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
3 min read

Can a Product Owner also be a ScrumMaster?

By Morgan Folsom on Apr 12, 2021 10:21:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Can a Product Owner also be a Scrum Master-TL;DR: No!

Can one person hold both the Product Owner (PO) and ScrumMaster(SM) role in an Agile team? It's a question that a lot of companies starting their way through their Agile transformation will ask themselves (and us!). The Scrum team has three specific roles: Product Owner, ScrumMaster, and (most importantly) the Development team. It's clear why the question of combining SM and PO comes up so often - trying to figure out where current roles fit into the new dynamic can be a challenge for an organization, especially if your teams are now smaller and you don't have enough resources to fill the role of an SM and PO for each team. 

However, combining these roles is the biggest disservice you can do for your Agile teams. It may seem like a small tweak to the model, but given the functions of the two roles, you are setting up your teams for failure. Let's start with the definitions of these two roles so we can see why that is. 

Product Owner

The focus of the Product Owner is on the Product, as you might have guessed by now.  According to ScrumAlliance.org, "The Product Owner defines the what--as in what the product will look like and what features it should contain." The PO is responsible for maintaining the product backlog, and are responsible for communicating with stakeholders internally and externally to identify what the development team is working on. In their day-to-day, they are responsible for creating and prioritizing backlog items and communicating with the team expectations and acceptance of complete work items. 

ScrumMaster

The focus of the ScrumMaster is the team. "The ScrumMaster helps the Scrum Team perform at their highest level. They also protect the team from both internal and external distractions. ScrumMasters hold the Scrum Team accountable to their working agreements, Scrum values, and to the Scrum framework itself", as defined by ScrumAlliance.org. Where the PO is focused on What, the SM is focused on Who and How.  Arguably, the most important part of this definition is the emphasis on protecting the team. Internal distractions often come in the form of scope creep – new scope being introduced once work has already been committed to. In Scrum this often looks like new stories or bugs being introduced in the middle of a Sprint, and the job of the SM is to prevent this from happening as much as possible.

While I'm sure that we all know that some scope creep is inevitable (unless perhaps you're inhabiting the perfect utopia of business environments, in which case, I'll keep an eye out for my invite), but it can get out of hand quickly if there is no one on the team who is able to push back against the business. 

Okay, so why can't they be the same person?

By definition, the role of the ScrumMaster is to protect the team from the Product Owner (and the stakeholders that they are representing). Blurring the lines between these two roles mean that there is no one to push back when scope is added last minute, or ensure that the team is sticking to Scrum best practices, despite heavy workloads.

The most common outcomes that we see when these two roles are combined are:

  1. Tons of scope creep. Just, loads of it. All over the place.
  2. Sprint commitments are consistently not met because the team is being asked to do more work than they've agreed they are able to. 
  3. Product Owners assign out work to the team , as they are now "Managing" the team. 
  4. Buggier products –  after all, if I'm a developer trying to get through more work than I've acknowledged I can do, quality is inevitably going to suffer

Overall, not great!!

So what should I do then?

In a perfect world, you should have a single ScrumMaster per team, and Product Owner per product. This means that Product Owners can span multiple teams, if the teams are working from the same product backlog, but ScrumMasters are dedicated to a single team. If you don't have enough resources to commit to this model, in the short term, a ScrumMaster could potentially span more than one agile team - but I would say no more than 2 - after all, one person can only attend so many Scrum ceremonies while also being available to unblock their teams. 

However, the long term success of your Agile transformation means that it's time to start planning to fill those roles. Combining these roles will almost certainly decrease the effectiveness of your move to agile, as your teams are left unprotected and (likely) overworked. 

Looking for more information on Scrum best practices? Check out Sprint Planning - How long should sprints be? or Agile Batch Size: An Ode to Laundry

Topics: blog process scrum workflows project-management agile
3 min read

Jira Workflow Tip: Global Transitions

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

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

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

When do I use a global transition?

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

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

How to configure a global transition

Transition Properties

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

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

Conditions

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

Post Functions

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

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

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

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

  1. A post function that clears resolution

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

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

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

Should Stories & Bugs Follow Different Workflows?

By Joseph Lane on Mar 31, 2021 10:07:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Should stories and bugs follow different workflows-The short answer: Not really. Stories and bugs are both software development items by different names. As such, the vast majority of activities and controls that we model for a story are applicable to bugs. The key distinction between stories and bugs often comes down to data. Bugs should include Affects Version/sSteps to Recreate, Expected Behavior, and Actual Behavior. How and when we require this data relies on what practices we're observing.

For teams using Kanban practices where there is a Backlog status and a Ready for Development status, the transition to Ready for Development can be used to capture required data based on issue type. In this simple case, we would have two transitions from Backlog, Ready for Dev and Ready for Dev - Bug. For each transition, include a transition-specific screen to capture the appropriate fields.  Example: SDLC Ready for Dev - Bug Transition Screen will include: Affects Version/sSteps to Recreate, Expected Behavior, and Actual Behavior in addition to any other fields needed in both cases. Then, leveraging your workflow conditions allow the Bug issue type to only use the Ready for Dev - Bug transition. All other issue types can default to the Ready for Development transition by explicitly checking that the current issue type is not a bug.

