5 min read

How Do You Manage Releases in Atlassian?

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

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

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

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

Definition of Done versus Definition of Release

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

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

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

Method One: The Release Issue Type

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

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

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

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

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

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

Method Two: Bitbucket Pipelines

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

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

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

Which one is right for you? 

At Praecipio Consulting, we believe the answer is: "It depends." Regulatory compliance, risk tolerance, product uptime requirements, etc., may dictate which method is right for your organization. And, to boot, the answer can be different for different parts of the organization. However, the critical first step to implementing release management in Atlassian is to have a conversation. Are your definitions of "Done" and "Release" at odds with one another? What do they mean from a process perspective? Is there room for improvement in those definitions? We here at Praecipio Consulting have extensive experience with both Release Management best practices and the Atlassian suite of products. Contact us to find out how we can help you manage your releases more effectively. 

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

A Review of the State of DevOps Report 2018

By Bryan Robison on Oct 4, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Our partners at Puppet and Splunk recently released the State of DevOps Report 2018 which mirrors many of the same observations that we see when working with our customers. DevOps isn't a sprint, it's a journey, depending on the organization's size, that can take organizations months or years to master. Instead of focusing on statistics like in prior years, this year's report introduces the five stages of a successful DevOps evolution and identifies and describes the practices successful, mature organizations have implemented during their journeys. The report has something to offer to organizations no matter where they are in their process. Even if your organization has employed DevOps for some time, you may be missing a critical component of your implementation.


Five stages in a DevOps evolution

The major takeaway from this year's report is that while there is no single path to a DevOps transformation, there are five foundational practices and five distinct stages of a successful DevOps evolution. Each stage is comprised of a set of practices broken down between "defining practices" and "contributors to success" which are identified and described for each stage of the process in the image below.

(State of DevOps Report 2018)

As organizations evolve from stage to stage, they refine and expand on the practices they implemented in prior stages. The report dives deep into the identification and makeup of each practice and describes how establishing practices identified as contributors to success in earlier stages such as "test infrastructure changes before deploying to production" in Stage 1 become mission critical defining or associated practices in later stages. DevOps is not a sprint, but a marathon, and requires organizations to have effectively executed each stage before advancing to the next one. Quite often we see that even the foundational practices such as monitoring, testing, and configuration management described in Stage 0 are missing from our customer's toolchains.

DevOps starts with a ripple

We frequently hear stories from our customers about how they began using Atlassian tools. These stores often begin with when a single team purchased a Cloud account or installed Jira onto a server sitting under someone's desk. Usage evolves and expands over time and eventually, the whole organization is reliant on the application for mission-critical operations. The report found that the DevOps evolution begins in much the same way: starting with a single team who defines their own practices for DevOps and shares them with other teams within the organization.

Where do I start?

The State of DevOps Report 2018 recommends starting with production by choosing an application with an, especially painful deployment process. We often describe DevOps as breaking down the wall between Development and Operations and deployments are where frictions between the two often occur. By automating deployments teams can improve collaboration and communication while reducing the friction caused when things go wrong. 

Since 2010 (before DevOps was called 'DevOps), Praecipio Consulting has been fortunate to work with customers at all stages of the DevOps evolution and guide them in using Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, Bamboo, and other tools like Puppet, Splunk, New Relic, xMatters, qTest, and AWS as part of their technology standard. 

To learn more about how Praecipio Consulting can assist you with your DevOps journey, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar "DevOps: An Interpersonal Approach" on October 10!

Topics: blog devops process-consulting
2 min read

Getting to DevOps: Where to start? Where is done?

By Michael Kelly on Sep 25, 2018 11:00:00 AM

As with life, the only constant in DevOps is change. To position your teams to seamlessly flow with the changes and to empower them to innovate, some of the old ideas on Operations and Development practices must be left behind. An integral component of DevOps is culture. An iterative approach to a collective ownership should be taken when planning your move toward a DevOps environment. You can start your DevOps journey by advocating for the adoption of a consolidation of tools designed specifically for DevOps, which provides an environment of transparency and ease of use.


Agile

Adopting Agile development practices, iterative planning and short cycles can alleviate the frustrations that fester as ill-planned deadlines are not met. Developers will be more empowered to meet shorter competitive deadlines while working appropriately planned sprints and have more time to innovate and experiment. Agile development will also be far less likely to produce bugs that are difficult to locate and fix.

Continuous Integration

Adopting the use of CI, you can avoid code that may have to be completely redone when it fails in production. Tests performed on small changes to the code, committed several times a day, have proven to be less prone to failure. Smaller changes lead to higher quality, have less risk, and allow for easier code reviews and locating problems.


Infrastructure as Code to define test, prod, and other environments has proven very successful. Self-service infrastructure for developers to have provisioned, tested against, and disposed of, can bring your team to a place of continuous learning and experimentation and make reactive scrambling to determine what is broken a thing of the past. Utilizing these methods, environments can stay in closer parity with fewer differences and remove the surprises when tests pass on the test environment, but fail in production deployments, as tests are more complete and valid.

Monitoring

Monitoring infrastructure, operating systems, application, and third-party cloud services are crucial in observing trends, understanding the health, and receiving an important feedback loop. Tying all of the monitoring together with a tool specifically designed to do so, and having alerts visible to everyone involved will provide transparency, trends to act proactively on, and ensure that the end user is receiving the highest quality product.

ChatOps

ChatOps is not the same as IM, or instant messaging. ChatOps tools have the capability to integrate with other tools. Seamless integration makes statuses of all the components transparent at all times. Utilizing ChatOps in your DevOps environment provides faster and continuous communication at all phases, from planning to a commit to a production deployment and its effect on the end users.  

Continuous Communication

Select tools that enable continuous communication.

Feedback loops should be real time and visible to teams at all times.

To consider your environment DevOps, you should be in a state of constant and iterative improvementAgile practices, CI, Monitoring, ChatOps, and the flow of Continuous Communication are all necessary steps to reach this goal.

If you're still interested in our approach to DevOps, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar "DevOps: An Interpersonal Approach" on October 10!

Topics: atlassian blog devops process-consulting consulting-services
2 min read

DevOps + Atlassian = Doing it Right

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 17, 2018 11:00:00 AM

You've probably heard about a lot of the benefits DevOps teams enjoy - more effective investments, less stressful deployments, increased collaboration and visibility, and a healthier, happier, more empowered team.  With such encouraging results, the choice to take on a DevOps approach becomes an easy one. The trickier question, then, is what products can help your team take on that approach?

Fortunately, there are thousands of applications to help get you there.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of applications to help get you there.

We've worked with hundreds of clients across virtually every industry, and we have encountered untold numbers of applications, tools, and solutions along the way. In our experience, the Atlassian stack is a top choice.

We typically see a lot of added value with each team using an Atlassian stack:

Cost-effective

The overall solution is more cost effective. Atlassian prefers to spend money on product development, rather than supporting a gigantic sales team. This enables them to build best-in-class products while keeping the price tag favorable.

Integrations

Every application in the solution is integrated. Again unlike other companies, Atlassian produces products across the entire DevOps infinity loop, which results in a number of standalone products that integrate extremely well. It's kind of like the days before Apple became a dongle company when all of their products just worked together.

Customizable

Teams can customize the products to meet their needs. Not all teams want to work the same way. Differences as large as Scrum vs. Kanban or as small as where to record Acceptance Criteria can be easily managed.

Numerous applications

The Atlassian marketplace has over 1,700 different add-ons, meaning there are options to extend into nearly any other existing application in the DevOps space. If that somehow doesn't cut it, there's also middleware like Workato to help bring systems together.

Atlassian prefers to focus on building products that people love, and we've seen and confirmed for a dozen years that teams love using the products. And after all, isn't empowering teams what DevOps is all about? 

Topics: blog devops process-consulting consulting-services
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
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

Reduce the Pain of Outages with Jira Service Desk

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

During an outage, if you feel like your computer is on fire, chaos is abounding, and the world is coming to an end, it's typically a good sign that your incident management process could use a bit of tuning. Gartner indicated in a now-famous blog post that an outage typically costs an organization $5,600 per minute of downtime. An hour-long outage at that rate can cost an organization nearly $350,000. As Amazon or Knight Capital will tell you, that number can be significantly increased if it occurs in a revenue-generating system. 

IT teams must find a smart, stable response and resolution to these incidents, usually very quickly in hopes of calming down a manager doing his best Vernon Dursley impression. With the myriad of tools available, at Praecipio Consulting, we've seen IT teams develop creative solutions to acknowledge, respond, and ultimately resolve downed services and systems. But like most processes, we've also seen overly-complicated procedures requiring messy integrations that are unreliable, at best. The key to managing an outage gracefully is to understand not only that the system is down, but ownership, recovery procedures, and communication. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we typically see three big inhibitors IT teams face in reducing downtime:

  • working in multiple systems 
  • alert overload 
  • lack of communication and visibility

Working in Multiple Systems

As microservices become more prevalent in IT organizations, ops engineers are frequently required to work in several disparate systems, resulting in costly context switches that impact productivity. In addition to the (very expensive) wasted time that this incurs, information can be lost in the transition. An effective solution is a single system with several integration points, where information can flow into and be actioned on. Reducing the need for context switches helps users retain information and provides a single source of truth. As a bonus, after the incident is triaged and resolved, the information on how the incident was resolved is all in one location.

