3 min read

Tips For Setting Up Effective Kanban Boards In Jira | Praecipio Consulting

By Michael Lyons on Sep 8, 2021 3:01:34 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-September-2021_Tips For Setting Up Effective Kanban Boards In JiraJira's Kanban boards are great tools for tracking the progress of work being done by teams and for gaining insights into opportunities. Boards are highly customizable and can accommodate numerous types of processes. This flexibility is very helpful for teams that need to track a continuous flow of work in high volumes. If you are new to using Jira's Kanban board or are looking to get maximum results out of using the boards, we have a few tips that can help.

 These tips are meant to help make your Kanban board be as insightful as possible.

Reflect the Work Being Done

Boards are most effective when they are set up in a way that is easy to use, and match a team's work processes. You can add any number of columns to your board depending on how your team works. Statuses from your workflows can be mapped to the columns in any way. The option to customize is very helpful for teams, but it is important to align columns and statuses in a way that the user can efficiently move the work through the board. Designing a board that is inefficient can make the board frustrating to use. 

An effective way to map statuses for a Kanban board is to ensure that each status is mapped to a column, especially those statuses that are along the critical path. This helps the user navigate within the board seamlessly to provide updates on their work and track progress. This also prevents the user from having to take the extra steps to update issue statuses. Mapping each column to a status is by no means a requirement, but it helps to make these statuses available in the board so the user can quickly drag and drop the issue into a new column as work is being completed. 

Filter, Filter, Filter!

Work can add up when your team is very busy! All of this work can show up on the board and make it difficult to use if filters are not used appropriately. Luckily Jira provides a few options for filtering out issues. We recommend leveraging sub-filters and quick filters to help clear up yourboard. Sub-filters can be added to boards to help filter out issues that are older than a specific time frame or that have been moved to a certain status. We like to use sub-filters that filter out any issues that have been resolved or closed for more than two weeks, for example. Quick filters can be built to help filter down to issues that have certain field values or components. End users can interact directly with these filters and can toggle between them depending on the information they would like to see.

Leverage the Backlog

When issues are being created, it's important to discern which items are ready for work and which items are still being vetted by the project team. Boards that do not make priorities clear can cause confusion. For example, if a column has both an "Open" and "To-Do" status mapped, all work items within those statuses will appear in the column. Having so many of these items in a column can make it challenging to quickly determine the items that the team should work on.

Implementing a Kanban board with a backlog can help declutter the board and help users better identify work in the "To-Do" status. This is a feature that can be enabled within the board. All work items in an "Open" status form the backlog and do not appear on the board, while work in the "To-Do" status will appear in the first column. Your team will now know the items that take priority and are ready to be completed. 

Implement WIP Limits

Jira allows teams to set limits on the amount of issues that can be placed in columns. These limits should be based on what the team's work-in-process limits (WIP) are for processes. If the number of items in a column exceeds the maximum, the column will be highlighted. This gives teams insight into where they need to focus their efforts and shows them where opportunities are within the process. 

We are process obsessed: our custom-made workflows are designed by our teams of accredited and experienced professionals. If you have any questions about Jira or Kanban boards, please reach out to us! We would love to help.

Topics: jira blog kanban process process-consulting tips
4 min read

How to Report in Confluence with the Jira Issues Macro | Praecipio Consulting

By Morgan Folsom on Aug 31, 2021 12:57:07 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August copy_How to Report in Confluence with the Jira Issues Macro

One of the most powerful integrations in the Atlassian ecosystem is the native link between Jira and Confluence. For users working with 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 leverage this outstanding integration.

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 search, written in Jira Query Language (JQL) or calling an existing Jira filter.  A Jira filter is a saved search written in JQL.

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 by clicking the highlighted issue count. The table below is an example of how our marketing team tracks employee blog post submissions.

Blog post submissions

To insert an issue count:

  1. Insert the Jira Macro
    1. Select the Jira create new 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, we'll use "project = PCM"
    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

The macro can also link 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. 

Jira ticket in Confluence

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

Jira issue link

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.

Jira issue macro 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 are editing a Confluence page. The issue will be created and you won't even have to leave the page!

Jira issue filter

To create a new issue:

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

No edit permission, no worries - you can also create issues from Confluence while viewing a page - simply highlight some text and then click on the Jira icon that appears. Create issues from Confluence

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 displaying straight data. The Jira Macro is a great way to keep team members informed without navigating from Confluence to Jira and back again. 

If you have any questions on how Jira and Confluence work together, or any other questions on the Atlassian tech stack, contact us, and one of our experts will get in touch with you.

Topics: jira atlassian blog confluence tips integration macros reporting
3 min read

How to Get Started with Better Confluence Templates | Praecipio Consulting

By Martin Spears on Aug 24, 2021 5:45:00 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August copy_How to Build Better Templates

Atlassian's Confluence is a powerful collaborative tool for teams to track information and content that may not make sense on a Jira ticket. One of the most powerful pieces of functionality in Confluence is the ability to use templates. While there are many templates provided out of the box, you also have the ability to create your own templates either globally or at the space level. Today we'll focus on creating a space template, and show you a few tips to get you started.Let's walk through some basics so you can hit the ground running on a space template.

Creating a Space Template

Before we talk about best practices, here's a quick overview on creating a space template.

The required permissions for creating a space template are Space administrator or Confluence administrator

An easy way to get to your space templates is to select the plus sign on the left navigation while viewing the space where you'd like to create the template.

Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_published

Then simply select "Add or customize templates for the selected space" and it will bring you to the space administration page to work on your template.Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_placeholder

Getting Started

Confluence is a great collaborative tool for sharing information, and templates should be used to make sharing that information easier.  When creating your templates a good best practice is to start with the end in mind.  When a page is created from the template, the page should be easy to read and the most important information should stand out. 

Now that you've got a blank template in front of you, think about how you want it to be used:

  • What is most important about this page?  
  • What info do we need to share/display?  
  • Who is the intended audience?  
  • Where would you expect to find the info you are looking for?

Once you've considered the above, we recommend starting with the layout. The template can be very easily organized using the page layout to space out information differently. Creating sections in the layout to divide up the information can be helpful when starting. You might end up combining some of the sections in the future, but this will give you some buckets to start sorting information into. On a similar note, we also have the Panel macro at our disposal. The panel macro provides a visible container for the information, and allows you to use color coded boxes and icons to call out specific information on the page.

Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_page_titleOnce you've sorted the information into sections, you can start guiding the user on how to fill out the template. We like to do this by using placeholder text. Placeholder text is only visible while editing the page created from the template, and can be used to provide tips to users (how to insert a macro, for example), or act as more detailed guidance on the purpose of the page.

Placeholder text can be added by selecting the sign in the template editor, and selecting Placeholder text. Once inserted, it will appear as grey text, as we see on the right side of the page. 

Blogpost-How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates_space_adminBelow you can see what that same page looks like when published - the placeholder text doesn't appear at all. 

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August copy_How_to_Get_Started_with_Better_Confluence_Templates

Now what do I do?

The hardest part is over - you don't have a blank page anymore! Now you can explore things like macros, tables and labels to spice up the template even more. If your team is working with Jira data, don't forget you can use a Jira Issues macro to display it in Confluence. If you need to think bigger, check out our blog Five Ways to Make a Collaborative Team Space in Confluence.

And if you still have any questions on anything Confluence or Jira, or want to find out how to make your company the best version of itself, contact us, and one of our experts will get in touch!

Topics: jira blog best-practices confluence tips integration templates
4 min read

What Exactly is Agile Methodology?

By Courtney Pool on Aug 17, 2021 12:22:47 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August_ What is Agile Methodology-

Any person who's worked in or around software for any length of time has likely heard of Agile. Since the release of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, Agile has quickly spread through the industry, and even companies who aren't fully Agile sometimes claim to be, if only to check the box. Still, despite this popularity, we regularly receive confessions from people who admit that they don't fully "get" what Agile is, often from teams outside of software developers who want to know if Agile can help them too.

The Elevator Pitch

"Getting" Agile is a multi-step process, but knowing the elevator pitch is a great place to start. Agile is an iterative approach to software development and project management, with iterative being the keyword. Its primary focus is on delivering value incrementally, with those increments being faster, more frequent, and with fewer strings attached than some traditional approaches. Agile also acknowledges, accepts, and even encourages that risk and change are likely to pop up and need mole-whacking along the way, allowing for real-time course-correcting as needed.

This short description can help people navigate through many of the superficial conversations around Agile. If you want to impress though, knowing the details is the next step.

The Details

To really understand what Agile is, it helps to first understand why Agile is. Agile's origin is in software development, and its inception was a direct response to the rigidity of existing development methods like Waterfall. Despite this, its existence is not at all meant to be a critique of Waterfall, which is a valid methodology that still has uses in several scenarios; rather it's an answer to the "But what if...?" questions that plague so many projects, such as: 

  • What if I discover more requirements after development has started?
  • What if we don't catch a big problem because we waited too long to test?
  • What if we need to ship to market faster or more frequently?

Answering these questions is difficult in a Waterfall environment, and failure to answer them can be costly. This can be especially true in software, where conditions and criteria frequently change, and rapidity and innovation are critical factors in winning over users. Enter Agile, whose principles allow teams the flexibility needed to answer these questions as they arise while still meeting product and stakeholder needs.

While some interpret this flexibility as Agile having no rules, this could not be further from the truth! The Agile Manifesto itself includes both key pillars and guiding principles, which every organization purporting to be Agile should follow. Amongst the guiding principles are those that are arguably more nebulous, like "Working software is the primary measure of progress." Still, many are undeniably rules and not suggestions, such as the principle requiring the increments mentioned above: "Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. "

Beyond that, there are also rules associated with each particular Agile framework to adhere to as well.

You see, while "Agile" is the overarching methodology (or philosophy, some argue, an ongoing debate), the actual "doing" is often guided by the numerous frameworks within Agile, with more popular frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, eXtreme Programming, and the Crystal Method leading the charge. Of course, that's not to say that one can't simply follow the principles of Agile without needing a specific framework -- you absolutely can! -- but development teams may find it easier to work within a framework. Aiding this ease is that each framework has taken the Agile principles and hammered them into specific actions, ceremonies, and practices for teams to follow, reducing the need for teams to develop their own.

Knowing the pitch and the details is essential to understanding Agile, but "getting" Agile requires that you take it one step further and apply it outside the business.

The Real World Example

As mentioned, Agile is an iterative process that seeks to frequently deliver value while still allowing for the winds of change. One of the reasons Agile can work so well is, if you think about it in the simplest of terms, because most people do Agile every day.

No, seriously!

I recently moved and learned again how ever-present Agile is. I prepared for the move with a soft plan and a general goal in mind: get everything packed and ready by X date. I even took an incremental approach to it, regularly moving smaller and more manageable items over to the new house in the weeks leading up to the move. As is frequently the case, though, life had different plans, and I found myself scrambling to finish hours before the movers' arrival (see: winds of change). I could have chosen to stubbornly stick to my original plan, risking either an incomplete project or a financial blow from having to delay, but I instead chose the Agile approach. I reprioritized and adjusted my goal, focusing on readying the most vital components and shifting lower priority items to my next increment. 

And just like that, you're Agile!

So now you can quickly explain Agile to someone any time it comes up, dazzle them with a few specific details, and even deliver an analogy or two to help set it in. The final step? Contact us to find out how Praecipio Consulting can help you make it work for your teams.

Topics: kanban process tips agile software-development waterfall
3 min read

Trello 101: An Introduction

By Luis Machado on Jul 23, 2021 12:21:13 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_Trello 101 - An introduction

Welcome to Trello 101! In this post, we'll be talking about the basic functionality Trello has to offer that can get you up and running quickly and start managing work for you and your team. We will explore the basic features of Trello and define some of the terminology used. To help illustrate some of these points I've created a template board you can copy over to get started and use to follow along with.

What is Trello?

Trello is an online application used for managing work. It allows for quick and easy team collaboration and empowers you with various methods of customization to tailor your workflow to meet any requirements. Think of it as a glorified digital white board with sticky notes you can use to record and track progress of different tasks! Either with a team or by yourself, Trello offers a way to turn your task list into a visual representation that you can interact with. The level of use ranges from simple beginners to complex power users, with automation and integrations built in. So without further ado, let's take a look at what makes up a board.

Boards

The first thing we need to do is establish what a board is. The board is essentially the personalized site that all of your information lives on: it's where all the organization happens, where you'll setup your workflow, create task items, invite team members for collaboration etc. Boards can be project or team specific, you can create a board for anything, you could even run a D&D campaign off of it. The sky's the limit.

Within the board on the right-hand of the screen lives your board menu. This is where you can manage your team members on the board in terms of their permissions, filter you view through the card search, utilize power-ups or setup any automations.

Trello 101 - An introduction-boards

Lists

Lists are essentially going to represent your workflow. In the example template, the vertical columns are your lists and represent the various stages that your work progresses through. This is the most typical use, but lists can also be used for establishing context on the board. The 'General Information' list houses the instructions for how the board can be used.

Trello 101 - An introduction-lists

Cards

Within the lists we have cards. Cards are the items of work that are to be performed or tracked through the workflow. Whenever you have a new task to track, you can create a card for it with a header and a description, and drag and drop it through the various lists as work progresses. In the template board I've created a few example cards to show the various functionality.

Trello 101 - An introduction-cards

Labels

Labels are a way to group tasks together. In the example of a software development project, you could have labels to represent the different elements like UI/UX, Localization, Codebase etc. In a team management setting you can have different labels for the different groups, you could also use labels to identify priority. They're customizable enough to serve whatever purpose you have for them. In the example board we are using them to identify priority of tasks. You can apply a label to a card by selecting the card and clicking on the 'labels' option in the right side menu.

Trello 101 - An introduction-labels

Adding Team members

Once your board is complete and you're ready to start working, you can invite team members to join your board by clicking on the 'invite' button in the top-middle of the board and adding their email address, or by creating an invite link to allow anyone with the link to join.

Trello 101 - An introduction-members

And that's it! You're ready to rock and roll. I encourage you to use the basic template to get started with to get a feel for how the site works. Once you're comfortable enough with it you can start to branch out into using power ups and automations. 

If you have any question on Trello, or any other Atlassian product, reach out and one of our experts will gladly help!

Topics: blog best-practices tips trello atlassian-products
2 min read

Agile 101: What is a Spike?

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 20, 2021 11:59:24 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_What is a spike-

A Spike, in Agile software development, is a work item to support future work by the team that can't be performed without more research, design, or prototyping. Creating a spike allows you to dedicate time in a sprint to finding out more information in a defined time-box.

The benefit of using a Spike is that if the work turns out to be either more or less effort than you expected, it won't throw off the team's ability to get all of their committed work completed. No one wants to find out mid-sprint that a story is much more work than you thought because you didn't really know what it required yet. When running Scrum and trying to manage velocity, sometimes you need to build in room for uncertainty. It may be that there's a piece of work that needs to be completed, but we're not really sure how much work that's going to take. In these cases, using Spikes can be a huge help. 

How do I use Spikes?

  1. Create a ticket to represent a spike in your backlog
  2. Include the Spike in your sprint – Estimate the spike to determine how much effort should be dedicated to completing the spike
  3. Complete the necessary exploration or design during the Sprint to determine the estimate for the original story
  4. Close out the spike and update the original story with the new estimate

Using spikes in your sprints can make your teams more reliable – you've got a better idea of what's going on, with less pressure to know everything up-front.

Looking for more Agile 101? Check out Project Estimation - Story Points vs. Hours Estimation or Why Jira Won't Make You Agile.

And if you have any questions on Agile, contact us, one of our experts would love to talk with you and see if it's a good fit for your organization.

Topics: blog scrum tips agile
2 min read

Are Retrospectives Useful for Non-Scrum Teams?

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jul 15, 2021 11:34:08 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_Are retrospectives useful for non-Scrum teams-

If you work in tech, you've most likely heard of the term "Agile". Agile is a framework typically used by software and project management teams to deliver better quality work to customers in a more timely manner. Depending on the way organizations approach their journey to becoming Agile, there are various methods they can use to get there. One of the most popular Agile frameworks is Scrum, which proposes teams lean on time-boxed iterations, called Sprints, to complete their work. At the end of each Sprint, Retrospectives are to be completed. Retrospectives are meetings where Scrum teams discuss how to improve the way they work; they are typically held every 1 or 2 Sprints. They give the team a chance to come together and discuss what they liked, what they disliked, or what they felt could've gone better during the Sprint.  Many teams neglect to complete this step, even though it is one of the most important items teams can leverage if they're aiming to truly be Agile. Thinking about Retrospectives and their benefits made me realize how useful they can be for all teams, not just Scrum teams. 

Retrospectives and Non-Scrum Teams

Retrospectives are great for non-scrum teams in that they push teams to look back and reflect on the work they've completed. This reflection is key for future work, as teams can avoid past mistakes or time-eating efforts that negatively affected the efficiency of their last project. They can do the same for the items that lead to success in their previous projects so the team can consistently deliver their best work efficiently.

Additionally, retrospectives are great for promoting team unity and trust across the team members. When team members can openly share their honest opinions about how the team is doing, team communication improves, leading to better quality work and better relationships between team members. Any team can benefit from this, no matter how the team goes about completing their work.

Consistent reflection and analysis of completed work are excellent tools, even if the team isn't using Sprints and your work isn't necessarily time-boxed. At Praecipio Consulting, we hold retrospectives after the completion of every engagement. Looking back on the wins and losses, I can't help but feel a sense of pride amongst my team members on the work we delivered. Setting aside this time for the team to come together and communicate with one another allows our delivery teams to grow and bond with one another. Not to mention, the work we produce increases in quality and the processes behind that work become more efficient. 

If you are curious about Agile, and would like to see if it's a good fit for your organization's needs, contact us and one of our experts will get in touch.

Topics: blog scrum tips agile
3 min read

Tips for Being a Successful UAT Tester

By Luis Machado on Jul 9, 2021 12:48:44 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-July_Tips for being a successful UAT tester

User acceptance testing (UAT) is a critical practice to employ for a multitude of products and processes.  For the purpose of this article most of my examples will be within the context of migrating or merging instances for Atlasssian products. Nonetheless, these tips can be used for other avenues: I actually picked up these habits working as a QA tester for a video game publisher.

Context is king

When testing a product or a process, such as a migration or a merger of two instances, if you come across any issues, the most important thing you can do is provide as much context as possible so the developer or admin whose responsibility it is to correct the issue can have as best of an understanding as possible of how the issue came about. The best way to achieve this is by telling them what you did (repro steps), telling them what you expected to happen (expected result), and then telling them what actually happened (actual result).  By providing the steps you took and giving the context of what you expected from those steps, followed by what actually happened, it paints a better picture for the team in charge of dealing with it.

Screenshot or it didn’t happen

Speaking of pictures, we used to have a saying on the QA team I worked with: “Screenshot or it didn’t happen.” If you can provide a screenshot of your issue, you increase the chance that the person responsible for resolving the issue will be able to address it without any back and fourth.  Screenshots of any errors you see on pages, or incorrect configurations or data, help identify the exact issue, with no room for interpretation.  If you’re doing user acceptance testing, a screenshot of the UAT instance where the issue lives and what it looks like in production is even better. Again we’re trying to establish context for what your expectation was and what you actually saw.

Often during migrations or mergers, the individuals who are performing the work do not have the context of what the content is and what it should look like.  This is why user acceptance testing is such a valuable tool: It gives the users a chance to scope out the changes and see if anything looks wrong.  So it is the tester’s job to provide as much information as possible to resolve any issues. Here’s an example of an issue related to a migration:

  • Summary - Write a brief summary of the issue you’ve run into, it can be a simple statement, 2-3 sentences at most. (This can be optional depending on the medium for reporting the issue, if you’re using a Jira project to track bugs this would be important. If you’re tracking things in a table, the description would probably be sufficient)
  • Description - Provide a detailed description of what you observed. Include specifics like a link to the exact page or any particular tools used. This is a situation where less is less, more is more.
  • Reproduction Steps - Give a detailed step by step walkthrough of how you achieved the result.
  • Expected Result - At the end of the reproduction steps explain what you expected to see.
  • Actual Result - Also describe what you actually saw; be sure to indicate how this is different from the result you expected.
  • Expected and Actual results can sometimes be obvious or at least seem that way, just remember that it may be obvious to you but not necessarily to someone with a different context.
  • Screenshots - Where possible, include screenshots of the errors or issue you witnessed, and provide a comparison if possible to paint that contextual picture.

