distinction between stories and bugs often comes down to data. Bugs should include Affects Version/sSteps to Recreate, Expected Behavior, and Actual Behavior. How and when we require this data relies on what practices we're observing.

For teams using Kanban practices where there is a Backlog status and a Ready for Development status, the transition to Ready for Development can be used to capture required data based on issue type. In this simple case, we would have two transitions from Backlog, Ready for Dev and Ready for Dev - Bug. For each transition, include a transition-specific screen to capture the appropriate fields.  Example: SDLC Ready for Dev - Bug Transition Screen will include: Affects Version/sSteps to Recreate, Expected Behavior, and Actual Behavior in addition to any other fields needed in both cases. Then, leveraging your workflow conditions allow the Bug issue type to only use the Ready for Dev - Bug transition. All other issue types can default to the Ready for Development transition by explicitly checking that the current issue type is not a bug.

The considerations above work well in workflow cases where you have gated controls as a function of status change. This might apply to teams that include requirements definitions and design efforts within the story or bug life cycle (as might be the case with Waterfall). Additionally, this logical approach allows for workflow reuse which in turn decreases administrative burden and increases process consistency.

Scrum teams view Ready for Development a bit differently. Good Scrum practices dictate that product owners will refine their backlog as items are prioritized upward. Refinement provides all functional details necessary for the scrum team to be able to work the ticket including validation of bug reports and associated details. Once prioritized, the development team will review stories and bugs at the top of the backlog to make sure they understand the requirements. The work is considered Ready for Development at the moment it is accepted in to a sprint.

I hope this explanation helps you avoid unnecessary workflows!

Topics: blog best-practices bugs kanban scrum workflows software-development coding
2 min read

The Impact Installing Apps Can Have on an Atlassian Application

By Chris Hofbauer on Mar 30, 2021 1:30:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_The impact of apps on an Atlassian applicationPerformance and uptime are crucial when hosting any application. For the Atlassian suite, the use of apps can have a major impact on these hosting aspects. There are many third-party developers as well as Atlassian developed apps that are available to be installed within the Atlassian tech stack. Depending on the app installed, each of these apps will have its own impact on the application and its health. Many apps that may be installed are considered lightweight and the impact would be very minimal; however, there are apps that are resource intensive and can cause significant impact of application performance. The apps that tend to cause the largest impact on application performance are those that allow customization of scripts and manipulation of data within those scripts, especially if these scripts are capable of running on a particular cadence or during certain issue functions. Other app types that are frequently found as the culprit for performance issues are those that return long running database queries. Common impacts from these resource intensive types of apps are high CPU usage and high memory usage. When either of these metrics begin to rise, the server is forced to work harder in order to operate the application, which then can cause the application to face performance degradation, manifested in slow page loads, timeouts, or outages. 

There are best practices you can implement in order to prevent your apps from having an impact on your application's performance. It is highly recommended that you install apps that are supported and developed by a trusted developer. Be sure to also read any documentation and truly understand what the app does before installing. It is extremely important that the apps are always up-to-date as well: apps may have bug fixes in releases that are ahead of yours, and even though you may not be currently facing any issues with your release, it is best to be sure you are on the latest version so that you can prevent any issues that may already be known by the developers. We also recommend that you thoroughly test any app you are considering installing within a non-production environment. Running User Acceptance Testing in a lower environment will allow you to capture any performance issues that may come from the app. Following this approach will strengthen your instance and help prevent any potential impacts your apps can have on your Atlassian applications.

If you run into any trouble with your Atlassian apps, let us know, we'd love to help you make the best of your tools.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hosting marketplace-apps
3 min read

Three Things No One Tells You About Custom Fields in Jira

By Mary Roper on Mar 4, 2021 12:19:10 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Three Things No One Tells You About Custom FieldsCustom fields can be an over-looked configuration point in Jira, and it's easy to see why: they're easy to create, modify, and make available for your users. Although Jira ships with several system fields, it's inevitable that teams using Jira will reach a point where they require additional fields to input specific information into their issues. But in order to maintain Jira's performance as well as instance hygiene, it's important that Administrators take great care when it comes to custom field creation. That's why today we're sharing with you a few custom field insights we've gleaned over the years. Read on to learn three things no one tells you about custom fields. 

1. Technically, there is no limit to the number of custom fields you can have. BUT...

Custom fields do impact system performance in Jira. Below are some recent results breaking down each configuration item's impact on Jira. Here, we can see that custom fields have an impact on the speed of running a large instance. Your teams may feel this impact in the load time of issue screens. As an admin, one indication can be having a long page of custom fields to scroll through. Additionally, this is often accompanied by longer than usual load time for the custom field Administration page. 

Response Times for Jira Data Sets

To combat this, Jira Administrators should partner with the requestor and other impacted users to determine some guidelines for creating custom fields. For instance, requiring the requestor to submit an example of how they plan to report on the custom field or having the Administrator ensure the custom field can be used in the majority of projects (>=80%). Execution is crucial here: once the guidelines are aligned with management and stakeholders, it's crucial they are followed to prevent your custom field list from unnecessarily growing.

2. There are native alternatives to custom fields.

There are a few usual suspects to look for when reviewing custom fields. Duplicate custom fields ("Additional Comments" as a supplement to the "Comments" system field), variations of custom fields ("Vendor" vs "Vendors"), and department specific custom fields ("Company ABC" vs "Vendor") are a few custom fields that can needlessly drive up your custom field count. To prevent this from happening, Admins can offer their business partners alternative suggestions to creating a custom field by looking at the following:

  1. Utilize an existing custom field that may be more general, but is fit for the purpose to get the most out of what is already in place.
  2. Rather than implementing a custom field, Labels or Components can be used to help organize issues and categorize them for future reporting.
  3. Apply a custom field context to help maximize the potential for picker, select, checkbox, and radio button custom field types. Adding field context enables Administrators to pair different custom field select options or their default values to specific projects or issue types within the same project.

3. You can proactively manage custom fields.

Rather than waiting for custom fields to pile on and create a lag on the instance speed time, proactively scheduling time to scrub your instance for stale custom fields will help Administrators keep on top of their custom field list. This can be a visual check to understand what fields aren't associated to a screen- those are good candidates for removal- or if there are similarly named fields- those can be good candidates for consolidation. More information from Atlassian on how to identify and clean up these fields can be found here.

Ultimately, a well-maintained Jira instance includes a good understanding of custom fields and their overall impact on the system. As your instance grows overtime, the guidelines around custom field development will become all the more important. Bringing these tips to life will help your instance run at top speeds for your users. 

Need help making the best out of your Jira instance? Our experts know Jira inside-out: contact us and we'll get in touch!

Topics: jira blog best-practices optimization standardize configuration bespoke health-check
2 min read

Jira Administration: Sys Admin vs Jira Admin vs Project Admin

By Luis Machado on Mar 2, 2021 7:35:43 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Administration- Sys Admin vs. Jira Admin vs. Project Admin2When thinking about Jira administration, or really administration of any software, project, or endeavor, the old idiom “too many cooks in the kitchen” often comes to mind. There’s a fine line between empowering your user base and setting the stage for mass hysteria and confusion within your instance. Fortunately Jira offers some out-of-the-box options to help with setting up boundaries for those users who need more control over the instance but keep them from wreaking too much havoc.

Admins

We’ll start with the bottom, Project Admins. There was a time in ancient Atlasssian historical records when those who were managing projects almost had to be System Admins as well. This was because the permissions needed to make necessary regular changes to the projects these individuals were maintaining required as such. Atlasssian has been improving upon this incrementally as of Jira 7. Since that update it is possible for Project Admins to add Components and Versions to their projects and even as of 7.3, expanded with 7.4, make adjustments to the workflow among other things. So if you’re evaluating your System Admin group and discover that many of the individuals are really only responsible for maintaining specific projects it would behoove you to re-assign those you can to the Project Admin role within the projects they are responsible and get them out of your kitchen.

The next level of administration is the Jira Administrator. Now this is where things can maybe become a bit confusing because the powers granted to that of the Jira Administrator are very similar to that of the System Administrator, but there is a very key distinction which we’ll explore. Those within the Jira Administrators group are not able to make changes related to the server environment or network. This would prevent them from making changes to things such as configuring mail server settings, export/import data to and from XML, configure user directories, as well as many more functions related to the system as a whole. Where this could be useful is delegating out some of the more regular tasks such as creating new projects, creating users, etc. This gives larger organizations a way to separate out the tasks without increasing the risk of potential hazardous changes to the application.

After having covered the last two, the final role should be somewhat obvious. The System Administrator permission is for the Grand Poobah of the Royal Order of Buffalos. This role allows unlimited access to all aspects of the Jira instance. It is recommended that only 1 - 3 people maintain this permission as needed. Again, the idea is to ensure that there is concise and regulated changes being made to the instance as well as accountability. With great power comes great responsibility. When in doubt, opt for the lesser of two evils when granting administrative permissions. You can always bump them up If it’s not serving your needs. Again, the goal is to empower your user base, not have them overpower you.

For question on admins, or anything else Jira, contact us, and one of our Jira experts will get in touch.

Topics: jira atlassian blog administrator best-practices
4 min read

How to Handle Delete Permissions in Jira

By Courtney Pool on Feb 16, 2021 11:47:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why you should restrict who can delete issues in JiraPermissions are one of the most important things to “get right” in Jira. Sure, having the right fields, screens, and workflows are all vital pieces of the puzzle as well, but they can easily be tweaked along the way. While permissions can also be updated as needed, a user who can’t see or edit the issues they need may have their work completely blocked in the meantime.

And then there is the group of permissions so important, so crucial, so absolutely imperative to get right that they earned a blog dedicated solely to them: the delete permissions.

“Well, of course,” you may be thinking, “everybody knows that.” But even if it may seem like common sense to you, it can easily slip through the cracks — it’s happened to others before, and let me tell you, it doesn’t always end well.

You see, delete permissions are so incredibly critical for one reason:

There is no recycling bin in out-of-the-box Jira.

This means that if something is deleted, whether through intent, accident, or malice, it’s gone. Poof. And while the loss of one item may be easy to recover from, the loss of tens, hundreds, or even thousands? Even I can feel the sweat dripping down your spine now.

So, to summarize: Delete permissions? Very important.

Types of Delete Permissions

Amongst these permissions are four groups:

  • Delete Worklogs
  • Delete Comments
  • Delete Attachments
  • Delete Issues

And two types:

  • Delete Own
  • Delete All

Delete Own Permissions

The Delete Own permissions, as the name implies, will allow a user to delete content tied to their specific user account. These permission types exist for the majority of the above-mentioned groups, with the exception of Issues.

Delete Own Worklogs applies to any time that's been tracked to an issue, whether through Jira's native feature or through an app like Tempo Timesheets. As such, it is a fairly innocuous permission and can be assigned to any user with access to a project, unless you have very strict requirements otherwise. It will likely primarily be used for clean-up, and the ripples it can cause are fairly limited.

Delete Own Comments is also often used for clean-up, and again, its area of effect is a bit smaller. However, just because a comment is deleted doesn’t mean that people haven’t already seen it, or even acted upon it. It may be better to instead point users in the direction of comment editing, or have them enter new comments entirely, even if it’s just to say, “Disregard the last.”

Delete Own Attachments is another permission that can be used for tidying. This might be useful were someone to, say, accidentally upload an adorable picture of their dog rather than the spreadsheet they were looking for. It's fairly low impact as well and can likely be given out to any users within your project, especially if you're following the Backup Rule of 3 or similar internally.

Delete All Permissions

Each of the Delete Own permissions has a Delete All counterpart. Delete Issues exists here as well, though the naming convention differs from the other four. Delete All permissions give a user access to delete items associated with any user account. As such, we generally recommend these permissions are limited to only certain groups, such as Project or System Admins.

Delete All Worklogs, Delete All Comments, and Delete All Attachments can each only be performed in a single issue at a time. This barrier helps to protect against mass deletion, but in the interest of data integrity, you’ll still want to restrict who is allowed to perform these actions.

