2 min read

4 things not to do when starting to use Jira Service Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 21, 2021 4:35:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_When do I use JSM queues vs. dashboards-Finding yourself in need of a solution where others can request for service, help and support without sending an email?  Do you have stakeholders constantly asking for status updates on things they emailed you 20 mins ago?  If so, you might be looking for a service desk solution, and Atlassian has a solution for you: Jira Service Management.  Here are four things you SHOULDN'T do when converting over to or just starting off with Jira Service Management:

  1. Forget about the portal.  At first it might seem like extra effort because you can utilize SLAs and automation without a portal, but you will be doing your customers and yourself a disservice.  That, and you might be spending more than you should.
    1. By utilizing the customer portal through request types, you can take full advantage of quick support request with helper text, self service functionality, and customer alerting, allowing your agents to focus on resolving requests, and your customer to have a simple portal for updates and visibility.
  2. Forget about approvals.  JSM makes approval auditing super simple.  Through simple query filters you are able to generate reports around approvals.  You can easily identify within the support requests, which approvals and who declined or approved.  And all of this can be done through the customer portal (see 1 above), with one click approval or denial.
  3. Forget about SLAs.  When tracking performance metrics in your Service Desk, Atlassian makes it easy to configure SLAs, allowing visuals references in the support requests and well as generating reports.
  4. Forget about Automation.  Through simple If..Then logic, Atlassian makes automating routine tasks a breeze.  Tired of aging support requests junking up your resolve status?  Add an auto-close automation to move them directly to Close without passing Reopen.

By taking advantage of the powerful out of the box features provided by Atlassian's Jira Service Management, you will be simplifying your life and delighting your customers. If you're wondering if it's the right fit for you organization's needs, or are looking for expert advice on all things Atlassian, contact us, we would love to help!

Topics: jira atlassian blog optimization tips jira-service-management
17 min read

The Journey to SSO, Part V: Onboarding and Offboarding Contractors automatically with SAML Single Sign On

By resolution on Apr 7, 2021 9:45:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Resolution Blog Series, Pt. 5Praecipio Consulting has partnered with our friends at resolutionan Atlassian Gold Marketplace Partner based in Germany that specializes in software development and network security, to bring you a series of blog posts about how to successfully implement single sign-on (SSO) with Atlassian tools. With more than 7 million users from 58 countries, resolution is the market leader for Atlassian Enterprise User Management Apps.

In the last article of these series on the journey to Atlassian SSO, we followed the steps of ACME, a company with large instances of Jira and Confluence on prem, planning a migration from AD FS to Azure AD.  

In particular, we had a detailed look at: 

  • How users from the Atlassian directories can be seamlessly migrated into Azure AD building a no code integration with User Sync 
  • How users can be mapped between Azure AD and the Atlassian applications even if usernames don’t match 
  • How to connect users from different organizations (ACME and CU.com, a consultancy firm) each with its own Identity Providers, both for authentication and provisioning purposes. 

In order to complete the setup, however, ACME needs to add some restrictions to CU.com users to answer the following questions:  

  • Who at CU.com must have accounts in ACME’s Jira and Confluence? 
  • How long should access be retained? 
  • How should access be revoked? 

Let’s look at how to automate the process for onboarding and offboarding consultants so that these are the answers: 

  • Who should have accounts? Only contractors assigned to active projects. 
  • How long should access be retained? Only for as long as the project is active. 
  • How should access be revoked? Automatically, as soon as the project concludes. 

How to provision only contractors assigned to active projects 

Let’s quickly recap what ACME needs to set up: 

Challenges 

  • Access to ACME’s Atlassian tools should only be granted to consultants who have been assigned to specific projects 
  • Consultants have a quick turnaround. It’s important to give them access quickly and deactivate them as soon as their assignments conclude. 
  • It’s also vital to ensure that consultants only occupy licenses of the Atlassian products while they´re on an active assignment. 

Implementation steps 

The approach has four steps 

  1. The group that gives consultants access will be operated from Contractor’s Okta and filtered in ACME’s User Sync connector. 
  2. Specific project permissions and roles in the Atlassian applications will be managed locally.  This has important implications, as the Okta and local group settings must coexist and not overwrite each other. 
  3. The synchronization between Okta and ACME will be scheduled to run every night (but users will also be updated when they login, eliminating waiting times entirely). 
  4. As a result of the synchronization, consultants who no longer are on active assignments will have both their access and their licenses revoked. 

Here’s the walkthrough: 

1. In the Okta User Sync connector configured in the section above, ACME adds a filter so that only consultants in a specific group are passed and enabled in Jira 
  • Go to User Sync > Azure AD Connector > Edit > Advanced Settings 
  • In Groups mandatory to sync a user, create a new entry group filter user sync
  • Add the group active-acme-jira-project Filter by active project
2. Now we need to tell User Sync which local groups may be added locally in Jira to these contractors. These are the groups that define what projects contractors have access to, and which roles they fall under.  

It's extremely important to add this information! Failing to do so results in removing access  to Jira projects:  

  •  every time the contractor logs in 
  •  with each user sync. 

However, we can protect groups in both contexts from the User Sync connector,  

  • To protect the groups in the connector, we go back to the Advanced Settings and add all the groups used to give permission to Contractor Unlimited consultants in the Keep these Groups field. Note that you can either include every group, or regular expressions, if there are any patterns. keep groups 
3. Now, we will schedule the synchronization at regular intervals to happen every morning at 3am using this cron expression: 0 0 2 ? * *schedule user sync with cron 
4. Finally, we will tell the connector to deactivate contractors who have finished their assignments so that they don't consume any licenses.  
  • In the cleanup behavior dropdown, select disable users. cleanup behavior disable users

What does this last step mean? Consultants will be automatically deactivated in Jira and Confluence following this process: 

  • When an assignment concludes, the consultant is removed from the active-acme-jira-project group 
  • At 3am, the user sync connector runs 
  • The user is removed from the active-acme-jira-project group in Jira, together with any other changes. 
  • As a consequence, the user is deactivated in Jira. 

Bonus trick: With the right SAML setting, if the consultant logs into Jira after they have already been removed from the active group, the login will succeed but will also result in the deactivation. 