The considerations above work well in workflow cases where you have gated controls as a function of status change. This might apply to teams that include requirements definitions and design efforts within the story or bug life cycle (as might be the case with Waterfall). Additionally, this logical approach allows for workflow reuse which in turn decreases administrative burden and increases process consistency.

Scrum teams view Ready for Development a bit differently. Good Scrum practices dictate that product owners will refine their backlog as items are prioritized upward. Refinement provides all functional details necessary for the scrum team to be able to work the ticket including validation of bug reports and associated details. Once prioritized, the development team will review stories and bugs at the top of the backlog to make sure they understand the requirements. The work is considered Ready for Development at the moment it is accepted in to a sprint.

I hope this explanation helps you avoid unnecessary workflows!

Topics: blog best-practices bugs kanban scrum workflows software-development coding
3 min read

Getting the Most From Your Jira Service Management Automations

By Jerry Bolden on Mar 29, 2021 2:45:22 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Getting the most from your JSD automationsHow many times is the number of clicks, fields or screens having to be navigated through used as a reason that work efficiency is low?  It is a main way to discuss lack of efficiency by users of any system.  Well, Jira Service Management has automation built in for just these type of issues. And when leveraged properly, Jira Service Management automation can help drive closing out issues for users as well as ensuring customers feel engaged and informed.  

While time is a focus of most people, as it is the one thing that never stops: being able to use it effectively on things that NEED your attention is key.  Yet, the first hurdle most people have is identifying what actions do not need to be performed by someone.  Automations are things that can be based on inputs by a person, and therefore are always going to be selected the same. For example, filling in a customer based on name or filling out a number field based on selection of priority.  Once these are identified and agreed upon, you can then start to figure out the next phase: how to build the workflow around these to aid in the automation. 

One of the keys to automation is how the workflows are set up in Jira Service Management.  The workflow, when configured with either the correct transition or status or combination thereof, can facilitate the automation. Having a workflow set up to allow for automation based on a specific entry into a status or trigger of transition will helps both agents and administrators of Jira Service Management manage their work more easily.  On the administrative side, the proper set-up will allow for focused automation(s) and ensure they are easy to link without writing out complicated if-this-then-that statements.  On the Agent side of the house, the simple automation UI makes it easier for them to understand their triggers. The Agent can then move on to another issue until the need for follow-up arises. For example, transitioning a request to Pending Customer may pause the SLA, but automating the transition back to In Progress based on a customer comment alerts the Agent they've received their feedback. 

At this point you may be wondering what are some of the items that can be automated in Jira Service Management to ensure efficient flow of information.  Here is a list of some of the ways to use automation for communication:

  • Customer alerts for approval
  • Alerts for review of information
  • Alert them to closure of ticket
  • Alert to lack of response

The first part of the communication is understanding what YOUR customers will need from your team to understand what is happening with their issue.  For the most part, customers want to be appraised of receipt and communication of progress consistently.  With this mindset and communication to customers, you will inevitably save time by eliminating constant customer inquiry on what is going on with their tickets or the "do you need anything from us?" question.  While this can be a bit overwhelming at first, at Praecipio Consulting, this is one fo the many items outlined in our Accelerator for Jira Service Management implementation.  We have gathered best practices from many different implementations to put together a "starter kit" on automated communications. 

The other side of the automation for Jira Service Management is automating information based on user inputs.  By filling in specific fields based on user input or spinning up linked tickets to connect to the current issue, the automation inside of Jira Service Management for tasks that, while not hard, can become tedious, is where the Agents and Customers see the benefit.  Remember, the users main complaint centers on the amount of time they take to get the issue closed and move on to another one.  So while remembering that fields can be adjusted is a good thing, spinning up another issue that is linked is even quicker, thus eliminating the time to move information and instead having it done automatically by selecting the correct workflow transition.  

Overall, the key to getting the most out of the automation in Jira Service Management is first figuring out where you can save time for the users of the system.  Second, determine how to communicate to your customers in an effective manner that can be automated, but also ensuring your customers' satisfaction.  This should be centered on letting them know what is happening with their ticket and drawing them back in to the solution when needed.  As always, anything to remove steps (clicks) from the user is going to not only get more out of Jira Service Management, but also drive a higher usage of the system, correctly, back into your organization. 

We are experts in Jira Service Management, and would love to help you make the most out of this powerful tool.  If you're curious to see if Jira Service Management is a good fit for your organization, drop us a line and one of our experts will get in touch with you.

Topics: jira blog automation workflows jira-service-management
8 min read

4 Phases of Agile DevOps | Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 15, 2016 11:00:00 AM

As Development and IT Ops teams look to be more efficient, decreasing their time to market and increasing product support, DevOps has become the predominant industry solution. There are many resources that paint a picture of the ideal processes for Development and Operations working harmoniously together- but how do we actual get there? Where should we start? 

