10 min read

ITSM and ITIL: Not So Different After All

By Yogi Kanakamedala on Jun 9, 2021 4:01:01 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_ITSM-ITILThe change to remote work has forced Information Technology (IT) teams to quickly and efficiently serve their customers. Due to this, many people talk about using ITSM processes or ITIL strategies to help their teams. But what does this mean? Are they the same? Or completely different? What does an IT team implementing these practices look like? To understand this, we first have to understand ITSM and ITIL. 

What is ITSM?

Atlassian defines Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) as a way IT teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. 

The core concept of ITSM is the belief that IT should be delivered as a service

I think of ITSM simply as a set of tools you can use to improve your IT team. Just like you would use a handsaw to cut a piece of wood or a screwdriver and a screw to connect two pieces of wood together, you have to think about what you would like to accomplish with your IT team and which tool would be best for the job. 

ITSM processes focus on your customer's needs and services rather than the IT systems behind the scenes. These processes, when implemented properly, can help cross-department collaboration, increase control and governance, deliver and maximize asset efficiency, provide better and quicker customer support, and reduce costs across the organization. What are some of these magical processes? Glad you asked! 

  1. Service Request Management
    Any incoming inquires asking for access to applications, software licenses, password resets, or new hardware is classified as Service Requests. These requests are often recurring and can be made into simple, duplicable procedures. These repeatable procedures will help IT teams provide quick service for the recurring requests. Applying well-designed practices to your Jira Service Management application can streamline the process for an organizations' customer to create Service Requests and for internal IT teams to act on the Service Requests.  

  2. Knowledge Management
    The process of making, sharing, utilizing, and managing data of an organization to attain its business objectives can all be a part of Knowledge Management. Creating a Knowledge Base (KB) for IT teams to create content is crucial for teams to learn from the past and maximize productivity. Having a collaborative workspace, such as Confluence, for all teams to work within can help create one source of truth of information. KB articles can also be shared with your customers through the Jira Service Management portal to help resolve common or simple Service Request without having to contact the IT Team. 

  3. IT Asset Management (ITAM)
    IT Asset Management (also known as ITAM) can help ensure valuable company resources are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgrades, or properly disposed of. Because assets have a relatively short life-cycle, it is important to make the best use of all assets. Integrating tools such as Insight with your Jira instance can help track all valuable assets throughout your organization conveniently within Jira issues in real-time. 

  4. Incident Management
    Any process that is responding to an unplanned event or downtime will fall under the Incident Management bucket. The only goal of Incident Management is to make sure that problematic services are brought back to their original operational status in the shortest time possible. For any incident to be quickly resolved, the original reporter has to be able to quickly communicate with the proper IT team asking for help and the IT team must be able to easily communicate back with the reporter to gather any relevant information needed to solve the problem. Jira Service Management can help make this crucial communication effortless.

  5. Problem Management
    Taking lessons learned from an incident and determining the root cause of the problem so that future incidents can be prevented or, at minimum, limiting downtime is the basis of Problem Management. Once a root cause analysis is performed on an incident and documented within your Confluence instance, the impact of future incidents can be reduced. 

  6. Change Management
    Change Management can be used to control and understand the impact of changes being made to all IT Infrastructure. The Change Advisory Board (CAB), a group of individuals tasked with evaluating, scheduling, and validating a change, can be leveraged to better maintain and ensure the stability of your IT Infrastructure. By taking advantage of Jira, employees can easily suggest changes and the CAB will be able to review the proposed changes, approving and scheduling the change as they see fit. 

To see these processes in action, let's consider a tangible example that will help bring it all together:

"Austin Snow" is a new employee at your company. As part of the onboarding process, they will need a brand new laptop. As their manager, you submit a Service Request to your IT team through the Jira Service Management Help Center. An agent in your accounting department is then assigned to this task. Using information from a KB article that has been built out in a Confluence page, the agent can see that they are supposed to put in a purchase order for the new device. From the Confluence page, the agent also knows to add this new asset in Insight and assign ownership to Austin.

Once the laptop is delivered and Austin tries to access an application and finds that they get a 404 error message. Austin reaches out to the IT team through the Help Center to create an incident with them. The IT team then proceeds to investigate this issue. They can find the root cause of the problem and fix it. Using the lessons learned from this incident, the IT team performs a root cause analysis (RCA) for the problem. As a result of the RCA, it is found that a change to the organizations' infrastructure can help prevent this problem in the future. The IT proposed the change to the Change Advisor Board (CAB) who then investigates the impact of this change, weighs pros and cons and schedules an outage window to perform this change. 

As can be seen in this example, ITSM processes can help quickly fulfill requests, transfer knowledge, keep track of assets, respond to problems, identify the cause of a problem, and implement any changes needed to prevent problems in the future. 

What is ITIL?

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a set of best practices designed to support a company's IT operations. ITIL was introduced in the late 20th century as a series of books by a government agency in Great Britain in an attempt to help the British Government provide a better quality of IT service at a lower cost. ITIL v2 condensed all of the content in the early 2000s into nine publications. These two older versions are seldom used, most organizations currently implement ITIL v3 or ITIL 4.