The most important thing to remember when doing testing of any kind is providing context. Always assume you can’t… assume anything! Treat it like the person you’re explaining the issue to has no idea what you’re talking about.  And if you have any questions regarding UAT, or how it can make the most of your processes, drop us a line, we'd love to help you out!

Topics: atlassian migrations tips gaming user-acceptance-testing merge
2 min read

Can Scrum Masters have multiple roles on a team?

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 2, 2021 9:15:00 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_Can my Scrum Master have multiple roles on a team-A question that I'm often asked is: Why have so many different roles on a scrum team? If a developer on a scrum team has the experience to act as the Scrum Master as well, is there any harm in consolidating? Short answer: Yes!

Although having one team member covering multiple roles seems more efficient, it can cause more problems than its worth. Before putting a team member in multiple roles, it's important to consider the following challenges.

Context Switching

Statistics show that it takes an average of 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted. Jumping between tasks that require completely different mindsets and skills require a huge context shift. Having a developer who is switching between working on code and managing blockers for the team can actually reduce efficiency. It may be more effective to have a Scrum Master working as a Scrum Master for multiple teams. 

Skills & Training

The skills needed to be a successful Product Owner (PO) are different than those needed to be a Scrum Master, which are different than those that make a good developer! The Scrum Master should have a high level of emotional intelligence and act as a leader for the developers. Developers should be subject matter experts, familiar with the best practices and best ways to implement the PO's requirements.

Conflicts of Interest

The Scrum Team is designed to have certain checks and balances – each role is well defined so that they can focus on the subject matter they are there for. When you start consolidating roles, there's a high risk of conflicts of interests. This is very clear when organizations try to combine PO and Scrum Masters – after all, one of the major jobs of the Scrum Master is to protect the team from scope creep, represented by the PO. Additionally, the Scrum Master unblocks the development team if needed, and helps facilitate the scrum ceremonies – an important part of that requires allowing the team to work through issues before utilizing your authority to pull in outside stakeholders. 

It can be tempting to try and combine your Scrum roles, but we strongly recommend respecting the division of responsibility that has been established. 

If your teams are having trouble with their scrum roles, have any question or just want to chat, contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: best-practices management scrum tips project-management
3 min read

Scrum Master Basics – Part 2 of 3: The Definition of “Done”

By David Stannard on Jun 11, 2021 9:45:00 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_New to Scrum Master Role Guide–Part2TheDefinitionofDoneThis is Part 2 of a series of 3 posts on Scrum Master Basics.  Here is Part 1

I have to admit, I’m biased. As a manager and a business person, I have a vested interest in my teams success. That success is built upon them achieving a sustainable pace of delivering value to paying clients while supporting their personal growth. 

The definition of “done” is a powerful tool. In my journey as an Agile Coach and Scrum Master, I have found that focusing on the team’s definition of ‘Done’ provides tremendous return on effort. If your team jokes about ‘Done’, ‘Done done’, and ‘Done, done, done’ - there is usually a gold mine of opportunity for continuous improvement.

I believe in the strong relationship between defining done and improving a team’s overall well being – I've seen it first hand. Conversely, I see high dissatisfaction within the team, from the Product Owner and people outside the team when there isn’t a clear definition. In the knowledge business, people like to create and provide things that others use; they generally hate building the wrong thing or things that aren’t wanted or used.

Here are a couple of real world examples from teams I've worked with:

1st example from a real demoralized team:

Scrum Team: “We define ‘done’ as the feature being ready for QA to test.”

Scrum Master: This is clearly an anti-pattern to delivering a potentially releasable unit of value. We’re doing Wagile, not Scrum!

Expunge that way of thinking permanently and never say it – ever!  Seek first to understand…

A Scrum Master should always assume that people are rational and therefore behave rationally. Dig into the reason for the definition. Perhaps this was the team establishing a working agreement based upon having a lone QA person and this was seen as a solution not a problem. I bet that they’d love some help that can result from simply asking “what can we do as a team to help you with your workload?See the world from their perspective. They may be transitioning from classical waterfall workflows and the team hasn’t adjusted to the concept of a cross-functional team.

Use the principle of “take it to the team”.

How can we (the Scrum team) help you? Help ourselves?

Scrum Masters also use individual 1-on-1 coaching – How can the team and/or I help you?

2nd example from a real team:

Scrum Team: “We define ‘done’ as the feature being implemented, passing tests, and meeting the acceptance criteria – but we never release anything.”

Finding possible root causes is again key. Problem solving requires an agreed upon statement of the problem and the desired outcome from a change. In this case – it appears that it is potentially releasable, so the team may have a variety of options such as exploring:

  • What is (are) the root cause(s)? Where does the team have the capability?
  • Discussing with the Product Owner as to why value isn’t being released?
  • What if we did a dark release so that we can keep our release ‘muscles’ toned?

Please note that the 3rd bulleted item shifted to exploring possible solutions. 

Two parting questions:

  • When should these discussions occur?
  • Who should be involved?

If you're wondering if Agile is a good fit for your organization, or have any questions on Scrum methods, contact us, we would be delighted to help.

Topics: blog scrum tips project-management agile
2 min read

Scrum Master Basics – Part 1 of 3

By David Stannard on Jun 3, 2021 10:13:00 AM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_New to Scrum Master Role Guide – Part 1 (2)

Congratulations on becoming a Scrum Master (SM)!

Scrum is a tool that builds teams. It exposes the issues but not the causes and solutions. A Scrum Master helps their team grow through continuous improvement & collaboration. 

As a builder of teams, I’ve often seen smart employees and colleagues return from training and struggle with how to apply their new knowledge. Most often, failure occurs when the returning person takes an approach of telling people what to do and why the current approach is wrong.


Hence this 3 part blog series.

Some of the chief motivations for choosing Scrum are:

  • Delivering potentially releasable value at a regular cadence

  • Being responsive to change instead of steadfastly sticking to a plan

  • Eliminating waste / becoming leaner

  • Collaboration with clients instead of dry, incomplete, ambiguous contracts

In existing organizations, I’ve seen more successful outcomes and happiness when taking the “Start Small” approach. Mike Cohn in his book “Succeeding with Agile” observes “...there can be no end state in a process that calls for continuous improvement...”. 

Therefore, take incremental steps with your team – leave grandiose visions to the C-level. This increases the probability of success, which breeds confidence and momentum while reducing risk and investment. Similar to software development, your emotional stake in an incremental effort is much lower than multiple weeks of time investment; you’ll more easily throw away an approach that isn’t working. Your team learns experientially which requires trying, learning, adjusting, and growing together. Your team is a living system – so probe, observe, and adjust.

The noun “teams” is key. A Scrum Master’s success ultimately depends upon their ability to help them. You will require patience, the desire to learn about how to build teams, and a firm commitment to the values and principles of Agile. 

Assuming that you’re joining an existing team, here are a few concrete actions:

  • You’re about to change the dynamics of an existing team. So Meet the current SM and discuss the transition prior to showing up to the team’s ceremonies

  • Ideally, be invited to the ceremonies: attend – observe and assure the team that you aren’t planning any unilateral changes

  • Gain access to and review your team’s working agreement. Specifically – the definition of ‘Done’ - more in Part 2

  • Study their sprint board – more in Part 3

And remember – as Stephen Covey writes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – "Seek first to understand not to be understood"

If you're wondering if Agile is a good fit for your organization, or have any questions on Scrum methods, contact us, we would be delighted to help.

Topics: blog scrum tips project-management agile
5 min read

Data Lake Basics

By Kye Hittle on May 27, 2021 9:02:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Data Lake Basics

With Atlassian's upcoming release of Jira Data Lake for Jira Software Cloud, it's a good time to review the jargon we might stumble on in the reporting and business intelligence (BI) space. So let's jump into the (data) lake!

One word of caution: the BI industry has many players with varied opinions. Some terms get used and reused in multiple ways. One example is the emerging use of "lakehouse" - a combination of "data lake" and "data warehouse." Here we'll stick to as close to canonical as possible but expect to see terms used differently as you research.

Why does BI even matter? What are KPIs?

Your organization has systems (e.g. computer applications) which create and contain data. That data is extremely valuable for fact-based decision making in your organization. 

A CTO or CIO is able to more effectively allocate help desk head count with ready access to accurate metrics (also called Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs) like Mean Time To Acknowledge (MTTA) and Mean Time To Resolve (MTTR). (Note: MTTR is a tricky acronym. As Atlassian notes, there are at least four common incident management metrics that share this abbreviation! This stuff can be confusing...)

To provide these valuable, up-to-date KPIs to decision makers, we turn to BI. This industry is a dizzying array of technology components which take various approaches to achieving BI's primary objective: turning raw data into actionable insight. Often, we need to integrate multiple BI components to get from point A (data in the source system) to point B (reports used for decision making).

BI solutions often leverage a data lake or data warehouse to store business data.

What is a data lake?

A data lake is a central store of raw business data. The data lake is not typically used by the source systems whose data it contains.

The lake is designed to be accessed by tools like Tableau, PowerBI, and Qlik in order to analyze and produce insights from the data. We'll call these analysis and presentation applications "BI tools." To continue the lake analogy: if the BI tool is a fishing rod, then the data is the fish.

A data lake typically uses a file store technology but when it comes to Jira Data Lake, we don't really need to know much about the underlying tech because Atlassian Cloud takes care of choosing, configuring, hosting, and maintaining it for us. One less thing on our plate? Great!

All we need to do is connect our BI analysis and presentation tools (Tableau, PowerBI, Qlik, etc.) to Jira Data Lake. Boom! We're ready to start creating reports, graphs, dashboards, and whatever else we need to answer questions for our organization.

How is a lake different from data warehousing?

As mentioned earlier, some BI solutions use a data warehouse instead of a data lake. Some use both. While the line has blurred between the two, lakes are usually more unstructured than warehouses.

The initial data lake concept encouraged organizations to dump all of their raw data into the lake, including data from relational databases, flat files (e.g. CSV files), videos, and more. The promise that smart software and ever-increasing computing horsepower would eventually create solutions for accessing the overwhelming amount of data in the lake hasn't really come to fruition quickly enough. And many data lakes turned into data swamps. Lakes these days, like Jira Data Lake, are more purpose-built and have better designs for preventing a descent into swampland.

A data warehouse is more structured and normally designed with transformation processes on the front- and/or back-end that clean, normalize, and handle any other standardization before presenting it to our BI tools. These processes are represented by the "T" (Transform) in some more acronyms: ETL (Extract Transform Load) or ELT. The result is more predictable and accurate, but the cost and time to create these transformation processes is much higher.

Why use a data lake?

Why invest in this effort to centralize data in lakes or warehouses? Our BI tools can often connect directly to our application's database. Wouldn't it be easier to skip the lake/warehouse?

Eliminating the data lake or warehouse would simplify our solution design but experience has shown multiple issues with the direct-connect approach.

The most critical issue is often the potential load a BI tool can place on an application database. BI queries often require large swaths of data which can only be fulfilled through heavy workloads on the database. In addition, BI tools often don't optimize queries for performance. BI workloads can cause database contention and application stability should always be prioritized over BI needs. With today's easy-to-use BI tools accessible to a larger and less technical audience, this issue has only become more prevalent. Connecting our BI tools to a data lake prevents risking any application stability issues.

The next most common issue we see is needing to combine data from multiple systems. Since your organization doesn't just use one system, combining data across the organization is how so many powerful insights occur. For example, tying Jira KPIs to financial data is one way leaders can more easily understand technical metrics. But financial data is stored in the accounting system, not Jira. A direct connection to an application's databases only allows access to that system's data, preventing cross-system data analysis. While some BI tools allow you to perform "cross-database joins," performance is often unacceptable and some links are just not possible. Often the data from different systems needs to be cleaned and standardized before it can be linked for analysis. Doing this in a data lake/warehouse is far more efficient than attempting it "at runtime" in BI tools. When we first centralize our data we have the ability to combine data from as many systems as needed.

BI is all about trends over time. Some applications don't maintain much, if any, historical data. A direct connection to these systems doesn't allow for time-based analysis. The historical data simply doesn't exist. Lakes allow us to snapshot data at regular intervals in order to perform valuable time-based analysis.

Finally, with cloud apps like Jira Cloud, we don't have the option to connect directly to the application database. The only data access is often through APIs which can be slow for analysis and suffer from many of the same issues mentioned above. Jira Data Lake provides performant, safe data access.

Data lakes arose from the need for flexibility. No two organizations use the same systems or have the same data needs. Your organization's data needs will also change over time. The direct connection to an application database is too tightly coupled and doesn't provide enough agility to provide BI insights.

If you're wondering if this powerful new tool is a good fit for your organization, or have any questions about anything Atlassian, contact us, one of our experts would love to help!

Topics: blog management tips data business-intelligence data-lake jira-data-lake
2 min read

Best Practices for Using Labels in Jira

By Courtney Pool on May 21, 2021 8:15:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-How to use labels in jiraJira has a multitude of ways to group and categorize similar issues, such as through projects, requests types, or components. Many of these are aimed at issues that exist within one project, though, making it a bit more difficult to track items across your entire Jira instance. This is where labels can shine.

Labels are basically tags on issues. If you have 4 different projects that may all see tickets related to the same customer, then a label for that customer would give you a great way to quickly gather an overarching view of everything that exists for them. You can also have multiple labels on an issue, allowing you to easily catch it in any number of buckets.

Like with many things in life, though, a watchful eye and steady hand are needed to really use labels effectively. With that in mind, we’ve identified a few best practices to help.

1. Labels should be used for informal grouping.

In other words, don’t count on just labels to be the driving factor of important reports or anything else you need to be accurate 100% of the time. Because new labels can be created by users from the issue screen directly, they are not and should not be viewed as a source of truth. They’re great at what they do, but be careful to limit the importance placed on them.

2. Try to limit the number of labels you have.

Labels are shared globally, which means the list can get very long, very quickly. To make them more effective, try to come to a consensus internally on the whens and whys of new labels.

3. Set up clear naming guidelines.

Limit the number of labels by making sure you have clear naming guidelines. This will be different from organization to organization, but we encourage you to discuss and decide on these guidelines early and to then check in periodically to make sure they're being adhered to. If you’re looking to label issues from ABC Law Firm, for example, you could quickly end up with labels for abc, abclaw, abc-law, etc. Without naming standards, you will dramatically decrease the efficacy of the labels as an informal(*) grouping tool.

4. Routinely clean them up.

Even with clear naming guidelines and a company decision to limit the number of total labels, you may still end up with some that are no longer relevant down the line. Set a regular time for somebody to go in, check them out, and determine if there’s any room for clean-up. Even better, cleaning up labels is as simple as entirely removing them from all issues, giving you the opportunity to swap them out for another if needed.

5. Don’t overuse them.

This one really echoes all of the points above, but it bears repeating: Don’t overuse your labels. If you’re looking for something to track issues for a very-important, super-vital, must-be-accurate report? Labels are likely not the answer. Have a certain issue type that can have 30 different permutations? Again, labels are likely not the answer.

Jira as a tool has many options for tracking related issues. And labels, in the right hands, can be a great means of doing just that — if they’re handled intentionally and in moderation. Don’t be scared to give them a try, but do keep these best practices handy to keep your labels as helpful as possible.

Contact us if you have any questions on labels, or in anything Jira: We are experts in all things Atlassian.

Topics: jira blog best-practices tips information-architecture
3 min read

Best Practices for Software Licensing Management

By Jessica Ellis on May 19, 2021 11:25:00 AM

Blogpost-Display image-Best Practices for Software Licensing ManagementLet's make something clear: my.atlassian.com (MAC) is your best friend. Never heard of it? It's Atlassian's central license management platform. On the MAC website, you'll be able to see your license information and history, update technical & billing contacts, access license keys, and generate development keys. 

Over the last 6 years, I have helped hundreds of customers (from small businesses to Enterprise companies) with their license management. There are a few questions and frustrations that I see time and again, and based on that feedback, here are some of my top suggestions that will save you from future headaches.

Track your SEN’s

Your Support Entitlement Number (SEN) is a unique identifier that follows the life of the license. Even if the user tier or product name changes over time, your SEN never will. Consider it your “source of truth”. SEN’s can be found in your my.atlassian.com account, and are visible to all technical and billing contacts. I recommend sharing your SEN list with colleagues and procurement to make renewals more transparent. You can either export your license list from MAC, or include additional technical and billing contacts to open up visibility across teams and departments. 

Centralize your visibility

Once the Atlassian products gain popularity in an organization, I receive requests from different business units asking for their own instance or app for specific functionality. Logically, it makes sense to assign the technical contact as the person in charge of that instance or app. However, if you do that for each license you can splinter the visibility across the organization, making renewals complicated and time consuming.

I work closely with a global video game company who renews over 300 Atlassian licenses annually. Their organizing method has helped procurement streamline renewals, decreasing the amount of time it takes to identify who owns the license and what needs to be renewed. Each time a new license is requested I use the same technical contact email associated to the procurement department. After purchase is complete, procurement adds secondary technical contacts to the licenses in my.atlassian.com, giving the end user access to license keys. This allows procurement to see ALL licenses in MAC, understanding the entire license footprint and centralizing visibility when it comes time to renew.

Proactively transition your licenses

Life happens and people switch jobs all the time. I get a lot of requests from end users who inherit licenses but can’t see any of the licensing information or access license keys. How do you make sure the handoff is seamless before leaving? If you oversee the Atlassian licenses in my.atlassian.com, change the technical contact to the new employee information, or transition to another colleague who can retain access in the meantime. This will ensure continuity and give your organization a change management process for your licenses.

Co-term your end dates

Co-terming your license end dates can save you time during procurement cycles and allow you to plan for and estimate your annual licensing budget. If you have a variety of end dates it is best to co-term everything at once, allowing some licenses to be renewed for less than 12 months. Any new license purchased throughout the year can be co-termed (as long as the term is for 12 months or more). If this requirement makes the order too expensive, you can purchase your license for 12 months and realign to the co-term date on your annual renewal.

Co-terming is only possible for on-premise licenses (server and data center). Atlassian’s cloud licensing automatically “co-terms” the licenses on each cloud site to the same end date. However, at this time, if you have multiple cloud sites or Atlassian Access, they will have different end dates.

License Management doesn't have to be stressful: Praecipio Consulting's extensive experience can help you better navigate and manage your licensing landscape. Contact us, we'd love to discuss your options.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices tips licensing
6 min read

All in Good Time with Atlassian’s Team Calendars for Confluence

By Kye Hittle on May 17, 2021 11:23:52 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Team CalendarsAh, a fresh, new month. For so long there was always at least one day where my email inbox was flooded with many, many calendar invites for recurring company-wide meetings, holidays, and deadlines. After carefully clicking “Accept” on each invite, I’d think, “there’s got to be a better way.”

Atlassian’s Team Calendars for Confluence offers a great solution, and it's included with Cloud Premium subscriptions! Let’s take a look.

TEAM CALENDARS FOR CONFLUENCE

 

Image source: Atlassian

What is Team Calendars for Confluence?

The plugin adds a Calendars tab to each space and you can create multiple calendars using built-in or custom event types. Each user also gains a “My Calendars” page which rolls up all Team Calendars they’ve watched. This is centralized, always up-to-date, and customizable calendar management.

Why use Team Calendars?

Clear the clutter. While Team Calendars helps avoid periodically flooding everyone’s inboxes with invites, it also prevents tasking someone to reissue invites to new team members who onboard mid-year. Even those of us who aren’t new can avoid getting peppered with calendar updates when inevitable changes occur.

Visualize. Team Calendars display events as a live calendar, which is a visual metaphor instantly grokked by most everyone. Select between week, month, list, or Gantt-like timeline views. Assign different colors and icons to event types to further visually distinguish your layout. We often see clients using Confluence tables to list out dates. Tables capture the event data but require unnecessary mental overhead to comprehend and can’t be combined with other calendars to spot opportunities and conflicts.

Crowd-source your calendars. Team Calendars allow any user to add and edit events, keeping calendars comprehensive and accurate. Most calendar systems don’t allow this or it’s too cumbersome. In Confluence, it can also be restricted when needed.

Let’s TAke Control of Calendars

At Praecipio Consulting, we’ve helped organizations use Team Calendars for an incredibly diverse set of use cases. Here’s how we suggest you get started. 

Corporate holidays and time off (vacation, medical leave, volunteer time off, etc.) are often some of the first calendars created since they have major impacts across the organization. Keeping these events in context with your day-to-day planning in Confluence increases their visibility and prevents conflicts.

