5 min read

Praecipio’s Top Resources in 2022

By Praecipio on Jan 11, 2023 10:00:00 AM

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We’ve compiled a list of the most popular content determined by our readers from all of 2022. With recurring topics like Confluence Optimization, Atlassian Cloud Migration and Agile Transformation, it’s evident that 2022 was the year of getting things done. According to our research, the following resources are our most-loved and viewed throughout last year:

 

1. Whitepaper: The Connected Enterprise: Close the Gap Between Business Strategy & Execution

Together with the experts at Atlassian, we explore how Jira Align as a platform - when implemented well, can help to improve visibility and coordination so that organizations can adapt more quickly. We dive into how Jira Align provides seamless user experiences that leads to large-scale transformation success, the importance of properly configuring the platform, and how Jira Align helped enterprise clients uncover and resolve issues through real-time feedback loops and faster decision-making cycles.

 

2. Ebook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

This eBook walks you through the steps that organizations should follow to plan, prepare for, and carry out an Atlassian Cloud migration. Learn what to expect before migrating, how to avoid common mistakes during the migration process, and how Praecipio used these six steps to guide Castlight Health through a successful Atlassian Cloud migration.

 

3. Ebook: How ITSM Drives Business Transformation


As customers continue to demand better products and always-on services from companies, ITSM sits at the center of meeting their expectations and delivering value faster. This eBook walks you through the ITSM practices that are essential for keeping up with today's fast-paced world and accelerating business transformation. Learn how to modernize your IT operations, facilitate collaboration, and deliver new services with agility by leveraging this customer-centric approach.

 

4. Webinar: Proving Value: How Business Leaders Use Jira Align to Connect Strategy and Execution

In this webinar we define the connection between strategy and execution from the Portfolio to the Program within Jira Align. We guide you from ideation through prioritization, planning for execution, commitment to the backlogs, and tracking progress, investment, and status. By the end of the webinar, Praecipio will demystify how Atlassian, and specifically Jira Align, can help you mature within Lean Portfolio Management.

 

5. Blog: How to Report in Confluence with the Jira Issues Macro

The Jira Issues Macro bridges the powerful, native link between Jira and Confluence. With it, you can report on Jira in Confluence seamlessly. This one macro can solve many of your reporting needs in Confluence. What's more, you can provide context around the data instead of just straight data. The Jira Macro is a great way to keep team members informed without navigating from Confluence to Jira and back again.

 

6. Blog: How to Solve Too Many Confluence Email Notifications

In this blog we walk you through all the ways to reconfigure your Confluence notification preferences so that your email doesn’t become clogged with notifications that are not important to you. Free up the space in your inbox and save yourself time later by updating your Confluence settings now using this blog as your guide.

 

7. Blog: Scrum Sprint Planning: How Long Should Sprints Be?

Teams new to scrum face lots of decisions – one critical decision for teams to perform efficiently is determining sprint length. Every team's needs are different, and there's rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to planning the length and organization of your sprint. While there are arguments for the varying lengths of sprints in scrum, this blog lays out some standard variables that you and your team should consider.

 

8. Blog: Affects Version vs. Fix Version in Jira: The Difference

Both the Affects version and Fix version are automatically created in Jira out of the box. They are related to Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) projects and are the foundation of releases in Jira. While they are linked and work in tandem at some points, there is a best practice when using the versions inside of both of these fields. This blog defines what each field is and how to properly utilize them.

 

9. Blog: Best Practices for Jira Epics


Discover how to make the best use of your Jira instance with Jira Epics. We walk you through what an Epic is and the importance of knowing the various workflows and requirements uniquely available for Epics, how to use these features to get on track with your agile project management, and provide you with some basic do’s and dont’s centered around Epics.

 

10. Blog: Maximizing Jira Align's Value Prop to Deliver Value Faster


Jira Align is truly a unicorn product that brings teams and information closer together for improved visibility, faster decision-making, and greater agility. When configured correctly and in a way that meets the specific needs of the client, Jira Align helps organizations reach that sweet spot where they connect strategy to work execution and eventually achieve true enterprise transformation. In this blogpost, we dive into what makes Jira Align such a powerful tool and how organizations can maximize this enterprise platform to deliver value faster. 

 

We're on a mission to help teams execute on the work that matters most, through a customizable approach built on Enterprise Agility, Cloud, App Dev, Dev Ops, and the powerful Atlassian platform and beyond, we can help you GET IT DONE, by removing the systems-level obstacles preventing you from DOING. We hope this list inspires you to take the next step in achieving your business goals. Should you need assistance our team of experts is here to help.

We’re so excited to begin creating more helpful resources this year to help you continue to drive your business forward and add value to your organization’s digital infrastructure. 

Welcome 2023; let’s get things done!



Topics: jira scaled-agile confluence optimization jira-align agile atlassian-cloud
9 min read

8 Ways to Know If Your Organization Is Ready for Jira Align

By Praecipio on Jan 6, 2023 2:34:57 PM

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Plus 3 Ways Agile Coaches Can Help Businesses Close Their Readiness Gaps 

Almost every organization struggles to some degree with connecting strategy to execution–only 3% of companies say they have done it “very successfully.” 

Something gets lost in translation when the c-suite tries to communicate an organization’s strategy to delivery teams, and then lost again when delivery teams try to communicate progress back up to the c-suite. In fact, in a survey by Harvard Business Review researchers found that only “55% of middle managers can name even one of their company’s top five priorities.” 

The pain points exist in three main areas across a company’s people, process, and technology: Lack of visibility, lack of coordination, and an inability to adapt. 

To help improve all three of those pain points, many teams consider technology like Jira Align, which promises to “connect your business strategy to technical execution.” 

Jira Align is definitely not plug and play, and is not appropriate for every organization. So, how do you decide if your organization is ready for a platform like Jira Align? And how can you, as an agile coach or transformation office team member, begin to close the gaps in order to prepare the organization (and yourself) for this technology?

Let’s find out by looking at eight ways to know if your organization is ready for Jira Align.

Success with Jira Align Requires Agile Leadership

Historically, (including in the most recent State of Agile Report and State of Agile Coaching Report), the main blocker for an agile organization is leadership. So it is no surprise that the first two indicators that a company is ready to adopt Jira Align are also leadership focused.

