8 min read

The 4 Phases of Agile DevOps with Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 15, 2016 11:00:00 AM

As Development and IT Ops teams look to be more efficient, decreasing their time to market and increasing product support, DevOps has become the predominant industry solution. There are many resources that paint a picture of the ideal processes for Development and Operations working harmoniously together- but how do we actual get there? Where should we start? 

We need to begin with the end in mind. Our end goal is to deliver customers the software they need as fast as possible. The software industry is faster and more dynamic than the businesses of physical products. We need to get our customers features so they can give us crucial feedback while beating our competitors to market. The faster release development goes from concept to code, the quicker we can make customer happy. DevOps is a broad term with a variety of meanings, but at the end of the day, it seeks to increase the collaboration and automation between Development and Operations so we can get more frequent and higher quality releases into the hands of our customers.

When it comes to collaboration and automation, a focus on process and the use of the Atlassian suite are the best way to get there.

 The infinite loop of developing and supporting products that customers need and want with DevOps and the Atlassian Suite.

Image source: Atlassian 

Selling DevOps

The pain of hectic firefighting and troubleshooting make the need for DevOps obvious on the frontline, but getting alignment and investment at the organization level can be pretty difficult. Successful implementation is going to require buy-in and support from a variety of stakeholders and many levels. Before we can get our hands dirty, we need to convince everybody to spend the time and money to get these processes and tools in place.

Here are three ways to get the ball rolling:

One for the Book Club: Phoenix Project

Everybody has those business books that revolutionize the way they manage their work and companies. The Phoenix Project by Eugene Kim narratively addresses and exposes the gaps in processes between teams and points to a DevOps prescription to unblock cross-team work. We highly suggest recommending it to your teams, as it's a great way to get everybody on the same page and really see the value of DevOps.

Build a Business Case

At the end of the day, businesses exist to make money. To invest time and effort, we need to calculate the business return. The 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs does a brilliant job showing the financial reasons to adopt this shift.

The ROI of reducing excess work with DevOps according to 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs

Image Source: Puppet Labs

Phase 1: Go Agile

To get the real benefits of DevOps, it requires a shift in mentality and how we manage work through our teams. As we break down our requirements into smaller individual user stories, we can flow the work through the features through the process faster. By having the structure, ceremonies and processes in place to accommodate smaller pieces of work, we can get our customers the features they need and incorporate their feedback to iterate the next, improved release faster.

Here are some helpful ideas to help your teams go more Agile: 

  • Get Up, Stand Up | Simply doing stand-ups doesn't mean you're all the way agile, but it's a great way to get our teams into the mindset. Keep them short and reduce the headaches of status updates and emails. Fill everybody in on what you did yesterday, what you're doing today, and what pesky blockers are in your way. It's facilitates more agile and responsive team collaboration and support (the heart of DevOps).
  • Iterate Everything! | Speed up that Agile transformation, breaking down your waterfall projects into smaller sprints so you can always reprioritize and adjust as needed. Start with your software teams and spread out to your IT Ops projects and even marketing projects. Start in your own department: find the planning spreadsheets with those idealistic due dates, set up a backlog, and start sprinting!
  • Agile Boards | Once you're planning and executing in sprints, track and visualize it on a Jira Software board. Avoid those dreadful status meetings and send out the link to the board to keep everybody informed. Also, throw some wallboards up around the office so everybody can see your team killin' it. 

You'll know you're a lean, mean, agile machine when your software teams are cranking out stories in a steady cadence of sprints. Over time you'll see that velocity stabilize - then you can accelerate!

Phase 2: Get with Gitflow 

Git and Gitflow is a great way to help our dev teams increase velocity. As we're working with smaller stories, we need to be able to collaborate effectively with on our code base so we're not stepping all over each other. Version control systems of the past aren't going to be able to keep up with our blazing fast development teams. Bitbucket and the underlying technology of git are going to let our teams build user stories and merge them into the code base without wasting time messing with annoying versioning issues and costly code conflicts. 

  • Start with the Basics | Start by learning (allthethings) about how to effectively manage your branches and build in code quality with Atlassian's Git Tutorials and the Git Getting Started guides. Share them with your team so everybody's on the same page and knows the difference between a commit and a pull request.

  • Move to Git | If you haven't made the cutover to Git quite yet, get your team and managers onboard by sharing the benefits and how it will help ship more code. Once folks are convinced, learn why Bitbucket is the Git solution for professional teams and helps with pull requests, branching strategies, permissions and scalability. When it's time to actually move all that code over, see how we helped Splunk get git and 4 times the number code reviews completed. 
  • Start Branching | With the tools in place, it's time to start branching! Learn more about some common workflows to better handle branches here. Utilize those pull requests to build in code quality as you go. Eventually your Dev team will be humming with full Gitflow and your Ops teams will be in love with the clearly designated branches.

  • Automate, Mate | The marvelous integration between Bitbucket and Jira Software lets us automatically update the Jira issues based on what's going on in Bitbucket. Developers don't need to switch context anymore to keep the ticket up to date, and the whole team gets an accurate idea of what's actually going on. Check out our Automation Webinar to learn more about the powerful workflow triggers that make this possible.