Holidays and time-off are just the tip of the organization-wide event iceberg. Take a look at your work calendar and you’ll see lunch & learns, committee meetings, submission deadlines (expense reports, timesheets, benefits enrollment, etc.), social events, and more. Centralizing all of this in Confluence can result in a major productivity boost and a calmer work life.

Next, each team should consider the events unique to their work and create logical calendars to match. Marketing teams need to keep content creation, campaign schedules, and ad runs coordinated. Dev and product teams always need to have their release schedule handy. Client-facing teams may need to schedule around their clients’ external schedule of milestones, holiday, and deadlines. IT and service desks will need to keep support professionals informed of planned maintenance and outages. Each team will find they have many calendars and events to keep track of – and they’ll likely do a better job when using Team Calendars versus the invite model imposed by most calendar systems.

PRO TIPS

  • Designate a single calendar as the official organization holiday calendar. Have all other teams add it to the Calendars tab in their spaces. It’s inefficient (and dangerous) to have many different “Acme Co Holiday” calendars! Remember, Team Calendars makes it easy to reuse calendars and combine the calendars into one view! Many organizations choose to have this calendar live in a Human Resources space.
  • If you use Jira to track time-off requests, you can setup Custom Event Types which display these requests from Jira on the calendar to avoid duplicate data entry!
  • Use the Custom Event Types which allow Team Calendars to display live sprints, releases, and more from Jira. Using JQL you can specify exactly what’s displayed on your calendar, automatically updating as Jira changes.
  • If you are working with a client and they can provide an .ics file (usually available as an export option from most calendar services), you can quickly import hundreds of events into a Team Calendar so you can keep tabs on their events.
  • If there’s an existing calendar system you cannot migrate to Team Calendars, you may still be able to display the calendar feed within a Team Calendar. See subscribing to third-party calendars. Examples include Outlook/Exchange, Google, Teamup, Opsgenie, and PagerDuty.

Using Your Calendars

Now that you’ve got calendars setup, you’ll always find them under the Calendars tab within your Confluence space. This tab rolls up all calendars in the space (including calendars linked from other spaces) so you can see holidays, time off, deadlines, and happy hours all in one place. 

But wait! There are additional convenient ways to access your calendars!

  • Embed a calendar into a Confluence page with the Team Calendars macro
  • Link to an existing calendar in another space so that it shows up in your space’s Calendars tab (example: most spaces will likely link to the official corporate holiday calendar)
  • Each Confluence user will see all of the calendars they’ve watched in their My Calendars page
  • Integrate Team Calendars into your personal calendar in Outlook, iPhone, etc. Share these instructions with your users!

MORE TIPS

  • Embed a calendar(s) into your weekly team meeting notes (automate this with a template). Many of our customers have reported dramatically decreased schedule conflicts when the calendar is right there, being reviewed regularly.
  • When viewing calendars in a space’s Calendars tab or all the calendars you’re watching in the My Calendars page, you can temporarily filter out unnecessary event types by unchecking the boxes displayed to the left of the type under its calendar. If you want to hide an entire calendar, click the menu (…) next to a calendar name and choose Hide Events.

Caution

Like all Atlassian tools, it’s easy and intuitive to get started with Team Calendars. Here are some more considerations to make it an even smoother journey.

Calendar Names. A Confluence space’s view permissions are used to determine calendar visibility by default. Team Calendars does not enforce unique calendar names. For admins and others who belong to many Confluence spaces, having 27 calendars all named “PTO” makes it hard to find the correct calendar. We recommend including the space name or key in each calendar name. For example, “PTO - IT Help Desk” and “PTO - Marketing.” 

Beware when deleting custom event types. Deleting a custom event deletes all events assigned that event type. Move events currently categorized under the event type to another event type before deleting.

Migration considerations. Atlassian does not officially support Team Calendars migration but you can export and import each calendar manually to move your calendars. Custom Event Types are great but if you’re migrating to a new environment, make sure you are using the latest version of Team Calendars in both environments, otherwise custom event types may be lost.

Help is here! There’s an entire section of documentation for Team Calendars. If you need Team Calendars licenses (or are looking to migrate to Cloud Premium, which includes Team Calendars), need to migrate your Confluence environment, or need assistance with any part of the Atlassian suite, get in touch with us!

Topics: atlassian blog confluence teams tips project-management confluence-cloud
2 min read

Why Digital Asset Management is Important

By Kye Hittle on May 14, 2021 1:37:00 PM

Blogpost-Display image-May_Why Digital Asset Management is ImportantWe're always looking for ways to keep track of our stuff, from old metal asset tags firmly glued to lids of the first "portable" computers to Apple's recent AirTag product release.

At work we call these "assets" because they cost money to acquire, maintain, replace, and are (hopefully) required for our organization's operation. (If assets are not being used, your digital asset management system should be highlighting that potential savings opportunity!) Keeping track of these items doesn't just make sense from a financial perspective, it's also required by law in many cases.

When it comes to asset management we're not just concerned with an item's current location. Surprisingly often, an asset's purchase price, age, vendor, warranty details, user assignment, support/maintenance contracts, service history, and any of hundreds of other details become critically important to keeping the asset—and therefore our business—running.

And we're not just talking about physical assets like desks, laptops, phones, tablets, tools, networking equipment, etc. The move to cloud means we can instantly deploy servers, licenses, and other IT infrastructure we'll never actually see or touch! How do I put an RFID tag on a cloud server?

With more devices and services being employed to operate our organizations every day, spreadsheets don't cut it. Given this amount of critical data to manage, the only way to keep up is to turn to digital transformation.

Traditional Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs)

The technology market has seen the introduction of many inflexible, expensive "solutions" to manage assets digitally. Traditional Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) have failed to deliver the necessary transformative power:

  • IT is overpaying hundreds of millions of dollars in unused features in these legacy CMDB tools
  • Customization requires specialized consultants (quickly adapting to the changing needs of the business is a core tenant of digital transformation)
  • Legacy tools often result in slowing down the flow of work across teams instead of enhancing collaboration between them

Praecipio Consulting is transforming organizational service delivery with an Atlassian alternative built to deliver maximum value: Insight, now built into Jira Service Management. It is a modern, flexible digital asset management solution to easily define collaborative asset tracking that best fits your organization's needs, right in Jira.

Atlassian Service Management saves companies money by retiring their legacy tools. This explains why Atlassian is ranked as a strong performer in this market, having a strong strategy, and achieving a rapidly expanding market presence.

From employee and contractor onboarding to incident management to asset intelligence, Atlassian Insight for Jira Service Management can quickly get your digital asset tracking under control and flex to meet your constantly changing business.

Digital asset management done right doesn't just require the best-in-class solution, however. It's a cultural shift in the way IT is delivered as a service. Contact Praecipio Consulting to get started on your service delivery transformation now.

Topics: jira atlassian blog asset-management tips service-management insight digital-transformation jira-service-management
3 min read

Jira Service Management Request Types Best Practices

By Morgan Folsom on May 10, 2021 3:10:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Service Management Request TypesSince 2013, Jira Service Management has been Atlassian's solution to IT Service Management for both internal and external customers alike; more than 8 years of continual development has led to countless examples of how JSM has delivered value to its users. In this 2014 video, we can see how Puppet Labs used Atlassian's Jira Service Desk, now Jira Service Management, to resolve tickets 67% faster. Take it from Atlassian's ITSM Partner of the Year three years running, we love how JSM supports your IT governance strategy. However, when defining a service desk for your organization, one of the most important decisions that you'll make is around how you define your Request Types.

What are Request Types 

In Jira Service Management, the request type defines exactly what the customer sees and how the ticket moves and is displayed after it's been submitted. 

Request types allow you to map a single issue type to different kinds of requests. For example, you may have issue types like Incidents and Service Requests. That's how your IT team understand incoming requests and they have the benefit of being able to span multiple contexts. However, as an end-user, when I'm coming to the portal I'm not thinking in ITIL terms. I'm likely thinking more along the lines of "I can't login" or "I need a new computer." 

Request types allow you to represent both sides of the equation - the foundation of your portal are the issue types, but request types let you customize how they appear to customers in the portal. So, let's see what exactly we can do with request types.

What can I do with request types

  • Map a single issue type to many different request types: If there are multiple requests that follow the same workflow, you can utilize a single workflow across as many forms as you'd like!
  • Group requests: You may have multiple requests that can be logically grouped together, like Software and Hardware.
  • Change field display names: Even thought they're filling out the Summary field, on a request you may want it to say "What problem are you experiencing?" or "How can we help."
  • Show specific Jira fields: While an agent may need to see and edit fields like Team or Priority, you probably don't want your customer to see those on Create.
  • Preset fields: If certain request types have some constant information, you can preset fields without needing to modify the workflow or use any automation.
  • Customize how workflow statuses are displayed: If you don't need your customer to know that an issue is being escalated to Tier 2 or Tier 3, you can mask those statuses so all the customer sees is that the issue is "In Progress" and they won't receive notifications as it moves through that internal workflow. 

With that in mind, there are some best practices to keep in mind. 

Request type best practices

  • Think about the customer experience! Why are they coming to the portal?
  • Don't necessarily break request types or groups down by IT org structure. While this could be useful, there are lots of ways to route request types to the right place without having it affect the customer view.
  • Use hidden fields on your requests to simplify the experience - if you know a system wide outage is always urgent, don't make the user complete that field!
  • Use hidden components or Team custom fields to route to the appropriate queues. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we have the experts that can help you implement ITSM best practices across your entire organization.  Contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: jira blog best-practices tips request jira-service-management
2 min read

Queues vs. Dashboards in Jira Service Management

By Rebecca Schwartz on Apr 26, 2021 10:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_When do I use JSM queues vs. dashboards-When it comes to understanding the progress of work in Jira, Atlassian has some great options natively within Jira Service Management. Queues are available in each Service Management project in Jira and Dashboards are available in all Jira products. These features give users important insight into what teams are working on, but how do you know when to use which, and why? Having easy access to the progress of work in the system, as well as some of the stats that go along with the quality and completion of the work, is essential for any team's success. Below, I'll discuss the functionality of Queues and Dashboards in Jira and when one should be used over the other. 

What are queues?

Queues are groups of customer requests that appear in Jira Service Management projects. They are used by service desk agents to organize customer requests allowing the team to assign and complete customer requests quickly and efficiently. There are a few helpful queues that come with your service desk, but Jira Admins can also create custom queues if the ones in place are not the correct fit for the team. 

What are Dashboards?

A Dashboard is a page of reports and data visuals related to issues in Jira. Dashboards are customizable and can be tailored to meet the needs of various users throughout the organization. Individual users often create their own Dashboards to easily visualize what outstanding work they specifically need to get done. Teams can use them to see their overall progress of work. Management can use them to get a more high-level overview of the progress of work across the entire organization. Gadgets make up Dashboards and are often based on Jira filters or JQL. They typically come in the form of charts, tables, or lists. Dashboards are available no matter what kind of Jira project you're working in.

When to use queues vs. Dashboards?

Queues are great for agents and other folks who need to work on issues in a service management project. If queues are broken up by SLA's and/or priority, they help agents determine which issues are most urgent and need to be worked on ASAP. Then, agents can easily grab issues from the list and begin working on them. Queues don't give you any stats or overall status on work that's in progress or has yet to be completed. It's simply a way for those working on Jira tickets to organize them and decide what to work on.

While queues are limited to a single project, Dashboards can be used across multiple projects. They give more information on the work and can provide more details such as the time from creation to resolution, how many issues of a particular type were submitted in a given time period, and which agents completed the most issues. Dashboards are perfect for users who need to get an overview of what's going on, but don't necessarily need to work on the issues. Since Dashboards are meant for viewing Jira data, these pages are perfect to give higher-level users an insight into what's going on with the outstanding work. Using gadgets, these users can see where improvements need to be made if, for example, SLAs are continuously breached. They can also be used to see what works well for your teams. 

You have questions?  We have answers!  Contact us to schedule a call with one of our Atlassian experts.

Topics: jira atlassian blog tips service-management tracking project-management jira-service-management
2 min read

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

By Robert Davenport on Apr 21, 2021 4:35:00 PM

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

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

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

Topics: jira atlassian blog optimization tips jira-service-management
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

Jira Tips: Create From Template vs. Create From Shared Configuration

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 9, 2021 11:26:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Create from template vs. Create from shared configuration (1)

There are a variety of ways to create projects in Jira – whether from a predefined template from Atlassian or from a shared configuration with an existing project. As Jira administrators, this is one of the first questions you'll be faced with when onboarding new teams to the instance. Let's walk through the different strategies, and why we prefer creating from shared configuration. 

Creating from a template

Creating from the Atlassian templates will create a new set of unique schemes to that project - new items in your instance that are not shared with any other project. To create from a template, simply select one of Atlassian's predefined models on the 'Create Project' page. 

The benefit of using these templates is that each of your projects are self-contained, and a model has already been put together by Atlassian. Configuration is not shared with any other projects, even if everything is exactly the same. This means that teams can adjust their workflows, screens, etc. without affecting anyone else. This can be good for teams who don't share any processes with other teams using Jira, and allows project administrators more control over their projects. 

However, for organizations that are looking to scale and/or standardize, this can be a huge headache.

Creating from shared configuration

Using a shared configuration means that you are reusing existing and established configuration items in your instance. Rather than creating new sets of schemes when a project is created, you create based on another project. For example, if you created from shared configuration, both the old and new projects will use the same workflows, screens, and field configurations. Note that they won't share any Jira Service Management specific configuration items, like request types or queues. 

Additionally, once a project shares a configuration with another project, Project administrators can no longer edit the workflows without being Jira admins, which has the added benefit of supporting the goal of standardization and scalability in addition to administrative governance.

There are pros and cons to each of the above, but ultimately, it is recommended that whenever possible, projects should be created from Shared Configuration.

While templates allow teams to have more control over their projects, it does not lend itself to standardization or maintaining a clean Jira instance. Although IT teams often request more options for teams to self-service with Jira project configuration, in the interest of scalability, allowing any user to create their own Jira projects is not a best practice. Jira projects should not be treated as "projects", spun up or spun down on a regular basis: as a best practice projects should be long-lasting and consistent. Additionally, from an administrative perspective, it can be challenging to manage the sheer number of schemes and additional items when trying to troubleshoot issues or maintain the instance.

Looking for expert help with your Jira instance? Contact us, we'd love to help!

Topics: jira atlassian blog administrator best-practices tips
3 min read

Jira Workflow Tip: Global Transitions

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 5, 2021 11:47:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Jira Workflow Tip- Global TransitionsBuilding Jira workflows can be overwhelming. As Atlassian Platinum Solution Partners for over a decade, we at Praecipio Consulting have spent a lot of time building workflows (seriously, A LOT). 

One piece of workflow functionality that we often see either ignored or abused are global transitions. A global transition in Jira is a transition to a workflow status that is able to be triggered regardless of where the issue is in the workflow. These can be very powerful, and we use them in some capacity in almost all of our workflows. However, there are a few things that we put into place to make these transitions easier to use. 

When do I use a global transition?

While these are not appropriate in all situations, we recommend using them in situations where users should be able to move to the status from anywhere else in the workflow. The most common use cases are "On Hold" or "Withdrawn" transitions, where users should be able to place the issue there regardless of where it is in the life cycle. It is understandable that users shy away from global transitions, as without specific configuration they have the potential to be confusing to end users and open up the workflow in ways we may not want. Keep in mind that global transitions should not be overused - using direct transitions allows for processes to be enforced, while global transitions are great options when you need to remove an issue from its normal flow.

With that in mind, we recommend the following configuration on all global transitions:

How to configure a global transition

Transition Properties

Opsbar-sequence is a transition property that allows you to determine the order of all transitions in your workflow. To use it, you assign numbers to each transition, and Jira will numerically order them on the issue view. 

Global transitions generally belong at the end of the list, so we usually give them a high number (100 or  500) so no matter how robust your workflow gets, they're always at the end of the list of available transitions. 

Conditions

Workflow conditions prevent transitions from showing when certain criteria are not met. As a best practice, we always add a condition so the transition is not available from the status it's going to – e.g. if we have a "Withdraw" global transition that goes to Closed, the condition should be "Status != Closed". If this condition isn't present you'll see the global transition available when you're in the status it's going to. 

Post Functions

One of the biggest issues that we see with global transitions is around resolution. Jira resolutions are an extremely valuable tool, and if you don't configure your global transitions correctly, they can affect your data integrity. So, 

If the global transition is moving into a "Done" status (e.g. Closed or Withdrawn), add

  1. A post function that automatically sets the Resolution, OR
  2. A transition screen with resolution that prompts users to enter a resolution before the transition

If the global transition is NOT moving into a "Done" status, add

  1. A post function that clears resolution

With the above configuration, your workflows will be more user friendly while also ensuring that your Jira data stays clean. 

Still need more help with your workflows? Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Training Partner with a robust catalog of training, including Workflow help!

Topics: jira blog tips training workflows configuration atlassian-solution-partner
4 min read

How to Handle Delete Permissions in Jira

By Courtney Pool on Feb 16, 2021 11:47:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why you should restrict who can delete issues in JiraPermissions are one of the most important things to “get right” in Jira. Sure, having the right fields, screens, and workflows are all vital pieces of the puzzle as well, but they can easily be tweaked along the way. While permissions can also be updated as needed, a user who can’t see or edit the issues they need may have their work completely blocked in the meantime.

And then there is the group of permissions so important, so crucial, so absolutely imperative to get right that they earned a blog dedicated solely to them: the delete permissions.

“Well, of course,” you may be thinking, “everybody knows that.” But even if it may seem like common sense to you, it can easily slip through the cracks — it’s happened to others before, and let me tell you, it doesn’t always end well.

You see, delete permissions are so incredibly critical for one reason:

There is no recycling bin in out-of-the-box Jira.

This means that if something is deleted, whether through intent, accident, or malice, it’s gone. Poof. And while the loss of one item may be easy to recover from, the loss of tens, hundreds, or even thousands? Even I can feel the sweat dripping down your spine now.

So, to summarize: Delete permissions? Very important.

Types of Delete Permissions

Amongst these permissions are four groups:

  • Delete Worklogs
  • Delete Comments
  • Delete Attachments
  • Delete Issues

And two types:

  • Delete Own
  • Delete All

Delete Own Permissions

The Delete Own permissions, as the name implies, will allow a user to delete content tied to their specific user account. These permission types exist for the majority of the above-mentioned groups, with the exception of Issues.

Delete Own Worklogs applies to any time that's been tracked to an issue, whether through Jira's native feature or through an app like Tempo Timesheets. As such, it is a fairly innocuous permission and can be assigned to any user with access to a project, unless you have very strict requirements otherwise. It will likely primarily be used for clean-up, and the ripples it can cause are fairly limited.

Delete Own Comments is also often used for clean-up, and again, its area of effect is a bit smaller. However, just because a comment is deleted doesn’t mean that people haven’t already seen it, or even acted upon it. It may be better to instead point users in the direction of comment editing, or have them enter new comments entirely, even if it’s just to say, “Disregard the last.”

Delete Own Attachments is another permission that can be used for tidying. This might be useful were someone to, say, accidentally upload an adorable picture of their dog rather than the spreadsheet they were looking for. It's fairly low impact as well and can likely be given out to any users within your project, especially if you're following the Backup Rule of 3 or similar internally.

Delete All Permissions

Each of the Delete Own permissions has a Delete All counterpart. Delete Issues exists here as well, though the naming convention differs from the other four. Delete All permissions give a user access to delete items associated with any user account. As such, we generally recommend these permissions are limited to only certain groups, such as Project or System Admins.

Delete All Worklogs, Delete All Comments, and Delete All Attachments can each only be performed in a single issue at a time. This barrier helps to protect against mass deletion, but in the interest of data integrity, you’ll still want to restrict who is allowed to perform these actions.

And as for Delete Issues? This will also give a user the ability to delete from within a single issue, but unlike the three mentioned above, this permission gives a user access to Bulk Change as well, which allows actions to be taken across multiple issues at once. As such, ask yourself if you even need to grant this permission at all. Sure, there could feasibly be a time when you need to mass delete issues, but it’s likely to occur so rarely that, should those stars align, the permission can be assigned when needed to system admins and then removed as soon as the job is done. This extra step will save you from being the organization that just lost a year’s worth of tickets.

