While creating a space for your team in Confluence may seem like a simple undertaking, creating one that users actually want to interact is far from easy. We know what can happen when you miss the mark: you've got a team space, but it's a mess - nobody knows where to find anything, there's no consistent structure, and nobody actually uses it. It’s not hard for a space to become a documentation black hole - documents enter, never to be seen again.
Here’s the good news: creating a team space doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. With the right structure and out-of-the-box Confluence tools, you can easily create a space for your team that you don't have to bribe them to use.
5 Steps to a Collaborative Confluence Team Space
1. Create a landing page
The first page that you see when you go to your team space needs to be clear and appealing. If the space’s landing page is too cluttered, your user's eyes will glaze over before they get any useful information out of it. On the other hand, if the page is sparse with no useful information, why would they keep going?
For your landing page, you want to include information about the space: this is where you can throw in a bit of basic information about the team and its members, but you ultimately want to focus on what will be useful for your team. Using a Children Display macro on this page can give users a better understanding of where they can find information in the space as a whole. You can determine how many layers to show, and even include excerpts of the pages below. Similarly, you can link to commonly used pages or provide some navigation hints customized to your space. Now that you’ve got users in the space, you want to make the rest of the experience just as clear.
2. Establish a hierarchy
We recommend thinking about setting up the space as people will look at it - what do they see first? The top-level pages - so start there. They could be anything (and everything) from projects or training to team building. You’ll want to make sure you include any information you want your team to know, without flooding them with a ton of first-level pages.
You can empower users to build this space with you by using the Create from template macro to help enforce your hierarchy. Including the macro on a high-level page allows your team to click a button to create the right page in the right location (if you customize your space templates, these pages can even include the correct macros and labels you need to report on them in other places). Once you've got an idea of how you want the space to be structured, you'll want to address the ever-important content that lives within the space (that's why we're here, isn't it!).
3. Make it easy to find information
There are several things you can do right off the bat to keep users engaged and ensure they have what they need to do their jobs. Using the space shortcuts on the sidebar can call out commonly used pages - either in Confluence or external pages. Confluence also has some built-in macros that can improve your content with little effort:
- Table of Contents - Clarity is key!
- Page Properties Report/Page Properties - Elevate your landing page or high-level pages to pull custom information from other pages into a table.
- Jira Issues - Embed a Jira filter directly into your Confluence page.
- Livesearch - Let users search in your space directly from a page.
- Panel - Break up your sections, spice up your page!
Your pages look great, but who do you want to see them?
4. Restrict what you have to
Confluence allows permissions to be set by space and by page. This means you can lock down individual pages that may be more sensitive, and open up the important ones for viewing and/or editing by the team. Be careful not to lock the space down more than you need to - space and page permissions are great for security, but don't let them be a barrier to collaboration.
Once your space is set up, the next step is about keeping it simple.
5. Cut out unnecessary information
Knowing what doesn't belong in your team space is as important as knowing what does. We've all seen the overflowing wikis, filled with personal user notes or docs that have been around longer than you have. Personal spaces in Confluence are there for a reason - users can track information that isn't relevant to the team in their own space, without filling your space with irrelevant information. Archive information that isn't relevant anymore - Confluence pages track when they were last updated, and using the Attachment macro lets you track that for all of your space attachments as well.
Now you're ready to build out an awesome Confluence team space. Say goodbye to documentation black holes and e-mails from your team asking where to find information and hello to easy collaboration!
Still have questions? Let us know.
Investing in technology should be exactly that: an investment. Technology should accelerate your business and allow you to deliver products and services to your customers more quickly. In a word, DevOps. At Praecipio Consulting, not only do we help organizations adopt DevOps best practices, but we work in it every day with our products and even within our services organization. Investing in the right technology to drive your DevOps initiatives should net you a significant ROI, but why?
At Praecipio Consulting, here's why we believe in DevOps:
- Deliver value faster and more efficiently
- Deploy more frequently, fail less, and recover faster
- Unleash the power of high performing employees
But how do you measure the ROI of that investment? Start by measuring the bottom line of your employee's impact.