The Gitflow branching strategy shown above utilizes different branches for specific roles like hotfixes and releases to help manage larger and more complex projects. 

 Image Source: Atlassian

Phase 3: CI/ CD

The next phase is how we define the crucial handoff between Dev and Ops. When our units of work and code changes are smaller, we're going to need to deploy more often to get those features to our customers. Before we ship it to the ops team and production, we need to ensure quality as our individual features come together. This is where good Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment practices along with Atlassian's Bamboo are vital to successfully shipping our product. Catching bugs and issues before they go to production is going to help both the Dev and Ops teams sleep better at night.

  • Learn about Bamboo | For on-prem Atlassian users, Atlassian's Bamboo is the CI/CD solution that allows professional teams to build their CI/CD pipeline. You may be using Jenkins or other open source teams, however the deep integration points and improved build management make it the right choice for professional teams.
  • Integrate with Jira | Once you have Bamboo up and running, leverage the integration between Bamboo and Jira Software.
  • Bitbucket Pipelines | If you're an Atlassian cloud user, Bitbucket Pipelines is a new, powerful solution in Beta that lets developers build, test and deploy directly from Bitbucket. Developers have the power as they can define the environment and tests for their specific branch with YAML file style configuration.
  • Dockerize Everything! | Docker and containerization is the latest craze sweeping the IT world as teams look to deploy applications to any environment faster and easier. Check out our Docker +Atlassian webinar to learn more about how. As partners with Docker, we love to helping teams harness this cutting-edge technology.
  • Automate Testing | Automating testing with tools like Charlotte, QA Symphony, and Zephyr (which integrate with Bamboo and Jira) gives your development team an even more agile edge. Get efficent, high-fidelity testing to expedite the finding and squashing of bugs to ensure your next iteration is the best version.

Phase 4: Harmonize with Support

Once the story is shipped, the process does not end. Now it's time to keep the product working and collect that vital feedback we need.

  • Check out our webinar, DevOps with the Atlassian Suite, for a full picture of how development and operations are going to work in harmony.
  • Set up a product feedback service desk in Jira to really hear your customers and integrate directly with development teams.
  • Learn how to set up your Service Desk teams for success with our ITSM webinar.


By implementing the right DevOps tools and processes, you'll see the faster shipping of higher quality and better supported releases. As your Development and Ops teams continue to execute these lock-step processes, you get more agile by good practice. Take the steps to start implementing DevOps today by contacting us to get up and sprinting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation bitbucket bugs continuous-delivery bamboo branching devops docker distributed-version-control-system process-consulting qa-symphony sdlc selenium software sprint testing version-control-system workflows tracking continuous-integration cloud development integration it operations release-management marketplace-apps
7 min read

Seen It, Solved It: Jira Service Desk for ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on May 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Growth Through Change 

"Organizations that do not or cannot evolve will not last." In the business world, change is constant and necessary, especially when it comes to meeting the dynamic needs of customers. ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a methodology that helps organizations effectively manage change while putting the customer at the center of the process. ITIL prescribes processes to ensure the customer's needs and requests are handled with ease – from acknowledgement of an issue through the application and evaluation of the solution. One of the greatest values of the ITIL methodology is that it embeds continual improvement into the process. The ITIL framework can be leveraged by anyone, including non-technical teams, to better manage change and serve customers. Atlassian's fastest growing product, Jira Service Desk, facilitates ITIL adoption in an organization by encouraging traceability, collaboration, and reporting. 

As business process experts certified in ITIL, we leverage the ITIL methodology in unison with Jira Service Desk to institute best practices for our clients. Here are 5 real-world examples of how Praecipio Consulting helped our clients implement lasting organizational change by embracing key ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement. 

Automation

"Using service automation to streamline both simple and more complex workflows of course impacts the overall efficiency of the organization... it also allows for a much better end-user experience for everyone at the company." - ITIL beyond IT: What is Service Automation & Service Relationship Management?

Problem: A major utility company powering the U.S. Eastern seaboard was manually reporting security equipment issues and coordinating with external vendors to fix the issues. This manual process was prone to errors and didn't allow for tracking of service level agreements (SLAs), which would determine which vendors were breaching their contracts. The company was using spreadsheets to track these crucial assets and their maintenance. The spreadsheet system was inefficient and created duplicate versions – leading to confusion, frustration, and waste. Furthermore, the spreadsheets could not track SLAs for Acknowledgement or Resolution for vendors.

Solution: To reduce redundancy and enforce SLAs, our experts implemented Jira Service Desk for the major utility company. By replacing their spreadsheets with Jira Core and Jira Service Desk, we helped them add a level of automation to their workflow. This reduced waste of time and resources, allowed for better communication with third-party vendors, and created a clear path for escalation. The custom configuration we created for the company maintained their security, while also allowing vendors to be a part of of the conversation. Furthermore, reporting features from both Jira Core and Jira Service Desk allowed for a central point of truth. The utility company could check the status of service tickets and see how well vendors were adhering to their SLAs. Through the process of improving their security equipment reporting and vendor coordination, the company found other areas of improvement and have chosen to continue working with us to maximize those workflows. 