If something is deleted in Jira, it’s gone forever. This can be a nightmare for many, but especially those in organizations with heavy audit requirements. Rather than leaving yourself open to a very unpleasant surprise, do your team a favor and review your permissions now.

Stop worrying about Jira and make full use of its powerful features!  We can help you implement and optimize your Jira instance, contact us, and one of our experts will be in touch shortly.

Topics: jira atlassian blog best-practices tips configuration verify bespoke
2 min read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Know If Your Organization Is Ready to Scale Agile: Tips & Best Practices

By Amanda Babb on Sep 28, 2020 12:15:00 PM

How to know if your organization is ready to scale Agile

Are You Ready to Scale Agile? 

You are an Agile evangelist. You have championed the shift to Agile at your organization and have coached several teams successfully. Your organization is delivering quality product faster to your internal and external customers. But there's still a struggle to coordinate across different parts of the organization. And you get pulled into meeting after meeting to coordinate across teams. As a result, your most successful teams are expressing frustration with each other and, and now, quality has slipped. Something has to change. 

You've heard about scaling Agile. You may even have an idea of some of the well-known frameworks, such as SAFe, LeSS, Scrum@Scale, etc. But are you ready? Is your organization ready to scale Agile? 

Organizational Readiness

While this is not an exhaustive list, ask yourself and your organization these questions to assess your readiness to scale Agile. 

  • Which framework is best for your organization?
  • Do you have management and executive buy-in? 
  • Do you have funding for external training and certification?
  • Can you group teams together to support strategic initiatives?
  • Can you identify your change agents and champions?
  • Can you identify a set of teams to pilot the change?
  • How much time are you willing to commit to the change?
  • How much time do you have to commit to the change? 
  • How much time are you willing to commit to continuous learning? 

Iterate Your Framework Implementation

Just like the scaled Agile frameworks themselves, you approach their implementation iteratively. One of our clients chose and implemented SAFe for a single program and scaled iteratively. They started with one Agile Release Train and in three years scaled to four Agile Release Trains with the intention to launch an additional train before the end of the year. They also reorganized the Trains once they realized they were no longer organized around value and instead were structured in a traditional resource-management way. 

The implementation of SAFe within this client's organization, while it had a specific start date, was implemented iteratively and over time. It also took the backing of management and executives and a devoted set of change agents willing to take the steps for scale.

We here at Praecipio Consulting have assisted our clients in their journeys to scale Agile. Let us know how we can help you take your first step. 

Topics: blog scaled-agile best-practices tips safe agile
5 min read

Common Agile Myths: Everything's Made Up and the Points Don't Matter

By Amanda Babb on Aug 14, 2020 4:00:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Everythings Made Up and the Points Dont Matter- Common Agile Myths

Type "Agile myths" in your favorite search engine and you'll be amazed at the plethora of results. Especially those that say, "Top myths busted!" While I consider myself an Agile evangelist, I'd like to take a moment to discuss the harsh reality that many organizations face day-to-day. Agile is not a new concept, but the term is. The Agile Manifesto codified the term and working agreements in 2001, but I (and other evangelists) argue that it existed way before the term was formalized then attached strictly to software development. 

Iterative Development of Complex Systems

"I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract." - attributed to astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn 

There were three Apollo missions before a person was ever placed in a rocket to (eventually) go to the moon. February through August of 1966 saw rocket, heat shield, and in-orbit fuel performance tests before a person set foot in the capsules. After the tragedy of Apollo 1, three more unmanned missions were flown before NASA decided to try again. It took an additional four Apollo missions before Apollo 11, and the iconic first step happened in 1969. That giant leap didn't happen with Big Up Front Requirements. It happened with teams of teams working together, iterating, retrospecting, and making adjustments. Isn't that Agile and moreover Agile at scale? 

How many other times in history did we as humans nail something the first time? The Wright Brothers didn't just magically produce an airplane that sustained controlled flight in 1903. Carl Faberge didn't create imperial eggs immediately upon his return to St. Petersburg in 1872. It's not called WD-1, it's called WD-40. Agile is how we've developed some of our greatest inventions, art, and human achievements. 

Scrum versus Kanban Agile

Let's take a step back and look at the two most popular frameworks of Agile: Scrum and Kanban. Instead of boring you with the typical definitions, instead, let's look at why teams and organizations think they choose one over the other. 

Scrum

"I am guaranteed to release product to my customers every two weeks."

Potentially shippable product does not mean it's in the hands of the customers. It means it meets the team's definition of done. It may have to be deployed into an integration or stage environment before production for further integration and testing before being released. 

"We don't have to estimate capacity, we just estimate the work."

Scrum (and Agile in general) is about predictability. If you delivered an amount of work this sprint, you should be able to deliver a similar amount for "the next sprint. If your velocity makes wild swings from sprint to sprint, there's a larger problem. A good team plans their sprint delivery based on their past performance. Which leads to another one...

"There is no long-term planning, just short-term execution."

Scrum is where long-term product planning meets short-term execution. Products and product features are extremely long-lived if they are the right things. No one wants to spend time and money on things that customers won't use or don't work.  

Kanban

"We do Kanban because Scrum takes too much time."

Kanban was born from lean manufacturing. There is always a daily standup at the beginning of the shift. In best-in-class manufacturing, there is also a weekly meeting for metrics and a monthly safety meeting. In order to be successful, your Kanban teams should be taking almost the same amount of time!

"Kanban isn't planned or managed. Just executed."

The Kanban backlog is just as refined as a Scrum backlog. Based on classes of service, the team plans their work each day and throughout the week. For example, work in the "standard" class of service is defined as start to finish in the calendar week. 

"Our team isn't a software development team."

I waver on this one. Unless you are pure customer service (think call center), you likely have larger projects you're trying to complete. 

So what?

Given all of the above, it's safe to say there is definitely no single right way to be Agile (although there are LOTs of wrong ways!). As an organization, there will likely be growing pains while you try to figure out how teams work best. 

Agile is not a thing you do. It's not a software development framework. It's not a 40-hour skill. Or a two-week sprint skill. Or even a Program Increment skill. It's a mindset...nay...I would argue it's a lifestyle. Agile is all around us if you open yourself to it. 

 

Looking for more tips on how to be Agile? Check out Agile Batch Size: An Ode to Laundry or The ABC's of Agile. And if you want to know more about how to successfully implement Agile in your organization, reach out to us

Topics: blog scaled-agile enterprise kanban scrum tips agile
2 min read

How Jira and Quickbooks Work Together To Streamline Financial Processes

By Ashley Halleck on Jul 15, 2020 12:49:41 PM

2020 Blogposts_Pros & Cons of WFH copy

Before I joined Praecipio Consulting, my background was in financial services, so I had never heard of the Atlassian suite of software before. My work-life consisted of strictly Excel, email, and a Bloomberg terminal. Needless to say, I was a bit confused during my first week as to how Atlassian’s software (in particular, Jira) would work with my new role in accounting. The more I learned about Atlassian’s software, the more I asked myself, “How does process management software geared towards developers apply to a financial controller?”

It’s safe to say that my early assumptions about Jira couldn’t have been more incorrect. I can seamlessly link every transaction to ongoing projects, open accounting issues, and everything under the sun that exists in Quickbooks (our system of record). I can’t tell you how much easier it is to simply reference a Jira ticket in a Quickbooks transaction instead of having to go through the arduous process of saving everything to Quickbooks. As a result, I am now as dependent on Jira as I am on Quickbooks!

How it works

Here at Praecipio Consulting, we created an Accounting project in Jira Service Management, which is where we prioritize all invoicing and client correspondence. Once we create the ticket, it is assigned to the appropriate resource, and then all correspondence with the client or internal employees is attached to that issue, either through comments or cc'ing the ticket when sending an email. We use issue types like Accounting Submission, Generate Invoice, Billing Question, or Task. Each of these issues has unique fields and unique workflows that ensure it ties directly to an entry in Quickbooks and follows the necessary steps for entry.

In addition to using Jira Service Desk for invoicing and client correspondence, we integrated Salesforce and Jira to automatically create leads for licensing and projects alike. The workflows are specific to the opportunity type and auto-create the appropriate subtasks for accounting and sales. These issues are automatically assigned to the appropriate resource as you move each lead through its workflow. We reference each issue in Jira to the appropriate bill or invoice in Quickbooks, creating traceability for each opportunity. This integration ensures that we don't overlook any step in the process, from the closing of a sale to sending the final invoice.

Lastly, we use Tempo Budgets to perform billing closures on all of our projects. Budgets provides a perfect snapshot of the management of our planned vs. actual profit margin, revenue, and costs. This allows us to see which projects were over or under budget and ensures everything was billed accurately per each statement of work. 

To say the least, I do not know how I would do my job without Jira, Jira Service Management, the Tempo suite of products. These tools aren't just solutions for developers; team members within any business unit can use them to improve their processes.

As we start the second half of the year, there is no better time than now to evaluate how you can automate tasks and streamline your accounting processes. Connecting Quickbooks to Jira could just be the solution that you never knew you needed!

Topics: jira blog accounting automation finance process tips tempo quickbooks
6 min read

How Jira Align Helps Embrace Lean Budgets

By Amanda Babb on Jul 1, 2020 2:30:21 PM

2020 Blogposts_Lean Budgets in SAFe and Jira Align

Hopefully, you've followed my posts and webinars on Portfolio for Jira, as well as how to manage Lean Budgets in Atlassian and its ecosystem. We released a White Paper providing a solution for mid-sized organizations that have embraced SAFe® and want to also incorporate Lean Budgets concepts within the Atlassian technology stack. After all, one of the most critical pieces of adopting an agile mindset is to break the cycle of traditional Project Cost Accounting. 

Project Cost Accounting and agile frameworks (regardless of the flavor) are in direct conflict with one another. Moving teams to work in a Project Cost Accounting model does not work in agile frameworks. Instead, we move work to teams. When we scale agile, regardless of the model, all we're doing is connecting the overarching strategic initiatives to execution. Also, we're all still trying to figure out how to understand the costs associated with the work. SAFe® offers the seductive allure of Lean Budgets. Simply define the Enterprise budget and allocate it to the Portfolios to do what they will. Wait, what? Just hand over $100,000,000 to a Portfolio for the year and trust that they'll make the right decisions? As Yogi Berra once said, "In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is." 

Lean Budgets Guardrails

While the Atlassian tools and ecosystem are not intended to be the financial system of record for any organization, one key part of Lean Budgets, which is called out several times in the Lean Portfolio Management competency in SAFe® 5.0, is to provide Guardrails. The four Guardrails are as follows: 

  1. Guiding investments by horizon
  2. Applying capacity allocation to optimize value and solution integrity
  3. Approving significant initiatives
  4. Continuous Business Owner engagement

© Scaled Agile, Inc.

The Atlassian tools, and specifically Jira Align, are uniquely positioned to provide the Guardrails for Lean Budgets. By adhering to the SAFe® Core Values of Transparency and Program Execution, Jira Align provides complete aggregation from the corporate strategy, including Mission, Vision, and Values, all the way through team-level execution and back up again. This includes Allocation, Estimate, and Actual comparisons based on the Program Increment. Mind-blowing, right? 

While you will have to wait for the full solution (details are coming soon), here are a few tips to assist you in your journey. 

Create a Strategic Snapshot

Your organization has a well-established Mission, Vision, and Values. They're likely plastered all over your organization's intranet or when in an office, you'll find them displayed every 25 feet down the halls. Add these into the Enterprise Room in a strategic snapshot that aligns with your fiscal year. Break down the Mission, Vision, and Values into long-term, annual goals and establish your Strategic Themes. Add those into Jira Align to start tying execution to these items.

Screen Shot 2020-06-24 at 10.03.55 PM

Themes are an entity in Jira Align. Think of them as an Issue Type that drives the rest of the hierarchy. However, one of the key strengths of Jira Align is ensuring, at every level, the entity is tied to execution. In SAFe® the key execution entity is the Program Increment (PI). Even if a Theme straddles several PIs, you must commit to the timebox of the PI. This drives the entire organization to say, "This thing is important to us, and this is how and when we plan on executing it." While at first, you may have no idea, you can always go back and add the information after the fact. 

Determine Theme Allocation for the PI

While you may not know the exact dollar amount while planning the budget, you've likely done the SWAG for the fiscal year. SWAG, of course, stands for Scientific Wild Ass Guess. As you're determining your Themes and Portfolio Epics for the Fiscal Year (or just your Themes), you will likely have a high-level idea of how much of the pie you will allocate to each Theme. Since they are also ranked by highest to lowest priority, the allocations should follow suit as well. If a Theme is ranked number one, it should have a higher percentage allocated than, say, Theme number 10. Theme allocations can be updated as your organization moves through the budget cycle. Jira Align will do the calculation for you as you determine the overall budget. 

However, to truly succeed at Lean Budgets in Jira Align, you must determine the budget for the PI. Again, as you're working through your organization's budget cycle, you can start with your SWAG. For example, if you have an overall budget of $100,000,000 for the fiscal year and your PI cadence puts you at 12-week PIs, then allocate $25,000,000 per PI to start. By tagging your Themes with the PI(s), you can start to understand the dollars, as well as the overall level of effort, needed for a specific PI. As you get closer to final budget approval, continue to refine these numbers. 

Determine a Blended Rate

While I've proposed a series of different methods for translating Story Points to dollars either via Cost Per Story Point or Total Cost of Solution or Monetized Opportunity Cost, the fact remains that we live in a time-based world (sigh). And our best method for translation still comes from determining a Blended Rate. In Jira Align, once you've determined the Blended Rate for the PI, you simply enter it into a field and the magic starts to happen. But how do we determine a Blended Rate? 

Remember, a fixed Team equals a fixed cost. Take the combined salary of the team members, divide it by workweeks, then divide it by work hours. You can skip a step if you remember the exact number of working hours are in a year, but that number will vary based on your geolocation. You can always adjust as needed based on PTO policies and holidays to determine the Blended Rate. From there, Jira Align takes over once you're in execution mode. 

Budget, Estimate, and Actual

In the Portfolio section of Jira Align, you can quickly access a report called Investment versus Actuals. Wait, what? It's that simple? I click a button, and I can compare plan, actual, and variance? That can't be right. 

To be honest, it truly is that simple. However, if Teams aren't fostering good data in Jira Software and if RTEs, Program Owners, Epic Owners, and the like, aren't making the connections in Jira Align, you will end up with junk. This leads to frustration, as well as low adoption levels of the solution. Take a deep breath, and remember Principle #1 of SAFe ®: Take an economic view. Just like any other tools your organization uses, you must adhere to the process and commit to the facilitation of that process within the tools. 

Based on the historical Velocity of the individual Teams in a Program, the Blended Rate, the Teams' Burn Hours, and the Theme Allocation, Jira Align will calculate the Estimate (original estimate at the start of the Program Increment) as well as the Actual (actual completed stories in each of the Sprints). This is where the Team discipline comes in. If Teams do not estimate work, move cards across the board, and close Sprints, this fails. You cannot calculate the roll-up, or if you do, it's wildly inaccurate. Thus, the comparisons are out of whack, and when compared against the financial system of record, you find that you've spent your time and money on Theme number 10 instead of Theme number one. 

Want to know more? 

In the coming days, Praecipio Consulting will release a White Paper detailing the solution to managing Lean Budgets with Jira Align. We look forward to your questions and feedback. Lean Budgets is still an emerging concept, and while we have a solid solution, we'd love to know how your organization is currently managing or where you are in your digital transformation journey with the Atlassian tools.

Topics: blog scaled-agile teams tips lean-budgets project-management jira-align safe
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

Affects Version vs. Fix Version in Jira: The Difference

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

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

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

Both of these fields are automatically created in Jira out of the box. They are related to Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) projects and are the foundation of releases in Jira. While they are linked and work in tandem at some points, there is a best practice when using the versions inside of both of these fields. Before we delve into how they relate, let's define what each field is and how to properly utilize them. 

What is Fix Version?

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

What is Affects Version?

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

Which Comes First?

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

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

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

Topics: jira blog sdlc tips jira-software coding
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
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
3 min read

How to Solve Too Many Confluence Email Notifications

By Morgan Folsom on Mar 18, 2020 9:30:00 AM

confluene email notifications

We often hear feedback that Jira is too noisy, but Confluence has the potential to fill your inbox as well if you're not on top of your email preferences. If you've read our blog outlining the solution to reducing Jira notifications, but your users are still complaining about noise, it may be time to provide some guidance on Confluence notifications too. 

So if you're a user, let's talk about which notifications you're getting and how you can escape the inbox overflow. 

Watching a Space

If you use Confluence 6.13 or an earlier version, you may be required to watch a space when you first log into the instance. Watching a space means that you will receive notifications for all updates to the pages within this space, and this can be a harsh welcome to a new Confluence instance. If you are on one of these affected versions, a Confluence admin can fix this by disabling the Onboarding dialog globally. Confluence 6.14 and later removes this requirement, but it is still possible to watch spaces manually.

To identify which spaces you are watching:

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Watches.
  2. View Space Watches to identify which spaces you are watching.
  3. If you want to unfollow the space, simply click Stop Watching on the right side of the screen.

Watching a Page

In addition to watching entire spaces, you can watch specific Confluence pages. You can do this manually, or automatically if Autowatch is enabled on your profile. If Autowatch is enabled, you will be added as a watcher to all pages and blog posts that you've created, edited, or commented on. For users that contribute to a lot of content, this can result in a great deal of notifications. 

Disabling Autowatch is your best bet if you receive too many of these. To disable Autowatch:

  • Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Settings.
  • Select Email under the left panel labeled Your Settings.
  • Select Edit at the bottom of the page, and uncheck Autowatch

Additionally, to see all pages that you're watching:

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Watches.
  2. View Page Watches to identify which spaces you are watching.
  3. If you want to unfollow the page, simply click Stop Watching on the right side of the screen.

Recommended/Daily Updates

If you receive notifications that aren't tied to specific pages that you edited or watched, you may be receiving Confluence Recommended Updates or Daily Updates. This functionality will send updates and information about Confluence content.

If you're not interested in receiving these updates:

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Settings.
  2. Select Email under the left panel labeled Your Settings.
  3. Select Edit at the bottom of the page, and uncheck Recommended Updates and/or Daily Updates

Notify on My Actions

If you don't ever want to receive notifications for changes that you've made in Confluence, you'll want to be sure that this box is unchecked as well!

  1. Click on your profile photo in the top right and select Settings.
  2. Select Email under the left panel labeled Your Settings.
  3. Select Edit at the bottom of the page, and uncheck Notify on My Actions

Uncheck Notify Watchers

Help keep your team's inboxes clean by unchecking the Notify Watchers box when updating pages. Checking this only when you want to let your team know there have been changes to a page will help keep notifications relevant.

 

Now that you've updated your Confluence and Jira email settings, you can get rid of those inbox filters, and finally receive just the notifications that matter to you. 

 

 

Topics: blog best-practices confluence tips email-notifications
4 min read

Importance of Jira Resolutions

By Brian Nye on Jan 28, 2020 1:30:00 PM

One of the most frequent questions we get asked when on a project is, "Why do I need 'Resolutions', can't we just use statuses?" The short answer is "No" and it's because they are not the same thing. I know that you all would be terribly disappointed if I just stopped here so I'm going to outline a few reasons why it's an important field and share some best practices. 

Why Do I Need the "Resolution" Field?

The Resolution field provides a few important functions to issues in Jira:

  1. When it's set, the issue key will be displayed as a strikethrough (KEY-556), which is extremely helpful when looking at linked issues in the issue navigator or other areas where the Resolution field is not displayed. 
  2. It's the field that Jira uses for the "Created vs. Resolved" report. 
  3. It's what the 'system filters' and 'gadgets' use to determine if the issue is resolved, not the statuses. 
  4. Lastly, it's the field that sets the "Resolution Date", which is a great way to know when something was completed.

For these reasons, you are doing a disservice to your organization by not using the Resolution field. Next I'm going to talk about some common mistakes that people make and how to correct them. 

Common Mistake 1: The Issue's Status is the Same Thing

While you may have created a status that reflects the same intent of the Resolution field, it's not considered to be best practice. Think about having to search every status to determine all the issues that were closed. It would be tragic if you were to forget one of them and it would be difficult to standardize around them as Jira Admins can add statuses as they see fit. Not to mention, issue statuses do not have an out-of-the-box way of knowing when something enters into that status. In reality, it's much easier to think of the lifecycle of the issue when it comes to issue statuses. If the issue is at the end of it's lifecycle, choose a status name that reflects that no more work is going to be done (I have a preference for the word "Closed" as it's neutral in meaning and conveys we're not going to be doing anything more to the issue). The Resolution field can then be used to differentiate why the issue is closed. This gives the resolution a purpose and helps people use the resolution correctly, giving the benefits described above.

