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5 min read

Which Atlasssian Products are Right for my Business?

By Michael Lyons on Jul 13, 2021 9:55:57 AM

2021-q4-blogpost-Atlassian- Which Application is Right for my Business?_1

Are you considering using the Atlassian toolset, but aren't sure which applications are best for your team or organization? Well I'm here to highlight some of the great applications that Atlassian provides so you can make the right choice for your business. Atlassian's product suite is made up of applications that can unlock your entire organization's potential, from Software Development teams, IT Operations teams and Project Management teams to HR, Legal and Product Owners. You can even use the tools for everyday life! We at Praecipio Consulting love these tools so much that we use them in our day-to-day work.

I will be focusing on a subset of applications that can be used as a starting point for your organization. The applications are great foundational building blocks to start with when using Atlassian for managing work, providing service experiences, or housing documentation. These applications can be used on their own, or they can be used together to maximize team collaboration and efficiency, depending on what suits your team or organization best. 

Jira Software

Teams and organizations can use Jira Software as a tool for managing and tracking work in software development projects. This tool is extremely flexible and can be used by teams that leverage both Agile and Waterfall methodologies. It is highly customizable and can track all sorts of work in the software development lifecycle, including initiatives, epics, stories, and tasks, as well as other items specific to the team. Teams can create customized workflows to track statuses for work items to ensure work is being completed properly and the right individuals are involved to support the work. 

Groups that leverage both Scrum and Kanban can equally benefit from Jira Software. Scrum teams can set work for sprints and track the sprint progress directly in Jira. Visual tools such as boards, dashboards, reports and plans can be used to monitor and execute work. For Kanban teams, Jira's board visual is great for seeing the tasks the team is working on and can help determine where the team needs to focus. WIP (work-in-progress) limits can be set depending on what the team can achieve. 

Software, Gaming, Finance, and so many other types of companies find this tool useful to develop new technology. For example, the development of an App across multiple platforms is an excellent case for leveraging Jira Software. Product Owners can help drive improvements of their Apps with enhanced transparency, reporting, and collaboration through Jira Software. 

Jira Service Management

Teams that provide any level of customer service such as enhancement requests, PTO submissions, or change management often look to Jira Service Management as their main tool. Service desks are useful for taking on requests from both internal and external customers. Requests can be assigned and tracked in the application to ensure customers are getting all the help they need. Companies will also use this application to track changes through the business, such as bug fixes or upgrades. As with Jira Software, Jira Service Management can be customized to fit what the organization needs to ensure great service is being provided.

Organizations use this tool for IT Help Desks. If an employee needs a new laptop or to have a password changed, a request can be submitted through a customized service desk. The requests are sent to teams designated by the organization and can be resolved by those teams. Jira Service Management can be used by other groups within the organization as well, such as Human Resources. As described in one of our previous blogs, HR Teams can leverage service desks to onboard new employees. 

Jira Service Management is used for many different types of requests here at Praecipio Consulting as well. For example, our Marketing Team manages a service desk for Webinars. If someone has a topic to present, the service desk can be used to submit the idea. Once the idea is received, our Marketing team will work with the individual to plan and schedule the Webinar. 

Jira Work Management

Jira Work Management functions similarly to Jira Software, but is geared towards teams that are managing non-software development projects. Project Managers across multiple industries can use this tool to assign and track project work. Similarly to Jira Software, Work Management is customizable and provides great visualizations to monitor work and ensure projects are being completed on time. 

This tool doesn't just have to be used for company-related work: it can be used outside of work as well. For example, searching for a new house! The house buying process is extensive, and Jira Work Management can help outline tasks, assign work, and set dates and dependencies so you can purchase your next home in an organized manner.

Confluence

Confluence is a robust content management tool that teams can use to house important project materials, knowledge resources, and document templates. Within Confluence, spaces can be created for organizations and teams to organize documentation. Then pages can be created within the space where teams collaborate and share notes and documents on work being completed. This application can work for any sort of organization in any field, not just for technology groups. 