We reached our destination! 

Congratulations! You have finished the journey to Atlassian Single Sign-On! Hopefully by this time you are on your way to an implementation that will last for many years to come. 

The sample implementation in the last two articles has offered a selection of very popular options among Atlassian on prem customers. As you have seen, User Synchronization is very often a cornerstone of the implementation, since it permits to use the Identity Provider as a single source of truth to automate user on- and offboarding. At the same time, it’s compatible with multi-IdP setups and access provision to partner organizations. 

However, the example is just that – an example. And it might be very different to what you need to solve. 

How can we help you? 

If you have any doubts or need help with advanced technical issues, there are several next steps. 

  • Our friends at Praecipio Consulting will be happy to help you get up and running. We go way back with a long history of shared implementations.  
  • If you need help configuring the resolution SAML SSO application or the User Sync standalone that can be combined with the Data Center SAML, we provide free screenshare sessions every day. 

Excited to see you there, very soon! 

Topics: atlassian blog optimization practices security collaboration human-resource
25 min read

The Journey to SSO, Part IV: A Killer Implementation of SAML Single Sign On with Jira and Confluence Data Center 

By resolution on Mar 22, 2021 7:33:45 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Resolution Blog Series, Pt. 4Congratulations on reaching the final destination in our very special journey to combine frictionless Atlassian applications with enterprise security! If you haven’t yet, you can have a look at the first article on the symptoms that your company needs a single sign-on solution and the second part on the existing opportunities to implement Identity Providers with your current infrastructure. 

With the goal of identifying realistic solutionsithe third article we reviewed the top SSO requirements for Atlassian Data Center applications:  

  • Are usernames consistent across user directories? 
  • Are there multiple sources of identity? 
  • Do you need to centralize user management on your Identity Provider? 
  • Is there a need to automate user activation and deactivation? 

Then, we mapped possible responses to competing alternatives so that you could tell when Data Center SAML could do the job, and when it would be better to look for an alternative in the Marketplace. Go back to our detailed comparison if you want to dive into the enterprise customization options! 

In the following two articles we will see the four requirements come together in a killer implementation of resolution’s SAML SSO. Let’s follow the steps of ACME Services Ltd! 

ACME is (obviously) an imaginary company based on the hundreds of customer implementations that our support team has guided to completion. 

The starting point  

  1. As part of a larger effort to centralize user management in a central team, the company ACME Services has decided to migrate their Jira and Confluence users from a local Active Directory where users login locally with username and password to Azure AD SAML SSO will be used to connect with the Atlassian applications. 
  2. ACME works for specific technology projects with Contractor Unlimited, a large consulting firmConsultants will need access to ACME’s Jira and Confluence applications with their existing Contractor accounts, hosted in Okta. 
  3. Obviously, only the contractors assigned to projects can have access, which should be revoked as soon as their assignment concludes. This step will be shown in an upcoming article. 

Note: While the scenario includes both Jira and Confluence, we will only cover the implementation in Jira as an example. Keep in mind that the steps are virtually identical for both applications! 

1. The migration from the local AD to Azure AD 

Username transformation with User Sync

Challenges 

  1. Usernames sent from Azure AD are different to the local Atlassian usernames:  first.lastname@acme.com versus first.lastname 
  2. ACME has a central IT department separated from the team of Atlassian admins, and collaboration between both teams usually takes time. To increase the speed of the implementation, it has been decided to transform usernames on the Atlassian application. 
  3. Users from Jira must be first migrated to Azure AD, since it’s a historic instance with thousands of existing tickets. 

Prerequisites 

In this guide we will focus on the critical tips and tricks, but will assume that you already have a basic working configuration that includes: 

  1. Creating a User Sync connector for Azure AD following the Configuration Guide for Azure AD. Do not sync yet! It's best to wait until the implementation is complete. 
  2. SAML SSO configured with your Azure ADHere is the guide 
  3. Having read, understood and followed our guide on how to migrate the Jira/Confluence internal directory to User Sync to retain user history, groups, etc. 

It’s convenient to configure User Sync and SAML SSO in this order so that you can select an existing User Sync connector to provision your users during the SAML SSO setup. 

Important note: Migrations can be messy, so it’s fine to recognize it if you have trouble solving the 3 prerequisites above. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either Praecipio or resolution –we regularly host free screenshare sessions with our customers to get their SAML SSO implementation ready for production! 

Implementation steps 

In this walkthrough, we’ll implement username transformations on both the SAML SSO login process and the User Synchronizations via API. You may we wondering why the transformation must be completed on both sides. We asked one of our engineers, and here's what he said: 

"What happens when the SAML SSO app searches for a user during login and the user is not found? That the login will fail. That's why you need to keep the transformations consistent on both sides. If User Sync creates username “example” stripping the email domain that is stored in Azure AD, and then SAML SSO searches for a user called example@domain.com without stripping the domain before looking it up, it will fail to find the user. 

  1. First, let’s instruct the User Sync Connector to copy user attributes from the local directory into Azure AD whenever a user is createdYou can find this in the advanced settings of the Azure AD connector you have just created. copy behavior
  2. Now we need to configure how usernames will be transformed as they are synchronized into Jira/Confluence from Azure AD
    • Go to Attribute Mapping in the advanced User Sync settings, and click on Edit for the username row Username mapping
  • Now it’s time to add the transformation. Here’s the regex example that would do the job of transforming elon.musk@acme.com into elon.musk: 

Regular expression: ^(.*)@.*$ 

Replacement: $1 email domain stripping

  • As in the example above, you should test with a real user whether the transformation works. 

    3. Now we need to configure the same transformation in SAML too. 
  • Go to Identity Providers User Creation and Update > Attribute mapping and click on Edit for the Name ID / username row username mapping SAML
  • Use the template from the dropdown to strip the email domain no code transformation templates
  • Click apply and save your SAML configuration. no code email domain stripping

Note: The no-code option to strip the email domain from a dropdown will be included in the upcoming release of User Sync, both as a standalone and as a feature of the SAML SSO apps. 