This is just one of the many reasons we love the Atlassian products. Jira Service Desk, in combination with Confluence as a knowledge base, can serve as the central location for all things outage. Whether or not the creation of a request is triggered automatically or manually, the creation of a central ticket where the team can swarm, communicate, and collaborate is essential in dealing with the outage quickly. Coupled with the knowledge base filled with Standard Operating Procedures, the IT team can reduce the chaos and confusion of an outage and move toward resolution. Notifications can be sent automatically through Jira Service Desk to any interested parties using Filter Subscriptions and the root cause analysis can be shared via a page in Confluence. 

Alert Overload

There are a plethora of wonderful monitoring tools in the market today providing a wealth of information to system engineers. The problem is that during an outage, we don't want to wade through a mountain of data to figure out what happened. Instead, we need a way to reduce the noise and get straight to the source of the incident.

Enter companies like Moogsoft, who specialize in aggregating all of that data and sifting through it to identify cause and effect. Building out timelines of when certain alerts were triggered and applying machine learning to identify patterns can greatly reduce the time it takes to get to a root cause.

Of course, an integration into your single system for work is critical. The information should funnel in automatically, thus enhancing the system instead of pulling users away from it. Integrating alert systems into Jira Service Desk to trigger the creation of an Outage, running out of disk space, or even access alerts is invaluable to an IT team looking to respond and resolve as quickly as possible. 

Lack of Communication and Visibility

We spoke with a client recently who was reminiscing on 70-person emergency bridges, recalling how chaotic and comical they were. After a good laugh, we were glad he was able to reminisce on those times, as for many IT teams this is still an all-too-real part of the job. 

We prefer systems that provide an integration with a collaboration tool and enable a user to proactively reach out to the right support. Ideally, once we're in the communication and collaboration stage, relevant information has already been gathered to a single ticket. Spinning up a chat room from that ticket, and then using an application like xMatters to proactively alert the on-call members of the right support group, enables us to quickly and effectively get the right people looking at the issue. When integrated with Jira Service Desk, the chat room is created via the click of a button and if integrated with an asset management tool such as Insight by Riada, the right people are automatically notified and can join the conversation. 

Connecting the right people with the right process in the right tools empowers IT teams to quickly and effectively address incidents. While we all know incidents are painful, the process to identify, work on, and resolve them doesn't have to be. Having a mission control system that intelligently handles alerts, allows for proactive notifications, and promotes collaboration can drastically reduce the time spent working incidents. 

How we can help

If you're interested in learning more about how you can establish your own mission control system, give us a call. We can assess your current toolchain configuration and provide next steps on how you can move forward with the technology you have, or help you find the tools that work best for your team. 

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

Three Weeks to an ITIL-based Service Desk—No, Really

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

If you’ve attempted a Jira Service Desk (JSD) implementation on your own or reviewed proposals from consulting firms offering to do the work, chances are a three-week implementation sounds pretty far-fetched. But I assure you, not only is it possible—it’s something we do regularly.

Jira Service Desk is a highly regarded service desk platform. When an organization decides to implement the platform, they’re often eager to leverage its flexibility and enterprise-grade capabilities to increase team productivity, meet demanding service-level agreements, and improve customer satisfaction. Just one thing stands in the way: implementation.

Most organizations consider two options for implementing Jira Service Desk. They either do it themselves—provided they have the proper skillsets—or they hire a consulting firm to do the work. For some, implementing Jira Service Desk is not always as simple as it looks, and organizations that choose the do-it-yourself option are often disappointed several months later when they aren’t realizing the platform’s full benefits.

Engaging with a consulting firm may seem to be the logical choice then. However, this isn’t the best option if you hope to see a return on your investment sooner rather than later. An experienced consulting firm will work iteratively, meeting with stakeholders daily to gather requirements and demonstrate the previous day’s deliverables. With the right consulting firm, this process will result in a top-notch, custom-built Jira Service Desk deployment—but it will take several months.

If you do not have the time and/or budget for a customized implementation, then you might consider a Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting. We have over a decade of experience with successful service desk implementations using Jira, and we have taken this experience to build schemes that deliver a faster implementation based on ITIL best practices. With a Quick Start implementation, we get you up and running with a functional Jira Service Desk implementation in just a few short weeks.

Come On. Three Weeks?

Yes! Two critical factors make a Quick Start implementation possible. The first is the fact that most ITSM organizations don’t need heavily customized workflows. In fact, what most service organizations need is a properly configured service desk that meets ITIL best practices. By forgoing unnecessary customizations and implementing Praecipio Consulting's Quick Start, we can significantly reduce deployment time and, subsequently, the costs associated with it.

The other piece of this, of course, is expertise. Based on our 10+ year, varied and extensive experience working with companies of all sizes, we can give you exactly what you need and nothing you don’t. We have taken real-world application and experience with industry-leaders to implement JSD and ITSM/ITIL based on best practices to provide companies with processes that are a step above the textbook recommendation. As a provider that knows ITIL, Praecipio Consulting can deliver an industry-standard implementation of Jira Service Desk—with lighter customizations to make it yours—in half the time it takes for a traditional deployment.

Some organizations, unfortunately, never realize the benefits of a Jira Service Desk adoption because they get stuck in the implementation phase. Don’t let that be your fate.

Download our white paper to learn more about our Quick Start implementations or give us a call at (512) 266-8271.

Topics: jira blog implementation process-consulting consulting-services itsm jira-software
4 min read

Using Scrum and Kanban Boards to Improve Communication

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 12, 2018 11:00:00 AM

The ability to 'see the big picture' and have a clear understanding of the work teams complete is something our clients ask for often. With a product like Jira Software, anything is possible; however, there are tools within the project management software platform that are built specifically to help users stay in the know and track project statuses. 

Out-of-the-box, Jira comes equipped with three powerful task boards that teams and managers can use to manage projects and gain better visibility into the work being done: Scrum board, Kanban board, and Agility board.

Tracking issues on a board will open up views into the work that you're looking for and they are simple to set up.

Step 1: What do you want to see?

Step 2: Board Selection

Step 3: Share and Use 

Step 1: What do you want to see?

It's common for organizations have a lot of issues in Jira, but do you need to see all of them, every day? Probably not. The first step in setting up a board is to understand what it is you want to see. Boards can be built to import every issue from every project, or by a JQL filter, which can display a very specific set of results. Using a filter is traditionally more useful and manageable. Either way, it's important to understand the scope of your board to make sure that when you're looking at it, you are only seeing the items that are important to you. You can use one, or a combination of these approaches. Keep in mind that an issue can live in multiple boards, and any updates that are made to an issue will appear on any board where the issue is displayed.

Step 2: Board selection

Jira offers three boards that you can choose from (assuming that you are on Jira Software): Agility, Kanban, and Scrum. Even though they seem very methodology-specific, choose the board that works best for you and/or your team - and it's not just for software or development teams.

Kanban Board

Kanban is all about continuous flow. With this in mind, there are a lot of different uses for this board such as a team that is not practicing scrum or a project manager who wants to visualize the work happening on their project. Recently, Atlassian added the ability to have a backlog option for Kanban boards which will allow you to specify a status that would represent work that it's quite ready for prime time.

Pro tip: Define your swim lanes to organize your work. By default the swim lanes will be set to look at priority but there are a variety of options to split your work into meaningful views.

Scrum Board

Scrum promotes commitment to a subset of work for a specified time period. The Scrum Board focuses on looking at your backlog of work and pulling issues into sprints which the team will focus on completing in a specified period of time. If your team has a sizable task that they are trying to parse into manageable chunks of work, this may be the board for you as it allows users to focus only on the subset that you've committed to for that period of time.

Pro tip: Check the "Days in Column" option found in the "Card Layout" section of the board configuration to ensure your work flows appropriately. 

Agility Board

Agility boards are the newest boards in Jira Software. They're perfect for teams that want to quickly jump in and get started and don't require any complicated configuration. This is a great board selection for projects that may be looking at a single issue type or if all issues follow the same workflow. 

Pro tip: If your Jira Project is for simple task tracking, use a business project and use an Agility board. Its simplistic design is perfect for the Executive with too little time and no "technical" skills.

Step 3: Share and Use

Now that you've chosen (and hopefully created) your board, make sure to use it as a communication tool. Too often we see boards created but not used during meetings with team members. There is a lot of power in seeing the work displayed for the team so everyone can have a complete understanding of what the progress looks like on a continuous basis. The more you use the boards to communicate progress, the better the information will be as its submitted to the board.

Pro tip: It's important to note that when you share the board with others, you need to make sure that your filter is shared with those who will need to view the board. 

Now that you have a better understanding of what the boards can do for you, go out and create a few for your teams. Experiment with different board views to see what works best. If you're still not sure, contact us! We help teams in every industry make the most of their Atlassian tools and business processes.

Topics: jira blog scaled-agile process-consulting consulting-services jira-software
4 min read

Agile Batch Size: An Ode to Laundry

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 4, 2018 11:00:00 AM

One of the most difficult concepts to explain in agile is the concept of Batch Size. It's a principal tenet of Lean Product Development and is an ACTUAL principle in SAFe (# 6 to be precise). However, when we work with our clients to evaluate their practices and processes, we see product backlogs in the scrum boards of hundreds of items. In one case, a client used the concept of a Groomed Sprint to define what part of the Backlog had been groomed and prioritized by the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Team.

