2 min read

Getting to DevOps: Where to start? Where is done?

By Michael Kelly on Sep 25, 2018 11:00:00 AM

As with life, the only constant in DevOps is change. To position your teams to seamlessly flow with the changes and to empower them to innovate, some of the old ideas on Operations and Development practices must be left behind. An integral component of DevOps is culture. An iterative approach to a collective ownership should be taken when planning your move toward a DevOps environment. You can start your DevOps journey by advocating for the adoption of a consolidation of tools designed specifically for DevOps, which provides an environment of transparency and ease of use.


Agile

Adopting Agile development practices, iterative planning and short cycles can alleviate the frustrations that fester as ill-planned deadlines are not met. Developers will be more empowered to meet shorter competitive deadlines while working appropriately planned sprints and have more time to innovate and experiment. Agile development will also be far less likely to produce bugs that are difficult to locate and fix.

Continuous Integration

Adopting the use of CI, you can avoid code that may have to be completely redone when it fails in production. Tests performed on small changes to the code, committed several times a day, have proven to be less prone to failure. Smaller changes lead to higher quality, have less risk, and allow for easier code reviews and locating problems.


Infrastructure as Code to define test, prod, and other environments has proven very successful. Self-service infrastructure for developers to have provisioned, tested against, and disposed of, can bring your team to a place of continuous learning and experimentation and make reactive scrambling to determine what is broken a thing of the past. Utilizing these methods, environments can stay in closer parity with fewer differences and remove the surprises when tests pass on the test environment, but fail in production deployments, as tests are more complete and valid.

Monitoring

Monitoring infrastructure, operating systems, application, and third-party cloud services are crucial in observing trends, understanding the health, and receiving an important feedback loop. Tying all of the monitoring together with a tool specifically designed to do so, and having alerts visible to everyone involved will provide transparency, trends to act proactively on, and ensure that the end user is receiving the highest quality product.

ChatOps

ChatOps is not the same as IM, or instant messaging. ChatOps tools have the capability to integrate with other tools. Seamless integration makes statuses of all the components transparent at all times. Utilizing ChatOps in your DevOps environment provides faster and continuous communication at all phases, from planning to a commit to a production deployment and its effect on the end users.  

Continuous Communication

Select tools that enable continuous communication.

Feedback loops should be real time and visible to teams at all times.

To consider your environment DevOps, you should be in a state of constant and iterative improvementAgile practices, CI, Monitoring, ChatOps, and the flow of Continuous Communication are all necessary steps to reach this goal.

If you're still interested in our approach to DevOps, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar "DevOps: An Interpersonal Approach" on October 10!

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

DevOps + Atlassian = Doing it Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost-effective

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

Integrations

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

Customizable

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

Numerous applications

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

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

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

How to Extinguish Fires with Jira Service Desk Automations

By Brian Nye on Aug 27, 2018 11:00:00 AM

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

While service desk agents do everything they can to avoid firefighting, they are often focused on extinguishing one fire and moving to the next. This usually causes tickets to smolder in some status of "not quite done" until months later when they will finally be closed out (thanks bulk edit!). The good news: there is a way to keep things moving using out-of-the-box functionality. No longer will your metrics be inaccurate because people aren't "moving their tickets through the system." Jira Service Desk can help do the moving for you with automation.

Putting out Smoldering tickets

Many workflows offer customers a chance to review the ticket before closing. But, replying to the work request isn't always the top priority of the customer, which in turn, leaves the ticket to smolder in an almost done state. Instead, Jira Service Desk can help you do a fully extinguish the request by doing a couple of things, messaging the customer on impending closure and auto closing the ticket with no response. Just follow these steps below.

Step 1: Create SLAs

While this may seem odd, SLAs can be used for more than just metrics, they are a great trigger for automations due to the extended functionality SLAs bring in Jira Service Desk. Start by creating two SLAs, call them Time in Resolved - Customer Notification and Time in Resolved. Set Time in Resolved - Customer Notification to the parameters shown in the screenshot below. Note, the SLA time can be changed depending on the amount of time you want to elapse before notifying the customer that their ticket will be closed. The SLA for Time in Resolved will have the same start and stop conditions, but put the goal time to be more than the goal of the notification trigger (for example, if the notification is set to send 120 hours after entering the status, than set the goal for the auto close to be 168 hours as this will give 48 hours for the customer to respond).

