3 min read

How to effectively communicate across all of your tools

By Morgan Folsom on Aug 5, 2021 12:33:48 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-August-Why-more-tools-does-not-mean-better- communication

One of the coolest parts of working with the Atlassian suite is the ability to see the wide variety of industries that use the tools in different ways. In my role working with clients I have seen how every company has adapted the tools slightly differently to make them work best for their processes, and help them make that process even smoother.

 While doing so I get to see firsthand how they communicate internally and externally. 

It becomes clear that while many of the tools that we use in our day-to-day jobs are great at facilitating communication, it can be hard to figure out exactly which tool we should be using for what. Here at Praecipio Consulting, I could reach out to my colleagues or clients lots of different ways – a Slack message, a comment on a Jira issue, a comment on a Confluence page, an email, or I could skip all of that and just call them directly. Sometimes, I'll see a combination – a Slack message to verify if a call is okay, or an email that follows a comment on a Jira issue to make sure that I've seen it. 

While Jira and Confluence is often the most direct way, many organizations run into the issue of mismanaged notifications that means people filter out all of their notifications (for detailed guides on how to fix that in either tool see How to Solve: "Too Many Jira Email Notifications" or How to Solve: "Too Many Confluence Email Notifications"). Ultimately, what's most important is that the team is consistent enough in their usage that you know where to find the information you need. 

Given that, here are my recommendations:

Jira

Use Jira comments for all communications specific to the issue at hand. This keeps the information tied to the subject, easy to find in the future, and permanent. You won't have to worry about having deleted an email if you've got all of the comments on the issue themselves. 

Confluence

Follow the same guide as above – if you've got a Confluence page about a subject, keep the collaboration in one place! You can use either inline comments or page comments to track the communication. Even resolved inline comments stick around, so if you need to reference this in the future, no problem. 

Chat (Slack, Teams, etc.)

Great for informal chats, quick clarifications, and funny gifs – but I try to keep any official decisions either out of the chat, or copied to the issue/page that holds the content on the subject we're discussing. If you're using a tool like Workato to integrate your Jira and Slack instances, you can even have your Slack messages added to the issue directly. 

Email

If you're going to be emailing about a ticket, just include the issue key in the Subject and CC your Jira email address, and the email will be added to the comments of the issue. This way, for folks who prefer working in email, the communications aren't lost. Otherwise, I try to send as few emails as possible.

Call (Phone, Slack, Zoom, etc.)

I'm a millennial, so let's just say this is rarely my first choice. Most of the time, for quick conversations I prefer chat, but, especially as more workers are moving remote, this can replace the quick stop by your desk that you may be used to. 

Ultimately, the above is how I manage communications internally and with clients, but which tool you use for which purpose is far less important than that you're consistent. The less time you have to spend hunting down information the better, so agree as a team how you'll communicate and stick to it!

If you are having trouble managing your teams' communications, contact us and one of our experts will be glad to help.

Topics: jira blog best-practices confluence workato workflows community culture slack
2 min read

Praecipio Consulting's Incident Management Solution Is Live in Workato's Automation Marketplace

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 31, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Praecipio is live in Workatos automation marketplace

Fun fact: At Workato's 2020 Partner Awards, Praecipio Consulting took home the Partner Award for IT Automations for the work that we did in collaboration with Workato and a leading animation studio to deliver an integrated Incident Management solution. The award recognizes our value in streamlining the incident management process through the integration of on-call tools, leading to improved resolution times and an enhanced experience for both the agent and customer.

And now, you can find this exact solution to in Workato's recently-launched Automation Marketplace, an online marketplace of best-in-class workflow automations across various business functions inside an enterprise. The Praecipio Consulting team created a solution around Incident Management using Workato and the Atlassian suite that seamlessly communicated to Jira Service Desk, Slack, AND PagerDuty. This recipe for success keeps agents focused on helping their users (rather than trying to figure out which tool has the most up-to-date information) and delivering an exceptional experience for the client's customers.

Head over to Workato's automation portal, where we outlined exactly how to implement this solution within your organization. And for more information about how we use Workato, check out our recent case study on Enterprise Service Management!