What we have here, folks, is a failure to right-size Batch Size. 

I've been thinking about this for a while. What is the best non-Agile example of Batch Size? It wasn't until I discussed it with my husband for the 4th time in two days that it clicked: laundry. 

Laundry is something we all need to do, but don't enjoy. And work is that way too. Sometimes we have a great laundry day: it's not on the floor, it's not stinking up the bedroom(s), it's moving through without being the only thing we accomplish that day. It's a good laundry day. Sometimes, though, it's a horrible laundry day. It's been put off so long that it's almost overwhelming: it's everywhere and is likely the only thing that's accomplished that day. Picture this: it's laundry day at your house. Individual piles are consolidated into a Big Pile. The Big Pile is sorted into smaller piles according to color, fabric, and cleaning products. The smaller piles begin to make their way through the system one at a time. 

I know what you're thinking: Amanda, we all know how laundry works. Bear with me. 

A smaller load of laundry requires less time per batch to both wash and dry. If you've ever flown into a blind panic when realizing you need clothing for the next day and have washed a single set of clothes, you know what I'm talking about. It takes less time for the washer to fill, agitate, rinse, and spin than the extra large load. In addition, it takes much less time to dry a single set of clothes than a whole dryer full of jeans. However, this is wasteful. It wastes energy and water and time because you still have that Big Pile you have to deal with at some point. And you know you do and you will. At some point. Before your husband decides to drag three laundry baskets across the house. And they're full of jeans and work shirts. <sigh>

Thinking about the above scenario another way, instead of lumping everything together into the Big Pile, why don't we pre-sort? Doesn't that make a smaller batch size and make it easier to flow through the system? Yes, but also no. Pre-sorting does take some of the handling out of consolidating laundry into the Big Pile by making smaller batches. However, those small batches can add up to a Big Pile if not adequately moved through the system when they're ready. 

What if, instead, we right-sized the batch? What if, based on the color, fabric, and cleaning products, we put the batch through the system when it was determined to be the right size? Not so big that the Big Pile must be broken into smaller batches to flow through the system, but not so small that we're wasting resources including, the most precious resource of all, time? It's time to right-size your laundry. Just as it's time to right-size your work. 

Within any agile framework, this is the essence of throughput. When requirements come to the Team in a Big Pile, the Team must break the Big Pile into consumable smaller batches. These batches must also be prioritized: clothing needed in the next day, versus clothing needed next week, versus something you've worn once and likely won't wear again for a few weeks or until a special occasion. Just as we prioritize our laundry, so too must we prioritize the backlog. What is the immediate need? What can wait a few weeks? What is a nice-to-have? Note: in the extended metaphor, nice-to-have is dry cleaning. Not something you need, but sits on a hangar in your closet, is reassessed as an outfit every three months, and ultimately placed back in the closet in favor of the clean laundry. So too should those nice-to-haves be removed from the backlog to be addressed every once in a while to see if there's a current need. Either put them back in the closet or donate them. Deprioritize items in the backlog or remove them altogether. 

How can you tell the batch is the right size to move through the system? Much like laundry, it's trial and error and feedback into the system. You didn't come into this world knowing how to do laundry. And there have been plenty of times that you've accidentally thrown a red sock into a load of whites or bleached something in your darks or even shoved too much into the washer only to have to run the dryer three times to get it adequately dried. So what did you do with this information? You learned from it. In fact, you retrospected on what you did and learned from it. I see what you did there, Amanda. So too will the Team learn from each batch of work that flows through the system. Within a retrospective, the Team should look at their batch size estimates and make adjustments for future work. This allows the Team to establish a predictable velocity with which to plan future work. Much like you've figured out how to do laundry efficiently over time (hopefully). Either way, it all comes out in the wash. 

Topics: blog scaled-agile process-consulting consulting-services
3 min read

Achieve GDPR Compliance with the Atlassian Stack

By Praecipio Consulting on May 25, 2018 11:00:00 AM

What is GDPR?

If any of your partners, employees or customers are citizens or businesses in the EU, its time to review your company's compliance strategy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new European Union privacy standard that mandates the ability for someone to have access to their personally identifying information (PII) and have the ability to change the information or "be forgotten" by requesting the removal of that data. These requirements can make achieving backward compliance standards very difficult. This new privacy law will impact everyone, from C-level executives to new hires and likely every department to include Human Resources, Information Security, Compliance and more. Regulations surrounding GDPR will affect most organizations, large and small, regardless of whether your business does business directly in the EU.

With the right tools and know-how, companies using Atlassian products like Jira and Confluence can not only achieve forward compliance by the May 25, 2018 deadline but also attain assurance that pre-existing content is compliant as well.

Why GDPR?

GDPR was designed to strengthen and unify data for European Union residents, regardless of where their data is used, processed, or stored. GDPR essentially legislates a lot of common sense data security ideas, like minimizing the collection of personal data, deleting personal data when no longer necessary, restricting access, and securing data through its entire lifecycle. But compliance violations can have costly consequences including Fines and penalties Your organization can face damaging penalties of 4% of annual global annually or 20 mil. euros. 

The GDPR Checklist

Backward compliance

Praecipio Consulting has over 11 years of expertise in Atlassian products alone. As an Atlassian Platinum Partner, we have full-service solutions ready to go to get your organization's pre-existing Atlassian application data within GDPR compliance quickly and confidently.

Praecipio's Solutions Consultants come armed with the tools to identify, review, and address the content that may not be in compliance throughout your Atlassian stack. We will conduct a thorough scan of your application's existing data to include all version histories. We produce reports that help your teams identify violations, use that feedback to improve and refine our search algorithms to ensure the highest level of coverage possible.

  • Identify: we use tools and techniques developed in-house to locate potentially non-compliant data within JIRA, Confluence and other Atlassian applications.
  • Review: We then provide a detailed analysis and report of our findings and conduct a thorough review of potential violations with your team.
  • Address: Praecipio then incorporates findings from the review into further refinement of identification and generates an execution plan to redact pre-existing content to ensure compliance of your legacy data.

Maintaining Compliance in Confluence with Secure Content 2.0

Once your data is fully reviewed and in compliance, you'll need solutions to keep it that way. After all that effort and expense, you don't want to be one Confluence page edit away from a violation. For Confluence, Praecipio Software offers Secure Content 2.0 to easily secure and limit access to sensitive page content. We use 256-bit encryption to ensure any new content will not expose your organization to penalties in the future.

Your organization can invest considerable time and expense to get your Atlassian data GDPR compliant, but you'll need the tools to keep it that way. Praecipio Software's Secure Content Confluence App, available on the Atlassian Marketplace, gives your team an easy and safe way to store content securely that is both encrypted and with granular-level access control. This means sensitive data is securely encrypted on your database and access set by the author at the group or even individual level.

Secure Content is designed for robust security and ease of use. Ideal for shared, sensitive content such as passwords, data, reports - anything you need to restrict access to; anything that would likely fall under the 'identify and remove' GDPR regulation requirements.

Features Include:

  • Owner Report macro: See all your Secure Content in one place. Drop it on any page and be a click away from all of your Secure Content across the entire Confluence instance for time-saving administration and editing.
  • Transferable ownership: Control of Secure Content blocks can be optionally transferred by the Confluence administrator if needed. Or the owner can lock it down to make sure they maintain complete privacy and control, even from Confluence administrators.
  • Implicit rendering: Less sensitive but still protected data can be optionally made to render automatically with the rest of the page content but only to Authorized users.
  • Access request: Non-Authorized users can request access with a single click, alerting the content owner immediately for action via Confluence notifications.

Custom Compliance Solutions

Praecipio Software's custom development solutions can be engaged as well to address your organization's unique GDPR data security and compliance concerns.

Topics: atlassian blog assessments confluence process-consulting secure-content-macro consulting-services
2 min read

Turbo Kit for Jira and the Case of the Missing Millions

By Praecipio Consulting on May 21, 2018 11:00:00 AM

https://www.praecipio.com/jira-jql-turbo-kitSmall errors can cause big problems. In 2007, a car dealership hired a promotions firm to mail 50,000 scratch-off tickets to potential customers, with one lucky winner designated to receive a $1,000 prize. However, the first 30,000 tickets were all mistakenly printed as winners, adding up to a $30 million mistake. Obviously, the dealership was unable to honor the pay-out, and instead offered $5 gift cards to the numerous lucky winners.

Perhaps a comma in the wrong place caused the prize value to skyrocket? Whatever the reason, this error was caused by inaccurate data.

Data Accuracy is Important

Data accuracy is important, and while Jira provides a solid foundation for data collection, Turbo Kit for Jira can enhance your data with field validation

As agents and customers are entering information into a Jira issue, key data points will need to be stored correctly for future retrieval.  For anyone working directly with customer issues that refer to a specific item number (e.g. policy, product, part, account) it's necessary to be able to lookup the ID of the specified item. Collecting the ID, however, isn’t always a straightforward task, and often involves multiple conversations with the customer. People will often leave fields blank, enter the wrong type of ID reference, or enter a number with a typo, and many other errors that contribute to data inaccuracies. 

