3 min read

How to effectively communicate across all of your tools

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

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August-Why-more-tools-does-not-mean-better- communication

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

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

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

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

Given that, here are my recommendations:

Jira

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

Confluence

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

Chat (Slack, Teams, etc.)

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

Email

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

Call (Phone, Slack, Zoom, etc.)

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

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

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

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

Work Should Be Pulled, Not Pushed

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

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_Work Should Be Pulled, Not Pushed

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

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

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

Which work environment would you rather be a part of?

Ignore Salt-N-Pepa: don’t push it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Carbon Neutral, Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

By Christopher Pepe on May 4, 2021 11:09:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Praecipios green pathIn 2019 the Praecipio Consulting Green Team was given the goal of creating a carbon neutral future for the company as part of our Climate Action Plan. The Green team had already set its focus on Carbon, Human Health, and Sustainability. The net zero challenge was taken up with the goal of promoting those pillars. Praecipio Consulting has determined that the climate stabilization wedge of Proforestation best meets the company's environmental and human health goals. Our value "Maximize mutual benefit" is exemplified by the parcels that Praecipio Consulting has contributed to protecting. 

Finding our path

Praecipio Consulting initially rolled out a generous Green Stipend program to incentivize change in employees daily lives, and encourage others to do so as well. Through education and incentive we aimed to amplify the good that we could do. To reach carbon neutrality we would credit Praecipio Consulting for the carbon emissions that where eliminated by positive changes in behavior. Many employees improved insulation, installed new efficient windows, etc. Ultimately that program proved ineffective, however, it laid the groundwork for our future. The main issue was that the Green Stipend encouraged a holistic lifestyle change whose benefits were multifaceted, but the success of the program was only measured by the reduction in one's carbon emissions. The cost per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e, a standard measure used to model carbon footprint) was too high for the program to reach carbon neutrality on budget.

The Green team wished to retain the behavioral incentive component of the Green Stipend. Since inception, the Green team has delivered presentations via a monthly all hands State of the Business, on how we arrived at a climate crises, and more importantly, how individuals can change their behavior for a future that is reintegrated with the natural world.

Praecipio Consulting also needed to achieve its publicly stated goal of being carbon neutral in 2020 and beyond. One obvious solution was to buy carbon offsets from any number of sources. There are publicly available volunteer markets (also regulated markets for carbon intensive regulated industry but that does not apply to this type of business), as well as many afforestation companies that are replanting forests all over the world. Digging into each of these options ultimately made us feel that while we could check the carbon neutral box, it wasn't maximizing mutual benefit. Carbon exchanges offer very cheap credits with little insight into their source. Credits may come from a forest, or they may come from any number of other sources, some of which are of questionable utility to addressing climate change. Afforestation is a noble cause, and we support organizations involved in those activities like TreeFolks. However, a 1" sapling planted today will take decades to sequester any amount of carbon and we simply don't have that much time. We applaud these organizations, and will continue to fund them because we will need those trees in the future, however we felt we needed to do more now.

Proforestation

Since the 1600s the United States has cut most of its forests. Estimates vary, but it likely that at most 10% of our old growth forests remain and even in heavily forested areas there are surprisingly few undisturbed forests. Europe has achieved some of its carbon goals by purchasing wood pellets from the United States to power electric generation plants. Far too much of these wood pellets are made from clear cutting forests which removes carbon sinks and increases atmospheric carbon. This practice is considered carbon neutral largely due to an accounting error that there is little incentive in acknowledging.

Simply put, proforestation is a management practice where a mature forest is allowed to self-regulate. This is contrasted with active management for timber, biomass fuel, or other disruptive uses. The benefits of mature forest are many including habitat for native species, clean water, and obviously carbon storage. An important finding is that while a mature tree has a slower metabolism than a young tree, it still adds more biomass (mostly atmospheric carbon) than the younger, more vigorous whippersapling.

Because existing trees are already growing, storing carbon, and sequestering more carbon more rapidly than newly planted and young trees (Harmon et al., 1990; Stephenson et al., 2014; Law et al., 2018; Leverett and Moomaw, in preparation), proforestation is a near-term approach to sequestering additional atmospheric carbon: a significant increase in “negative emissions” is urgently needed to meet temperature limitation goals.

Each year a single tree that is 100 cm in diameter adds the equivalent biomass of an entire 10–20 cm diameter tree, further underscoring the role of large trees (Stephenson et al., 2014)

Human Health

Like all humans, Praecipians tend to find comfort, rest, and restoration when in the natural world. The human world is an amazing place filled with bright lights, sounds, and smells, that are largely ours (tho you are really Never Home Alone). The high intensity of the human world is especially draining. We can turn to meditative practices like church, yoga, and other mindful experiences to recharge, however, these are amplified when they occur in a natural setting.

Mature forests are magical and restorative places for humans to spend time. The practice of Forest Bathing has gained popularity, and the recent pandemic-induced shortage of any and all outdoor sports equipment has highlighted how people feel when they are in the natural world. Praecipio Consulting has focused on supporting forests in places that employees can enjoy and recharge. While the goal of keeping these forests wild and productive (with respect to ecological services, and not timber) they will be a refuge to Praecipians for many years to come.