             4. Finally, ACME must change the priority order of the user directories, so that the User Sync dir
ectory is above the local one. To do this, go to User Management> User Directories in the admin section of Jira, and move the Azure AD directory to the top.directory rank 
  1. Connecting users from multiple organizations into the same Jiramulti-IdP setup

After the initial setup, Contractor Unlimited (CU.com) need access to Jira/Confluence. Since they also want to use SSO connected to their Okta, a new UserSync connector is configured for Okta. 

Challenges 

  • Implementing the most appropriate method of combining both Identity Providers (IdPs) 

The final decision is that Okta should be triggered based on the Contractor Unlimited email domain. An alternative would be to show an IdP selection page where users can select whether to log in with Azure AD or with Okta. However, the central identity team at ACME prefers the ACME login to be a more branded experience without a reference to Contractor Unlimited’s Okta. 

Prerequisites 

  • Setup Acme's SAML SSOnow with the Contractor Unlimited's Okta instanceFollow this guide. 
  • Configure a User Sync connector with their OktaFollow this guide. 

If you want to know more about the different IdP selection methods, you can watch this video tutorial. 

Implementation steps 

  1. Go to SAML SSO > IdP Selection 
     IdP Selection tab
  2. In the dropdown, choose select IdP by Email Address     IdP Selection by Email Address
  3. Now, let’s create a new rule item so that CU.com emails are routed to Okta for authentication add email rule
  4. In the rule, we’ll add the domain in the corresponding field. In this case, cu.com becomes cu\.comOkta email rule
  5. Now, let’s test the email of any contractor to check whether the rule is triggered.  test Okta email rule
  6. Let’s now repeat steps 3-5 for acme employees and Azure AD. The result should look something like this: email rules okta azure ad
  7. Finally, ACME decides to tweak the selection page a little bit so that it has the right look and feel
    To do that, they go to the page templates section of the SAML SSO configuration
     Page Templates tab
    and navigate to the IdP Selection By Email Page Template (2nd template) Selection Page Velocity Template
  8. And that’s how it looks like for them by simply changing the font and adding their logo!customized login page 

To be continued: Setting up an automated process to provision and deprovision consultants. 

At this point, CU employees have access to ACME's Atlassian tools. The door is open. But ACME still has to make sure that it the door can be closes so that only CU.com contractors who are actually needed can get in. 

In the next and final article of the series, we’ll look at how to set up an automated process for onboarding and offboarding contractors so that they always have access when they need it, and they immediately lose it when their project is over. Without manual work, and without any bottlenecks. 

Stay tuned!

Topics: blog optimization security resolution identity-management
3 min read

Three Things No One Tells You About Custom Fields in Jira

By Mary Roper on Mar 4, 2021 12:19:10 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Three Things No One Tells You About Custom FieldsCustom fields can be an over-looked configuration point in Jira, and it's easy to see why: they're easy to create, modify, and make available for your users. Although Jira ships with several system fields, it's inevitable that teams using Jira will reach a point where they require additional fields to input specific information into their issues. But in order to maintain Jira's performance as well as instance hygiene, it's important that Administrators take great care when it comes to custom field creation. That's why today we're sharing with you a few custom field insights we've gleaned over the years. Read on to learn three things no one tells you about custom fields. 

1. Technically, there is no limit to the number of custom fields you can have. BUT...

Custom fields do impact system performance in Jira. Below are some recent results breaking down each configuration item's impact on Jira. Here, we can see that custom fields have an impact on the speed of running a large instance. Your teams may feel this impact in the load time of issue screens. As an admin, one indication can be having a long page of custom fields to scroll through. Additionally, this is often accompanied by longer than usual load time for the custom field Administration page. 

Response Times for Jira Data Sets

To combat this, Jira Administrators should partner with the requestor and other impacted users to determine some guidelines for creating custom fields. For instance, requiring the requestor to submit an example of how they plan to report on the custom field or having the Administrator ensure the custom field can be used in the majority of projects (>=80%). Execution is crucial here: once the guidelines are aligned with management and stakeholders, it's crucial they are followed to prevent your custom field list from unnecessarily growing.

2. There are native alternatives to custom fields.

There are a few usual suspects to look for when reviewing custom fields. Duplicate custom fields ("Additional Comments" as a supplement to the "Comments" system field), variations of custom fields ("Vendor" vs "Vendors"), and department specific custom fields ("Company ABC" vs "Vendor") are a few custom fields that can needlessly drive up your custom field count. To prevent this from happening, Admins can offer their business partners alternative suggestions to creating a custom field by looking at the following:

  1. Utilize an existing custom field that may be more general, but is fit for the purpose to get the most out of what is already in place.
  2. Rather than implementing a custom field, Labels or Components can be used to help organize issues and categorize them for future reporting.
  3. Apply a custom field context to help maximize the potential for picker, select, checkbox, and radio button custom field types. Adding field context enables Administrators to pair different custom field select options or their default values to specific projects or issue types within the same project.

3. You can proactively manage custom fields.

Rather than waiting for custom fields to pile on and create a lag on the instance speed time, proactively scheduling time to scrub your instance for stale custom fields will help Administrators keep on top of their custom field list. This can be a visual check to understand what fields aren't associated to a screen- those are good candidates for removal- or if there are similarly named fields- those can be good candidates for consolidation. More information from Atlassian on how to identify and clean up these fields can be found here.

Ultimately, a well-maintained Jira instance includes a good understanding of custom fields and their overall impact on the system. As your instance grows overtime, the guidelines around custom field development will become all the more important. Bringing these tips to life will help your instance run at top speeds for your users. 

Need help making the best out of your Jira instance? Our experts know Jira inside-out: contact us and we'll get in touch!

Topics: jira blog best-practices optimization standardize configuration bespoke health-check
3 min read

Tips for maintaining a Jira instance

By Chris Hofbauer on Feb 11, 2021 12:07:37 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Tips for maintaining a Jira instanceAtlassian's Jira is a powerful tool to promote best practices of internal processes and provide efficiency to development teams within your organization. The powerful nature of the tool is not only with the features offered by Atlassian but with a vast variety of options at your disposal to customize the instance. These customizations can come from the native features and options available as well as the apps brought to you via the Atlassian Marketplace. While these can all be great in building your Jira instance to get the most out of it, they can also have the potential to be detrimental to the health of the instance and negatively affect your organization's teams. 