  1. A c-level leadership team with a clear vision for an agile transformation is by far the top indicator that a business is ready for Jira Align. Jira Align can’t put an organization on a path of agile transformation, it can only illuminate the path that the business is already on.

  2. Many organizations have an executive sponsor who believes in the agile transformation and offers support. To be ready for Jira Align, your business needs an executive champion.

    What’s the difference between an executive champion and an executive sponsor? The executive champion takes an active leadership role in a Jira Align implementation and the concurrent agile transformation, and is positioned high enough in the organization to make decisions.

The leadership team is the first and most obvious place for you, as an agile coach or implementation lead, to begin to close the readiness gaps for your organization. Work with the c-suite to explain what agile is, how it affects their work, and their role in a successful agile transformation. 

Ask leadership to appoint an executive champion, perhaps a Chief Transformation Officer, who has real authority, can dedicate time, and will build a team to support the change effort.

To help educate others about the need for Jira Align, work with a Jira Align partner to hold a workshop with the organization’s leaders. In a few hours, a skilled Jira Align expert can demonstrate some of the most glaring problems separating strategy from execution, and talk through ways to close those gaps. 

Often, seeing the scope of a problem first-hand–and how the platform can give visibility to that problem–gives leadership much more energy around investing in agile transformation with Jira Align as the technology platform solution.

Success with Jira Align Requires an Investment in Change  

Forrester Consulting’s Total Economic Impact study found that Jira Align has helped customers achieve up to 340% ROI, so it’s clearly worth the investment. But beyond the tool-related investment costs, the organization has to be willing to invest in change, and to have the patience to go through the associated growing pains. 

Indicators three through five, then, are all about an organization’s commitment to change. 

  1. Investing in Jira Align is as much an investment in changing the mindset of the organization as it is an investment in technology. The funding for training and coaching (both for agile-at-scale frameworks like SAFe® and in Jira Align itself) should be on par with a transformation. Without training and coaching, businesses will not get the desired results from Jira Align.

  2. The organization must be willing not only to fund the change, they have to also have active change management in place to embrace that change. Successfully implementing Jira Align requires significant shifts in organizational thinking and processes. This will result in significant discomfort across the organization as process changes and mindset shifts are in progress. Working through that discomfort is painful, but ultimately worth it.

  3. Jira Align is designed to align teams throughout the organization. Doing this will likely require teams to change the way they work and the tools they use for that work to standardize data and reporting. Complying with standards will take not only strong change management, but also strong coaching on the why behind the changes.
Here’s the second place where you, as an agile transformation coach, can help prepare the organization for what’s coming. Start with why. Give teams a solid understanding of the problem, and of how pivoting  to a standard tool or dataset, can yield benefits not just for the organization, but for the team.

 

The whitepaper The Connected Enterprise: Close the Gap Between Strategy and Execution presents some valuable statistics and a model case study to help showcase how much more an organization benefits when its teams know they are building the right things, at the right time, for the right people.

Hold informational sessions such as lunch-and-learn programs around how much more autonomy and creativity teams will have when leadership can see in real time how the work they are doing is related to the strategy. Explore a quick demo of Jira Align’s “why” button, which when properly configured provides all of the context behind each feature, epic, and theme from inside Jira Software, including the business case behind an item’s priority.

Agile Coach PMI Blog Image

Source: https://www.atlassian.com/blog/jira-align/ask-why-to-unlock-organizational-change

If it does not already exist, create a transformation office. Once formed, the transformation teams can begin meeting monthly or quarterly to gauge progress, remove impediments, formalize processes.

Scaling is another coaching opportunity. Introduce teams to agile at scale within their current context.  Discuss how small but impactful changes at the team level can help create standardized metrics that add visibility not only to the c-suite but between teams as well. This automated visibility can eventually expose and decrease dependencies between teams, meaning less time spent in meetings and more time spent creating and delivering value.

Other agile coaching opportunities may include: formalized ways to prioritize programs to achieve strategic goals (e.g., WSJF) and/or lean portfolio management.

Success with Jira Align Requires Realistic Expectations

Before going all in with Jira Align, it’s important to set realistic expectations not only about what the platform does and does not do, but about how long it will take, and how much technical expertise will be required to realize all of its benefits. That brings us to the last three indicators that an organization is ready for Jira Align:

  1. To be successful with Jira Align, the organization and its leadership first must understand that Jira Align is not a reporting system. Jira Align is a living system. It is an enterprise agile transformation platform designed to enable collaboration at all levels, every single day. Sure, it has a powerful reporting component. But the greatest value enabling mindset transformation and value delivery are in the live views.

  2. Implementing Jira Align takes time. An initial pilot at the program (team of teams) level can be implemented within 3 months for a single program. A full implementation modeling the firm from Enterprise/Strategy to Team levels will take at least 12 months.

    Internalizing the related mindset, processes, and practices will take as long as a typical successful agile-at-scale transformation:18 - 36 months.

  3. Last but not least, the organization will need to bring in training and technical expertise. For Jira Align to work as intended, it must interface smoothly with team-level tools. That’s why it’s critical for the organization to have competent Jira or Azure DevOps (ADO) admins or reliable, dedicated Modern Service Management that can perform that function. In addition, organizations will need dedicated technical expertise to support the configuration and integration into the existing technical ecosystem.

Here’s the third and final place where agile transformation coaches can really dig in and use Jira Align for their own benefit as well as the organization’s benefit. Learn Jira Align well enough to use its built-in feedback loops to coach teams, measure the organization's agile transformation progress, and report on return on investment.

You’ve likely had to learn tools before to support and help teams: from Trello to Miro to Jira Software. Jira Align is no different. What is different, though, is how you can use the live views and reporting metrics inside Jira Align to measure your own success in enabling the organizational transformation.  

You can learn about features such as framework maps that let you map framework implementation activity to the Jira Align implementation, resulting in a visual map of the organization’s progress. Check out a process step Kanban board for all the teams’ work items, from stories to features to epics to themes. View and review the Work Tree using multiple filters such as the Strategy View, Top-Down View from Portfolio, or Bottom-Up from Story. 