We need to begin with the end in mind. Our end goal is to deliver customers the software they need as fast as possible. The software industry is faster and more dynamic than the businesses of physical products. We need to get our customers features so they can give us crucial feedback while beating our competitors to market. The faster release development goes from concept to code, the quicker we can make customer happy. DevOps is a broad term with a variety of meanings, but at the end of the day, it seeks to increase the collaboration and automation between Development and Operations so we can get more frequent and higher quality releases into the hands of our customers.

When it comes to collaboration and automation, a focus on process and the use of the Atlassian suite are the best way to get there.

 The infinite loop of developing and supporting products that customers need and want with DevOps and the Atlassian Suite.

Image source: Atlassian 

Selling DevOps

The pain of hectic firefighting and troubleshooting make the need for DevOps obvious on the frontline, but getting alignment and investment at the organization level can be pretty difficult. Successful implementation is going to require buy-in and support from a variety of stakeholders and many levels. Before we can get our hands dirty, we need to convince everybody to spend the time and money to get these processes and tools in place.

Here are three ways to get the ball rolling:

One for the Book Club: Phoenix Project

Everybody has those business books that revolutionize the way they manage their work and companies. The Phoenix Project by Eugene Kim narratively addresses and exposes the gaps in processes between teams and points to a DevOps prescription to unblock cross-team work. We highly suggest recommending it to your teams, as it's a great way to get everybody on the same page and really see the value of DevOps.

Build a Business Case

At the end of the day, businesses exist to make money. To invest time and effort, we need to calculate the business return. The 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs does a brilliant job showing the financial reasons to adopt this shift.

The ROI of reducing excess work with DevOps according to 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs

Image Source: Puppet Labs

Phase 1: Go Agile

To get the real benefits of DevOps, it requires a shift in mentality and how we manage work through our teams. As we break down our requirements into smaller individual user stories, we can flow the work through the features through the process faster. By having the structure, ceremonies and processes in place to accommodate smaller pieces of work, we can get our customers the features they need and incorporate their feedback to iterate the next, improved release faster.

Here are some helpful ideas to help your teams go more Agile: 

  • Get Up, Stand Up | Simply doing stand-ups doesn't mean you're all the way agile, but it's a great way to get our teams into the mindset. Keep them short and reduce the headaches of status updates and emails. Fill everybody in on what you did yesterday, what you're doing today, and what pesky blockers are in your way. It's facilitates more agile and responsive team collaboration and support (the heart of DevOps).
  • Iterate Everything! | Speed up that Agile transformation, breaking down your waterfall projects into smaller sprints so you can always reprioritize and adjust as needed. Start with your software teams and spread out to your IT Ops projects and even marketing projects. Start in your own department: find the planning spreadsheets with those idealistic due dates, set up a backlog, and start sprinting!
  • Agile Boards | Once you're planning and executing in sprints, track and visualize it on a Jira Software board. Avoid those dreadful status meetings and send out the link to the board to keep everybody informed. Also, throw some wallboards up around the office so everybody can see your team killin' it. 

You'll know you're a lean, mean, agile machine when your software teams are cranking out stories in a steady cadence of sprints. Over time you'll see that velocity stabilize - then you can accelerate!

Phase 2: Get with Gitflow 

Git and Gitflow is a great way to help our dev teams increase velocity. As we're working with smaller stories, we need to be able to collaborate effectively with on our code base so we're not stepping all over each other. Version control systems of the past aren't going to be able to keep up with our blazing fast development teams. Bitbucket and the underlying technology of git are going to let our teams build user stories and merge them into the code base without wasting time messing with annoying versioning issues and costly code conflicts. 

  • Start with the Basics | Start by learning (allthethings) about how to effectively manage your branches and build in code quality with Atlassian's Git Tutorials and the Git Getting Started guides. Share them with your team so everybody's on the same page and knows the difference between a commit and a pull request.

  • Move to Git | If you haven't made the cutover to Git quite yet, get your team and managers onboard by sharing the benefits and how it will help ship more code. Once folks are convinced, learn why Bitbucket is the Git solution for professional teams and helps with pull requests, branching strategies, permissions and scalability. When it's time to actually move all that code over, see how we helped Splunk get git and 4 times the number code reviews completed. 
  • Start Branching | With the tools in place, it's time to start branching! Learn more about some common workflows to better handle branches here. Utilize those pull requests to build in code quality as you go. Eventually your Dev team will be humming with full Gitflow and your Ops teams will be in love with the clearly designated branches.

  • Automate, Mate | The marvelous integration between Bitbucket and Jira Software lets us automatically update the Jira issues based on what's going on in Bitbucket. Developers don't need to switch context anymore to keep the ticket up to date, and the whole team gets an accurate idea of what's actually going on. Check out our Automation Webinar to learn more about the powerful workflow triggers that make this possible.


The Gitflow branching strategy shown above utilizes different branches for specific roles like hotfixes and releases to help manage larger and more complex projects. 