Visibility

"It can be very difficult to know the health of your service desk, run reports, and find way to improve your support if you don’t have the right data." - The ABCs of Jira Service Desk: measuring success

Problem: A major U.S. waste management company wanted to adopt a more structured reporting system, replace an old enterprise software application, and incorporate the ITIL framework into their organization. The company's goal was to standardize tools in order to improve communication and rally around a consistent project management methodology. The waste management company desired a suite of tools with the ability to integrate functions across IT service areas, leading to better service for the end customer.

Solution: In addition to implementing several other Atlassian products, our experts helped the company leverage Jira Service Desk to achieve their business goals. We helped them create a central application with the ability to distinguish request types through a structured workflow. This included a more robust user interface to better triage issues and send them to the appropriate teams. The ability to categorize requests and label them with levels of urgency allowed the company to have better reporting, leading to improved enforcements of SLAs. 

Knowledge Base

"[A knowledge base] gets [customers] the help they need at the speed they’ve become accustomed to – i.e., in the time it takes to swipe around on their phones – and it frees service desk agents from stressing out while anxious customers wait on hold or answering the same question over email for the 10th time this week." - 4 tips for getting started with knowledge management

Problem: A large, private U.S. university wanted to revamp an old software application and replace it with a more robust and dynamic knowledge base. The university's goal was to increase usability for both their students and faculty regarding technical and campus-related questions, deflecting tickets by providing requesters with FAQ's and other resources to help them self-serve to find their answers. 

Solution: Our experts helped the university leverage Jira Service Desk and Confluence to achieve their goal. Combining Jira Service Desk with Questions for Confluence (a Confluence add-on that provides a knowledge base inside the already powerful wiki tool) allowed the university to implement a centralized knowledge database. Jira Service Desk allowed for better help engagement using queues and other helpful functionalities. Questions for Confluence empowered external users to help themselves by accessing a database of pre-answered questions, without tying up service desk agents with redundant problems.

Change Management and Evaluation

"Listening to your customers is the single most important thing you can do for the health of your company." 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

Problem: The largest provider of support services to general and multi-specialty dental groups in the United States needed the ability to receive and respond to client feedback in addition to handling client issues. They did not have a clearly defined process for patients to interact with the organization and to raise issues. Their marketing team was searching for a new software tool that would manage feedback in a way that led to issue resolution and change management. The team's ideal tool would be able to enforce and report on multiple SLAs through issues submitted via the company's public website.

Solution: Our experts helped the dental corporation adopt Jira Core and Jira Service Desk to manage issue tracking and change management. With Jira Service Desk, the company was able to cleanly sort through client feedback and create a workflow to address issues that arose. Beyond managing client feedback, the dental corporation also used these tools for clinical tasks, billing, and other activities that needed life cycle tracking. In addition to tracking, the Atlassian tools helped the organization evaluate the effectiveness of their changes and quantified the improvements made – empowering all teams, not just marketing, to better serve their customers. 

Continuous Improvement

"With a single-product approach, configuring an SLA or modifying a workflow is easy, because they share core processes." How Jira Service Desk approaches ITSM 

Problem: A major U.S. insurance company was using three different software applications for code management, issue tracking, and service desk management – leading to inefficiencies and miscommunication. Their use of three separate applications resulted in duplicate tickets and the inability to enforce SLAs across the organization.The insurance company wanted to improve these processes and embrace ITIL's practice of continuous improvement. 

Solution: Our assessment encouraged the company to adopt a single application, Jira Service Desk, to provide a single source of truth. With Jira Service Desk, there was a common point of collaboration for issue management. This reduced duplicate tickets and saved valuable time and resources. Leveraging entities, workflows, and issue linking, we helped the insurance company align their processes to make reporting and enforcing SLAs easier, more efficient, and more effective. By strengthening their ability to track what changes are needed and to act upon those needs, we helped them develop a cycle for continuous improvement.  

ITIL for One, and ITIL for All 

"Just because one service desk streamlines the IT and service departments, it doesn’t mean that other teams can’t also benefit from them." - 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

These real-world examples from our clients highlight how ITIL and Jira Service Desk can help organizations evolve and change – without the growing pains. ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement aren't just for IT teams. These powerful ideas also provides immense value to other parts of any organization, technical and business teams alike. At Praecipio Consulting, we excel at leveraging the ITIL methodology and Jira Service Desk to help organizations do what they do better. Want more proof? Contact us to learn how we can help your organization evolve and do your best business. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation business confluence process standardize workflows traceability collaboration continuous-improvement integration it itil itsm jira-service-desk operations reporting white-paper
2 min read

The Atlassian Appeal

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

The Atlassian Appeal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices bitbucket implementation it

Jira 5.2 Sneak Peek

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 26, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The Atlassian team has been working hard, and to prove it here is a sneak peek of Jira 5.2, soon to debut. With Jira 5.2, it’s easy to add, remove and swap workflows to find the perfect set for your project. Check it out:

 

 

Learn more and let Atlassian know what you think at here.