Turbo Kit for Jira offers field validation ensures that people provide the right information. Organizations typically have standardized formats for their ID numbers, often consisting of a string of letters and numbers with a specific number of characters. By checking the count of numbers and letters entered into the field, Turbo Kit for Jira can validate that the ID is formatted correctly before it's submitted.

Validated Data Will Show You the Patterns You Care About

Reporting is huge. Identifying trends in the information that's reported on can help your organization recognize what is and isn't working and where energies are being focused.

If you're curious about what type of insurance policies have the most associated issues, you can filter issues based on the insurance policy field. Maybe you'd like to see how many open tickets related to the newest insurance policy 'NEW1234'. But if half of the tickets had 'NEW-1234' written in the Policy custom field, the extra dash could prevent these tickets from showing up in a search. If all of these ticket policy numbers are written in the same way, you'll be able to query the entire set in a search. Turbo Kit for JIRA and its field validation enables these reporting conditions so you can get a more accurate picture of what's happening in your organization.

Mystery Solved, Case Closed

Is your company able to survive a $30 million mistake? Do you want to end up a cautionary tale because you didn't enforce data validation and other data best practices in your Jira instance? It's elementary, my dear Watson. With Turbo Kit for Jira on the scene, the data mystery is solved and this case can be closed.   

Download a free trial today to see how Turbo Kit for Jira can help protect your organization. 

Topics: blog process-consulting turbokit consulting-services
5 min read

Project Estimation - Story Points vs. Hours Estimation

By Praecipio Consulting on May 21, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Work smarter, not harder. Easier said than done.

However, in agile software development, there are some things teams can do to begin working smarter and more efficiently. 

Many companies still estimate the amount of time a project will take in hours. But this approach, typical of the waterfall methodology, can lead to cost overruns and missed deadlines. "(Humans are) terrible at estimating how long something is going to take. We're just not good at it," said Christopher Pepe, Chief Technology Officer at Praecipio Consulting. "But what we are good at is estimating the relative sizes of things." And so he makes this point in his story above on story points vs. hours, and why companies should adopt this agile concept of planning and managing development projects.

But first, what is a story point? According to Dan Radigan in his article The secrets behind story points and agile estimation, "Story points rate the relative effort of work in a Fibonacci-like format: 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100." Story points provide an abstract way of understanding how complex a project is, and how much work a project will take. 

In a comparison between agile and waterfall time estimates, Steve Cooke at Swarm Online writes "The reasoning behind using points rather than hours, is that it might be difficult to estimate in units of time at speed. Also, the speed at which the team can deliver points of effort will depend on the skills of the individuals in the team. Team A might not be as fast as Team B but the relative size of the stories remains the same."

If you want to know more about how using story points could help your team with project estimation, reach out to us today. 

 
 
 
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Topics: blog scaled-agile process-consulting
2 min read

How ChatOps Can Connect Your Remote & Traveling Workers

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

Have you ever missed a deadline because your team couldn’t get aligned? Maybe a key team member was traveling, or you spent too much time discussing the plan instead of implementing it. Have you ever tried to “rally” through email? It starts out with good intentions; but 43 messages later, someone was left off the thread, and you’re trying to determine action items by sifting through a lengthy email chain.

Connecting the dots in email is one thing, but working with distributed teams adds to the complication. According to The State of the Remote Job Marketplace report, 3.9 million (2.9%) of the US workforce works remotely at least half the time. Historically, employers required workers to be local or work in the office 5 days a week. This requirement has shifted over time, as employers have taken advantage of new communication technologies to connect their workforce. But with a geographically dispersed team, how do you ensure they are working together effectively and efficiently? The answer is ChatOps!

So, what is ChatOps? And how can it help your organization collaborate effectively and efficiently?

ChatOps is a “collaboration model that connects people, tools, process, and automation into a transparent workflow.” Using a chat application like Atlassian’s Stride will centralize and streamline your discussions, planning, and action items; while improving the following areas:  

  1. Swarm on an Issue – Instantly connect with team members in chat rooms to discuss needs and action items. Include your traveling teammates in the discussion by using the Stride mobile app.
  2. Decide on a Clear Path Forward – Real-time decisions can be implemented and assigned in Stride using the Decisions and Actions functionality.
  3. Resolve Issues Faster – Centralizing your discussion in Stride will quickly determine objectives, cutting down on unnecessary cycles.
  4. Ensure transparency – Tasks (Actions) are tracked in Stride and visible to others. Team members can view what tasks are pending or completed, and how it impacts current workflows.

No matter where your teams are located, you can increase your productivity by embracing the ChatOps philosophy and using Stride. If for no other reason, do it for the Giphy App.

Interested in learning more about ChatOps? Contact us today.

Topics: stride blog implementation process-consulting
1 min read

Praecipio Consulting is First Atlassian Solution Partner in New Relic Navigator Program

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 19, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Praecipio Consulting was recently named one of the first New Relic Navigators in New Relic's Partners Program. As an Atlassian Enterprise Platinum Solutions Partner, Praecipio Consulting has also developed strong partnerships and expertise with a variety of complementary technologies, like New Relic, to ensure its customers are implementing the most effective solutions.

The New Relic Navigators Program was designed to help organizations interested in using New Relic to drive speed and visibility for joint customers with cloud migration best practices.

The program required Praecipio Consulting sales, delivery, and support team members to become trained and certified as New Relic Certified Performance Pros, learning all there is to know regarding the New Relic platform and how to build its capabilities around services for cloud migration and application performance monitoring.

Praecipio Consulting, founded in 2006, is a business process management and technology consulting firm leveraging the Atlassian toolset to deliver first-class solutions for DevOps, Agile, and IT Ops practices. Praecipio Consulting services include process and technology consulting, managed services/hosting, and product and software development. As an Atlassian Platinum Solutions Partner and process expert, Praecipio Consulting leverages the best technologies and methodologies to enable true DevOps transformations.

Topics: blog new-relic process-consulting itsm
3 min read

A Holiday Recipe for Planning Success with Portfolio for Jira

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 22, 2017 11:00:00 AM

https://www.praecipio.com/webinars/portfolio-for-jira-best-practicesIn our last blog post, we shared with you how Portfolio for Jira can be used to plan and visualize work for any department or line of business. Now that everyone has a seat at the table, let's make sure the meal is excellent by following a trusted recipe for Jira Portfolio best practices.  

There are only two simple ingredients for a successful Portfolio implementation: Jira configuration and data integrity. 

Jira Configuration

It's important to make sure your Jira entities  workflows, projects, boards and filters  are configured correctly. While this may seem like common knowledge, some organizations overlook even the simplest mistakes when configuring their Jira instance - it's important to make sure you cover all the basics early on.

 In addition, Portfolio entities must also be determined, such as hierarchy and parent links, dependencies, and permissions. Portfolio is customizable to fit your organization's needs, and like the importance of making sure your Jira instance is configured correctly, the same goes for Portfolio - its imperative that the time is taken to set up your instance that best serves your organizations needs. 

To start, you should determine a level of organization that is larger than an Epic. If an Epic is 3-5 Sprints, this larger concept should represent a longer timeline: perhaps 6 months. You can call it anything you want, but we commonly use 'Initiative,' which is Portfolio for Jira's native language. With the Epic Parent created, Portfolio's configuration needs to know you're adding a level, and then have it mapped appropriately to the issue type. The next issue type to be created is called a 'Story,' which will include all other standard issue types, and will live between an epic and a sub-task. You can use whatever taxonomy works best for your organization; however, we have one recommendation - keep it simple! 

Adding the 'initiative' level allows your team to not only get a birds-eye view of your entire plan, but also how it aligns with overall business goals

Also part of your configuration recipe is the creation of a scrum board. Boards in Jira Software are driven by filters, and you should group them into a project or project category.  A word to the wise: Don't append your query with clauses that would remove workflow statuses or remove a specific tag of work. Let the board drive what your plan would display. Keep in mind if it's on your board, it's going to be in your plan.

Now that your Jira configuration is cooking with gas, let's dig into data integrity.

Data Integrity

Portfolio brings projects and plans to life; however, its powered by the data inputted into Jira. You've heard the saying 'garbage in, garbage out', right?' Avoid bad data at all costs and follow these simple steps to keep you Jira data clean.

You can start with keeping your backlog groomed by simply resolving and closing your issues. Closed issues will disappear from your backlog and will no longer show on your board, which means the Portfolio won't display them in the plan, either. Not only is this good practice in general for Jira Software, but it will keep your Portfolio plan accurate. If you have a task or issue that has been sitting in your backlog for a year or two, it's time to clean the pantry.

Maintaining hierarchy in Jira software is critical when using Portfolio. You must close out lower-level items before closing the parent - if you complete sub-tasks and close them out, it doesn't mean you're 'in progress' in the hierarchy. No progress will be seen on the story, epic or initiative just because you close or resolve a sub-task. You should be focusing on story completion and story throughput, instead of progress at the sub-task level. Make sure you are closing and completing story level to show progress in your plan overall - again, this will maintain accuracy in planning and forecasting.

Closing your story-level tasks will show your plan's overall progress

This blog post is full, but you can come back for tasty seconds and thirds in the Portfolio for Jira: Best Practices webinar coming up on November 30 at 11 a.m. CST.