 Image Source: Atlassian

Phase 3: CI/ CD

The next phase is how we define the crucial handoff between Dev and Ops. When our units of work and code changes are smaller, we're going to need to deploy more often to get those features to our customers. Before we ship it to the ops team and production, we need to ensure quality as our individual features come together. This is where good Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment practices along with Atlassian's Bamboo are vital to successfully shipping our product. Catching bugs and issues before they go to production is going to help both the Dev and Ops teams sleep better at night.

  • Learn about Bamboo | For on-prem Atlassian users, Atlassian's Bamboo is the CI/CD solution that allows professional teams to build their CI/CD pipeline. You may be using Jenkins or other open source teams, however the deep integration points and improved build management make it the right choice for professional teams.
  • Integrate with Jira | Once you have Bamboo up and running, leverage the integration between Bamboo and Jira Software.
  • Bitbucket Pipelines | If you're an Atlassian cloud user, Bitbucket Pipelines is a new, powerful solution in Beta that lets developers build, test and deploy directly from Bitbucket. Developers have the power as they can define the environment and tests for their specific branch with YAML file style configuration.
  • Dockerize Everything! | Docker and containerization is the latest craze sweeping the IT world as teams look to deploy applications to any environment faster and easier. Check out our Docker +Atlassian webinar to learn more about how. As partners with Docker, we love to helping teams harness this cutting-edge technology.
  • Automate Testing | Automating testing with tools like Charlotte, QA Symphony, and Zephyr (which integrate with Bamboo and Jira) gives your development team an even more agile edge. Get efficent, high-fidelity testing to expedite the finding and squashing of bugs to ensure your next iteration is the best version.

Phase 4: Harmonize with Support

Once the story is shipped, the process does not end. Now it's time to keep the product working and collect that vital feedback we need.

  • Check out our webinar, DevOps with the Atlassian Suite, for a full picture of how development and operations are going to work in harmony.
  • Set up a product feedback service desk in Jira to really hear your customers and integrate directly with development teams.
  • Learn how to set up your Service Desk teams for success with our ITSM webinar.


By implementing the right DevOps tools and processes, you'll see the faster shipping of higher quality and better supported releases. As your Development and Ops teams continue to execute these lock-step processes, you get more agile by good practice. Take the steps to start implementing DevOps today by contacting us to get up and sprinting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation bitbucket bugs continuous-delivery bamboo branching devops docker distributed-version-control-system process-consulting qa-symphony sdlc selenium software sprint testing version-control-system workflows tracking continuous-integration cloud development integration it operations release-management marketplace-apps
7 min read

Seen It, Solved It: Jira Service Desk for ITIL

By Praecipio Consulting on May 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Growth Through Change 

"Organizations that do not or cannot evolve will not last." In the business world, change is constant and necessary, especially when it comes to meeting the dynamic needs of customers. ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a methodology that helps organizations effectively manage change while putting the customer at the center of the process. ITIL prescribes processes to ensure the customer's needs and requests are handled with ease – from acknowledgement of an issue through the application and evaluation of the solution. One of the greatest values of the ITIL methodology is that it embeds continual improvement into the process. The ITIL framework can be leveraged by anyone, including non-technical teams, to better manage change and serve customers. Atlassian's fastest growing product, Jira Service Desk, facilitates ITIL adoption in an organization by encouraging traceability, collaboration, and reporting. 

As business process experts certified in ITIL, we leverage the ITIL methodology in unison with Jira Service Desk to institute best practices for our clients. Here are 5 real-world examples of how Praecipio Consulting helped our clients implement lasting organizational change by embracing key ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement. 

Automation

"Using service automation to streamline both simple and more complex workflows of course impacts the overall efficiency of the organization... it also allows for a much better end-user experience for everyone at the company." - ITIL beyond IT: What is Service Automation & Service Relationship Management?

Problem: A major utility company powering the U.S. Eastern seaboard was manually reporting security equipment issues and coordinating with external vendors to fix the issues. This manual process was prone to errors and didn't allow for tracking of service level agreements (SLAs), which would determine which vendors were breaching their contracts. The company was using spreadsheets to track these crucial assets and their maintenance. The spreadsheet system was inefficient and created duplicate versions – leading to confusion, frustration, and waste. Furthermore, the spreadsheets could not track SLAs for Acknowledgement or Resolution for vendors.

Solution: To reduce redundancy and enforce SLAs, our experts implemented Jira Service Desk for the major utility company. By replacing their spreadsheets with Jira Core and Jira Service Desk, we helped them add a level of automation to their workflow. This reduced waste of time and resources, allowed for better communication with third-party vendors, and created a clear path for escalation. The custom configuration we created for the company maintained their security, while also allowing vendors to be a part of of the conversation. Furthermore, reporting features from both Jira Core and Jira Service Desk allowed for a central point of truth. The utility company could check the status of service tickets and see how well vendors were adhering to their SLAs. Through the process of improving their security equipment reporting and vendor coordination, the company found other areas of improvement and have chosen to continue working with us to maximize those workflows. 