Marketplace apps

Following best practices when configuring your instance as well as proper control over the integrations added to your instance is critical. If not properly managed you can experience system issues resulting in downtime due to a number of reasons but most commonly high memory or CPU. While installing apps through the marketplace may seem trivial and rather safe, keep in mind that each install of these apps does modify the database and can also be creating items such as custom fields in your instance. Make sure to properly vet all apps, check the reviews in the marketplace for any reports of impact to the instance. Also, review any documentation for the app to see how the application integrates with your instance. Most importantly it's highly recommended to install any apps in a lower environment (Dev or QA) before installing it in production. Thoroughly testing all new installs will give you the best idea of how the application will impact your instance once installed into production. 

Configuration

In addition to the configuration items created by apps are the ones created manually. Being mindful when adding items such as custom fields, statuses, workflows, etc. can save headaches long-term. It's important to reuse configuration items wherever possible. Having numerous, similar or duplicate, custom fields and statuses will create an administrative burden. Having a large number of these items will also have an impact on exporting issues and projects as well as for instance performance when loading reports, project boards, and dashboards. 

User Management

Proper user management will help to keep licensing costs to a minimum as well as give better control over access to the instance. Use groups wherever possible in permission schemes, boards, and filters. Provide only Jira administrator access and Service Desk agent licenses to those that need it. All users may not need Service Desk agent licenses and since these are billed separately in the instance, assigning all users to the Service Desk group can incur unnecessary charges going forward. Frequent review of active users is important as well. Based on business rules, users who have not logged in for some time (3 to 6 months) may be able to be made inactive. Frequent review of these types of users will also allow you to keep access to a minimum, save licensing counts, and in turn reduce user tier costs.

Stale Data

Review stale or old data is critical in maintaining a Jira instance as well. Instances will begin to grow over time and as your organization and teams grow, so will the ticket count in your instance. The larger the instance size, the high likelihood for performance degradation and instance issues. Analyzing your instance for stale old data is a key step in maintaining a healthy instance. For stale data, take a look at any unresolved tickets as well as any older tickets that have no resolution or that are not in a "Closed" status. You will also want to review any projects that have not had a ticket created in them for a long period of time (we generally recommend 3 to 6 months). After thorough analysis, you will want to close any stale tickets and archive any projects that are deemed to no longer be in use. 

Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services

Praecipio Consulting offers guidance and services to help maintain your Jira instance and provide you with industry best practices. Through years of experience, we at Praecipio have developed a wealth of knowledge in properly configuring and managing Atlassian products that will ensure you get the most out of the product for every use case in your organization. As part of our Managed Services offering, we deploy our proprietary Health Checks. These Health Checks include a thorough review of various aspects of maintaining your instance. Praecipio's Health Checks are split into two main categories: Infrastructure and Process; and include topics such as Licensing, Database Health, Security Vulnerabilities, User Management, Upgrade Readiness, Performance, Process Consolidation, Stale Data, apps/App and Workflows. With these Health Checks and working with Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services, your instance will be in an optimal state for growth and longevity.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices managed-services optimization health-check
10 min read

The Journey to Atlassian SSO, Part II:  Make an Inventory of Identity Assets

By resolution on Feb 3, 2021 7:56:53 PM

Blogpost-display-image_The journey to Atlassian SSO, part II- Make an Inventory of Identity Assets

Praecipio Consulting has partnered with our friends at resolutionan Atlassian Gold Marketplace Partner based in Germany that specializes in software development and network security, to bring you a series of blog posts about how to successfully implement single sign-on (SSO) with Atlassian tools. With more than 7 million users from 58 countries, resolution is the market leader for Atlassian Enterprise User Management Apps.

In the last article, we offered an overview of the most common pain points that can be felt across an enterprise when no single sign-on (SSO) solution has been implemented – or when it doesn’t extend to important corporate software like Atlassian tools. 

Now you understand that without SSO, end users will stick to bad passwords habits.  

Your Help Center will be flooded with password recovery requests.  

And, to the despair of your security experts, your admins will keep forgetting to deactivate former employees from Jira’s internal directory. 

So, what are you going to do about it? 

Luckily for you, we are laying the grand journey to SSO before your eyes. In this, article we’ll show you the exact steps to take inventory of your existing identity resources. Once the inventory is completed, outlining the implementation project and choosing the SSO vendors should be straightforward. 

The journey to Atlassian SSO, part II- Make an Inventory of Identity Assets-blog

 

Step 1: Take inventory of web applications 

What software do your employees use? Completing an inventory of all the B2B apps used in your organization is easier said than done.  

By some accounts, employees used an average of 191 accounts in 2017; but about half of the workforce uses software that was not distributed to them by their IT department. 

When setting out to complete the list, try a good cop approach. Interview colleagues at different departments and explain the benefits of bringing every possible application under the roof of a unique, centralized login. 

A percentage of these applications will be small SaaS vendors where the head of the department paid with a corporate credit card without requesting a budget approval for it. This type of products have all the chances of becoming Shadow IT: unaccounted for and unknown to the IT department until there’s a problem. 

However, for the purpose of single sign-on you should only be concerned about the apps that are relevant: 

  • They’re used everyday by some roles 
  • They are essential to completing the employee’s job description 
  • They have individual user accounts 
  • They contain sensitive data about the company that you shouldn’t be disclosed 

Atlassian tools like Jira, Confluence or Bitbucket meet all items on the above checklist.   

In case of doubt, a quick scan of data sensitivity should be enough to convince you. Bitbucket is the repository for the company’s software, Jira Software has all the plans about the product’s future features, Jira Service Management contains hundreds of customer conversations, and finally, Confluence is used to organize and disseminate documentation, strategic business plans, and links to confidential assets. 

Step 2: Check which applications support SSO  

Once you know which web applications you need to connect to your SSO solution, you should perform a quick due diligence:  

  • Does the application support SSO natively?  
  • If yes, what protocols can be used to connect it? SAML, OAuth/OIDC, SSH, or even older ones? 
  • If no, are commercial connectors available that you can rely on to do the job? 

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 1.09.30 PM

Atlassian on-premise applications, for example, do not support SSO natively. However, there are plenty of alternatives in the Atlassian Marketplace that allow them to connect to IdPs, mainly via SAML. Resolution’s SAML SSO is the most important example. 