Existing projects as of 2021 Q1

The following are significant proforestation and/or preservation projects that Praecipio Consulting has or continues to support. All are important ecological service providers with wild recreation opportunities. All had the potential to be used in an environmentally non-beneficial way and are now protected to continue to provide those services. The forests store 3 to 5 years of carbon emissions based on Praecipio Consulting's current operational model. Travel to customers was our largest segment of carbon emissions and the pandemic has eliminated that. If the post pandemic world is half as video-conference friendly that will greatly aid in our effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

Praecipios green path-table

Protecting existing forests is a powerful way to maximize the mutual benefit for all living things and promote a resilient and stable environment for life to thrive. At Praecipio Consulting, we pride ourselves of being a people-centered company, and we strive to do business while staying true to our values. Taking care of our planet is centered at the core of who we are.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog culture environment corporate-responsibility green-team
6 min read

Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

By Christopher Pepe on Apr 6, 2021 2:32:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

2020 – What a change!

By now, every technology leader has torn up their plans and strategies as they began a ten-month tactical, fire-fighting effort to move their organization to virtual. In some cases, they were able to assist with changing how people performed their jobs, not just their staff but everyone, in which case they now joined the Digital Age.

CIOs further realized that moving to digital required a move to the cloud, and with it completely new ways of working that took advantage of the internet capabilities and bandwidth. Transferring your data center to a cloud service provider is no more going to cloud than moving your teams to Zoom makes you digital. Cloud requires a different mindset, skillset, and culture on how technology will enable your organization.

2021 is the year CIOs can own the Digital watercooler and change their role to being a Business Technology Officer, integrating software into every aspect of how their company performs tasks and services customers. But first, CIOs must address new ways of hiring, financing, and benefitting from technology, their people, their processes, and their IT. Accelerating the path to digital and cloud is the only way to remain sustainable, competitive, and compliant going forward.

The path has two main steps: funding and the creation of a new operating model

  1. The innovation funding model – iterative investments using VOI as the guide to obtain technology value sustainably

Before you decide on your cloud service provider (CSP) partner and how to migrate your applications, you will need to determine how you fund the migration to enable your organization to do work better, sooner, and safer. You need to separate the process of budgeting – a plan on what resources will be required – and funding, which is the action of providing those resources.

Current budgeting practices limit moving to the cloud and digital by:

  • Asking individuals to annually decide what they will need – and how would you know in this VUCA world?
  • Constricting work to be feature-focused but with no indication of what it will add to customer satisfaction or help staff perform better
  • Adding to technical and cultural debt with no strategy as to paying it off

The central dilemma of every executive board is how to plan, fund, and prioritize technology activities. The current best practice is not to use cost savings as a goal and instead let that be an outcome as you do things differently aided by software. You can prioritize by:

  • Application review
  • Moving from a Project mindset to a Product culture
  • Cost of Delay
  • Creating platforms for products
  • Decide on the WHY of moving to the cloud and digital, on HOW it will help, and WHAT tasks will accomplish your goals
    • Faster time to market
    • Reduction of manual activities
    • Making work more compliant
    • Creating workflows that provide agility and flexibility to meet customer demand, staff requirements, competitive threats, and external issues such as Brexit or COVID19
  • Get your entire workforce and significant suppliers to be part of the planning and allow them to focus and contribute to the proposed strategy

Shift-left! Think as your customer or staff and deeply analyze your applications, products, and services. Which ones are unique to you, and which ones could you source from a SaaS provider? Which ones do you no longer need? Now group the applications into product groups and allow your IT teams to create platforms (see next section) to service these groupings from the cloud.

Many organizations follow McKinsey's advice to create a FinOPS team of cross-functional product business leaders or at least a team comprised of IT, Finance, Risk, and HR. FinOPS will frequently negotiate with stakeholders to allocate resources (money, people, etc.) to continue the innovation or improve services. They will base their decisions on the value of investment towards the company. Frequently repeating and communicating this interaction creates the ability to pivot or stop work quickly, creating new behaviors, and embedding new disciplines on technology use.

FinOPS will rely on analytics, reporting dashboards with real-time data, and automated processes to make decisions visible and linked to business activities. Leaders will have to coach a new culture of moving from CAPEX funding to OPEX. This team will also introduce training to upskill the entire organization on how technology is applied and that by making use of cloud and digital, they will not lose their roles.

Where needed, a partner such as Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting can help you begin this journey of becoming a sustainable business, maximizing resources while reducing costs and making the entire process transparent.

 2. You have the funding model, and now you need the digital cloud operating attitudes, behaviors, and culture to achieve scalability, agility, and continuity

Can you answer these questions?

  • Which business workloads are most important to your company?
  • What are your goals by business line for the next quarter and year?
  • What are your obstacles to these goals?
  • What are your strengths for achieving these goals?

Taking the answers to these questions, review what activities you have planned in your IT department. If a user story or request is not helping solve a problem or achieve a goal, stop it. The FinOps should ask these questions monthly, which will influence resource allocation decisions for technology tasks. Visualizing findings to the company will illustrate the importance of product stories while embedding the capability of pivoting or stopping work, as necessary.

Your operating model will require:

  • A compensation model mapped to the technical activities that are not divisive
  • A full review of your applications mapped to the business lines
  • A map of the way data flows throughout your organization
    • What it entails
    • How it is used
    • Storage, archival, and continuity requirements
    • Security and access obligations
    • Tools that maintain the applications
    • A full list of proposed enhancements
    • Server, network, storage, and operating system supporting them
    • If provided to a specific location, why and how

Using this list, technology leadership needs to help the company move from a project model to a product model. Services must be led by an owner fully accountable for the resources and associated workload, including packaging software into chunks (platforms) that can be used interchangeably throughout the company.

FinOPS and the Product Owners can collaborate on which business domains would benefit most from enhancing the applications used to provide their services. Management can utilize the model to ensure that the right CSP is chosen for each platform. As you mature, you can empower your development teams to decide the best CSP for designing and deploying platforms, be they SaaS or containers. At the beginning of your journey, the strategy should be to communicate the intent and collaborate on the outcomes.

