In her recent webinar, Proving Value: How Business Leaders Use Jira Align to Connect Strategy and Execution, Principal Solutions Architect, Amanda Babb, demonstrated how to connect technical teams with strategic initiatives using proven strategies and Jira Align. She also answered questions from our live audience ranging from which Agile at Scale and task prioritization methods work best with the tool to how to create a strategic snapshot in Jira Align; read on to learn what she had to say. 

Do you have to be running SAFe to use Jira Align?

The short answer? No. 

Jira Align works with any Agile at Scale framework. But there are key things to keep in mind– the people, the work, and the time boxes. You have to understand which people are doing what work and within which timeframe. These three are inextricably connected. You’ll get the most out of the tool if you commit to a standard definition of these items across the organization and can run in a synchronized cadence such as business quarters. My advice? Be disciplined, commit, and move forward.

Can you do most of these Gantts in advanced roadmaps? 

Yes, to a certain point. I love Advanced Roadmaps. In fact, before Jira Align became an Atlassian product, I called it the Bees Knees. However, when it comes to enterprise organizations that need to aggregate more program-level data into a more centralized view, it falls short. 

Advanced Roadmaps works really well at the Program layer (Teams of Teams), but as organizations start to expand and mature, they tend to seek alternative technologies and integrations with business intelligence tools for that bigger picture (Teams of Teams of Teams). It’s a progression, kind of like how we crawl and walk before we run. There is a time and a place in an organization's maturity level for Advanced Roadmaps, but eventually, you might outgrow it and require an enterprise platform like Jira Align.  

How does WSJF prioritization of epics work? 

With Jira Align, you can prioritize work based on anything you like. WSJF stands for – weighted shortest job first, where you take a look at complexity, level of effort, and other factors, and you calculate which task should be prioritized higher versus lower. 

Within that, there's usually the concept of your work tree and your cut line. It's called pull rank when you're prioritizing, and you can say I'd like to pull rank based on WSJF. That will prioritize the current work in the work tree and other child work based on WSJF. However, It all comes down to one thing: ensuring that you're entering the data correctly. You have to commit with the right people to enter that information as part of your process so that you can then use the technology to help you prioritize. With Jira Align all things are possible – the answer is always yes, we just need to make sure that your people and your processes are set up to facilitate good technology. 

What is a strategic snapshot in Jira Align and what does it represent?

A strategic snapshot is an aggregation of your goals, your aspirations, your mission, vision, and values on a cadence. In essence, the strategic snapshot represents an aspect of your company's strategy for a specific time period, typically a year, but could be shorter or longer. You can have a snapshot that represents the entire strategy for a year, as well as snapshots that represent a specific product strategy or specific value stream strategy.

Can I have a strategy per product or product family? 

Yeah, absolutely. What’s interesting (and we tell this to our clients all the time about the Atlassian products) is that you can do anything you want with Atlassian tools up to and including pouring beer, because we've done that before. One of the things that we want to recognize is the why... Why are you trying to accomplish something as an organization as well as within the platform itself?

Is it because that's how your strategy actually works? Or is that because you're being asked for a one-off report based on something you did three years ago? So my advice is to ask why and then examine the why to ensure it aligns with your strategy. 

Can you show the why button feature between Jira Align and Jira?

It’s really easy if you have access to Jira Align to go ahead and click that button, but not everybody needs access to Jira Align. Even if you have access to Jira Align, not everybody needs to be able to see absolutely everything in Jira Align. We can always speak with Atlassian regarding the correct ratio of licensing for each organization.

As an example, if I'm a developer, I want to know the WIIFM - What’s In It For Me. Why am I working on this story, why is it important, or why are we committing to it in a particular time frame? We can surface that information in Jira within the Jira Software Epic. If you're looking at a Story, you click on your epic and boom! You can see the strategy tree up to that Theme. This is really cool, because now, when a developer is working on the story, they know that it ties to this particular Jira software epic. 

But why is this important? It comes down to visibility, so everyone up and down the organization is aligned on a strategic level. If the whole team has access to the Strategy Tree, when there are competing priorities, teams can make informed decisions to help execute against that strategy. And that’s what every organization wants– business leaders want to understand what is happening with complex deliveries and teams want to understand the why behind strategic initiatives. With Jira Align you get both. 

How can I get buy-in throughout my organization to invest in Jira Align? 

We’re here to help. You can book a technical call to discuss your organization's specific needs. Also keep an eye out for our Jira Align Insight Report, co-authored with our friends at Atlassian, coming mid-November 2022 which will take a deep dive into the tool that can help you share the benefits of Jira Align with your team.

Missed the live webinar? Tune in on-demand for an in-depth look into defining the connection between strategy and execution from the Portfolio to the Program within Jira Align.

Watch Webinar

Amanda Babb

Written by Amanda Babb

Amanda Babb, Principal of Client Delivery, has been working in the Atlassian products since 2013. After becoming a SAFe® Program Consultant in 2015, she's worked with Enterprise organizations facilitating their agile-at-scale transformations leveraging the Atlassian Products. A self-proclaimed Agile Evangelist, Amanda has worked closely with Atlassian to build Praecipio Consulting's Jira Align practice, blending framework and tooling to accelerate enterprise digital transformation.

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