ITIL v3

In 2007, ITIL v3 introduced the service lifecycle, a set of five core publications, to help organizations focus on continual improvement. The ITIL Service Lifecycle consists of five stages; Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation, and Continuous Service Improvement.

ITIL3-service-lifecycleSource: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 3 Edition” (2007 - Updated 2011)

The Service Strategy stage helps level set the expectations of an organization so that a service provider can meet the organization's business outcomes. The Service Design stage helps the service provider gather all the requirements and create a plan to turn an idea into reality. The Service Transition stage is when the design from the previous stage is implemented and made ready to go live as smoothly as possible. The Service Operation stage focuses on making sure the services being provided are being fulfilled as agreed upon. Finally, the Continuous Service Improvement stage focuses on service provided staying agile and keeping up with the ever-changing needs of the organization. 

ITIL 4

Most recently, ITIL 4 took into consideration the latest trends in technologies and service management to help organizations as they undergo digital transformation. ITIL 4 consists of two main components; the four dimensions model and the service value system (SVS).

ITIL4-service-value-system-1

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The four dimensions model lays out four key areas to consider to ensure a holistic approach to service management. These four dimensions are Organizations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, and Value Streams and Processes. The four dimensions have to work together to help ensure that any Product or Service provided to the customer is able to provide value in an effective and efficient manner.

For example, in the above Austin Snow use case, the Organizations & People would be the HR Team performing the onboarding, the IT team helping deliver the laptop, the Support team handling the outage, and Austin Snow themself. The Information & Technology would be all the tools, Jira Service Management, Insight, etc. that were used to help Austin. The Partners & Suppliers would consist of the internal IT team in charge of the service request and incident management or any other external team that as leveraged to deliver the request or fix the incident. finally, the Value Streams & Processes would consist of any well-defined procedures that were used to help deliver the service to Austin.

ITIL4-service-value-chain

Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation: ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)

The service value system lays out how all the components of an organization have to work together to provide maximum value. To accomplish this, 5 main elements are used produce Value from an Opportunity or Demand; Guiding Principles, Governance, Service Value Chain, Practices, Continual Improvement. 

Guiding Principles help define how an organization will respond in all circumstances. These principles should be considered when making any decisions. Governance defines how an organization is directed and controlled and always stem from Guiding Principles. The Service Value Chain is a set of inter-united processes used to deliver a product or service to a customer. Practices are resources to help perform work. Continual Improvement is how the process can be improved to help provide the most amount of Value to an organization. When all of the elements of the SVS are implemented and used properly, an organization will be able to capitalize on every Opportunity. The four dimensions must be considered with all elements of the SVS to ensure a great quality of service is provided to your customers. 

ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 are essentially guiding the same fundamental ideas of service management. ITIL 4 takes a new approach to provide this guidance. It is important to consider the inner workings of your organization to understand a set of principles that will best mesh with your organization. 

How are they related?

Now that we have laid down a foundation for ITSM and ITIL concepts, let's explore the relationship between ITSM and ITIL.

Unlike the title of this blog may suggest, these two concepts are not opposing ideas. ITIL is a framework of ITSM, meaning ITIL takes the concepts and values of ITSM and lays out a set of defined best practices that organizations can easily apply to their business to help improve IT services. In other words, ITSM processes describe the "what" while ITIL best practices describe the "how". 

ITIL is not the only ITSM framework; frameworks or processes such as DevOps, Kaizen, Lean, and Six Sigma are also implemented by organizations. ITIL is the most popular ITSM framework to help improve IT service delivery.

In summary, ITSM is a defined set of processes to design, create, deliver, and support IT services. ITIL, a framework of ITSM best practices, can be used as a set of guidelines to quickly adopt ITSM principles into your organization. These guidelines can then be continuously improved to be a perfect fit for your unique IT team. 

As The Digital Transformation(ists), Praecipio Consulting can help you integrate digital technology into all areas of your business. For more information, please check out these case studies: FORTUNE 20 ELECTRONICS COMPANY OPTIMIZES JIRA AND CONFLUENCE FOR ITSM BEST PRACTICES and WORLD'S LARGEST BEVERAGE AND BREWING COMPANY MIGRATES TO ATLASSIAN ITSM PLATFORM and blogs Three Weeks to an ITIL-based Service Desk—No, Really

If you have questions on ITSM or ITIL, and wonder if your organization can benefit from these powerful methodologies, contact us, and one of our experts will be glad to help.

Topics: jira blog confluence process insight itil itsm digital-transformation jira-service-management remote-work frameworks
2 min read

Why Instructor-led Atlassian Training Is Better Than Online Courses

By Jerry Bolden on May 24, 2021 9:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why instructor-led Atlassian training is better than online coursesAs the world transitions to more virtual or remote work and training, it seems that more organizations look to the ability to perform training online. Not with an instructor, but just the class or lab. 