Already, 14% of respondents in the 2022 State of Agile Report report using Jira Align. As that number increases, coaches will need to quickly interpret teams’ progress and areas for improvement as easily as they do today, but within Jira Align. Knowing Jira Align provides a competitive advantage within the industry. 

Get Ready for Jira Align

As more and more organizations begin to apply agility outside of just software teams, the need for technology like Jira Align is only going to increase. About half of State of Agile survey respondents say they apply agile practices to the entire application delivery lifecycle. And two-thirds are using Atlassian’s Jira to manage their agile projects already.

Jira Align helps to solve so many problems organizations face at scale, including real-time visibility, aligning every team to strategy, and optimizing for customer value. And, it claims to be the only platform that lets organizations implement and extend any framework at scale, including hybrid and custom frameworks.

It won’t be long before your organization is asking to implement Jira Align. Start getting them–and you–ready today.

Topics: atlassian scaled-agile scalability jira-align agile enterprise-agility
4 min read

What is Jira Align: A Primer

By Amanda Babb on Dec 27, 2022 7:15:00 AM

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A
couple of years ago, in Atlassian's annual flagship event formerly known as Summit and now known as Team, I was in a room full of people for two days providing training on Advanced Roadmaps for Jira on behalf of Atlassian. If you've never attended a live Summit event, the Kickoff Keynote is always a sight to see. One year, Scott and Mike dressed as Daft Punk and mixed music as DJ Kanban (I still nerd out on that one), you see announcements about the expansion of Pledge 1%, and, of course, new product announcements. Jira Align was acquired by Atlassian and announced at Summit 2019. I. Was. Floored. You see, we here at Praecipio were looking for a larger agile-at-scale solution for some of our largest clients. 

Enter Jira Align

After becoming a SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC) in 2015, I spent a lot of time with clients understanding intake and execution processes and facilitating them through the Atlassian product suite. These clients were either just starting their SAFe® journey or had been the earliest adopters and already implementing SAFe®. After implementing Advanced Roadmaps (then known as Portfolio for Jira) to support SAFe®, becoming the Atlassian University On Demand "voice" of Planning with Advanced Roadmaps, and guiding the course content with Atlassian, I was in love with Advanced Roadmaps. And I still am. Advanced Roadmaps is a powerful data aggregation, roadmap, and scenario planning tool for small- to medium-size organizations either as standalone entities or within an Enterprise organization.

Jira Align, however, brought forth a whole new realm of possibilities. Bringing robust framework expertise and combining it with an easy-to-use interface, Jira Align is THE solution for Enterprise organizations running agile-at-scale. Don't believe me? Atlassian is considered a Leader in the Gartner Enterprise Agile Planning Tools Magic Quadrant as of April 2021. Experience and third-party accolades aside, why is Jira Align so amazing? Let's take a closer look. 

Jira Software Integration

Unlike Advanced Roadmaps, Jira Align is a standalone product hosted either in multi-tenant or single-tenant cloud infrastructure. While there is an on-prem solution, of course, there are a lot of additional considerations if you have to choose this deployment. The connection between Jira Align and Jira Software supports both Data Center and Atlassian Cloud instances. The most critical part of the integration is the Jira Software Epic. Epics can be created in Jira Align and pushed to Jira Software or created in Jira Software and pulled into Jira Align. Keep in mind, when creating the integration, best practice is to isolate Epics into their own Jira project. Bringing in Stories and Sprints is also easier if a Jira project represents a single team. 

Rooms at Every Level

Whether you're just starting out with a single Agile Release Train (ART) or are running multiple ARTs, Jira Align provides the Program Room for each ART. This is the central hub for tracking the current Program Increment (PI) and planning the next one. Sprint Progress, investment runway, intra-ART and inter-ART dependencies, PI Burndown, it's all centralized within the Program Room. This provides Business Owners, RTEs, and Program Managers a clear view of the progress of the work in the PI. 

Jira Align also provides the Portfolio Room and Strategy Room. These rooms provide the progress towards Strategic Themes, Portfolio investments, progress toward long-term goals, and status updates. When properly connected to Epics in the Program room, Teams and ARTs can open the "Why?" tab on the Epic and see how their work is contributing to the overall strategy. 

Everyone's Favorite: Reporting

Jira Align has over 180 out-of-the-box reports. Each layer in Jira Align has a Track section pre-populated with the more popular reports for that section. For example, in the Program section, Jira Align provides Program Increment tracking, Program Increment insights, and Dependency Maps. If you're not sure what type of report you're looking for, simply click the Reports menu and ask a question in the search box. 

For those organizations that need to integrate with other systems or need more robust business intelligence, Enterprise Insights can be added to Jira Align. 

Want to know more? We here at Praecipio would love to walk you through how Jira Align can support your agile-at-scale transformation, check out our Whitepaper,  The Connected Enterprise: Close the Gap Between Business Strategy & Execution or Contact us for a personalized demo!  

Topics: atlassian scaled-agile integration reporting jira-align safe advanced-roadmap
7 min read

How to Successfully Implement Jira Align & Unlock Enterprise Agility

By Peter Jessen on Dec 2, 2022 10:00:00 AM

802x402 - FeaturedThere are currently very few people who understand Jira Align well enough to implement the enterprise platform well. In our last blog post on Jira Align, we discussed the different layers of Jira Align’s value proposition and how to maximize this enterprise platform to deliver value faster. Now, we’re breaking down what it takes to implement Jira Align and how to do it successfully. 

In every Jira Align implementation I have been a part of, I’ve found myself sharing the analogy that implementing Jira Align to its fullest in many ways is like building a Boeing 787, but making it look like a Cessna 172 to start. The secret is to begin learning to fly a Cessna 172 while having the vision of a 787 and picking up additional flight capabilities as your organization evolves. The same applies to a Jira Align implementation. Because the process involves so much change, you must learn to alter on the fly (no pun intended!). 

In other words, you are learning to fly the plane, becoming more competent and confident through training and coaching, then adding new flight capabilities, and repeating the process again until you reach your desired final configuration of capabilities. This is why Jira Align deployments are so challenging, but when done properly, the return is  340%+ ROI.