In the case of Data Center, there is also a free SAML SSO app by Atlassian that covers a part of the SSO specifications, including authentication and some other aspects of user management. We will go into more details in the following article of this series. 

For each of the applications in your inventory, you will have to ask yourself: Where are the application’s users? Are they stored internally in the application, or are they drawn from a corporate user directory? 

In the case of Atlassian users, there are three main non-SSO options: 

Option 1. Users are stored in Microsoft’s Active Directory 

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 1.09.50 PM

Active Directory (AD) is starting to be a legacy technology from the time of Windows 2000, but it’s still the most common starting point for a lot of companies using Windows Servers.  

When your users are stored in AD, they can be synchronized with Atlassian applications using LDAP – then they will be able to use their AD credentials for the Atlassian login. 

Pros: It’s a well-tested option that is natively supported by Atlassian applications. Besides, many customers are already using the AD FS role to integrate with cloud services like Office 365 or Salesforce via SAML. And if they haven’t yet, they can do it for free. 

Cons: LDAP is a very poor choice in remote-first approaches: it usually requires firewalls and VPNs, it scales poorly in terms of performance, and it’s not supported by many cloud Identity Providers.  

Option 2. Users are stored in Jira’s internal directory 

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 1.10.18 PM

Jira’s internal directory can also be connected to other Atlassian products like Confluence to be used as the source of users. 

Pros: Users don’t have to be managed in other Atlassian applications. They can be centrally run from Jira’s internal directory. 

Cons: The most important disadvantage is that Atlassian applications will still be siloed against the rest of your tools. Every time you adjust access and permissions for an employee, you will at least have to do it twice: once for Atlassian apps, another for your other directories. 
Additionally, when Jira is down, your entire Atlassian stack will be unavailable. 

Option 3. Users are stored in multiple directories, but centralized with Crowd 

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 1.10.40 PM

Many enterprises have multiple on-premises historic instances, each of them with their quirks and their settings. Often times some are Data Center, other are Server. Rather than merging everything, standardizing and consolidating in a mega instance, it’s simpler to just accept the complexity and add Crowd into the mix to centralize user management. 

Pros: Federating multiple Atlassian instances with Crowd is fairly simple, and you can manage users and their permissions across different directories. 

Cons: Crowd is sold as an SSO solution, but that is only true for Atlassian products. If a user logged to Crowd tries to access any non-Atlassian tool where he doesn’t have an open session, he will be prompted to login. Also, Crowd cannot handle SAML responses from an IdP. 

Step 4. Analyze IdP opportunities 

You will need an Identity Provider that can serve as the single source of truth for user identities in all your applications. 

A new IdP can be a significant financial commitment. However, sometimes you can get a top IdP vendor for free because you are already using their technology for other purposes. Let’s have a quick look at the most common scenarios. 

Have a look at resolution’s independent evaluation of the most important IdPs for more details. 

Scenario 1: Microsoft Active Directory 

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 1.11.24 PM

Second time we encounter AD in this article, and it’s no coincidence.  

If your administrators are already using Active Directory to manage employee access and permissions to your networks' resources, then you can have SAML-based SSO for free. Simply make use of the AD Federation Services role and start using AD FS as your Identity Provider. 

Scenario 2: Office 365 

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 1.11.47 PM

A similar scenario to the above, but with cloud pieces of Microsoft’s game. If your company is on Office 365, then you can get Azure Active Directory for no additional cost.  

If you do so, keep in mind that the free version of AD FS has some important limitations. You can see all the details here, but our summary might be a better use of your time: 

  • You can only use applications in the Azure app catalog (don’t worry too much, we are in the catalog) 
  • Some advanced features like user assignments will only be available on a per user basis 
  • Conditional access policies, including MFA, will not be available at all. 

Scenario 3: GSuite 

  Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 1.12.11 PM

Everyone has a Gmail account, and thousands of companies, particularly in the US, have adopted Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) for their office applications. If that is your case, then choosing Google’s Cloud Identity is a natural option. 

Cloud Identity Premium is included in the premium tier of Google Workspace with a cost of $25 per user, per month. 

Next Steps 

In this article we have seen how to build a comprehensive inventory of your identity assets that includes sensitive B2B applications, the user directories for your Atlassian users, and common opportunities for adding an IdP vendor from your existing stack. 

For the next article of the series, we will go over the most vital questions that will help you define the scope of your SSO implementation. 

Will a simple setup be enough? Will you connect users coming from different directories? Will you automate user creation and deactivation? These are some of the considerations that will impact your project and what a successful solution will look like.

In the fourth and last article, we’ll inspire SSO project leaders with walkthroughs and actionable examples of advanced implementations.

Stay tuned to for more tips and insights on advancing your journey towards a successful single sign-on for your Atlassian tools!

Topics: blog optimization security resolution identity-management
2 min read

Should my Jira Service Management instance be separate from Jira Software?

By Morgan Folsom on Jan 29, 2021 2:04:24 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Should my Jira Service Desk instance be separate from Jira Software-As companies grow either organically or inorganically, many are faced with the decision of whether they should consolidate or keep their Jira instances separate. Today I'm going to address one specific flavor of this conundrum that I am often asked about, specifically with regards to separate instances of Jira Software and Jira Service Management. Some organizations choose to have separate instances for Jira Service Management and Jira Software, but I am here to tell you that is probably not necessary!

Although Jira Software and Jira Service Management are different products, there is no need to keep them separate. The most efficient companies use both in a single instance, so that teams can collaborate much more easily. As organizations adopt DevOps or start to think about it, one of the first things that is looked at is how IT interacts with the development organization. If these two groups are working in separate Jira instances, collaboration and clear understanding of ownership and handoffs is much more difficult. For example, It is much easier to link an incident that was submitted to the service desk to an associated bug if all of those tickets live in the same instance. While you can link to tickets in other instances, that requires users be licensed in both and have a clear understanding of where the work lives. Working in a single instance removes the need for potential duplicate licenses and ensures teams can communicate clearly. 