Topics: jira blog devops process-consulting jira-software marketplace-apps
3 min read

The Good Place: Dysfunction in the Agile Organization

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 13, 2017 11:00:00 AM

By Amanda Babb, principal of Process Delivery

It’s been a great first week of the fall season of television. Some of my favorites have been rebooted, my alma mater was featured on a t-shirt, and one that I’m obsessed with has sparked a bunch of corollaries with what we do at Praecipio Consulting.

If you’ve seen a show called The Good Place, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a Sartre-esque comedy where Hell is other people. But there’s an architect. The Architect is responsible for developing the most diabolical experience (torture) for the four anti-heroes to make them question why they’re doing what they’re doing and why they’re doing it with the people they’re doing it with.

Cue the Agile Dysfunction discussion.

There is one key distinction between The Good Place and the real world, however, and it's the capacity people have for learning. If given the opportunity, the Team and The Architect can learn and, more importantly, learn from one another. In The Good Place, a Team is not allowed to self-organize, nor are they afforded the time to perform retrospectives. The Architect doesn’t know why the plan isn't working and hits the reset button. The Architect, while gathering data on every failure, does not take the time to perform a retrospective with the rest of the organization and ends up with a mutiny. We at Praecipio Consulting too often see dysfunction in organizations as a result of lack of learning. A mistake or failure is subject to the reset button, not discussed, analyzed, and ultimately acted upon to create a better way to work. 

The Architect gets frustrated and continues to reboot the four members of the team for multiple iterations. In the hundreds. The Architect dictates the constraints. The Architect dictates the other people involved. The Architect dictates roles. The Architect records results. The Architect resets the scenario every time something goes wrong much to the dismay of his own cast of players. 

Teams self-organize and question the mission. Teams figure out the solution. They work together to understand their situation while choosing to do what’s right regardless of direction. Sometimes with disastrous results: flying shrimp, mutant giraffes, a clam chowder fountain. All of these combine in a chaotic sequence forcing one of the main characters to finally stand up and admit being wrong. The team is not the villain. The team is simply questioning the nature of their reality and determining whether or not they can push the boundaries. 

I’m not saying there’s a villain or a hero in this narrative: the Team is not smarter than The Architect. They both have strengths in the scenario. The Architect’s frustration is our own everyday frustration: why won’t the Team just do what they’re supposed to? And the Team frustration is our everyday frustration: why does The Architect think we can’t understand what’s actually happening?

This is not to say The Architect is the villain either. There is a plan. This plan has been presented, approved, and is being executed. Small changes are presented each time the reset button is hit: let's try it again, but this time, add a member to the team. Let's try it again, but this time the main character is "The Best Person." Let's try it again, but without introducing any of the team members to one another in the beginning. And again. And again. And again. Because The Architect is a strong leader, the rest of the cast and crew continue to follow the direction of the plan, but without input for the next iteration. 

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." - Unknown

This is the number one dysfunction of agile organizations: the lack of a retrospective at any level. This is the first agile ritual that disappears at the Team, Program, or Portfolio level. How can the organization learn and grow without a moment to reflect on what it learned? By removing learning from the organization, you have removed trust, innovation, and efficiency. 

If you think you're in The Good Place, take a moment an perform a retrospective. You may actually be in The Bad Place. 

Topics: blog scaled-agile process-consulting training
8 min read

The 4 Phases of Agile DevOps with Atlassian

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Atlassian 

Selling DevOps

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

Here are three ways to get the ball rolling:

One for the Book Club: Phoenix Project

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

Build a Business Case

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

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

Image Source: Puppet Labs

Phase 1: Go Agile

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

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

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

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

Phase 2: Get with Gitflow 

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

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

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

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


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

 Image Source: Atlassian

Phase 3: CI/ CD

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

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

Phase 4: Harmonize with Support

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

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


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

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

How to Expedite Approvals with DocuSign for Confluence

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

According to IDC's 2015 report, The Document Disconnect, 76% of executives and managers in sales, HR, procurement, legal, and other departments estimate that fixing the “document disconnect” can lead to document process issues impact revenue recognition or create auditor issues. As process improvement experts, we at Praecipio Consulting love saving our clients money by mitigating wasted time and helping them do work faster. With that in mind, we've compiled our top 4 tips to get faster approvals leveraging DocuSign for Confluence to integrate your mission critical document tools. 

1. Maximize Your Macros 

Confluence macros add significant value to your document drafting process with their features and functionality. Just select from your macro options and voìla - your desired information appears! By utilizing the out-of-the-box DocuSign for Confluence macros, you can simply drop the macro for your DocuSign tabs (ex. signature, initials, date, title, and more!) into your document right inside of Confluence. Adding this functionality to your document drafting allows you to save time otherwise spent selecting and adding these approval actions outside of Confluence, and also ensures that your document collaborators can see the macros you're adding and where.

Select from the menu of macros to inform your signee of what do provide.

2. Template-ize It! 

Think of the documents you create the most frequently. From sales and marketing to HR and legal, every department has documents that need signatures and approvals on a daily basis (often multiple times a day). Save your team countless hours by creating Confluence templates for these frequently used documents and reduce unnecessarily wasted time. Your Space administrator can add these templates (including the aforementioned DocuSign macros) to your instance, in the spaces you need them, so you can now spin up your next contract with the click of a mouse. 


In Confluence, click 'Create' and get prompted with both custom and out-of-the-box templates.

3. Streamline Sending 

It's simple logic: the faster you send your document, the faster you can get approvals. However, cumbersome sending processes can keep you from firing off that contract as quickly as you'd like. Leverage DocuSign for Confluence to send documents from Confluence (including all the attachments and pages your heart desires) to not one, not two, but as many recipients as you want! Set action type and order in this same step to determine who needs to sign, who needs to receive a copy, and the sequence in which these actions will occur. 

When adding recipients inside your organization, names are pulled from your Confluence user directory so you can send even faster.

4. Track in Real-Time  

Being able to see where your document is in the approval process is invaluable when you're waiting for that proverbial ink to dry. DocuSign for Confluence provides real-time status notifications so you can track your documents, from sending to completion. By simply clicking the DocuSign lozenge at the top of your Confluence page, you see what stage your document is in and who has completed what action. Additionally, clicking the status to see approval actions on the document in DocuSign. This level of visibility allows you to see when you're DocuSign envelope has been created, sent, and signed to give you the most accurate document tracking. 

View the status of all your DocuSign Envelopes in one streamlined view.

Improving processes relies heavily on cutting our unnecessary intermediary steps that can become blockers. It's these steps that, unchecked, can cost a company thousands of hours that could otherwise be spent focused on core competencies. As process experts, we recommend to all our clients- from 20 person startups to Fortune 5 enterprises- to ask themselves the following questions regarding their processes:

  • Can it be repeated? 

  • Can we automate it?

  • Can we eliminate unnecessary steps?

By optimizing your repeatable e-signature processes with DocuSign for Confluence, your organization not only saves time, but also reduces document processing issues that cut into profit or jeopardize compliance with auditing agencies. 

Ready to expedite your e-signatures? Get DocuSign for Confluence and start getting your fastest approvals.

Topics: atlassian blog confluence experts hipaa marketplace process-consulting regulation sign service-level-agreement tracking compliance docusign e-signature fda integration productivity atlassian-products marketplace-apps bespoke
5 min read

Top 5 Ways Atlassian Facilitates DevOps

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

 

DevOps is an organizational practice that's gaining rapid traction in the software development world. According to RightScale's 2016 State of the Cloud Survey, DevOps adoption rose from 66% to 74% in just one year, with enterprises embracing it at 81%. Essentially, DevOps is a joint effort based on agile methodology that brings the development and operations teams together for the entire software development lifecycle.


The value of this practice is that the traditional power struggle and finger pointing between owners of two different phases of the delivery process – building vs. supporting – is replaced with a faster and more flexible team that delivers higher quality output. In fact, Puppet Lab's 2015 State of DevOps Report found that high performing IT teams who embraced DevOps reported 60 times fewer failures and 168 times faster recovery rate. They also deployed 30 times more frequently with 200 times shorter lead times!

In order to maximize and reinforce DevOps best practices, teams need the right tools and infrastructure to support their mission. What started as a software company for software companies that now serves 50,000+ organizations like Facebook and NASA, Atlassian offers a suite of products that support the most agile development processes, including DevOps. By encouraging visibility, prioritization, automation, continuous integration, and documentation, Atlassian empowers DevOps to deliver the most value to the end customer.   

Visibility

The Atlassian suite promotes visibility and transparency internally within the company and externally for clients. This ensures that no one is left in the dark about issues that may arise and encourages accountability for all. Let's say, for example, that a customer has reported a software bug by submitting a Jira Service Desk ticket. A customer support representative then updates the status of the ticket to "Investigating" and begins to explore the problem. (This act notifies the customer that her problem is being looked into.) When the rep tracks down the problem and realizes that it's a replicable bug, he marks the issue as high priority, adds internal comments describing the problem, and transitions the status of the ticket to "Confirmed." Using the Jira add-on, Bob Swift Create on Transition, the status change automatically creates a new bug issue in the dev team's Jira project, copying over relevant information and linking it back to the original issue. This transparent process benefits the customer in that she stays informed about what's going on (and feels that her problems are important to the company and being resolved), and it benefits the DevOps team because they have end-to-end understanding of the problem at hand.