While it is true you can follow along with a course online, you cannot ask the course questions and get answers live, and the question you type in will likely only get a direct answer (if any),  not an in-depth assessment of the question and other considerations that could arise.  Having an instructor-led course makes sense for the same reason there is a Human Resources department in each company: they are in charge of onboarding and touching base with new employees as they transition into a company and its culture.  Sure, the tasks of onboarding can be done online, but who would be there to answer questions or concerns of the employee without a team dedicated to making each employee successful in a company?  Instructors have the same drive, which is to make not only the training successful, but to ensure each person successfully learns the program. 

Personal interaction and adjustments to the class can be very important, and are not easily done through online-only learning.  Instructors are able to give students the experience and anecdotes they have learned while using the product.  They are not only able to clearly answer questions and point the person in the right direction, but they can also teach some of the 'tricks of the trade' they have learned throughout the years. This can help people retain the information as it is a personal story to connect the person and the instructor.  

Interpretation of body language or inflection in a voice is something that once again can only be done with human interactions.  The ability to listen to a person's question and read them or their voice allows for a better set of answers given to questions.  An instructor can not only give the answer to a specific question, but also understand if that answer is what the person was truly looking to understand or is now just accepting that answer and hoping they will learn, later on, what they wanted to know.  This also allows instructors the ability to ensure they have clearly understood the question and, in turn, clearly provided the right answer to the question.  The minimal interaction an instructor allows is for clarity and answering of questions to be focused to each person.  

Finally, when you have instructor-led teaching, the instructor is able to understand the different levels of knowledge/experience in a class at any time.  This allows the instructor to help with "extra" learning by being able to teach different levels of information.  This ability is important not only for the instructor to ensure they are communicating at the correct levels to people, but also it helps to drive the most fulfillment from the training. As instructors adapt to the classes, they can still go over the information, but at times may go a little deeper into a demo if the class is showing they can handle the learning, thus giving them more value to the training and the time they are willing to invest in the class. 

Instructor-led training is not necessarily essential to learning how to use a system, Atlassian or others. Yet without an instructor, the value of the course is minimized and relegated to only the material on the screen.  Instructors are able to not only lend their experiences and learned knowledge, but also allow for different individuals to get more out of the training as they may be able to handle more advanced information.

Interested in getting your teams the tools they need to reach their maximum potential? Contact us, and one of our Atlassian experts can talk you through our training options.

Topics: atlassian blog teams training atlassian-solution-partner remote-work
3 min read

How Praecipio Consulting Promotes Wellness & Remote Work Culture

By Robyn Lane on Jun 12, 2020 11:35:50 AM

2020 Blogposts_How Jira helps your team work remotely copy 4

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

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

Wellness Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Social While Working From Home

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

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

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

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

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

How To Host A Virtual-Bring-Together

By Marcelo Garza on May 22, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_How Jira helps your team work remotely copy 2

Remote work has its perks (do a load of laundry in between calls, take your dog for a walk during your break), but it certainly comes with its challenges. Feeling lonely and isolated when working from home is very real, and as a company that operates 100% remotely, we know how important it is to make sure our team members stay connected. 

That's why we started hosting Virtual-Bring-Togethers, which provides a space for employees to interact and have fun while engaging in an activity that has nothing to do with work. Every Thursday evening, our team members connect via Zoom to play Pictionary, stream movies together, or even enjoy a cooking class. You name it, we've done it! 

Best Apps for Hosting a Virtual-Bring-Together

There are different apps available with all sorts of features that can turn social distancing into distant socializing. These are just some of them that might help you in organizing your virtual event:

  • Skype (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, web)
  • Zoom (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows)
  • Facebook Messenger (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows)
  • WhatsApp Messenger (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, web)
  • Google Duo (iOS, Android, web)
  • Marco Polo (iOS, Android)
  • Houseparty (iOS, Android, web)
  • Discord (iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, web)

For a small company, you can easily organize these video calls with all the employees, and if we are talking about a big company, you might want to think of organizing these by teams or departments.

Activity Ideas

As far as the activities you can do, here are some that have been a huge hit with our Praecipio Consulting team members:

Family-friendly 

  • Virtual Pictionary: Divide into teams and use the Whiteboard feature on Zoom to draw pictures. When it’s your turn, you’ll share the screen and draw, and your team will have to guess what you are drawing during the set time limit. 
  • Yoga nights: Let the yogi of the group lead everyone through a restorative yoga flow and some simple sun salutations! Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try some hard moves and bond over the shared silliness.
  • Cooking lessons: If there is a chef in the group, he or she can give cooking lessons for everyone. It's a good way to share dishes, especially if you work with multicultural teams.
  • Playing cards: Organize your regular set of poker, and because you play virtually, it's easier to bluff and you won't have to worry about someone picking an eye on your cards.
  • Book clubs: You can organize book clubs normally would. Just pick a book, have them read a chapter or two to read during the week, and during your Virtual-Bring-Together, discuss different themes and listen to everyone's perspectives. 
  • Cribs: Have team members show off their homes and personality in quick, self-made videos a la the iconic show from the early 2000s. 
  • Costume party: Set themes and have a contest for the best costumes. You don't need to wait for Halloween to dress up and goof around!
  • Origami zoo: Origami nights are easy to organize. Have someone email them instructions before the meeting, and all people need to do is show up with some paper and scissors.
  • Icebreaker questions: Icebreaker questions are simple prompts that allow you to get to know your peers better. For example, you can start a remote meeting by having each attendee share their name, role, and what they like to eat for breakfast. Icebreakers are a simple and effective way to build relationships with remote teams, and to increase the personal connections between your people. You can set different levels for the questions depending on how well you already know each other