You can measure the potential impact of savings and value by calculating the Cost of Downtime and Cost of Excess Rework happening in your organization. DevOps helps companies reduce waste by eliminating costly hand-offs and rework. The best way to measure this impact is to calculate these costs and establish a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that focuses on reducing these costs. First, let's look at how these two are calculated:
Cost of Excess Rework
Cost of Excess Rework = Technical staff size × Average salary × Benefits multiplier × Percentage of technical staff time spent on excess rework
At a moderately performing small- to medium-sized business with 250 engineering staff, times $105,000 average salary, times an average benefits multiplier of 1.5, times 22% of technical staff time spent on excess work equals $8.66M (cost of excess rework) *
250 * 105,000 * 1.5 * 22% = $8,662,500
Rework can come in many forms: Defects, missed requirements, unused or poorly written tests or test cases, repetitive manual actions, etc.. While there is no way to completely eliminate rework, there are ways to reduce it through the automation of processes in key points of your DevOps lifecycle. Assuming the Technical Staff size, average salary, and benefits multiplier are fixed, the reduction in the Percentage of technical staff time spent on excess rework will have the greatest impact in moving the KPI to reduce this cost. Review your current manual or repetitive processes and automate them. Even small changes can make a big impact. If we reduce the rework percentage by five percent:
250 * 105,000 * 1.5 * 17% = $6,693,750
That's a reduction in cost of $1,968,750!
Cost of Downtime
Cost of Downtime = Deployment frequency × Change failure rate × Mean time to recover × Hourly cost of outage
At a moderately performing organization that features 32 deploys per year, times 38% in change failure rate, times 2 hours mean time to recover, times $500,000/hr cost of the outage, equals $12.16M. (cost of downtime) *
32 * 38% * 2 * $500,000 = $12,160,000
While you instinctively know that downtime is expensive, you also know that downtime is inevitable. Instead of implementing complicated or burdensome change control processes to eliminate this risk, focus on the change failure rate. While there are other ways to reduce costs by reducing the mean-time-to-recovery, which we address here, allowing teams to continuously deploy to production-like environments automatically means a reduction in the change failure rate. As we saw above, even a small change can make a big impact. If we reduce the change failure rate by five percent:
32 * 33% * 2 * $500,000 = $10,560.000
That's a reduction of $1,600,000!
Keep in mind, the examples above are based on a moderately performing organization. These are ‘on average’ numbers, and it is important to take the costs of your organization and apply them to these formulas. The costs will only go down as performance increases when you streamline processes and adopt DevOps. Also, remember that every organization is different, and every organization has its own business model, but you get the idea.
Knowing these formulas will help you establish a greater cost savings and a higher value proposition to your organization and customers. You need to start looking for the right tools and training to make your technology transformation a reality.
What could your organization do by recovering this lost time and resources?
- Allow additional brainpower to be dedicated to innovation? DevOps training, with proper implementation, will increase your organization’s productivity and create a culture of high-performing, innovative teams.
- Purchase tools that allow for tighter integration and automation? DevOps tools, when using agile methodology, work best to track planning, building, continuous integration, deployments, operations, continuous feedback and team collaboration. Giving a better view of the Big Picture.
- Deploy quality products and/or services quicker, with fewer bugs? High performing DevOps teams deploy 200 times more frequently with 2,555x faster lead times.
- And the list goes on…
Knowing how to determine the cost of downtime and excess rework are two key factors in calculating your DevOps ROI. Add this to the right tools and training and you have a formula to streamline processes and improve outcomes while saving on cost.
The Praecipio Consulting formulas:
Tools + training = process improvement
Process improvement = cost savings and increased value (goal)
Our knowledge and expertise of DevOps processes and the Atlassian Suite can help our clients operate more efficiently, at a lower cost, and with greater results. Our time-tested delivery model ensures you see measurable ROI from your Atlassian tools.
Looking to make a DevOps transformation? Contact us today.
