3 min read

Individuals and Interactions Over Tools Doesn't Mean No Tools

By Morgan Folsom on Feb 1, 2021 11:00:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_People & Process over tools doesnt mean no tools-1"Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"

It's an important line from the Agile Manifesto – one that establishes that the focus when trying to work in an Agile way is the people. However, we often see this used as a justification to provide inadequate tools to teams. In a well-run Agile organization, you shouldn't have to think about the tools - they should support the work that the team needs to do without getting in the way. Organizations often make the mistake of implementing tools to make teams work in an Agile way. However, tools are in and of themselves not enough - the people and processes behind them are what makes a business go.

However, this doesn’t mean we should ignore the tools we use, opting for whatever’s cheapest, easiest to setup, what we’ve always used, or something that’s “good enough.” Rather, we should take the exact opposite approach and select our tools purposefully, deliberately identifying the tools which best empower employees and promote processes. Because of this, there are two properties of utmost importance when considering a new tool: the tool should allow our team to run with the process that best meets our team’s needs, and the tool should help our team members work better together.

To fit the first of these criteria, the tool should be customizable in a way that allows your team to use your own process. Much of enterprise software today shoehorns teams into predefined configurations and settings which the tool manufacturer thinks are best. This leads to frustration, difficulty in using the tool, and potentially costly transitions to new software. In our experience, every team is at least a little bit different, and even two teams that want to implement the same fundamental process will find they have a few differences they would like reflected in the process. Because those differences tend to arise from the uniqueness of your team, they are important to capture in the tool in order to give your team the tools that best meet your needs.

Further, a good tool will promote communication and collaboration between teammates, inside or outside of the tool. Information tends to get lost when team members do their work in one system but communicate that work in another. For this reason, an ideal product will allow for conversations to take place within the product, ideally directly on the work item those conversations are referring to. Historical conversations should be preserved to allow for a look back on what decisions were made and why, and the tool should have options for how users are notified of important communications. Further down the collaboration path, handoffs should be made simple if not automatic, and any approvals should be doable within the tool. Finally, high-level or detailed status reports should be visible and accessible by any team member who needs or wants to see them.

These two crucial properties are two of the reasons we like Jira. Atlassian’s strategy for a long time has been to develop applications to meet the 80% of needs that are shared by most teams, such as collaboration features, malleable processes, and easy visibility of work, while allowing the remaining 20% of needed functionality to be determined by individual teams and sourced in the Marketplace. The result is a product which delivers good performance out of the box, but can be optimized to meet the needs of any team.

Consider the role that Jira plays in Agile. A large portion of the functionality is built in: Kanban and scrum boards, backlogs, issue types, workflows, and sprint reports. However, the software is customizable to the point that it works equally well for teams that have a quick, simple process with a few issue types and teams which have a complicated process with several rules, handoffs, and types of work. It doesn’t matter to Jira whether your version of Agile requires multiple manager sign-offs before it’s done or if your team lives on the edge, skips QA altogether, and goes straight to production. The point is that the software fits your process, not the other way around. Regardless of process, there are several mechanisms for the team to stay in touch along the way. Every issue can be commented on and allows for @-mentions to draw attention quickly. Email notifications are sent out at times decided by the team, not at arbitrarily defined times decided by the tool’s developers. Progress is simple to see on a board, and every user has access to generate reports or build dashboards to collect information relevant to them, reducing the need for repetitive status reports.

Most organizations will purchase a tool, kick it around for a few years, then junk it because it “doesn’t work right” or “doesn’t make sense for us.” Don’t let this happen to your organization. Pick your tools with care and optimize them for your team. And if you need help, talk with the experts, and get great advice!

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

Confluence Spaces: Rightsizing for Maximum Effectivity

By Brian Nye on Jan 11, 2021 3:45:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Confluence Spaces- Rightsizing for maximum effectivity

Your company has decided to make Confluence your collaboration platform, and you've been asked to get this thing going. Where do you start? Don't worry, you are not alone. Trying to figure out what makes up a Confluence space is a struggle that many people have when getting started with Confluence (and even for those who've had it for years). There are two questions that should be asked to help make the decision: What's the purpose of the space and who will be using the content? Once you get the answers, you'll be on your way to setting up the perfect space for you.

What's the purpose of the Space?

Confluence and Jira will be working hand-in-hand to get work done. Because the two applications work so closely together, it is important for the information to be organized in a way that will allow users to draw parallels between the two applications. The best practice is to create a Confluence Space for each Jira Project. By doing this, users are able to create and find information quickly and easily. This mapping will allow users to first create the ideas in Confluence that will relate to Jira Issues as the ideas mature. Confluence can then be the home to the reports of the products or process as the issues are worked and closed. This prevents guesswork from trying to figure out where content should live or where to find information in the future. 

This is not a hard and fast rule, as there may be reasons for having multiple spaces for a single Jira Project, but those should be edge-case scenarios and not the norm. It is highly recommended that users do not create a space based on a single user or group's access permissions. Confluence Space permissions, along with page restrictions, can often satisfy the need to keep information segregated. There may be times that one Confluence Space represents multiple Jira Projects when the projects are closely related. If this is is the case, be sure that the structure is clear so users can find the information quickly.

Who will be using the content?