Grown-ups only 

  • Bar crawl: If you miss a night on the town, it’s time for a virtual bar crawl. To do this, set up a few spaces in your home to be “bars.” You can try to mimic your favorites or create themed bars! Have a signature drink for each bar! If you're looking for low-cal cocktail options, try some of these!
  • Virtual beer pong: We all know (and love) this classic game, but don't know how to play virtually? Check out this short video with a pretty simple example.
  • Virtual flip cup: Another classic. This one is simpler to play through a video call than virtual beer pong, so I would suggest you try this one first. All you need is your magic red cup, establish an order of turns in between teams, and have a good flick of the wrist.

This last two can also be done with the whole family, just swap your beer out for some water!

Try it yourself!

Socializing amongst team members opens the door to knowledge sharing, builds alliances, encourages teamwork, allows people to get to know others outside of their department, and gives everyone a "big picture" view of the company. When people start socializing, it creates bonds, which translates to caring for others. Having a team that genuinely cares for one another will create a greater sense of belonging and promote collaboration, resulting in improved performance across the board.

A company that provides a space for its employees to relate with one another, to relax, to have fun, and to be humans, shows that it cares for them. So, we encourage you to implement Virtual-Bring-Togethers or something similar with your teams, especially as many of us will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. 

Topics: blog tips collaboration virtual-bring-together work-from-home work-life-balance remote-work
2 min read

How Jira Can Help Your Teams Work Remotely

By Michael Knight on May 8, 2020 9:15:00 AM

According to a recent article published in the Harvard Business Review, one of the common challenges when working from home is a lack of access to information. At Praecipio Consulting, we often see this challenge with many teams, especially they remotely. Here's how Jira can help:

Visualize current work with Kanban boards

A Kanban board (or a similar variant) can be a remote team’s best friend. Instead of emailing, Slacking, texting, or calling a coworker to find out the status of a particular work item, a team member can simply navigate to the Kanban board and find a wealth of information. A well-configured board is easy to read and quickly conveys a brief description of each item the team is currently working on, as well as the status, assignee, and any other team-specific information. This helps cut down on extraneous communications within your organization and provides remote workers with a quicker and easier way to access information.

Reduce the number of emails by commenting on issues

Not only is commenting on issues quicker than typing up an email, but comments also live in publicly visible space and are saved in the issue. This immediately creates two advantages over email. First, commenting makes it much easier for other coworkers to see the progress on the issue, preventing them from having to send an email to ask questions about the issue, who’s working on it, when was it last worked on, and what progress has been made in the past week. Second, users never have to wonder why somebody made a particular decision or repeatedly ask for information because the entire conversation is stored within the issue. Using @ mentions to tag a coworker or manager helps speed up this process and better organize the information, in addition to drawing specific users to the issue and providing context.

Benefit from linking Jira and Confluence together

When Jira and Confluence are linked together, one can simply enter a Jira issue key into a Confluence page, and it will automatically contain a link to the Jira issue. Similarly, it becomes possible to link a Confluence page to a Jira issue by just referencing the title of the page. A few common use cases include: linking a resolution document in Confluence to the incident issue in Jira, displaying the progress of related Jira issues on a requirements document in Confluence, and linking several helpful articles to a service request in Jira. This helps solve similar problems more quickly, reduces time spent searching for that one Confluence article, and eliminates the need for status emails.

Jira was created to help teammates access information, allowing them to visualize and organize complex and hard-to-see work; and that's why Jira is the perfect tool for a remote team.  

 

Struggling with remote work in this time of uncertainty? Praecipio Consulting provides a turnkey implementation of best practices in Jira with an Accelerator. Whether you're supporting SDLC, ITSM, or PPM, we can rapidly deploy Jira to support your team. Reach out to us to learn more about Jira and how it can facilitate remote work. 

Topics: jira blog teams tips collaboration atlassian-products work-from-home remote-work
4 min read

Essential Services for Pivoting Your Business During a Pandemic

By Brian Nye on Apr 17, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Services Companies Consider During a Pandemic

2020 has been a roller coaster of a year, and few would have predicted that this year many of us would be working from home and facing some of the most critical challenges of our professional careers. And while this will pass, many leading businesses are taking this time as an opportunity to break away from traditional molds to better position themselves for the next challenge.

