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6 min read

How to Optimize Organizational Processes with Atlassian Tools

By Kye Hittle on Nov 2, 2021 9:00:00 AM

There are a multitude of technical optimizations you can implement to ensure your Atlassian tools are high-performing and provide maximum value. As a quick example, using your single sign-on (SSO) provider to log in to Atlassian products ensures a unified login experience and decreased time spent on user management. First, let's look at why organization-level optimization is so important.

A core ITIL practice: Continual Improvement

ITIL 4 (IT Library Infrastructure) is a flexible framework for managing services. From IT to HR to facilities to customer-facing support, we're all providing service whether our customers are internal or external. We at Praecipio Consulting champion the ITIL framework throughout our customers' organizations because it focuses on business value and embraces digital transformation. When the practices of ITIL are consistently applied across an organization, we've seen incredibly positive impacts on key metrics like profit, resolution time, customer & employee satisfaction, and more.

ITIL management practices are broken up into three areas: General, Service, and Technical. Continual Improvement is one of the critical practices in the General category. In fact, the ITIL handbook calls it out as "one of the key components of the ITIL Service Value System, providing, along with the guiding principles, a solid platform for successful service management." (ITIL® Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition, 4.6.2)

graph-sm-itil

(Diagram Source - Atlassian ITIL 4 white paper)

We recommend you start with Continual Improvement to establish a baseline assessment and identify priorities. Establishing a regular review and improvement cycle per the Continual Improvement practice guidance allows your teams to progress and adapt iteratively. We must stress: it's a practice, not a one-time activity. The cycle should continue indefinitely.

Survey says...

Earlier this year (2021 Q2), Praecipio Consulting conducted its State of Service Management Survey, which involved surveying respondents from various departments and who work with organizations of different sizes across various industries. You can watch our webinar and download the entire report filled with data-driven insights about how diverse teams-from Legal, HR, Marketing, and beyond-are adopting Service Management principles to address business challenges and improve ways of working.

One of the takeaways we learned from the survey was that the Continual Improvement practice is vastly underused.

Which Service Management processes and practices are being applied to departments outside of IT?

graphs_graph-sm-itil-2

 
state of service management 2021 report-1

 

Source: 2021 Praecipio Consulting State of Service Management Survey

48% adoption means half of the organizations aren't using Continual Improvement practices, despite its critical role in the ITIL framework.

Let's look at some easy ways Atlassian tools can help implement the critical Continual Improvement practice.

Confluence: your Continual Improvement home base

Make sure you have a place in Confluence for each team to gather and organize the outputs of the Continual Improvement practice in one place as they iterate through it over time:

  • Business vision, mission, goals, and objectives
  • Baseline assessments
  • Measurable targets
  • Improvement plans
  • Results to plan

As you roll out new processes or enhancements, leverage Jira tickets and/or Confluence pages for capturing user feedback. Remember, in Confluence you can quickly create Jira tickets by highlighting a sentence or two of feedback and clicking the Jira icon that appears.

The low adoption of Continual Improvement is often attributed to the practice getting "lost in the shuffle." It requires sustained commitment but the buy-in is often easier after participants and leadership see the systematic improvement it facilitates. To get started, schedule Continual Improvement activities and require they be maintained as a priority. If you have Confluence Team Calendars, schedule your team's recurring Continual Improvement activities so you stay on track.

When it comes to running Continual Improvement activities, Atlassian has created several great playbooks which include Confluence templates:

  • Health Monitor
  • Premortem
  • 4Ls Retrospective
  • Retrospective

Jira: reporting to guide Continual Improvement efforts

One of the primary drivers for using Jira to manage work is accurate, easy reporting on your process performance. How long is it taking to start working on issues and incidents? What percentage of requests are serviced within an appropriate timeframe? How many requests are for contract review? How many incidents were caused by circumventing the change management process?

The answers are at your fingertips when you start using Jira. Based on our customer engagements, here are a few tips and reminders.

Check the metrics

This seems obvious but in the heat of battle, it can be easy to sideline performance monitoring. Routine is your friend here. How often are the right people putting eyes on actual performance? Build in metric review to your recurring team and leadership meetings. Incorporate the data as a starting point into your Continual Improvement activities (e.g. Health Monitors and Retros). It can also help to automate pushing metrics to interested parties via filter subscriptions.

If you need advanced metrics that are not possible with the built-in tools, get in touch. The upcoming Jira Data Lake allows you to access Jira data using your existing BI tools. There are also several fantastic Marketplace add-ons for providing advanced analytics.

Let's look at a few often overlooked metrics.

Jira Service Management satisfaction scores

After issues are resolved, Jira Service Management can send the reporter a quick survey asking for a star rating and additional feedback.

jira service management-1

Again, don't forget to check these scores so you're not missing out on one of the most critical barometers of process and team performance: customer perception. The comments can be a rich source of discussion starters for your Continual Improvement reviews.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Some teams negotiate with customers for specific response and resolution times. Others create internal goals. Whatever your team's situation, we recommend establishing realistic targets in order to maintain a continual focus on this critical behavior. Jira Service Management allows you to easily set and track performance to whatever SLAs you establish. 

One of the benefits of SLA reporting in Jira Service Management is its visibility. Throughout the system at any time, you can see where every issue stands in relation to your service goals. Not only does this help prioritize issues in real-time, but it also gives support staff instant context into how the customer is experiencing the request interaction. Overall (aggregate) SLA reporting is also available for a high-level view.