Occasionally teams use separate instances due to security considerations. However, in almost all situations your security concerns can be addressed by project permissions, application access, and issue security. There are few cases that Jira's native security features won't account for. 

Finally, let's look at this from a user experience perspective. One of the most prominent complaints that we see as organizations undertake their digital transformations are that users have to keep track of too many tools, a pain that I've felt in my career as well. Trying to remember where to log in for a specific subset of your work can be a headache. If your Jira Service Management and Jira Software instances are separate, they'll have two separate URLs that users have to navigate to. Signing into multiple locations and using different URLs adds an extra step where there need not be one.

Since you've already made the great decision to use both Jira Software and Jira Service Management, you might as well reap the benefits of the easy connection between the two so your teams can focus on what matters, rather than managing their tools. 

Are you looking to merge your Jira instances? Contact us, we know all about how to do that, and would love to help.

Topics: jira atlassian blog optimization tips integration project-management jira-core merge jira-service-management
4 min read

Reporting on Jira in Confluence with the Jira Issues Macro

By Morgan Folsom on Aug 27, 2018 11:00:00 AM

One of the most powerful integrations in the Atlassian ecosystem is the native link between Jira and Confluence. For users working in both tools, the transition can be seamless if you do it right, but clunky if you don't. 

Now, what if I told you there was just one Confluence macro you could start using today that will immediately make reporting in Confluence easier and help you (and your team) keep track of your work? The Jira Issues macro is the go-to when reporting in Confluence.

Here are some tips to get your team to live their Atlassian life-to-the-fullest.

Insert an issue count for a Jira filter

Let's start small. Insert a link to Jira with the number of issues returned from a Jira Query Language (JQL) query.

This is useful to pull up basic metrics for a high-level overview. The macro becomes a link to the filter, so if you want to review the issues in-depth, you can quickly hop over to Jira's issue navigator. The table below is an example of how our marketing team tracks employee blog post submissions.

 

To insert an issue count:

  1. Insert the Jira Macro
    1. Select the  in the top menu bar and select Jira Issue/Filter, OR
    2. Type { on your Confluence page, search and select Jira
  2. Enter in your JQL query
    1. To input an existing filter, type "filter = "Filter name", OR
    2. Type in the JQL directly
    3. Be sure to click on the Magnifying glass to execute the query
  3. Select 'Display Options' at the bottom of the dialog box to expand the options.
  4. Select 'Total issue count'
  5. Click Insert, and Voila!

Insert a single issue into Confluence

This macro can also link to a single Jira issue to a Confluence page. That means not only can you see what issues are important (and what status they're in) in your documentation, but you can also see who's talking about the issue when you're in Jira.

Take, for example, this blog post. My progress is tracked on a Jira issue, linked to this very page in Confluence. Below you can see how it looks on the Confluence page I'm writing in. 

If I click on that link, I'll move over to Jira where I can see all of pages in which the issue has been mentioned under Issue Links. Right off the bat, I can see that the issue has been mentioned on this page as well as another tracking Blog Content. 

To insert one issue:

  1. Insert the Jira Macro and enter in your query (steps 1 and 2 above)
  2. Select one issue from the list
    1. If you know exactly which issue, you can simply type the Issue Key into the search bar and hit enter. 
  3. Expand the Display Options and select 'Single Issue'
  4. Select 'Insert'

Use the Jira macro to insert a list of issues in a page in Confluence

Remember that filter you entered in above? You can insert that filter into your page, too. Filters inserted with this macro are dynamic - that is, as the issues are updated in Jira, the Confluence page will reflect the most up-to-date information. You can customize which columns appear in the macro just like you can in Jira. To head into Jira, you can select the individual issues, or click on the total number at the bottom ('2 issues') to pull up the query in Jira.

To insert a filter:

  1. Insert the Jira Macro and enter in your query (steps 1 and 2 above)
  2. Expand the Display options and select 'Table' 
  3. Edit the maximum issues and columns to display.
  4. Select 'Insert' to add to the page!

Create a Jira Issue from a Confluence page

If your issues don't exist in Jira yet, don't worry. This macro can create new issues in Jira if inspiration hits while you're editing a Confluence page. The issue will be created and you won't even have to leave the page. 

Additionally, you can also create issues from Confluence while viewing a page - simply highlight some text and then click on the Jira icon that appears.

  1. Insert the Jira Issue Macro
  2. Select 'Create New Issue' on the left panel
  3. Complete the form
  4. Select 'Insert'

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. 

Interested in learning more tips? Check out our blog Guide to Import Linked Issues into Jira from CSV.

Topics: jira blog confluence optimization process-consulting integration
3 min read

How to Extinguish Fires with Jira Service Desk Automations

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

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

Putting out Smoldering tickets

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

Step 1: Create SLAs

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

Step 2: Create Jira Service Desk Automations

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

Step 2a: Time in Resolved - Customer Notification

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

Step 2b: Auto Close Resolved Ticket

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

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

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

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

Topics: jira blog optimization process-consulting consulting-services itsm jira-service-desk
4 min read

Save Millions in a Matter of Minutes with Jira Service Desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When (triggers):

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

If (conditions):

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

Then (actions):

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

Automation in Practice

Setting the priority of incoming incidents

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

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

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

Save Millions–Really?

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

Gartner

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

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

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

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

Five Signs You Can Forgo A Custom Jira Service Desk Implementation

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

Implementation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Your organization has a low-risk tolerance.

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

5. Your organization lacks the necessary resources.

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

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

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

DevOps ROI: Streamline Processes, Improve Outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost of Excess Rework

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost of Downtime

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

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

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

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

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

That's a reduction of $1,600,000!

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

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

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

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

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

The Praecipio Consulting formulas:

Tools + training = process improvement

Process improvement = cost savings and increased value (goal)

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

Looking to make a DevOps transformation? Contact us today.

* = 2016 DevOps Data Report

Topics: blog devops optimization consulting-services
3 min read

Three Reasons Why Developers Love Docker

By Praecipio Consulting on May 6, 2016 11:00:00 AM

A smooth running production environment is a beautiful thing. But how do we get there? And how do we ensure that all of our production, staging/test, and development environments stay in sync in order to get there? Today, it seems like everyone in software development is talking about Docker and containers. In fact, according to the 2016 State of the Cloud Survey by RightScale, Docker adoption doubled from 13% to 27% in just one year. Furthermore, 35% of the organizations surveyed reported that they have plans to adopt it soon. 