This application can be used to document daily meeting notes, standard best practices for an organization, and much more. Confluence can incorporate helpful macros to enhance the information being shared. For example, macros include drawing features for diagrams and templates for consistency across documentation. This application enables all of your teams and stakeholders to communicate effectively about projects.

How Can Applications Be Used Together?

I've discussed a small group of the tools that Atlassian offers. These applications can be used on their own, and you may feel the need to only use one. However, if multiple applications fit your needs, you can use them together to achieve operational excellence.  A common case is leveraging confluence and combining it with other Atlassian applications. Confluence, being a great documentation tool, combines extremely well with the applications discussed. Below you will see these combinations and effective use cases for each.

Confluence and Jira Software:  Confluence can be used to document daily notes for scrum meetings and create templates for how retrospective meetings should be organized. It can also be used to store any internal team notes on work being completed.

Confluence and Jira Service Management: Confluence can hold documentation on how to resolve a specific issue pertaining to the business.

Confluence and Jira Work Management: Confluence can be used to document discovery sessions about the project or even store your robust project plans. Drawings can be added to confluence as well for reference. 

The immense synergy between Confluence and all of these applications can help maximize the benefits of your Atlassian applications!  If you have questions about any Atlassian applications, please reach out to us, we would love to help! Best of luck in your Atlassian journey!

Topics: jira blog confluence jira-service-desk jira-software atlassian-products jira-work-management
2 min read

Get early access to Atlassian Data Lake for Jira Software

By Kye Hittle on Apr 23, 2021 2:00:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Data Lake Preview

What's a data lake?

Read up on the basics in our explainer.

At Praecipio Consulting we understand that the data contained within your Atlassian tools is a critical asset for your organization. To help customers more easily access their Jira data, Atlassian has developed Data Lake! As of March 2021, Data Lake is available to preview in Jira Software Cloud Premium and Enterprise.

Warning! Beta software should not be used for production purposes. Breaking changes are likely as Atlassian tweaks this functionality based on user feedback. Not all Jira data is currently available and permission levels are limited but Atlassian is quickly working through its roadmap. In addition only English field names are available, as of now. Therefore, any information presented here is subject to change.

Data Lake allows you to quickly connect the best-in-class business intelligence (BI) tools you've already invested in to query the lake directly.

Compatible BI Tools include:

  • Tableau
  • PowerBI
  • Qlik
  • Tibco Spotfire
  • SQL Workbench
  • Mulesoft
  • Databricks
  • DbVisualizer

Jira-Data-Lake-preview

Data Lake uses the JDBC standard supported by many BI vendors. Supporting an open standard provides tremendous flexibility and power in reporting on your Jira projects.

Once you've identified the components of your BI solution, you'll follow three basic setup steps:

  1. Configure the JDBC driver
  2. Connect your BI tool(s)
  3. Navigate the Jira data model

You'll need your org_id and an API token for your Jira Cloud instance. Except for creating an API token (if you haven't already), there's no config required within your Jira instance. There are instructions for connecting to various BI tools in the Atlassian community Data Lake Early Access group. In addition, you'll find posts and diagrams to assist in answering business questions using Jira's data model.

If you're a Premier or Enterprise customer and would like to access the Early Access Program for Data Lake, complete this form to request access. You can also post questions and feedback for the devs in this group.

Are you interested in unlocking the power of data stored in your Atlassian tools? We're a Platinum Atlassian partner with years of experience helping customers leverage their Atlassian investment for even more value, so get in touch!

Topics: jira atlassian blog enterprise jira-software atlassian-products business-intelligence data-lake
5 min read

How Do You Manage Releases in Atlassian Jira?

By Amanda Babb on Apr 16, 2021 11:05:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_How do you manage releases in Atlassian-At a recent Atlassian Community Event, I was asked to present on a topic of my choice. After some thought (and to be honest, a poll to our Client Delivery team), I decided on Release Management using Jira. It's a frequent topic of discussion with our clients: how can I understand what will be or is released? Also, what changed between what was in Production to what is in Production now?