Common Mistake 2: I Don't Want to Enter a Resolution

A conversation that starts like this is usually because the client doesn't care about defining the reason why an issue is closed, or they have a bunch of resolutions in the system because of poor decisions made by Jira Admins. There is one main question that needs to be asked to decide what needs to be done - "Do you always want the resolution to be the same when transitioning to this status?" If the answer is "yes", use a post function to set the Resolution to a single resolution. This will achieve the goal of setting the resolution without asking the user. If the answer is "no", then you may want to limit the available resolutions to the user. You can do one of two things:

  1. Delete some of the resolutions in the system. 
  2. Limit the options available on the transition by using a workflow property. 

If you decide to delete resolutions, you will be changing data for issues that have that resolution. This means you are impacting the Jira instance and may want to warn everyone before making the change. Jira won't allow you to make the change without giving a new value for the issues impacted by deleting the resolution. However, if you decide to use the workflow property, understand that this is on a workflow-by-workflow basis and will need to be instituted anywhere the change is needed. Additional information on workflow properties can be found here.

Common Mistake 3: The Dreaded "Unresolved" Resolution

I can't tell you how many times I've seen this and cringed. Here is the issue with adding an "Unresolved" resolution (other than being an oxymoron) when an issue is created, the Resolution is null, displaying "Unresolved" as the text on the ticket. What typically happens is someone will place the Resolution field on a Create or Edit screen. The Resolution field is always required when presented on a screen and since there isn't a resolution at this point, the user is forced to make a selection that doesn't apply. To fix this, a Jira Administrator will go in and create an "Unresolved" option to match the text displayed on the issue when no option has been selected. This is not the correct solution to this problem. This actually causes all sorts of data integrity issues and should be corrected immediately. Check out this Atlassian knowledge base article on ways to identify and correct this problem.

How to Use Jira More Effectively

Jira is a big complex tool that can be used in many different ways. This is just one seemingly important aspect that really can change the expected behavior of the application. We Praecipians have seen a lot of "interesting" uses of the tools and have helped guide many clients on how to use the tool to support their processes. If you are struggling with how to best use Jira for your organization, reach out! Praecipio Consulting offers Process Assessments that focus on your processes and your environment to ensure you are getting the most out of your Atlassian tools. 

Topics: jira blog best-practices tips atlassian-products
2 min read

How to Pay Down Technical Debt with an Agile Approach

By Chris Hofbauer on Jan 14, 2020 5:05:00 PM

Technical debt is a silent killer in many organizations today. A common misconception is that technical debt can be found in software bugs. While having bugs in your software is definitely one example of technical debt (and could be the most expensive), it is not the only one. Other technical debt comes in the form of work that was never completely finished, old code that is still in use, or even the systems and tools being used in the organization. These could have stemmed from taking short cuts or not delivering what was promised and then getting lost in the backlog. Whatever technical debt your organization owes, it is best to identify it as soon as possible and begin to pay it back before it is too late. 

Understanding Agility

Over time, productivity begins to give way to backtracking and putting out small fires. This causes deadlines to be missed or delayed, which again can lead to more shortcuts, patches, and workarounds. This causes the snowball of technical debt to continue to build momentum, which increases the concern for security threats. Anytime these shortcuts are made, there are crucial steps in the work process that are missed; one of those being documentation. Keep in mind - The less technical debt your organization has, the more agile they will be. Being more agile allows team members the ability to dedicate time to the items that are most important. 

Importance of Documentation

Documenting each step in your process and the work that was done, or not done, is extremely important in any organization. It's common for work to get done quickly and often not finished all in one sitting. For that reason, it is extremely important to not miss documenting all details of your work. Each step in the process should be described in enough thorough detail so that you or anyone else can pick up right where you left off. Having to go back and figure out what was done is not only frustrating but causes a decrease in productivity and additional missed deadlines.

Agile Approach with Jira

Paying down your technical debt can be better managed while taking an Agile approach using Jira software. One of the first and most important steps when beginning to pay down technical debt is to identify and bring transparency to it. Jira can be leveraged to shine that light on your current debt and give greater control over who this debt belongs to. Setting up your dashboards but using the power of the filters and the gadgets provided through Jira can help immensely. The average age chart and the pie chart are some of the most frequently used filters and gadgets. These help show all of the issues that have not been addressed over a period of time, which lead to an ever growing backlog. 

How to Pay Down Technical Debt

The road to paying down your technical debt can be a long one for many organizations and can be bumpy at times. However, it can be one of the most liberating and impactful undertakings your organization can take on. It's important to note that avoiding technical debt is not always realistic; however, it is crucial that it is controlled and kept from spiraling out of control. If you need help identifying technical debt in your organization or interested in learning how to configure Jira for more transparency, check out an old (but relevant) webinar Agile Best Practices with the Atlassian Toolset. Of course, you can always contact us to give you a hand. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile tips agile
2 min read

4 Ways Corporate Transparency Leads to Healthy and Successful Companies

By Esme Huber on Jun 18, 2019 6:19:00 PM

Is transparency a goal worth striving for in an organization? A lot of emphasis is placed on competitiveness and innovation, the twin motors that keep a company on the leading edge of their field. But how does transparency fit as a corporate value worth striving for? And ultimately, can we leverage technology to institute and cultivate transparency within an organization?

In its simplest form, transparency means working in such a way that is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency means communication and availability, enabling the flow of information to permeate a team and reduce reaction times. It also means openness: teams and individuals work more efficiently with better access to information. And transparency also means accountability: collaboration and cooperative decision-making leads to increased productivity.

At Praecipio Consulting, we've leveraged Atlassian applications Jira and Confluence, coupled with Slack to enable transparency. Having a transparent company can do many great things to keep you competitive. I've seen 4 major benefits where the Atlassian applications have enabled Praecipio Consulting's success:

  1. Better Relationships

    With clear communication, meetings on-demand, and instant project collaboration, it's easy to foster a sense of camaraderie with coworkers and leadership. Camaraderie keeps morale high and efforts on track.  Without transparency, or tools to enable transparency, it's easy to become focused on the wrong tasks or working in the wrong direction. Slack has been a great tool to enable instant communication regardless of where participants are located.

  2. Better Engagement 

    With a highly transparent company, it's easy to feel connected to the company's high's and low's. This connection inspires workers to become more engaged in their tasks and ultimately, helps foster purpose-driven work life. In the long run, workers who are more engaged are less likely to walk away or throw in the towel. According to PayCom, low employee engagement costs "an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion in the U.S., per year."

  3. Better Solutions 

    When management and leadership are available and transparent, problems get solved faster. Praecipio Consulting uses Confluence to manage many projects, and as they say two heads (or however many heads make up the company) are better than one! 

  4. Better Alignment 

    According to Entrepreneur.com, "Transparent leadership results in employees who understand the company vision and how their efforts help achieve company-wide goals." Praecipio Consulting hosts monthly meetings to highlight when and where employees align their efforts with our company values. The company "value-echoing" is then further enabled via Slack, our on-demand chat and video tool. Daily efforts and successes (even trials) are shared here so the company can respond and take immediate action. 

Transparency has done wonders for us here at Praecipio Consulting. Having open access to information, being able to seamlessly collaborate across teams and individuals, and feeling part of a coherent group working towards a common goal are all part of our efforts to use transparency as a tool for fostering competitiveness.

Drop us a line and find out how Praecipio Consulting's Atlassian expertise can help your project achieve openness and accountability, and give you that extra edge.

Topics: blog best-practices tips corporate-transparency slack
2 min read

3 Ways Atlassian Tools Help You Avoid Common DevOps Mistakes

By Morgan Folsom on Jun 4, 2019 11:42:00 AM

Using Atlassian tools for your DevOps endeavor sets your teams up for success. While there are many challenges in a new DevOps implementation, the tools you use don't have to be one. A quick search will show you that there are many ways to fail at DevOps - it requires massive organizational change and lots of moving pieces to function, so getting started can be tough. It might be a painful process to initiate, but as we've seen, it's absolutely worth it. With that in mind, while you focus on the big questions (Like how in the world can I deploy daily/weekly/hourly?), the Atlassian stack helps you out in some ways you may not have even considered. With one (or all) of these questions out of the way, you can get back to focusing on what matters: the people and processes that you're revolutionizing.

Below are a few common DevOps mistakes that Atlassian can help you avoid:

1. Failing to Automate Effectively

Automation is an essential component of DevOps - and one of the hardest. Rather than finding one product that tries to do a million things well, with the Atlassian stack you've got the killer combination of several awesome products that integrate seamlessly. The native integrations mean that in just a few clicks, your Bitbucket branch creation or pull requests, your Crucible code reviews, or even your Bamboo builds can move your Jira issues through their workflow. This is essential when you're working with several different tools - trying to keep track of where the work is will slow you down and has the potential to delay important milestones. Additionally, while the Atlassian tools work together like one product, if your team uses an alternative to one of the options, you can integrate them as well with the same ease.

Don't let your work tracker become just another bottleneck - make sure your tools are effectively integrated and refocus your energy elsewhere.

2. Ignoring HA Principles

The best systems aren't worth much if they're not up. When you're committed to High Availability (HA), you need your systems to be up as much as you (and your users) are - avoiding single points of failure, focusing on redundancy, and immediate failure detection. Jira and Bitbucket Datacenter products provide high availability so you can trust your systems will be up when they need to be (which is to say, always).

3. Mishandling Incidents

DevOps isn't just deploying quickly, but managing your code in an intentional way. This means making sure that if something goes wrong, you know it. Jira Service Desk has built in automation to keep work up-to-date and moving through its lifecycle. When you pair that with real-time build information, accurate visibility into things like pull requests and open incidents, then staying up to date is a breeze. Tracking incidents and development work in the same tool means you don't have to jump between issue trackers to know what's going on, and you can set up Jira Software and Jira Service Desk to keep everyone on the same page.

You'll often hear that DevOps is too focused on tools, and that you need to refocus on people and processes. This is absolutely true - the key is to work with tools that help you get out of your own way so you and your team can Get S@!# Done.

To read more about how Atlassian works with DevOps, read DevOps + Atlassian = Doing it Right by Senior Consultant Michael Knight or Top 5 Ways Atlassian Facilitates DevOps by Bryan Robison, Principal at Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: atlassian blog devops tips women-in-technology stem
5 min read

3 Tips for Atlassian Cloud Migration

By Bryan Robison on May 7, 2019 10:39:00 AM

It’s no surprise that Atlassian Confluence has become a mission critical application for your customers and support teams alike. You may find yourself in one of these scenarios:

  • Your company has recently acquired another company (with its own Confluence instance) and you’d like to combine the two

  • You’re using Confluence Cloud and have decided to make the switch to Server in order to leverage a particular add-on

  • You just had a successful product launch

  • People are simply adopting it in droves

Whether it’s making the move from Cloud to Server, consolidating two or more instances, or upgrading your instance to Confluence Data Center, migrating and consolidating Confluence may seem like a daunting task. However, migrating can be stress-free by creating an action plan that includes choosing the right strategy, focusing on the different versions of instances and add-ons, and relentlessly testing for errors. Here are 3 simple tips that will ensure that you have a successful Confluence migration.

Tip 1: Choose a Migration Strategy

Confluence instances come in all shapes and sizes and the particulars of your instance(s) can help you choose an effective Migration Strategy. Here are three examples:

Single Cloud Site to a NEW Server/Data Center instance

Export your Cloud site to XML using the backup manager and restore onto the latest version of Confluence Server following Atlassian’s instructions. Please note, in most cases add-on data will not be migrated as part of the XML backup so check with your add-on vendor to determine if they provide any type of data migration assistance.

Complete Server/Data Center instance to an NEW Confluence Cloud Site

The instructions are similar to migrating from Cloud to Server but in the reverse. There are more restrictions on moving from Server to Cloud, the most important is that your XML backup file must be smaller than 200MB. Consult your version matrix to determine add-on availability and compatibility. See Atlassian’s detailed instructions for migrating from Server to Cloud.

Restoring a Confluence Site from XML will overwrite any existing data. If you need to preserve data in your Confluence see the instructions below for migrating to an existing instance.

Confluence Cloud/Server Site to an EXISTING Confluence Instance

To migrate a spaces or spaces from one site into another existing site you have to use the Space Export method rather than backup/restore. This method can be a bit labor intensive as it involves exporting and importing one space at a time. Again, consult your version matrix for any incompatibilities between Confluence or add-on versions.

Users and content permissions will not be migrated using the Space Export method and will have to be recreated in the target instance.

If you’re migrating Jira at the same time, migrate the Jira project first to ensure that macros are updated to the new Jira location.

Tip 2: Create a Version Matrix

Each Confluence instance is different. When you’re changing platforms or consolidating instances you need to carefully review the differences between Confluence and add-on versions, determine whether upgrades are necessary, and identify any “gotchas” prior to starting your migration. A simple version matrix like the one below is an easy way to quickly identify those items you need to pay special attention to.

Product

Source Version

Target Version

Notes

Confluence

6.4

6.8

  • PostgreSQL 9.2 is no longer supported

Secure Content

2.0.3.1

2.2.0.1

  • Required for 6.8 Compatibility

  • Administrators can reassign ownership to any user

  • Improved Reporting Macro

  • Contact SCB owners with custom messages

  • Secure content blocks look better exported to PDFs

  • Improve performance and UI of secure content admin screen

  • Added Autocomplete in Macro editor key field to help locate pre-existing keys

DocuSign for Confluence

1.1.4.1-GA-6.1

1.1.5

  • Improved tabular output for Envelope List Macro

  • Multi-Select status for Envelope List Macro

  • Confluence 6.6 compatibility

 

Tip 3: Test, Test, Test

Testing is a key component of every successful Confluence migration and consolidation. There are a few areas you should review in your test instance (you do have a test instance right?)  prior to performing your production migration:

Content Formatting

The version of Confluence and Space Theme you choose can sometimes alter the formatting of content when you change instances. Carefully review and compare different page types to ensure that they render correctly and pay special attention to any pages that utilize Space or Global Templates and Blueprints. If you have Space Blueprints in your source instance, make sure they are migrated along with your content to your target instance.

Add-on Functionality

Add-ons can differ between versions and platforms so make sure that you review the usage of add-ons that may be incompatible and consider altering the content in your Source instance prior to migration or consolidation. Also note that add-on data is not often migrated when exporting content from Confluence. Consult your add-on’s documentation and contact the vendor for special assistance.

Space Permissions and Page Restrictions

We discussed earlier that users and content permissions will not be migrated using the Space Export method. Ensure that users and groups exist in the target instance prior to importing your Space and the Space Permissions after import. Page Restrictions will automatically be applied once the groups are in the target instance.

Application Links and Integration Points

Remember to migrate any associated Jira projects prior to migrating Confluence. Test your Jira macro links in the source instance to ensure that they are pointing to the correct Confluence instance. If you’re migrating a complete instance from one platform to another, make sure you update the application links between all of your Atlassian applications. Don’t forget to update any 3rd-party integrations you may have in place and notify any teams who may be accessing content or data through the Confluence REST API that the URL will be changing.

Successful Migration

Needs change over time, and migration and consolidation of Confluence instances can become a stressful endeavor. By following these tips you’ll have some tools to ensure success and keep your teams, users and customers happy. Visit Atlassian Cloud Migration's page here.

Topics: atlassian blog confluence migrations tips cloud cloud migration
7 min read

A Guide on How to Import Linked Issues into Jira from CSV

By Morgan Folsom on Nov 6, 2018 6:24:00 PM

This resource is for you if you've read Atlassian's documentation but are still confused on how to import linked issues.

Using the external system importer, Jira admins are able to import CSV spreadsheets into Jira to create new issues or update existing ones. This guide is an overview on how to use the External System Importer to create issue links. Note: This is not a comprehensive guide. Before reviewing this information you should understand Atlassian's guide on importing data from CSV. 

Requirements

Your file must meet the basic requirements described in the above-mentioned Atlassian reference material. For the different link types, any additional prerequisites are outlined below. 

How it works

When importing, each issue is assigned a unique ID, which is used when creating links. This ID can be the Issue Key, the Issue Id, or any Unique Identifier that you choose. Once the issues have been identified, you can link them in a variety of ways. 

What should I use for an ID?

  • Issue Key - Use this if the issue already exists in Jira. This is easiest if you are using data exported from Jira, as links export with Issue Key.
  • Other Unique Identifier - If the issue you're referencing doesn't exist in Jira yet, this is your option, which is particularly useful if you're importing linked data from another system that already has an ID assigned.

Examples

Sub-tasks and Parents

To create a sub-task/parent link, you use the Issue Id and Parent Id fields. Issue Id and Parent Id should each have their own columns in the spreadsheet. You can use whichever ID type you have decided on. In the below example, the issues are assigned consecutive numbers as IDs. This will work with any sub-task type issue types.

The spreadsheet should look something like this:

Issue Key
Issue Type
Summary
Issue ID
Parent ID
SCRUM-1 Story Ability to reserve an item for 2 hrs and return to it later 1  
SCRUM-2 Sub-task Create unit tests 2 1

When mapping the CSV columns to the fields:

Sub task and parent mapping in Jira

Importing Standard Link Types

If all of the issues in the spreadsheet are new (i.e., they do not exist in JIRA yet), you do not need to include an Issue Key. 

When importing issues using standard issue links (Epics, blocks, duplicates, etc.), you will follow a similar structure as before. You will still map Issue ID to a unique identifier, but instead of using Parent Id, you will use the specific link type. Each link type requires its own column, as shown below, allowing you to import multiple types of links at once. 

If any of the issues already exist in Jira, be sure to enter a value into the Issue Key field. You can import issues in any combination: whether all, some, or none of the issues already existing in Jira. 

Issue Key
Issue Type
Summary
Issue ID
Link "blocks"
Link "relates"
  Story As an admin, I'd like to import issues into Jira 123 456  
  Story As an admin, I'd like to link Jira issues 456   123

When mapping the CSV columns to the fields:

Importing standard link types in Jira

Here's an example of what one of the newly imported issues above looks like:

newly imported issues

It is important to note that Portfolio for Jira's parent linking functions differently than the standard issue links. Portfolio for Jira uses a custom field "Parent Link" to create the connection, and for this reason, it has different requirements for importing. 

For these links, you'll need to use the Issue Key, otherwise the field will not recognize any other IDs, which means that the issues must exist in Jira before you can create a Portfolio parent link via import. In this case, there needs to be a column with Issue Keys mapped to the Parent Link field. Note that all hierarchy levels above Epic use this same field, so you can have only one column. However, the Portfolio hierarchy must be respected; if you try to link an Initiative directly to a Story, for example, you will receive an error on import. 

The example below shows what it might look like if your hierarchy was configured as: Initiative - Epic - Story. The Epic would be linked to the initiative using the Parent Link field, but the Story is linked to the Epic through the Epic link. 

Issue Key
Issue Type
Summary
Link "Epic"
Parent Link
SCRUM-1 Story Make the server more efficient SCRUM-2  
SCRUM-2 Epic Blazing-fast server   SCRUM-3
SCRUM-3 Initiative World Class Product Experience    

 

Once imported, the issues appear in Portfolio like this:

Imported issues in Jira Portfolio

Now it's your turn to Import and Link!

Once you have your file prepped as described above, you can import issue links into Jira. If you run into any trouble, be sure to check:

  1. Your mappings -  Are the correct columns mapped to the right fields?
  2. Field values - Do I have the right values?
  3. IDs - Have I used the right type of ID mapping? 

As always, before importing large files, be sure to start with small amounts of data and test regularly. 

 

Now that you have your imported issues linked, feel free to check praecipio.com for other helpful tips on using the Atlassian tools.

Topics: jira atlassian blog how-to portfolio tips
5 min read

Travel Essentials for Work and Play

By Amanda Babb on Sep 18, 2018 11:36:00 AM

I had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Atlassian Summit Europe 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. Afterward, six of us headed to Cardiff, Wales for a colleague's (read: friend's) wedding. From there, my husband and I hopped from Ireland to England before heading home. Less than 24 hours later, I was back at the airport on a domestic flight to a client site.

While this seems like a lot, my trusty backpack held most of my essentials for the entire trip around Europe and acted as my go-bag when I was ready to hop onto my next flight. I've compiled a list of essentials I carry with me while traveling to keep not only my sanity, but to ensure I'm prepared for most, if not all, situations. 