Step 2: Create Jira Service Desk Automations

Great, now that these SLAs are in place, let's use them to trigger Jira Service Desk Automations.  

Step 2a: Time in Resolved - Customer Notification

For this Automation, you will want to set the When to trigger off of the Time in Resolved - Customer Notification SLA when the SLA has been breached. Feel free to add an optional If statement should there be situations in which the SLA should not be executed. Lastly use the Public Comment option for the Then statement to send a message that the customer will receive. Included is a screenshot of this automation.

Step 2b: Auto Close Resolved Ticket

For this Automation, you will want to set the When to trigger off of the Time in Resolved SLA when the SLA has been breached. Feel free to add an optional If statement should there be situations in which the SLA should not be executed. Lastly use the Transition Issue option for the Then statement to move the issue to the final status. Note that it is best to use a hidden transition which does not require any fields or info as this is done through an automation. Included is a screenshot of this automation.

Step 3: Find other small fires to put out using automations

This is just one example of how automations can be used to keep customers engaged on the ticket and closing out issues that have been resolved. This same logic can be applied to many different areas in Jira Service Desk and can keep your front line firefighters focused on the hot spots and less time doing clean up!

If you still want to learn more about Jira Service Desk automations in action, join us for our next webinar on September 12, 11 a.m. CST: Automation with Jira Service Desk.

Topics: jira blog automation optimization process-consulting consulting-services itsm jira-service-desk jira-service-management
3 min read

The Intranet is Dead! | Praecipio Consulting

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

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

Most organizations have common goals that include:

  • Improved collaboration between teams/departments

  • Improved searching for resources within the organization

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

  • Corporate identity 

  • A system that's easy to update and maintain

These organizations also have common challenges:

  • Complicated customizations 

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

  • Integration with other tools 

  • Mobile access 

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

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

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

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

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

Why Linchpin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: blog confluence implementation consulting-services
4 min read

Save Millions in a Matter of Minutes with Jira Service Desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When (triggers):

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

If (conditions):

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

Then (actions):

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

Automation in Practice

Setting the priority of incoming incidents

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

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

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

Save Millions–Really?

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

Gartner

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

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

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

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

Five Signs You Can Forgo A Custom Jira Service Desk Implementation

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

Implementation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Your organization has a low-risk tolerance.

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

5. Your organization lacks the necessary resources.

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

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

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

Five Ways to Make a Team Space in Confluence

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 16, 2018 11:00:00 AM

While creating a space for your team in Confluence may seem like a simple undertaking, creating one that users actually want to interact is far from easy. We know what can happen when you miss the mark: you've got a team space, but it's a mess - nobody knows where to find anything, there's no consistent structure, and nobody actually uses it. It’s not hard for a space to become a documentation black hole - documents enter, never to be seen again.

Confluence is an industry leader due to its revolutionary capabilities. A well implemented Confluence workspace breaks down team silos, is specifically geared for turning conversations between team members into action, centralizes all information in one space, and fosters and encourages a culture of open teamwork.

Here’s the good news: creating a team space doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. With the right structure and out-of-the-box Confluence tools, you can easily create a space for your team that you don't have to bribe them to use.

5 Steps to a Collaborative Confluence Team Space

1. Create a landing page

The first page that you see when you go to your team space needs to be clear and appealing. If the space’s landing page is too cluttered, your user's eyes will glaze over before they get any useful information out of it. On the other hand, if the page is sparse with no useful information, why would they keep going?

For your landing page, you want to include information about the space: this is where you can throw in a bit of basic information about the team and its members, but you ultimately want to focus on what will be useful for your team. Using a Children Display macro on this page can give users a better understanding of where they can find information in the space as a whole. You can determine how many layers to show, and even include excerpts of the pages below. Similarly, you can link to commonly used pages or provide some navigation hints customized to your space. Now that you’ve got users in the space, you want to make the rest of the experience just as clear.

2. Establish a hierarchy

We recommend thinking about setting up the space as people will look at it - what do they see first? The top-level pages - so start there. They could be anything (and everything) from projects or training to team building. You’ll want to make sure you include any information you want your team to know, without flooding them with a ton of first-level pages. 