Topics: atlassian automation workato incident-management user-experience
3 min read

Workato: A Recipe for Efficiency

By Morgan Folsom on May 19, 2020 9:15:00 AM

We'd like to feature one of our partners, Workato, and showcase just a few of the many reasons why we love working with them. Workato is a cloud-based automation and integration platform. We've told you about how we used Workato as an integral part of a full Enterprise Service Management (ESM) solution, and in this post, we cover how we leverage Workato at Praecipio Consulting to connect Jira and Salesforce. 

Our use case

Most of our use of Workato internally is in support of our Business Development and Account Management team. As an Atlassian Platinum and Enterprise Solution Partner, you might have guessed that we do a lot of work in the Atlassian suite. Between Jira and Confluence, we cover the vast majority of what we do as a business. However, there are some use cases internally that are better suited for other tools - specifically Salesforce. Even though we're using a variety of tools, Jira and Confluence remain our single source of truth, we need a platform that integrates Salesforce with Jira, and Workato helps accomplish this. We've got a wide variety of recipes to this end, but there are two I'd like to feature in this post. 

Lead management

One of the primary reasons that we see organizations trying to shift their work into the Atlassian suite (apart from all of the other reasons that Jira is great, of course) is cost, and we are no exception. We don't have Salesforce licensed for the entire company, as many non-Sales folks don't need to interact with it very often. We do use Salesforce for lead and opportunity management, though, and we all know that leads can come from anywhere in the company, not just Sales. 

With that in mind, we have Workato working behind the scenes so that any Jira user can create a lead in Jira, which is then immediately pushed to Salesforce. On top of that, we've got bi-directional sync set up so that when a lead that requires more effort comes into Salesforce, like a process demo or technical questionnaire, the issues are created and assigned out for the appropriate people to complete. This allows for both a more dynamic user experience (for example, I can create tickets in the tools I'm used to, and I don't have to bug someone on the sales team to create a lead for me in Salesforce) as well as better reporting since all of the information lives in one tool. 

Client contact information

Additionally, we also track all of our project management in Jira (seriously, we use it for just about everything). When we start a new project, we track it in Jira, but all of our client contact information is stored in the Salesforce. To solve the problem of syncing information in different tools, once we create an Epic for a client, Workato automatically pulls the contact information from Salesforce based on the customer selected. This way the project resources have access to everything that they need to hit the ground running, and we don't have to manually update information in multiple tools.

These are just a few examples of how we use Workato. Truly, the possibilities are endless. In a world where your daily work involves multiple tools, Workato makes the entire process move more smoothly so that your team can focus more on their actual work and spend less time working within the tools used to get it done. 

Want to learn more about this versatile, does-it-all tool? Check out Praecipio Consulting's solution in Workato's Automation Portal, or watch this Webinar that shows exactly why we love Workato.

Topics: jira automation salesforce workato
8 min read

Tips for Supporting Remote Employees Who May Feel Lonely

By Courtney Pool on May 5, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Remote Doesnt Mean Alone

We've already seen how COVID-19 has impacted the way companies do business, with employees across various industries breaking ties with their cubicles and desktop computers for the foreseeable future. The rapid nature of these changes has left many employees reeling, and the indeterminate return to normalcy may seem daunting for people who already feel like they need to relearn how to do their jobs, not to mention facing wholly new challenges and struggles in doing so.

Companies can ease this transition for newly-remote employees by understanding the challenges they're encountering and proactively finding ways to combat them. To that end, we scoured the internet and polled affected family and friends to identify a few of the more common concerns for those new to working from home, and we put together a handful of solutions that have helped us at Praecipio Consulting.

"I don't know how to get the support I need"

Many employees may feel that it's more difficult for them to get the support they're used to. Now that they're working at home, there's no deskmate to catch the eye of, no supervisor to roll over to, and no IT personnel to flag down as they're making the rounds. This can be especially true for employees at smaller, entirely-local companies who are used to regularly seeing all of the people they ever need to talk to.

If you're worried that your employees are having a difficult time getting the help they need, consider doing the following:

  • Set up a regularly scheduled forum for people to get help from and provide help to others.
    • We have weekly meetings for each department, but you could also extend blocks for already scheduled team meetings. It's important that there is time dedicated solely for employees to share issues they're seeing and get assistance from others. Complex or complicated problems can be difficult to solve over text, so make it easier for your employees to talk through problems with colleagues.