Topics: jira atlassian blog business process product-services technology information it
2 min read

Jira: Not Just for Software Development

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 17, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Jira’s an issue tracking application, but its core flexibility and strengths mean it can become much more than a tool limited to a development group. Jira’s incredibly adept at helping teams track and accomplish tasks. Jira also has a masterful ability to manage life cycles - and it’s found great success in numerous use cases.

Use Cases

The following use case guides are meant to explain a bit of the details related to using Jira for a specific use case. The info you’ll find in here highlights much of what we’ve learned from working with clients in a variety of different industries, as well as our internal expertise and use of Jira.

For each of these use cases, we’ll attempt to highlight:

  • Particular Jira functionality specific to the use
  • Related plugins we’re aware of
  • Customization and tweaks
  • …and sometimes a sample file to help get you started

General and Non-Software Uses

Agile Software Development

Project Management

HelpDesk / Support / Trouble Ticketing

Test Case Management

This can be done by using either of the following approaches:

Requirements Management

Change Management

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile austin automation business efficiency enterprise issues management process services technology value tracking change cloud collaboration computing continuous-improvement incident-management information integration it itil itsm operations
5 min read

Meet the New & Improved Bamboo OnDemand!

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 17, 2012 11:00:00 AM

If you’re a Bamboo OnDemand subscriber, you could be forgiven for feeling a stab of jealousy every time a new batch of awesome features comes out for the on-premises Bamboo offering.  ”When, oh when, will it be my turn?”, you pined.  Well, if you logged into your Bamboo OnDemand instance this morning, you already know that the wait is over.   Bamboo OnDemand is now roughly on par with Bamboo 4.1.  ”Roughly”, because there are still a few differences such as not being able to install plugins or use commercial version control systems.

The collection of features now available in Bamboo OnDemand is large enough to fill a book (regular readers know I’m not one for brevity!).  My strategy here today is to call out the biggest n’ bestest of ‘em, and point you to resources that’ll take you deeper in. So bookmark this page.  Reference it.  Love it. Repeat.

Better AMI Support

You’ll need to update custom any custom AMIs used by your build agents to make them compatible with today’s upgrade, but going forward this won’t be necessary.  In addition, BoD now offers a stock image for building on Windows as well as support for EC2 spot instances.

Read more about AMI & Agent Support here: Atlassian OnDemand Release Notes – July 2012

DVCS & External Repo Support

 

The people have clamoured for it, and so the people shall have it!  BoD can pull code from external Git and Mercurial repos hosted on Bitbucket, GitHub or on your own network.  That goes for SVN repos on your own network, too.  Using Git submodules?  No problem. Want to pull code from a hosted SVN repo and a Bitbucket Mercurial repo into the same build? Done.

Read more about DVCS & multiple repo support here: What’s New in Bamboo 3.3

Tasks

All your builders and post actions are belong to us Tasks.  Tasks are the granular steps that make up your Plan: checkout source code, call MSBuild, execute a script… etc.  Your existing builders were converted to Tasks as part of the BoD upgrade, and we think you’ll find it to be a great usability improvement.

Read more about Tasks here: Configuring Tasks

Manual Stages

Many users’ workflows require a set of requests and approvals for deploying code to an environment.  And many many users would like to compile, test and deploy to a QA env with each commit –but deploy to production much less frequently.  Manual stages let you construct a single pipeline, and add “gates” or “valves” to satisfy those use cases.  You’re welcome. 

Read more about Manual Stages (and other cool features) here: Bamboo 3.2 Release Notes

Plan Branches

For a couple of years, the developer community has been complaining that using short-lived branches to build new features simply doesn’t play nicely with continuous integration.  We’ve taken a big step toward proving them wrong.  As soon as Bamboo knows there’s a new branch in your repo, it will clone any associated Plans and point them at the new branch.  Branches are automatically discovered in Git & Mercurial repos, with auto-discovery for SVN coming soon. Très facile!

 

Automatic Merging

Because automatic branch discovery wasn’t enough.  We wanted more!  With each commit to a branch, BoD can now grab code from a second branch, merge the two, run your Plan against the merged code, and if successful, push the merged code to either branch.  Great for ensuring longer-lived branches don’t drift to far from the main line, or for two developers collaborating on a feature using their own feature branches.

Read more about Automatic Merging here: Using Automatic Merges

Test Quarantine

When I was a test engineer, I would’ve killed for this.  But you don’t have to!  No more commenting out tests or dorking around with your suite.xml file.  Just click a button to neutralize a busted test.  It’ll still get run so you can see when it’s fixed, and you’ll see your count of quarantined tests on each build result summary so you don’t loose track of them.