MTTA, MTTR

These slightly intimidating acronyms are actually pretty simple calculations:

  • Mean Time To Acknowledge (MTTA): The clock starts when the request is submitted and stops when work on the issue starts. Note MTTA should be included in the MTTR calculation, explained next.
  • Mean Time To Resolve (MTTA): The clock starts when the request is submitted to Jira and stops when the team marks the request resolved (the timer restarts if the issue is reopened). This includes time to acknowledge and research the issue, coordinate with other teams/vendors, implement changes/fixes, etc. This is the critical metric for your customers, who are likely blocked until their request is resolved.

Like SLAs, these metrics give you a sense, in the aggregate, of process efficiency. It can lead to Continual Improvement investigations into why the numbers aren't on target. Maybe the backlog is too big (i.e. MTTA is a high percentage of MTTR) so tickets are waiting too long for an available team member to start working them. Perhaps MTTA is fine and the issue is a downstream process with another team that is blocking your team.

Continual Improvement continues

We've just scratched the surface of the ways you can use your Atlassian tools to drive your Continual Improvement practices and optimize your organization. Whether as a source of data-driven retros and regular health monitors or as the central hub for managing the assessments and plans generated from Continual Improvement activities, Atlassian tools will turbocharge your Agile work management journey.

Check out our blog and learn about whether Atlassian Tools are right for your business. If you're not sure you're realizing the full benefits of your Atlassian suite, give us a shout to discuss what parts of Atlassian optimization you should start focusing on today!

Topics: jira praecipio-consulting blog business-teams service-management continuous-improvement jira-service-management
5 min read

A Carbon Neutral, Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

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

Blog-A Carbon Neutral Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

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

Finding our path

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

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

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

Proforestation

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

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

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

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

Human Health

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

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

Existing projects as of 2021 Q1

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

Praecipios green path-table

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

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

How Praecipio Consulting Promotes Wellness & Remote Work Culture

By Robyn Lane on Jun 12, 2020 10:15:00 AM

remote-work

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

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

Wellness Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Social While Working From Home

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

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

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

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

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

How to Plan & Track OKRs With Atlassian Tools

By Brian Nye on Jan 30, 2020 10:15:00 AM

TrackOKRsWithAtlassianTools

OKR: More Than Just a Buzzword

Like most of you, I have been challenged to establish my annual "OKRs" at the start of this new year. It seems that OKR has suddenly become a big buzzword that businesses have been throwing around the past few years. If you were like me before ever hearing of this acronym, you might be asking yourself: what is OKR, and what happened to the classics like KPI or SMART goals?

I decided to do some digging around to understand where this new buzzword comes from, and I learned that the term, in fact, has been around quite some time. More than 30 years to be exact! OKR was first introduced in the book High Output Management by Andy Grove, which was published in 1983. This term would later be used by one of Google's early investors, John Doerr, who used to work at Intel, and then it caught on at Spotify, Amazon and other big companies. That's when it gained traction to become the business buzzword that it is today. 

What is OKR?

Enough with the history lesson, what is exactly is OKR?

Simply put, OKR is a strategic framework that stands for (O)Objectives and (K)Key (R)Results. When setting your OKRs, the Objectives should be tied back to your organization's mission, vision, and strategic initiatives, and the Key Results are the measurable components that help you determine whether or not you are meeting your objectives. 

So, what is the difference between OKRs and KPIs or SMART goals? To start with, KPIs are are just measurements that represent output and don't tell you the entire story, whereas OKRs give you the big picture from the start to finish. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals are usually a bit more targeted and lack the full scope of the OKR methodology. You can think of OKRs as a collection of SMART goals and their respective KPIs. 

Plan & Track Your OKRs with Atlassian

Now that we understand the concept of OKRs, our next step is to establish them, and there is no better tool for this process than Confluence. At Praecipio Consulting, we dedicated a Confluence Space to our OKRs because we wanted to make sure that it is easily accessible to our employees. After all, we are all working together towards the same strategic objectives, and Confluence is the perfect collaborative space that allows us to check in on our goals and progress at any time. 

We started by organizing our OKRs by year so that we know what we have achieved in the past, as well as what we are working towards now and into the future. Within each year, we group our OKRs into overarching concepts that we refer to as "tracks". For example, we have a track for our 2020 OKR around "Climate Action Plan", and we use the Confluence Project Poster blueprint as a guide to document why this is part of our strategic objectives and who should be involved.

This also serves as a snapshot to get people excited about a track's children pages, which are the actual OKRs. Our OKR pages are custom templates that we built out and allow us to describe how we want our OKRs to look. More importantly, we use the page property macro to capture key pieces of information to display on that specific year's parent page, and we utilize labels that make the pages easier to reference.

For instance, one of the OKRs is to involve you, our community, by educating you and inviting you to join our efforts in overcoming climate change, which we do by providing your with content and information about organizations that we partner with via blog posts and webinars.  We will measure our success by the content we produce, the number clicks we receive on that content and the success stories shared by you as a result. 

To help with following up on OKRs, we utilize a Jira project for internal projects to track each OKR as an Epic and all the separate tasks as related issues. We use a Fix Versions as a grouping mechanism for the track so that we have visibility on how we are doing from a big picture perspective. 

Improve Your Goal-Setting Process

OKRs are not new to the business scene, but they can definitely help drive business value and help you reach your strategic objectives. Confluence is a great tool that allows you to capture the "why" and "what" you want to do, and Jira can show you "who" and "how" the OKR is doing.

If you are interested in learning how Atlassian tools can help you with your goal-setting and other business processes, contact us at Praecipio Consulting, and we'll be glad to get you on the right "track". 

Topics: jira praecipio-consulting confluence process-improvement global-climate-crisis atlassian-products

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