3 min read

Tips For Setting Up Effective Kanban Boards In Jira

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

2021-q4-blogpost-Tips For Setting Up Effective Kanban Boards In Jira

Jira'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

By Larry Brock on Aug 31, 2021 12:57:07 PM

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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 Status

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

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

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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

2021-q4-blogpost-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

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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

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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 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

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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

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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 Lauren Schroeder on Jul 2, 2021 9:15:00 AM

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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

2021-q4-blogpost-Confluence Atlassian- Understanding the Software-1

This 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

2021-q4-blogpost-New to Scrum Master Role Guide – Part

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

Jira 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

2021-q4-blogpost-Tips & Tricks for License Management_1

Let'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

types-best-practices

Since 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 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 You Do Not Do When Starting Jira Service Management

By Lauren Odle 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 Jira?

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 using Jira. 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 to demonstrate a predictable velocity. QA wanted credit for the test complete in Jira to demonstrate a continuous flow. Jira Release Managers wanted credit in Jira 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 and tying work from code complete through managing the release in Jira 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 Jira 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 Jira releases 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, 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 in Jira will need a Workflow. The Workflow can be simple, however, we recommend using a Ready for Production Status in the workflow. When integrating Jira 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 Jira Release Issue Type.

How do we know which stories and bugs are tied to the Release in Jira? 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 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 in Jira is as simple as adding a Fix Version to the work as well as the Release issue.

When managing Releases in Jira, once the Release issue has been deployed to Production, always go back and release the Version in Jira. 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 and Bitbucket Pipelines. The Jira 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. 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 it 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. 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 Release Management in Jira 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 Jira Release Management 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 using Atlassian Jira 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? If you can answer those questions you’re well on your way to having effective release management in Jira.

We here at Praecipio Consulting have extensive experience with both Jira Release Management best practices and the Atlassian suite of products, which we are happy to share with you to help you achieve more effective release management with Jira.

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 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 Jira

Permissions 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

To begin, it’s important to understand the delete permissions structure. Within Jira, there are four groups of delete permissions: 

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


And then within those permissions, there are 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 most 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 an innocuous permission and can be assigned to any users with access to a project, unless you have strict requirements otherwise. It will likely primarily be used for clean-up, and the ripples it can cause are 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 feature might be useful were someone to, say, accidentally upload an adorable picture of their dog rather than a spreadsheet for the project. 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 WorklogsDelete 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 years’ worth of tickets. 

Remember: when something is deleted in Jira, it’s gone forever. This permanence can be a nightmare for many, 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!  Explore more ways we can help your team succeed with our Consulting Services, or contact us with a question or request and one of our experts will be in touch shortly.

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

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

By Praecipio Consulting 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 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
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 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!

At Praecipio Consulting, we pride ourselves on being able to work with your team in a variety of ways to help you meet your goals. To learn more about the services we offer, visit our Consulting Services page, and check out the process frameworks we specialize in, like DevOps, ITSM, ESM and more.

Topics: jira blog sdlc tips jira-software custom-development
4 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. Contact us today to request a demo and receive more information.

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Topics: best-practices confluence tips email-notifications
7 min read

Our Guide for Importing 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. 

 

At Praecipio Consulting, our team of accredited and certified Atlassian experts can help your organization meet its goals efficiently and succinctly. To learn more about how we can partner with your team, visit our Consulting Services page to explore just some of the Solutions we can help implement, or contact us directly.

Topics: jira atlassian how-to portfolio tips
4 min read

5 Ways to Make a Team Space in Confluence

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

5 Ways to Make a Team Space in Confluence Header ImageWhile 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: confluence teams tips collaboration consulting-services
12 min read

Custom Macro Parameters with 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

Edit DocuSign Envelope Screenshot

*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

Edit DocuSign Status Screenshot

Edit DocuSign List Screenshot

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. 

At Praecipio Consulting, we know that using Javascript can be tricky. Let us help you with any issues you come across while building your macro. Contact us with questions and concerns.

Topics: blog confluence tips javascript macros bespoke
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‘.

 

Need some more help navigating Jira Dashboards? Learn more about Jira here, or contact our team of experts and we’ll answer any questions you may have.

Topics: jira atlassian blog implementation issues management optimization process-consulting project tips tricks tracking consulting-services

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