Over the past few weeks, we have worked closely with our clients, some of the largest names in their respective industries, to understand where they want to focus their resources to not only weather this storm but also better prepare them for future ones as well. We found that our clients are primarily in need of solutions that keep the business moving forward, connect employees, and control costs. 

Shifting from Legacy Systems

Servers and the teams that maintain them are expensive. This is by no means news to anyone, but when we look at critical systems and infrastructure, most solutions now have cloud options that are less expensive and perform better than legacy server solutions. Most companies that reach out to us want to understand two things:

  • Which is the best solution for me: Atlassian Cloud or an AWS Data Center?
  • What will it take to get me there?

Offloading your current infrastructure for critical business tools like Jira and Confluence on to more scalable, lower-overhead-cost options like AWS or the Atlassian Cloud can save your business a lot of money, plus it takes the maintenance burden off of your teams. To find out which option is best for your business, there are a lot of considerations - things like data residency and customizations made to your current environment.

Praecipio Consulting has a team of experts that would be happy to work with you virtually to understand the complexities of your situation and provide a solution fit for you. For more depth on the subject, try this webinar on planning your Jira Server to Cloud migration, which focuses on migrating to the Atlassian Cloud and walks you through the steps in preparing for any type of migration. This case study on a project we completed with one of our clients in the healthcare industry is also helpful for understanding how to achieve a successful migration. 

Contracting out administrative functions

Businesses are restructuring teams to best serve their companies. This can take the form of job alignment since people are the most expensive and valuable resource. The Atlassian tools are often administered by folks as a secondary job, and in our experience, this role is one that bounces around from person to person in times of reorganization. When companies go through a transition, people tend to make unintentional bad decisions that negatively impact the instance in the long run due to undertrained and overstretched administrators.

If that sounds familiar, now is the time to offload the day-to-day problems of administration to our Managed Service team who can proactively support your organization's administrative needs and on an ad-hoc basis when necessary. This allows your administrators to focus on their key functions, and it gives you greater peace of mind knowing that the work inside your Atlassian environment is performed correctly and fulfilling your requirements. To better understand how Managed Services can support your organization, check out this case study on how we helped a leading rail technology company achieve stability and more functionality through Managed Services.

Optimizing for virtual work

Given that many Atlassian administrators are implementing requests and fixes rather than providing a solution for the problem, many processes built in the tool are not optimized for virtual work. Processes are often built into the tool that assume employees will be in the same setting, which may not translate well for remote work settings. This is the downfall of a powerful tool that has infinite configuration possibilities.

Praecipio Consulting can help your teams understand the principles of leading frameworks like SAFe, DevOps, and ITL, and we develop solutions that align with any type of work environment. Having these frameworks in place and powerful tools to support them sets you up for success and gives you the capacity to easily scale your infrastructure as your business evolves.  For a better understanding of how we maximized the Atlassian tools for a worldwide electronic payment processor using ITSM best practices, check out this case study.  

Virtual training on the Atlassian tools

As employees have shifted to working from home, businesses are seeing that employees may not possess the level of understanding with Jira that they thought. Without the in-person help that comes from an office setting, businesses are in search of ways to train their employees from their homes. At Praecipio Consulting, we are equipped to offer several Atlassian-designed and custom training courses around the Atlassian applications. We have provided virtual training long before the current state of affairs and can easily bring your employees up to speed with essential knowledge and hands-on practice. 

We are in this together!

Although these times are unprecedented, we have operated and navigated within the virtual landscape for many years and would be happy to discuss your organization's challenges. Together, we can keep you on the path for greater success in the future by taking the right steps today. We look forward to learning how we can serve your organization, but until then, stay safe and stay healthy. 

Topics: blog managed-services training culture digital-transformation covid-19 work-from-home remote-work
5 min read

Best Practices for Working from Home: Tips from a 100% Remote Company

By Amanda Babb on Apr 8, 2020 9:14:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Workfromhome

Given the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and the need for people to practice social distancing, people around the world have found themselves working, teaching and learning from home. Working remotely has its benefits, but adjusting to this environment has its challenges. 

When I started with Praecipio Consulting in 2013, I was the second remote employee for the company. Seven years later, we've grown significantly and while many of my colleagues are in Austin, a significant number of people work remotely from cities like Houston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Vermont, and San Jose, to name a few. Even as a remote-work-friendly company, we are are still able to support all of our clients, even our largest ones with 24/7 operations and people distributed across the globe. 

In October of 2019, Praecipio Consulting went 100% remote, which was in large part due to our efforts to become carbon neutral by the end of 2020. Previous to this, we had Work from Home Thursdays, where we set a few clear expectations: 

  • Be online and available from 9 am to 5 pm Central
  • Your calendar must be up-to-date
  • Camera must be on for all internal meetings
  • Be mindful of meeting start/end times
  • Use Slack or Zoom for 1:1 or impromptu meetings

The habits we built during that time positioned us to become entirely remote and prepared us for the world's current events.  Below is an excerpt from our internal Confluence instance, where we manage all policy documentation and communication. 