And as for Delete Issues? This will also give a user the ability to delete from within a single issue, but unlike the three mentioned above, this permission gives a user access to Bulk Change as well, which allows actions to be taken across multiple issues at once. As such, ask yourself if you even need to grant this permission at all. Sure, there could feasibly be a time when you need to mass delete issues, but it’s likely to occur so rarely that, should those stars align, the permission can be assigned when needed to system admins and then removed as soon as the job is done. This extra step will save you from being the organization that just lost a year’s worth of tickets.

If something is deleted in Jira, it’s gone forever. This can be a nightmare for many, but especially those in organizations with heavy audit requirements. Rather than leaving yourself open to a very unpleasant surprise, do your team a favor and review your permissions now.

Stop worrying about Jira and make full use of its powerful features!  We can help you implement and optimize your Jira instance, contact us, and one of our experts will be in touch shortly.

Topics: jira atlassian blog best-practices tips configuration verify bespoke
3 min read

Tips for maintaining a Jira instance

By Chris Hofbauer on Feb 11, 2021 12:07:37 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Tips for maintaining a Jira instanceAtlassian's Jira is a powerful tool to promote best practices of internal processes and provide efficiency to development teams within your organization. The powerful nature of the tool is not only with the features offered by Atlassian but with a vast variety of options at your disposal to customize the instance. These customizations can come from the native features and options available as well as the apps brought to you via the Atlassian Marketplace. While these can all be great in building your Jira instance to get the most out of it, they can also have the potential to be detrimental to the health of the instance and negatively affect your organization's teams. 

Marketplace apps

Following best practices when configuring your instance as well as proper control over the integrations added to your instance is critical. If not properly managed you can experience system issues resulting in downtime due to a number of reasons but most commonly high memory or CPU. While installing apps through the marketplace may seem trivial and rather safe, keep in mind that each install of these apps does modify the database and can also be creating items such as custom fields in your instance. Make sure to properly vet all apps, check the reviews in the marketplace for any reports of impact to the instance. Also, review any documentation for the app to see how the application integrates with your instance. Most importantly it's highly recommended to install any apps in a lower environment (Dev or QA) before installing it in production. Thoroughly testing all new installs will give you the best idea of how the application will impact your instance once installed into production. 

Configuration

In addition to the configuration items created by apps are the ones created manually. Being mindful when adding items such as custom fields, statuses, workflows, etc. can save headaches long-term. It's important to reuse configuration items wherever possible. Having numerous, similar or duplicate, custom fields and statuses will create an administrative burden. Having a large number of these items will also have an impact on exporting issues and projects as well as for instance performance when loading reports, project boards, and dashboards. 

User Management

Proper user management will help to keep licensing costs to a minimum as well as give better control over access to the instance. Use groups wherever possible in permission schemes, boards, and filters. Provide only Jira administrator access and Service Desk agent licenses to those that need it. All users may not need Service Desk agent licenses and since these are billed separately in the instance, assigning all users to the Service Desk group can incur unnecessary charges going forward. Frequent review of active users is important as well. Based on business rules, users who have not logged in for some time (3 to 6 months) may be able to be made inactive. Frequent review of these types of users will also allow you to keep access to a minimum, save licensing counts, and in turn reduce user tier costs.

Stale Data

Review stale or old data is critical in maintaining a Jira instance as well. Instances will begin to grow over time and as your organization and teams grow, so will the ticket count in your instance. The larger the instance size, the high likelihood for performance degradation and instance issues. Analyzing your instance for stale old data is a key step in maintaining a healthy instance. For stale data, take a look at any unresolved tickets as well as any older tickets that have no resolution or that are not in a "Closed" status. You will also want to review any projects that have not had a ticket created in them for a long period of time (we generally recommend 3 to 6 months). After thorough analysis, you will want to close any stale tickets and archive any projects that are deemed to no longer be in use. 

Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services

Praecipio Consulting offers guidance and services to help maintain your Jira instance and provide you with industry best practices. Through years of experience, we at Praecipio have developed a wealth of knowledge in properly configuring and managing Atlassian products that will ensure you get the most out of the product for every use case in your organization. As part of our Managed Services offering, we deploy our proprietary Health Checks. These Health Checks include a thorough review of various aspects of maintaining your instance. Praecipio's Health Checks are split into two main categories: Infrastructure and Process; and include topics such as Licensing, Database Health, Security Vulnerabilities, User Management, Upgrade Readiness, Performance, Process Consolidation, Stale Data, apps/App and Workflows. With these Health Checks and working with Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services, your instance will be in an optimal state for growth and longevity.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices managed-services optimization health-check
3 min read

Individuals and Interactions Over Tools Doesn't Mean No Tools

By Morgan Folsom 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 blog best-practices tools atlassian-products agile
3 min read

Tips for archiving your Confluence spaces

By Luis Machado on Oct 23, 2020 12:15:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Archiving Confluence spaces

Projects come and go, and sometimes what we once thought was a great idea may no longer be relevant or you've evolved your thought process. Since we're all undoubtedly great at documentation, chances are every one of your projects or endeavors has been noted or tracked in some fashion. Confluence, of course, is a great tool to do this with, especially if you organize your project all within the same space. But what do you do with that documentation when it's time to hang up the towel?

Usually, some record of your success or failure must be kept for posterity or perhaps, compliance. Whatever your motivations, archiving is important and Confluence allows us an easy way to do this natively. In this post, we'll focus on the native feature to archive spaces and also share some apps that could help you to organize archived content at the page level.

There are several reasons you might want to archive content in your Confluence instance, and it all depends on the life cycle of your projects or groups. To give an example, I worked for a game publisher for many years, and we would archive spaces after sunsetting (a term used to shut down a game product) one of our games. The major advantage to archiving is the content is still available in Confluence for reference purposes but won't show up in any page searches you perform nor will it appear in the Space Directory. This keeps your daily traffic from being cluttered with content from spaces that are no longer relevant to your business.

So you've reached a point in a project where it's officially time to move on, but the leadership team wants to keep the space for reference since some good ideas came out of the endeavor. Archiving the space seems to be the way to go, but how do you do that? Atlassian has put together a great document that details the steps for archiving in a cloud environment. To briefly summarize the process, you navigate to the portion of the space tools that contains the details and edit them, set the status to archived, and save. Pretty simple.

If at any time after archiving the space there is a request within your organization to review the archived content, you can link to the pages directly, and they will still be accessible. The search functionality within Confluence will automatically allow you to specify if you want to search through archived content in the case that the content available.

Atlassian also gives guidance on how to archive specific pages, which you can accomplish through a combination of manually moving pages and adjusting permissions to achieve similar results for the space archiving functionality. There are also third-party apps available, such as Better Content Archiving for Confluence, which gives you an increased toolset to make the archiving processes a bit less work. I recommend installing any third-party apps you wish to try into a dev or test environment before running on your production instance. One last thing to note, if you end up archiving a space accidentally or perhaps want to revisit an archived project and need the space to be active, you can easily change the archive setting to make the space available again.

If you need help managing your Confluence instance and want to learn how your organization can take full advantage of this tool, get in touch with Praecipio Consulting

Topics: best-practices confluence confluence-archives
4 min read

Jira Data Center on Linux vs Windows

By Yogi Kanakamedala on Oct 14, 2020 12:29:22 PM

Blogpost-display-image

This is a debate as old as the Operating Systems (OS) themselves and a discussion that never seems to end. Being in charge of making the decision between Linux or Windows for your team can be a hard choice. Currently, about 77% of all personal and professional computers around the world run Windows, while only about 1.84% of all computers run a Linux distro. Linux is the current choice of many organizations because of their development machines and servers. JIRA can run on either OS, with only slight differences as to how the software is managed and monitored. Linux offers better ability to write one-off scripts and utilities. It is important to note that Atlassian does developments and testing on Linux systems. Even though windows historically has performance issues compared to Linux, the gap has been reduced in recent years. Potential problems that Windows users face can be getting backups or processing data. Let's dive further into each OS and learn more about them! 

Operating System Overview

Before making any decisions, it is important to know the history, pros, and cons of each OS. 

Linux

LinuxLinux is an open-source, OS created by a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds, in 1991. This free and highly customizable OS is currently the choice of many organizations, large and small, as their development machines' and servers' OS. Most of the different flavors of Linux, called distributions or 'distros,' are built to use fewer hardware resources, making the overall system more efficient. Additionally, Linux is easy to customize and modify to the liking of the user due to the fact that the source code for it is available publicly. 

Because Linux is completely free, there is less traditional "technical support" available with the product. The available support comes in the form of paid support from a third party or from the Linux community through public chat boards and FAQ sites. Not all versions come with long-term support due to a slow rate of change when it comes to OS upgrades. 

With customizability and freedom to modify as needed comes with a steep learning curve. For example, remote access requires command-line knowledge. This is less intuitive than Windows graphical remote access interface. System changes and customization requires complex operation. 

One of the benefits that comes with an open-source OS is security. With many eyes around the world looking at the source code and improving it everyday, less and less attack vectors are found by malicious parties. Another reason for better security is obscurity. Linux, when compared to Windows, has considerably less market share, making Linux systems less of a target for attacks. 

Linux also offers some additional benefits. It is very easy to write custom scripts, users have full control on updates and changes, and lightweight architecture helps with performance.

Windows

windows

Windows is a for-profit product and was first launched by Microsoft in 1985, gaining popularity with the release of Windows 95 in 1995. This propelled Windows into being the leader of OSs around the world. One of the reasons for this popularity boom is the easy to use graphical interface that Windows is known for. Windows is usually the choice for novice and business users, as well as large companies looking for quick responses and dedicated support. As with all proprietary technologies, individual users experience less customization. Additionally, the OS is not going to be as optimized to hardware as Linux. 

When the OS is purchased, Microsoft provides integrated and online help to all customers. Getting personalized help is usually easier with Windows than with Linux. Due to the market share of Windows, almost all software products are designed with Windows in mind. Some Windows programs are simply not available in Linux. It is important to note that even while many third-party products are free, the majority of Microsoft products are only available at a cost. 

Windows was designed with ease of use in mind. Graphical interfaces are available for making most configurations. For example, to access remote servers, Windows offers a graphical remote desktop software. There is no need to be a command-line expert to customize the server. The learning curve for Windows is not as steep as Linux. This is really important for novice users and more proficient users may be frustrated by the lack of fine-tune control over the system or by the oversimplification of system tasks. 

Due to the popularity of Windows, the OS is a large target for malicious parties. Many security vulnerabilities and system instabilities have been reported throughout the years. To be fair, Microsoft has been able to make security improvements in response to the security leaks. Regular system upgrades and security fixes help protect sensitive data. 

So, should I run my Jira Server/Data Center on Linux or Windows?

As with many hard questions: it depends. Windows is more user friendly. The built-in remote desktop access makes it simple to make changes and update JIRA configurations. Linux servers may have a sharper learning curve and feel more demanding, but they perform better. Linux provides more customization options while working with JIRA and better security.

jira

The decision comes down to one main factor- comfort level. Having prior knowledge of Windows or Linux servers will go a long way in helping make the decision and will make working with JIRA easier. How comfortable is the team with each OS? It is also important to consider the style of the rest of the organization, as OS consistency is incredibly important for productivity and collaboration.

If your organization just wants to focus on development and not worry about managing JIRA, Praecipio Consulting can offer expert support services with our Atlassian Platinum Enterprise expertise and process focus. 

 

Topics: jira best-practices linux windows server
2 min read

How to Know If Your Organization Is Ready to Scale Agile: Tips & Best Practices

By Amanda Babb on Sep 28, 2020 12:15:00 PM

How to know if your organization is ready to scale Agile

Are You Ready to Scale Agile? 

You are an Agile evangelist. You have championed the shift to Agile at your organization and have coached several teams successfully. Your organization is delivering quality product faster to your internal and external customers. But there's still a struggle to coordinate across different parts of the organization. And you get pulled into meeting after meeting to coordinate across teams. As a result, your most successful teams are expressing frustration with each other and, and now, quality has slipped. Something has to change. 