FinOPS also needs to be cloud-savvy. The pricing and SLA options are numerous and complicated. You need to ensure that what you choose is the right decision. You also need to affirm the best path for migrating your application and data to the CSP. Should you port it as it is (provides little benefit), rewrite the application, switch the workload to a SaaS provider? Remember that the avoidance of technical debt, adding to cloud migration's complexity, must be avoided.

There is no shortcut or other option to having Product Owners. You cannot interject a translator or business analyst between what people call the business and your IT. You are all part of the same company, and technology needs to be owned by the business area that provides that service. Further, the people that support these services need to feel that they also own and contribute to these services. This change in attitude and behavior will reduce incidents, increase innovation agility, and enhance your employees' satisfaction, who will feel empowered to see their contribution to the business goals.

The cloud offers the capability of completely altering the way you use technology. Do you need a new instance or environment? Build it, use it, dismantle it, and all within a few minutes at a minimum cost. The software lifecycle of products will be a combination of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, depending on the services' platform. Data lakes can share information across the company powered by analytic and reporting tools that would not be accessible to you unless you are quite large.

Security and continuity are other strengths of the cloud as you adopt the framework used by your CSP. Using IAM and Zero-trust security concepts will ensure that you do not become front-page news. Product Owners will have to maintain the governance model required and test it as part of any software change using DevSecOps practices. Scalability, both up and down, is another cloud and digital feature, enabling you to offer new products that can sense and respond to demand.

Are you worried about regulations? Globally FinOPS and Product Owners are finding that regulatory bodies, such as the Bank of England, are moving to the cloud themselves and more than willing to help ensure that their mandates are provisioned accordingly by your CSP. Even if you use a hybrid approach of more than one CSP, which leadership needs to consider, the governance and management models exist via SIAM® to support cloud and digital operating models' best strategies.

The business product operating model is not to become vendor dependent but instead use microservices and containers so that you can migrate your applications as needed to another CSP or a different offering with little effort. This abstraction mode offers the best efficiency in technology enablement. The FinOPS and Product Owners will help to create the loose guardrails to be used by your staff and IT teams as they develop software provisioned products and workloads of your business

In summary

Done correctly, the number of technology instances and applications you currently maintain will decrease but not the requirement of technical skills. Your business flexibility behaviors should be to create agility via innovative use of software, cloud, and digital. Done correctly, the time to market and lower technology costs will be your outcomes. Let all of your organization be involved in the migration strategy as you join the Digital Age, and if you need help, Praecipio Consulting is here for you.

Topics: blog efficiency finance plan saas cloud culture digital-transformation leadership frameworks
5 min read

Be Notorious Like RBG

By Shannon Fabert on Oct 12, 2020 9:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Social Justice- Be Notorious like RBG

The employees of Praecipio Consulting were devastated by the news of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). To me, and to so many of us here, she was a role model and a major inspiration. I felt a deep and profound loss upon hearing the news. 

Many people don't know this about me, but the first time I remember somebody asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said a Supreme Court Justice. I was only in 1st grade. While I don't remember anybody telling me that was a silly dream, I do remember people saying, "you should be xx instead." It almost always had nothing to do with being smart – it just wasn't what little girls grew up to do. Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated to the court as its first female justice when I was three years old. She was the only woman to serve until RBG was nominated when I was 15. There have been 113 Supreme Court Justices in the history of the United States, yet only four have been women. In 2015, RBG was asked when will there be enough women on the bench, and she said, "When there are nine." 

Regardless of one's political position, RBG's presence on the Supreme Court left an undeniable legacy for women and men across the world. In her memory, we encourage you to read through her 'dissents' during her time on the Supreme Court. While these are highly technical writings, her ability to intellectually challenge the majority voice using the written word absolutely astounds me, making them very worth the read. You don't have to look very far into any of these documents to pick up on the level of intentionality and acuteness she brought to the highest court in the land. 

Image Source: Librado Romero for The New York Times

Many different organizations have pulled together lists of her achievements as well, from co-founding the ACLU Women's Rights Project to winning cases before the Supreme Court, long before becoming a Justice.

There are several ways to reflect upon and honor her legacy:

Learn more about what she fought for

Many resources are readily available to learn about RBG and her legacy – here are a few you can start with!

Donate to organizations with the same values as RBG

Reach out to your senators and reps directly

Forget not that democracy is by and for the people. As constituents, there are several ways that we can provide feedback to our senators and representatives.

If you have feedback, here are some options for contacting your senators and representatives:

It is worth noting that if you want to reach somebody who is not your senator or representative, you will likely not get a response back, as they are not obligated to respond if they don't represent you. If looking to put pressure on or to support these people, signing petitions can be a great way to show support through sheer volume.

Reading this post is only one small thing we can do to remember the legacy that Ruth Bader Ginsburg left. So while you're learning more about her life, don't forget that you too can be Notorious like RBG

 

*At the time of publishing, the Center for Reproductive Rights is currently matching donations in Justice Ginsburg's name.

 

 

Topics: blog culture do-good social-justice social-responsibility
4 min read

How Spore-Infused Canola Oil Supports the Forest Ecosystem

By Christopher Pepe on Sep 25, 2020 11:54:55 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Steering a forest (1)

Last year I switched to grocery store canola oil to lubricate my chainsaw bar. I add Oyster mushroom spores into the oil so that they are dispersed while I cut. This method was developed by Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti and discussed in his book Mycelium Running. There doesn’t appear to be a commercially available product; however, by making it myself at close to the cost of conventional petroleum-based bar oil (~$15/gal), I improve my forest and should have some convenient forage this fall. I am still refining the process of infusing spores into canola oil, but if you are curious to try it, I’d be happy to swap notes.