You can empower users to build this space with you by using the Create from template macro to help enforce your hierarchy. Including the macro on a high-level page allows your team to click a button to create the right page in the right location (if you customize your space templates, these pages can even include the correct macros and labels you need to report on them in other places). Once you've got an idea of how you want the space to be structured, you'll want to address the ever-important content that lives within the space (that's why we're here, isn't it!). 

3. Make it easy to find information

There are several things you can do right off the bat to keep users engaged and ensure they have what they need to do their jobs. Using the space shortcuts on the sidebar can call out commonly used pages - either in Confluence or external pages. Confluence also has some built-in macros that can improve your content with little effort:

Your pages look great, but who do you want to see them?

4. Restrict what you have to

Confluence allows permissions to be set by space and by page. This means you can lock down individual pages that may be more sensitive, and open up the important ones for viewing and/or editing by the team. Be careful not to lock the space down more than you need to - space and page permissions are great for security, but don't let them be a barrier to collaboration.

Once your space is set up, the next step is about keeping it simple.

5. Cut out unnecessary information

Knowing what doesn't belong in your team space is as important as knowing what does. We've all seen the overflowing wikis, filled with personal user notes or docs that have been around longer than you have. Personal spaces in Confluence are there for a reason - users can track information that isn't relevant to the team in their own space, without filling your space with irrelevant information. Archive information that isn't relevant anymore - Confluence pages track when they were last updated, and using the Attachment macro lets you track that for all of your space attachments as well.

Now you're ready to build out an awesome Confluence team space. Say goodbye to documentation black holes and e-mails from your team asking where to find information and hello to easy collaboration!

Still have questions? Let us know.

Topics: blog confluence teams tips collaboration consulting-services
4 min read

DevOps ROI: Streamline Processes, Improve Outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost of Excess Rework

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost of Downtime

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

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

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

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

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

That's a reduction of $1,600,000!

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

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

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

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

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

The Praecipio Consulting formulas:

Tools + training = process improvement

Process improvement = cost savings and increased value (goal)

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

Looking to make a DevOps transformation? Contact us today.

* = 2016 DevOps Data Report

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

Reduce the Costs of Outages by Using Jira Service Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working in Multiple Systems

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

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

Alert Overload

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

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

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

Lack of Communication and Visibility

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

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

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

How we can help

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

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

Mitigate Risk with Secure Content for Confluence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come On. Three Weeks?

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

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

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

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

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

Using Scrum and Kanban Boards to Improve Communication

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

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

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

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

Step 1: What do you want to see?

Step 2: Board Selection

Step 3: Share and Use 

Step 1: What do you want to see?

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

Step 2: Board selection

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

Kanban Board

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

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

Scrum Board

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

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

Agility Board

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

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

Step 3: Share and Use

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

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

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

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

Agile Batch Size: An Ode to Laundry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Achieve GDPR Compliance with the Atlassian Stack 

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

What is GDPR?

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

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

Why GDPR?

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

The GDPR Checklist

Backward compliance

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

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

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

Maintaining Compliance in Confluence with Secure Content 2.0

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

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

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

Features Include:

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

Custom Compliance Solutions

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

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

Turbo Kit for Jira and the Case of the Missing Millions

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

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

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

Data Accuracy is Important

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

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

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

Validated Data Will Show You the Patterns You Care About

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

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

Mystery Solved, Case Closed

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

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

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

How Samsung does lean ITIL® with Jira Service Desk

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

October 12, 2017

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Find your pain points

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

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

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

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

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

Samsung’s lean ITIL processes

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

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

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

Process

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

Communication

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

Transparency

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

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

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

Expert Tips to Enhance Collaboration

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

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

 

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

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

Everybody Needs an Editor.

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

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

The Marketplace of Ideas

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

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

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

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

Members Only

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

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

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

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

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

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

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

Jira for Asset Management

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

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

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

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

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

Tickets for Total Traceability

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

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

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

System Fields- Who is responsible for the asset?

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

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

Custom Fields

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

Security Schemes

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

 

Maximizing Your ROI

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

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

Best Practices in ITAM

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

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

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

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

Top 5 Ways Jira Portfolio Increases ROI

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

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

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


5. INITIALIZE YOUR INITIATIVES

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

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

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

 

4. THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE RIGHT JOB

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

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

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

 

3. EASY ESTIMATION

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

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

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

 

2. SCRUM AND KANBAN- YOU GET BOTH!

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

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

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

 

 

1. LET'S GET REAL

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

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

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

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

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

All images courtesy of "Dilbert" by Scott Adams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fail fast... then fix it!