You've heard about scaling Agile. You may even have an idea of some of the well-known frameworks, such as SAFe, LeSS, Scrum@Scale, etc. But are you ready? Is your organization ready to scale Agile? 

Organizational Readiness

While this is not an exhaustive list, ask yourself and your organization these questions to assess your readiness to scale Agile. 

  • Which framework is best for your organization?
  • Do you have management and executive buy-in? 
  • Do you have funding for external training and certification?
  • Can you group teams together to support strategic initiatives?
  • Can you identify your change agents and champions?
  • Can you identify a set of teams to pilot the change?
  • How much time are you willing to commit to the change?
  • How much time do you have to commit to the change? 
  • How much time are you willing to commit to continuous learning? 

Iterate Your Framework Implementation

Just like the scaled Agile frameworks themselves, you approach their implementation iteratively. One of our clients chose and implemented SAFe for a single program and scaled iteratively. They started with one Agile Release Train and in three years scaled to four Agile Release Trains with the intention to launch an additional train before the end of the year. They also reorganized the Trains once they realized they were no longer organized around value and instead were structured in a traditional resource-management way. 

The implementation of SAFe within this client's organization, while it had a specific start date, was implemented iteratively and over time. It also took the backing of management and executives and a devoted set of change agents willing to take the steps for scale.

We here at Praecipio Consulting have assisted our clients in their journeys to scale Agile. Let us know how we can help you take your first step. 

Topics: blog scaled-agile best-practices tips safe agile
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. The same goes for next-gen projects. While there are many benefits, there are disadvantages as well. How do you manage cross-team dependencies? Are you willing to span multiple projects for status updates? Do you trust your teams to make the most out of the functionality? Are there long-term scaling opportunities you need to consider, such as integrations, or other products, such as Advanced Roadmaps, for Jira or Jira Align? If you'd like to know more about next-gen versus classic Jira Software projects, Praecipio Consulting has extensive experience managing and assisting clients with these questions and more. 

 

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

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

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

2020 Blogposts_What is Enterprise Service Management

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

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

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

Consider this excerpt from Porter’s article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confluence: Ultimate Documentation Tool

By Nicholas Redwine on Jun 16, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Confluence as the Ultimate Technical Documentation Tool

Where do most of us go when we want to find answers to work-related questions? Like, "How to set-up a PC" or "where to find the best supplies for your workspace"? 

Below are some of the common ways we find answers at Praecipio Consulting when things get "too technical" or our expertise is limited. We want to ensure we're getting the correct information that will draw us closer to the solution:

  1. Ask an experienced co-worker/direct superior
  2. Web Search (Google or Wiki)
  3. App Store (There is an app for everything right?)
  4. Books (If applicable - we're no strangers to "Topic X for Dummies")
  5. Internal Documentation

No matter what route you go, Confluence can bring all of the information that you find into one centralized landing spot with templates, articles, blogs, company intranet spaces, and many more helpful tidbits that connect you to your most mission-critical Atlassian applications.

Providing external access to specific Confluence spaces can also assist in answering any technical questions the client may have. By creating a knowledge base in Confluence, we can give people's time back by reducing the number of calls and emails, which create noise and distract from primary work functions. Instead of having to set up a call or go back and forth over email, having a knowledge base allows you to provide a self-service resource for the client to look up information on their own time. 

Not only can the knowledge base help with organizing technical information, but it also allows your team to work more efficiently, leading to shorter response times and improved Service Level Agreements with clients and external users. With JIRA being the baseline of projects, software development, and ticketing, Confluence comes heavily integrated along with other supporting applications to serve as the ultimate documentation hub. 

For a more detailed Webinar around Confluence essentials, check out Confluence Fundamentals, and check out this post to learn about our tips for what NOT to do when setting up your Confluence Knowledge Base. 

Topics: best-practices confluence knowledge-base
2 min read

Why Now Is a Perfect Time to Start Daily Stand-up Meetings

By Michael Knight on May 1, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_DistanceLearningAndAtlassian copy

Many software development teams have done well with the stay-at-home orders since they are accustomed to the work-from-home lifestyle. One factor for their success with remote work–both before and during the shelter-in-place–is the daily stand-up meeting, which forms part of the Agile movement in software development, primarily because development work is invisible and hard to understand.

What is a stand-up meeting?

As many employees have moved to remote work over the past few weeks, work-related information has become less visible and harder to understand since people are used to quickly hashing things out in-person at the office. But that's where the daily stand-up meeting can help.

A daily stand-up meeting is typically a 15-minute daily meeting, usually held mid-morning, in which all members of a team come together to discuss what they’re working on, preferably while standing up (this helps promote the 15-minute limit!). Each team member can follow this simple script to give their team members an update: 

  1. What they worked on yesterday
  2. What they’re working on today
  3. What, if any, problems they’re facing

This daily check-in helps the team stay on track, avoid any rework or duplicated work, and tackle problems quicker. The idea with this script is not to outline every single thing you've worked on but instead provide a high-level overview to ensure that the team's focus is in sync and that everyone is aligned with the team's objectives.

How to run a productive stand-up meeting

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind for leading a successful stand-up meeting:

  • Follow the work being discussed on a Kanban board or a similar variant. Visualizing the work item gives context about what it is, who it’s assigned to, and current workflow status. 
  • Limit all side conversations to roughly 30 seconds to allow everyone a chance to get through high-level communications.
  • Make sure to follow up after the stand-up with questions or conversations sparked by information in the stand-up.
  • Take the 15-minute time limit seriously. Actually standing up during the meeting tends to help with this.
  • Hold the meeting every day, regardless of whether you think there are many updates to give or not. This helps the meeting become routine, improves the quality of the updates, and keeps the team in sync.

And the final benefit? Standing! Chances are we’re all sitting down a little bit more than we need to be at the moment – meaning this is a great time to embrace the spirit of stand-ups!

If you in need of more resources on how to help your teams with remote work, here are some great WFH tips. You can also tune in to our upcoming webinar on to leverage tools like Jira, Confluence, and EazyBI to keep your teams connected and productive when working from home. 

Topics: blog best-practices teams community culture agile
3 min read

How to Solve Too Many Confluence Email Notifications

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

confluene email notifications

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

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

Watching a Space

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

To identify which spaces you are watching:

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

Watching a Page

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended/Daily Updates

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

If you're not interested in receiving these updates:

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

Notify on My Actions

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

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

Uncheck Notify Watchers

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

 

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

 

 

Topics: blog best-practices confluence tips email-notifications
4 min read

Jira: Your Path to Digital Transformation

By Brian Nye on Mar 2, 2020 2:00:00 PM

JiraYourPathtoDigitalTransformation-1

We're all Going Digital

No matter the industry or product, digital transformations are happening all around us. Gone are the days where a product is just a product. It's now a mechanism that gives us analytics and prepares us to launch the next best thing. Everything we touch has some digital aspect to it, and companies that never planned on competing in the digital arena are needing to catch up to the standards of today's landscape. 

I'm sure that many of you who have been in business for more than 10 years, working in sectors that seemed to have no digital relevance, but now are investing for a digitized future, whether it's through:

  • Augmented reality to see how a product would look on you
  • Drones delivering packages from purchases made by a scan of your face.

The digital age is firing up, and the question is, are you STILL using a spreadsheet to manage your business? 

Running a Business Like it's 1999

I loved a powerful formula and a well-crafted spreadsheet. Everyone has that one colleague who is a macro wizard at pulling together all the data and using it to plan the future of your products (that was once my job).

Think about running a multi-million dollar business from a spreadsheet that: 

  • Is locked for editing
  • Is never up-to-date
  • Is passed around in several emails
  • No one has the same version of

Some of you don't have to imagine; it's your reality. More than once, production slips, and you've missed hitting your target shipments because the business didn't have the most up-to-date information. 

I have personally seen this over and over again during my five-year tenure at Praecipio Consulting, and it comes down to two issues: 

  1. The business is stuck doing things the old way. 
  2. The tools are just as old as the processes they are supporting. 

And on top of all that, there's an overall demand and expectation to be more innovative than ever. Naturally, we start to silo the business into segments so the "core business" can keep marching to the same tired beat while the digital team is building a platform that's state-of-the-art. 

How do we close the expanding gap between a growing machine and a time machine? 

How can we plan for when Ralph is out, and no one can get to the spreadsheet with the latest numbers?

Digital Transformation Doesn't Happen on a Spreadsheet 

To transform, you have to make significant changes. The tried and true spreadsheet can't keep up with the on-demand visibility needed in the digital environment. Granted, it's a useful tool and has a place in business, but it shouldn't be the source of truth for guiding your business down the path of digital transformation.

The same applies to using email as a tool to operate your business and for project management. Not only can managing hundreds of incoming emails be counterproductive, but email is not a platform built for collaboration, nor can it provide the visibility needed to compete in the digital landscape. 

Jira, on the other hand, is designed to handle this task for the business. Gone are the days when Jira is just a "developers tool." It's now being used as the primary source of understanding in all facets of business and helping leaders make real-time decisions about what comes next on their product and operations journey.

Most development teams are already using Jira to plan, track, and report on the requirements determined by the business. However, the business side of an organization is hesitant to adopt the same tool as the development teams. Centralizing all the data and processes across all aspects of your business using the Jira platform  can help your teams better understand where your business is going and, better yet, why it is where it is. 

I can't count the number of times when I've heard of innovative teams needing to pull data out of reports and update an outdated spreadsheet because there is a perception that the business finds Jira too hard to use or reference. 

Becoming a Digital Transformation(ist)

Business leaders, it's time to step up and utilize a toolset that bridges the gap between where you are and where it's all going. If you have an OKR around digital transformation and you're still using a spreadsheet to plan when you have Jira in your business, you are 0% complete on that objective. 

The good news is that you can change your business, and Jira isn't hard to learn; you just need some guidance on the transformation. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we have helped hundreds of clients, big and small, build business processes in Jira to support their needs and become a digital transformation(ist). The first step is understanding you have a spreadsheet problem, and once you own that, we can help you build a better business. 

 

Topics: jira best-practices digital-transformation atlassian-products
4 min read

Importance of Jira Resolutions

By Brian Nye on Jan 28, 2020 1:30:00 PM

One of the most frequent questions we get asked when on a project is, "Why do I need 'Resolutions', can't we just use statuses?" The short answer is "No" and it's because they are not the same thing. I know that you all would be terribly disappointed if I just stopped here so I'm going to outline a few reasons why it's an important field and share some best practices. 

Why Do I Need the "Resolution" Field?

The Resolution field provides a few important functions to issues in Jira:

  1. When it's set, the issue key will be displayed as a strikethrough (KEY-556), which is extremely helpful when looking at linked issues in the issue navigator or other areas where the Resolution field is not displayed. 
  2. It's the field that Jira uses for the "Created vs. Resolved" report. 
  3. It's what the 'system filters' and 'gadgets' use to determine if the issue is resolved, not the statuses. 
  4. Lastly, it's the field that sets the "Resolution Date", which is a great way to know when something was completed.

For these reasons, you are doing a disservice to your organization by not using the Resolution field. Next I'm going to talk about some common mistakes that people make and how to correct them. 

Common Mistake 1: The Issue's Status is the Same Thing

While you may have created a status that reflects the same intent of the Resolution field, it's not considered to be best practice. Think about having to search every status to determine all the issues that were closed. It would be tragic if you were to forget one of them and it would be difficult to standardize around them as Jira Admins can add statuses as they see fit. Not to mention, issue statuses do not have an out-of-the-box way of knowing when something enters into that status. In reality, it's much easier to think of the lifecycle of the issue when it comes to issue statuses. If the issue is at the end of it's lifecycle, choose a status name that reflects that no more work is going to be done (I have a preference for the word "Closed" as it's neutral in meaning and conveys we're not going to be doing anything more to the issue). The Resolution field can then be used to differentiate why the issue is closed. This gives the resolution a purpose and helps people use the resolution correctly, giving the benefits described above.