Determining Your Jira Align Readiness

Before you even carry out an implementation, you need to determine if your organization is ready for such a powerful platform. This first begins with understanding the intricacies of the platform. Many companies purchase Jira Align thinking it is a reporting tool, but it is so much more. Jira Align enables organizations to achieve true agile transformation by scaling Agile principles and connecting strategic vision to work execution

In addition to having a profound understanding of the platform and how it will support your organization, you will also need to determine your organization’s readiness. This checklist is a good place to start:

  • Leadership Vision - In my almost 7 years of implementing Jira Align in firms ranging from 10s to 100s of teams, a leadership team with a clear vision for an agile transformation is the top indicator you’re ready. If you want to implement Jira Align and don’t think you are on the path of an agile transformation, then you aren’t ready.
  • Executive Champion – An executive champion’s active leadership in a Jira Align implementation and the concurrent agile transformation will significantly improve the odds of success with both. An executive sponsor is not enough.
  • Active Change Management – Adopting Jira Align requires significant change in organizational thinking and processes. Change on the scale of adopting Jira Align will result in significant discomfort. It both enables and forces change in process and mindset. “No pain. No gain.” The gain is worth it.
  • Realistic Timeframe Expectations – An initial pilot at the program (team of teams) can be implemented within 3 months. A full implementation modeling the firm from Enterprise/Strategy to Team levels will take at least 9-12 months. Scaling out and coaching everyone on adopting and internalizing the related mindset, processes, and practices will take as long as a typical successful agile at scale transformation: 18- 36 months. The payoff is worth the investment.
  • Training & Coaching Funding – Purchasing Jira Align is more than just a technical investment; it also means investing  in changing your company's mindset. The funding for training and coaching for both Agile-at-Scale/SAFe and Jira Align best practices should be on par with a transformation.

Next Up: Implementing Jira Align

If your organization is prepared to take the next steps in unlocking enterprise agility with Jira Align, we recommend working with an Atlassian Solution Partner to ensure your project’s success. When you have a partner to help with the heavy lifting, they bring years of experience and technical expertise. Additionally, they possess the know-how to resolve any challenges or issues that might occur.

When deciding on an Atlassian Solution Partner that is specialized Agile at Scale, here is what you need to successfully implement Atlassian’s dynamic enterprise platform:

  • Tier 1 Consulting Skills – First and foremost, any qualified implementer must demonstrate an ability to elicit client needs. Each successful Jira Align implementation follows patterns but must meet the client’s specific needs. They also need to have the knowledge of the Jira Align patterns and anti-patterns. Not many can demonstrate this combination of skills and knowledge.
  • Mindset Shift Coaching – Mindset coaching is one of the most critical skills needed by an implementation team because clients are undergoing a transformation while they simultaneously deploy Jira Align, whether they are aware of it or not. This starts with a team that can demonstrate a proven ability to help clients build a mental model of where they are to where they are moving from a uni-dimensional model in Jira and other team tools to Jira Align’s multi-dimensional model. 
  • Technical Expertise - The Achilles heel of every Jira Align implementation is the Jira integration, which is why skilled Jira admins are critical (or ADO admins if using ADO) on both the client and implementer side. In addition, you need technical expertise to support the configuration and integration into your existing technical ecosystem. Implementers who don’t understand the integration often configure it improperly, resulting in syncing issues, improper data models, impacts to reporting, and more. This improper configuration leads to frustration with Jira Align. Praecipio has a proven, repeatable approach to implementing Jira Align from a foundational starting point and then building upon it with options that are tailored to the client's specific needs and make a tangible impact on value delivery.
  • Configure First, Customize Later - Many organizations make the mistake of customizing the rest of their tool stack before they properly configure their Jira Align platform. Unfortunately,  when things aren’t working due to bad configuration decisions, the blame is put on Jira Align. Jira Align is highly configurable, but it is not customizable like Jira and other team tools. 
  • Strategy Development & Modeling - Modeling strategy in Jira Align can be done multiple ways. Each client’s strategy approach is unique. One of the greatest challenges is that clients often don’t have a strategy that can be executed in a systematic way. There is no way to directly tie a specific goal to a specific set of funds and back to specific work efforts. Instead, there are many-to-many interconnections that end up causing confusion. Alternatively, the strategy may have been created in a single dimension view in slideware by a strategy firm that doesn’t understand the platform and tool stack the client has in place.
  • Value Stream Modeling - Jira Align is designed to support value flow thinking and metrics vs. utilization-based thinking. Fundamentally, in alignment with SAFe, Jira Align is designed to support the model of work flowing through stable, long-term sets of teams-of-teams that deliver value to end customers. This is the fundamental difference between project management and agile development.  Whereas agile development is designed to bring work to the people (in stable teams), project management brings the people to the work, constantly breaking up and reforming short-term teams that can never perform.
  • Financial Modeling – Jira Align’s financial capability is robust and can be implemented in several ways. Many companies will start with project-based budgeting where the portfolio epic is a proxy for a project. More mature Agile-at-Scale companies will use strategic themes and theme allocation to drive PI-based budgeting, which allows easier pivoting and other adjustments on a quarterly basis, if needed. 
  • Product Development and Modeling - Enterprises are moving to or interested in moving to product-driven development. Jira Align has many features of a product-centric approach, including personas, product visions, product roadmaps, and product distinction. Product-driven development requires a different mindset and approach than most current forms of development which are currently in use.
  • Business Process Optimization - We are modeling a complex enterprise into a value-delivery based platform. Many get it wrong by modeling the management organization in Jira Align vs the value delivery structure. Companies need the management hierarchy for stability, but the value delivery network is far more important for visualizing and delivering value. Servant leaders understand the difference and embrace the value delivery approach modeled in Jira Align . 
  • Professional Experience – Book smarts and classroom training can’t replace years of professional experience with strategy and process engagements gained over multiple implementations. Jira Align requires an apprentice/journeyman approach when learning to implement successfully. The implementer needs to be a well-rounded unicorn with strategy, process, and technology experience. Jira Align is incredibly powerful and to unleash that power requires a level of understanding that comes from the combination of classroom theory and proper mentoring.