Read more about test quarantine here: Putting Tests in Quarantine with Bamboo 4 (Yes, the zombie apocalypse has indeed arrived.)

Jira Issues

BoD has issues.  And how!  Forget all that inefficient context switching, and create Jira issues from any build results page in Bamboo.

Read more about Jira Issues here: Top 5 Reasons Creating Jira Issues from Bamboo Makes Your Team Awesome-r

Broken Build Tracking

Team leads and scrum masters have better things to do than hound people to fix the build.  With broken build tracking you can assign one person to be the default owner of broken builds for each Plan, or have responsibility assigned to users who made changes since the last passing build.  Bamboo will nag them on your behalf until the build is green again.

Read more about Broken Build Tracking here: Bamboo 4.1 Announcement Blog

Failed Stage Do-Overs

Everyone needs a do-over sometimes.  Maybe a build config needed tweaking.  Maybe your QA environment down just as you were deploying to it.  Re-running only the Stage that failed can save you a whole lot of time.  And time is money, so… yeah.

Read more about Failed Stage Do-Overs here: Bamboo 3.2 Release Notes

Onward!

Bamboo OnDemand is now resting on a more stable platform than before, so expect fewer stability hiccups going forward.  We’ve also made custom AMIs for your build agents easier (even updated the templates, so you might not need to customize at all!), and made Windows images available by default.  Très facile (redux).

But it’s also the end of an era.  This is the last announcement I intend to write about BoD upgrades.  Why?  Because they simply won’t be a big deal anymore.  We’ve retro-fitted our upgrade process such that BoD will be upgraded with new versions of Bamboo at the same time, possibly even before, those versions are available for installation behind your firewall.  This is one “good bye” I think we’re all happy about!

Topics: atlassian blog bamboo business enterprise management practices process technology collaboration information it lifecycle
1 min read

Information Economics and Confluence: Putting the I Back into IT.

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 27, 2012 11:00:00 AM

When it comes to IT, why do most organizations focus more on the T in technology than the I in information? The purpose of a good IT infrastructure’s to prevent information asymmetry and the implications that come with it. By properly managing your company’s information network you can create value through better decision-making.

Information asymmetry occurs when one party has more or less information than another. This can result in bad decision-making, and at times, unethical decisions. Regardless of the industry you operate in, treating information as an economic resource allows your business to yield higher than expected payoffs, resulting in a competitive edge.

The need for better collaboration both within and across business processes is a problem our clients come across often. Luckily the solution’s one we pride ourselves on offering.

Atlassian’s Confluence serves as an organizational wiki, connecting employees to information and each other. Confluence allows users to create, share, discuss, and discover documents, ideas, Jira issues, specs, mockups, projects – anything. By connecting your entire business in one place, Confluence allows for better integration. We love it and so do our clients!

Topics: atlassian blog bpm business confluence enterprise management practices process technology value collaboration information it
3 min read

The ABC's of Agile

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 7, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The Agile school of software development’s currently one of the most accepted methodologies for improving productivity. Targeted mainly towards IT managers and CIOs, Agile methods promote an interactive approach which have the ability to help flatten your organization’s cost of change curve.

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was first introduced in 2001, and outlines the foundation of Agile in twelve principles:

  1. Customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of useful software
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
  3. Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Working software is the principal measure of progress
  5. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  6. Close, daily co-operation between business people and developers
  7. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  8. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  10. Simplicity- the art of maximizing the amount of work not done- is essential
  11. Self-organizing teams
  12. Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

Cost of Change Curve

First introduced by Barry Bohem in 1981, the cost of change curve represents the exponential increase in cost as it relates to making a change during the normal development phase of a product. This means that as your product moves farther down the developmental pipeline it becomes more costly to make changes and remedy errors.

That’s a good argument for Agile since it ensures you leave the current production phase with a product that’s as close to perfect as you can make it – particularly because Agile methodology calls for testing and up-front integration which translates to rapid production and minimal initial design. Since the test code’s written before functional code and automated test suites are built around the evolving code, developers are allowed to make rapid and aggressive changes.

The ability to make these changes is one of Agile’s key features and the result is a reduction in the amount of product errors late in the development phase, reducing the cost of change. Even if your organization enjoys a rather flat cost of change curve, Agile ideals can be applied to reduce the cost of change throughout the software life cycle.

Scrum

Scrum’s another widely accepted approach to implementing the Agile philosophy, which includes both managerial and development processes. This approach relies on a self-organizing, cross-functional team supported by a scrummaster and a product owner. Scrum makes your organization Agile by ensuring quick progress, continuously creating value, and by keeping projects on track. The most important concepts of Scrum are:

  • Product backlog - A complete list of requirements that are not currently in the product release. Typical backlog items include bugs and usability/performance improvements.
  • CI - Also known as continuous integration; allows for scrum teams to continuously integrate their work. This will often happen on a daily basis.
  • User story – Describes problems that should be solved by the system being built.
  • Scrummaster - The manager of the Scrum project.
  • Burndown chart - The amount of work remaining within a sprint, i’s updated daily, and also tracks progress.
  • Sprint backlog - A list of backlog items assigned to a sprint, but not yet completed

