Is Jira trapped in your IT and development teams? (Part 2)

Jira is typically regarded as a technical tool. In some companies, this reputation is so widespread that the IT and software teams use the Jira intensively, while other teams avoid it completely. In this two-part article, I'm arguing why it's worth freeing Jira from this unfair constraint and expanding its use into the company as a whole. In the first part, I talked about the benefits for agile teams, the increased transparency and the helpful integration with Confluence. Let's continue.

Custom workflows for all teams

Each team manages tasks in its own way - and workflows are one of Jira's strengths, where issues have defined status change rules and move from open to closed. Various project templates offer predefined workflows to get you started immediately. And if they don't fit, you can roll your own workflows.

The Jira workflow editor is a diagram-based visual view of the process and helps to ensure consistency. An custom workflow can be created for each project and modified at any time - from a simple Open -> In Progress -> Completed flow, to extensive processes involving various approval levels, resubmissions, etc. This lets you experiment and react quickly to changes in requirements until you find suitable processes that ensure that all issues are completed systematically.

Jira Software workflows

Jira Software workflow

Real collaboration needs comments

Comments are a fundamental part of the working collaboratively with Jira. Each issue has a comment section with a rich text editor which displays the discussions about the task.

These comments are persistent, and thus the entire background and discussion about a task is centrally available in the issue. It is easy to involve new contributors and get them up-to-speed. Compare this with a messy discussion thread about a task via email!

Real collaboration needs mentions

One feature that doesn't seem particularly exciting at first glance is @ mentions where you can ping and involve a coworker. In practice, being able to address other users directly in issue descriptions and comments is very helpful and speeds up teamwork when there are uncertainties, when questions arise, or when additional expertise is needed, etc.

You can involve colleagues to collaborate on the issue and integrate them into the process. The seamless interaction with Jira's email notifications (see below) ensures that the right user is automatically notified. If members of the Jira implementation team make ample use of it, especially at the beginning of their introductory project, they can effectively increase Jira's acceptance and uptake throughout their workplace.

Automated email notifications

Jira informs the people involved automatically by email about the progress of the issue. This provides constant transparency without participants having to work within the system (if they don't need to). But it is also a step towards banishing the traditional internal back-and-forth email exchanges, making digital collaboration easier.

Jira informs the people involved automatically by email about the progress of the issue. This provides constant transparency without participants having to work within the system (if they don't need to). But it is also a step towards banishing the traditional internal back-and-forth email exchanges, making digital collaboration easier.

Emails that help to banish emails? This sounds paradoxical but it really works. The Jira emails are not substantive contributions to tasks, but pure notifications that are intended to keep you up-to-date with the current status. Discussions happen outside of the inbox in Jira. I recently discussed this in more detail in another article: Notifications from Atlassian software: Do they increase the flood of internal emails?

Jira is more beginner-friendly than ever before

Initially, Jira could appear to be daunting to inexperienced users. It is easy to overcome the fear of Jira's rich and complex functionality, because nowadays it is easier than ever to get started as a new user.

A button to create issues is available on every screen within the system. Creating a new issue takes only a few seconds. An easy-to-use rich text editor lets you add descriptions and comments easily. Working with issues on digital boards is as intuitive as it is elegant. To set up Jira, (e.g. workflows and boards) Jira offers administrators a slim, understandable interface.

As a result, you won't need to run full-day employee training sessions before you start rolling out Jira beyond the technical teams. A few short tutorial videos, some trained contact partners in the company (internal trainers) and when the system has a strong presence in everyone's day-to-day work life from the start, it'll be readily accepted. To get started quickly, we offer a number of resources such as our Learn Atlassian Jira video tutorial series. Nobody needs to fear Jira now!

Consolidating your IT infrastructure

A positive side effect resulting from an expanded Jira rollout is the standardization of digital project and task management within your organization. It wastes the IT departments time when technical teams work successfully with Jira, but the other teams use different tools to manage their to-dos.

It's quite likely you have an unmanageable tangle of systems and tools which are incompatible with each other and distributed across various platforms. Teams cannot work together unless there is a shared platform. Maybe your IT department can be reached via an internal service desk, but that drastically limits communication. How does a software team assign a task to the marketing team? And here's a curly question for you: Do your teams' plethora of tools all comply with your company compliance and security policies?

Expanding Jira to be used throughout the company alleviates these problems. Projects and tasks are centralized and made more visible. Teams and departments can coordinate more efficiently where their tasks overlap. The infrastructure is simplified and consolidated, relieving IT resources and making license management easier.

Bottom line

Jira can be "the one" task management system for everyone. There are countless organizations of all sizes and industries where this is the case. Jira is not elitist; the use cases are varied and cross team boundaries. Due to the rich functionality supporting specialist applications, Jira avoids falling into the trap of the generalist, where a tool can do many things, but none of them properly.

For companies where Jira is stuck in only a couple of use-cases, that the view of it being a tool only suited for technical team be reconsidered. Although the technical teams may be a good first iteration of a large-scale rollout, even when this iteration has taken a long time, the end goal should be company-wide. Taking a strategic approach with pilot teams, a train-the-trainer concept, and above all, making it a constant tool in your daily work will be most helpful and effective.

Your experienced Atlassian Jira partner

Do you have questions about Atlassian's Jira? //SEIBERT/MEDIA is an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner. We would be delighted to help you introduce and learn to use Jira more productively in your company. We offer strategic consulting, licensing, implementation, optimization and expansion advice for all Jira and Atlassian software deployments. Get in touch with us today!

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