Quality Luggage

After years of picking up roll-aboards at the local discount retailer, I finally invested in some new luggage. Don't get me wrong, my last roll-aboard traveled over 250,000 airline miles either in the overhead bins or checked and was only retired in August when one of the wheels finally fell off. My new one is soft-sided, expandable, lightweight, and has 360 degree movement. It's already traveled to Indianapolis and Cincinnati and will be in Vegas, Georgetown, Irving, Austin, and probably one more place I'm forgetting by the end of October. While I spent approximately $100 on the one piece of luggage, I am already pleased with its versatility and durability. Check out what I use here.

Shoes

Not just any shoes. Depending on what we were doing at Summit, in the evenings entertaining clients, or even attending the wedding, it is important to have good shoes. However, when packing light, it's important to consolidate when able. While tennis shoes were a must for an 8-hour day of training, they aren't exactly the right foot wear for an elegant Welsh garden wedding or roaming around the streets of Dublin. Durable, stylish, and comfortable: those are my requirements. Our HR Generalist turned me onto some of the best flats I've ever worn. Averaging 15,000 steps per day in Europe, I was concerned about their long-term comfort for traipsing around cities or attending the wedding where I could keep my footing on grassy surfaces and while dancing. I can't tell you how impressed I am with these shoes and how well they have survived the abuse so far. Best part: they're machine washable. A must after walking in...well...not sure I want to think about it. 

Flip flops are an essential for me for plane rides. I'm lucky my feet don't get cold and they allow me to wiggle my toes, arch and flex my feet, and perform other exercises while on the plane to keep the circulation moving. While it takes ~ 1 week of continuous wear to get them just right, once they're broken in, I can walk all day in them (and have). Just ask my buddy and fellow Principal Consultant, Brian Nye: 27,000 steps around San Francisco taking in the sights. In addition, they take up little space and depending on what I'm wearing during that week, I can choose from a load of colors. And they're easily replaced. Check out what I use here.

Reusable Water Bottle

While it may seem like a no-brainer, a quality reusable water bottle is an absolute must. Long plane rides, air-conditioned terminals and buildings, or visiting Jameson's Bow Street Distillery, hydration is key. I was lucky enough to receive one by Praecipio Consulting several years ago and I don't leave home without it. Many airports have bottle filling stations and if the restaurant has a bar, they're usually willing to fill it as well. I use this one because, other than it being free, has survived 200,000 miles in the air, several drops and falls, and keeps water cold for upwards of eight hours. Not that it usually lasts that long before I drink it all. 

Locking Pill Case

Like most folks my age, I have a few medications I take during the day as well as supplements to keep my body happy. On more than one occasion, the weekly pill case in my backpack has decided to open several days worth of pills into the bowels of my bag. While I was at my local drug store picking up a second case for the 16 days I would be out, I came upon a locking pill case that maintains my daily regimen. I can't tell you how thrilled I was and promptly bought two. I no longer had to worry about where I stashed the cases in my bag for fear I'd be picking fiber out of the bottom of my bag or, god forbid, the fish oil gel capsules were crushed. Traveling with my medications securely stowed in my backpack was a little extra relief as we moved from city to city. 

Travel Umbrella

While I have no preference on brand, the weather in Barcelona reminded me much of home: wait 5 minutes and it will change. It would go from absolutely sunny and gorgeous to rainy and back within a 20 minute period. I stashed this handy piece of equipment in my backpack about a year ago and promptly forgot about it. It has come in handy more times than I can count. When collapsed and stowed, my umbrella is approximately 8" long and weighs less than 6 ounces. It fits beautifully in the bottom of my bag and the wrist strap makes it easy to loop over my arm or clip to my bag when not in use. Mine also has a slip-cover, so stashing a damp umbrella in my backpack won't cause any problems. 

Travel Adapter

When headed to Europe and spending time in both Spain as well as Wales, Ireland, and England, switching or carrying multiple adapters and remembering plugs and cords and and and...ugh. Also, most adapters will offer you the ability to plug one item in then ask you to daisy-chain items to that one. For example, when plugging my laptop into the adapter, I might have to plug my phone and tablet into my laptop to charge those as well. Instead, I found a world adapter with USB charging ports. It also has a fuse for surge protection and each plug is retractable. It's lightweight, relatively compact, and mine survived planes, trains, automobiles, and boats. 

Portable Power Bank

Let's face it. When at a conference or on vacation, you're in for some long days and nights. There's also a significant amount of phone usage for pictures, posts, tweets, etc. It's not always convenient to carry the adapter, a cord, and a power bank. In fact, that puts me right back in the dilemma of "Do I really need a whole backpack to carry everything?" My husband found this one and I ordered one right before I left for Spain. While it's by no means light, it was compact enough that with an octopus (multi-use cable set), not only did it fit in my relatively small purse, I was able to keep my phone charged as we galavanted around the various cities. Best part: it has a solar charging option for the power bank itself. I tested this one sunny afternoon and was delighted to see the flashing LED indicator turn solid indicating it was fully charged. 

While I have many more things I keep in my backpack (probably too many things, to be honest), these items were and are a must when traveling domestically and abroad. If I have only one item to add, it would be something non-electronic to stimulate the mind. My preference is coloring, but a good novel (paperback), crosswords, Sudoku, or the compact multi-puzzle books are all good options. It should provide you the ability to disconnect from the world for an hour or two because, let's face it, travel can be exhausting and you can't pour from an empty cup.

Topics: atlassian-summit tips
3 min read

Metrics for ITSM in Jira Service Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 13, 2018 11:00:00 AM

There's a common saying that you can't manage what you can't (or don't) measure. Often attributed to Peter Drucker, the godfather of Business Management, the thought here is one must clearly define success criteria, establish a benchmark, and track variance in order to realize improvement and/or identify problems. A quick Google search returns articles both lauding and contesting this maxim. In a Forbes article from 2014, Liz Ryan writes, "That's BS... the vast majority of important things we manage at work aren't measurable, from the quality of our new hires to the confidence we instill in a fledgling manager." She continues to explain that by focusing too much on the numbers, companies often miss out on the big picture. 

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

While it's true there are intangibles in business and IT that are difficult to measure, there are several clearly defined metrics that can be reported on easily in Jira Service Desk. Personally, I'm a fan of measurement. I believe the acts of defining goals, baselines, and tracking variance bring about a shift in psychology that naturally increases the probability of achieving successful outcomes. Listed below are three important IT Service Management (ITSM) Service Level Agreements (SLA) and some links to Atlassian articles explaining how to implement them using Jira Service Desk.

MTTR: Mean Time to Resolution 

The R can stand for Resolution, Restore or Recovery. Whatever the translation, this metric generally measures the cycle time of unresolved issues. This can be measured as an SLA in Jira Service Desk, and reported on in a number of different ways.

Here's an article from Atlassian on how to do this: How to calculate Average Time to Resolution SLA for Service Desk

FCR: First Call Resolution

Also called First Contact Resolution, FCR measures the percentage of issues where the customer's needs are fully addressed within the first call or first contact with support. FCR is closely related to other metrics:

  • FCR and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction): Customers tend to be more satisfied when their issues are resolved within their initial call to support. It makes sense - they don't have to wait and check their email or the portal regularly to see issue updates. They just call support and their issue is resolved as a result.

  • FCR and CPT (Cost per Ticket): When FCR goes up, Cost per Ticket goes down. One of the key reasons for this correlation is that you have the customer on the phone or in the chat session. Capitalize on the opportunity of synchronous communication with the customer. In many cases, the support agent will need more information or will ask the customer to perform troubleshooting steps in order to resolve the issue. Having the customer available shortens the amount of time the agent dedicates to the ticket, lowering the MTTR as well as CPT.

For more information on the importance of FCR, see the Atlassian blog article: Why first-call resolution (FCR) matters.

CSAT: Customer Satisfaction

At the end of the day, it's all about customer satisfaction. Without customers, there would be no services to manage. Jira Service Desk has a built-in CSAT collection functionality that is easy to set up and extremely effective. Jira will send out a questionnaire on issue resolution to collect a score and record comments from the customer. 

Atlassian shares more about Collecting customer satisfaction (CSAT) feedback.

TL;DR

  • Metrics are important and they're here to stay.
  • Keep in mind, however, that they're only a proxy to the real thing. The better you define the success criteria, the goals, and the measurement logic - the closer you'll get to measuring the real thing.
  • The three metrics above are extremely important and there are links to how to set them up in Jira Service Desk
Topics: jira blog best-practices tips itsm
4 min read

Five Ways to Make a Team Space in Confluence

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 16, 2018 11:00:00 AM

While creating a space for your team in Confluence may seem like a simple undertaking, creating one that users actually want to interact is far from easy. We know what can happen when you miss the mark: you've got a team space, but it's a mess - nobody knows where to find anything, there's no consistent structure, and nobody actually uses it. It’s not hard for a space to become a documentation black hole - documents enter, never to be seen again.

Confluence is an industry leader due to its revolutionary capabilities. A well implemented Confluence workspace breaks down team silos, is specifically geared for turning conversations between team members into action, centralizes all information in one space, and fosters and encourages a culture of open teamwork.

Here’s the good news: creating a team space doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. With the right structure and out-of-the-box Confluence tools, you can easily create a space for your team that you don't have to bribe them to use.

5 Steps to a Collaborative Confluence Team Space

1. Create a landing page

The first page that you see when you go to your team space needs to be clear and appealing. If the space’s landing page is too cluttered, your user's eyes will glaze over before they get any useful information out of it. On the other hand, if the page is sparse with no useful information, why would they keep going?

For your landing page, you want to include information about the space: this is where you can throw in a bit of basic information about the team and its members, but you ultimately want to focus on what will be useful for your team. Using a Children Display macro on this page can give users a better understanding of where they can find information in the space as a whole. You can determine how many layers to show, and even include excerpts of the pages below. Similarly, you can link to commonly used pages or provide some navigation hints customized to your space. Now that you’ve got users in the space, you want to make the rest of the experience just as clear.

2. Establish a hierarchy

We recommend thinking about setting up the space as people will look at it - what do they see first? The top-level pages - so start there. They could be anything (and everything) from projects or training to team building. You’ll want to make sure you include any information you want your team to know, without flooding them with a ton of first-level pages. 

You can empower users to build this space with you by using the Create from template macro to help enforce your hierarchy. Including the macro on a high-level page allows your team to click a button to create the right page in the right location (if you customize your space templates, these pages can even include the correct macros and labels you need to report on them in other places). Once you've got an idea of how you want the space to be structured, you'll want to address the ever-important content that lives within the space (that's why we're here, isn't it!). 

3. Make it easy to find information

There are several things you can do right off the bat to keep users engaged and ensure they have what they need to do their jobs. Using the space shortcuts on the sidebar can call out commonly used pages - either in Confluence or external pages. Confluence also has some built-in macros that can improve your content with little effort:

Your pages look great, but who do you want to see them?

4. Restrict what you have to

Confluence allows permissions to be set by space and by page. This means you can lock down individual pages that may be more sensitive, and open up the important ones for viewing and/or editing by the team. Be careful not to lock the space down more than you need to - space and page permissions are great for security, but don't let them be a barrier to collaboration.

Once your space is set up, the next step is about keeping it simple.

5. Cut out unnecessary information

Knowing what doesn't belong in your team space is as important as knowing what does. We've all seen the overflowing wikis, filled with personal user notes or docs that have been around longer than you have. Personal spaces in Confluence are there for a reason - users can track information that isn't relevant to the team in their own space, without filling your space with irrelevant information. Archive information that isn't relevant anymore - Confluence pages track when they were last updated, and using the Attachment macro lets you track that for all of your space attachments as well.

Now you're ready to build out an awesome Confluence team space. Say goodbye to documentation black holes and e-mails from your team asking where to find information and hello to easy collaboration!

Still have questions? Let us know.

Topics: blog confluence teams tips collaboration consulting-services
12 min read

Custom Macro Parameters | JavaScript

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

Introduction 

Custom macros are a popular, supported, and versatile addition to any confluence page. Confluence users are able to use macros by making their own, searching the macro library, or by getting access to additional macros through add-ons. If you are making your own macro through an add-on, you will know that the parameter types, aka fields, are limited to the following: 

    • boolean - displays a check box.
    • enum - displays a select field.
    • string - displays an input field (this is the default if unknown type).
    • spacekey - displays an autocomplete field for search on space names.
    • attachment - displays an autocomplete field for search on attachment filenames.
    • username - displays an autocomplete field for search on username and full name.
    • confluence-content - displays an autocomplete field for search on page and blog titles.

Using JavaScript and Soy templates, you are able to inject custom parameters into a macro. The following tutorial is an example of a custom field injected into a basic macro form. The goal is to create a multi-select drop down menu comprised of static predetermined menu items. Note- JS functionality to create a multi-select list and the CSS are not included. 

 

Steps for injecting an element into a macro 

Building the macro

Example code of plugin.xml 

<xhtml-macro name="macro-list" key="macro-list" class="your.class.name"  documentation-url="#"
             icon="/path/to/yourPic.jpg">
    <category name="external-content"/>
    <parameters>
        <parameter name="User" type="username"/>
        <parameter name="Page" type="confluence-content"/>
        <parameter name="StatusSelect" type="string"/>
        <parameter name="Status" type="string"/>
        <parameter name="Width" type="percentage" default="100%"/>
        <parameter name="Max Results" type="int" default="30"/>
    </parameters>
</xhtml-macro>

 

Macro prior to injecting content

*Note: The "Status" parameter is not visible in this image. That is because the element is hidden with CSS. More on why the element is hidden in the JavaScript section. 

 

Configuring the Soy template multi-select code

{template .multiSelect}
    <div class="status-container">
        <div class="closed-status-margin status-selected-container macro-input-fields text">
            <span class="aui-icon aui-icon-small aui-iconfont-arrow-down select-icon" onclick="toggleStatuses()"></span>
        </div>
        <ul class="status-list hide-statuses">
            <li value="created" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Created</li>
            <li value="deleted" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Deleted</li>
            <li value="sent" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Sent</li>
            <li value="correct" onclick="statusSelect(this)">Correct</li>
        </ul>
    </div>
{/template}


JavaScript injection

JS code with explanation

//Run function on ajaxComplete to capture edit macro view.
$(document).ajaxComplete(function() {
    //looking for the macro-list macro to start running
    if( AJS.$("table[data-macro-name = 'macro-list']")){
            //must verify that the MacroBrowser is available to prevent errors
            if (AJS.MacroBrowser) {
            //override command that selectes the ds macro and the field/s selected
            AJS.MacroBrowser.setMacroJsOverride("macro-list", {
                fields: {
                    //calls anonymous function on string fields
                    "string": function (param) {
                        //checks specifically for the string input we want to inject to
                        if (param.name == "StatusSelect") {
                            //calls our function with the input's selected string param
                            return handleSpacesLookup(param);
                        }
                    }
                }
            });
        }
    }
});
//globally available but only called if the above criteria is met
function handleSpacesLookup() {
    //grabbing the div that surrounds our selected input/param
    var paramDiv = AJS.$(Confluence.Templates.MacroBrowser.macroParameterSelect());
     
    //create a variable for our desired template
    var docStatus = path.to.your.template.multiSelect();
     
    //setting a variable to the paramDiv that corresponds to our desired input area via ID
    var select = AJS.$("#macro-param-div-StatusSelect", paramDiv);
     
    //adding our docStatus element to the selected div
    paramDiv.append(docStatus);
 
    //return the selected/created element to the macro
    return AJS.MacroBrowser.Field(paramDiv, select);
};
  
//Functional logic for the multiselect not included.
 

Completed front-end example with JavaScript

Why is the Status Parameter Gone? 

The drop down multi-select captures the user's selection on the front end. When passing the macro form information back to the server via the preview or the save button, the Status Select format is not readable. To make sure that your information is able to be parsed, you may insert relevant information into another macro field. In this case, the user's responses are sent to the hidden Status parameter each time he/she makes a change to the StatusSelect. On save or on preview, only the hidden information is sent to be parsed. 

 

Potential Issues 

  • I only see an empty field when opening the edit macro, I can only see my field when reloading the page with the editable macro, OR I am getting null variable errors. 

    This may be a JS async error, which could explain some inconsistencies. Make sure that this JS file is accessible to the page, that functions are properly nested, and that the initial if clause is triggered as expected. The edit screen and dialog boxes are not connected to a page reload so queries done "on load" of the page will not be caught at this point. Use .ajaxComplete or an event trigger to re-run necessary functions. 

  • My new element works but now I am missing functionality from other parts of my page.

    Make sure that your selectors are unique and as specific as possible. Try to limit using css and JS selectors by the AUI class names as these are repeated through out Confluence. 

  • I am appending my element but only see a blank input box. 

    Your parameter type may limit the content that can be appended to it. For example, select lists cannot have non-option items added to it and will instead render a broken input box. Confirm that your template has the appropriate wrappers if any. You may need to append your template to the container instead of the parameter. 

Topics: blog confluence tips javascript macros bespoke
2 min read

Praecipio Consulting Webinars

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 20, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Our monthly webinars are designed to help you become proficient with the entire Atlassian product suite. Wether you want to convince your team to adopt Jira or are in search of some handy tips and tricks for End Users and Administrators, our webinars are designed for any skill level.

 

Praecipio Webinars

Topics: jira atlassian efficiency management practices process tips tricks lifecycle
3 min read

Jira Tip of the Month: Dot and Comma Dialogue Shortcuts

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 3, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Dot ‘.’ and Comma ‘,’ shortcuts

Take your fingers off that mouse! These keyboard shortcuts will help you become a Jira speedster, and get your co-workers to ask “Whoa, how’d you do that?”

Dot Dialog

When your on the Issue Navigation screen or viewing an issue, pressing ‘.’Will bring up an operations dialog menu.

From here, start typing the first few characters of the operation you wish to use.  For example, if you are viewing an issue and want to close it, simply type ‘.’ then ‘close’.

Here is a list of operations you can access using the dot dialog:

  • Start Progress — Set the issue’s Status to In Progress.
  • Resolve issue — Set the issue’s Status to Resolved and select the appropriate Resolution.
  • Close issue — Set the issue’s Status to Closed and if the issue has not already been Resolved, select the appropriate Resolution.
  • Reopen issue — Set a Resolved or Closed issue’s Status to Reopened.
  • Edit — Edit the issue’s details (Summary, Description, etc).
  • Assign — Select an asignee for the issue.
  • Assign To Me — Assign the issue to yourself.
  • Comment — Add a comment to the issue.
  • Log Work — Record the work done and time spent on the issue. This option is only available if Time Tracking has been activated on your Jira site.
  • Attach Files — Select a file, upload it and attach it to the issue.
  • Attach Screenshot — Select a file, upload it and attach it to the issue.
  • Voters — Opens the Voters list of the issue, where you can manage your vote and see others who have voted on the issue too.
  • Add Vote — Adds your vote to the issue. (This option is only available if you did not create the issue.)
  • Watch Issue — Become a watcher of the issue.
  • Stop Watching — Stop watching the issue. (This option is only available on issues you are currently watching.)
  • Watchers — Opens the Watchers List, where you can manage watchers of the issue.
  • Create Sub-Task — Create a new issue which is a sub-task of the issue.
  • Convert to Issue — If the issue is a sub-task, convert it to a standalone issue.
  • Convert to Sub-Task — If the issue is a standalone issue, convert it to a sub-task.
  • Move — Move the issue to a different project.
  • Link — Create a link between the issue and another issue. This option is only available if Issue Linking has been enabled on your Jira site.
  • Clone — Create a new issue which is an identical copy of the issue.
  • Labels — Edit the issue’s labels.
  • Delete — Permanently remove the issue.

(Note that some options in the menu will only be available if the operation is relevant to the issue, if you have the necessary permissions, and if certain features have been enabled by your Jira administrator.)

Comma Dialog

Similarly, if you are viewing an issue, pressing ‘,’ (available in Jira 5.1 or greater) will bring up the Go To Field popup.

Use the popup to edit issue fields in-line, without leaving the page. The following fields are available for editing:

  • Assignee
  • Summary
  • Issue Type
  • Priority
  • Component/s
  • Affects Version/s
  • Fix Version/s
  • Reporter
  • Description
  • Labels

Tune in next month

We’ll be delivering you tips and tricks every month, so make sure to keep you eyes peeled next month for another handy Jira tip. If you found this helpful, please visit Atlassian University - interactive tutorials and videos with tons of tips just like this one.