Visibility

"It can be very difficult to know the health of your service desk, run reports, and find way to improve your support if you don’t have the right data." - The ABCs of Jira Service Desk: measuring success

Problem: A major U.S. waste management company wanted to adopt a more structured reporting system, replace an old enterprise software application, and incorporate the ITIL framework into their organization. The company's goal was to standardize tools in order to improve communication and rally around a consistent project management methodology. The waste management company desired a suite of tools with the ability to integrate functions across IT service areas, leading to better service for the end customer.

Solution: In addition to implementing several other Atlassian products, our experts helped the company leverage Jira Service Desk to achieve their business goals. We helped them create a central application with the ability to distinguish request types through a structured workflow. This included a more robust user interface to better triage issues and send them to the appropriate teams. The ability to categorize requests and label them with levels of urgency allowed the company to have better reporting, leading to improved enforcements of SLAs. 

Knowledge Base

"[A knowledge base] gets [customers] the help they need at the speed they’ve become accustomed to – i.e., in the time it takes to swipe around on their phones – and it frees service desk agents from stressing out while anxious customers wait on hold or answering the same question over email for the 10th time this week." - 4 tips for getting started with knowledge management

Problem: A large, private U.S. university wanted to revamp an old software application and replace it with a more robust and dynamic knowledge base. The university's goal was to increase usability for both their students and faculty regarding technical and campus-related questions, deflecting tickets by providing requesters with FAQ's and other resources to help them self-serve to find their answers. 

Solution: Our experts helped the university leverage Jira Service Desk and Confluence to achieve their goal. Combining Jira Service Desk with Questions for Confluence (a Confluence add-on that provides a knowledge base inside the already powerful wiki tool) allowed the university to implement a centralized knowledge database. Jira Service Desk allowed for better help engagement using queues and other helpful functionalities. Questions for Confluence empowered external users to help themselves by accessing a database of pre-answered questions, without tying up service desk agents with redundant problems.

Change Management and Evaluation

"Listening to your customers is the single most important thing you can do for the health of your company." 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

Problem: The largest provider of support services to general and multi-specialty dental groups in the United States needed the ability to receive and respond to client feedback in addition to handling client issues. They did not have a clearly defined process for patients to interact with the organization and to raise issues. Their marketing team was searching for a new software tool that would manage feedback in a way that led to issue resolution and change management. The team's ideal tool would be able to enforce and report on multiple SLAs through issues submitted via the company's public website.

Solution: Our experts helped the dental corporation adopt Jira Core and Jira Service Desk to manage issue tracking and change management. With Jira Service Desk, the company was able to cleanly sort through client feedback and create a workflow to address issues that arose. Beyond managing client feedback, the dental corporation also used these tools for clinical tasks, billing, and other activities that needed life cycle tracking. In addition to tracking, the Atlassian tools helped the organization evaluate the effectiveness of their changes and quantified the improvements made – empowering all teams, not just marketing, to better serve their customers. 

Continuous Improvement

"With a single-product approach, configuring an SLA or modifying a workflow is easy, because they share core processes." How Jira Service Desk approaches ITSM 

Problem: A major U.S. insurance company was using three different software applications for code management, issue tracking, and service desk management – leading to inefficiencies and miscommunication. Their use of three separate applications resulted in duplicate tickets and the inability to enforce SLAs across the organization.The insurance company wanted to improve these processes and embrace ITIL's practice of continuous improvement. 

Solution: Our assessment encouraged the company to adopt a single application, Jira Service Desk, to provide a single source of truth. With Jira Service Desk, there was a common point of collaboration for issue management. This reduced duplicate tickets and saved valuable time and resources. Leveraging entities, workflows, and issue linking, we helped the insurance company align their processes to make reporting and enforcing SLAs easier, more efficient, and more effective. By strengthening their ability to track what changes are needed and to act upon those needs, we helped them develop a cycle for continuous improvement.  

ITIL for One, and ITIL for All 

"Just because one service desk streamlines the IT and service departments, it doesn’t mean that other teams can’t also benefit from them." - 5 tips to transform your IT team from zero to superhero

These real-world examples from our clients highlight how ITIL and Jira Service Desk can help organizations evolve and change – without the growing pains. ITIL concepts of automation, visibility, knowledge base, change management and evaluation, and continuous improvement aren't just for IT teams. These powerful ideas also provides immense value to other parts of any organization, technical and business teams alike. At Praecipio Consulting, we excel at leveraging the ITIL methodology and Jira Service Desk to help organizations do what they do better. Want more proof? Contact us to learn how we can help your organization evolve and do your best business. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation business confluence process standardize workflows traceability collaboration continuous-improvement integration it itil itsm jira-service-desk operations reporting white-paper
5 min read

All-Star Incident Management: How to Be Like Mike

By Praecipio Consulting on Mar 21, 2016 11:00:00 AM

The best teams sync with each other. Think of the intangible magic conjured by the Championship-sweeping Chicago Bulls of the 90's, helmed by Michael Jordan. They ran their offense to perfection, playing to the strengths of each team member and executing each step in perfect rhythm to put points on the board. Any member of those teams will tell you their success came not only from having high-performing people but from working together within an established offense, or process. Because they bought in and trusted the process, each team member knew his responsibility at all times. The team ran time-tested methodologies for getting the win, adjusting as needed after analyzing the other team's strategy. Basketball is all about strategy, process, and teamwork.