I've seen many complicated solutions and I've seen many simple solutions. However, your team, your company, or your organization has to hash out the following: 

  • What is your definition of "Done"?
  • What is your definition of "Release"?
  • Are these two things in conflict? 

Definition of Done versus Definition of Release

As you may already know, in Scrum, "Done" is when the Product Owner accepts the story as complete, meeting all acceptance criteria, and packaged into a potentially shippable increment. While I agree with this definition, at the same time I challenge the phrase, "potentially shippable." This is where you, your teams, your operations teams, and your product managers need to have a conversation. Does "Done" and "Released" mean the same thing across your organization?

In one organization, they had four definitions of done: Done, Done-Done, Done-Done-Done, and Done-Done-Done-Done. In reality, they were defining the QA, deployment, and Production Release processes with the four separate definitions of "Done". This was also directly related to their use of Jira Software and how to demonstrate success to management. Notice I said success and not progress. The Teams wanted credit for code complete in Jira to demonstrate a predictable velocity. QA wanted credit for the test complete in Jira to demonstrate a continuous flow. Jira Release Managers wanted credit in Jira for integration activities before deploying to production. Operations wanted credit in Jira Software for the production deployment. As you can imagine, this was relatively messy in Jira and tying work from code complete through managing the release in Jira to Production was excruciating.

While Done may be clearer to your organization, "Release" may not be as clear. Different parts of the organization will have different definitions of Release. For a team, "Release" may mean the code has been deployed to a QA environment. For Operations, "Release" may mean deployment to Production. In the example above, "Done" and "Release" meant the same thing among the teams, QA, and Jira Release Management, but not Operations. Nor did it mean the same thing across the organization. Without clarity across the organization, tracking and managing Releases in Jira Software becomes nearly impossible. Clearly defining "Done" and clearly defining "Release" across the organization can drive organizational alignment. Once you understand these two concepts, you can manage these Jira releases in Atlassian using the following two methods: The Release Issue Type or Bitbucket Pipelines.

Method One: The Release Issue Type

Within your SDLC projects in Jira, create a new Issue Type called, "Release." This lets the organization know that, while code is complete, there are additional items that need to be fostered through the process. These may include documentation, release notes, a hardening sprint, or anything that can foster work from code complete to Production. The additional items can be managed as Sub-Tasks of the Release to understand the scope of work needed to move it through the process.

As with any new Issue Type, the Release in Jira will need a Workflow. The Workflow can be simple, however, we recommend using a Ready for Production Status in the workflow. When integrating Jira with Jira Service Management, the transition to Ready for Production is a perfect time to automate creating a Change Request. Your Operations team can review the change request with a link back to the Jira Release Issue Type.

How do we know which stories and bugs are tied to the Release in Jira? Do we link all the work to the Release Issue Type? No. I mean, you could, but why take the time to do that? Is it really a value-added activity for traceability? Is there another way to tie these things together that could be quicker and easier? The answer: Yes.

Even long-time users of Jira forget about Versions. If used properly, Versions can provide every team the status, progress, and any known issues in a single view in the Release Hub. This is true for all development activities AND the Release issue. By adding the Fix Version of the intended Release, every part of the organization can see the progress of the Release. Because JQL supports Versions, all items tied to a Fix Version can be displayed in other places such as a Dashboard or a Confluence page. With a little up-front discipline during backlog refinement, or sprint planning, or even big room planning, managing a release in Jira is as simple as adding a Fix Version to the work as well as the Release issue.

When managing Releases in Jira, once the Release issue has been deployed to Production, always go back and release the Version in Jira. Anything that is not in a "Done" status category can either move to the next Version or be removed from any Version entirely.