Why has Docker adoption skyrocketed and how can those using Bamboo for continuous deployment reap the benefits? Check out three reasons why developers love Docker, and how it can provide value for your dev team. 

But first... 

What are Containers?

A Docker container packages software in a complete filesystem with everything it needs to run – such as code, runtime, system tools, system libraries – guaranteeing that it'll always run the same on any environment. Docker is all about creating consistency and encouraging collaboration. It revolutionizes how we share our environments the same way Git has changed code collaboration. At its core, Docker is about utilizing the least amount of operating system resources and dependencies needed to run an application. This focus on maximizing efficiency leads to a painless, more collaborative, and seamlessly integrated environment to test and deploy applications. 

Sourcewww.docker.com

1. Test without surprises

A crucial part of the development process is testing, whether on a local machine or in a virtual dev environment. With containers, every environment is exactly the same so changes and unexpected dependencies won't interfere with testing – saving developers time and energy from tweaking problematic environments and instances. 

Running containers on your local machine using Docker Quickstart Terminal lets you test in a consistent environment.  

2. Collaborate with consistency

Unexpected dependencies are already a hassle for one developer and becomes an even bigger headache when other devs enter the picture. Unknowns in an environment are amplified with each new team member – who knows what's on their machine or which version of Java they're running? With Docker, consistency facilitates collaboration. By starting with a known configuration in a common container, devs are always on the same page about which version to use; it's right there in the container.

Share your Docker Images with a registry like Docker Hub.

Source: https://hub.docker.com/_/hello-world/

3. Integrate with Atlassian 

Atlassian, the leader in enterprise software for collaboration and issue tracking, is the perfect complement to Docker. By pairing Docker's consistency with Atlassian's integration and automation, collaboration between development and IT ops becomes seamless. Using the new Docker Hub 2.0 with Atlassian's Bamboo, source code can be automatically built and deployed to an identical development, test, or even production environment. No more requesting environments from the IT ops teams; triggers will automatically fire from your approved pull request in Bitbucket to spin up a lightweight container in your QA environment almost instantly. Without the excess back and forth, you can go from source code to a running application in minutes. 

The Docker Task in Atlassian's Bamboo let's you run, build and deploy images and containers with ease.

Docker is picking up a lot of traction today and rightly so. Docker containers provide consistency in the turbulent world of software development environments. They allow dev and operations teams to get customers the applications they need now – all while providing a consistent environment that makes working together a whole lot easier. 

To learn more about how Docker and Atlassian can help your dev team work faster and smarter, contact Praecipio Consulting.

About Brendan Kelly

Brendan is a Consultant & Solutions Specialist at Praecipio Consulting where he enables the sales team through technical discovery, training and product demos. When Brendan isn't delivering best-in-class business technology solutions, he can be found in the Austin Green Belt hiking and bouldering. 

Topics: atlassian blog automation continuous-delivery bamboo docker optimization process standardize testing continuous-integration deployment development environment integration cicd
5 min read

Top 5 Ways Jira Portfolio Increases ROI

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

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

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


5. INITIALIZE YOUR INITIATIVES

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

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

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

 

4. THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE RIGHT JOB

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

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

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

 

3. EASY ESTIMATION

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

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

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

 

2. SCRUM AND KANBAN- YOU GET BOTH!

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

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

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

 

 

1. LET'S GET REAL

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

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

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

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

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

All images courtesy of "Dilbert" by Scott Adams

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

Collaboration Best Practices - 3 Reasons Why Email Hurts Your Productivity

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

The following content was taken from Atlassian.com:

One of the turning points for communication in the workplace was the invention of email. Historically it’s been the easiest way to make contact in any business relationship – short, pointed conversations with the teammates you work closest with, or quick messages to people you’re communicating with for the very first time. You could say it changed the way we all work. Since its inception, however, the notion that email is also a good channel for team collaboration is what’s holding us all back.

Email is great for communication, but not collaboration…

 

Email is an effective means for communication, but when it comes to collaborating with your team on projects and getting work done, it’s a major hindrance to your team’s productivity.

  • Group conversations grow unwieldy too quickly
  • Keeping track of the most current version of an attached document is the modern-era’s needle in a haystack
  • It’s nearly impossible to maintain clarity about what needs to get done, and by whom

At the end of the day, when it comes to collaborating with your team, email wastes A LOT of your time.

Don’t get us wrong, email is not all bad. It’s really effective at quickly and effortlessly communicating with others, but it just doesn’t scale. When it comes to productively working together with your team, it fails to help you get the job done. Here are three reasons why we feel email is killing your productivity.

1. Your email inbox is a lot like quicksand

You receive a ton of email each day (yeah, like you didn’t already know that!) – some of it’s important, some actionable, some is SPAM, and some is unavoidably pointless. As a result your mornings go wasted in your attempt to reach inbox-zero. It’s a losing battle. Each time you take a step forward, you take two back. You’ve likely tried all the organizational features your email client has to offer to control your inbox – labels, filters, multiple inboxes, smart inboxes – but at the end of the day, your morning consists of at least an hour of unavoidable email ground-and-pound. You also probably manage emails when you get home at night and even first thing in the morning when you wake up just to keep your head above water. I’m preaching to the choir here, right? The fact is that this is the norm these days and hardly leaves you anytime to get real work done.

Pro-Tip: Use the ‘Four D’s of Decision-Making’ model

According to a article published by Microsoft, of the email you receive:

  • 50% can be deleted or filed
  • 30% can be delegated of completed in less than two minutes
  • 20% can be deferred to your Task List or Calendar to complete later

With this in mind it’s good practice to decide what to do with each and every email you receive – you have 4 choices:

  • Delete it
  • Do it
  • Delegate it
  • Defer it

2. Your email inbox silos your team’s tacit knowledge

Email is regularly used to share and discuss work, but that doesn’t mean its supposed to. Attaching files and documents or linking to them via shared network drives makes for a complete mess. Countless versions of shared files and relevant follow-up conversations are trapped in email inboxes everywhere. Your inbox is a graveyard for valuable tacit knowledge, knowledge that gets buried deeper and deeper every minute of every day. It’s truly criminal.