Kanban

Kanban means visual board – and that’s just what it is, a development process that revolves around a board to manage works in progress (WIP). A Kanban board includes “lanes,” each denoting different phases a project might take. It moves WIPs across the board and deploys them into production when they reach the done column. Since Kanban development practice revolves around WIP management each state of progress is limited to a set number of projects. Organizations able to leverage this high frequency of delivery typically enjoy a large financial benefit.  The most important concepts of Kanban are:

  • Swim lanes - The horizontal lanes of a Kanban board represent the different states in which a WIP or task can exist.
  • Backlog - A list of backlog items awaiting deployment, but not yet completed.
  • Stories – A particular user need assigned to a development team.

Atlassian and You 
Atlassian specializes in robust, easy-to-use, affordable internet applications that seamlessly integrate Agile and Lean methodology  with your business processes to support your organizational goals.  Simply put, success breeds extraordinary performance – and  extraordinary performance breeds success. Atlassian’s suite of products are designed to boost your organization’s performance by providing tools that are easy to use, allowing your business to build its own solutions.
Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile central business confluence efficiency issues management process process-consulting scrum technology texas value tracking change continuous-improvement greenhopper incident-management information it lifecycle operations
2 min read

Jira + ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 24, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Atlassian Jira's a remarkably flexible tool. For most who hear “Jira,” things like issue tracking, project management, and software development come to mind. Very rarely do people think of ITIL in relation to Jira. But then again, many don’t know what ITIL is.

If you’re a developer or in IT and don’t know what ITIL is, you should. It’s a set of processes for managing lifecycles with relationships to one another. It’s the most widely-accepted approach to IT service management in the world – a set of best practices drawn from public and private sectors around the world. ITIL doesn’t just apply to IT service management (ITSM), though – it’s a reliable methodology for managing any type of complex technological process.

Jira’s an Atlassian tool that’s phenomenal at lifecycle management (workflows, custom fields, etc). It’s designed to be issue-centric, built around managing issues or bugs that pop up within a product or service’s lifecycle. This functionality extends far and wide when you expand how you define an “issue.” On the surface, an issue is more like a problem – but considering an issue’s attributes, it can easily qualify as a task or milestone. With that in mind, Jira can facilitate far more than simple issue tracking. It can support complex process lifecycles.

Every process is a web of highly dependent relationships between regular and conditional tasks – including ITIL processes like Incident Management and Problem Management. The huge breakthrough here is making Jira projects and workflows represent (and support) ITIL processes. Let’s take an incident for example. An incident goes through several states:

(1) detection and recording
(2) classification and initial support
(3) investigation and diagnosis
(4) incident closure

A good Incident Management process within a good technology helps reduce meantime to recovery – i.e. recover from an incident. We all know how well Jira facilitates transitions and workflow. Let’s take it a step further…in ITIL-based Incident Management, we are supposed to designate incident ownership, actively monitor, track and communicate. BINGO! This what Jira does.

Let’s take this another step further. Problem Management is a process used to identify root cause to reduce the number of incidents – thereby increasing the meantime between failures. Using Jira, we can manage root cause analysis and associate the individual incidents (manifestations) back to the Problem Management record we’re analyzing. This ability to link records and collaborate makes Jira a great Problem Management solution. Add Confluence to the mix and the effectiveness is improved further.

Going another step further – having ITIL-based ITSM processes running in Jira alongside your organizations SDLC further helps IT align its capabilities to deliver the highest, best quality software and service delivery.

We’ve helped clients implement Jira to manage Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management, Asset Management, Software Development, Testing… we love the Altassian products and so do our clients.

Topics: jira atlassian blog asset-management confluence issues management problem process reliability sdlc services software workflows tracking change development incident-management it itil itsm lifecycle methodology bespoke
1 min read

The "Business Stuff" Behind the Innovation

By Praecipio Consulting on May 3, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Great ideas sell, even without the fortification of brand or tangibility. If an idea’s well-built, well-defined, and in-demand, sales are almost guaranteed with a little marketing.

At SXSW in March we saw lots of great ideas – ideas that practically sold themselves. We spoke with some start-up app companies that had over 100,000 downloads in their first month. Another was growing so fast they were figuring out how to hire 50 people in their third month of operations. In these dream scenarios, it’s hard to imagine what more you need to succeed. With a 1500% growth rate, what’s to worry about?

But even lottery winners must face reality at some point. In this case, every business is still a business. No matter what you’re selling, you’ve got books. Records. Processes. If you’re going to succeed, you’ve got to have that stuff organized. The more dynamic and exciting your product is, the more sales you’ll make short-term. The more efficient and consistent you are, the more money you’ll make long-term. While developing efficiency and consistency is generally not as fun as product development and demos, it’s what fortifies the innovation you’re selling.