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

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

Accidents will happen.

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

Limit Defects, Avoid Loss, Increase Productivity

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

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

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

JIRA Portfolio: Atlassian's Latest & Greatest Release

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

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

 

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

ONE SOURCE FOR ALL

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

ON TIME, EVERY TIME

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

TELL BETTER STORIES

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

ALL OF THE FRAMEWORKS

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

LOW COST POINT

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

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

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

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

Brikit: Getting More From Your Confluence Investment with Theme Press

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 7, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Software developers have known for years that Confluence is the ultimate collaboration tool. While the value may be apparent for some parts of your organization, others might be intimidated by new technologies, preventing your company from reaping the full return on your Confluence investment. Accentuating the power of Confluence to share information, Brikit's Theme Press gives companies an out-of-the-box tool that will trigger a Confluence adoption craze across your whole organization. Perfect for company intranets as well as external use, the beautiful design and unrivaled usability of Theme Press gives you the flexibility to customize your website for your purposes.

At Praecipio Consulting, we customized our Confluence-based website utilizing Theme Press while incorporating new pages and content into the same design. Victor Vargas, Praecipio Consulting's in-house graphic artist, pushed Theme Press to the max and was excited about the results. "As a designer, it's an effective and robust platform to use." Our new website even caught the attention of Brikit founder Darryl Duke, who featured praecipio.com (at 6:54) in this online Theme Press demonstration. To that end, we at Praecipio Consulting are excited to add Theme Press implementation to our robust service offerings, bringing this innovative platform to new and existing Confluence users. Contact us to learn how Praecipio Consulting can revolutionize your Confluence with Theme Press.

Theme Press has taken Confluence outside of the development team silo and launched a simple, dynamic, user-friendly platform that increases adoption across your organization. With customization, endless design possibilities and the easiest of editing capabilities, Theme Press puts a new spin on an old Atlassian classic to bring Confluence to a wider audience than ever before. 

Check out praecipio.com at 6:54!

Topics: blog brikit confluence implementation technology-partners consulting-services integration marketplace-apps
4 min read

How to Customize your Jira Dashboards

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 12, 2012 11:00:00 AM

About Dashboards and Gadgets

The Jira Dashboards is the first screen you see when you log in to Jira. It can be configured to display many different types of information, depending on your areas of interest.

If you are anywhere else in Jira, you can access your Jira Dashboards view by clicking the ‘Dashboards‘ link in the top left corner of the Jira interface.

The information boxes on the dashboard are called Gadgetsjira-4_1-jira-dashboard-example

If your user account has only one dashboard, the tabs on the left of the browser window will not be available and the dashboard will occupy the full window width.

 

You can easily customise your dashboard by choosing a different layout, adding more gadgets, dragging the gadgets into different positions, and changing the look of individual gadgets.

You can also create more pages for your dashboard, share your pages with other people and choose your favorites pages, as described in Managing Multiple Dashboard Pages. Each page can be configured independently, as per the instructions below.

 See the big list of all Atlassian gadgets for more ideas.

This gadget will only be available if it has been installed by your Jira administrator.

 

  The Firebug add-on for Firefox can significantly degrade the performance of web pages. If Jira is running too slowly (the Jira dashboard, in particular) then we recommend that you disable Firebug. Read this FAQ for instructions.

 

Creating a Dashboard

The dashboard that you see when you first start using Jira is a “default” dashboard that has been configured by your Jira administrator. You cannot edit the default dashboard; but you can easily create your own dashboard, which you can then customize as you wish.

To create your own dashboard:

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Tools‘ menu.
  2. Select either ‘Create Dashboard‘ to create a blank dashboard, or ‘Copy Dashboard‘ to create a copy of the dashboard you are currently viewing.

You can now customize your dashboard as follows:

 

If you are using multiple dashboard pages, you can only configure dashboard pages that you own.

 

Choosing a Dashboard Layout

To choose a different layout for your dashboard page (e.g. three columns instead of two):

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Edit Layout‘ link. A selection of layouts will be displayed:
  2. Click your preferred layout.