Why vegetable oil?

Available since the mid-1980s, vegetable-based bar oil usage has grown more rapidly in Europe and is gaining adoption in the US. Workers’ occupational safety and health, and environmental protection are the biggest concerns caused by the thousands of gallons of petroleum-based bar oil that is left in our forests each year.

“Petroleum-based oils are known carcinogens and medical records show that they cause discomforting eczema and oil acne. In addition, prolonged exposure to petroleum-based-oil mist can cause irritation of the respiratory tract. Environmental damage caused by petroleum-based oil spills has had extensive attention from the media.[1]”

Whereas, canola oil “has excellent lubricating properties and some studies have shown up to 40 percent reduction in consumption without sacrificing bar-and-chain life.[1]” Again looking to Europe, we see that there are 80+ brands of vegetable-based bar oil in Germany alone. Austria has gone so far as to outlaw petroleum-based bar oil. Europe has even developed a standard (CEC-L-33-T-82) that measures the amount of oil that biodegrades over a 21-day period. Within that standard, products can contain some mineral oil additives. A popular choice in the US, STIHL BioPlus, degrades 93.8% in 21 days. Commercial vegetable-based bar oils cost about twice as much as petroleum products, which has hurt adoption. But with long-term environmental concerns and sustainability driving today's business decisions more than ever before, that additional cost will be more easily justified.

Canola oil is also a renewable product. It is worth considering that conventional agriculture relies on fossil fuels, and accounts for 10% of the US greenhouse gas emissions [2]. Canola-based bar oil is still seen as a net positive as it keeps the toxins in petroleum-based bar oil out of the forests, and we have the potential to change our agricultural footprint into the future.

Why mushrooms?

Saprobic mushrooms, the decomposers, are the cornerstone of returning nutrients back to the forest. Common native fungi include oysters and Turkey tail. As tree limbs and litter fall to the forest floor, saprobes reach up and consume them. Mycelium, the vegetative part of the mushroom, invades the tree litter, brings along water, and attracts insects that feed on the mycelium. Those insects attract birds and forest creatures to tear apart the rotting wood. The mushrooms start the process, decompose the most difficult tissues (lignin and cellulose), and invite the others to continue the job. This process converts wood back into soil.

There are many functions that mushrooms serve in our world. Oyster mushrooms are known to feed on nematodes[4] and are effective water filters. They’re used by humans and other animals as food and medicine. Turkey tail mushrooms contain anti-cancer medicines, are aggressive decomposers, and protect against parasitic fungi. Many of our best medicines have come from mushrooms and many more are expected to be discovered, especially in the few remaining sections of old-growth forests. There are dozens of powerful mushrooms that humans have partnered with and countless more that we don't even know the value of yet. Perhaps they will share their stories someday.

Why use spore infused canola oil?

Mushroom spores are everywhere. In fact, you have inhaled dozens since you started reading this article. Kathleen Stutzman, VFF’s Conservation Forester, gave me the sage advice that “the forest does not need you to be healthy.” Similarly, the mushrooms do not need me to find their way into deadwood. However, the choices that I make can help steer our forest in the direction I want it to go. By preferring some species, I can speed up decomposition and quickly build the thin soil on my rocky hillside. New research suggests that species like Turkey tail will also ward off potentially destructive species like the honey mushroom[3], one of which is the largest organism to ever live on earth. While honey mushrooms likely serve a function in the forest, they also cause a lot of financial hardship for timber companies. The jury is still out on honey mushrooms in my opinion, but Turkey tail and Oysters mushrooms help decompose everything 3” and smaller that I leave behind, provide us food and medicine, and support the entire forest ecosystem.

References

  1. https://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/html/98511316/98511316.html
  2. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/natural-resources-environment/climate-change/
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPeBYnGwo4Y
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBWzrlCBhCM
Topics: blog culture global-climate-crisis carbon-footprint green-team carbon-neutral social-responsibility
4 min read

How and When to Choose the Right Atlassian Solution Partner

By Christian Lane on Jun 18, 2020 11:44:49 AM

2020 Blogposts_How and When to Chose the Right Atlassian Partner Support

No matter the size of the organization, small business or Fortune 50, most successful companies will come to a point where they need a technology and business solution partner to optimize processes and move projects forward. 

In today's disruptive business world, you may have furloughed employees or lack resources for critical functions. There may be no better time to hire an Atlassian Platinum solution partner, especially if you can’t afford the project to be fumbled. 

However, choosing the right partner can be difficult. All vendors claim to be the best, have impressive client lists, and work with smart people. Where should you start?

First, understand the consequences of a poor decision. Lost opportunity costs, money wasted, boss disappointment, ruined long-term growth, damaged reputation, and careers devastated - maybe even yours. Scary thoughts, indeed. 

A much more pleasant exercise is to consider if the project goes well. If you use company resources well and with a good result, you could be seen as the rising star and be assigned more complex and important projects. With this recognition comes upward career mobility, peer respect,...and a raise!

Make sure these factors are part of your Atlassian partner selection process.