Best Practices for Working from Home

When working in an office, the routine of waking up, getting ready, commuting, etc., can start your day on the right foot. Even though we had Work from Home Thursdays, it became a lot more difficult to work from home every day. There are distractions: other people, pets, chores, solicitors. Here are some best practices that will help you transition from office culture to working remotely: 

1. Establish a routine and stick with it

You've likely established a routine when going to the office or even to visit a client site every day. Now that you're working from home, it's easy to slip into bad habits. We joke about wearing a robe to work or forgetting to put on pants. However, this is a real thing. Working from home is a 10,000-hour skill; it takes some time to master.

  • Maintain your morning routine
    • Having a "commute" is helpful and gets your body moving. For some folks, it's taking kids to school or walking a pet. For others it might be going to the gym or for a run.
    • Hygiene is important. If you typically bathe before work in the morning, continue to do so. Answering that email first thing in the morning while you are still in your pajamas can quickly lead to a day's worth of work without you realizing it.
  • Wear "normal" clothes
    • If you wouldn't wear it in the office, don't wear it when you're "at work".
  • Set your end-of-day time and turn notifications off
  • Set a lunchtime
    • Inform others by blocking it on your calendar.
    • Keep diverse snack/lunch options in your fridge and pantry.
    • If you don't cook (or don't know how), reach out to others for ideas.

2. Create a designated space to call "your office" 

This space should be all yours. Communicating the use of the space to anyone living with you is critical as well. If you're in "your office", other people should respect that space. At the same time, be respectful about working in your space too. Make sure you can keep background noise down so that you can focus when you're working. Either way, communicate clearly what your workspace is and stick to it. 

  • Designate an entire room, if possible, or area of your house as your workspace. 
  • Invest in a quality desk and office chair.
  • Make sure that space is de-cluttered.
  • Focus on ergonomics, not style.
  • Try not to eat breakfast/lunch in your assigned work area.

3. Minimize distractions, stay focused on work and breaks

Distractions don't disappear when you're working from home instead of the office. Resist the urge to do things you wouldn't do at the office like watch TV, interact with social media, visit with your roommate or neighbors, or work from bed. It's important to practice self-discipline to stay focused on the task at hand and know when to take a break. Carve out parts of your day between tasks or meetings to stretch and to tend to things around the house like your pet, laundry, tidying up, or cooking.

  • Minimize distractions like TV, social media, and those in your remote work environment.
  • Schedule time for everyday tasks.
  • Set a reminder to stretch regularly.

4. Set up a physical barrier between you and "your office"

It's important to have a physical barrier between your work space and your home space. At the beginning of the day, you should be ready to start, and at the end of the day, you will need to be "done." A physical barrier will help separate work and home life. 

  • Have a separate room or privacy screen.
  • Close your laptop.
  • Close the door.

5. Switch it up every once in a while 

Once you've established your routine, make some small changes. Working remotely can be extremely isolating, and there are some weeks when you'll realize you haven't left your home all week or interacted with another human. While we are all currently practicing social distancing and only leaving our homes for the essentials, be sure you don't completely isolate yourselves. Take advantage of the technology available to virtually interact with colleagues and friends. 

  • Schedule a "virtual" lunch date or happy hour with a colleague or friend.
  • Make time for exercise at home and block it off in your calendar. 
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood or complex with your dog or just yourself.
  • Listen to a podcast during the time you set aside to tidy up or tend to your home. 

For those working from home for the first time, we hope this will be helpful in the coming weeks. And for company leaders, we encourage you to use this time to explore the opportunities of technology and the benefits of working remotely. 

Other helpful resources

Topics: blog tips culture covid-19 work-from-home remote-work
6 min read

Distance Learning With Atlassian: Remote Training Your People

By Amanda Babb on Apr 2, 2020 5:01:46 PM

2020 Blogposts_DistanceLearningAndAtlassian

When I was growing up, my parents taught me all kinds of useful skills. By age 12, I helped my dad build my lofted bed. Routers, saws, drills, clamps, hammers: you name it; we used it. At age 19, I rebuilt a 1968 El Camino from the ground up. Everything from tearing down an engine to rebuilding suspension to (somewhat terrible) electrical. Even today, if you've read some of my other blogs, I've installed floors, rebuilt our fence, and completed other small home improvement projects throughout our home. Since a young age, I have constantly been learning new skills and putting them into practice.

At Praecipio Consulting, we help organizations streamline their processes and drive business with the most powerful digital transformation tools, yet their end-users struggle day-to-day with how to use them the right way. After all, you can give the worst carpenter the best hammer, but it doesn't mean they can build a chair.

Employee Learning as a Business Pillar

We've worked with clients of all sizes to implement the Atlassian tools as part of their digital business transformation. Our clients are always pleased with the results (lifetime Net Promoter Score of 70), and the subject matter experts we work with daily walk away with a deep understanding of the processes that the Atlassian tools facilitate. We always recommend expanding that knowledge beyond our champions to end-users and managers alike via training and training programs. While there are a lot of statistics regarding Return on Investment (ROI) for training, instead, we should focus on the learning and development of our employees as a pillar of our business. 