Final Thoughts & Next Steps

Every company deserves a proper Jira Align implementation, and if you follow the path laid out above, you have a less stressful, faster and more successful deployment. Also know that you don’t have to do it alone. There are Solution Partners within the Atlassian ecosystem that are specialized in Agile at Scale and Jira Align implementations.

We think you may also be interested in our whitepaper on Jira Align, "The Connected Enterprise: Close the Gap Between Business Strategy & Execution."

Read Whitepaper

After supporting hundreds of enterprise clients in scaling their businesses, Praecipio is here to help. Book a technical call and we can discuss how you can tailor Jira Align to meet your organization’s specific needs and help achieve your strategic vision. 

Topics: enterprise implementation deployment jira-align enterprise-agility
4 min read

Maximizing Jira Align’s Value Prop to Deliver Value Faster

By Peter Jessen on Nov 29, 2022 8:30:00 AM

Group Workflow-1

After helping organizations implement Jira Align for almost seven years now, I've seen first-hand the challenges that they’ve faced in unlocking the product’s full potential. At the same time, I’ve also had a front row seat to the transformative power of Jira Align within those organizations whose leadership teams were truly committed to the agile transformation journey and were willing to shift their mindsets. 

In this blogpost, we’ll take a deep dive into what makes Jira Align such a powerful tool and how organizations can maximize this enterprise platform to deliver value faster. 

More Than Just a Reporting Tool

Jira Align is truly a unicorn product that brings teams and information closer together for improved visibility, faster decision-making, and greater agility. When configured correctly and in a way that meets the specific needs of the client, Jira Align helps organizations reach that sweet spot where they connect strategy to work execution and eventually achieve true enterprise transformation. 

Unfortunately, many companies make the mistake of buying Jira Align primarily as a reporting system. Jira Align is so much more;  it’s a living system and enterprise agile platform designed for daily collaboration at all levels. The powerful reporting component is only a small part and in fact, the least important for real success. 

Understanding the Layers of Jira Align’s Value Proposition

To unlock your organization’s agility with Jira Align means understanding the layers of the platform’s value proposition and how these different components work collectively together to drive better business outcomes. Let’s take a look at each layer and how they build upon each other to make Jira Align they dynamic enterprise tool that it is: 

  1. Basic Technical – Jira Align is a platform that allows organizations to visualize teams’ work in the form of stories, features and epics (and related concepts of dependencies, risks, etc.). This is the first layer where work is organized in a way that it is tied to strategic vision and investments.  

  2. Performance Improvement – The second layer looks at the data generated by Jira Align and the story it tells to business leaders about performance and how to improve it. Many organizations fall into the trap of focusing only on performance metrics provided and get stuck in the second layer.  This happens because most leaders mistake utilization as a proxy for value delivery

  3. Value Visualization – Jira Align is designed to measure value flow through the enterprise modeled in well-defined epics, features and stories. Organizations that reach level 3 never again question “Is a Jira Align license worth the cost?”  because they shifted their mindset from doing stuff (utilization) to delivering value (delivered features) on cadence.

  4. Outcome-based Thinking – Jira Align’s objectives are one of its most powerful and flexible features, allowing outcome-based thinking at all levels. They are a prism through which to view progress against a specific desired outcome. To fully employ Align's outcome-based thinking requires also understanding how to model portfolio epics, features, strategy, themes, and more in a way that they are tied to short and long-term goals. Organizations that reach level 4 are much farther along than most of their competitors in their journey to enterprise agility. 

  5. Leadership Feedback Loop – The pinnacle of a Jira Align implementation is achieved by evolving through the previous levels while being led by an executive champion(s) and their team(s) that are committed to a true agile enterprise transformation. With this approach, Jira Align becomes the focal point of a feedback loop where leadership can see true transformation  and their teams’ mindset shifts are reflected in Jira Align’s value-delivery metrics.

What It Takes to Implement Jira Align

For companies to realize Jira Align’s full value, it requires clarity and commitment to agile transformation, as well as in-depth experience from an Atlassian Solution Partner. Praecipio has helped hundreds of organizations build agile practices and scale their operations through our proficiency across a range of frameworks including SAFe®. As an Atlassian Specialized Partner in Agile at Scale, our experienced agile practitioners have proven success in enterprise methodology and change management providing Fortune 2000 customers with an accelerated path to enterprise agility with Jira Align. 

Looking for more Jira Align resources? Check out this related blog post on Jira Align, in which we walk you through how to successfully implement Jira Align, tune into this on-demand webinar on how to use Jira Align to connect work execution to strategic vision, and explore our Jira Align Insight Report, co-authored with our friends at Atlassian for a deep dive into the tool that can help you share the benefits of Jira Align with your team.

Read Whitepaper

You can also book a technical call to discuss your organization’s specific needs around Jira Align and how to accelerate your agile transformation journey.

Topics: atlassian implementation reporting jira-align agile
4 min read

Your Jira Align and Enterprise Agility Questions Answered

By Amanda Babb on Oct 24, 2022 4:20:46 PM

Cloud Migration

In her recent webinar, Proving Value: How Business Leaders Use Jira Align to Connect Strategy and Execution, Principal Solutions Architect, Amanda Babb, demonstrated how to connect technical teams with strategic initiatives using proven strategies and Jira Align. She also answered questions from our live audience ranging from which Agile at Scale and task prioritization methods work best with the tool to how to create a strategic snapshot in Jira Align; read on to learn what she had to say. 

Do you have to be running SAFe to use Jira Align?

The short answer? No. 

Jira Align works with any Agile at Scale framework. But there are key things to keep in mind– the people, the work, and the time boxes. You have to understand which people are doing what work and within which timeframe. These three are inextricably connected. You’ll get the most out of the tool if you commit to a standard definition of these items across the organization and can run in a synchronized cadence such as business quarters. My advice? Be disciplined, commit, and move forward.

Can you do most of these Gantts in advanced roadmaps? 

Yes, to a certain point. I love Advanced Roadmaps. In fact, before Jira Align became an Atlassian product, I called it the Bees Knees. However, when it comes to enterprise organizations that need to aggregate more program-level data into a more centralized view, it falls short. 