Prioritization

With a constant stream of requested work coming from both internal and external sources, it's sometimes difficult for a DevOps team to prioritize effectively. Huge and costly problems can arise when fires aren't triaged appropriately and put out in time. Atlassian can help with prioritization through filters that identify different issue statuses during a workflow and automated alerts using email or instant messaging. Going back to our example, the Create on Transition add-on serves as a filter between customers' service requests and the DevOps team's Jira project. Instead of getting flooded with tickets, the team can rely on customer support to verify and submit bugs on behalf of the customer, embedding prioritization into the process. If issues are automatically assigned, Jira can notify team leads by email when a new bug issue enters the team's project. If newly created issues are not automatically assigned, the team can rely on ChatOps using dedicated HipChat rooms for individual projects or even priorities within a project. Jira can create automatic notifications that appear in HipChat, and devs can click through the message directly to the Jira ticket. This integration allows for immediate response and keeps the team focused on what's important now. 

 

Continuous Integration 

Continuous integration (CI) is an agile practice that requires devs to consistently integrate code into a shared repository, allowing teams to detect problems sooner and without the extensive backtracking. Atlassian's suite of products work in unison to make continuous integration happen seamlessly. After fixing the aforementioned bug, a developer can commit her changes in her Git feature branch and push them up to Bitbucket, which then kicks off a build in Bamboo. When her build and test come back clean, she creates a pull request to merge her code into master. Once her change is approved and merged into master, the release manager builds and deploys the updated master branch to Bamboo. This tight integration of Git, BitBucket, and Bamboo – paired with some marketplace add-ons – allows for a seamless hand-off from development to operations and back again.  

 

Automation

With complex and intertwined workflows involving multiple stakeholders, automated triggers save teams valuable time and energy by taking care of redundant or peripheral tasks. Going back to our example, when a workflow trigger picks up on our developer's merged pull request, it transitions her issue from "In Progress" to "Done." This status change then triggers a post function that invokes the Jira add-on Bob Swift Update on Transition. The add-on updates the original Jira Service Desk issue submitted by the customer and adds a comment that says the fix will come in the next release. Automation allows our developer to maximize her time completing actual work, like squashing bugs and creating hot fixes, instead of devoting time to process compliance. (A DevOps team can even create automated CI builds in Bamboo to ensure code quality.) Automation keeps the customer happy and in the know, while taking out an unnecessary layer of communication between development and customer support.

 

Documentation 

During the entire end-to-end process, Atlassian tools capture and log information at every point in the workflow, including hand-offs, in the form of status changes, comments, or the like, and this history is archived by versions. By leaving behind a well-documented trail of breadcrumbs, teams can better understand the complete story of a workflow. They can identify what went well and what didn't in order to plan for continuous improvement. Furthermore, documentation helps the next developer pick up where a previous developer left off or replicate their workflow, leading to scalable organizational knowledge. 

By adopting DevOps and supporting the effort with Atlassian tools, teams can create conditions for delivering value faster, more sustainably. By improving quality – and thus value – through visibility, prioritization, automation, continuous integration, and documentation, organizations are able to increase profit without increasing operation costs and encourage a culture of continuous improvement. To learn more about how DevOps and Atlassian can empower your organization to work faster and smarter, contact Praecipio Consulting.

 

ABOUT BRYAN ROBISON

Bryan is Principal of Technical Delivery at Praecipio Consulting where he helps clients implement Atlassian's developer tools and provides technical guidance across Praecipio Consulting's lines of business. When Bryan isn't delivering best-in-class business technology solutions, he enjoys a good crawfish boil and some quality time strumming his guitar.

Topics: blog devops process-consulting
5 min read

All-Star Incident Management: How to Be Like Mike

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 21, 2016 11:00:00 AM

The best teams sync with each other. Think of the intangible magic conjured by the Championship-sweeping Chicago Bulls of the 90's, helmed by Michael Jordan. They ran their offense to perfection, playing to the strengths of each team member and executing each step in perfect rhythm to put points on the board. Any member of those teams will tell you their success came not only from having high-performing people but from working together within an established offense, or process. Because they bought in and trusted the process, each team member knew his responsibility at all times. The team ran time-tested methodologies for getting the win, adjusting as needed after analyzing the other team's strategy. Basketball is all about strategy, process, and teamwork.


Now think of that team that loses to the Bulls- that loses to everyone. The team that's always scrambling after a broken play, unsure of how to set up their offense or what to do after a missed basket. They spend the entire game – and all their focus and energy – trying to just keep up. These are the teams that don't trust in their process, usually because it hasn't worked in the past or they haven't learned how to work with each other. It's hard for each player to handle his responsibilities because he feels like he has to win the game by himself instead of together with his teammates. It's not a good way to win games, and it's certainly not a good way to structure your IT team.

As Atlassian Platinum Enterprise partners and experts in all things process, we've got your playbook for all-star incident management:

Top 3 Tips for Championship ITSM

      1. Track your failures for greater success.

Basketball teams use stats to identify strengths and root out weaknesses. Tracking areas for improvement is key. When agents solve issues in silos they can't tell when an issue reoccurs or causes other issues, indicating a root cause that should be investigated. Ability to link issues is paramount to give your problem-solvers visibility into what keeps going wrong and, ultimately, what should be changed to keep it from happening again. 

2. Success loves preparation.

The 90's Bulls probably lost count of how many times they ran the same plays during practice. The better we prepare, the more successful we are. In the IT world, reporting, documentation, analytics, and other functionalities of our ITSM tool of choice make it easier to prepare well. When we're able to forecast issues based on prior knowledge, we're prepared for what's ahead. Data like a team's sprint velocity or average resource allocation per type of project inform planning for all foreseeable project outcomes.

3. Establish repeatable processes.

Michael Jordan is one of the most successful athletes in history because he was the first one in the gym and the last one out. He was always running drills and perfecting his shot, establishing repeatable processes that became muscle memory. Applying this concept to your organization allows your team to handle day to day operations with relative ease - each agent knows what to do, and they trust in the established process. This is a key to effective incident management and it allows you to focus on improving and advancing solutions rather than fighting fires.

Seen It, Solved It: Major U.S. Insurance Provider

Ready to see these plays in action? Here's how these 3 tips helped our client do better work, faster.

THE PROBLEM

Issues are like potato chips: you never have just one. In a business, any single issue that arises is usually experienced by multiple end-users and often starts a domino effect that causes more related issues. Without the ability to see across all these related issues, each agent responding to an individual issue only sees just that, failing to see the forest for the trees and moving on with an issue fix that doesn't address the root cause.

A major U.S. insurance provider came to us with concerns about their incident management. They already knew that their processes were poorly designed and not well adhered to, but they needed help figuring out how to improve them. In particular, incidents were not well documented or properly managed, putting them at risk for violating regulatory compliances. The client's struggles included:

  • ITSM Processes with No Buy-In (Too complex, too outdated, or too redundant)
  • Lack of Integration Across Tools (Lots of time wasted in context switching, Inability to analyze across platforms)
  • No SLAs or Metrics to Gauge Effectiveness

In short: They were focusing all their time and resources trying to just keep up, but could never get ahead in the game.

THE GAME CHANGER

Enter Coach Praecipio Consulting and Jira Service Desk to deliver a slam dunk incident management solution.

 
New Process Playbook

Because our client had different tools for managing incidents, their lack of visibility across platforms led to slow speed to market with fixes. Jira Service Desk not only solves this issue, but also supports best practices for incident management. By standardizing automated workflows and establishing lean processes, our client is no longer burdened by redundancies and can gather meaningful metrics across incidents.

 
Pass to other Players, er... Tools

In order to deflect the amount of incoming tickets, Jira Service Desk integrates with Confluence to provide a self-serve knowledge base. By leveraging this integration, our client gets back time and resources, no longer tied up on tickets to which an answer already exists. Leveraging machine-learning, the Confluence knowledge base identifies frequently searched topics and strengthens its query language to provide the best answers to questions around incidents. 

 
Set the Shot Clock

As an insurance provider, our client needed to ensure that they stayed within regulatory compliance with vendors and customers alike. Configuring SLAs in Jira Service Desk allows for the client to start the timer the minute a ticket is assigned, tracking time to resolution and producing reports to identify SLAs in danger of being breached. By doing this, the client gains visibility into incident management and can use metrics against goals for continuous improvement. 

Be Like Mike

Like the Bulls' 1-2 punch of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the tandem of Jira Service Desk and experience-driven process expertise gives our clients a heightened ability to execute ITSM best practices and keep their teams in a cycle of continual improvement. Maximizing your processes makes your day-to-day work simpler, allows you to focus on higher level objectives for better business, and helps you get numbers on the board (with dollar signs in front!). 

Practice makes perfect- it also makes money. Michael Jordan and his teammates knew it, and the best IT teams in the world know it. Take your team's performance to championship levels with the right processes and the right tools- and, if you need help, think of Praecipio Consulting as your coach with a lot of championship experience. 