Common Mistake 2: I Don't Want to Enter a Resolution

A conversation that starts like this is usually because the client doesn't care about defining the reason why an issue is closed, or they have a bunch of resolutions in the system because of poor decisions made by Jira Admins. There is one main question that needs to be asked to decide what needs to be done - "Do you always want the resolution to be the same when transitioning to this status?" If the answer is "yes", use a post function to set the Resolution to a single resolution. This will achieve the goal of setting the resolution without asking the user. If the answer is "no", then you may want to limit the available resolutions to the user. You can do one of two things:

  1. Delete some of the resolutions in the system. 
  2. Limit the options available on the transition by using a workflow property. 

If you decide to delete resolutions, you will be changing data for issues that have that resolution. This means you are impacting the Jira instance and may want to warn everyone before making the change. Jira won't allow you to make the change without giving a new value for the issues impacted by deleting the resolution. However, if you decide to use the workflow property, understand that this is on a workflow-by-workflow basis and will need to be instituted anywhere the change is needed. Additional information on workflow properties can be found here.

Common Mistake 3: The Dreaded "Unresolved" Resolution

I can't tell you how many times I've seen this and cringed. Here is the issue with adding an "Unresolved" resolution (other than being an oxymoron) when an issue is created, the Resolution is null, displaying "Unresolved" as the text on the ticket. What typically happens is someone will place the Resolution field on a Create or Edit screen. The Resolution field is always required when presented on a screen and since there isn't a resolution at this point, the user is forced to make a selection that doesn't apply. To fix this, a Jira Administrator will go in and create an "Unresolved" option to match the text displayed on the issue when no option has been selected. This is not the correct solution to this problem. This actually causes all sorts of data integrity issues and should be corrected immediately. Check out this Atlassian knowledge base article on ways to identify and correct this problem.

How to Use Jira More Effectively

Jira is a big complex tool that can be used in many different ways. This is just one seemingly important aspect that really can change the expected behavior of the application. We Praecipians have seen a lot of "interesting" uses of the tools and have helped guide many clients on how to use the tool to support their processes. If you are struggling with how to best use Jira for your organization, reach out! Praecipio Consulting offers Process Assessments that focus on your processes and your environment to ensure you are getting the most out of your Atlassian tools. 

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

How to Solve Too Many Jira Email Notifications

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

“Jira sends too many emails.”

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

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

How to Create a Jira Notification Scheme

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

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

Check if Add-ons are Sending Emails 

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

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

Batch your Email Notifications

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

No Need to Stop Emails from Jira

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

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

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

4 Ways Corporate Transparency Leads to Healthy and Successful Companies

By Esme Huber on Jun 18, 2019 6:19:00 PM

Is transparency a goal worth striving for in an organization? A lot of emphasis is placed on competitiveness and innovation, the twin motors that keep a company on the leading edge of their field. But how does transparency fit as a corporate value worth striving for? And ultimately, can we leverage technology to institute and cultivate transparency within an organization?

In its simplest form, transparency means working in such a way that is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency means communication and availability, enabling the flow of information to permeate a team and reduce reaction times. It also means openness: teams and individuals work more efficiently with better access to information. And transparency also means accountability: collaboration and cooperative decision-making leads to increased productivity.

At Praecipio Consulting, we've leveraged Atlassian applications Jira and Confluence, coupled with Slack to enable transparency. Having a transparent company can do many great things to keep you competitive. I've seen 4 major benefits where the Atlassian applications have enabled Praecipio Consulting's success:

  1. Better Relationships

    With clear communication, meetings on-demand, and instant project collaboration, it's easy to foster a sense of camaraderie with coworkers and leadership. Camaraderie keeps morale high and efforts on track.  Without transparency, or tools to enable transparency, it's easy to become focused on the wrong tasks or working in the wrong direction. Slack has been a great tool to enable instant communication regardless of where participants are located.

  2. Better Engagement 

    With a highly transparent company, it's easy to feel connected to the company's high's and low's. This connection inspires workers to become more engaged in their tasks and ultimately, helps foster purpose-driven work life. In the long run, workers who are more engaged are less likely to walk away or throw in the towel. According to PayCom, low employee engagement costs "an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion in the U.S., per year."

  3. Better Solutions 

    When management and leadership are available and transparent, problems get solved faster. Praecipio Consulting uses Confluence to manage many projects, and as they say two heads (or however many heads make up the company) are better than one! 

  4. Better Alignment 

    According to Entrepreneur.com, "Transparent leadership results in employees who understand the company vision and how their efforts help achieve company-wide goals." Praecipio Consulting hosts monthly meetings to highlight when and where employees align their efforts with our company values. The company "value-echoing" is then further enabled via Slack, our on-demand chat and video tool. Daily efforts and successes (even trials) are shared here so the company can respond and take immediate action. 

Transparency has done wonders for us here at Praecipio Consulting. Having open access to information, being able to seamlessly collaborate across teams and individuals, and feeling part of a coherent group working towards a common goal are all part of our efforts to use transparency as a tool for fostering competitiveness.

Drop us a line and find out how Praecipio Consulting's Atlassian expertise can help your project achieve openness and accountability, and give you that extra edge.

Topics: blog best-practices tips corporate-transparency slack
3 min read

Could Testing Be the Missing Link for Effective Agile Transformation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Software Testing

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

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

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

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

Development and QA

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

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

Integrated Testing

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

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

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

Metrics for ITSM in Jira Service Management

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

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

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

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

MTTR: Mean Time to Resolution 

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

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

FCR: First Call Resolution

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

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

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

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

CSAT: Customer Satisfaction

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

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

TL;DR

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

Stay Agile with Jira and Confluence

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

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

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

Marketing Tasks = Jira Issues/Tickets

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

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

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

Tracking Assets and Tasks 

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

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

Using a Kanban Board

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

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

Plan Alignment

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

Now what?

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

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

All-Star Incident Management: How to Be Like Mike

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

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


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

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

Top 3 Tips for Championship ITSM

      1. Track your failures for greater success.

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

2. Success loves preparation.

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

3. Establish repeatable processes.

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

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

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

THE PROBLEM

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

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

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

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

THE GAME CHANGER

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

 
New Process Playbook

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

 
Pass to other Players, er... Tools

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

 
Set the Shot Clock

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

Be Like Mike

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

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

 

About Sam Besozzi

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

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

HipChat Connect: Your New Mission Control

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

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

That’s where Atlassian comes in.

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

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

Uber for HipChat

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

Graphic Annotation

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

Props via HipChat

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

…and Many More!

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

Want a Custom Add-On?

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

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

Hipchat: Customize Your Connection

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

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

HipChat, Meet New Relic

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

Build Your Own Add-Ons

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

Video courtesy of Atlassian

It's in the Numbers

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

Statistics courtesy of Atlassian

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

Get Chatting

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

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

SAFe Cheat Sheet: A Guide to Scaled Agile Framework

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

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

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

What are the core values of SAFe?

 

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

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

Want to learn more about SAFe?

Ready to learn more about how Scaled Agile Framework brings best practices and greatest results to your enterprise organization? As Atlassian Platinum Enterprise Experts, we at Praecipio Consulting are here to help! First, check out our recent webinar on SAFe, Agile in the Enterprise, presented by Senior Solutions Architect, Certified Scrum Master, and soon-to-be SAFe Program Consultant Amanda Babb to get a more complete introduction to implementing Agile practices at the Enterprise level. Next, contact Praecipio Consulting to begin introducing SAFe to your company. We can assist you with anything from Atlassian product licenses, implementations and configurations (to get you the right tools for the job) to customized consultations and trainings on SAFe. 

Deliver your highest quality product and the lowest cost of deployment with SAFe, Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting!

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices confluence enterprise sdlc jira-software safe marketplace-apps
2 min read

Here Comes the Product Owner: Wedding Planning with Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM

When Praecipio Consulting Senior Solutions Architect and Certified Scrum Master Amanda Babb got engaged over the new year, her first thought (after "Yes, I'll marry you" of course) was that this was an affair for the Atlassian tool set. With family members on both coasts and Amanda and her fiancé residing in Texas, she knew Atlassian would be the trick to best practices in MDLC (Matrimony Development Life Cycle). "There was never a question." says Babb. "From the moment we got engaged, I got a Cloud instance." Establishing a Kanban board that will take Amanda and her family from gathering information about venues to the nitty-gritty tasks like purchasing the cake slicer, this Scrum Master feels confident in an on-time, on-budget release of an October 2015 wedding.

 

Amanda Babb, Sr. Solutions Architect & Bride-to-Be

With Jira, Jira Agile, Confluence, and Team Calendars in her arsenal of planning tools, Amanda began on-boarding her family, including Project Stakeholders, Mom and Dad. After spending time showing her parents how to use the tools, they were able to begin collaborating and creating tasks. "The first thing my dad did was create a bug in Jira called Fat Elvis or Skinny Elvis and how many," Babb happily shares, noting that they have ultimately decided not to have their wedding officiated by an Elvis of any kind. Aside from fun with naming conventions, her family has enjoyed the ease with which they can view and add to wedding details, as often these large-scale affairs get bogged down with endless email chains, binders and internet bookmarking. With Atlassian, Amanda is able to share everything from a budget table for tracking deposits to multiple wedding registries and even bridesmaid dresses. Like most Scrum Masters, this bride's biggest "blocker" is adoption, often having to remind her family that, "it's in Confluence!"

So what does Babb's fiancé Doug think about his bride-to-be's planning with Atlassian? "He likes that it's streamlined communications." Babb reports. "Since we have opposite work schedules, it makes it easy for him to respond quickly. All I have to do is mention him in a comment!" Once Amanda and Doug have become husband and wife, their Atlassian instances will continue to play a role in their marriage. Babb intends to continue using the products for household projects, increasing transparency and communication between the couple leveraging a shared knowledge base. 

On this Valentine's Day, Praecipio Consulting wishes Amanda and Doug (along with all the other Atlassian lovers out there) all the best! May your collaborations be harmonious, your issues quickly resolved and each of your iterations better than the last.

 

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

Love,

Praecipio Consulting

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices calendars confluence kanban jira-software
3 min read

Introducing New HipChat Server

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 9, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Effective communication is critical to the daily operation of your organization. Whether it's alerting your dev teams to the status of their latest release or brainstorming ideas for the next Happy Hour venue, your team needs a way to talk. With more companies operating disparately, the idea of around the watercooler conversations is now defunct and people look to technology to help them connect. It was this exact need that Atlassian sought to address with their chat platform, HipChat. 

During the lifespan of HipChat, 3.7 billion messages have been sent, 25 million files have been shared and 23 million video minutes have been logged, making it one of the most widely used chat tools on the market. Responding to the popularity and demand of HipChat clients, Atlassian has expanded the product offering to now include a host of features and functionality that propel HipChat into an elite, unmatched realm of chat tools that bring simplicity and reliability.

Meet HipChat Server

Behind the Firewall

With the increased capacity for file sharing and features like private rooms for sensitive conversations, the need for security in your chats is paramount. Now with a Server option, you can run HipChat behind the firewall for the utmost security to keep your private conversations truly private. HipChat Server is also ideal for those unable to run cloud applications, allowing HipChat to run on your own server (or outsourced server hosting, as offered by Praecipio Consulting!).

Increased Integration

Link your HipChat Server up with other Atlassian applications like Jira, Stash and Confluence to increase communication between teams and keep everyone up to date on projects. Is your team's latest build ready for release? With a DevTeams room in HipChat, Stash will notify your team! Tag a co-worker to review a document in Confluence? HipChat will let them know. Integrate with the HipChat bot lab (or build your own) to sync your HipChat Server instance to an unlimited number of applications for maximum traceability. 

Enhance Culture & Collaboration

HipChat makes it easy for teams to communicate, boasting features that make the platform your organization's key resource for staying in the loop on work happenings from presentations to co-worker's birthday plans.