Research 

Your solution partner is happy to tell you about their successful projects, but after they give you their initial pitch, ask some hard questions such as, “What is your Net Promoter Score (NPS)?” NPS is a widely accepted measurement of customer satisfaction and woven into the culture of companies that take the customer experience seriously. The higher the score, the more satisfied the customer is. If they don’t know what NPS is, or they don’t track it, it gives you a good glimpse into their business practices. You will find that companies with a good NPS, want to let you know about it early in the process. Christian LanePraecipio Consulting founder says, “It’s one of the first things we communicate to soon-to-be clients. We want them to know that with an NPS score of 70, they are in good hands, especially since the IT consulting industry average is 31. Setting high expectations for our sales and delivery teams ensures we focus on customer success and continual improvement to our delivery model. This helps earn trust so we can talk next about speed, execution, and value.”

 christian-lane

Other good questions to ask are: 

  • Tell me about your change order volume as a percentage of overall revenue.
  • What is your change control revenue as a percentage of overall revenue? 
  • If something goes wrong in the client relationship, what is a typical reason?
  • What does the discovery process look like?

The method

Be sure to ask about their methods and how they execute during an engagement. IT projects can be complex, and it takes a focused effort from the solution partner and the client to get a good result. Ask about how both teams will stay on track and what the regular cadence of communication is. Do they have a method that marches you toward success? Or do they rely on you to assign tasks? Ask them what quality controls they have in place so that no detail goes unnoticed. Lane’s best advice? “Get a comfort level with reliability and consistency.”

Great partners sell solutions, not just blocks of hours. 

Consultants or operators

No one solution partner has a monopoly on the smartest people, so don’t let the number of certified Atlassian engineers be your sole decision driver. What’s more important is how the talent communicates. Do they simply fix your problems and wait for the next one? Or do they take a more consultative approach and advise on things like, how your projects will connect to your existing infrastructure or the cost-benefit of creating features. Lane summarizes it best when he says, “Consultants help you look through the windshield and see where you are going.”

Ease to do business 

Some operators keep a minimal US team and outsource across the world. This could be problematic due to the differences in time zones slowing down the work, or having a language barrier that requires more middlemen. “It’s an opportunity for error,” Lane says. Don’t let your project be the one that they use to get through a learning curve. All of these factors contribute to how easy it is to do business with the solution partner. 

Getting complex projects off the ground or stalled projects across the finish line is hard enough to do even with the right solution partner. Failing to spend enough time and energy on the vendor selection process can have catastrophic results with major repercussions. However, choosing the right solution partner can get you recognition and bring the rewards that a superstar deserves.

Read more about the different tiers of service here.

Topics: atlassian blog culture atlassian-products nps atlassian-solution-partner
3 min read

How Praecipio Consulting Promotes Wellness & Remote Work Culture

By Robyn Lane on Jun 12, 2020 11:35:50 AM

2020 Blogposts_How Jira helps your team work remotely copy 4

Remote work is our new normal, and the statement “I am here for you whenever you need” has always been my truth to demonstrate my availability to a co-worker or client, at whatever cost. I can honestly say that I've removed "at whatever cost" because of the additional time I have in the day due to not traveling or driving in rush hour traffic, which has allowed me to eat better and make time for regular exercise.

I feel that this shift has made me more available to our team, clients, and family than ever before. Think of all the employees that spend hours in traffic, get sick because someone at the office is sick, or eats a crap diet because who has time to get a real lunch? All of this adds up: long days = lack of sleep and missed workouts. Those are a few things that I do not miss about having to go into an office every day, and I am grateful for the healthier well- being that a remote work lifestyle has allowed me.  

Wellness Challenges

Praecipio Consulting created a robust wellness program where employees can earn up to 5 hours of PTO per month for completing two monthly wellness challenges. They can participate in one or two of the below challenges to earn their extra PTO:

Steps Challenge = 3 hrs of PTO: 10,000 per day x total number of business days per month

Sleep Challenge= 2 hrs of PTO: Women 6 hours/Men 7 hours per night x total number of business days per month 

Water Challenge= 1 hr of PTO: 64 fluid oz per day x total number of business days per month

We use Jira for tracking PTO Credit Hours and Confluence to share information about our Benefits, Health & Wellness Program, a guide to staying healthy. To ensure employees are able to work in the most suitable working environment with tools that help them succeed, all full-time employees can use their annual $600.00 wellness stipend on ergonomic equipment, exercise gear, medical exclusion, health memberships, alternative medicine, and much more. 

For me personally, I've always participated in the wellness program with just water. Being able to work remotely has given me the ability to spend more time with my dog, take our daily walks during lunch, supersede my previous step count, and increase my hours of sleep. Studies have shown remote work, flexible working schedules, and wellness programs contribute to improving employee morale, a decrease in medical claims, and reducing turnover. 

Staying Social While Working From Home

One downside of remote work is not being able to see employees' faces. A solution Praecipio Consulting created was to host a weekly Virtual-Bring-Together, where we connect to Zoom, play games, and engage in fun activities like Bingo, Pictionary, Scavenger Hunts, Cooking with Chef Babb, and Origami. Not only do our team members enjoy our Virtual-Bring-Togethers, but their families do too! 

Considering that most of the country is in a similar position with remote employees (and it sounds like we may be in this position for a while), I feel like we are all healthier and happier because of it. It sure does help that Praecipio Consulting gives me PTO hours for walking, sleeping, and drinking water, AND has found a solution to bring us all together. 

How many raised hands can I get from those folks who do a load of laundry in between calls, only spiffy their look from waist up for that video call, and enjoy the extra money saved from eating whole, nourishing foods from the best diner around (i.e. your kitchen)?

For more tips on now how we facilitate a remote work culture, you can read about how to support remote employees who may feel lonely or how to set yourself up for success when working from home. 

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog culture work-from-home work-life-balance remote-work
2 min read

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

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

2020 Blogposts_DistanceLearningAndAtlassian copy

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

What is a stand-up meeting?