What if a story or bug spans multiple Releases? There is still only one Release issue per Version. However, I would also challenge you to take a look (again) at your definition of Done versus your definition of Release. Are you actually completing the work or are you pushing it forward again and again because there's a problem? In the next backlog refinement meeting and/or retrospective, ask why this continues to happen. Really dig in and understand whether the work needs to be moved to an Epic, de-prioritized, completed in the next sprint, or abandoned altogether.

Method Two: Bitbucket Pipelines

Using Bitbucket Pipelines still requires your organization to have a conversation defining "Done" and "Release". However, the entities that support these definitions are different when integrating Jira and Bitbucket Pipelines. The Jira Release is managed through the Pipeline and requires little human intervention. Instead, we work with a series of Workflow Triggers and automated deployments to determine where the Release is in its process.

You still need to create a Version in Jira. You still need good discipline during backlog refinement and sprint planning to ensure work is tied to the correct Version. You may also choose to halt the automation just before deployment to Production based on your Change Management processes. Clarify the process before implementing it in Atlassian.

After your Version is created and work is tagged with the Version, add Triggers to your development workflows. For example, you can automate a transition from Open to In Progress based on the creation of a Branch in Bitbucket. You can also automate a transition to Closed or Done once a Pull Request is merged. Triggers in Jira Workflows keep people focused on the work instead of Jira. But where Bitbucket Pipelines really shine is everything that happens after code is merged. Separate Pipelines can be created per environment. For example, if you need to manually deploy to production, a Pipeline can automate the process through build and deploy to a staging environment after it passes all checks. Commits, build, and deploy information is visible in the Development Panel of the individual story or bug. You can even quickly understand failures and receive additional information by clicking on the failure. For a specific Version, as long as work is tagged, you can aggregate the overall health of the Release in the Release Hub by viewing the Version. Status, success, warnings, and errors are available in a central location. If everything looks good, simply click a button and deploy to Production. Alternatively, if the staging deployment is successful, automate the production deployment in the Pipeline as well.

Which Release Management in Jira is right for you?

At Praecipio Consulting, we believe the answer is: "It depends." Regulatory compliance, risk tolerance, product uptime requirements, etc., may dictate which Jira Release Management method is right for your organization. And, to boot, the answer can be different for different parts of the organization. However, the critical first step to implementing release management using Atlassian Jira is to have a conversation. Are your definitions of "Done" and "Release" at odds with one another? What do they mean from a process perspective? Is there room for improvement in those definitions? If you can answer those questions you’re well on your way to having effective release management in Jira.

We here at Praecipio Consulting have extensive experience with both Jira Release Management best practices and the Atlassian suite of products, which we are happy to share with you to help you achieve more effective release management with Jira.

Topics: atlassian blog bitbucket process-consulting scrum tips project-management jira-software
2 min read

Using Jira Service Management's Email Function for Ticket Intake 

By Jerry Bolden on Feb 8, 2021 12:57:03 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Using JSDs email functionality for ticket intake

Setting up an email account within Jira Service Management (JSM) allows different clients to provide extensive information without using the Portal every time they have a question. While this is a great functionality within JSM, and quite easy to set up, there are some key items to remember to ensure all works well: things that can be required, setting up the queue, and email addresses do's and don'ts.

As you set this up, not only will you need an email address tied to an inbox, but it's just as important to have a request type set up in your JSM project. The request type should be hidden from the portal; this way it cannot be selected as an option if someone accesses the portal to create requests. This will give you control and the ability to clearly separate emailed requests from ones created through the portal by other users/customers. Once the request type is set up, you can only require the Summary and/or Description to be set. These two fields will be pulled directly from the email, with the subject becoming the summary and body of the email becoming the description. If you try and require any other fields, the request type will fail and the emails will not be processed into requests automatically.