Spaces don't always need to have a related Jira Project in order to created. Sometimes, a Space needs to be there to coordinate the thoughts of other entities like a Team or Department. For example, my Team may want to document how we are going to improve our Agile process. This is not something that others will care about when they are looking at the Space of the product that team happens to be building. So rather than having one large space that contains all the things the Team is doing, split the space with a clear distinction based on who will use the content. 

Last but not least, socialize the decision

Don't forget that you are not alone in your Confluence instance; others in your organization are likely feeling the same! Be sure to take action by clearly naming Spaces based on what their purpose is to the business. Feel free to add Space Categories and Descriptions to help other navigate more easily to your content. Following these simple rules, Praecipio Consulting has helped other companies organize their Confluence into a more productive and manageable application.

If you have questions on Confluence, Jira, and how these two amazing Atlassian tools can work together in your organization, contact us and one of our experts will get in touch with you.

Topics: jira atlassian blog confluence tools
3 min read

Are Atlassian Tools Right For My Business?

By Brian Nye on Jun 3, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Statuspage copy

Many businesses considering or have purchased one or more products from the Atlassian stack (Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, etc.) have thought, "Is this right for us?" If you are asking this question, you are not alone. Some question why a business would invest in tools that they are not even sure if they meet their business needs, and this is rooted in the fact that Atlassian tools are extremely flexible, perhaps too flexible. Combine Atlassian's flexibility with evolving process requirements and lack of true Atlassian expertise, and you get a toolset that doesn't fit your business needs. This doesn't need to be your reality. You just need some guidance, and Praecipio Consulting can help by doing an Atlassian Process Assessment.

What is an Atlassian Process Assessment?

Praecipio Consulting understands two things extremely well: business processes and Atlassian tools. Simply put, the Atlassian Process Assessment utilizes our core competencies to understand your business process challenges to put together a plan of action on how to get you on the right path to maximize the Atlassian technology stack. It doesn't matter if you are brand new to Atlassian or a long-time user, we can help you figure out the best approach for implementing the products. Here are some of the cases we have encountered during the last year. 

  • One business was in the process of transitioning from another tool to Jira. They were looking to use Aha! as their product roadmap tool but wanted to use Jira for their development teams. We helped them align Jira and Aha! from a process perspective, and we figured out how to structure Jira to support their agile development needs. 
  • A company was undergoing a merger, where two instances of Jira and Confluence were going to be used in a single instance. The entities that were merging used the tools differently based on their users' needs. They brought us in to figure out the best way to structure Jira in the new shared instance and also to correct years of system misuse. We provided a roadmap detailing out the order of operation needed to be successful in their efforts for simplifying and streamlining processes. 
  • One client had been using Jira and Confluence for many years to manage various teams, and they were wanting to see a more holistic, SAFe view of their work using the Atlassian stack. During the assessment, we evaluated not only their use of Jira and Confluence but also their SAFe implementation by identifying areas of opportunity for key agile practices. 

What to expect during an assessment

Praecipio Consulting conducts the assessments by meeting with various teams to discuss their overall business processes and what tools they currently use to support them. Typically, we interview small groups of people in similar roles (such as Scrum Masters or Program Managers) who have a comprehensive understanding of their current processes. We look for patterns of common challenges that teams across the organization are experiencing and result in inefficiencies. Once the patterns emerge, we propose recommendations about how to overcome those challenges and how to best represent the process in the tools. These recommendations are prioritized into an implementation roadmap so clients know how to go about making the changes in their organization. 

Throughout the assessment, the client's project sponsors gain valuable insights into how the business performs and the areas that the Atlassian stack can help make processes more efficient. Praecipio Consulting takes as many voices as possible into account so that we can get a "big picture" understanding of the good and the bad. That way we can give our expert take on what we should do going forward. We have seen hundreds of tool implementations across different industries, which allows us to confidently give you the best advice for making impactful changes to your organization.

What clients say about our Atlassian Process Assessments

After all of our engagements, a retrospective is held for the client to express the value they received from the Atlassian Process Assessment. Here are just a few of the things our clients have found valuable about the service:

  • A healthcare technology company said, "It was a positive interaction that presented a clear vision of what we want to do after the engagement so we can be tactical about our long-term strategy."
  • A telecom device manufacturer stated, "The consultant was able to navigate the personal nuances of our teams and provided us with great value that helped us move forward in our transformation."
  • An energy provider said, "We needed to take a step back to look at what we were doing and come up with a strategic roadmap. The consultant helped us understand the gaps in the path and charted a course that's in line with our practices so we are not trying to learn those ourselves. It was a good investment in what we need to do."

Are you ready to let our professionals take a look at your business? Our fresh set of eyes can provide you with new insights and guidance towards a more healthy and productive Atlassian implementation. Reach out to our team if you are interested in an Atlassian Process assessment!

Topics: blog process-improvement tools process-assessment atlassian-products
2 min read

DevOps + Atlassian = Doing it Right

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost-effective

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

Integrations

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

Customizable

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

Numerous applications

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

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

Topics: atlassian blog devops process-consulting tools consulting-services atlassian-products

Continuous Integration Domination: Jira Issues + Bamboo Builds

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 8, 2012 11:00:00 AM

 

 Here’s a video overview of Atlassian Bamboo’s integrations with Jira. Learn how these two powerful tools combine forces to improve efficiency, traceability, and coordination across your product team. Read more on Jira here, and discover more ways to achieve continuous integration Zen with Bamboo over here!

Topics: jira atlassian bamboo issues videos tools continuous-improvement integration atlassian-products

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

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

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