So, what’s the real problem? Email is a tool that best serves simple communication, not discussion, and certainly not collaboration either. When you send an email asking someone to review your work, the most valuable piece of information being transferred is not the file itself, but the ensuing conversation. Regardless of the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to find this email in your own inbox later, no one else outside of the email thread has the opportunity to benefit from this transfer of knowledge, keeping stakeholders in the dark.

3. Switching context between work and email wastes a lot of time

The rate at which most people check their email is astonishing – it’s practically become a nervous twitch. Just like Pavlov’s dog, your email has you trained incredibly well.

The problem with checking your email so much is that you rarely have a solid block of time to get any real work done. Take into consideration that if you’re actually checking your email 36 times an hour, and it takes 16 minutes to refocus after handling an incoming email, your workday is basically non-existent.

Switching contexts is distracting, if not annoying, and your email is the number one culprit – destroying the focus you need to get your job done well.

Pro-Tip: Practice Timeboxing to increase personal productivity

Thanks to email, staying on track at work is nearly impossible. Timeboxing is a time management technique that limits the time during which a task is accomplished. Start with 25 minute intervals. Work on a task for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, then commit to email for 25 minutes, and finally take another 5 minute break. Repeat. Focus. Flourish.

If 25 minutes sounds like a lot of email time, it sure beats checking your email 36 times in a single hour. At least with Timeboxing you can put all of your energy both into your work and email respectively.

Is there a solution?

We’ve outlined the major problems with using email to collaborate with your team, and even provided a few tips to help avoid the daily snags of collaborative emailing, but these are just simple workarounds. They don’t necessarily get at the core of your problems, which is that email is not the best solution for team collaboration.

OK, we are Atlassian Experts so we’re obviously biased, but we encourage ut clients to use Confluence and HipChat, Atlassian’s team collaboration and group chat tools, as means to reach decisions faster with less email and fewer meetings.

Topics: atlassian blog business confluence efficiency enterprise management optimization process project technology value collaboration information
4 min read

How to Customize your Jira Dashboards

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

About Dashboards and Gadgets

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Creating a Dashboard

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

To create your own dashboard:

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

You can now customize your dashboard as follows:

 

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

 

Choosing a Dashboard Layout

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

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

Adding a Gadget

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

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

Moving a Gadget

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

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

Removing a Gadget

To remove a gadget from your dashboard:

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

Lean Thinking- Reducing Process Generated Waste

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 18, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Lean thinking allows organizations to determine value, and organize their value creation processes in a specific sequence. This fundamental understanding of the value stream allows organizations to dived their work processes into:

  • Value-adding activities
  • Required non-value-adding activities
  • Non-value-adding activities

It’s important to note that while organizations can specify an associated value with a process; value’s inherently determined by the consumer – your organization had better have a clear understanding of what that is.

Lean thinking also affects the flow of your production processes by emphasizing a continuous product flow, pulled through by customer demand – ensuring that nothing’s built until it’s needed, and what’s built is in fact needed by its end-user. As Lean thinking’s applied to your specific business model you’ll  inherently perfect your product through the constant process of identifying and removing waste.

Lean + Agile = Better Business Practices

We prefer to look at Agile as more than just a methodology, but also as a way businesses can reduce process – generated waste and non-value-adding activities.

Think of a value system instead of a process. Software development’s too difficult to waste time pouring over things that don’t matter, and it’s extremely inefficient for the organization at hand. From this viewpoint we can apply lean thinking to Agile development.

To effectively understand the meaningful roles these approaches can have, we must first examine their application. From this point of view, Lean represents a set of principles that help guide our ideas and insights about Agile. Lean thinking should be viewed as a set of value-maximizing principles that don’t change over time, and Agile development as an application of principles to a particular situation. Agile principles are specific to each environment and should change to fit the task at hand. Here it’s easy to see how Lean thinking concepts expand upon and improve the framework of Agile methodology.

Topics: blog scaled-agile automation bpm business efficiency management optimization practices process process-consulting value continuous-improvement lifecycle operations
1 min read

Client Spotlight: EPB of Chattanooga

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 21, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Electric Power Board (EPB) is an electric and telecommunications company owned by the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. EPB provides electricity, cable, and as of this month, the fastest internet in the US to greater Chattanooga.

EPB has showed itself as one of the most progressive public utilities in the US by, in addition to providing 1GB internet, actively building a 100 percent fiber-optic Smart Grid. EPB had already begun their Smart Grid program before the Obama administration included billions of dollars in grands for Smart Grid projects in the 2009 economic stimulus program. EPB’s internet offering piggy-backed off the fibers laid in place for their Smart Grid.

EPB’s Smart Grid has created a platform of innovation for the city of Chattanooga as a whole. In addition to offering an array of R&D opportunities, the Smart Grid has essentially invited companies from across the US to use the grid and 1GB internet streaming to work on complex projects and develop next-generation applications – a huge stimulus for the regional economy.

We’ve been proud to be involved with EPB’s innovative efforts since 2007. We share EPB’s passion for innovation, efficiency, and sustainability; sustainable energy practices and technology are critically important for our future. During our time in Chattanooga, we’ve:

  • provided Project Management for the development of EPB’s two new websites, EPB.net and EPBFI.com
  • implemented robust Microsoft SharePoint process frameworks for managing and facilitating legal matters, RFPs, and a host of other business processes
  • developed Process Lifecycle Management methodologies that have improved EPB’s operations
  • implemented ITIL-based methodologies and best practices, making EPB’s IT processes more consistent and repeatable

…and a whole lot more. Good technology supports good processes; good processes make for good profit and reducing expenses. It’s been great to help EPB reduce expenses during a critically important (and exciting) time.

Read more about EPB on their website – and check out the cool 1GB-powered things happening in Chattanooga at ChattanoogaGig.com.

Topics: blog assessments efficiency implementation internet management optimization process process-consulting project sharepoint smart development grid itil lifecycle microsoft bespoke
2 min read

EPB.net: Our Project Management Skills at Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

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

The Consulting Relationship: How the Client and Consultant Achieve Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

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

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