* = 2016 DevOps Data Report
During an outage, if you feel like your computer is on fire, chaos is abounding, and the world is coming to an end, it's typically a good sign that your incident management process could use a bit of tuning. Gartner indicated in a now-famous blog post that an outage typically costs an organization $5,600 per minute of downtime. An hour-long outage at that rate can cost an organization nearly $350,000. As Amazon or Knight Capital will tell you, that number can be significantly increased if it occurs in a revenue-generating system.
IT teams must find a smart, stable response and resolution to these incidents, usually very quickly in hopes of calming down a manager doing his best Vernon Dursley impression. With the myriad of tools available, at Praecipio Consulting, we've seen IT teams develop creative solutions to acknowledge, respond, and ultimately resolve downed services and systems. But like most processes, we've also seen overly-complicated procedures requiring messy integrations that are unreliable, at best. The key to managing an outage gracefully is to understand not only that the system is down, but ownership, recovery procedures, and communication.
At Praecipio Consulting, we typically see three big inhibitors IT teams face in reducing downtime:
- working in multiple systems
- alert overload
- lack of communication and visibility
Working in Multiple Systems
As microservices become more prevalent in IT organizations, ops engineers are frequently required to work in several disparate systems, resulting in costly context switches that impact productivity. In addition to the (very expensive) wasted time that this incurs, information can be lost in the transition. An effective solution is a single system with several integration points, where information can flow into and be actioned on. Reducing the need for context switches helps users retain information and provides a single source of truth. As a bonus, after the incident is triaged and resolved, the information on how the incident was resolved is all in one location.
This is just one of the many reasons we love the Atlassian products. Jira Service Desk, in combination with Confluence as a knowledge base, can serve as the central location for all things outage. Whether or not the creation of a request is triggered automatically or manually, the creation of a central ticket where the team can swarm, communicate, and collaborate is essential in dealing with the outage quickly. Coupled with the knowledge base filled with Standard Operating Procedures, the IT team can reduce the chaos and confusion of an outage and move toward resolution. Notifications can be sent automatically through Jira Service Desk to any interested parties using Filter Subscriptions and the root cause analysis can be shared via a page in Confluence.
There are a plethora of wonderful monitoring tools in the market today providing a wealth of information to system engineers. The problem is that during an outage, we don't want to wade through a mountain of data to figure out what happened. Instead, we need a way to reduce the noise and get straight to the source of the incident.
Enter companies like Moogsoft, who specialize in aggregating all of that data and sifting through it to identify cause and effect. Building out timelines of when certain alerts were triggered and applying machine learning to identify patterns can greatly reduce the time it takes to get to a root cause.
Of course, an integration into your single system for work is critical. The information should funnel in automatically, thus enhancing the system instead of pulling users away from it. Integrating alert systems into Jira Service Desk to trigger the creation of an Outage, running out of disk space, or even access alerts is invaluable to an IT team looking to respond and resolve as quickly as possible.
Lack of Communication and Visibility
We spoke with a client recently who was reminiscing on 70-person emergency bridges, recalling how chaotic and comical they were. After a good laugh, we were glad he was able to reminisce on those times, as for many IT teams this is still an all-too-real part of the job.
We prefer systems that provide an integration with a collaboration tool and enable a user to proactively reach out to the right support. Ideally, once we're in the communication and collaboration stage, relevant information has already been gathered to a single ticket. Spinning up a chat room from that ticket, and then using an application like xMatters to proactively alert the on-call members of the right support group, enables us to quickly and effectively get the right people looking at the issue. When integrated with Jira Service Desk, the chat room is created via the click of a button and if integrated with an asset management tool such as Insight by Riada, the right people are automatically notified and can join the conversation.
Connecting the right people with the right process in the right tools empowers IT teams to quickly and effectively address incidents. While we all know incidents are painful, the process to identify, work on, and resolve them doesn't have to be. Having a mission control system that intelligently handles alerts, allows for proactive notifications, and promotes collaboration can drastically reduce the time spent working incidents.
