Jira is not just for Christmas — An alternative perspective on Jira
Written by Dan Hellings
Atlassian tools (including Jira) are now used by over 150,000 companies in over 190 countries around the world. Atlassian’s Cloud products alone have over 10 million active users every month.
Helping organisations, from start-up to enterprise, to work smarter and faster, Atlassian provides the tools that enable teams to unleash their full potential. Its products contain a suite of innovation, including:
Jira — plan, track, and release world-class software.
Bitbucket — collaborate on code and manage your Git repositories to build and ship software.
Bamboo — continuous integration, deployment, and release management.
Confluence — organise your company knowledge, information, documents, and discuss everything in one place.
Trello — enable your team to organise projects in a fun, flexible, and visual way.
As the #1 software development tool for agile teams, let’s take a moment to focus on Jira…
Jira: plan, track, and release great software
Originally created by Atlassian back in 2002, Jira was built for every member of your software team, enabling them to plan, track, and release great software with ease.
Today, Jira has evolved into an innovative and flexible powerhouse in the realm of software development. As of January 2019, Jira was being used by over 65,000 companies, including enterprise companies from the Yellow Pages to NASA.
It’s easy to understand Jira’s success, and why so many software developers trust it to manage their project. The platform’s simple workflow takes users on a step-by-step journey from start-to-finish, ensuring no little details are lost or forgotten, easy to use interface and its effortless integration with other products, such as Confluence:
Plan sprints and distribute tasks across your software team.
Track: prioritise and discuss your team’s work in full context with complete visibility.
Ship with confidence knowing the information you have is always up to date.
Improve team performance based on real-time, visual data.
But wait a minute…
If we forget about the subject of ‘software development’ from everything we just said, doesn’t that describe the requirement of pretty much every business function?
At its core, Jira is a tracking tool to monitor processes from start-to-finish. This simple principle spans functional boundaries to relate to any business process, which is why it has parts of it that extend far beyond software development. An example of this is by extending Jira to use its Service Desk functionality (Jira Service Desk) to open up even more use cases for your organisation around managing requests.
And you don’t need to be technical to understand how it works…
The users can easily access Jira, regardless of whether they’re working in the office, working remotely or on their phone. Its customer friendly front end means that users can be up-and-running quickly without the need for in-depth training. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like, customising different areas and workflows to match the way each function operates, and you can add custom fields to match what your company needs to associate with each item in Jira (known in Jira as the generic term of an “issue”).
The platform even seamlessly integrates with the tools you already use — whether Atlassian products, such as Confluence (the collaboration/knowledge/information platform) or Bitbucket (Git repositories… developer stuff!), or one of 3,000 other apps available on the Atlassian Marketplace that you can attach to your Atlassian product. There are apps for almost all use cases, for example you can utilise apps such as Tempo to enhance Jira’s functionality even further so that it can be used for your company’s timesheeting, planning and financial project and portfolio management.
From centralised dashboards, you can maintain visibility of the whole company/department, identifying the projects that are on track or slipping, and assigning tasks to specific team members for completion.
This is why the power and flexibility of Jira can be utilised by all areas of the business, from IT, Customer Service, Finance, Marketing, HR, Facilities and beyond. Consider all the processes and solutions that could be streamlined and benefited from being inside Jira and utilising its functionality:
Jira is designed for security and scale, the enterprise-grade platform grows in-line with your business needs. It can be used as a single source of truth repository to track all kinds of issues (tasks, requests, etc.) from across your company. It also automatically maintains version history and a full audit trail of the information stored within the platform, so you know the history of what was changed (including the value before and after), at what time the change happened and by whom. It has permissions to control who can create, edit, complete and view content in each area within Jira. It has powerful features like it’s easy to use search functionality to query data, export results, generate reports and populate dashboards. Atlassian also take security extremely seriously and their products are certified with industry-accepted standards, including GDPR, ISO 27001 and ISO 27018.
So, let’s take a look at a few examples of what Jira has to offer your wider business as we consider its capabilities through the eyes of the other business functions…
Example 1: Centralised Company Service Desks
From Customer Service to Finance, all areas/departments of a company handle requests. By utilising Jira Service Desk, you can implement a solution that gives customers (internal and external) a friendly and easy to use customer portal user interface. Having a centralised set of Service Desks means that there is a single destination for customers to submit requests.