That’s the bigger picture of what we do. On the surface it looks like IT development strategy integration reliability blah blah blah, but really, it's enabling great ideas to stick around long-term. And that's not to strip those words of their meanings. Strategy, for example, determines the direction and scope of every business process that goes in and out the door. Integration determines if two of the systems you work with daily will actually talk to one another. And if things aren't reliable then you might as well go home and make toast, because your operations are metaphorical toast. We make great ideas into outstanding businesses. That’s what counts!

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency process reliability sxsw development integration it
1 min read

SmartGrid: The Future of Electric Power

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 14, 2011 11:00:00 AM

SmartGrid technology is the effective future of the electric power industry. Just consider the numbers: the US SmartGrid market is expected to double in size between 2009 and 2014, from $21.4 billion to $42.8 billion, with global SmartGrid spending exceeding $200 billion in 2015. With significant aid from federal stimulus funding, SmartGrid development and implementation has already begun across the US. Experts expect SmartGrid technology to become the electric industry standard within 20 years.

You’re probably familiar with what SmartGrids can do. If you’re not, think improved energy consumption information + customer empowerment. SmartGrids leverage automated power systems that monitor and control grid activities, ensuring a constant two-way flow of electricity and information between plants, consumers, and points in between. That information will originate from millions of data points scattered among system devices, enabling utilities to adapt electricity delivery to usage patterns. Demand-response software will enable utilities and consumers to turn high-demand appliances on and off during peak demand periods, improving efficiency. Technology can allow consumers to monitor their home’s energy consumption at the appliance-level (dishwasher, refrigerator, etc), and adjust their thermostats and other power-consuming devices via computers and mobile phones. Basically, SmartGrids will allow consumers and grid operators to understand what’s going on demand-side and make grid management more intelligent.

Information technology (IT) is the driver of SmartGrid technology. Custom software, data management, systems integration, and data security are critical to SmartGrid operations. We bring these solutions to utilities en route to SmartGrid deployment. If you’re making the move, talk to us. We prepare companies for the switch.

Topics: blog management software technology security smartgrid utilities data deployment information integration it operations 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
3 min read

Jira for the Gaming Industry

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

Altassian’s Jira is perhaps the best issue tracking and software development management platform around. While Jira can be used in many, many ways, it’s found a sweet spot in the gaming industry.

This post assumes the reader has a reasonable understanding of Jira. The post highlights how Jira and Greenhopper – which collectively make up Atlassian’s Agile approach – can streamline game development. Check it out:

Quick-start projects. In Jira, you can start a new project in less than five minutes. That’s great for developers, since new projects can spawn at anytime during the production process.

Attach files for visual reference. Most developers use Adobe software to design game interfaces. During the development stage, there are usually multiple people designing and updating prototypes – so it’s easy to get off track. With Jira, designers can attach the a screenshot of the latest prototype to a project page, so every one involved with the project can see where the interface is at and stay on the same page. And since Jira allows users to attach files to projects, tasks, time log items, and more, it’s easy for designers to offer team members a visual reference of where they’re at – even if they’re not in the office.

Support and ticketing. Jira helps IT support organizations handle hardware and software support more methodically. Support tickets can be submitted by anyone within the company. From there, they’re assigned to a qualified expert, and either resolved or escalated. This obviously benefits all businesses and not just those in the gaming industry. But for game developers on a tight schedule, hardware performance is critical – and a fast ticketing process ensures minimal downtime.

Bug tracking. Bug tracking is critical in the gaming industry. Jira’s organized, intuitive bug tracking system allows game developers to track the details, status, etc of every kink in the development process – ensuring better performance.

Document repository. Jira can also act as a document repository for files of all types. With a powerful search feature and page indexing capabilities, game companies can ensure quick access to important files – so long as they’re organized responsibly.

Crucible. A web based code review tool, Atlassian’s Crucible (a “friend” of Jira and Greenhopper) allows multiple people to review code online instead of having to crowd around a desktop or overhead projector – the “Google Docs” of code-writing. For game developers, that kind of collaboration is worth its weight in gold.

Greenhopper task tracking. Drag-and-drop task management that associates tasks with Jira projects, items, files, etc, etc. Completely intuitive, remarkably fast. We needn’t say more.

Customize to your heart’s content. Jira is easily and extensively customizable. Most of its customizations don’t require technical knowledge – so designers and developers with different skillsets can configure Jira with ease.

Insanely easy workflows. You don’t have to be a programmer to set workflows up in Jira. Develop workflows quickly to automate repetitive tasks.

Integration with non-Atlassian tools. Jira users can develop their own plug-ins to import and export data to and from Jira. This is crucial, since no software can tackle every need within an organization, and since game developers usually need to leverage multiple tools throughout their production.

That’s how game developers are leveraging Atlassian tools to streamline operations and production timelines. Again, it’s worth noting that much of what’s covered above applies to business of all types – not just those in the gaming industry. Check out our Jira blogs to learn more about how Jira (and “friends“)  can boost your operations.

Special note: If you’ll be attending South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin in March 2011, stop by our booth at the SXSWi Trade Show. We’ll have a Jira demo live, and have our developers behind the table!