Adding a Gadget

  1. At the top right of the Dashboard, click the ‘Add Gadget‘ link.
  2. A selection of gadgets will be displayed:

     Select a category on the left to restrict the list of gadgets on the right to that category.
  3. Click the ‘Add it now‘ button beneath your chosen gadget.
  4. Click the ‘Finished‘ button to return to your Dashboard.
  5. If the gadget you have selected requires configuration, you will be presented with the gadget’s configuration page. Configure appropriately and click ‘Save‘.

Moving a Gadget

To move a gadget to a different position on your dashboard:

  • Click the gadget and drag it into its new position.

Removing a Gadget

To remove a gadget from your dashboard:

  1. Hold your mouse over the top right corner of the gadget, until a down-arrow appears.
  2. Click the down-arrow to display the following menu:       
  3. Click ‘Delete‘.
Topics: jira atlassian blog implementation issues management optimization process-consulting project tips tricks tracking consulting-services
1 min read

CTXAUG First Meeting at Scholz Beer Garten

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 22, 2011 11:00:00 AM

We’re excited to host the first Central Texas Atlassian User Group next month – a place for Atlassian users (Jira, Confluence, Greenhopper, Crucible, etc) to connect and share ideas. We’re expecting over 50 attendees, so we’ll be starting off with a bang!

The meeting details:
Thursday, March 17, 2011
6:00PM to 8:15PM
Scholz Beer Garten
1607 San Jacinto Boulevard (at 17th Street)
North Dining Room
Austin, TX 78701

We’ll provide some pizza to munch on. Beer can be purchased at the bar. Expect mingling, brief group planning, and two fantastic speakers:

Christopher Pepe, Praecipio Consulting
Sean deBardelaben, AT&T

To RSVP, visit our Meetup page or our Eventbrite page.

Topics: jira atlassian praecipio-consulting news blog atlassian-community-event austin central confluence crucible groups texas user consulting-services greenhopper
1 min read

We [Also] Offer SharePoint, Custom Development Services

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 8, 2011 11:00:00 AM

We do SharePoint. So do other companies. We develop custom software and web parts. So do other companies. If you walk outside, you may hear to the cacophony emitting from the rooftops: “Need SharePoint? Custom this? Custom that? Talk to us. Talk to US. TALK TO US!”

We participate in this because we have to. That’s how messages get heard. And now for a cliché marketing statement: we’re different from our competitors. But get past the cliché and consider our competitive advantage:

As a small firm, we’re able to execute our projects with more care and intentionality than most large firms. You’ll be acquainted with most of our team, including our Founder, throughout the course of the project effort – which creates a better sense of commitment and accountability in our relationship with you. Our small team has broad capabilities: whether you need SharePoint hosting, ITIL consulting, custom development, process improvement, …you’ll be working with the same group of people.

As social entrepreneurs, we leverage a unique type of capital in business. Market capitalism is built on such tangibles as land, labor, and financial capital, while social capitalism is built on creative, intellectual, and social capital – and a strong sense of community and involvement in the surrounding community. We strive to be engaged in what’s going on around us, using our resources to respond to the needs of our customers, community, and industry. As both businesses and individuals, we’re responsible for the collective well-being of our communities.

Praecipio Consulting is improving the community by enabling businesses to reduce their process-generated waste – making our environment more sustainable while reducing our clients’ costs. With competitive pricing, diverse capabilities, and a commitment to our services that isn’t based on numbers alone, we offer an experience that’s literally different than what you’ll find out there.

So, need SharePoint? Need custom development? Talk to us. We [also] want to help you.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog bpm business management process sharepoint waste consulting-services continuous-improvement development itil bespoke

Merry Christmas!

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 24, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

From the Praecipio Consulting team, Merry Christmas! We hope you have an enjoyable Christmas holiday.

We’ll be taking a break from our blog over the next week while we celebrate the holiday, so this is our last post of 2010. Thanks again to all of you who gave us feedback on our posts; we’re glad to hear our blog has offered valuable perspective on IT, BPM, project management, and a host of other enterprise matters. We enjoy helping others, and look forward to blogging more in 2011.

Until next year,
Christian, Joseph, Chris, and Brian…who escaped this photo.