How we can help
If you're interested in learning more about how you can establish your own mission control system, give us a call. We can asses your current toolchain configuration and provide next steps on how you can move forward with the technology you have, or help you find the tools that work best for your team.
Sensitive information and the security of that information is becoming increasingly critical for organizations across the globe. GDPR, PHI, HIPAA, PCI, and other sensitive information legislation has had a profound effect on what information can be stored where and who can access this information. At the same time, the need for centralization and collaboration for disparate teams has also increased. At Praecipio Consulting, we believe balancing the need for security with collaboration is a critical concept in content management. Secure Content for Confluence Server and Data Center helps users store and manage sensitive information while balancing Confluence's powerful content collaboration.
As the number of users and amount of content begins to grow in Confluence, security becomes almost impossible to manage. As teams are encouraged to collaborate, the need to protect sensitive information such as passwords, data, reports, etc. also grows. While restricting pages can be a solution to protecting sensitive information, the ability to scale Space or Page content restrictions becomes impossible. Manual intervention from a Confluence or Space Administrator is required or, in the worst case scenario, sensitive information is unintentionally exposed putting the organization at risk. The more the users use Confluence, the more challenging content organization becomes. Without the use of the Secure Content macro, we've seen teams use page restrictions, complex page trees, page or excerpt include macros to manage confidential information. The downside to this approach is the lack of structure it creates inside of Confluence. If there are several restricted pages created separately from the page discussing the primary topic, not only does this make the content severely disorganized, it introduces an unnecessary risk of accidental exposure of sensitive information. In order to prevent clutter inside Confluence spaces and mitigate risk, Secure Content protects sensitive information inside the relevant page eliminating the need to create or reference additional pages.
Secure Content for Confluence Server and Data Center can mitigate this risk with its inline content encryption and robust, yet flexible, permissions. To ensure content is only visible to authenticated users, Secure Content blocks are encrypted before being stored in the database and are only decrypted when an authorized user provides their Confluence credentials. The Secure Content block evaluates the password and if it matches the user's Confluence password, it will authorize the user to either read or read and edit the content inside the block. Additionally, Secure Content uses symmetric AES encryption with a key that is determined when the plugin is first installed. This key is inaccessible even if a user has access to the Confluence Database itself.
In addition to the encryption functionality, assigning permissions for a Secure Content block helps the owner of the block manage the visibility of each user or user group. There are two conditions that must be met before content is decrypted and displayed for a user or group. First, the user/group must successfully be authenticated using their Confluence password to access the block. Second, the user/group must have permission to read/edit content in the block. Aside from the owner of the block, who will always have read/edit permissions, both conditions must be met to give users entry into the protected content.
Every Secure Content block is assigned a key. A Secure Content key is a self-made unique identifier that allows users to add the block on different pages with the same properties as the original block. This is especially useful for organizations that have hand-offs between teams. For example, an operations team may provide 24/7 support for their internal or external customers. During an incident, credentials to access or reboot a system can be easily shared in a central location and perpetuated to both business-hours operations personnel and off-hours operations personnel. This prevents sharing of credentials through unencrypted channels such as text message or email. It also prevents duplication of effort, allowing users to spend more time troubleshooting and resolving the issue.
Combining security and collaboration, Secure Content for Confluence Server and Data Center is the perfect solution to managing sensitive information while leveraging the powerful collaboration abilities in Confluence. It relieves the administrative burden of managing Space and Page restrictions and mitigates the risk of exposure of sensitive information. It allows organizations to maintain an organized content structure without compromising the security of critical systems or personnel. Secure Content makes managing sensitive content inside Confluence organized and protected. Try it free from the Atlassian Marketplace here.
If you run into issues with your Secure Content macro, please contact email@example.com for troubleshooting help or information on Secure Content.
Have you ever been in a meeting and thought, "Why am I even here?" and then started daydreaming or doing other work on your laptop? After meetings that drudge on and on, it's easy to leave them more confused than when you started.
Meetings are the worst! Of course, there are tons of tips on how to run an efficient and productive meeting, but how about being more efficient and productive by NOT scheduling meetings. Skip them! Well, not really. There are situations where a meeting is necessary, but many of our daily meetings are pointless, calendar-eating blocks of time that we will never get back.