  • Create additional support channels in current communication tools.
    • And don't be afraid to limit the scope! Some employees may feel uncomfortable asking for help in general support rooms, especially if they're worried that their questions may come off as basic or unimportant. Having dedicated spaces for specific job functions, like one for a specific tool an employee may use, make employees feel more comfortable asking "stupid" questions. This also allows teammates to focus their attention on areas where they feel particularly strong.

  • Implement or improve upon a Service Desk aimed at providing employees with support.
    • Service desks are widely thought of as tools primarily aimed at IT/Ops organizations, but a number of other areas can successfully utilize them as well. If you have any group or team that commonly fields questions and requests from colleagues, a service desk could be used to provide structure and oversight to the process, allowing all parties involved to have a more organized exchange and reliable means of tracking.

"It's taking me longer to do my job"

Suddenly, transitioning from working in an office to working from home can leave employees feeling like they need to relearn aspects of their job, whether it's how to work with different (or less) equipment, how to account for things they don't have at home, or even something as simple as how to handle new distractions. Although studies show that working from home ultimately boosts productivity, there's certainly an adjustment period for those new to it.

 

If tasks seem like they're taking longer to complete than they would have in the office, one of the following may help:

  • Encourage the use of time tracking tools.
    • There are a number of time tracking tools and apps available across the web. Promoting these tools with employees will help them to better track of how they spend their time throughout the day. Employees can use time tracked to determine if they need to make some changes to their own routines, or possibly lean on others for assistance. A manager once told me that if you think it's taking too long to do something, ask around because odds are that someone has found a way to get it done in half the time. Accurate time tracking will help employees identify the areas where someone can help them improve.

  • Share productivity-boosting tips within the group.
    • Look to a best practice guide for working from home and take the recommendations to heart. Something as easy as setting up a dedicated office space instead of camping out in that comfy recliner can immediately have a positive impact on productivity and can help people get back into "work" mode.

  • Understand that some things may take more time.
    • If someone was able to walk down the hall to the mailroom before, but now finds themselves having to put on pants and drive to the post office, it's going to take longer to do tasks that may have taken only minutes before. The same rings true for those who are down from three monitors to only one or for those who are competing for bandwidth with neighbors. Likewise for people who now have to wait for others to get back to them versus looming over a colleague's shoulder until they get an answer. These are all acceptable reasons for tasks to take more time.

"Communicating internally is more difficult now"

Good communication can feel unachievable for those working 'alone' for the first time. No longer being able to tap a coworker on the shoulder to get an immediate answer or huddle together in a breakout room to work through a problem can leave employees feeling a bit lost. 

If your teams struggle with communicating well, the following steps are a good place to start:

  • Adopt a collaboration tool.
    • If you're not already using a collaboration tool internally, considering implementing one; and if you are already using one, consider how it could improve to drive better communication. We make heavy use of Slack internally. In our instance, we have dedicated channels for specific clients and tools, which is a great first step toward better communication, but we make use of a number of the lighter elements the tool has to offer too. Doing something as simple as customizing quick statuses or syncing your calendar with the tool will all ultimately help people communicate better. Even something like a custom emoji of a team member (we have a few!) can act as a quick way to get a point across.

  • Set guidelines for when a particular communication tool should be used.
    • Ask yourself, "When should we use email? When should we use the phone? What do we do when all hell breaks loose?  " Having guidelines regarding when to use each communication tool and standardizing those guidelines as much as you can between teams will take a lot of the uncertainty out of communication. 

  • Encourage documentation of everything discussed.
    • Even if you're just jotting down quick meeting notes or doing a two-to-three line recap of a Slack call, having something to reference later will help drive accountability between colleagues and act as a quick jump-off for conversations to follow. We try to keep all of ours stored in Confluence so that each participant can add in their own notes. Working from home often means multitasking for a number of people, so ensuring that there are records kept of items discussed and decisions made will keep everyone on the same page and make future actions and conversations easier.

"I feel so lonely"

Though this is one of the hardest things to help employees with, it's also one of the most important. Loneliness has a real and palpable effect on an employee's mental and physical health, and failure to address it can lead to increased stress, loss of productivity, and lessened quality of work. This is likely to be especially true right now, with many employees being isolated from friends and family for the past several weeks due to stay-at-home orders.