According to this article in Training Magazine, measuring ROI is not enough. Instead, we need to look at five key areas when evaluating the effectiveness of your learning approach: 

  • Individual performance
  • Time to effectiveness/productivity
  • Employee engagement
  • Ability to respond to market conditions
  • Voluntary turnover

The authors go on to say that learning is not a static exercise. Employees should continuously learn throughout the digital transformation process. The article also mentions that learning and development should be strategically aligned with the business, yet only 40% of organizations surveyed stated that their learning strategy is well-defined. We see this with our clients as well: they take time to implement the Atlassian tools to facilitate industry best practices, however, they can't afford to take the time to teach their people how to properly use them. Implementing and using these tools are tied to overall business objectives, and there should be a clear learning strategy for educating your people about them. 

Learning outcomes and measuring success

As we move to remote work, we must first look at where we were. In-person courses were generally considered the most effective. Why? Because of the interaction with the instructor and the accountability of being in a room with your peers. I have served as an Atlassian instructor since 2015, so I have seen a breadth of engagement in my classrooms. Generally, I received high marks for the content and depth-of-subject knowledge. How do I know? Because we ask. At the end of each course delivery (whether it's at a conference, such as Summit, or a private course for an organization), we provide surveys as well as retrospectives to our clients. The surveys are for attendees to provide feedback, and the retrospective reviews the entire process of obtaining the training, from scheduling to logistics and delivery.  

If the organization releases an on-demand training, what is considered a success? First, the organization should ask what the intended outcome is. Learning outcomes depend on the "why" we've provided this training. For example:

  • Is it compliance/security regulated?
  • Is it mechanical (I can do) or do we explain why?
  • Is it tied to a strategic outcome? 
  • Is it tied to organizational change?

Each of these learning outcomes are measured differently. One client organization required every employee and contractor to complete annual compliance training. They revoked access to their systems if not completed within the expected timeframe. Success was measured at 100% completion within 30 days of your start date and every year thereafter by the end of January. This is a binary measurement, however. Did you complete it? Yes or no. 

When looking at other learning outcomes, success becomes less black-and-white. Many organizations are tying agile and agile-at-scale training to strategic outcomes and organizational change. The strategic outcome could be the number of departments or programs that have moved to agile. This is measured by the number and type of certifications held by employees. This is still binary: are you certified? Yes or no. Again, this metric does nothing to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the training or certification as it relates to the organization and general business strategy. 

The Kirkpatrick Model provides both the foundation as well as the "new world" evaluation for the effectiveness of training. While this methodology has been around since the 1950s, it is still relevant today. As with any model or framework, it's the application of these items that become an indicator of success. 

Organic versus formal learning

At Praecipio Consulting, we encourage our consultants to seek additional learning. Certifications are an option, but we also encourage Udemy courses, continuing education courses at colleges and universities, and networking or professional groups. We organize a monthly Skills Exchange for all members of the company, and we have weekly meetings to discuss what we learned the week before. But outside of these formal discussions and learning exchanges is the day-to-day interactions of our people that result in organic learning.

For internal communication, we use Slack. We have dedicated channels based on topics as well as client delivery efforts. No topic is off the table: everything from troubleshooting a problem to a specific function in the tools. If someone needs more dedicated help, we hop on a call to solve the problem. No one of us is as good as all of us together.

What is even more amazing (and I fully credit our people for this) is how much we learn from each other. Because we can teach one another, this reinforces what each of us has learned in the products. Moreover, when we consult and advise our clients, they learn best practices as well as tips and tricks to impart on their peers. Learning does not have to be formal: simply talking through a topic with a peer can teach both people. Providing a solid foundation, however, is where training courses can benefit everyone.

Distance learning and student engagement

While many of us may be working from home for the first time, many a company is scrambling for alternate ways to engage in training. Learning management systems are a great way to provide training content, but as stated before, are these systems delivering the right outcome based on the "why"? Are students actually engaging with the content or are they just checking off a box after completion?

If you can't bring an instructor to your people, bring the people to your instructor. Virtual Training is a great way to provide knowledge and guidance to your people. Praecipio Consulting instructors are live and on camera. They walk through the content and manage questions and discussions through virtual platforms. Hands-on exercises and guided demos provide students with a greater depth of understanding of the Atlassian tools and ecosystem. Other benefits include: 

  • Cloud and Data Center/Server options
  • Audience-specific courses
  • Options to license a recorded session for internal distribution
  • Custom training program development and delivery

Engaged employees equal business success

Overall, your organization must embrace employee training. While the Atlassian tools can facilitate your digital business transformation, your employees need guidance when it comes to working within them. Make the time to provide access to quality instruction and training content on the Atlassian products. And it doesn't have to be delivered in-person to be considered quality; virtual delivery is just as effective, and now is a great time to explore remote training opportunities. Reach out to us to discuss training options for virtual delivery. 