Atlassian tools offer so many different ways to facilitate collaboration without sitting around a table at a specific time of day, requiring people to be engaged. Everyone's workloads are scattered throughout the day, and asking them to align priorities during a very specific block of time is not necessarily the best way to get people to collaborate effectively. Instead, creating a Confluence page focused on a specific topic - providing an outline of the work items that need to be addressed. 'Mentioning' your colleagues with the @mention feature notifies them about changes to the page, and they can collaborate when it works best for them. If a specific approval is needed from management, or if you need a colleague's feedback, you can leave an inline comment, which will notify them of your request or comment. If more discussion is needed, any team member can create a Stride room, that references the Confluence page. This will allow team members to actively collaborate on the topic. The communications can happen at a faster rate, allowing for more depth conversation (without a meeting).
This method will encourage and promote engagement with your remote employees and give them a seat at the table (so to speak). If the topic requires inputs from others not originally part of the conversation, it's easy to add them to the Confluence page or Stride room. They can quickly read the conversation and get up to speed.
Many people have a tendency to conclude meetings with no structured outcomes, deliverables, or expectations of team members. When you are using Confluence as your collaboration tool, it's easy to create tasks directly on the page. Since all Atlassian tools can be very transparent, team members are more accountable for completing the follow-up on time. In this example of a Confluence template for meeting notes, you can quickly add team members to a page, capture goals and discussion items and assign tasks:
Ditch the meetings – let those calendars breath – give people their time back, and do it all while accomplishing more, in less time.
By Robb Duke, Director of Marketing
As a marketing professional, I had a limited exposure to Jira before I joined Praecipio Consulting. Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian solutions partner, and now, I eat, sleep, and breathe the Atlassian toolset. But before I really knew what it was, I used Jira Software to collaborate with a distributed team on a project. It was an interesting experience using Jira, because this was a ticketing system for 'IT guys and coders,' not for precious marketing professionals - right? I had been happy - or at least at peace - with using Microsoft Project, Sharepoint, One Note and Excel spreadsheets, along with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation software. But when I saw my first kanban board, and how easy it was to create, organize and visualize work in process, I thought this was a great way to begin an agile marketing shift.
While I'm still getting used to an all Atlassian world, I'm excited to share with you how ticketing software, originally designed to track software bugs, along with other Atlassian tools, have shown me a path towards an agile marketing future. So, here's my 101-level guide to using agile methodologies and tools to manage marketing projects.
Marketing Tasks = Jira Issues/Tickets
Think of your marketing activities as Jira Issues. For example, say you're hosting a webinar next month. Login to Jira, create a new epic for the webinar, give it a name, provide some additional details (the sky is the limit, you can customize the kind of information you want to capture) and click save.
But wait. A webinar has a lot of subtasks within it: you also need to set-up a landing page, attach a form, create thank you emails and internal notifications, schedule the speakers, write a script, create the presentation, setup dial-in info, and a lot more. You can add all of those tasks, too, under the webinar ticket and create a nice, tidy place to track all activities. And, just like marketing automation tools that let you automate repetitive actions, you can create a Webinar Issue template that generates all of these recurring tasks each time you plan a new webinar, saving a lot of time and repetitive work.
There's a lot of work up-front to set up your tasking, but once you've done it you can continuously improve and become increasingly efficient and fast only making small adjustments.
Tracking Assets and Tasks
Now that you have a task list of marketing activities, you have to create the actual assets. You write email and web page copy. Your designer creates beautiful graphics. Your digital folks create tracking links and create a home for all this precious content to live. Confluence gives you a place to create or simply store these assets in a single repository. And you can link the individual tasks from Jira to these pages in Confluence, giving you immediate, bidirectional access between tasks and the actual work product. This is pretty handy and makes team collaboration a breeze.
Again, you have to do some advance planning and preparation to make this work seamlessly. But it's worth the effort in the long run.