  • File Sharing- No more asking "Did you e-mail me that file? Or did you share it with me in the drive?" Just HipChat co-workers your images, presentations and important documents. They'll have it at their fingertips in an instant!
  • Video & Phone Chat- With teams spread out all over the world, sometimes it's nice to hear the voice or see the face of a teammate you don't often encounter in your home office. Use HipChat's video and audio chat to stay in touch and up to date!
  • Team Rooms- Need a space to brainstorm? Get a room! Create rooms for group needs to discuss specialized subjects like Marketing or hold a private conversation for more sensitive information like HR.  
  • @Mentions- Get peoples' attention with the @mention feature in HipChat to let them in on the conversation. Additionally, using @all notifies everyone in a room of a conversation. 
  • Emoticons- Why lie? You know the awesome emoticons are the real reason you use HipChat. With HipChat Server, you get all your favorites: (mindblown), (allthethings) and, of course, (celeryman). 

New HipChat Server brings you all the functionality you know and love, from file sharing and video chat to those ever-entertaining emoticons, but with the added benefits of running behind the firewall. Interested in HipChat Server (or any other Server-versions of Atlassian products) but don't have the bandwidth to host yourself? Let us host for you! At Praecipio Consulting, we provide Atlassian hosting to companies of all sizes to ensure you get the instances you need without the organizational strain that comes from internal hosting. With Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting, you can bring your teams the tools they need to achieve their best collaborative practices (and play with some fun emojis while they're at it). Contact us to learn how we can bring new HipChat Server to your company!

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hipchat collaboration culture hosting integration
2 min read

Jira Portfolio Cheat Sheet

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM

For projects big or small, Jira Portfolio helps you plan it all! With the ability to pull work in progress in from Jira or push the work breakdown structure into Jira, Portfolio makes managing projects a breeze. With a little set-up and some good old-fashioned planning sessions, your organization can quickly view release schedules, track estimates and actuals to business strategy targets, and manage resources in one place. 

Setup is key with Jira Portfolio. Simply choose your plan type, then work right to left: Configure, Reports, Releases, People. Once you have the business strategy and available resources, then populate your Backlog. Importing an existing set of issues from a saved filter in Jira requires only a few clicks. Or, if you prefer, create your plan and push individual initiatives, epics, stories, and defects into a single project or multiple projects. For those that are truly Agile, plan and push Epics into Jira, then allow the teams to develop and estimate Stories. Synchronize your plan and you're able to predict releases and inform stakeholders.

Push 

Dial in your plan before work begins. Add level of effort estimates and link Epics and/or Stories together to create dependencies. Then let Jira Portfolio inform you of a missing skill set, plan your sprints, or predict the release schedule. 

Pull

Mitigate risk and communicate with stakeholders with ease. Importing in-flight work provides stakeholders with more accurate release schedules based on current work efforts. Mitigate risk by seeing how new work and dependencies affect the overall schedule. Flex resources across teams to fill skills gaps. 

Choose 

Which of the five key capabilities of Portfolio Project Management are you trying to manage: change, risk, resource, pipeline, or financial? Let the capability determine whether a push strategy or a pull strategy works best. The answer may be to use both strategies in the same plan. 

Learn more about Jira Portfolio and get an in-depth demonstration in the tool with our Introduction to Jira Portfolio webinar.

Topics: atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices integration marketplace-apps
6 min read

Top 12 Jira Questions of 2014

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 29, 2014 11:00:00 AM

On December 3rd, we went where no Praecipio Consulting webinar has gone before: We answered your Jira questions live! Between pre-submitted questions from webinar registrants, online Praecipio Consulting followers, and real-time queries from viewers, our resident Jira expert Christopher Pepe fielded the questions you most wanted answers to. We were thrilled by your response to the call for questions and feel the answers to be so helpful that we decided to share them with the Jira-using public at large! From new Jira users to experienced technical leads, here are the top Jira questions and answers for your inquiring minds.

 Q: We have yet to find a way to enter our estimates in a manner that gives us valid burn-down charts on agile projects and would like advice. The process we use is as follows:

  • Issues are entered into Jira (into the backlog) with a high level estimate.
  • When we get into a sprint, we'd like to create sub-tasks that reallocate the hours in the original task (e.g., a story is entered with 40 hours, then the team determines that there will by 6 hours of BA work, two 8 hour development tasks, 8 hours of QA, 2 hours of documentation, and some PM work that can be logged against the main story).

Presently, we see the subtasks showing as additive and in the scenario above it ends up looking like there are 72 hours. How would you recommend that we solve this?

A: (6:04) The way Jira handles time tracking, all of your time is rolled up, so your time is double-entered. Take the original hourly estimate, delete from parent ticket (as it misses the intent of the time-tracking) and either a) don't include time estimates in the original story or b) make your stories into epics and give all sub-tasks (tests, bugs, etc.) time estimates that roll-up to give a more accurate picture of time tracked. It's also worth noting that, as people are generally not the best at estimating time, one could utilize story points to track time and establish velocity across your Agile team. For example, this new feature will take x amount of time based on x amount of sprints (compared to previous tasks of the same type). 

Q: Can we delete Statuses from already published Workflows? 

A:  (9:26) Historically no (and I believe that's still the case). You have to copy the workflow and modify, or rebuild. Then map it back to your workflow scheme, deleting the status.

Q: We are creating different issues-types for different entities, User Story, Task, Test, Bug, etc. Does having these many different issue types create complication? Is it convenient to keep track of these issues? For Ex. 1 User story might have 3 Tasks, 2 Tests and 4 Bugs, isn’t that creating linking issues or traceability issues?

A: (10:42) This is a big question and the answer is really our whole business at Praecipio Consulting, as we seek to model your processes to Jira for connectivity across all systems. Creating an efficient data model in Jira can be challenging. You're taking the right approach in thinking about how to model your data. I can't advise you without knowing more about how you operate, but recommend you think about making your Stories into Epics in Jira Agile, and then add your Tasks, Tests, and Bugs to the Epic. That really simplifies the issue linking.

Q: Is there a quick way to see an issue's priority when looking at it on a board besides filtering it?

A: (13:54) Yes, the priority is shown by its icon. Hover over to see what it is. Agile packs a lot into a little space

Q: Is there a way to automatically move an issue to a different workflow when the issue type changes. Like any Post-Function?

A: (15:29) Jira will automatically do this. It means that your Workflow Scheme needs to have different workflows configured for the issue types. If workflows have different custom fields, Jira will force you to go through a mapping stage. No post-function is needed!

Q: What options for Pass Through Authentication exist? Are Add Ons the most often used method? Are there other ways of doing this without paying hefty prices? 

A: (17:44) Add-ons are really the only way. There are REST authentication resources so if you can control intercepting the username and password you can hand them off to the application, but if your mechanism isn't HTTP based its hard to get the token in the users browser. Atlassian's Crowd is a popular choice, providing a single-sign on platform for authentication through multiple avenues.

Q: Beside custom fields, what other system configuration items can cause poor system performance? Permission schemes? Notification schemes? If so what are some best practices for these? 

A: (20:35) The short answer is: lots of schema. Custom fields, complicated workflows and the like can contribute to slower performance. Finding bottlenecks is challenging. Many layers of monitoring is the best approach (Maybe you don't have a big enough thread pool or your disk access speed is too slow.) to make sure you can see what the JVM is doing. New Relic offers simplified yet robust monitoring capabilities for these purposes 

Q: When entering a custom field, what is the best practice for configuring the field for specific issue types/projects versus a global context (all issue types/projects)? We have custom fields that will only be used for one or two issue types and a subset of projects, but we have configured them as all issue types/all projects. Is there a downside to this configuration?

A: (24:35) I encourage new admins (and even seasoned ones) to use global context and focus their energy on designing screens and related schema to get a project to operate as expected. Context makes it hard to track down why a field isn't showing up or some odd behavior that's occurring.

Q: How can I make an issue editable when the status is already closed? Also, I am unable to add a transition from a closed issue to another status. 

A: (27:25) You should be able in the workflow editor to create a transition from closed. Jira may be blocking this, since closed issues are uneditable. The default workflow that comes with Jira, if copied, wouldn't allow you to edit a closed issue- so the properties associated with the workflow are copied too. You'll need to edit your custom workflow and delete this property or create your own. 

Q: Can we add more fields in ‘Test’ Issue-type, like currently there are Test Step, Test Data and Expected Result. Can we include columns for Module, Test Scenario, etc.?

A: (30:18) Yes you can add more fields by modifying the Screens and maybe Field Configurations. You may need to create your custom fields first too.

Follow-up: (in the Zephyr panel shown in the issue) No, that is not configurable. You should tell Zephyr that you'd like it to be.

Q: Can you fix the Jira header to stay at the top of the page when scrolling?

A: (37:26) There isn't a way in the Jira UI, but if you go and inspect the element, you will find that the header bar is just a div (and stuff inside it) that you can target with CSS or Javascript to fix the hold. In Javascript, present it to Jira by creating an add-on and install. This helps you control the context and action. If you only want it on issue view, you'd add the Javascript to the field configuration. Having this function as an add-on helps future system admins know that it's an individual, customized feature that can be found and identified.

(If you listen to the webinar audio, you also hear our Jira Expert cat weighing in on the subject as Christopher Pepe translates.)

Q: What are the benefits of a federated Jira instance?

A: (41:06) Atlassian has several resources on the benefits of managing multiple instances through federating. The only places where we really see people federate instances is in industry mandates (ex. industry permissions for viewing data) or when different groups within an organization need individual ownership. In this case, you'd create application links between the two instances to allow reporting from one instance to another; the pitfall is that you can only get results from one instance at a time. 

When it comes to Jira, there is so much to know and learn! At Praecipio Consulting, we bring our Atlassian expertise to Jira and the entire product suite through our webinars, trainings and full service offering. Still have Jira questions or want to apply our experience to your instance? Find out how we can answer your questions and get you your best instance by contacting Praecipio Consulting. 

Topics: jira blog scaled-agile best-practices training configuration consulting-services integration
2 min read

The Atlassian Appeal

By Christian Lane on Dec 17, 2014 11:00:00 AM

The Atlassian Appeal:

Why It's The Software of Choice for Today's Graduates

Despite the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, five years later the effects are still felt amongst those newest to the job market. Today's college graduates face 8.5% unemployment and 16.8% underemployment as the U.S. experiences a 7 million job deficit. However, in spite of overall downtrends for college graduates, jobs in technology are not only remaining buoyant- but continually growing! In 2013, nearly 70% of students pursuing degrees in technology had at least one job offer by graduation. Though salaries for graduates in other industries have dipped by 7.7%, those who work in the tech industry are enjoying some of the highest, most competitive pay of all college-educated workers.

Today's business world looks radically different than it did ten (even five) years ago; companies operate virtually, contracting employees and doing business across the globe on an  around-the-clock basis, and their bigger-than-ever demands have been the catalyst for continuous advancement in technology. It has never been a better time to be in this field; however, not all technology education is created equal.

Atlassian offers continuously innovative products that push the technological envelope. With products like Bitbucket, developers contribute to the ongoing innovation of the Atlassian offering by integrating more processes, expanding their teams and reaching for the limit of each product. Boasting the appeal of cutting-edge technology that refuses to rest on its laurels, Atlassian is used by leading businesses in their respective industries. What college graduate wouldn't want to flex their Atlassian muscles to land the best possible job? Colleges have also caught onto the Atlassian appeal! Within universities, a growing number of information technology departments have incorporated the software into their curriculum to ensure their graduates will be big names in the technology field. During recent on-site training with an Enterprise client and top travel company, Praecipio Consulting learned that the corporation's recent migration to Bitbucket not only improved their processes, but gave them immediate job appeal with college graduates. "We've seen that as graduates are entering the job market, they're looking for companies that use Atlassian products like Bitbucket that offer continuous innovation," says Praecipio Consulting partner Christopher Pepe, who holds a degree in engineering and is an Atlassian Expert, "Companies are switching to Atlassian to get the best products and the best new talent." 