REACH OUT

 

Topics: atlassian blog training work-from-home atlassian-certification-program work-life-balance remote-work
2 min read

A Message from our CEO

By Christian Lane on Mar 18, 2020 11:45:00 AM

Hi Friend,

I hope this finds you and yours well and in good spirits. The pace of change may feel overwhelming as the world responds to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. We appreciate your time in reading this message and your continued faith in our ability to deliver services to you through the pandemic. Praecipio Consulting has taken measures to ensure the safety of our staff and our customers. This is mainly by restricting travel and in-person meetings. Praecipio Consulting has always operated in a decentralized and adaptive manner that is central to our business continuity plan.

As of Monday March 16th, Praecipio Consulting returned to being a 100% remote company with both Austin and Monterrey offices closed. Our distributed teams across North America are taking extra steps to ensure that all capabilities are resilient in the event that anyone falls ill. We are leveraging video conferencing, the Atlassian suite of tools, and a host of SaaS products to ensure that our team is able to collaborate effectively. In addition, we have reviewed our vendors' business continuity plans and continue to monitor them for updates. We want to assure you that we are committed to delivering high quality work through these uncertain times and beyond.

We do not anticipate any disruption in services, but we do ask for your understanding in our inability to accommodate in-person meetings at this time. In an effort to reduce illness within our team and to help flatten the curve, we are isolating and practicing social distancing following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). When it is deemed appropriate, we will resume our in-person capabilities. In the meantime, we plan to have cameras on during our meetings, and give you the personal experience that we have found is critical to successful projects, hosting, and managed services.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns. Please let us know if there is anything we can assist with; we've built a business on enabling teams to collaborate. And most important, please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, your colleagues, and your communities. We'll get through this, together.

Best,

Christian Lane, Partner and CEO
Praecipio Consulting


And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

-- Kitty O'Meara

Topics: blog culture covid-19 life-sciences remote-work
3 min read

Green Team: Praecipio Consulting's Global Climate Crisis Response Plan

By Christian Lane on Oct 25, 2019 10:01:43 AM

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Next April will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but we just couldn't wait six more months to share our company’s exciting news—starting November 1, 2019, Praecipio Consulting's Work from Home policy is changing. Beginning October 14, "Work From Work" is optional with the exception of two important days of the month. In addition, our workspace is transforming into a much smaller, more intentional workspace emphasizing climate responsibility and a more fulfilling and sustainable workstyle. The company will facilitate, enable and encourage more meaningful interactions; going for quality over quantity of face time; reducing the cost to the environment and cost of our team members' time and money. These are major changes due to our choice to operate in a way that supports our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan - all in an effort to reduce our company’s overall carbon footprint. Our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan was shared internally at Praecipio Consulting at the end of October and will be shared more widely shortly thereafter.

Benefits of Teleworking

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 50 percent of the American workforce currently holds telecommute-compatible jobs. If those people worked from home half the time, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million metric tons annually, the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road. It would also reduce annual oil consumption by 640 million barrels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. uses approximately 19 million barrels of oil every day. If people worked from home part-time, 1.75 million of those barrels--almost 10 percent--could be eliminated. In addition to reducing oil consumption, other benefits teleworking can gift to the environment are the reduction of air pollution and water pollution (from chemicals spilled into our waterways, rivers, and other water sources).

Our Global Climate Response Plan

As a business and as citizens, we recommitted to our responsibility to not just hear these facts, but to quickly pivot into action and lean-in as much as possible in consensus with the scientific community. While the positive impacts our exclusive teleworking policy will have on the environment are a step in the right direction, and a major part of our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan, we will do more to fulfill our responsibility to our community through exemplary leadership. These facts are all that all of us need to know to “do good.”

Praecipio Consulting has been a member of the Pledge 1% initiative since 2015, and we take our philanthropic commitments seriously. We will continue to make contributions and donations with a tighter focus towards reforestation and restoration of grasslands to sequester more co2 going forward.

Earth Day and the millions of conversations that are on-going about environmental challenges we face, serve as constant reminders of the things we are currently doing and how much more we can do to benefit the future generations that will inhabit the Earth. As members of communities, businesses are in a unique position to help their individual employees make larger, more significant positive impacts.

Commitment to Make an Impact

Teleworking, a smaller office, reduction of corporate travel, encouraging and incentivizing personal impacts, and continued contributions in spirit of Pledge 1% are all commitments Praecipio Consulting is making as part of our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan. It's our sincerest desire and passion to lead the way and reduce our company’s (and our employees’) carbon footprint to zero. Join us. At this very moment, what steps will you take to ensure Earth can sustain humanity?

Topics: blog digital-transformation corporate-responsibility global-climate-crisis green-team social-responsibility remote-work
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 teams collaboration remote-work

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

This means that we have the most experience working with Atlassian tools and have insight into new products, features, and beta testing. Through our profound knowledge of Atlassian environments and their intricacies, we can guide your organization as you navigate these important changes.

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