Using a Kanban Board
With marketing activities and their related subtasks entered into Jira, and a place to house your marketing assets, you can start managing a project. What should the team be working on first? Where are we on the case study copy? Is Elaine finished with the banner ad artwork? A Kanban Board lets you see where these tasks are in their lifecycle, from "Backlog" to "In Progress" to "Complete" (you can customize these labels, as well). At a glance, you can see how much work is done, how much is in flight, and what's coming up. Do you think the white paper project is more important than the brand guidelines update? Move the brand guidelines to the backlog and focus on the white paper.
With a Kanban board (and even other boards, like Scrum and Agile), you can adjust your work priorities instantly, making it easy to see who is doing what and when it will be done. Ultimately, agile boards help teams improve communication and collaboration.
Kanban boards are super cool, as are scrum boards. Portfolio for Jira, too, can help you create a marketing roadmap to visualize all your projects over time and track resource availability and capacity. Once you've got your marketing ducks in a row, Portfolio will allow you to not only visualize a plan the way you've designed it but also create variations. That's pretty dang neat! Admittedly, there's a lot of work required to make the best use of this tool. But again, once your organization is actually organized, your project management can become amazingly powerful and useful.
Now, we've learned that Jira is a powerful tool that welcomes all - not just software and IT teams. And if you didn't know about Confluence or any of these awesome planning tools, you owe it to yourself to consider them for organizing your marketing plan. If you're interested, start by checking in with your IT or software development teams. Chances are, they are using Jira and possibly Confluence right now. There's your starting point. And if you want a demo, or to purchase licenses, or need help getting started, let us know!
If you’ve attempted a Jira Service Desk (JSD) implementation on your own or reviewed proposals from consulting firms offering to do the work, chances are a three-week implementation sounds pretty far-fetched. But I assure you, not only is it possible—it’s something we do regularly.
Jira Service Desk is a highly regarded service desk platform. When an organization decides to implement the platform, they’re often eager to leverage its flexibility and enterprise-grade capabilities to increase team productivity, meet demanding service-level agreements, and improve customer satisfaction. Just one thing stands in the way: implementation.
Most organizations consider two options for implementing Jira Service Desk. They either do it themselves—provided they have the proper skillsets—or they hire a consulting firm to do the work. For some, implementing Jira Service Desk is not always as simple as it looks, and organizations that choose the do-it-yourself option are often disappointed several months later when they aren’t realizing the platform’s full benefits.
Engaging with a consulting firm may seem to be the logical choice then. However, this isn’t the best option if you hope to see a return on your investment sooner rather than later. An experienced consulting firm will work iteratively, meeting with stakeholders daily to gather requirements and demonstrate the previous day’s deliverables. With the right consulting firm, this process will result in a top-notch, custom-built Jira Service Desk deployment—but it will take several months.
If you do not have the time and/or budget for a customized implementation, then you might consider a Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting. We have over a decade of experience with successful service desk implementations using Jira, and we have taken this experience to build schemes that deliver a faster implementation based on ITIL best practices. With a Quick Start implementation, we get you up and running with a functional Jira Service Desk implementation in just a few short weeks.
Come On. Three Weeks?
Yes! Two critical factors make a Quick Start implementation possible. The first is the fact that most ITSM organizations don’t need heavily customized workflows. In fact, what most service organizations need is a properly configured service desk that meets ITIL best practices. By forgoing unnecessary customizations and implementing Praecipio Consulting's Quick Start, we can significantly reduce deployment time and, subsequently, the costs associated with it.
The other piece of this, of course, is expertise. Based on our 10+ year, varied and extensive experience working with companies of all sizes, we can give you exactly what you need and nothing you don’t. We have taken real-world application and experience with industry-leaders to implement JSD and ITSM/ITIL based on best practices to provide companies with processes that are a step above the textbook recommendation. As a provider that knows ITIL, Praecipio Consulting can deliver an industry-standard implementation of Jira Service Desk—with lighter customizations to make it yours—in half the time it takes for a traditional deployment.