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

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

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

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

How to run a productive stand-up meeting

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

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

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

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

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

Essential Services for Pivoting Your Business During a Pandemic

By Brian Nye on Apr 17, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Services Companies Consider During a Pandemic

2020 has been a roller coaster of a year, and few would have predicted that this year many of us would be working from home and facing some of the most critical challenges of our professional careers. And while this will pass, many leading businesses are taking this time as an opportunity to break away from traditional molds to better position themselves for the next challenge.

Over the past few weeks, we have worked closely with our clients, some of the largest names in their respective industries, to understand where they want to focus their resources to not only weather this storm but also better prepare them for future ones as well. We found that our clients are primarily in need of solutions that keep the business moving forward, connect employees, and control costs. 

Shifting from Legacy Systems

Servers and the teams that maintain them are expensive. This is by no means news to anyone, but when we look at critical systems and infrastructure, most solutions now have cloud options that are less expensive and perform better than legacy server solutions. Most companies that reach out to us want to understand two things:

  • Which is the best solution for me: Atlassian Cloud or an AWS Data Center?
  • What will it take to get me there?

Offloading your current infrastructure for critical business tools like Jira and Confluence on to more scalable, lower-overhead-cost options like AWS or the Atlassian Cloud can save your business a lot of money, plus it takes the maintenance burden off of your teams. To find out which option is best for your business, there are a lot of considerations - things like data residency and customizations made to your current environment.

Praecipio Consulting has a team of experts that would be happy to work with you virtually to understand the complexities of your situation and provide a solution fit for you. For more depth on the subject, try this webinar on planning your Jira Server to Cloud migration, which focuses on migrating to the Atlassian Cloud and walks you through the steps in preparing for any type of migration. This case study on a project we completed with one of our clients in the healthcare industry is also helpful for understanding how to achieve a successful migration. 

Contracting out administrative functions

Businesses are restructuring teams to best serve their companies. This can take the form of job alignment since people are the most expensive and valuable resource. The Atlassian tools are often administered by folks as a secondary job, and in our experience, this role is one that bounces around from person to person in times of reorganization. When companies go through a transition, people tend to make unintentional bad decisions that negatively impact the instance in the long run due to undertrained and overstretched administrators.

If that sounds familiar, now is the time to offload the day-to-day problems of administration to our Managed Service team who can proactively support your organization's administrative needs and on an ad-hoc basis when necessary. This allows your administrators to focus on their key functions, and it gives you greater peace of mind knowing that the work inside your Atlassian environment is performed correctly and fulfilling your requirements. To better understand how Managed Services can support your organization, check out this case study on how we helped a leading rail technology company achieve stability and more functionality through Managed Services.

Optimizing for virtual work

Given that many Atlassian administrators are implementing requests and fixes rather than providing a solution for the problem, many processes built in the tool are not optimized for virtual work. Processes are often built into the tool that assume employees will be in the same setting, which may not translate well for remote work settings. This is the downfall of a powerful tool that has infinite configuration possibilities.

Praecipio Consulting can help your teams understand the principles of leading frameworks like SAFe, DevOps, and ITL, and we develop solutions that align with any type of work environment. Having these frameworks in place and powerful tools to support them sets you up for success and gives you the capacity to easily scale your infrastructure as your business evolves.  For a better understanding of how we maximized the Atlassian tools for a worldwide electronic payment processor using ITSM best practices, check out this case study.  

Virtual training on the Atlassian tools

As employees have shifted to working from home, businesses are seeing that employees may not possess the level of understanding with Jira that they thought. Without the in-person help that comes from an office setting, businesses are in search of ways to train their employees from their homes. At Praecipio Consulting, we are equipped to offer several Atlassian-designed and custom training courses around the Atlassian applications. We have provided virtual training long before the current state of affairs and can easily bring your employees up to speed with essential knowledge and hands-on practice. 

We are in this together!

Although these times are unprecedented, we have operated and navigated within the virtual landscape for many years and would be happy to discuss your organization's challenges. Together, we can keep you on the path for greater success in the future by taking the right steps today. We look forward to learning how we can serve your organization, but until then, stay safe and stay healthy. 

Topics: blog managed-services training culture digital-transformation covid-19 work-from-home remote-work
5 min read

Best Practices for Working from Home: Tips from a 100% Remote Company

By Amanda Babb on Apr 8, 2020 9:14:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Workfromhome

Given the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and the need for people to practice social distancing, people around the world have found themselves working, teaching and learning from home. Working remotely has its benefits, but adjusting to this environment has its challenges. 

When I started with Praecipio Consulting in 2013, I was the second remote employee for the company. Seven years later, we've grown significantly and while many of my colleagues are in Austin, a significant number of people work remotely from cities like Houston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Vermont, and San Jose, to name a few. Even as a remote-work-friendly company, we are are still able to support all of our clients, even our largest ones with 24/7 operations and people distributed across the globe. 

In October of 2019, Praecipio Consulting went 100% remote, which was in large part due to our efforts to become carbon neutral by the end of 2020. Previous to this, we had Work from Home Thursdays, where we set a few clear expectations: 

  • Be online and available from 9 am to 5 pm Central
  • Your calendar must be up-to-date
  • Camera must be on for all internal meetings
  • Be mindful of meeting start/end times
  • Use Slack or Zoom for 1:1 or impromptu meetings

The habits we built during that time positioned us to become entirely remote and prepared us for the world's current events.  Below is an excerpt from our internal Confluence instance, where we manage all policy documentation and communication. 