Example 2: Incident and problem management
The majority of organisations need to record incidents and problems (the root cause of the incidents), whether that’s in regard to health and safety or in relation to systems and software. When an accident or incident occurs, there’s a ream of paperwork that needs completing, signing off, reporting and filing, as well as the follow-up actions to ensure that where possible it doesn’t happen again.
Using Jira, you can record the incident and allocate tasks to specific members of the team — assigning to teams responsible for resolving the incident. At any moment you can log in and see if this incident has occurred before, view the up-to-date information in the system and view its current status.
Example 3: Asset management
Having an asset management solution is a must for all companies. The ability to keep track of company owned assets, from devices such as laptops, monitors, tablets, mobile phones, screens, to wider company furniture. Attaching an asset ID tag (see the example below) allows you to record these items.
You can then use Jira to keep track of what status the Assets are in (e.g. in stock, in use, sent for fix), and other useful information such as who they are assigned to, their location (e.g. in the office), serial number, make, model, the history of the asset and it’s warranty start and end dates. This also allows you to query Jira to find whatever information you require, e.g. how many laptops are currently in stock, or how many assets are approaching the end of their warrantee periods.
The image below shows all the Assets displayed in a Jira Kanban board:
Example 4: Recruitment (vacancy and applicant tracker)
You could track your companies vacancies inside Jira. Having a Jira issue per vacancy/position and then tracking them via a workflow. The workflow statuses for the positions can go from Open all the way to a status of Filled. You can even use sub-tasks to record the candidates for each position. The candidates would follow their own Candidate Workflow, starting at Pending, all the way past Phone Interview, Face to Face Interview, to Hired. You can add custom fields to each issue to track items such as role, start date, posted date, feedback etc. Clicking on a position will show all the information you need to know, including displaying all the candidates and what status they are currently in.
Example 5: Employee Onboarding and Offboarding
Following on from tracking the recruitment of staff, you can then take this on a stage and track your employees from the initial onboarding stage, to being active members of staff, all the way to offboarding. You can include steps into the process to make sure all the various activities are carried out during this process, for example all the various tasks for onboarding a new member of staff.
Connecting Recruitment to Onboarding
Utilising an app from the Atlassian Marketplace you can add extra functionality to Jira, such an Automation app such as Scriptrunner for Jira. You can use an app like this to make the process even more seamless, such as when a candidate is moved to the hired status it can automatically create a Jira issue for that employee in the Onboarding process (copying over all the details you need from the original Jira issue). See the image below to show how this would work:
Example 6: Booking Management
You can use Jira to manage bookings, such as managing your company’s IT environments. Using the example of environment management, you could use Jira Service Desk for users to book environments, request for new environments or edit existing environments.
Using the Environment Management booking example, you can have a simple workflow that starts in the Pending Status and then can either transition to Declined or Booked depending on the decision of the booking request. You can then utilise an app such as Apwide’s ‘Go Live | Test Environment Manager’ to show these bookings in a timeline. Users can view the timeline to see when an environment is available, and then it will appear with a booking once approved:
Example 7: Approvals (e.g. a Change Control)
A great use case for Jira is to utilise it for those business processes that require an approval, such as a Change Control. These are the processes where you can only action the change once it’s been reviewed and approved. Jira has numerous features, including the ability to add functionality and pop-up screens (known as Transition Screens) into the various parts of a workflow. You can control who can approve a request, who can edit the change at certain parts of the workflow and other features like controlling who can create, edit and close the requests.
The example below shows a Change Control workflow that is aimed at deploying a change:
Jira is clearly a must-have for Software Development teams, but that‘s only a tiny part of how it can benefit your organisation.
So why bother to share this startling revelation about Jira?
When you think differently about how Jira could benefit your whole organisation, you start to deliver the inter-departmental collaboration needed for a business to thrive. Using a single system, you allow data to flow freely and securely across the organisation, and achieve consistency in how the platform is used, and how key performance indicators are reported back into the business.
Jira is clearly a must-have for Software Development teams, but that is only a tiny part of how it can benefit your organisation. I hope this has provided some insights into the potential wider use of Jira in your organisation. Consider incorporating other business processes into the tool and in doing so creating a flexible and easy to use tool for the whole company to benefit from.