Now think of that team that loses to the Bulls- that loses to everyone. The team that's always scrambling after a broken play, unsure of how to set up their offense or what to do after a missed basket. They spend the entire game – and all their focus and energy – trying to just keep up. These are the teams that don't trust in their process, usually because it hasn't worked in the past or they haven't learned how to work with each other. It's hard for each player to handle his responsibilities because he feels like he has to win the game by himself instead of together with his teammates. It's not a good way to win games, and it's certainly not a good way to structure your IT team.

As Atlassian Platinum Enterprise partners and experts in all things process, we've got your playbook for all-star incident management:

Top 3 Tips for Championship ITSM

      1. Track your failures for greater success.

Basketball teams use stats to identify strengths and root out weaknesses. Tracking areas for improvement is key. When agents solve issues in silos they can't tell when an issue reoccurs or causes other issues, indicating a root cause that should be investigated. Ability to link issues is paramount to give your problem-solvers visibility into what keeps going wrong and, ultimately, what should be changed to keep it from happening again. 

2. Success loves preparation.

The 90's Bulls probably lost count of how many times they ran the same plays during practice. The better we prepare, the more successful we are. In the IT world, reporting, documentation, analytics, and other functionalities of our ITSM tool of choice make it easier to prepare well. When we're able to forecast issues based on prior knowledge, we're prepared for what's ahead. Data like a team's sprint velocity or average resource allocation per type of project inform planning for all foreseeable project outcomes.

3. Establish repeatable processes.

Michael Jordan is one of the most successful athletes in history because he was the first one in the gym and the last one out. He was always running drills and perfecting his shot, establishing repeatable processes that became muscle memory. Applying this concept to your organization allows your team to handle day to day operations with relative ease - each agent knows what to do, and they trust in the established process. This is a key to effective incident management and it allows you to focus on improving and advancing solutions rather than fighting fires.

Seen It, Solved It: Major U.S. Insurance Provider

Ready to see these plays in action? Here's how these 3 tips helped our client do better work, faster.

THE PROBLEM

Issues are like potato chips: you never have just one. In a business, any single issue that arises is usually experienced by multiple end-users and often starts a domino effect that causes more related issues. Without the ability to see across all these related issues, each agent responding to an individual issue only sees just that, failing to see the forest for the trees and moving on with an issue fix that doesn't address the root cause.

A major U.S. insurance provider came to us with concerns about their incident management. They already knew that their processes were poorly designed and not well adhered to, but they needed help figuring out how to improve them. In particular, incidents were not well documented or properly managed, putting them at risk for violating regulatory compliances. The client's struggles included:

  • ITSM Processes with No Buy-In (Too complex, too outdated, or too redundant)
  • Lack of Integration Across Tools (Lots of time wasted in context switching, Inability to analyze across platforms)
  • No SLAs or Metrics to Gauge Effectiveness

In short: They were focusing all their time and resources trying to just keep up, but could never get ahead in the game.

THE GAME CHANGER

Enter Coach Praecipio Consulting and Jira Service Desk to deliver a slam dunk incident management solution.

 
New Process Playbook

Because our client had different tools for managing incidents, their lack of visibility across platforms led to slow speed to market with fixes. Jira Service Desk not only solves this issue, but also supports best practices for incident management. By standardizing automated workflows and establishing lean processes, our client is no longer burdened by redundancies and can gather meaningful metrics across incidents.

 
Pass to other Players, er... Tools

In order to deflect the amount of incoming tickets, Jira Service Desk integrates with Confluence to provide a self-serve knowledge base. By leveraging this integration, our client gets back time and resources, no longer tied up on tickets to which an answer already exists. Leveraging machine-learning, the Confluence knowledge base identifies frequently searched topics and strengthens its query language to provide the best answers to questions around incidents. 

 
Set the Shot Clock

As an insurance provider, our client needed to ensure that they stayed within regulatory compliance with vendors and customers alike. Configuring SLAs in Jira Service Desk allows for the client to start the timer the minute a ticket is assigned, tracking time to resolution and producing reports to identify SLAs in danger of being breached. By doing this, the client gains visibility into incident management and can use metrics against goals for continuous improvement. 

Be Like Mike

Like the Bulls' 1-2 punch of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the tandem of Jira Service Desk and experience-driven process expertise gives our clients a heightened ability to execute ITSM best practices and keep their teams in a cycle of continual improvement. Maximizing your processes makes your day-to-day work simpler, allows you to focus on higher level objectives for better business, and helps you get numbers on the board (with dollar signs in front!). 

