3 min read

Cloud simplifies creating valuable workflows

By Luis Machado on Feb 22, 2022 11:04:51 AM

2021 Q1 Blog - Cloud - Cloud simplifies creating valuable workflow - Hero

Workflows are the backbone of every process in every business around the globe. Efficient workflows can help your business scale effectively. However, flawed or fragile workflows can lead to issues within your company, disruptions to your bottom line, and more. 

Until not so long ago, if you wanted to create a new way of working, you had to:
  • Create a request to solve this issue and make a business case for it
  • Once approved, brainstorm with stakeholders on ways to improve the process
  • IT had to create a development and test environment to code the changes and test them
  • Documentation and training
  • Launch with (hopeful) success

How long did this take? Days? Weeks? Traditionally, months.

Cloud shortens that time and provides several other benefits—such as reduced IT overhead, strengthened security, and more time spent focused on your customers and product. You can learn why you should migrate to Atlassian Cloud in 2022 here.

You can learn more about our approach to Atlassian Cloud Migrations and discover how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate.

Your Cloud and digital improvements won't provide greater customer satisfaction, staff enhanced capabilities, or lower costs unless you begin to apply DevOps practices and tools.

How do we make it faster?

Using the concepts of IT service management, and leveraging the right software, you can automate creating and approving requests or resolving an IT issue (incident). This approach can be applied to other business tasks such as sales, HR, marketing, and essential accounting functions. Cloud-based software lets you implement these processes with a few clicks or by pressing a button on an online catalog. Atlassian and their partners like Workato are leading the way in creating business as a Service process. 

If we look at Onboarding, for example, one of the most common workflows companies have a strong desire to automate. The steps to source an applicant, store their CV, arrange an interview, track the responses, make an offer, track the request and organize the start date, training, and IT of the new employee used to take several days. Now software can complete your onboarding process by your morning coffee break.

The same is true for:

  • Approval workflows – product or service improvements currently require many approvals from finance, security, users, operations, and even external suppliers. These hand-offs add days to time to market, which could be saved if you allow software to manage your approval process.
  • Creating application environments – we have seen where the request for a new environment took 11 weeks. Coding the demand to deploy process allows an entire domain to be ready in less than 10 minutes. Taking advantage of this, you can even code the removal of the environment if not in use saving money.
  • Automating payment of services (debit cards, online products like PayPal, online ordering) is nothing more than leveraging code for the cash flow from request to the supplier.

How do you take advantage of this new way of creating work?

Consider these questions:
  • What work processes are vital to you, and why?
  • How do they work today?
  • What is wrong with them today?

This is where a partner like Praecipio comes into the picture. Leveraging lean techniques like value stream mapping (VSM) that have been embraced by DevOps and ITSM the world over, we can work with your teams to design for your future. Making collaborative decisions on improving the workflow or outsourcing the workload to a SaaS provider (see Praecipio SaaS blogs) can be agreed upon. The goal is to introduce innovation, speed, and scalability with a cloud service enabled by software workflow products. We bring context and expertise to the table turn your ideas into reality.

Free eBook: 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration

Learn how to assess, plan, and launch a successful Atlassian Cloud Migration with our new eBook. We explore what you should expect before migrating, how to avoid common mistakes, and how we partnered with Castlight Health to guide them through a successful cloud migration. Learn how we've maintained a 100% cloud migration success rate, download our 6 Steps to a Successful Atlassian Cloud Migration eBook today.

The goal is to have cloud-based operating models that can accelerate your strategy. Through 2020 and 2021, we've seen what happens to companies that do not react quickly enough. Ask for assistance and coaching, and go digital in 2022. Get started with your Cloud Migration by reaching out to the experts at Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: workflows cloud cloud migration
3 min read

How to Effectively Communicate Across All of Your Tools

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

2021-q4-blogpost-Why more tools does not mean better communication_1

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 best-practices confluence workato workflows culture slack
3 min read

Can a Product Owner also be a Scrum Master?

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: 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 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 custom-development
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
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

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