Topics: news blog bpm enterprise management project consulting-services it
2 min read

Partner Spotlight: Christian Lane

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 30, 2010 11:00:00 AM

This week we spotlight Christian Lane, our firm’s Founding Partner. The eight QA’s below enlighten readers by revealing who Christian Lane is and how Praecipio Consulting got started. Enjoy:

Brian: What’s your role at Praecipio Consulting?
Christian: “As Founding Partner, I set the strategic direction and pace of the business.”

Brian: Personally, what do you like about your position?
Christian: “The challenges. I tend to get bored easily; the diverse set of challenges we help our clients through (and work through ourselves) keeps me motivated. I’m in a position to help organizations reduce and eliminate inefficiencies and waste, improving their bottom line. That’s exciting to me.”

Brian: What spawned your idea to start Praecipio Consulting?
Christian: “I’ve spent a lot of time and energy in my career helping companies solve business problems and improve profit margins…I felt a consulting business model was one that I could grow. I hail from a long line of entrepreneurs and business owners – and since process and technology are my core capabilities, the consulting business seemed like a fit.”

Brian: What personal traits help you with your job?
Christian: “I’ve been told I excel in leadership – that’s where I’ve had a lot of success and recognition.”

Brian: You’ve said some things about efficiency at this point. What usually causes inefficiency in organizations?
Christian: “A lack of repeatable, well-defined processes within a good technology framework that facilitates good process. Also, politics and protecting of turf tend to keep businesses in silos of under-performance.”

Brian: What motivates you when you’re working client-side?
Christian: “To put this simply, I love solving problems and helping others. We can use our strengths to save companies money and improve their profit margins, enabling them to do what they do better. I love that, we love that…and over time, our clients love it too.”

Brian: You have a day off. What do you do?
Christian: “I enjoy tending to my vegetable garden – I get a lot of peace getting my hands dirty and participating in the lifecycle of plants and food. Part of my fascination with growing food and plants is experimentation with nature’s processes, transactions, and cycles. Ultimately, everything in life is subject to the same constraints and basic elements, and has a life cycle. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; gardening gives me a real sense and reminder of that.

Aside from gardening, I like to keep active. I enjoy wake boarding, fly fishing, whitewater kayaking, running, mountain biking – anything outdoors – as well as spending time with my lovely wife and two dogs.”

Brian: What is the airspeed velocity of an African swallow?
Christian: “That’s funny, are you searching for the Holy Grail? This question reminds me of a skit/presentation we did while I was at Tactica Technology Group eight or so years ago in Dallas. The skit was a spoof on Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. We took the plot from the movie and applied it to a huge EDI project we completed for a major utility in Dallas in preparation for the deregulation of the Texas Electric Market – it was cheesy, but fun.

As for the actual answer, I’d have to look that one up; I don’t know a thing about African swallows. I don’t think I’ll register this one to memory either…as Einstein put it, ‘Never memorize what you can look up in books."

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog partners consulting-services continuous-improvement
1 min read

Looking Forward to SXSW 2011

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 4, 2010 11:00:00 AM

We’re excited to announce that Praecipio Consulting’s Christian Lane and Brian Nunnery are helping out with SXSW 2011as Interactive Liaisons. From now until the March festival, Christian and Brian will be using their strong communication and management skills to ensure that SXSW speakers and presenters have the support they need for their panels and presentations. It’s important for us to promote creativity and drive innovation, so we’re jazzed about having a hand in this year’s event.

Since the late 1980s, SXSW has attracted national attention by showcasing the latest technology and trends in film, music, and interactive media. In recent years, nearly 100,000 folks have flocked to Austin to attend the festival, which has served as the launchpad for such tech apps as Twitter and Foursquare. If you’re thinking of coming to SXSW’s film, music, or interactive festivals, check out the 2011 schedule. If you wouldn’t miss it for the world, then we’ll count on seeing you there!

Topics: praecipio-consulting news sxsw twitter consulting-services
1 min read

We're Social Capitalists

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 19, 2010 11:00:00 AM

At Praecipio Consulting, we’re proud to call ourselves social capitalists. We’re a group of socially-minded people who want to help our local and global community while making a profit – proving that businesses can accomplish their business plans and philanthropic goals from under one roof.