Advanced Roadmaps works really well at the Program layer (Teams of Teams), but as organizations start to expand and mature, they tend to seek alternative technologies and integrations with business intelligence tools for that bigger picture (Teams of Teams of Teams). It’s a progression, kind of like how we crawl and walk before we run. There is a time and a place in an organization's maturity level for Advanced Roadmaps, but eventually, you might outgrow it and require an enterprise platform like Jira Align.  

How does WSJF prioritization of epics work? 

With Jira Align, you can prioritize work based on anything you like. WSJF stands for – weighted shortest job first, where you take a look at complexity, level of effort, and other factors, and you calculate which task should be prioritized higher versus lower. 

Within that, there's usually the concept of your work tree and your cut line. It's called pull rank when you're prioritizing, and you can say I'd like to pull rank based on WSJF. That will prioritize the current work in the work tree and other child work based on WSJF. However, It all comes down to one thing: ensuring that you're entering the data correctly. You have to commit with the right people to enter that information as part of your process so that you can then use the technology to help you prioritize. With Jira Align all things are possible – the answer is always yes, we just need to make sure that your people and your processes are set up to facilitate good technology. 

What is a strategic snapshot in Jira Align and what does it represent?

A strategic snapshot is an aggregation of your goals, your aspirations, your mission, vision, and values on a cadence. In essence, the strategic snapshot represents an aspect of your company's strategy for a specific time period, typically a year, but could be shorter or longer. You can have a snapshot that represents the entire strategy for a year, as well as snapshots that represent a specific product strategy or specific value stream strategy.

Can I have a strategy per product or product family? 

Yeah, absolutely. What’s interesting (and we tell this to our clients all the time about the Atlassian products) is that you can do anything you want with Atlassian tools up to and including pouring beer, because we've done that before. One of the things that we want to recognize is the why... Why are you trying to accomplish something as an organization as well as within the platform itself?

Is it because that's how your strategy actually works? Or is that because you're being asked for a one-off report based on something you did three years ago? So my advice is to ask why and then examine the why to ensure it aligns with your strategy. 

Can you show the why button feature between Jira Align and Jira?

It’s really easy if you have access to Jira Align to go ahead and click that button, but not everybody needs access to Jira Align. Even if you have access to Jira Align, not everybody needs to be able to see absolutely everything in Jira Align. We can always speak with Atlassian regarding the correct ratio of licensing for each organization.

As an example, if I'm a developer, I want to know the WIIFM - What’s In It For Me. Why am I working on this story, why is it important, or why are we committing to it in a particular time frame? We can surface that information in Jira within the Jira Software Epic. If you're looking at a Story, you click on your epic and boom! You can see the strategy tree up to that Theme. This is really cool, because now, when a developer is working on the story, they know that it ties to this particular Jira software epic. 

But why is this important? It comes down to visibility, so everyone up and down the organization is aligned on a strategic level. If the whole team has access to the Strategy Tree, when there are competing priorities, teams can make informed decisions to help execute against that strategy. And that’s what every organization wants– business leaders want to understand what is happening with complex deliveries and teams want to understand the why behind strategic initiatives. With Jira Align you get both. 

How can I get buy-in throughout my organization to invest in Jira Align? 

We’re here to help. You can book a technical call to discuss your organization's specific needs. Explore our Jira Align Insight Report, co-authored with our friends at Atlassian for a deep dive into the tool that can help you share the benefits of Jira Align with your team.

Missed the live webinar? Tune in on-demand for an in-depth look into defining the connection between strategy and execution from the Portfolio to the Program within Jira Align.

Watch Webinar

Topics: portfolio-management jira-align safe advanced-roadmap
5 min read

Jira Align vs. Advanced Roadmaps: The Difference

By Amanda Babb on Dec 27, 2021 10:00:00 AM

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As organizations continue to scale Agile practices, our team at Praecipio is frequently asked which Atlassian product will best support the effort. Principal Consultant, Brian Nye, put together a great webinar describing the differences between Advanced Roadmaps for Jira (formerly known as Portfolio for Jira) and Jira Align. As Praecipio has expanded our Jira Align practice, we'd like to take a moment to compare and contrast these products to help guide you in making the right decision for your organization. 

Your Agile and Digital Transformation Journey

Your organization can't talk about your Agile transformation without talking about your digital transformation and vice versa. After all, the Atlassian products are meant to support Agile frameworks as well as your digital transformation. Many organizations have embraced remote work as a result of the global pandemic and have fundamentally shifted toward online planning, road mapping, and execution management. 

Your organization may also use non-Atlassian applications to manage planning and road mapping. You've chosen to integrate these products with Atlassian for execution management. While this may be a great solution in the short term, I challenge this as a long-term solution. Many of the frameworks guiding agile-at-scale exist because we're trying to bring strategic planning closer to actual execution and back again. Ask your organization the hard question: does maintaining these integrations follow the organization's digital technology vision for the future? 

Advanced Roadmaps for Jira (formerly Portfolio for Jira)

Available as an App for Data Center/Server Deployments and packaged with Jira Software Cloud Premium, Advanced Roadmaps for Jira (Advanced Roadmaps) is a great way to bridge the gap for small- to medium-sized organizations. If you currently have fewer than 500 agile team members executing their work in Jira Software, Advanced Roadmaps for Jira can provide visibility within and across teams. First, define the hierarchy above the Jira Software Epic. We use Initiative most frequently when deploying this for customers because of the reference documentation from Atlassian. However, you can choose whichever naming convention you'd like as long as there is a corresponding Issue Type. For example, create an "Initiative" Issue Type and link it to a Hierarchy level in Advanced Roadmaps called "Initiative." We also strongly recommend the Initiative Issue Type live in a separate Jira Project from all other execution work. This helps your Agile teams focus on the current backlog of work while the Initiative moves through its own review, decision, and backlog refinement process. 