Practice makes perfect- it also makes money. Michael Jordan and his teammates knew it, and the best IT teams in the world know it. Take your team's performance to championship levels with the right processes and the right tools- and, if you need help, think of Praecipio Consulting as your coach with a lot of championship experience. 

 

About Sam Besozzi

Sam is a Consultant at Praecipio Consulting where he delivers expert solutions to our top clients. He has an extensive background in process improvement and design and draws heavily from Six Sigma, Lean, and other efficiency-focused models. As a new Austin, TX transplant (originally from Ohio), Sam enjoys exploring his new hometown, hiking, and searching for the perfect taco.

Topics: atlassian case-studies blog analysis best-practices business experts implementation process process-consulting technology workflows support configuration consulting-services itil itsm jira-service-desk request
2 min read

Jira + ITIL Working Together

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

Atlassian Jira's a remarkably flexible tool. For most who hear “Jira,” things like issue tracking, project management, and software development come to mind. Very rarely do people think of ITIL in relation to Jira. But then again, many don’t know what ITIL is.

If you’re a developer or in IT and don’t know what ITIL is, you should. It’s a set of processes for managing lifecycles with relationships to one another. It’s the most widely-accepted approach to IT service management in the world – a set of best practices drawn from public and private sectors around the world. ITIL doesn’t just apply to IT service management (ITSM), though – it’s a reliable methodology for managing any type of complex technological process.

Jira’s an Atlassian tool that’s phenomenal at lifecycle management (workflows, custom fields, etc). It’s designed to be issue-centric, built around managing issues or bugs that pop up within a product or service’s lifecycle. This functionality extends far and wide when you expand how you define an “issue.” On the surface, an issue is more like a problem – but considering an issue’s attributes, it can easily qualify as a task or milestone. With that in mind, Jira can facilitate far more than simple issue tracking. It can support complex process lifecycles.

Every process is a web of highly dependent relationships between regular and conditional tasks – including ITIL processes like Incident Management and Problem Management. The huge breakthrough here is making Jira projects and workflows represent (and support) ITIL processes. Let’s take an incident for example. An incident goes through several states:

(1) detection and recording
(2) classification and initial support
(3) investigation and diagnosis
(4) incident closure

A good Incident Management process within a good technology helps reduce meantime to recovery – i.e. recover from an incident. We all know how well Jira facilitates transitions and workflow. Let’s take it a step further…in ITIL-based Incident Management, we are supposed to designate incident ownership, actively monitor, track and communicate. BINGO! This what Jira does.

Let’s take this another step further. Problem Management is a process used to identify root cause to reduce the number of incidents – thereby increasing the meantime between failures. Using Jira, we can manage root cause analysis and associate the individual incidents (manifestations) back to the Problem Management record we’re analyzing. This ability to link records and collaborate makes Jira a great Problem Management solution. Add Confluence to the mix and the effectiveness is improved further.

Going another step further – having ITIL-based ITSM processes running in Jira alongside your organizations SDLC further helps IT align its capabilities to deliver the highest, best quality software and service delivery.

We’ve helped clients implement Jira to manage Incident Management, Change Management, Problem Management, Asset Management, Software Development, Testing… we love the Altassian products and so do our clients.

Topics: jira atlassian blog asset-management confluence issues management problem process reliability sdlc services software workflows tracking change development incident-management it itil itsm lifecycle methodology bespoke
3 min read

SharePoint 2007 vs. SharePoint 2010

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 1, 2011 11:00:00 AM

There are many long, thorough comparisons of SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 out there. This isn’t one of them. Instead, we’ve created a brief list of what’s new in SharePoint 2010, so SharePoint 2007 users can quickly learn about the advantages of upgrading to 2010 and weigh their decision criteria.

We’ll start with the “big” new features. They include:

Office web apps. Work together in Microsoft Office web apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) simultaneously and see team members’ changes in real time. The web apps allow light edits to documents; document formatting and content are maintained when changes are made from the web.

Co-authoring. With co-authoring, you can work together in Microsoft Office applications and see changes from other team members tracked in SharePoint 2010-hosted documents.

Easy access to templates. You can access document templates stored in SharePoint 2010 via the New Document wizard in Office 2010 applications.

Reusable, content-based workflows. SharePoint Designer 2010 supports reusable workflows and workflows attached to content types.

Online presentations. Audiences don’t need PowerPoint 2010 to view presentations; they can see the presentation with high quality online.

Direct saving. You can save Office 2010 documents directly to the SharePoint 2010 document library from Office Backstage view.

SharePoint 2010 also boasts these new capabilities:

Read and write capabilities. SharePoint 2010 allows you to create web parts that read and write data to external data sources.

Web analytics. An improved set of out-of-the-box Web Analytics reports, offering insight into the behavior of your SharePoint users.

Full-fidelity mobile viewing. It’s much, much better than 2007 mobile views.

Editing to mobile. Perform light edits to Office documents from your mobile device via Office web apps.