Topics: jira atlassian blog business efficiency management process tips tricks lifecycle
6 min read

7 Ways Social Enterprise Apps Are More Than Just Talk

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 1, 2012 11:00:00 AM

by Ashley Furness

CRM Market Analyst, Software Advice
June 27, 2012

Until recently, I might have called Microsoft crazy to drop $1.2 billion on social enterprise app vendor Yammer. The business case for replicating popular social networking functionality in a corporate environment seemed dubious at best. Would there ever be a return on investment?

“Social is more than a trend, it is a revolution that is changing the way we work and collaborate. Powerful social tools, such as Chatter, help employees work faster and more efficiently—making it a strategic piece of the workforce.” — Dave King, Chatter Product Marketing Director

But then I talked to some corporate AtlassianYammerChatter and Jive users, all of whom claimed measurable gains from these tools in a variety of areas. Here are seven ways they derive value from social enterprise applications.

1. Streamline Project Management

Software developers at PerkStreet Financial use Yammer to facilitate scrum meetings, a key component of the agile software development methodology. Rather than hold their daily morning standup meetings in person, each member of the 37-person team posts “what I did yesterday,” “what I will do today” and “barriers to moving forward” using the hashtag #scrum.

Praecipio Consulting has helped in.gredients, a package free micro-grocer, leverage many of Atlassian’s products into extremely powerful tools for project management. Jira and Confluence for example, are used in conjunction to inform teams or others externally on goals, tasks, progress, and results. Confluence makes it easy for their teams to collaborate and share knowledge of Jira roadmaps, workflow, and tasks, or to document work, allowing users to delegate tasks with the “@”symbol.

The tag in Jira and Confluence allows users to quickly see what everyone is working on and chime in when appropriate. Similarly, Yammer can also delegate tasks to others with the “@” symbol. With Jive, users can also employ shortcuts such as an “!” to pull information into the thread from CRM and other enterprise systems.

2. Augment Transparency and Accountability

Since PerkStreet hosts all conversations on Yammer rather than trapped in someone’s inbox, management has continuous insight into the team’s progress.This also prevents work duplication and redundancies because everyone is literally on the same page.

“If you look at someone’s scrum over time, you can see whether they actually accomplished what they said they were going to,” PerkStreet COO Jason Henrichs notes.

Similarly, Jira and Confluence have allowed for Praecipio Consulting to increase its clients’ transparency and accountability even in the case of telecommuting among employees, who at times live in different states. Christian Lane, Managing Partner of Praecipio Consulting said, “the ability of the Atlassian product suite to increase transparency and establish accountability has allowed our business to grow and operate seamlessly across borders.”

3. Increase Communications Efficiency

HipChat, the newest member of the Atlassian family, is similar to Yammer and Jive. It’s a hosted group chat service that helps teams, or entire companies, collaborate in real-time. HipChat has a powerful API and comes loaded with integrations to Atlassian’s most popular products - JiraConfluenceFishEye and Crucible. These integrations allow you to get targeted notifications from products into the relevant chatrooms for your teams.

Salesforce surveys show enterprise wikis can reduce email by 30 percent and meeting by 27 percent.

FlexJobs founder and CEO Sara Sutton Fell said Yammer drastically cut down on her need to email, call or schedule a meeting to check in.

4. Find Experts Faster

Centerstance Inc. Managing Partner Greg Lueck says Chatter helps sales staff answer deal-specific questions expeditiously. He recalled one situation where a partner needed someone certified in Cast Iron software integration who spoke Mandarin. The resource manager working with the partner posted the query in Centerstance’s news feed.

“They had an answer within 30 seconds… in Mandarin,” Lueck remembers. In this and similar scenarios, the employee would have otherwise “relied on a central repository of all company’s experience that is located in one person’s head, or nowhere at all.”

Jive surveys show sales win rates increase an average of 23 percent, and time to find experts falls 34 percent.

5. Better Leverage Information and Insights

Social enterprise vendors have invested heavily in social and adaptive intelligence. These sophisticated algorithms suggest articles, files and experts based on the user’s position, connections, group memberships and resources they’ve previously accessed.

“Chatter knows what you care about based on your activities, making it’s value immeasurable,” King says of Chatter, the salesforce.com social layer. As a result, employees are better informed and can answer questions before they even know they have them.

“Imagine you have 10,000 people in an enterprise. Sales materials, RFPs are constantly flowing through system… Jive makes the most of this information by channeling it to the right people,” according to Jive Product Marketing Director Tim Zonca.

Additionally, HipChat stores full conversation history, so anyone new that joins a room can catch up and participate in the discussion.

“HipChat is incredible – perfect for product teams but fantastic for any team. Its use absolutely exploded at Atlassian, demonstrating the viral adoption potential of a modern communication system for teams,” says Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO and co-founder of Atlassian. “Connecting and sharing ideas in real-time helps teams move faster, and HipChat does this better than any other product I’ve used.”

6. Generate More, Better Ideas

Yammer provides several means for employees to contribute ideas–from responding to queries and surveys, to posting ideas in a group discussion threads. Users receive gratification when co-workers and leadership “like” their contribution. Then, they are continually rewarded as they watch project teams bring the idea to fruition.

With one advertising campaign, for example, Deloitte CEO Peter Williams asked employees for their ideas for a tagline. More than 38 groups formed that submitted 1,184 original concepts.

7. Boost Employee Recognition and Engagement

In the four years since Deloitte AU implemented Yammer, the turnover rate for active users has fallen to two percent annually–about 10 times less than for employees who don’t use it. Leadership attribute change to employees feeling more engaged and recognized for their work.

“In a company with 180,000 people, most employees rarely interact with leadership,” says Frank Farrall, national leader for Deloitte Australia’s Online Consulting Practice. “Yammer breaks down those barriers.”

Deloitte leadership uses Yammer to pull reports that identify employees with high engagement and positive feedback. The more a user interacts with groups, downloads articles and responds to queries with the same keywords, the more they are distinguished as thought leaders on a subject.

“This is one key way to rise up in the firm–get recognized as someone who drives connectivity,” Farrall added.

Deloitte layered gamification elements into Yammer to further drive engagement and recognition. Using the behavior platform Badgeville, Deloitte awards “badges” when employees report milestones in Yammer, such as completing segments in Deloitte’s Leadership Academy. Users can monitor their rank on a leaderboard that shows what they need to do to surpass the person immediately ahead, encouraging them to do more.

 

Topics: jira atlassian blog business confluence efficiency enterprise management practices process tips tricks value collaboration continuous-improvement operations
2 min read

The Powers of Persuasion - Atlassian and Business Process Management

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 26, 2012 11:00:00 AM

During our last Atlassian User Group meeting a few attendees asked us for pointers on how to convince their managers to implement or expand upon the Atlassian product suite as a Business Process Management Tool. To us the task seemed easy, especially since Process Optimization and Management are some of our founding principles.

After doing a bit of research we were a bit surprised by what we found. According to a study conducted by the Journal of Information & Management71% of executives had negative feelings concerning IT as a source of competitive advantage.

This is especially shocking since exploiting current capabilities while simultaneously developing new ones is a common theme among organizations. This idea serves as a baseline for strategic management and is crucial for adapting to changing environments. It’s through this delicate balance of business activities that the notion of Business Process Management (BPM) was born.

As BPM continues to be considered an important way for organizations to achieve a competitive advantage, senior management should be aware of IT’s ability to facilitate these processes. However, as the study pointed out, this isn’t always the case. In many organizations senior management’s reluctant to promote the strategic role of IT and instead, consider it just an automating tool.

This notion’s not only outdated but it also negates the entire philosophy of BPM, and the idea of developing new organizational capabilities.

So how can you overcome these seemingly insurmountable sentiments, standing in the way of cost-cutting, Business Process Optimization? According to the study, executives were most likely to be convinced of the almighty powers of IT when provided with substantial evidence of the following outcomes:

  • Assurance in the success of process re-engineering
  • Greater simplification in business process
  • Increased efficiency by at least 50%

So whether you are attempting to convince a coworker, boss, or yourself, being well armed with relevant examples of the above will come in handy.

Looking for relevant examples? Try the following case studies:

Topics: atlassian blog automation bpm business management practices process tips tricks continuous-improvement lifecycle operations
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

10 Hotspots for Process-Generated Waste: (02) Over/Under-Communicating

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 24, 2011 11:00:00 AM

This is the second installment of a 10-week series. Each Thursday we (a) pinpoint a hotspot, (b) offer context and possible solutions, and (c) ask for answers from the crowd. So, enjoy – and contribute!

There are indeed many ways to miscommunicate. Today’s hotspot is centered around over and under-communication within organizations, located in the business’ main information artery: email.

Over-communication. You all know that person: the one who compulsively “replies all” for the sake of nerve-twitching clarity. Or the companies who send five or 10 or 20 mass emails per day to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Truth is, over-communication puts everyone on too many pages, and can generate a remarkable amount of waste.

It takes time to look at an email. It takes a little more time to measure its relevance to you and determine a course of action in response (reply, archive, delete, etc). A flooded inbox bogs down productivity by generating time waste – so if a message is even marginally irrelevant to someone, it’s probably worth considering whether they should receive it.

Perhaps the biggest problem with over-communication, though, is that it can involve more people in an issue than necessary. Problems are solved most easily when only a few people are working together to fix them – so if a bunch of folks are roped in, the solving process can become complicated. Only pull necessary people into a conversation. A key part of this is having clearly-defined roles within your organization, as well as exact pathsproblems should take as they escalate – or a well-designed, automated issue tracking system.

Under-communication. Here’s the flip-side: an organization that lacks communication paths and therefore communication in general. If employees don’t have clearly-defined roles, methodical issue escalation, or a general perspective of how communication should occur within their organization, problems pop up.

These problems stem from missed details and a lack of clarity, and often generate problems in work production that have to be fixed later (waste). While it’s important not to over-communicate, under-communicating can provoke just as many problems.

YOUR STORIES: When have you seen over- or under-communication in your organization? What problems did it cause, and how were they fixed? Comment below or tweet @praecipio.

Topics: blog bpm business management problem process tips tricks
1 min read

10 Hotspots for Process-Generated Waste: (01) Not Confronting Problems

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 17, 2011 11:00:00 AM

This is the first installment of a 10-week series. Each Thursday we’ll (a) pinpoint a hotspot, (b) offer context and possible solutions, and (c) ask for answers from the crowd. So, enjoy – and contribute!

This one’s easy. Problems that aren’t confronted aren’t fixed. But you’d be surprised how often problems actually go unfixed.

Why? In general, it takes time to fix things. In many instances where this is the case, people recognize there’s a problem but are too busy to devote time to fixing it and prioritize other tasks.

The problem festers. Problems that are noticed have impacted productivity and well-being negatively to some extent, or else they wouldn’t be problems – i.e. employee time (and therefore money) is being wasted. On a small scale – say, in a group of five people – this could cost the company a hundred bucks a month. On a large scale, the loss could fly off the chart. In the larger scenario, we’re talking about a problem that could just be a minor inconvenience for a handful of folks becoming a budget boon for Finance, which will presumably have no knowledge of a problem.

It’s cheaper to fix problems when they come up – even if they take hours to get right.

YOUR STORIES: When have you seen this in your organization? How (and when) did you end up fixing it? Comment below or tweet @praecipio.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog bpm business finance management problem process tips tricks waste
3 min read

Don't Let Your Software Dictate Its Own Life

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 11, 2011 11:00:00 AM

It’s natural for us to neglect maintenance. It works like this:

  • You have a problem that needs to be fixed.
  • You neglect the need for awhile because it’s not “bad enough” for you to spend money on it.
  • The problem worsens; the need intensifies. Extra work is done to keep things running.
  • The need is prioritized. But the solution is too expensive.
  • The problem worsens even more. Tons of extra work is done to keep things running.
  • The money spent on temporary solutions nears the total cost of a solution.
  • You purchase a solution to the problem.

Now, after all that trouble, money, and wasted time, the last thing we want to do when we procure a solution is devote work to maintaining it. It’s true with any solution. When you buy a new car, you don’t want to deal with changing brake pads during your first month of ownership. When you fix a problem, you are physically and emotionally pre-disposed to exalt the solution as ultimate redemption and not think about the problem. The problem is fixed. There are no more problems.

But you can’t do this with software, even though every ounce of yourself inclines you to. Even if your business spends $1 million implementing a new do-it-all software solution. No matter how much you paid, the cost doesn’t mean your maintenance / future planning responsibilities don’t have to exist. If you don’t actively ensure your software is:

  • integrating effectively with your business processes,
  • integrating effectively with other software / systems,
  • adapting to future needs,
  • responsibly maintained,
  • used properly by employees,
  • compliant with industry trends and best practices,
  • and kept cost-effective,

…you effectively (and unintentionally) make your software fail. Indeed, in most cases, new software that becomes obsolete to the business within a year of its implementation is often the result of:

  • Misuse / lack of proper training. Employees who lack a knowledge of what the software can do, how it works, and how it improves their work, they won’t be able to see the advantage of using it – and more importantly, they won’t be able to use it right. Document management software, for example, can quickly become messy and disorganized if employees don’t understand how it’s supposed to be used. That’s a major setback to progress – and could create a problem worse than the original one.
  • Poor adoption rates / internal advocacy. Closely relating to misuse, if the solution isn’t “marketed” internally, employee buy-in could flounder. Preparing employees for a solution is a key part of the implementation process. Few people love change, and businesses can’t expect employees to react well if change is spontaneously legislated from their point of view.
  • Lack of integration with business processes. If a software solution doesn’t integrate with business processes, it doesn’t improve an organization. Period. And the more business processes it integrates with, the more valuable it becomes. Great software improves process, and improved process makes the business more profitable by trimming costs.
  • Lack of integration with other software / systems. A single software rarely solves every business problem. Multiple softwares are usually leveraged for different purposes. Since business processes throughout an organization impact one another much like those of a living organism, processes are interdependent. They interact with one another across departmental lines. Process management software will therefore interact with other systems – making integration a must for success.
  • Lack of compliance with industry trends and best practices. Keeping up with software trends is crucial in this day and age. While it’s costly, it keeps your company marketable and ensures access to support services. Adopting a software that was last updated in 2002, for example, will render you irrelevant to the times, which speaks about your organization. Best practices such as ITIL are derived from industry-leading successes. They pave paths of success for others to follow. Staying on the cutting edge and doing it right are required to remain healthy and progressive. Not doing so can leave you in the dust.

Don’t let your software dictate its own life. Planning is as important the day after “go live” as it is the day before. A software that’s prepared for, well-maintained, well-integrated, and supported with forward-thinking will yield the highest long-term ROI to the business.

Topics: blog bpm business management practices process software tips tricks company compliance cost-effective itil organization
2 min read

SharePoint for iPhone: SharePlus

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

As we mentioned in SharePoint in Safari Mobile, we neglected to review SharePlus – another popular SharePoint for iPhone (and in this case, iPad) app. SharePlus takes the cake from the four apps we reviewed in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps.

 SharePlus, by SouthLabs, $14.99
SharePlus offers a more extensive user capabilities, as you see below.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: YES (via Documents To Go)
  • Upload documents: YES
  • Email documents: YES

A key advantage SharePlus has over other apps is its ability to add pages as “Favorites.” All of the apps we’ve reviewed, including SharePlus, organize a SharePoint site’s lists, libraries, etc into one alphabetical list – very counter-intuitive in comparison to how you’re used to navigating SharePoint from a browser. With Favorites, however, you can at least choose which lists and libraries you access most frequently to prevent having to scroll through a huge list. Then, when you open the app, simply click on the Favorites page to have your frequented pages ready to go.

Other perks include an email and refresh button on every page, so you don’t have to restart the app to speed things up. Page load times are decent in areas with good cell or wireless coverage, depending on the size of your site. Be aware ahead of time that the initial loading of your site to the app will take a few minutes.

The $14.99 price is by far more than any of the apps we’ve reviewed. We see both sides of the coin here. The ability to edit documents, email documents, cut down on search time with Favorites, and operate via iPad are legitimate advantages. But you’ll have to weigh the cost of those extra capabilities against the basic functionality of other apps.

Our take: if you need to edit and send documents frequently from your mobile phone, SharePlus is worth your investment. If you hardly use that functionality and just need to view documents on-the-go, you may need to consider your decision more thoroughly.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
1 min read

SharePoint in Safari Mobile

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 9, 2010 11:00:00 AM

As we said in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps, iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor.

After testing popular SharePoint apps for iPhone (with the exception of SharePlus, a late-comer we plan to review soon), we found that accessing SharePoint from Safari mobile was either just as good or better than using an app – especially because of its capability set:

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

There were some trade-offs, of course. Using an app allowed us to find information a little more quickly, for example, since page reloads weren’t a part of the search process. On the flip side, exploring sites and folders on the app was a bit counter-intuitive since we’re so used to browser-based navigation.

Also, SharePoint pages configured for mobile access loaded quickly in Safari; pages that weren’t loaded more slowly and showed up very small, requiring us to use our fingers to zoom in to make page text readable. Configuring a SharePoint page for mobile access isn’t rocket science, but does take a little effort and forethought.

Overall, however, mobile access via Safari was good enough to lead us to this conclusion: there’s just not a huge advantage either way. While apps offer easier access to information on sites with good information architecture, browser-based access offers similar performance – and a look/architecture you’re used to.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 2, 2010 11:00:00 AM

A few years ago, the idea of accessing a powerful application like SharePoint on a mobile device was jaw-dropping. Today, the experience itself is dropping jaws.

iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor – and offers slick browsing performance on SharePoint’s mobile pages, which we’ll talk about in more detail on 9 November.

If browser navigation isn’t for you, a handful of iPhone apps have made it easy for users to perform most basic SharePoint tasks from their phones. We’ve taken the time to compare four of the best SharePoint apps on the market, contrasting their capabilities. Here’s what we found:

 

Attaché by Lûcrum, $0.99
Attaché has a decent-looking user interface (UI), but there are some key things missing – including a refresh button, document properties, and SSL connections. In addition, some lists and libraries are incompatible with Attaché, and simply aren’t shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: NO
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Moshare by Moprise, $1.99
Moshare’s key advantage: it allows you to email documents. It also imports your SharePoint contacts into your iPhone address book, making it easy to email documents on the fly. In addition, you can change the way list items and documents are sorted by tapping sort buttons at the bottom of the screen (which match the list or library’s attributes field).

On the down side, however: like Attaché, there’s no refresh button, and some lists and libraries are incompatible and not shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: YES

 

iShare by Spyk Software, FREE
iShare, unlike each of the other apps we reviewed, allows users to add and edit list items – perhaps the most practically valuable capability on our list. This enables users to update project status on the go.

In addition, iShare offers search, refresh, and secure access to each of your site’s subsites. To choose between sites, simply tap the site’s name in the list of sites. None of the titles or properties are truncated, allowing for a less annoying viewing experience.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Sharetica by Jacek Rutkowski, $0.99
Sharetica’s a fairly good app to navigate and view SharePoint in. You can’t add or edit list items or upload/email documents, but if you just need to view a document on-the-go, Sharetica’s got you covered.

One kink we noticed: document properties are truncated if they don’t fit the iPhone’s vertical screen, and there’s no way to toggle over to view the whole thing. Flipping the screen to landscape mode helps, but doesn’t always catch the full property. All of our documents have important properties, so this was pretty annoying.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

Of these four apps, iShare impressed us most. The ability to edit and add list items is a key “on-the-go” capability, and the easy navigation between subsites made jumping around SharePoint quick and easy. Moreover, iShare’s free as opposed to the others.

As for user interface, all of the apps looked similar aesthetically – as most iPhone apps do. We were slightly opposed to Moshare’s slimy green theme, and a little annoyed by iShare’s abundance of pumpkin orange. But hey, we’re talking about accessing SharePoint from a mobile device, not which shades of colors we’re subjectively inclined to enjoy.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

FAQ's

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 31, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Since we’re a consulting firm with a funky (we prefer “unique!”) name, we’re always armed with answers to the questions that follow “we’re Praecipio Consulting.” It would be a little silly to have an FAQ page on our website for such questions – so we’ve set out to answer the popular ones here. Ahem.

What does “Praecipio” mean?

For starters, it’s not a food or spice. Praecipio is Latin for the English words anticipate, advise, and instruct. We chose the name because its meaning matches our meaning. Praecipio, by definition, is what we do. You can read the full scoop on our name in Praecipio: It's What We Do.