Best Practices for Working from Home

When working in an office, the routine of waking up, getting ready, commuting, etc., can start your day on the right foot. Even though we had Work from Home Thursdays, it became a lot more difficult to work from home every day. There are distractions: other people, pets, chores, solicitors. Here are some best practices that will help you transition from office culture to working remotely: 

1. Establish a routine and stick with it

You've likely established a routine when going to the office or even to visit a client site every day. Now that you're working from home, it's easy to slip into bad habits. We joke about wearing a robe to work or forgetting to put on pants. However, this is a real thing. Working from home is a 10,000-hour skill; it takes some time to master.

  • Maintain your morning routine
    • Having a "commute" is helpful and gets your body moving. For some folks, it's taking kids to school or walking a pet. For others it might be going to the gym or for a run.
    • Hygiene is important. If you typically bathe before work in the morning, continue to do so. Answering that email first thing in the morning while you are still in your pajamas can quickly lead to a day's worth of work without you realizing it.
  • Wear "normal" clothes
    • If you wouldn't wear it in the office, don't wear it when you're "at work".
  • Set your end-of-day time and turn notifications off
  • Set a lunchtime
    • Inform others by blocking it on your calendar.
    • Keep diverse snack/lunch options in your fridge and pantry.
    • If you don't cook (or don't know how), reach out to others for ideas.

2. Create a designated space to call "your office" 

This space should be all yours. Communicating the use of the space to anyone living with you is critical as well. If you're in "your office", other people should respect that space. At the same time, be respectful about working in your space too. Make sure you can keep background noise down so that you can focus when you're working. Either way, communicate clearly what your workspace is and stick to it. 

  • Designate an entire room, if possible, or area of your house as your workspace. 
  • Invest in a quality desk and office chair.
  • Make sure that space is de-cluttered.
  • Focus on ergonomics, not style.
  • Try not to eat breakfast/lunch in your assigned work area.

3. Minimize distractions, stay focused on work and breaks

Distractions don't disappear when you're working from home instead of the office. Resist the urge to do things you wouldn't do at the office like watch TV, interact with social media, visit with your roommate or neighbors, or work from bed. It's important to practice self-discipline to stay focused on the task at hand and know when to take a break. Carve out parts of your day between tasks or meetings to stretch and to tend to things around the house like your pet, laundry, tidying up, or cooking.

  • Minimize distractions like TV, social media, and those in your remote work environment.
  • Schedule time for everyday tasks.
  • Set a reminder to stretch regularly.

4. Set up a physical barrier between you and "your office"

It's important to have a physical barrier between your work space and your home space. At the beginning of the day, you should be ready to start, and at the end of the day, you will need to be "done." A physical barrier will help separate work and home life. 

  • Have a separate room or privacy screen.
  • Close your laptop.
  • Close the door.

5. Switch it up every once in a while 

Once you've established your routine, make some small changes. Working remotely can be extremely isolating, and there are some weeks when you'll realize you haven't left your home all week or interacted with another human. While we are all currently practicing social distancing and only leaving our homes for the essentials, be sure you don't completely isolate yourselves. Take advantage of the technology available to virtually interact with colleagues and friends. 

  • Schedule a "virtual" lunch date or happy hour with a colleague or friend.
  • Make time for exercise at home and block it off in your calendar. 
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood or complex with your dog or just yourself.
  • Listen to a podcast during the time you set aside to tidy up or tend to your home. 

For those working from home for the first time, we hope this will be helpful in the coming weeks. And for company leaders, we encourage you to use this time to explore the opportunities of technology and the benefits of working remotely. 

Other helpful resources

Topics: blog tips culture covid-19 work-from-home remote-work
2 min read

A Message from our CEO

By Christian Lane on Mar 18, 2020 11:45:00 AM

Hi Friend,

I hope this finds you and yours well and in good spirits. The pace of change may feel overwhelming as the world responds to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. We appreciate your time in reading this message and your continued faith in our ability to deliver services to you through the pandemic. Praecipio Consulting has taken measures to ensure the safety of our staff and our customers. This is mainly by restricting travel and in-person meetings. Praecipio Consulting has always operated in a decentralized and adaptive manner that is central to our business continuity plan.

As of Monday March 16th, Praecipio Consulting returned to being a 100% remote company with both Austin and Monterrey offices closed. Our distributed teams across North America are taking extra steps to ensure that all capabilities are resilient in the event that anyone falls ill. We are leveraging video conferencing, the Atlassian suite of tools, and a host of SaaS products to ensure that our team is able to collaborate effectively. In addition, we have reviewed our vendors' business continuity plans and continue to monitor them for updates. We want to assure you that we are committed to delivering high quality work through these uncertain times and beyond.

We do not anticipate any disruption in services, but we do ask for your understanding in our inability to accommodate in-person meetings at this time. In an effort to reduce illness within our team and to help flatten the curve, we are isolating and practicing social distancing following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). When it is deemed appropriate, we will resume our in-person capabilities. In the meantime, we plan to have cameras on during our meetings, and give you the personal experience that we have found is critical to successful projects, hosting, and managed services.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns. Please let us know if there is anything we can assist with; we've built a business on enabling teams to collaborate. And most important, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, your colleagues, and your communities. We'll get through this, together.

Best,

Christian Lane, Partner and CEO
Praecipio Consulting


And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

-- Kitty O'Meara

Topics: blog culture covid-19 life-sciences remote-work
4 min read

Accessibility With Atlassian Products

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

Student Diversity is Key for Learning

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

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

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

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

Accessibility in Atlassian Products

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

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

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

A Retrospective on the Accessible Experience

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

What did we do well?

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

What could we have done better? 