 

About Sam Besozzi

Sam is a Consultant at Praecipio Consulting where he delivers expert solutions to our top clients. He has an extensive background in process improvement and design and draws heavily from Six Sigma, Lean, and other efficiency-focused models. As a new Austin, TX transplant (originally from Ohio), Sam enjoys exploring his new hometown, hiking, and searching for the perfect taco.

Topics: atlassian case-studies blog analysis best-practices business experts implementation process process-consulting technology workflows support configuration consulting-services itil itsm jira-service-desk request
5 min read

Expert Tips to Enhance Collaboration

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 30, 2014 11:00:00 AM

While I may have seen Lord of the Rings, I've recently become keenly aware of my overall lack of knowledge around the ins and outs of the franchise. After creating a would-be "one does not simply" LOTR meme related to a new Atlassian product release, I HipChatted the idea to a co-worker for review. The following is the actual conversation that ensued:
 

 

Aside from the fact that I apparently need to re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my big take-away from the conversation was- thank goodness for Atlassian! At Praecipio Consulting, we leverage the collaborative power of the product suite for everything from content review to coming up with new ideas and innovations for our client work. Even with resources located across the country, I still get the input I need from our team with tools like Confluence, Jira and HipChat.

As an international company with offices from Australia to Austin to Amsterdam, Atlassian knows the importance of remote collaboration across disparate teams. With a product suite that facilitates communication and documentation, Atlassian helps organizations worldwide increase productivity with tools like Jira, Confluence and Stash. One could write code in Asia, then have a team member in South America review and merge it. Marketing initiatives begun in England can be aligned with corresponding product releases developed in Iceland with Jira Portfolio. The Atlassian line of products, designed for maximum collaboration, allows remote team members to bring their expertise to projects to achieve best results. Besides using the Atlassian tools to prevent misappropriated movie references, we also collaborate in other ways.

Everybody Needs an Editor.

While spell check has done wonders for catching errors, it is always good practice to have someone review your work before pushing to production. Jira and Confluence track activity by users, alerting page and issue watchers to edits made and keeping the general population abreast of developments via the activity feed. This allows your team to see changes made and weigh in with comments. If you have Confluence 5.7, you get even more editing power with the ability to leave in-line comments on documents and attachments for the most specific, efficient method of feedback. At Praecipio Consulting, our best collaborative practices include color-coded copy edits that delineate areas for re-write, removal of copy or verification of content accuracy. Using our colored copy system, it is easy to provide specific feedback during collaboration that the content owner can efficiently incorporate into the document.

To further standardize our review process, we created a custom Marketing Communications issue type in Jira with its own workflow. We now have the ability to track the progress all our content from In Progress to QA (review) to Publish. By assigning the issue to the user responsible for each step in the process, the reporter (the person who ultimately owns the project) can easily see when to expect the next content release. With reports and customizable dashboards in Jira, we can easily view our communications schedule to ensure that content is on track throughout the In Progress and QA phases for on-time publishing. Not only does this help us thoroughly review content before publishing, but it also streamlines our processes by avoiding multiple individual sub-tasks and instead tracks the workflow within the main communications issue for best collaborative practices. 

The Marketplace of Ideas

In 1859, philosopher John Stuart Mill raised the idea of "the marketplace of ideas" - a community of open, transparent discourse to find truth. Why not create a Marketplace of Ideas for your teams to share information and gain knowledge? 

With Atlassian tools like Confluence Questions, your entire organization has access to a centralized source of standardized information. Allowing users to easily search for answers, team members can add their own responses and up-vote the answers of others to make Confluence Questions even more robust. Identify experts in your organization with leaderboard reporting so you find your best resource for each project.

Jira Portfolio, Atlassian's most exciting new offering, brings disparate teams together through initiative setting to align all projects to your business strategy, from your marketing department to your dev team. The skill field for each resource gives you even more granularity when searching for the right person, allowing users to set competencies from UI to QA. 

We don't think John Stuart Mill was the one who coined the phrase, "two heads are better than one," but Atlassian users agree with it just the same. Introducing tools like Confluence Questions and Jira Portfolio bring best collaborative practices to your organization as your team begins sharing and learning together. 

Members Only

Getting others' feedback can be helpful, but sometimes you only want input from certain users. With permission setting capabilities across the Atlassian product suite administrators can determine the visibility of information to control who can edit and view data. For additional security for your most sensitive information, Praecipio Consulting's Secure Content add-on for Confluence brings you the ultimate encryption with a secure yet simple user interface. 

Need to discuss something with a specific team? Get a room! A HipChat room, that is. Security settings in the real-time chat software gives you the ability to create your own chat room inside your organization's lobby. Add permissions to decide who gets invited to the room and a lock icon will appear next to your HipChat room to let everyone know you're having a private party.

Atlassian's security and permissions settings give you the power to choose your collaborators and keep that secret project - whether a new hire or plans for the boss' birthday party - under wraps until release.

Secure Content provides an easy to use, secure location for your most sensitive information.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Atlassian facilitates best collaborative practices and your best processes with their entire product suite. You gain the full benefit of your team's expertise as they contribute to the CMS, share knowledge and align business strategy. Atlassian gives you the utmost transparency so everyone stays "in the know" and interacts in real-time. Getting efficient and documented feedback, you can seamlessly track user stories to stay involved in the collaborative process from ideation to release. As Atlassian product and process experts, Praecipio Consulting offers services around the innovative suite of tools to help you achieve best collaborative products and practices. We get you what you need - from process optimization to product licensing - to facilitate your best collaborative practices. The greatest ideas come from inspiration through collaboration. Harness the full brain power of your organization with the Atlassian product suite and Praecipio Consulting's best collaborative practices. 

Topics: jira blog best-practices confluence implementation process-consulting questions-for-confluence collaboration consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
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

Paying for Mistakes: The Cost to Fix a Software Defect and How to Avoid It

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

In 2002, a study by NIST reported the U.S. Economy spent $59.5 billion annually fixing software defects. Less than a decade later, Cambridge University found the cost to have risen (in 2007 to 2011) to a global cost of $312 billion per year. With technology becoming an ever-growing presence in our society- from smart phones to smart cars- the pressure to build infallible software is at the forefront of companies' minds. A software defect, which can be caused by omitting even one character in pages of code, can have far reaching repercussions.

These kind of non-conformance expenditures spent repairing software defects impact your Cost of Quality, costing your company profit and maybe even your professional reputation. Customer satisfaction fuels the reputation of businesses, and even a small software defect can translate into billions of dollars in lost revenue when people become frustrated over non-functional or mis-operating products. 

"To err is human." So, how do we reduce software defects caused by user error?

With the Atlassian product suite, you have security with well-documented, well-reviewed process capabilities- You just have to begin with the end in mind. This should be the mantra for any software development effort. To start, gathering clear requirements in Confluence will allow a team to have a single point of truth when in the early stages. Developers, QA, Stakeholders, Product Owners, Scrum Masters- everyone should be involved in the process. Before kicking off a new project, ask yourself:

  • What are we trying to create? (e.g. a new feature, an enhancement to an existing product or offering, a cleaner UI)
  • Why are we doing this and why is this a need? 
  • Who are the end-users and how will they be using the product?
  • Where in the application will this sit? (e.g. Is it middleware? Is it database transactions? ) 
  • When can we release this? 

These 5 questions can get ideas flowing. Recommendations regarding this phase include creating user profiles to help determine acceptance criteria. In Agile, the creation of user stories helps here too. By beginning with the end in mind and leveraging Confluence, there is no question as to what the expected function of the product is and what is considered done.

Once the requirements have been reviewed and agreed upon, now is where we start tasking. Within Confluence, selecting text and creating Jira tickets is easy once the applications are linked. These issues should be created with the mindset that after an iteration, the issue is complete and potentially shippable. 

Fail fast... then fix it!

These checkpoints in the SDLC process have the opportunity to make or break a deliverable's release, reducing extra costs to the company. Depending on the phase in which the defect is introduced, and how long it takes to catch, the losses can quickly add up. Finding an architecture issue in the construction phase will cost 10 times as much than if it were caught in its starting phase. A requirements issue found in post-release can cost up to 100 times as much to fix than if identified from the beginning. How can you ensure you're shipping a defect-free product that won't cost your company profit or credibility?

Take a moment to think about what potentially shippable means. These items have been developed, tested, re-tested, merged, and are ready to meet the outside world. With a click of a button in Stash, these items can be merged with the Master Branch and are now available for use. But to get to this point, the Scrum Team must have had some way to develop and test and merge and flag issues without affecting the Master Branch or Production System. Here's where integrating Jira, Bamboo, and Stash come in handy. You can create a feature branch, develop against it, and merge it with everyone else's branches to ensure there are no defects. Bamboo will see the new branch and build. Fail Fast. Within a short period of time, the team can see what they did (or didn't do) to make sure the units are potentially shippable- troubleshoot, fix, then merge again. When a build fails or a branch doesn't merge, defects can be filed in Jira and added into the Sprint. 

Accidents will happen.

Even with multiple checkpoints in place for accuracy, a user may spot a defect. In this case, leveraging Jira Service Desk can provide immediate feedback to customer service regarding the problem. By providing a way for customers to communicate their issue immediately, you are able to respond to their complaint- preserving the reputation of your business and gaining important information on what went wrong (so you can avoid it next time). Everybody makes mistakes- it's how (and how fast) you fix them that leaves a lasting impression with customers. 