As social entrepreneurs, we leverage a unique type of capital in business. Market capitalism is built on such tangibles as land, labor, and financial capital, while social capitalism is built on creative, intellectual, and social capital – and a strong sense of community and involvement in the surrounding community. We strive to be engaged in what’s going on around us, using our resources to respond to the needs of our customers, community, and industry. Throughout our time in the IT and business process consulting business, we’ve been able to spend time helping others.

We believe that as both businesses and individuals, we’re responsible for the collective well-being of our communities. The choices we make impact those around us. Creating a better environment to enjoy as a community takes effort from everyone – and together, we can change the way we live for the better.

Praecipio Consulting is improving the community by enabling businesses to reduce their process-generated waste – making our environment more sustainable while reducing our clients’ costs.

Again, an important part of social capitalism is staying engaged with the community. A part of that is staying in touch with you. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, or here on our blog – or drop by our website for more. What we do today affects our tomorrow, so let’s work together to ensure a better future.

Topics: blog business process consulting-services it
1 min read

The Origins of our Name, Praecipio Consulting: It's What We Do 

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

At Praecipio Consulting, we love our name. Its meaning explains what we do. Most people, of course, have trouble orienting themselves with the name “Praecipio,” asking questions like:

  • “wait, how do you say it?”
  • “so, I’m curious – how do you spell that?”
  • “is it…Spanish?”

For starters, Praecipio is pronounced “Prey-sip-io.” The letters a and e are special in Praecipio. Together, the letters make up æ, a fundamental unit of the Latin and Old English alphabets. This integration of letters is significant, since the solutions we offer are an integration of knowledge and technology.

Praecipio is Latin for the English words anticipate, advise, and instruct. We chose the name because its meaning matches our meaning. Praecipio, by definition, is what we do.

We build and implement custom technology for our clients. With time, our solutions make processes run well, and capture valuable data points that explain the health of the business in terms of efficiency and profit.

These data points help clients anticipate and identify business processes with issues – execution issues or training gaps – enabling them to pinpoint spots for proactive improvement.

Our solutions, therefore, advise our clients on how to become efficient and sustainable – a long-term ROI from our services.

We instruct our clients by helping them develop, implement, and monitor their business processes. While some consulting firms implement a solution and quickly get out the door, stay committed to our clients by monitoring the performance of our solution and making tweaks to ensure the highest rate of success. We believe our clients should get the most out of their investment. Additionally, our solutions facilitate continuous improvement – and can be changed easily in the long-term as the business and economy fluctuate.

Our goal is to make our clients’ businesses run like well-oiled machines, whose productivity can be turned up and down without adversly affecting the firm’s budget. We develop our clients into consistent, sustainable businesses.

Praecipio’s meaning – both as a word and as a firm – is to help others…even if we’re just helping others spell our name.

Topics: blog business management process consulting-services
2 min read

EPB.net: Our Project Management Skills at Work

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 25, 2010 11:00:00 AM

With the help of our project management, Microsoft SharePoint, and Business Process Management services, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB) debuts its new site: EPB.net. EPB is actively building a 100 percent fiber-optic Smart Grid. Their new site will serve as an innovative communication platform for their 160,000+ customers.

EPB.net, designed and developed by Chattanooga-based Medium, follows the August 2009 release of EPBFI.com– designed to engage EPB customers with the company’s upcoming fiber optic service packages. EPB.net features a handful of new customer-focused tools, including a real-time power outage map developed by Medium—an outstanding partner in the project.

We helped because we understand Enterprise-level environments and the way they operate as well as the critical nature of their services.  We helped vendors and the client because we know how to navigate the corporate setting.

We were able exercise our flexibility by marrying our project management methodologies with the Medium Information Architecture methodology. That flexibility, in addition to our leverage of SharePoint as a project management tool, ensured accurate communication and scheduling between Medium and EPB during the EPB.net project. We understand how enterprise-level environments operate and the critical nature of their services. Our team’s knowledge of how to effectively navigate the corporate setting guided Medium and EPB toward organized progress, and made sure EPB’s goals were accomplished on the new site.

“The Praecipio Consulting team served as an advocate to vendors for what I saw this project being,” EPB Vice President of Corporate Communications Danna Bailey said. “They greatly improved the efficiency of the project; we couldn’t have done it without them.”