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

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

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

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

Agile Home Improvement Using Atlassian Tools

By Amanda Babb on Aug 13, 2019 11:59:00 AM

This year, my husband and I decided to FINALLY spend some money on the house. We started our conversation about home improvement at the end of 2018, thinking about “the list”: need, want, nice to have. We went through the exercise of writing separate lists to compare and prioritize. Quite frankly, I was surprised at how similar they were. We quickly realized there was a need to actually organize and prioritize instead of working on notebook paper, fridge magnets, and the occasional sticky note.

Trello vs Jira Software Cloud

When we were planning our wedding in 2015, we used Jira Software Cloud. We had a Kanban Board with tasks and actions. My husband, while enjoying the fact we had a list we could access from anywhere, struggled to actually transition the cards through the workflow. With my travel schedule what it was before we got married, I was constantly calling and texting because there were no updates on the Board. He especially hated the WIP limit I added to the In Progress column. He called it the "stop nagging me" column. In the end, it wasn't too terrible. It gave us a chance to talk about each others' annoying habits: my constant need for status updates and his inability to ever finish anything (wink). While it made our marriage stronger, it also taught both of us we needed something a little more lightweight to manage our home. 

This time, we’re using Trello. We have fewer cards and use checklists to manage the work. We still have a backlog, but it's concise and doesn't scare my husband with all the agile terminology. 

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 2.22.48 PM

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New Back Door with Dog Door? Check. New Ceiling Fan. Check. New Floors? Hmm...we have to research those. Floors can get pricey pretty quickly. While our budget wasn't tiny and we decided to install them ourselves, there are always hidden costs. We added a research column with a few requirements: budget, material choice, finish, and installation method (floating or glue-down). We finalized the budget and away we went. We chose a dark finish engineered bamboo (heh. get it?) and determined we could afford to do the whole house minus the wet areas (Kitchen, Master Bath, and Spare Bathroom). Several monies, a week for delivery, and a week to let the floors acclimate, we were ready to build. 

Bamboo* as the Foundation

*Not the treelike grasses of the family Poaceae. But working with Atlassian Bamboo during my day job got me thinking about continuous integration and continuous delivery while we laid down our floors. My husband and I created the project and plan. Our project name: Floors. Our Plan: LDHB (Living Room, Den, Hallway, Bedrooms). Our repository was the 90 boxes of floors stacked pallet-style. Our repository was centralized so we can both pull from the materials as needed. Our trigger for our build: moisture barrier and underlayment installed. 

The real fun was determining the Tasks. This was my first floor. While I understood the fundamentals, I needed some guidance to make sure I laid them down correctly. While he tackled the large areas, I was solely responsible for the Master Bedroom. My husband, who has laid over a dozen floors over the last few years, gave me the tasks:

  • Start in the corner of the longest wall
  • Insert spacer at the end of the board next to the wall
  • Insert two spacers for each board down the wall
  • Stop both tasks once close to the end of the wall

Pretty simple. However, my first floor required feedback. To be honest, I failed my first build based on feedback from my husband. I kept running the tasks without stopping for cuts at the end of each row. I had to remove some of my work, adjust, and rework the tasks: 

  • Start in the corner of the longest wall
  • Insert spacer at the end of the board next to the wall
  • Insert two spacers for each board down the wall
  • Stop both tasks once close to the end of the wall
  • Measure for cut piece
  • Cut piece
  • Install cut piece
  • Grab additional boards

IMG_3837     IMG_3835

IMG_3836

While it took me a little longer to get it right, the results are pretty spectacular. I was surprised at how easy it was to get into a rhythm. Once I had the right tasks, I could repeat the build relatively quickly and solicit feedback less often as I made fewer mistakes. 

Home Improvement Retrospective

Once we finished the floors, it was time for a retrospective. After all, we both learned new skills whether they were physical skills or communication skills. And you can't have Home Improvement without the Improvement. 

What did we do well?

  • Coordinated the Jobs and Tasks to make sure work was divided
  • Clear responsibilities as to who can and should do what
  • More experienced teammates provided good feedback for less experienced teammates

What could we have done better?

  • More cleaning ahead of the start date (SO MUCH DOG HAIR)
  • Earlier feedback based on the Tasks to prevent the first failed build
  • Planning for food (although our local restaurants and DoorDash drivers made a mint from us)

What actions can we take going forward?

  • Ask for feedback earlier in the entire process
  • Explain "why" each other prefers a specific technique or method
  • Freezer meals or Crockpot meals set up during the day

Continuous Improvement 

We're both feeling pretty confident now that we've tackled a relatively large home improvement project together. Trello's lightweight, flexible interface helps us better communicate and prioritize the needs versus wants of home improvement. Either one of us can add items to the backlog and we have: new interior hardware, update window treatments, etc. This way, each month we can evaluate our budget and either take on smaller improvements or hold off and make a larger improvement after a couple of months. 

Do you use any of your 'work' tools to manage your 'home' life? Contact us to share your use cases!

Topics: blog scaled-agile bamboo devops kanban culture jira-software trello atlassian-products agile
3 min read

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

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

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

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Our Pledge

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

Our Commitment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Responsibility

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

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

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

Taking Out the Trash for Earth Day 2018

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

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

Keep Austin Weird

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

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

Keep Austin Clean

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

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

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

Praecipio keeps Austin clean ...

Praecipio keeps Austin clean ...

Praecipio keeps Austin clean ...

Topics: austin community culture do-good
3 min read

HipChat Connect: Your New Mission Control

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

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

That’s where Atlassian comes in.

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

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

Uber for HipChat

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

Graphic Annotation

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

Props via HipChat

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

…and Many More!

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

Want a Custom Add-On?

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

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

Introducing New HipChat Server

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

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

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

Meet HipChat Server

Behind the Firewall

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

Increased Integration

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

Enhance Culture & Collaboration

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

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

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

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

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

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

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