Limit Defects, Avoid Loss, Increase Productivity

With the Atlassian product suite, user errors that create defects in software are identified and weeded out before your deliverable ships, allowing you to continually increase profit and get solid results. Best practices in robust tools like Jira, Confluence, and Stash help your organization achieve traceability and thorough documentation through continuous integration. Leveraging administrative and reporting functions, including permission setting and customized workflows, you can track project development and identify blockers in real time to mitigate profit loss. Atlassian further stacked their product line to increase visibility and keep deliverables on time and defect-free with their new offering, Jira Portfolio

Million dollar profit or million dollar loss? The omission in a single character in one line of code can be catastrophic to your deliverable, so early detection is paramount. Atlassian helps you catch those bugs before they turn into an infestation and with our extensive knowledge of best practices and process optimization around the product suite can maximize your defect defense. Learn more about how Praecipio Consulting can help you avoid those costly errors. With the money you save, you can treat your team to an Atlassian training course!

Topics: blog scaled-agile best-practices bitbucket confluence process-consulting roi consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
3 min read

JIRA Portfolio: Atlassian's Latest & Greatest Release

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 19, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Five major announcements at Summit 2014 weren't enough for Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike-Cannon Brookes. Sneaking in a "Number 0" announcement after such crowd pleasers as Jira Service Desk agent-based pricing and HipChat for Server and iOS8, the San Jose Convention Center nearly exploded when Mike introduced the world to Atlassian's newest addition:

 

Since Jira first hit the marketplace in 2004, usage has gone through the roof with worldwide adoption of the popular issue-tracking product by industry giants with enterprise needs. In ten years, Jira has only gotten better with age, as Atlassian continuously pushes to improve products based on user feedback. That kind of user response- from Atlassian Experts who implement Jira, to stakeholders looking for a larger return on their investment- drove the design, development, and release of Jira Portfolio. Designed for maximum traceability, projects can be easily viewed to enable strategic planning, provide project reporting, and link work amongst teams for greater consistency in realizing business initiatives. Jira Portfolio adds value to every Jira instance in your organization: from stakeholders needing at-a-glance analytics, to technical leads scheduling project delivery, to team members who need to see how their work fits into a larger context. 

ONE SOURCE FOR ALL

Standardization across teams is important in your business processes, especially in organizations with cross-functional team projects! Leveraging Jira Portfolio across your organization fosters collaboration amongst teams and provides supreme visibility. Jira Portfolio makes use of the integrative power that we know and love in Atlassian products, seamlessly communicating with your other tools including Jira Agile and Confluence, making it a major force of functionality in the world of technology solutions.

ON TIME, EVERY TIME

Jira Portfolio is a centralized home for business development projects that unifies your organization, allowing for project tracking in real-time across teams for incredibly accurate strategic planning. Never miss the mark on a scheduled release again! With Jira Portfolio, you can track projects (Yes, more than one project at a time!) from proof-of-concept to delivery thus cutting cost-of-change and continually improving business processes through the use of dashboards and workflows.

TELL BETTER STORIES

Keep your team fully informed with the integration and cross-team collaboration you get with Jira Portfolio. When builds grow from business initiatives, you can keep your devs clued into the strategy by linking projects with themes. With Jira Portfolio, your user stories have more narrative power, as epics and stories can now point to business initiatives and themes. Your dev teams can build products informed by the business initiative that outlines its place in the market. Your business team can see the development of the product they're marketing and advertise its upcoming release.

ALL OF THE FRAMEWORKS

Want Jira Portfolio but don't know how it will work in your framework? Atlassian washes those worries away with Jira Portfolio's Framework-Agnostic compatibility. No matter what framework your organization uses, Jira Portfolio will always be a perfect fit. 

LOW COST POINT

Jira Portfolio makes your Jira instance even more robust by driving down development costs, but your savings don't end there. Jira users can expand their Atlassian product suite to include Jira Portfolio, gaining the highest functionality of strategic planning software available at a fraction of the cost of competitors. 

With Atlassian's new Jira Portfolio, you can achieve your best business processes. Drive costs down with strategic planning, easy cross-team collaboration, and high-level reporting to take your organization to a whole new level. At Praecipio Consulting, we're just as excited about Jira Portfolio as our clients! And...we're thrilled to offer a first look inside the hot new offering in our upcoming Jira Portfolio webinar on November 5th. Join one of our Solutions Architects and Certified ScrumMaster, Amanda Babb, to learn how to unlock the power of Jira Portfolio.

Wherever you want to go with the Atlassian product suite, we'll take you there.

Topics: atlassian blog atlassian-summit best-practices process-consulting consulting-services marketplace-apps
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
3 min read

The ABC's of Agile

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

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

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

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

Cost of Change Curve

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

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

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

Scrum

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

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

Kanban

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

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

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

Cloud Computing Risks and Rewards

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

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

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

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

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

Risks

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

Rewards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to get in touch? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

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

4 Misconceptions of Process Automation

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 8, 2010 11:00:00 AM

By nature, process automation involves taking away human tasks and executing them with technology. Naturally, people can be sensitive to automated processes. They may become insecure about their job if they think tasks will be taken away from them.

These sensitivities and insecurities, however, aren’t always legitimate. They can be lessened if everyone involved in adopting process automation understood its purpose and benefit to the business.

Here are 4 misconceptions of process automation:

1. Process automation will replace me with a machine.
In truth, very rarely do workflows replace an entire human position within an organization. As we also say in Workflows 101, workflows execute non-value-adding steps that don’t involve highly-complex decisions, which require human effort.

Non-value-adding steps usually include tasks like organizing, filing, labeling, etc. Value-adding steps include content generation, customer interaction, and service development.

Ideally, each person within an organization will use their skills to add value to company services, or deliver value to customers. The business needs to be productive and efficient to maintain profit, and wants to ensure that employee time is being used efficiently – toward value-adding steps.

2. Process automation will increase mistakes.
Surely a computer can’t make better decisions than a human, right?

Actually, the decisions a computer makes are determined by humans. Workflow decision criteria is developed by folks who’ve studied how the organization operates in detail and determined which business processes could be automated – in part or in whole. Any mistake a workflow makes results from a flaw in decision logic – or something the logic couldn’t account for.

To make sure workflows remain useful over time, they should be observed regularly to ensure their logic and performance are effective. Workflows usually require tweaking as processes change to maintain success.

3. Process automation can’t do this as well as I can.
Again, that’s not the point. Workflows don’t perform tasks that you could do “well” as opposed to others. They weed out tasks that can be executed electronically to make employee productivity more efficient – saving the business money.

4. The implementation of a process automation system is too expensive to consider.
Yes, the implementation may be expensive – and may require you to purchase a software platform that can facilitate workflow technology.

But the worry here isn’t about the up-front cost. It’s about the ROI. The goal of process automation is to save a business time and money as months go by. A successful workflow implementation can make profit soar over time due to the time and energy saved by workflows.

We hope this gives you a clear take on what process automation means for business. Take a look at Workflows 101 more information.

Topics: blog automation bpm business management process process-consulting tips tricks value continuous-improvement operations
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
2 min read

5 Quick ITIL Implementation Tips

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 17, 2010 11:00:00 AM

According to Forrester’s latest research, IT spending is expected to grow 6.6 percent in 2010 to $568 billion. In order to realize the value of these investments, organizations may adopt industry-consistent frameworks like ITIL to improve IT process and establish reliable data points to measure success.

Here are 5 useful ITIL implementation tips:

1. ITIL is an IT-Wide Strategy
Any ITIL process implementation has IT-wide impacts. Because of this, the implementation must be aligned with other IT initiatives within the organization, focusing on accomplishing ITIL success while preserving the overall benefit to the organization. ITIL should guide all strategic initiatives.

2. Consider Post-ITIL Organization Before Jumping Into Implementation
Introducing ITIL processes creates new tasks and roles that could impact an organization’s current IT service management structure. Foreseeing this possibility helps guide management toward supporting a new IT organization.

3. Prioritize Process Selection
Implementing every ITIL process at the same time isn’t necessary. ITIL processes should be selected based on areas where the organization needs improvement, and areas that will drive the most business value/greatest ROI.

4. Set Your Baseline Early; Have Realistic Expectations
The acceptance of change, of course, takes time. ITIL’s implementation is a significant change to an organization’s IT environment, and its processes will have to mature before subsequent ROIs are recognized. The delay of ROI-producing data points will delay the qualified legitimacy of the ITIL venture—making the change harder for employees to swallow.

Establishing an early baseline of key performance indicators (KPIs) from which to monitor ITIL success helps employees be more open to and engaged with the change. Chosen KPIs should be business-focused and clearly understood, so employees don’t waste time measuring unnecessary data points.

5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate Success
Let’s face it: implementing ITIL isn’t a quick job. The longer a project takes, the harder it is for employees to see its worth.

This is why communicating success to everyone involved in the implementation is essential—so employees are reminded they’re working toward something that will make them more efficient and profitable, and prepared for change. Success not only boosts morale. It qualifies and legitimizes the project. Failure to communicate success may double employee resistance to change over time.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog implementation library management process-consulting services technology tips tricks change information infrastructure it itil itsm
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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