Topics: jira atlassian blog crucible show sxsw trade workflows tracking development gaming greenhopper industry integration it bespoke
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
4 min read

Cloud Computing Risks and Rewards

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 29, 2010 11:00:00 AM

The relationship between ITSM and cloud computing is still a hot topic. Companies are still asking questions regarding what the cloud is, IT versus business roles in adopting cloud infrastructure, and whether the shift toward cloud computing is optional or inevitable. Ambiguity abounds.

We all know the business wants results, and requires IT to offer swift responses to business demands. The business ultimately wants to remain agile and flexible – able to adjust quickly to changing needs. IT can’t always deliver solutions as quickly as the business wants. The cloud can.

It’s easy and logical, then, for the business to leap toward cloud providers to meet their needs. In the cloud, the business can be in control of their relationship with providers – though if one doesn’t suit their fancy, switching isn’t always easy or possible.

There are hundreds of questions that pop up here – most about the risks and rewards of leveraging cloud platforming. Before we delve any further, consider this list:

Risks

  1. Security. Where’s your data – with your provider, or with a third, fourth, or fifth party? Is it safe? Does your cloud provider explicitly state rights to outsource your data? You should clearly understand your provider’s security-related responsibilities and guarantees described in its service level agreement.
  2. Re: Security – SAS70 and PCI compliance. SAS70 (a set of auditing standards designed to measure handling of sensitive data) and PCI (a worldwide information security standard) assure companies that their storage vendors are handling their data properly – so they don’t have to audit vendors themselves. SAS70 and PCI compliance policies may uncover details that aren’t specified in service agreements. Since server outsourcing can put your data anywhere in the world without the end user noticing a change, SAS70 and PCI are standards for cloud peace of mind. Google realized this early when they announced their SAS70 Type II certification in 2008.
  3. Re: Security Data Protection. If your data isn’t stored within your in-house network, it’s stored in someone else’s. It’s therefore subject to someone else’s protection framework. Be sure to ask for specifics from your cloud provider regarding the intrusion detection system (IDS), intrusion prevention system (IPS), firewall, and other security technologies they’ve deployed to clarify their integrity. These security appliances are required by PCI.
  4. Integration with existing systems. Will cloud-based applications integrate well with your internal network configuration, security infrastructure, and software?
  5. Governance. Who’s in charge of your data – you or your provider? Who’s in charge of application adoption and making decisions based on performance – the business or IT?
  6. Internet connectivity. Since the cloud operates through the internet, it’s completely bound to connectivity. No internet, no work.

Rewards

  1. Lower IT infrastructure costs. IT can supplement or replace internal computing resources; no need to purchase equipment to handle peak needs.
  2. Lower software costs. IT won’t be burdened with the costs of installing and maintaining programs on every desktop in the business.
  3. Unlimited, pay-as-you-need-to storage capacity. As much as you need, whenever you need it. Most providers allow you to pay for more space as you need it so you don’t have to commit to a large sum of space.
  4. Operating system compatibility. The cloud is built on browser-based applications, meaning OS’s just don’t matter.
  5. Easy group collaboration. Sharing documents? Anyone anywhere can collaborate in real-time.
  6. You’re no longer bound to specific devices. Change computers and your applications and documents follow you wherever you go.
  7. Low systems cost. You don’t need a high-powered system to run cloud applications, so the computer doesn’t need the processing power or hard disk space demanded by traditional software.

It’s clear why the momentum toward the cloud is so strong – the rewards appear to outweigh the risks. Notice, though, that the risks are coming from IT while the rewards make up most of what the business side is drooling over. It’s no wonder we’re concerned with IT and business alignment in this context. That alignment may determine the success or nightmare of cloud migration.

recent CIO survey reported that among companies not leveraging the cloud, many aren’t confident the cloud will reduce their IT costs. Half of IT decision makers, the report said, expect little reduction in IT spending after cloud adoption. Another 42 percent weren’t sure they’d save any money.

Among companies who had adopted cloud applications, however, cost savings topped scalability and flexibility as the top reason for adopting cloud computing. 83 percent of those respondents were using SaaS models.

CIO’s results indicate a lingering apprehension about cloud services, but also a prevailing wind toward the cost savings the cloud offers. Pew Research’s study on the future of cloud computing blew in the same direction: 71 percent of respondents said most people won’t be working with conventional PC software by 2020, leveraging internet-based applications instead; 27 percent said most people would still use superior PC-based applications.

We’re going to see more companies begin implementing cloud services in the next few years. This is clear. The IT-business strategy alliance is critical to the success of cloud implementations. Since more pressure lies on IT to adjust their infrastructure and methodology to accommodate cloud services, IT faces a greater challenge: grow toward an intimate partnership with the business, or grow in irrelevance to the business.

The question has one right answer – and with that answer come a host of more questions for another post.

For a more thorough look at cloud security, check out our upcoming security post.

Want to get in touch? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog business enterprise library management process-consulting services technology tips tricks value cloud collaboration computing information infrastructure it itil itsm

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