Creating a Plan is as simple as defining your source data (Jira Projects, Boards, or Filters), tying the sources to Teams, and choosing Releases from your source data. Honoring the Iron Triangle of project and program management, you may either choose to have the Plan dictate your schedule or, when planning for the next business quarter, you may choose to drag and drop the Gantt-style bars to schedule work. There is also an option to blend the calculations. Meaning, if a Sprint already exists and is pre-filled, let the Scrum Board be the source of truth. Have the Plan calculate any Empty Sprints going forward. The same is true for Releases and Teams: the Plan can auto-schedule a Team or a Release based on the relative rank of the backlog in the Plan. 

If you're looking to understand the impact of shifting priorities, you can enable Scenarios in a Plan. This will allow you to pull the source data from Jira Software and blend it with additional planning while maintaining the current execution schedule. You can add new Initiatives, Epics, and Stories, as well as adjust Release Dates, and observe the impact of adding, removing, or reassigning Teams to work. If you have the Server or Data Center App, you can group Plans together into a Program to understand the overall health of multiple Plans and Releases in a single view. 

Jira Align

As its name implies, Jira Align brings strategic planning and execution together in a single product. Pulling execution data from Jira Software and blending it with Agile-at-scale frameworks, Jira Align ties your strategic vision to tangible work and is best suited for organizations with more than 500 Agile team members executing their work in Jira Software. Instead of trying to define a hierarchy, Jira Align provides a pre-set hierarchy with flexible language. Whether you're running SAFe, LeSS, Scrum@Scale, or your own model, Jira Align's seamless integration with Jira Software provides visibility across multiple Portfolios and Programs. 

Jira Align comes in three deployment options: multi-tenant Cloud, single-tenant Cloud, and on-premise. While we recognize the allure of an on-premise solution, Praecipio recommends either the multi-tenant or single-tenant Cloud deployment. This provides the robust functionality of the product without the additional IT infrastructure management as well as managing routine maintenance such as upgrades. Jira Align also comes in two licensing models, Standard and Enterprise, billed monthly per user. Standard provides your organization the ability to run Programs (also known as teams of teams) whereas Enterprise adds the Lean Portfolio Management and financials into the mix. In addition, each Jira Align seat comes with four Jira, Trello, or integrated users. Another key difference between the two license levels is integration. With Standard, you can integrate a single instance of Jira Software with Jira Align. This is perfect for the organization that is large enough but lacks maturity in their Agile-at-scale framework. Enterprise provides unlimited connectors, which in the case of some of our clients, allows them to avoid the pain of merging multiple instances of Jira Software before deploying Jira Align

The Jira Software Epic is the lynchpin of the integration. Teams will still work with Epics, Stories, and Sub-Tasks within Jira Software whereas Product Managers, Release Train Engineers, Portfolio Managers, and Executives work within Jira Align. The robust permissions within Jira Align also focus the right role in the right data. A Program Manager may care about the execution of the program, whereas the executive wants to understand how you're tracking to the annual corporate strategy. By aggregating and rolling data upward, Jira Align provides health and status monitoring of quarterly, yearly, and long-term goals. With over 180 out-of-the box reports, every role at every level can access the right information at the right time to ensure your organization's success. Jira Align also has Enterprise Insights, an optional App, to take business intelligence to the next level. 

Which one is right for my organization? 

The first questions to answer while you're evaluating either tool are around Agile transformation maturity, digital transformation maturity, and user discipline both across and vertically in the organization. Because both options rely on teams to perform their execution work consistently and with good data integrity, either product can be a blessing or a curse. 

  • How long have your Agile teams been executing within an agile framework? 
  • How long have your Agile teams been executing within Jira Software? 
  • How consistent are your teams across the organization? 
  • Do your teams and your business understand one another and communicate well? 
  • How well has your Jira Software instance been governed since it was deployed?
  • How much chaff do you have in Jira Software? 

While this is not an exhaustive list, implementing either Advanced Roadmaps for Jira or Jira Align requires you to ask tough questions of your organization. Praecipio can not only help you assess your current state, but we can also provide guidance and recommendations to accelerate your digital transformation. For a detailed look into how Jira Align can transform your organization, read our recent whitepaper

If you are ready to take the next step in your digital transformation and Agile journeys, let's chat!

Topics: scaled-agile jira-align agile advanced-roadmap marketplace-apps
5 min read

Can We Talk for a Moment About Spreadsheets?

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

 

802x402 - Blog Featured (4)No, seriously: can we please take a moment to talk about spreadsheets? I have a very large bone to pick with them. Spreadsheet is a four-letter word to me; and don't get me started on workbooks! I recognize spreadsheets have their place in the world. I'm always in awe when I see the most complicated and fragile spreadsheet being used to manage a simple set of data to provide "insights" into the business. Even better, a spreadsheet that helps manage prioritization, planning, and execution reporting on a regular cadence. I've seen complex CountA and SumIf formulas, and Concatenate, and pivot tables, and everything else people can throw at them. And while I'm impressed at the craftsmanship, I'm also incredibly frustrated. The time it took to create and iterate on that reporting could have been spent having conversations about the work or checking in with a team or removing blockers. Instead, the extraction, manipulation, and reporting of easily-accessible, real-time data takes precedent. 

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

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

Individual Team Metrics: Scrum and Kanban

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

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

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

Program, Product, or Teams of Teams Metrics

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

Me: "How much time you got?" 

Three solutions come to mind for this one:

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

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

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

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

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

Enterprise Business Intelligence Integration

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

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

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

We think you may also like this webinar by the author: Proving Value: How Business Leaders Use Jira Align to Connect Strategy and Execution.

Topics: atlassian best-practices kanban scrum reporting eazyBi jira-align advanced-roadmap business-intelligence
4 min read

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align?

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

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

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

What is a Portfolio in Jira Align? 

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

In Jira Align, a Portfolio has the following things: 

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

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

How Do I Define a Portfolio? 

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

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

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

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

Reporting on the Portfolio

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

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

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

Jira Align makes it simple to understand the health of one or many Portfolios in your organization. Best Practice is to start with one, iterate until you get it right, then expand across other Portfolios when ready. Praecipio's deep expertise with agile-at-scale frameworks as well as intimate knowledge of Jira Align can provide you the needed support when you're ready to take your teams to the next level: check out our comprehensive whitepaper,  The Connected Enterprise: Close the Gap Between Business Strategy & Execution for a deep dive into how the tool can help you transform your organization or contact us and see if Jira Align is a good fit for your organization.