Atlassian continues to evolve to remain the leader in changing technology. We can expect to see more companies adopting the popular product line in the future. Just imagine what the Class of 2014 will contribute to the innovation of Atlassian that will inform development for decades to come!

Sources: The Economic Policy Institute and The National Association of Colleges & Employers 

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices bitbucket implementation it
3 min read

Everybody Gets a Pony! Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Hosting & Managed Services

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 15, 2014 11:00:00 AM

As the holiday season approaches, my family will undoubtedly ask me the same thing they do every year - What do I want? Since I was a little kid, I've always given the same answer to no avail, my request steadfast and unchanging: I want a pony. The likelihood of my receiving a pony this Christmas is still as unlikely as it's ever been, and I ask knowing that I'll be getting pajamas, stationery, and other non-pony related items like every previous holiday. While I repeatedly ask for the pony, the regular maintenance and upkeep (not to mention storage) of a pony is more than I can handle. Believe me, I'd still love a pony for Christmas. My life and schedule might permit some allocated riding time, but I don't have the resources or bandwidth to commit to everything else that goes into pony ownership. 

Wouldn't it be great to get something you really want, that would make your life better, and never deal with the time-draining, resource-monopolizing hassle of upkeep?

Companies around the world have recognized for years that the Atlassian product suite is the ultimate in scalable, reliable Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and business management products. Offering both Cloud and Server versions of the tool set, users get varying levels of functionality and add-on capability. While Server versions offer extra options, businesses often opt for Cloud instead, as it brings them an Atlassian-hosted solution. Now, with Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services, you get the benefits of a Server instance with the freedom of outsourced hosting by our Atlassian Enterprise Platinum experts. 

Our Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Hosting and Managed Services

5. Save Your Space

My hypothetical Christmas pony needs room to run and graze, so keeping it in my small, urban backyard is impractical. Likewise, software needs room to run and the power to do so. Server instances consume RAM and can slow the speed of other processes running concurrently. With Praecipio Consulting's Hosting services, we host your Atlassian instance on our dedicated Rackspace servers, giving you uninterrupted process flow and unburdened memory. Enterprise industry leaders choose our Atlassian hosting because it frees them up to do their business faster, increasing process and profit. 

4. Trusted Expertise

I love ponies, but am no pony expert (nor do I have time to become one). Similarly, you may not have the bandwidth or expertise to be your team's go-to on your Atlassian instance when something goes awry. With Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services, you get an Atlassian Platinum Enterprise consultant dedicated to your instance. By outsourcing your Atlassian expertise to Praecipio Consulting, we deliver the answers and results that your team relies on for continued functionality and success of your instance. Our consultants have a deep expertise around the entire product suite, stemming from years of implementations, configurations and optimizations - so you know your instance is in the best hands possible! 

3. Increase Time and Resources

Keeping up with a pony would require a significant portion of my time and finances to maintain - even if nothing was wrong with the pony. Your software also requires regular touches, from upgrades to regular maintenance, which can all take people, time and money away from your organization. Wouldn't you rather focus on your job and let someone else do the work? Praecipio Consulting can make that happen. Our Hosting and Managed Services include all the scheduled maintenance and upgrades required to keep your instance at its best. No more blocking out time in your schedule to perform that upgrade. Praecipio Consulting has you covered!

2. Maximized Performance

If I had a pony, I would want it to have the very best of everything- including environment. A stable, well maintained environment is as critical for pony care as it is for your instance and, using Rackspace servers, our Hosting ensures that your Atlassian platform has the utmost uptime and availability. You know you can always count on your instance to perform the way you need, when you need it. 

1. Rapid Resolution

Sometimes ponies get sick. Or wander away from the pasture. Or any other number of pony-related problems befall them. With all that I have to deal with in my daily life, I can't guarantee that I'll be the quickest person to respond to the needs of my pony. When your instance goes haywire, you need it fixed immediately. Downtime and system issues equate to lost time and money (not only spent fixing the problem, but in the stop of workflow). When your instance goes down, don't waste time and money- just call Praecipio Consuting and get it fixed quickly!

While getting a pony for Christmas may be something I can only dream of (along with the team it would require to house and maintain said pony), a well maintained, expertly cared for Atlassian instance is within everyone's reach with Praecipio Consulting's Hosting and Managed Services. By letting us manage your Atlassian instance, you save time, money and resources while getting the best functionality and service for your software platform. Increase your ROI, maximize processes and drive down costs with our Hosting and Managed Services for your Atlassian products. We promise to take excellent care of your "pony."

Topics: blog best-practices managed-services reliability uptime hosting itsm

Summit Expedia Co-Presentation

By Christopher Pepe on Nov 11, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Discover how making the move from Perforce to Git at Expedia lead to standing room-only training sessions abundant with high fives. The move to Git improved Expedia's software development with faster development cycles, deeper integrations, increased transparency, and a more unified development platform. 

 

Topics: atlassian atlassian-summit best-practices bitbucket migrations perforce git
5 min read

Expert Tips to Enhance Collaboration

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 30, 2014 11:00:00 AM

While I may have seen Lord of the Rings, I've recently become keenly aware of my overall lack of knowledge around the ins and outs of the franchise. After creating a would-be "one does not simply" LOTR meme related to a new Atlassian product release, I HipChatted the idea to a co-worker for review. The following is the actual conversation that ensued:
 

 

Aside from the fact that I apparently need to re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my big take-away from the conversation was- thank goodness for Atlassian! At Praecipio Consulting, we leverage the collaborative power of the product suite for everything from content review to coming up with new ideas and innovations for our client work. Even with resources located across the country, I still get the input I need from our team with tools like Confluence, Jira and HipChat.

As an international company with offices from Australia to Austin to Amsterdam, Atlassian knows the importance of remote collaboration across disparate teams. With a product suite that facilitates communication and documentation, Atlassian helps organizations worldwide increase productivity with tools like Jira, Confluence and Stash. One could write code in Asia, then have a team member in South America review and merge it. Marketing initiatives begun in England can be aligned with corresponding product releases developed in Iceland with Jira Portfolio. The Atlassian line of products, designed for maximum collaboration, allows remote team members to bring their expertise to projects to achieve best results. Besides using the Atlassian tools to prevent misappropriated movie references, we also collaborate in other ways.

Everybody Needs an Editor.

While spell check has done wonders for catching errors, it is always good practice to have someone review your work before pushing to production. Jira and Confluence track activity by users, alerting page and issue watchers to edits made and keeping the general population abreast of developments via the activity feed. This allows your team to see changes made and weigh in with comments. If you have Confluence 5.7, you get even more editing power with the ability to leave in-line comments on documents and attachments for the most specific, efficient method of feedback. At Praecipio Consulting, our best collaborative practices include color-coded copy edits that delineate areas for re-write, removal of copy or verification of content accuracy. Using our colored copy system, it is easy to provide specific feedback during collaboration that the content owner can efficiently incorporate into the document.

To further standardize our review process, we created a custom Marketing Communications issue type in Jira with its own workflow. We now have the ability to track the progress all our content from In Progress to QA (review) to Publish. By assigning the issue to the user responsible for each step in the process, the reporter (the person who ultimately owns the project) can easily see when to expect the next content release. With reports and customizable dashboards in Jira, we can easily view our communications schedule to ensure that content is on track throughout the In Progress and QA phases for on-time publishing. Not only does this help us thoroughly review content before publishing, but it also streamlines our processes by avoiding multiple individual sub-tasks and instead tracks the workflow within the main communications issue for best collaborative practices. 

The Marketplace of Ideas

In 1859, philosopher John Stuart Mill raised the idea of "the marketplace of ideas" - a community of open, transparent discourse to find truth. Why not create a Marketplace of Ideas for your teams to share information and gain knowledge? 

With Atlassian tools like Confluence Questions, your entire organization has access to a centralized source of standardized information. Allowing users to easily search for answers, team members can add their own responses and up-vote the answers of others to make Confluence Questions even more robust. Identify experts in your organization with leaderboard reporting so you find your best resource for each project.

Jira Portfolio, Atlassian's most exciting new offering, brings disparate teams together through initiative setting to align all projects to your business strategy, from your marketing department to your dev team. The skill field for each resource gives you even more granularity when searching for the right person, allowing users to set competencies from UI to QA. 

We don't think John Stuart Mill was the one who coined the phrase, "two heads are better than one," but Atlassian users agree with it just the same. Introducing tools like Confluence Questions and Jira Portfolio bring best collaborative practices to your organization as your team begins sharing and learning together. 

Members Only

Getting others' feedback can be helpful, but sometimes you only want input from certain users. With permission setting capabilities across the Atlassian product suite administrators can determine the visibility of information to control who can edit and view data. For additional security for your most sensitive information, Praecipio Consulting's Secure Content add-on for Confluence brings you the ultimate encryption with a secure yet simple user interface. 

Need to discuss something with a specific team? Get a room! A HipChat room, that is. Security settings in the real-time chat software gives you the ability to create your own chat room inside your organization's lobby. Add permissions to decide who gets invited to the room and a lock icon will appear next to your HipChat room to let everyone know you're having a private party.

Atlassian's security and permissions settings give you the power to choose your collaborators and keep that secret project - whether a new hire or plans for the boss' birthday party - under wraps until release.

Secure Content provides an easy to use, secure location for your most sensitive information.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Atlassian facilitates best collaborative practices and your best processes with their entire product suite. You gain the full benefit of your team's expertise as they contribute to the CMS, share knowledge and align business strategy. Atlassian gives you the utmost transparency so everyone stays "in the know" and interacts in real-time. Getting efficient and documented feedback, you can seamlessly track user stories to stay involved in the collaborative process from ideation to release. As Atlassian product and process experts, Praecipio Consulting offers services around the innovative suite of tools to help you achieve best collaborative products and practices. We get you what you need - from process optimization to product licensing - to facilitate your best collaborative practices. The greatest ideas come from inspiration through collaboration. Harness the full brain power of your organization with the Atlassian product suite and Praecipio Consulting's best collaborative practices. 

Topics: jira blog best-practices confluence implementation process-consulting questions-for-confluence collaboration consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
4 min read

Jira for Asset Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 20, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Last year, companies spent a third of their budget on IT assets and related costs. Each piece of hardware and software equates to dollars, time, and resources. This can become costly when not well managed. Much like keeping a maintenance log for a vehicle, thorough documentation from purchase to hand-off  is required for every asset in your organization. Technology is central to your organization's operations and if not well managed it becomes a source of profit loss, unnecessary expenditure and endless frustration. Leveraging Jira, Atlassian's product and issue tracking software, you gain the documentation and visibility you need for best practices in ITAM (information technology asset management).

A large portion of ITAM involves tracking your assets from purchase to re-distribution. It is paramount to keep documentation of the details of your asset, as doing so facilitates informed decisions around your IT needs. There are multiple data points to collect with each new asset addition in order to implement best ITAM practices. Begin by gathering the following information:

  • Where is the asset being deployed?
  • How is the asset configured?
  • Who is using the asset?
  • Does the asset have a warranty?
  • What are the asset's requirements?
  • What are the asset's supporting applications?
  • What is the asset's maintenance history (if not new)?

Once these data points are determined, simply create a ticket in Jira including all information and attach documentation you have for the asset. Depending on the workflow of your organization, you may consider utilizing an automated asset inventory discovery tool to trigger Jira to fill in the details of the asset. This mitigates errors made when entering the information manually and ensures that, even if an asset is not spotted by a team member for logging, Jira will still capture it. Again, the more thorough your documentation, the more story points you have for your best ITAM. After creating a ticket for the asset in Jira, you immediately begin increasing your ROI with every action in the asset's lifecycle. 

Tickets for Total Traceability

With Jira's customizable issue types, workflows, and schemes, each asset is managed with fine granularity to ensure that at each phase of it's life cycle, informed and accurate decisions can be made regarding maintenance and overall value versus cost. 