Contextual ribbon. Customizable, context-sensitive ribbon menu atop each SharePoint page. Informative Slideshare from Shai Petel here.

Microsoft Silverlight. SharePoint 2010 comes with out of the box Silverlight web parts, making the inclusion of Silverlight apps much easier.

                                         Typical SharePoint 2007 view

                   Enhanced view in SharePoint 2010, with customizable ribbon

You’ll also notice these improvements in 2010 – along with many unlisted improvements that make some 2007 operations easier to execute:

  • Metadata/tagging at the item level; tag clouds; tag profiles
  • Keyword suggestions
  • “Ask Me About” web part in profiles (helps users find answers from qualified co-workers)
  • Noteboard (enables users to comment on any SharePoint 2010 site)
  • Recent Activities
  • Bulk check-in/check-out
  • Organization Browser
  • Enterprise wikis
  • Compliance everywhere
  • Flexible records management
  • Shared content types and managed metadata service
  • Content organizer
  • Rich media management
  • Word automation
  • Better support for accessibility standards
  • Search “in context”
  • Social behavior improves search relevance
  • Thumbnail previews in browser
  • KPI details
  • Enhanced filtering
  • Javascript object model
  • Powershell scripting
  • Better fidelity with Excel workbooks
  • Integrated filter framework
  • Improved visualizations

At this point, if you don’t have SharePoint and are preparing to implement it, we strongly recommend you go with SharePoint 2010. Not only is this important to ensure compliance and compatibility for the future, but it allows you to take advantage of 2010 features. If you already have SharePoint 2007, you could do fine without upgrading so long as you’re okay with lacking the social features, improved mobile access, and better cross-browser performance of 2010 – that decision depends on what you need/value technologically. If you have SharePoint 2003, upgrading is becoming imperative in order to stay above water, so to speak.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint workflows microsoft marketplace-apps
3 min read

Jira for the Gaming Industry

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 24, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Altassian’s Jira is perhaps the best issue tracking and software development management platform around. While Jira can be used in many, many ways, it’s found a sweet spot in the gaming industry.

This post assumes the reader has a reasonable understanding of Jira. The post highlights how Jira and Greenhopper – which collectively make up Atlassian’s Agile approach – can streamline game development. Check it out:

Quick-start projects. In Jira, you can start a new project in less than five minutes. That’s great for developers, since new projects can spawn at anytime during the production process.

Attach files for visual reference. Most developers use Adobe software to design game interfaces. During the development stage, there are usually multiple people designing and updating prototypes – so it’s easy to get off track. With Jira, designers can attach the a screenshot of the latest prototype to a project page, so every one involved with the project can see where the interface is at and stay on the same page. And since Jira allows users to attach files to projects, tasks, time log items, and more, it’s easy for designers to offer team members a visual reference of where they’re at – even if they’re not in the office.

Support and ticketing. Jira helps IT support organizations handle hardware and software support more methodically. Support tickets can be submitted by anyone within the company. From there, they’re assigned to a qualified expert, and either resolved or escalated. This obviously benefits all businesses and not just those in the gaming industry. But for game developers on a tight schedule, hardware performance is critical – and a fast ticketing process ensures minimal downtime.

Bug tracking. Bug tracking is critical in the gaming industry. Jira’s organized, intuitive bug tracking system allows game developers to track the details, status, etc of every kink in the development process – ensuring better performance.

Document repository. Jira can also act as a document repository for files of all types. With a powerful search feature and page indexing capabilities, game companies can ensure quick access to important files – so long as they’re organized responsibly.

Crucible. A web based code review tool, Atlassian’s Crucible (a “friend” of Jira and Greenhopper) allows multiple people to review code online instead of having to crowd around a desktop or overhead projector – the “Google Docs” of code-writing. For game developers, that kind of collaboration is worth its weight in gold.

Greenhopper task tracking. Drag-and-drop task management that associates tasks with Jira projects, items, files, etc, etc. Completely intuitive, remarkably fast. We needn’t say more.

Customize to your heart’s content. Jira is easily and extensively customizable. Most of its customizations don’t require technical knowledge – so designers and developers with different skillsets can configure Jira with ease.

Insanely easy workflows. You don’t have to be a programmer to set workflows up in Jira. Develop workflows quickly to automate repetitive tasks.

Integration with non-Atlassian tools. Jira users can develop their own plug-ins to import and export data to and from Jira. This is crucial, since no software can tackle every need within an organization, and since game developers usually need to leverage multiple tools throughout their production.

That’s how game developers are leveraging Atlassian tools to streamline operations and production timelines. Again, it’s worth noting that much of what’s covered above applies to business of all types – not just those in the gaming industry. Check out our Jira blogs to learn more about how Jira (and “friends“)  can boost your operations.

Special note: If you’ll be attending South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin in March 2011, stop by our booth at the SXSWi Trade Show. We’ll have a Jira demo live, and have our developers behind the table!

Topics: jira atlassian blog crucible show sxsw trade workflows tracking development gaming greenhopper industry integration it bespoke

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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