So you do process management and bunch of software stuff – doesn’t that mean you’re just IT consultants?

No. Our partners are experienced in consulting in numerous areas – process lifecycle management, project management, custom software development, etc…and, of course, IT. All ends of a company, though, impact one another. One department’s initiative may impact another department just like the motion of a foot can impact the balance of the body.

When we say we work in all of these different areas, we mean to stress that we have to understand how the body works if we’re going to operate on the foot, so to speak.

I heard you host Microsoft Exchange, but couldn’t find much information about that on your website. Is that rumor true?

Yes. We offer Exchange migration, hosting, and support for businesses large and small, available upon request. We don’t advertise this heavily because it’s not our primary offering; we currently host Exchange for a handful of small businesses and have the solution ready and available for our clients’ benefit. Hosting has become a truly affordable and secure way to manage corporate email and content management systems.

We also host Microsoft SharePoint, offer cloud backup solutions, and re-sell / offer migration to Google Apps. If you’re considering any of these hosting solutions, talk to us now. We’d be happy to offer you advice and perspective.

You mention Microsoft technologies extensively. I run a Google Apps-based business – are you relevant to me?

Of course. Again, we re-sell Google Apps – and offer migration and configuration guidance to businesses who choose to “go Google.” Microsoft solutions aren’t best for everyone just like Google solutions aren’t best for everyone. We suggest the solutions that are best for our clients – not those with a particular brand name.

We do, however, have extensive experience with Microsoft SharePoint in particular. We have implemented SharePoint-powered solutions that have greatly lowered our clients’ operations expenses. Due to the success, we want to market that kind of solution to people we may be able to help, offering the proven track record as assurance. It’s rewarding to see our clients reduce their costs and grow using our solutions. Our SharePoint solutions have done just that, and if you think you can reduce your costs with a similar solution, we’d love to talk to you to learn more.

I’m a small business that doesn’t have an IT department or anything like that. Can you help me? Or do you just cater to the enterprise?

Yes, we can help you too! Partnering with smaller businesses (even one-man shops) offers us the chance to help you grow over time – which is essentially what we’re after with any work we do. Small businesses can take advantage of our free two-hour consulting sessions (we offer this to any first-time customer) for guidance and perspective. They can then have us as a point of reference as they grow.

Our hosting opportunities (Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, cloud backups, Google Apps) are most appealing to small businesses, since very few small businesses (and large ones, for that matter) want to own a server of their own. We take care of hosting and support for businesses who want to take advantage of those tools without all the overhead.

You mention “process automation” on your website. Are you taking away people’s jobs?

Certainly not. We’re not deploying robots, either. Read the full scoop in 4 Misconceptions of Process Automation.

I noticed you didn’t cover [this] on your blog. Do you plan to tackle that topic in the future?

Sure. If you have a topic you’d like us to discuss on our blog, just throw us the idea – we’ll have our quills ready. Call us, email us, tweet us…or just post a comment on the blog.

We’d love to meet you. Talk to us here.

Topics: management process project sharepoint tips tricks development hosting lifecycle microsoft bespoke
2 min read

How SharePoint Quick Launch Works

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 23, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

 

 

One of the most important things to consider when designing a SharePoint site – or designing any site – is creating easy and intuitive access to data with logical organization. In SharePoint, it’s useful to store frequently-viewed pages, lists, and libraries in the Quick Launch bar on the left side of the page.

The Quick Launch bar allows you to quickly navigate to pages you commonly need. Here we have landing pages that aggregate related data and furthermore may limit data to those things that are important to the specific user logged inYour SharePoint developer determines which pages, lists, and libraries appear in the Quick Launch bar. It’s important to not consider the Quick Launch bar as a site index – remember, not all pages, lists, and libraries of your SharePoint site…unless your site is very, very small…should appear in the Quick Launch bar. Only those needed frequently should be stored there.

The Quick Launch bar can be specific for every site or sub-site in SharePoint. A quick etymology lesson: we’re working inside a sub-site right now. This Demo sub-site is a sub-site of our main SharePoint site, titled Brothers Lane Collaboration Site – as you see in the top left. Sites may divide into sub-sites, and sub-sites may divide into pages. There is only a Home page on our Demo sub-site. If there were another page, titled Sales or Legal Matters, etc, you’d see it here. So the Quick Launch menu can vary from site to site or sub-site to sub-site, but not from page to page. All pages on a site or subsite will have the same Quick Launch menu.

You can add a library or list to the Quick Launch bar by using the Settings tab, as you see here in Test Library B, and clicking on Title, Description and Navigation. Here you see the option to “display in Quick Launch.” I’ll select yes…and here you see Test Library B in the Quick Launch.

Find other SharePoint how-to’s and learn more on our blog.

Topics: efficiency enterprise how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos collaboration
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

Four Ways YOU Can Ensure Cloud Security

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 16, 2010 11:00:00 AM

In our last Cloud post (Cloud Computing Risks and Rewards) we discussed a number of Cloud risks related to security:

These risks don’t “demonize” the cloud – but rather raise some critical questions regarding the protection of company data that’s migrated to cloud servers. The security of the cloud is still a bit (forgive the pun) cloudy to most – and may integrate well with existing security policies, protocols, and infrastructure.

Christofer Hoff – who offers excellent cloud perspective in his blog Rational Survivability-
claims it’s not the nature of cloud computing businesses should be worried about, but rather how companies implement and manage cloud computing.

“We’re struggling less with security technology solutions (as there really are few) but rather with the operational, organizational, and compliance issues that come with this new unchartered (or pooly chartered) territory,” Hoff wrote in his post Security and the Cloud – What Does That Even Mean?

Hoff’s quote pinpoints the simple source of our worries: we’ve developed a standard for IT security and compliance that’s being disrupted by something new. The question now is not whether companies should migrate to the cloud. The question is how our existing security methodologies will translate and apply to cloud computing. Since no industry standard for cloud security compliance has been adopted, organizations must steer their own ships as they sail toward cloud solutions.

Four ways organizations can retain appropriate data security as they implement elements of the cloud:

  1. Policy reviewing. A few thorough reads of your cloud provider’s policy will likely explain the rights they reserve to store and protect your data.
  2. SAS70 and PCI Compliance. As we said in our last post, SAS70 and PCI compliance policies may uncover details that aren’t specified in service agreements. They’re standards for cloud peace of mind.
  3. Choosing a public, private, or virtual private cloud. Public clouds allow secure employee access to company data from any system anywhere. Private clouds are more costly, granting access from company systems or systems within the company’s LAN network, providing greater control over data resources and security. Virtual private clouds use a public cloud infrastructure in a private /semi-private manner, providing more balance between cost efficiency and security.
  4. Leveraging ITIL methodology. ITIL offers a one-size-fits-all starting point for IT methodology. As more business adopt cloud applications, businesses will have opportunities to apply ITIL methodology to a new generation of computing.
Topics: atlassian blog implementation library management services technology tips tricks security cloud compliance computing information infrastructure it itil
2 min read

SharePoint Orientation

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 14, 2010 11:00:00 AM

This text mirrors what you’ll hear in the video.

SharePoint provides a common framework for helping you do your work efficiently and effectively, and to improve communications between you and your colleagues. This introductory video is intended to provide you with a base understanding of Microsoft SharePoint – so we’ll cover the terminology you need to know to make your way around the software.

We’ll start with Lists. Within SharePoint, data is organized in to collections called Lists. Lists are like a table in a database or an Excel worksheet in that they contain many individual records or rows.
List attributes are shown as column headings, as you see here. They help distinguish list items from one another.

A list item is a discrete record within a list that has the same attributes as every other list item in that list. These attributes can be of many types including, but not limited to, numbers, strings, dates, files, and system users. It should be noted that file attributes are attachments to the list item.

The next important term you need to know is Document Library. Document Libraries, like Lists, are collections of data – but unlike Lists, Document Libraries are meant to be a repository for documents, including Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets, etc. As you see, this library is already populated with some documents. The attributes of those documents are shown again as column headings.

A Document Library Item is a discrete record, and more importantly, a discrete document. Each document in the document library will have the same attributes as other documents in the library – though each document may have a different template. You can create a templates for files within your document library – and select one to use for a new document in the New tab. Two important features to note are:

  • Number one, the Document Control feature, which allows a single editor to check out a document to edit it, thereby restricting access to only one user at a time. Permissions can be given to users to allow for read-only or more restricted permissions.
  • Number two is Document Versioning, which allows for changes made to the document to be tracked over time.

The next term is Workflow. A Workflow is a packaged set of instructions that can be executed in a repeatable fashion for any given List Item or Document Library Item. Workflows may be executed automatically by the system on the creation or modification of a list or library item, or manually by the user.

The button you see here shows where to access Workflows for this List Item. You can see it by using the drop down and on the display form. Note that not all lists will have workflows associated with them. Only workflows that are manually executable will be displayed here.

The next term is View. All Lists and Document Libraries present the information contained within them by using Views. Views are similar to a simple database query where you can specify what kind of records you want to see (filtering) and how they should be presented (grouping and sorting).

Here I’m showing a view of Test List A using the All Items by Status view. You can select a different view – even a custom view you create – in this box in the upper right of your screen.

The last term is Web Part. Web parts are sections of a web page meant to share related information. These web parts can have many uses throughout a web site.

Here I’m showing a Web Part within the display form for a Test List A item. This web part shows only those documents where the related Test List A Item is the same as the list item being displayed above.

Now you’re familiar with the foundational elements of SharePoint. Our how-to videos will show you how to perform basic user and developer-level operations using these elements.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Build a List in SharePoint

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

 

1. Click SITE ACTIONS in upper right
2. Click CREATE
3. Click CUSTOM LIST in fourth column
4. Name list and assign attributes
5. Click CREATE 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos
1 min read

How to Check Documents In and Out in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 1, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

Method One:


1. Click the drop-down arrow on the document
2. Click CHECK OUT
3. Open document for editing by clicking the drop-down menu
4. Click EDIT IN MICROSOFT WORD
5. Edit document
6. In Word, click the top left menu
7. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK IN
8. Enter latest version comments
9. Click CHECK IN or OK

Method Two:

1. Click document name in SharePoint
2. Select EDIT, click OK
3. In Word, click top left menu
4. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK OUT
5. Edit document
6. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK IN
7. Enter latest version comments
8. Click CHECK IN or OK

You can always correct any mistakes by closing your document and checking in/out from the SharePoint page. 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Customize a SharePoint Document Library

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

Add FOLDERS and/or ATTRIBUTES to make your SharePoint library easier to navigate.

To add folders, click NEW, and then NEW FOLDER.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Create a Document Library in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

1. Click SITE ACTIONS button in upper right
2. Click CREATE
3. Click DOCUMENT LIBRARY, top of left column
4. Name/assign settings
5. Click CREATE

 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Upload Documents to SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

 

1. Click UPLOAD tab
2. Click UPLOAD DOCUMENT or UPLOAD MULTIPLE DOCUMENTS
3. Find and select desired documents from your system
4. Click UPLOAD
5. Name and assign attributes
6. Click OK

More SharePoint how-to’s on our blog or on our YouTube channel.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos
2 min read

The Centralized Process Repository: Promoting Enterprise Efficiency

By Praecipio Consulting on May 3, 2010 11:00:00 AM

If you’re a large enterprise, you may be using different applications and processes to support local, national, and global initiatives. On those different levels, separate applications may be needed to manage unique sales, marketing, or IT processes.

The difference in processes, methodologies, and application tools may lead to inefficiencies in management, such as:

  1. Higher cost of managing multiple applications
  2. Lack of consistent governing structure
  3. Inconsistent or incomplete performance measurements

A typical enterprise cannot usually leverage one application for sales, marketing, and IT purposes. Using multiple applications to manage different internal and customer-related processes is in most cases necessary to ensure efficiency and quality customer service. The problem, therefore, is not that the enterprise has too many applications to manage – but that the enterprise cannot effectively manage all of them without some sort of centralized documentation of each application’s attributes and processes.

Without a central location for application-based data, data gets stored at seemingly random locations throughout the enterprise’s storage and resource structure. While process and metric information about an enterprise’s European sales resides on one server, information about their European customer support system may reside somewhere else. This stratification and distance between processes can cause a number of problems in terms of efficiency:

  • Difficult to apply Change Management to all enterprise applications
  • Difficult to access application information at any given point
  • Difficult to measure the efficiency of each application to ensure quality performance
  • Difficult to identify and diagnose problems in a timely manner
  • Difficult to understand how different business processes affect one another

This explains the need for a Centralized Process Repository. As we noted in our previous post, a Centralized Process Repository (CPR) is critical to the success of the enterprise’s process strategy. It stores the following information about each of the enterprise’s applications at the process level:

  1. Resources required (software, equipment, personnel)
  2. Cost (direct and indirect)
  3. Owners and stakeholders
  4. Applications enabled by the process
  5. Separate processes effected or supported by the process
  6. Data points that measure the process’ value to the organization
  7. Frequency of execution
  8. Details regarding how the processes is carried out

The enterprise may not be able to consolidate their applications into one larger application. They may also be unable to devote time to improving each one individually. Adopting a CPR, however, establishes a consistent framework for governing each application by consolidating all process data into one accessible location – requiring any change to a process to be documented by a governing entity. This ensures the accurate measurement of process performance, since performance data points and change updates are stored in one reliable location.

The CPR improves an enterprise’s process performance by maintaining the information needed to measure, improve, and control business processes. We emphasize this to our clients to ensure their success as an efficient enterprise. In addition, the CPR promotes an understanding of the cross-functional nature of the enterprise’s processes – encouraging cross-departmental collaboration by focusing on the relationships between internal processes, end-to-end.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog bpm business efficiency management process services tips tricks value change continuous-improvement operations
2 min read

The Difference Between Cloud Computing and SaaS

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

In a business world clouded with buzzwords, it’s easy to lose track of the actual meanings of terms relevant to the IT industry.

Take cloud computing, for example – one of the tech industry’s biggest buzzwords at present. A number of software vendors have been using the phrase “cloud computing” to market their Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products. Are the two terms different from one another, or the same? Or is cloud computing truly a meaningless buzzword?

In truth, the two terms are different. SaaS refers to software that’s owned, delivered, and managed remotely by a one or more providers. The provider handles all the “heavy-lifting” associated with the service: server maintenance, support, etc. SaaS products are usually out-of-the-box tools that don’t require extensive setup. They’re accessible by web, and usually paid for on a subscription or pay-per-use basis.

Cloud computing refers to the broader concept of allowing people to access scalable, technology-enabled services via the internet. The term has become virally fashionable in the tech industry – much like the word “organic” in the food industry. Cloud computing – more commonly referred to as “the cloud” – is an on-demand way of providing services. It’s usually touted as an intelligent approach to computing in today’s fragile economy.

SaaS is essentially a subservice of cloud computing. Not all cloud applications are SaaS applications, but nearly all SaaS applications are in the cloud, which provides the computing power to run those applications. SaaS applications, therefore, are offered on the cloud platform. The folks at Common Craft do a good job explaining these differences in their video “Cloud Computing Plain and Simple.”

Cloud computing and SaaS refer to different things. While SaaS refers to out-of-the-box applications offered on the cloud platform, cloud computing refers to the bigger picture of how software can be provided more efficiently through the internet.

That bigger picture includes the transition of the software industry toward a Software-as-a-Service model, where customers make decisions based on the value of the service. Daryl Plummer – Chief Fellow at Gartner, a US-based IT research and advisory firm – said in a 2008 podcast that this economical change in the software market is the power of cloud computing: “The way we actually charge for cloud-based SaaS services won’t be based on how many servers we’re running, how much maintenance costs we’re taking on, or which software products we bought,” Plummer said. “It’s going to be based on the value of the service to the customer, and when you start getting into that consumer-provider relationship, the customer ends up setting the value.”

Two years later, Plummer was right.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: atlassian blog enterprise library management services technology tips tricks saas cloud collaboration computing information infrastructure it itil
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

5 ITIL Change Management Tips

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 19, 2010 11:00:00 AM

In order to remain competitive, a firm’s IT environment must be aligned with the firm’s business strategy – meaning IT should share responsibility in delivering value to the customer.

This is why Change Management is so important: changes to the IT environment must not disrupt the value delivered to the customer. IT must maintain stability even during change. ITIL’s Change Management methodology provides a clear framework (with defined roles, responsibilities, and processes) that can facilitate success.

Change Management should be considered a major undertaking. Determining where your firm stands in terms of ITIL maturity and developing a realistic project plan will improve your ITIL effectiveness.

Here are 5 Change Management tips to consider:

1. What’s a change, exactly?
Reality check: changes happen all the time. Nearly everything in IT involves some sort of frequent change. That being said, it’s important to figure out just what you consider to be a change. You can then determine when to apply ITIL Change Management principles.

Every change (even small installations and deletions) should be handled in terms of Change Management. The smallest of changes could cause major disruptions if no one knows about them.

2. What, specifically, will Change Management accomplish for my organization?
It’s no surprise that some firms have trouble defining ITIL in general. Since ITIL methodology isn’t something you can learn on a coffee break, most IT and non-IT folks alike don’t have the time to study ITIL for days.

Even if someone understands ITIL, they may not understand how it applies to efficiency. Someone might think implementing Change Management will fix issues related to Release or Incident Management. Pinpointing what Change Management will accomplish for your organization is therefore vital to understanding what it’s actually doing – managing the oversight and approval aspects of the change process in a unique organization-specific environment.

3. Articulate the benefits of Change Management to each level of the organization.
This goes right along with our last tip. Once you pinpoint the applicative benefits Change Management will have for your organization, advertise them. Getting buy-in at every level of the organization is critical to the success of your ITIL implementation.

There are multiple stakeholder groups within every organization – that is, folks personally and organizationally affected by the change. They’ll want to know “what’s in it for me?” in order to judge whether they’re on board with the change. Presenting accurate change information tailored for each stakeholder fosters better accountability from stakeholder groups – and improves buy-in.

4. Don’t Buy a Tool Until You’ve Determined What You Need.
While it may make sense to buy software to guide your Change Management implementation, doing so before laying out your process framework is counter-productive.

A more productive approach includes determining your needs before adopting a tool, so you can better evaluate which tools fit your needs instead of adjusting your needs to your tool.

5. Use Change Management Success to Promote Other ITIL Initiatives.
Folks are usually familiar with the Change Management component of ITIL – and oblivious of its other processes. If you track your Change Management successes and gather supportive data from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), you can use success stories to promote the benefits of other ITIL processes like Release Management, Incident Management, etc.

One final tip: It’s worth noting the incredible value and need for leadership/executive support in the Change Management process. It’s important for company leadership to sell and support the change despite resistance in the company to organizational and cultural change. Often times, Change Management implementations are resisted since they uncover underlying issues that some within the company don’t want to uncover. Ultimately, though, Change Management helps make everyone proactive and out of the reactive, fire-fighting mode.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog implementation library management process release technology tips tricks change continuous-improvement incident-management information infrastructure it itil operations
1 min read

Business Process Management Success

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 3, 2010 11:00:00 AM

At the center of every business are the employees who support a company’s success by performing necessary daily processes. In order to succeed, however, employees need to work together in an organized, effective manner, with a sophisticated understanding of how their processes operate and relate to one another. Without it, business process may be rendered inefficient.

To improve your business from a business process management (BPM) perspective, you must first document how processes are carried out within your company through process mapping. Mapping out your processes creates an organized understanding of how work is carried out in your company—the first step toward business efficiency.

The next step is implementing a software tool to capture and store these processes for you. Process management software—specifically software like Microsoft SharePoint— allows you to capture this process data from key data points and store it in a common database for employee access.

Once your processes are mapped, defined, and digitally documented with process management software, you can then build workflows into those processes that allow selected steps within them to be executed automatically. Process automation, or workflow automation, has an incredible impact on business efficiency by speeding up a process in an organized, methodical way.

For example:

  • Your business receives an order
  • Order is automatically sent to a processing clerk and stored on server
  • Order validation is handled automatically according to predetermined decision criteria (yes, no, pend)
  • Order travels down different paths according to decision criteria

Workflow-based processes also allow process management software to collect real-time information on employee performance. By embedding data collection points in workflows, employers can view dynamic data that makes it possible to gain a high-level perspective on company performance.

This describes our process management consulting capabilities in a nutshell: we help companies transition toward refined processes that can be repeated and monitored, making businesses more efficient and profitable long-term.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog automation bpm business management process tips tricks value lifecycle
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

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