Issue Types and Components- What kind of asset is it?

Create issue types to manage the lifecycle of a set of assets and components in your Jira Project to reflect the exact type of asset you're documenting. From hardware, software, and servers down to keyboards and mice, organize your assets according to type for at-a-glance reporting on asset lifecycle.

System Fields- Who is responsible for the asset?

In addition to the ability to document what kind of asset you're managing with custom issue types, you can also add to the system fields:

    • Summary- What is the asset name (ex. 22" Monitor)?
    • Assignee- Who is responsible for the asset? (This is typically the end-user, but will change throughout the asset lifecycle as maintenance is performed, the asset is re-distributed, etc.)
    • Reporter- Who is the asset manager (from procurement to end-user delivery)?
    • Labels- Describe assets (ex. brand name, asset type, new or used, etc.)

Custom Fields

Jira allows the creation of custom fields to capture the most pertinent information related to your assets. As seen in the screenshot to the right, you can track multiple variables associated with the asset, including CPU model, RAM speed and warranty period. Using query filters in Jira, you can easily search assets according to date acquired, current value and other data collected in the asset ticket.

Security Schemes

Certain asset information needs to remain private. By leveraging Jira's security schemes, you can determine who can view and edit issue tickets for ultimate security. Schemes can be changed at any time so administrators can set security according to specific asset managers and team leads.

 

Maximizing Your ROI

One of the biggest points of superfluous expenditure for companies is unnecessary costs associated with misappropriated or untracked assets. Caused by incomplete documentation, assets are needlessly purchased while others devalue as they sit unused and unmaintained. Consequences of poor asset management can be as steep as fees for violating licensing terms, which are critical for documentation and active tracking. According to a 2013 survey by KPMG, 86% of those polled were found to have inadequate and incomplete documentation on their assets, preventing them from achieving maximum ROI. Documentation on your assets informs your organization's decisions on budget forecasting and IT strategic planning. With Jira, you have a method of easily accessible, customizable reporting to make the best call.

Jira helps eliminate these oversights and redundancies with custom workflows to ensure your assets are always accounted for. By using the Assignee field, a member of your organization becomes responsible for the asset during that phase of its lifecycle. Beginning with the person who procures the asset, to all the team members who will interact with it- from the end-user to the IT manager to Finance- your assets are always traceable through Jira. With Jira custom workflows, you can determine the specific lifecycle of your asset, setting a standardized sequence of action types your asset moves through. 

Best Practices in ITAM

Avoid spending more than your asset is worth on costly, unnecessary expenditures related to poor ITAM. With Jira, you gain a robust, highly functional tool to track all your assets with maximum traceability. Leveraging best practices in ITAM with the powerful Atlassian products, you benefit from:

  • Avoiding unnecessary maintenance costs
  • Knowledge of your assets when working with vendors 
  • Preventing costly compliance penalties 
  • Strong cross-team communication at all stages of your asset lifecycle
  • Enhanced tracking of asset activity with assigned users and reporters
  • At-a-glance reporting for informed decision-making for stakeholders
  • Thorough documentation for
    • Audits
    • Re-Distribution
    • Budget Forecasting
    • IT Strategic Planning Decisions

85 Fortune 500 companies worldwide, including Pfizer and Boeing and Cisco use Jira for their high-level enterprise asset management needs. With Jira, you gain robust functionality, ultimate transparency across teams, and efficient reporting. A scalable software that grows with your organization, Jira provides a powerful asset management tool that gets you the highest return on your investment. More than just a tool for development teams, Jira offers asset management capabilities to streamline your business practices and lower your cost of ownership. Accounting for each asset in your organization, Jira allows you to track the life of your technology to ensure their value is retained and no unnecessary costs are added. Learn more about how Jira can increase your ROI and bring best ITAM practices to your organization by contacting Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog best-practices implementation consulting-services itam
5 min read

Top 5 Ways Jira Portfolio Increases ROI

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 15, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Your organization is made up of many moving parts- from team members, to products, to stakeholders. Everyone has different project management needs, and the larger your organization, the greater the need for best practices in project management. Nobody knows project planning and tracking better than Atlassian, who continue to build industry-favorite SDLC tools like Jira and Confluence to enhance your team's collaboration and visibility. This year, they raised the bar even higher with the release of Jira Portfolio. You can track real-time adjustments to product releases and analyze use of resources in one central location to determine the best course of action every time for reliable delivery.  

At Praecipio Consulting we are excited to offer our Atlassian expert services around Jira Portfolio, bringing you this revolutionary product from licensing to implementation, configuration, and training. As businesses around the world begin to catch on to the robust planning power of Jira Portfolio, Praecipio Consulting helps you get the maximum return on your SaaS investment. So, how does Jira Portfolio increase your ROI? Here are just a few ways...


5. INITIALIZE YOUR INITIATIVES

Seasoned users of Jira know about using the epic designation in Jira Agile to collect user stories from multiple tasks under a larger project heading, but now you can expand your business narrative with initiatives! An initiative aligns epics and corresponding user stories to link together all the moving pieces of your business processes. Unfamiliar with Agile practices? Use Initiatives to give each team a vision for their part of the story- whether you're the one developing the product or the one marketing it. Each team's actions in Jira track back to Jira Portfolio under the larger initiative plan to give PM's and stakeholders an accurate overview of how the initiative is developing to ensure an on-time delivery. Get all your resources from all involved teams on the exact same page with initiative-setting capabilities in Jira Portfolio.

Before Jira Portfolio: Countless cross-team meetings to convey initiative vision and goals

After Jira Portfolio: Epics and stories streamlined by initiative to keep your teams aligned under the same vision and goals

 

4. THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE RIGHT JOB

Who has time to work on the project? Who has the required skills? Finding answers to these questions used to take significant time- time that could be spent moving ahead on your project- that is, until Jira Portfolio. Now it's easy to search resources by availability and skill set to assign the right person to the right job. Never again have to guess whether your assigned developer has UI/UX experience- just check Jira Portfolio and see! Not only can you find the perfect person for the task by filtering searches for specific skills, but you can view their availability to determine if they have the bandwidth for your project. If only online dating were this easy!

Before Jira Portfolio: Mismatched assignees who may (or may not) have the skills needed to finish the job right, and on time

After Jira Portfolio: Find the perfect fit for the job by viewing resources' skills and availability 

 

3. EASY ESTIMATION

So, you've found your Mr. Perfect Developer or Mrs. Right Marketing Resource. How much time will it take these team members to complete their assignments? With Jira Portfolio, your resources gain the ability to project the time they need to get the job done. By documenting these estimates in Jira Portfolio, PM's get a percentage breakdown across teams and users for the most accurate, up-to-date forecast of your project timeline. User friendly charts and percentages automatically generate based on the estimated time required, showing you the workload make-up of your project. And, with report export capabilities, the only thing PM's have to do is press print and hand over the beautifully accurate and informative analysis to project stakeholders for easy and always available project tracking. 

Before Jira Portfolio: Imbalance of time allocation per development phases; Searching multiple locations for data then keeping fingers crossed in hopes that the search provides an accurate forecast to stakeholders

After Jira Portfolio: Each phase gets the time it needs; One central location with reporting options that allows you to see your progress in a single glance 

 

2. SCRUM AND KANBAN- YOU GET BOTH!

Your methodology is personal to your organization. Often, teams within the same company, teams operate using different processes. Jira Portfolio meets the process needs of every team with options for Scrum and Kanban. Using Jira Portfolio's iteration-based scrum scheduling abilities, your project moves through a workflow based on completion of one to several week-long iterations. Need continuous scheduling ability? Jira Portfolio has you covered with the Kanban-style scheduling that organizes the stages of your workflow to align with a traditional process workflow, moving to the next step once the previous one has been completed and closed out. Jira Portfolio provides a project planning tool to fit any process methodology in your organization.

Before Jira Portfolio: Different methodologies requiring different software for different teams, preventing cross-team collaboration and centralized reporting for PM's

After Jira Portfolio: One SaaS to rule them all! Any methodology, or even multiple methodologies in the same organization, achieve the same traceability and process maximization

 

 

1. LET'S GET REAL

Perhaps the most exciting feature of Jira Portfolio (but really, how can we pick just one?) is the ability for real-time planning and forecasting. While this is nothing new for Atlassian users, Jira Portfolio takes it one step further, allowing administrators to project timelines based on resources, dependancies and completion of iterations. Need to spend more time in testing before release? Update your date fields, and the project tracking timeline adjusts to re-schedule your release date accordingly. How much time could you gain by adding an additional resource to a phase? No need to guess- just add the resource and Jira Portfolio shows you, based on the resource's availability and role, the new timeline to reflect the extra team member's projected contribution. Those who love to ask "What if?" Jira Portfolio allows you to explore different scenarios to determine your best course of action before making the call. 

Before Jira Portfolio: Guessing at deadlines and making partially informed decisions 

After Jira Portfolio: Real-time forecasting of scenarios to get your best course of action every time

Atlassian's new Jira Portfolio bring robust, flexible, dynamic scheduling capabilities to your organization for best project management practices. This exciting Jira add-on delivers big results, streamlining your organization's numerous projects for supreme visibility and providing thorough, accurate reporting. Masters of best technology and business practices, Praecipio Consulting is here to bring Jira Portfolio to your organization! A one-stop shop for all things Atlassian, we provide implementation, configuration, process consulting, training and anything else you need to get your organization using Jira Portfolio with best-in-breed practices. 

Ready to learn more about Jira Portfolio and how it revolutionizes business practices? Join us on November 5th for our Introduction to Jira Portfolio webinar, which includes a live demonstration of the application and a Q&A opportunity with Praecipio Consulting's Atlassian Expert Consultant, Amanda Babb. Contact us to learn how Jira Portfolio can maximize your project planning and how Praecipio Consulting sets you up for your greatest success.

All images courtesy of "Dilbert" by Scott Adams

Topics: blog best-practices optimization process-consulting training consulting-services portfolio-management project-management marketplace-apps

Introduction to Jira Portfolio

By Amanda Babb on Oct 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Want to connect your business strategy to development reality? Jira Portfolio, Atlassian's newest product, allows for easy and accurate planning across multiple projects and teams. Get an inside look at the latest offering and learn how to connect strategic goals to development reality with Jira Portfolio.

Topics: best-practices implementation product-services training webinars portfolio-management marketplace-apps cumulus-cloud
5 min read

Paying for Mistakes: The Cost to Fix a Software Defect and How to Avoid It

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

In 2002, a study by NIST reported the U.S. Economy spent $59.5 billion annually fixing software defects. Less than a decade later, Cambridge University found the cost to have risen (in 2007 to 2011) to a global cost of $312 billion per year. With technology becoming an ever-growing presence in our society- from smart phones to smart cars- the pressure to build infallible software is at the forefront of companies' minds. A software defect, which can be caused by omitting even one character in pages of code, can have far reaching repercussions.

These kind of non-conformance expenditures spent repairing software defects impact your Cost of Quality, costing your company profit and maybe even your professional reputation. Customer satisfaction fuels the reputation of businesses, and even a small software defect can translate into billions of dollars in lost revenue when people become frustrated over non-functional or mis-operating products. 

"To err is human." So, how do we reduce software defects caused by user error?

With the Atlassian product suite, you have security with well-documented, well-reviewed process capabilities- You just have to begin with the end in mind. This should be the mantra for any software development effort. To start, gathering clear requirements in Confluence will allow a team to have a single point of truth when in the early stages. Developers, QA, Stakeholders, Product Owners, Scrum Masters- everyone should be involved in the process. Before kicking off a new project, ask yourself:

  • What are we trying to create? (e.g. a new feature, an enhancement to an existing product or offering, a cleaner UI)
  • Why are we doing this and why is this a need? 
  • Who are the end-users and how will they be using the product?
  • Where in the application will this sit? (e.g. Is it middleware? Is it database transactions? ) 
  • When can we release this? 