In conjunction with setting up the request type for the email is setting up the queue for this specific request type. Remember, you are able to reference the name of a request type in JQL searches. This allows your agents to quickly identify which requests were created via email and not just lumped into the other queues. Due to some of your requests being created through email, the communication back to the customers is critical to make them feel like the request is being seen. The queue will alert the team when there are incoming email requests, and coupling them with SLAs correctly, will focus the proper communication and solving of these issues consistently.

Lastly, think critically about the email address you select. First, the email needs to be specifically used to receive issues from customers; this means it should not be used for mass communication where you also get NoReply email addresses, or mass communication that will cause false tickets to be created. While you can add certain automation into JSM to look for specific emails and not respond to them, the point of JSM is to allow for ease of administration of a Service Desk of which customer communication is the most critical item.

Overall, the email request creation for JSM is a great option, which is at times easier for users/customers to use versus going onto a portal. With the proper configuration and use of the recommendations in this article, the email will function and you can maximize the effectiveness of JSM email requests. Always keep in mind it is better to have a purposed email address than to reuse one and wonder why some emails work, some do not, and there are loops of comment(s) being sent due to NoReply.

For any help with this issue, or anything else Atlassian, drop us a line, we live and breathe Atlassian, and would love to help!

Topics: atlassian jira-software email-notifications atlassian-solution-partner jira-service-management
2 min read

Affects Version vs. Fix Version in Jira: The Difference

By Jerry Bolden on May 12, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_What’s the difference between Affects Version & Fixed Version-

In today's post, we'll address the age-old question: which came first, the Affects version (egg) or the Fix version (chicken)?

Both of these fields 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. Before we delve into how they relate, let's define what each field is and how to properly utilize them. 

What is Fix Version?

Fix version is the release version used to track different software developments and/or any updates. You fill out the Fix version to ensure that as you develop stories, and you can group them together when setting up a release delivery. This release could contain multiple issues created to serve different client needs, and this is designed to help each development team and PO (product owner) track all code to be released at one time. 

What is Affects Version?

The Affects version allows you to track bugs or defects that exist in already-released code. The bug will have a new Fix version on it, which will designate the code release where you can find the solution. Additionally, you can query off of this field to identify which code is having problems after its development and scheduled release. 

Which Comes First?

Now that we reviewed definitions of each version, we can answer the age-old question from the beginning of the post: which came first? In this instance, the Fix version (chicken) comes first. Not only does it group issues together for release, but it's also a way to use the Affects version field properly and efficiently. Without the Fix version field, the Affects version field cannot tie any detected issues back to the respective code releases.

When using these fields, start by tracking releases through the Fix version field first, then use the releases to connect any bugs you found to the Affects version field. This does not stop anyone from using a new Fix version on the bug issue and linking it to a new code release.  

I hope this information will settle any office disputes about which comes first! You should now be able to communicate through examples with Jira. Think about it this way: if the egg came first, the system would be ineffective, so the chicken most definitely came first. If you want to have a friendly debate about this age-old question or discuss anything related to Jira and/or software development, reach out to us!

At Praecipio Consulting, we pride ourselves on being able to work with your team in a variety of ways to help you meet your goals. To learn more about the services we offer, visit our Consulting Services page, and check out the process frameworks we specialize in, like DevOps, ITSM, ESM and more.

Topics: jira blog sdlc tips jira-software custom-development
2 min read

SAFe Cheat Sheet: A Guide to Scaled Agile Framework

By Erin Jones on Feb 23, 2015 11:00:00 AM

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

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

What are the core values of SAFe?

What are the core values of SAFe?

 

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

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

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

Want to learn more about SAFe?

Ready to learn more about how Scaled Agile brings best practices and delivers the greatest results to your enterprise organization? As Atlassian Platinum Solution Partners, Praecipio Consulting is here to help! 

First, check out our webinar on SAFe®, Agile in the Enterprise, presented by Senior Solutions Architect, Certified Scrum Master, and SAFe® Program Consultant Amanda Babb to get a more complete introduction to implementing Agile practices at the enterprise level.

Next, contact us today to see how our Consulting Services can help you meet your goals.

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

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