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

Jira Align Features for Agile Portfolio Management

By Brian Nye on Jan 7, 2021 10:15:00 AM

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Are you an enterprise company looking for a tool to support your Agile processes at scale? Do you find that you've grown beyond the capabilities of Portfolio for Jira? Jira Align is jam-packed with features that will make Business Owners, Program Managers, and all other planning people rejoice by providing a tool that is designed with Scaled Agile Best practices in mind (SAFe, DaD, LeSS). Below are some of the key features within Jira Align that will make planning and tracking easier than ever before.


Portfolio Strategy Management

Jira Align provides top-down alignment by providing a visualization of what the business is doing through Strategic Snapshots. Gone are the days where the mission, vision, and value are created and forgotten until the next planning cycle. The Snapshot becomes a one-stop shop for setting the company's "why" which is displayed as a button throughout the product. Now, it's easy to see and track the goals the company is marching towards. 


Backlogs and Workflows to Keep Big Items on Track

Effectively manage your biggest work items (Epics/Initiatives) utilizing Backlogs and Kanban boards. Similar to Jira, global ranking is applied so the most important items are at the top. 


Roadmap

Understand what your PI looks like and the number of stories that will be worked in each sprint. Progress bar shading provides indication of the level of completeness. The Roadmap is populated with live information which takes its use beyond planning and into execution reporting. 


Program Boards to Guide Execution 

Big Room Planning is a big deal. Ensuring that all the Initiatives, Objectives, Dependencies, and Risks are captured and agreed upon is a full time job, but is vital to the success of the planning meeting. Jira Align recognizes the importance and provides the Program Board feature that allows for Teams to see these critical touch points in an easy layout. The Program Board, like all reports, is constantly updated with the latest information so teams and management can stay on top of the plan as it's being executed.


Ultimate Customizable Dashboard a.k.a. Program Room 

The Program Room is an information radiator of the health of the project. This one stop shop is a customizable dashboard laying out key data points that will help management keep tabs on what's important to them. Now decisions can be made on active live data without the need to collect data from disparate sources. 

We think you'd also be interested in our webinar, Proving Value: How Business Leaders Use Jira Align to Connect Strategy and Execution.


Time to get Aligned!

These five features are barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Jira Align can do for organizations. This is a feature-rich product designed for enterprise businesses that are ready to take the next step in scaling their agile practice. Not sure where to start? No worries - we have you covered! Praecipio is ready to provide services around agile transformations and implementing Jira Align solutions that will get everyone moving in the same direction.

Topics: tracking reporting jira-align
3 min read

Jira Align Jumpstart: What to expect

By Brian Nye on Dec 31, 2020 10:30:00 AM

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Do you want to roll out Jira Align in your organization but are not sure where to start? The answer is simple, use our Jira Align Jumpstart solution. This solution will give you access to a Solutions Architect who will walk you and your core team of Jira Align practitioners on the setup of your first Program in Jira Align. 

As part of a Jumpstart, there are five phases that you will go through:
  1. Discovery
  2. Set-up
  3. Implementation
  4. Training
  5. Launch

Discovery

The first phase of a Jumpstart is Discovery. During the discovery phase, your Jira Align Solutions Architect will get to know your company. The goal of this is to understand where you are in the scaling process and to get your leadership engaged in communicating the reasons that you are implementing Jira Align. A large part of this will be driven through the value drivers exercise. In this exercise, the team identifies common goals for the organization's agile journey. The output of this exercise will give the whole team a better understanding of the functionality that will need to be configured inside Jira Align and identify how your Solutions Architect can help guide you through that journey. 

Set-up

Following discovery is the setup phase. The setup phase will establish all the connections and settings needed to support your business. The Solutions Architect digs into the integration between Jira and Jira Align, making sure the two systems can pass information between one another. During this phase, there will be a lot of toggling on and off the various features and permissions for each of the user roles. This is based on the goals of the value driver exercise and the roles and responsibilities of the various levels of management using the tool. At the end of the setup phase, Jira and Jira Align will be connected.

Implementation

Connecting the two systems isn't all you have to do! To have the tool set up for your teams, you need to have some base data present to make sure it's working as expected. During the implementation phase, the Solutions Architect will work with Program Management to configure the initial teams and program data. This includes setting up initial strategic snapshots, goals, themes, epics, and features. The Jumpstart focuses on Program-level implementation, but basic configuration for some high-level roll up is also included. Based on this data, we will see the flow from the work in Jira pushed up to Jira Align and changes in Jira Align, pushed down to Jira. Although this sounds like a simple task, it usually involves fine-tuning some processes to ensure that reports and structure align to the goals established from the project onset.

Training

As the saying goes, a fool with a tool is still a fool. To avoid this, training is done with the teams who will be using the system. There are various types of training that are done with the team. One is for program management so they know how to use the tool from a day-to-day basis. Other training targets Jira Align Administrators so that they understand how the back end is configured and how to maintain the system following the Jumpstart. Both trainings help establish the fundamentals needed for working in the system.

Launch

Now that everyone is prepped and ready to go, all you need to do is launch the program officially. This is targeted to align to a PI Planning session. Now that your having these "Big Room" meetings virtually, you have a tool that will help facilitate the overall direction for your next Program Increment. 

What's next? 

If you want to know more about Jira Align Jumpstart and how to launch the product successfully, contact us here at Praecipio Consulting. We would love to chat with you about your situation to make sure that you are set up for success. Many clients are looking for better ways of scaling with Atlassian, and we would love to understand your current processes so you make the decision that is best for your business. 

Interested in learning more about Jira Align, dive into our Whitepaper, The Connected Enterprise: Close the Gap Between Business Strategy & Execution.  

Topics: jira digital-transformation atlassian-solution-partner jira-align
5 min read

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

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

Benefits of Next-Gen projects

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

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

What is a next-gen project? 

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

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

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

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

The benefits of a next-gen project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The disadvantages of a next-gen project

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

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

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

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

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

Are next-gen projects right for you? 

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

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

 

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

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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