These 5 questions can get ideas flowing. Recommendations regarding this phase include creating user profiles to help determine acceptance criteria. In Agile, the creation of user stories helps here too. By beginning with the end in mind and leveraging Confluence, there is no question as to what the expected function of the product is and what is considered done.

Once the requirements have been reviewed and agreed upon, now is where we start tasking. Within Confluence, selecting text and creating Jira tickets is easy once the applications are linked. These issues should be created with the mindset that after an iteration, the issue is complete and potentially shippable. 

Fail fast... then fix it!

These checkpoints in the SDLC process have the opportunity to make or break a deliverable's release, reducing extra costs to the company. Depending on the phase in which the defect is introduced, and how long it takes to catch, the losses can quickly add up. Finding an architecture issue in the construction phase will cost 10 times as much than if it were caught in its starting phase. A requirements issue found in post-release can cost up to 100 times as much to fix than if identified from the beginning. How can you ensure you're shipping a defect-free product that won't cost your company profit or credibility?

Take a moment to think about what potentially shippable means. These items have been developed, tested, re-tested, merged, and are ready to meet the outside world. With a click of a button in Stash, these items can be merged with the Master Branch and are now available for use. But to get to this point, the Scrum Team must have had some way to develop and test and merge and flag issues without affecting the Master Branch or Production System. Here's where integrating Jira, Bamboo, and Stash come in handy. You can create a feature branch, develop against it, and merge it with everyone else's branches to ensure there are no defects. Bamboo will see the new branch and build. Fail Fast. Within a short period of time, the team can see what they did (or didn't do) to make sure the units are potentially shippable- troubleshoot, fix, then merge again. When a build fails or a branch doesn't merge, defects can be filed in Jira and added into the Sprint. 

Accidents will happen.

Even with multiple checkpoints in place for accuracy, a user may spot a defect. In this case, leveraging Jira Service Desk can provide immediate feedback to customer service regarding the problem. By providing a way for customers to communicate their issue immediately, you are able to respond to their complaint- preserving the reputation of your business and gaining important information on what went wrong (so you can avoid it next time). Everybody makes mistakes- it's how (and how fast) you fix them that leaves a lasting impression with customers. 

Limit Defects, Avoid Loss, Increase Productivity

With the Atlassian product suite, user errors that create defects in software are identified and weeded out before your deliverable ships, allowing you to continually increase profit and get solid results. Best practices in robust tools like Jira, Confluence, and Stash help your organization achieve traceability and thorough documentation through continuous integration. Leveraging administrative and reporting functions, including permission setting and customized workflows, you can track project development and identify blockers in real time to mitigate profit loss. Atlassian further stacked their product line to increase visibility and keep deliverables on time and defect-free with their new offering, Jira Portfolio

Million dollar profit or million dollar loss? The omission in a single character in one line of code can be catastrophic to your deliverable, so early detection is paramount. Atlassian helps you catch those bugs before they turn into an infestation and with our extensive knowledge of best practices and process optimization around the product suite can maximize your defect defense. Learn more about how Praecipio Consulting can help you avoid those costly errors. With the money you save, you can treat your team to an Atlassian training course!

Topics: blog scaled-agile best-practices bitbucket confluence process-consulting roi consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
3 min read

JIRA Portfolio: Atlassian's Latest & Greatest Release

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 19, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Five major announcements at Summit 2014 weren't enough for Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike-Cannon Brookes. Sneaking in a "Number 0" announcement after such crowd pleasers as Jira Service Desk agent-based pricing and HipChat for Server and iOS8, the San Jose Convention Center nearly exploded when Mike introduced the world to Atlassian's newest addition:

 

Since Jira first hit the marketplace in 2004, usage has gone through the roof with worldwide adoption of the popular issue-tracking product by industry giants with enterprise needs. In ten years, Jira has only gotten better with age, as Atlassian continuously pushes to improve products based on user feedback. That kind of user response- from Atlassian Experts who implement Jira, to stakeholders looking for a larger return on their investment- drove the design, development, and release of Jira Portfolio. Designed for maximum traceability, projects can be easily viewed to enable strategic planning, provide project reporting, and link work amongst teams for greater consistency in realizing business initiatives. Jira Portfolio adds value to every Jira instance in your organization: from stakeholders needing at-a-glance analytics, to technical leads scheduling project delivery, to team members who need to see how their work fits into a larger context. 

ONE SOURCE FOR ALL

Standardization across teams is important in your business processes, especially in organizations with cross-functional team projects! Leveraging Jira Portfolio across your organization fosters collaboration amongst teams and provides supreme visibility. Jira Portfolio makes use of the integrative power that we know and love in Atlassian products, seamlessly communicating with your other tools including Jira Agile and Confluence, making it a major force of functionality in the world of technology solutions.

ON TIME, EVERY TIME

Jira Portfolio is a centralized home for business development projects that unifies your organization, allowing for project tracking in real-time across teams for incredibly accurate strategic planning. Never miss the mark on a scheduled release again! With Jira Portfolio, you can track projects (Yes, more than one project at a time!) from proof-of-concept to delivery thus cutting cost-of-change and continually improving business processes through the use of dashboards and workflows.

TELL BETTER STORIES

Keep your team fully informed with the integration and cross-team collaboration you get with Jira Portfolio. When builds grow from business initiatives, you can keep your devs clued into the strategy by linking projects with themes. With Jira Portfolio, your user stories have more narrative power, as epics and stories can now point to business initiatives and themes. Your dev teams can build products informed by the business initiative that outlines its place in the market. Your business team can see the development of the product they're marketing and advertise its upcoming release.

ALL OF THE FRAMEWORKS

Want Jira Portfolio but don't know how it will work in your framework? Atlassian washes those worries away with Jira Portfolio's Framework-Agnostic compatibility. No matter what framework your organization uses, Jira Portfolio will always be a perfect fit. 

LOW COST POINT

Jira Portfolio makes your Jira instance even more robust by driving down development costs, but your savings don't end there. Jira users can expand their Atlassian product suite to include Jira Portfolio, gaining the highest functionality of strategic planning software available at a fraction of the cost of competitors. 

With Atlassian's new Jira Portfolio, you can achieve your best business processes. Drive costs down with strategic planning, easy cross-team collaboration, and high-level reporting to take your organization to a whole new level. At Praecipio Consulting, we're just as excited about Jira Portfolio as our clients! And...we're thrilled to offer a first look inside the hot new offering in our upcoming Jira Portfolio webinar on November 5th. Join one of our Solutions Architects and Certified ScrumMaster, Amanda Babb, to learn how to unlock the power of Jira Portfolio.

Wherever you want to go with the Atlassian product suite, we'll take you there.

Topics: atlassian blog atlassian-summit best-practices process-consulting consulting-services marketplace-apps
4 min read

The Future of Atlassian: Blowing Minds at Summit '14

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 17, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Make a list of all the things you'd like to see in new and existing Atlassian products. Dream big. Get thoughts from other Atlassian users. Then- build, test, deliver and repeat. No, this isn't the Atlassian version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

It's the future of Atlassian- and your mind will be blown!

Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes kicked off Summit 2014 in San Jose, CA with an Opening Keynote that not only inspired the audience, but moved them to on-going applause as one-by-one new products and features were announced. For those of us streaming the presentation remotely, HipChat rooms all over the world were surely abuzz with excited talk about the new offerings, all of which were on our personal wish lists! 

Without further adieu, we present six more reasons that Atlassian is the shiz: 

6. The Atlassian Family is growing!


Atlassian is expanding- and we don't just mean their product line.

They've welcomed 9,000 new users (Many of whom we've introduced to Atlassian!), added over 300 new Atlassian team members, spent 1,600 hours giving back to non-profits and, most notably, opened a new office in Austin, Texas (but we're biased). 

It's a good thing Atlassian added to their ranks, because they are going to be very busy with the next 5 announcements!

5. HipChat comes to iOS8!

All the Apple users of HipChat had their (mindblown) when Atlassian announced the new HipChat app for iOS8.

The re-designed app allows you to view HipChat in your lock screen and go straight to notifications in an easy-to-use pull down screen for reading and replying.

Just when we thought we couldn't love HipChat any more than we already did! 

4. Holy Confluence 5.7, Batman!

Wouldn't it be nice to simultaneously work on a single, shared document in Confluence and offer in-line comments to collaborators on pages and attachments?

Atlassian thought so too- that's why they included these real-time, collaboration-enhancing features to their already robust CMS.

The fastest way to get your non-technical team members to love Atlassian? Introduce them to Confluence 5.7.

3. Unlimited Customer Usage of Jira Service Desk!

Since making its debut at Summit 2013, Jira Service Desk has quickly become one of Atlassian's hottest, most used products. Thousands of teams received thousands of requests through Jira Service Desk- and now, all those customers are FREE.

With new, agent-based pricing, you get Jira Service Desk 2.0 for your team to serve as many customers as you can. Just one price, no matter the size of your client base! 

2. Stash in the Enterprise! 

Stash is the latest Atlassian product, after Jira and Confluence, to join the Data Center offering- and it's set to be the biggest Data Center release yet!

The first high-availability Git repository, Stash Data Center is a dream for teams running mission-critical processes with no room for downtime and a great need for scalability. 

1. Introducing Jira Portfolio!

On the last day of Summit, attendees packed into Demo Alley to get a glimpse of the newest addition to the Atlassian product line: Jira Portfolio.

The world's largest companies leverage Jira for this purpose- and Atlassian is providing even more planning, reporting and traceability than ever before!

Improved strategizing, change response and growth planning? We're signing up right now!

Where are you going with Atlassian? 

Judging by the non-stop excitement and discuss by our team, nobody is more enthusiastic about the future of Atlassian than Praecipio Consulting! 

Our passion is improving your processes- making them better, faster and stronger so you can achieve best practices for your best product- and those are the tools Atlassian builds.

No matter if you're a new user, a small start-up or an industry giant- wherever you want to go with Atlassian...

...We'll take you there.

Topics: jira atlassian news blog atlassian-summit best-practices bitbucket confluence hipchat mobile jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
1 min read

Stash in the Enterprise: Meet Stash Data Center

By Christopher Pepe on Sep 17, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Atlassian shot into the Enterprise with the release of their revolutionary JIRA Data Center in July, followed by Confluence Data Center in August. Major companies worldwide relying on Enterprise-level, mission-critical processes rejoiced- and now, they have even more reason to celebrate! Now Stash, the popular source code management for Git, is the newest Data Center offering from Atlassian. Currently in its beta version, the first and only platform of its kind to provide a highly available, scalable solution to collaborative Git teams of unlimited sizes with countless products and processes, Stash Data Center brings optimal uptime, the utmost reliability and unlimited scalability. It's only been a week since Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes introduced us to Stash Data Center in the Opening Keynote of Summit, but the IT community is already buzzing over the newest addition to the Atlassian Enterprise family!

Let's meet Stash Data Center!

AVAILABILITY

Using active-active node clustering, your Stash instance is always up and running! Should a node go down, the load balancer distributes the processes of the failed component to keep your workflow moving and kick off node repair. Once the node is fixed, Stash Data Center automatically updates your data with rapid re-indexing so you never miss a beat.

SCALABILITY

Whatever size your instance, Stash Data Center scales to your needs. The platform ensures your Git repository can be accessed quickly, efficiently and at all times- no matter how many users and functions are running concurrently. Have more data than you can handle? Just add another node to your instance to help share the load

SECURITY

Control who has access and permissions within your Git repository with Stash Data Center's robust security options, as well as customizable workflows to get the right code to the right people. Operating on premise and behind the firewall and using global, project, repository and branch level permissions, Stash Data Center provides the safest way yet to run mission-critical Git processes.

Atlassian thrilled new and existing users across the world with their six big product announcements and Enterprise teams everywhere cheered over Stash Data Center! 

Topics: atlassian blog atlassian-summit best-practices bitbucket enterprise reliability repositories scalability uptime data-center git high-availability atlassian-products

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

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

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