If you're concerned that your employees may feel isolated and lonely, the following can help:

  • Have employees turn on their videos during virtual meetings.
    • This is our internal policy for all meetings, regardless of the number of participants. Having each participant enable their video reminds other employees that they're not "alone," and it helps to keep participants more engaged. Talking to a "real person" instead of a computer screen can help to simulate at least some of the intimacy of in-person meetings, and it allows people to see a speaker's nonverbal cues, like body language and facial expressions, which can be useful in effective conversation. And if nothing else, it acts as a push for everyone to get dressed every morning, which also aids mental health.

  • Schedule virtual get-togethers.
    • We began hosting "Virtual Bring Togethers" for all employees at the onset of stay-at-home orders, and it truly does help. Laughing together over Pictionary or Bingo or receiving a virtual cooking lesson is a great way to keep employees engaged and to lessen the feelings of isolation. Slate has even found people who've successfully figured out how to play board games together over Zoom. Think of some fun things you and your team can do.

  • Don't be afraid to ask direct questions.
    • The easiest way to monitor an employee's mental well-being is to have a frank conversation about how they’re handling the changes. If an employee does feel isolated, you'll have the opportunity to start putting together individualized plans to help.

 

The recent surge of remote employees has already had a major impact on a number of companies, and the effects are likely to last, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Support your newly-remote teams well, and you might be pleasantly surprised by how much happier and more productive they are. 

If you are searching for more resources on how to navigate remote work with your employees, consider implementing daily stand-up meetings, and you can also check out our tips for mastering the work-from-home lifestyle

Topics: confluence workato work-from-home
2 min read

How Workato Helps Remote Teams Rapidly Resolve Incidents

By Courtney Pool on Apr 28, 2020 9:15:00 AM

2020 Blogposts_Workato

It's 2 AM. You just pushed out a major release, and then it happens. You're alerted to an Urgent bug. Lights start flashing, the sirens are blaring, and in the distance, someone yells, "Get the president on the line!"

Ok, so maybe it doesn't happen like it does in the movies, but that doesn't mean you can't have any bells and whistles.

WFH Incident Management 

When dealing with escalated issues, a swift response is absolutely critical – any delays in addressing an issue can severely impact a company, whether in time, satisfaction, or revenue lost. As such, many companies are quick to set up at least basic alerting through Jira in an attempt to rally the troops as quickly as possible. While relying on notifications from Jira may be enough to mostly get the job done, though, you're still risking some immediacy of response, as many people don't check emails the moment they're received (and some may even filter them directly to junk if the instance is too noisy).

A two-pronged approach is often needed in these situations, with town-criers tasked with alerting others on apps like Slack as well. This approach does work better, but it still relies on a human component, which again, introduces risk. Mitigating these risks is especially important now that most teams are fully remote due to COVID-19, preventing any quick updates over the cubicle wall. Automation can remove these risks while also alerting others as quickly as possible.

Enter Workato.

Mitigating Risk With Workato

Workato is a middleware tool dedicated to making APIs and automation more approachable to the Everyman. It’s also a powerful teammate in the ever-raging battle against mission-critical issues.

To best illustrate this, consider the following use case:

You have a team of internal stakeholders who need to be notified immediately for every Urgent or Critical issue entered into Jira. While the teams that work on the issue need immediate notification,  which team that is is notified will differ by product. You use Slack internally, so notifications typically happen there.

Workato can help accomplish this.

The recipe needs to be built to trigger conditionally based on priority, as identified above. From there, you also know that you'll want to push to Slack, and that which group receives alerts will differ differ based on values selected.

BONUS TIP: If your teams use Zoom, you can even leverage Slack's integration to have a Zoom meeting available when you need it, without having to spin one up yourself.

Expanding on the use case above, if you want Critical issues to notify in Slack and set up a war room in Zoom, have Workato send the command /zoom meeting [ISSUE ID - ISSUE SUMMARY] and wait for the fireworks. Once your recipe is built out and thoroughly tested, you can sit back and relax – at least until the next Urgent issue comes in. Automation will take care of the rest.

By letting Workato take the wheel, you can remove a lot of the risk from addressing escalated issues — and get to enjoy some of the bells and whistles, too.

Topics: workato incident-management work-from-home

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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