We facilitated EPB’s success by ensuring all parties involved in the project had what they needed to succeed. We’re happy to announce the launch of another Praecipio Consulting project management success: EPB.net.

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Topics: blog bpm assessments business management optimization process process-consulting project value consulting-services
3 min read

The Consulting Relationship: How the Client and Consultant Achieve Success

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 12, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Who ultimately determines the success of a technology consulting project? The consultant? The client’s primary contact? The client’s employees? One might say the consultant is ultimately responsible for their improvement’s success or failure, since he or she designed it. Another could contest this, saying the primary contact is equally responsible since they usually approve or disapprove of the design and ensures the adoption of the technology in their firm. But what about the employees? They’re usually the ones using the technology, so don’t they determine whether the consulting venture bears fruit for the client?

This illustration proves that all three parties determine the success or failure of a consulting project.

  • The consultant provides a successful set of solutions, best practices, and frameworks to the firm
  • The primary contact acts as a liaison between the consultant and the firm
  • The employees, after training, apply and execute the solution and make it successful

Consulting should involve a positive, collaborative relationship between these three parties. Within this relationship, success is won or lost by how effective and organized the three parties communicate with each other. We believe communication in this context should be clear, concise, and supportive. Since the client’s employees are the ones who make our solutions worthwhile to our client, their engagement and well-being are important to us.

Here are some ways we promote effective communication in our service:

Marketing our service or product to our client’s employees early
As soon as the consultant and primary contact agree to begin working together, employees should know. Let them know change is coming early so they won’t be surprised when it does come—without making any promises you can’t keep. Telling employees when and why the change is needed, and how the change will happen early will ideally squash any false rumors and make employees valuable.

It may be useful in this early phase to gather feedback from employees on the desired change, to better engage employees in the consulting process and make them feel like they had a hand in deciding what the solution would look like, since they’re the ones who will use it. As consultants, we’re pleased when our client’s employees are engaged in our process.

We engage our client’s employees in our 5-step integrated delivery methodology, guiding our client through the Discovery, Design, Development, Activation, and Transfer of their solution. For example, during the Discovery step, we work with employees to map out our client’s business processes. Employees often help us pinpoint process problem areas like bottlenecks, capacity issues, delays, or waste. We then work with employees to create a solid base for developing process solutions. In the Design and Development steps, we work with employees to identify a process’ input and output sources (data points), allowing us to tailor our solution to fit our client’s processes.

Let employees get their hands on it
This too helps employees engage in the consulting process. Playing with the technology a firm is preparing to implement will help them learn to use it ahead of time, and will theoretically speed up their performance once they officially start using the solution in their business processes.

Spend time educating employees
While the employees can play with the technology ahead of time, they probably won’t have the time or ambition to “read the manual.” A training session(s) not only teaches employees how to use the technology, but helps reinforce the purpose of the change and answer any questions employees may have about the technology. Ensuring employees know how and why to use new solution to improve business process is essential to its success, no matter the cost of company time.

Celebrate and communicate success before, during, and after the project
A consultancy is a major business venture. A firm hires a consultant to give them a solution that will improve their performance and financial efficiency so much that it will not only offset the cost of the consultancy, but will yield a significant return long-term. Client management and employees each understand the risks and returns involved in such a venture; success is the only outcome that ensures the client’s are met by the consultant.

Project ROI’s aren’t always visible right away. Even if they are, not all employees involved in the consulting process will encounter them. There’s usually a lot of sensitivity around consulting projects, since the firm is paying a third party to implement an important solution for them. During and after the project, everyone involved will be carrying around binoculars looking for a sign that validates the money they’re spending.

With this in mind, communicating success to everyone involved in the project is essential. The client rightfully wants to know they’re getting what they’re paying for—something that will make them more efficient and profitable. Success not only boosts morale. It qualifies and legitimizes the project, and solidifies the client’s expectation of success.

Pay attention to how employees use the service or product
Remember, a client’s employees ultimately determine the success of a consultant’s solution. The amount of energy they put into adopting a solution, learning how it works, and integrating it into their daily operations determines whether the solution will improve a client’s business processes—and in turn their profitability.

We value our relationships with our clients. Practicing these values ensures our clients’ success and ability to accomplish their business goals on the shoulders of their employees.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog automation bpm assessments business efficiency management optimization practices process process-consulting value consulting-services

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