Some organizations, unfortunately, never realize the benefits of a Jira Service Desk adoption because they get stuck in the implementation phase. Don’t let that be your fate.
By Brian Nye, Principal of Delivery
The ability to 'see the big picture' and have a clear understanding of the work teams complete is something our clients ask for often. With a product like Jira Software, anything is possible; however, there are tools within the project management software platform that are built specifically to help users stay in the know and track project statuses.
Out-of-the-box, Jira comes equipped with three powerful task boards that teams and managers can use to manage projects and gain better visibility into the work being done: Scrum board, Kanban board, and Agility board.
Tracking issues on a board will open up views into the work that you're looking for and they are simple to set up.
Step 1: What do you want to see?
Step 2: Board Selection
Step 3: Share and Use
Step 1: What do you want to see?
It's common for organizations have a lot of issues in Jira, but do you need to see all of them, every day? Probably not. The first step in setting up a board is to understand what it is you want to see. Boards can be built to import every issue from every project, or by a JQL filter, which can display a very specific set of results. Using a filter is traditionally more useful and manageable. Either way, it's important to understand the scope of your board to make sure that when you're looking at it, you are only seeing the items that are important to you. You can use one, or a combination of these approaches. Keep in mind that an issue can live in multiple boards, and any updates that are made to an issue will appear on any board where the issue is displayed.
Step 2: Board selection
Jira offers three boards that you can choose from (assuming that you are on Jira Software): Agility, Kanban, and Scrum. Even though they seem very methodology-specific, choose the board that works best for you and/or your team - and it's not just for software or development teams.
Kanban is all about continuous flow. With this in mind, there are a lot of different uses for this board such as a team that is not practicing scrum or a project manager who wants to visualize the work happening on their project. Recently, Atlassian added the ability to have a backlog option for Kanban boards which will allow you to specify a status that would represent work that it's quite ready for prime time.
Pro tip: Define your swim lanes to organize your work. By default the swim lanes will be set to look at priority but there are a variety of options to split your work into meaningful views.
Scrum promotes commitment to a subset of work for a specified time period. The Scrum Board focuses on looking at your backlog of work and pulling issues into sprints which the team will focus on completing in a specified period of time. If your team has a sizable task that they are trying to parse into manageable chunks of work, this may be the board for you as it allows users to focus only on the subset that you've committed to for that period of time.
Pro tip: Check the "Days in Column" option found in the "Card Layout" section of the board configuration to ensure your work flows appropriately.
Agility boards are the newest boards in Jira Software. They're perfect for teams that want to quickly jump in and get started and don't require any complicated configuration. This is a great board selection for projects that may be looking at a single issue type or if all issues follow the same workflow.
Pro tip: If your Jira Project is for simple task tracking, use a business project and use an Agility board. Its simplistic design is perfect for the Executive with too little time and no "technical" skills.
Step 3: Share and Use
Now that you've chosen (and hopefully created) your board, make sure to use it as a communication tool. Too often we see boards created but not used during meetings with team members. There is a lot of power in seeing the work displayed for the team so everyone can have a complete understanding of what the progress looks like on a continuous basis. The more you use the boards to communicate progress, the better the information will be as its submitted to the board.
Pro tip: It's important to note that when you share the board with others, you need to make sure that your filter is shared with those who will need to view the board.
Now that you have a better understanding of what the boards can do for you, go out and create a few for your teams. Experiment with different board views to see what works best. If you're still not sure, contact us! We help teams in every industry make the most of their Atlassian tools and business processes.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Responding to a major system outage requires speed and organization, but IT teams that manage incidents without integrated asset management are susceptible to risk and longer resolution times. Join Praecipio Consulting and Riada in this webinar about modernizing IT operations with enterprise asset management. Learn how agents use Jira Service Desk, integrated with a CMDB like Insight by Riada, to more effectively support and govern IT assets during a major incident.
By Amanda Babb, Principal of Process Delivery
One of the most difficult concepts to explain in agile is the concept of Batch Size. It's a principal tenet of Lean Product Development and is an ACTUAL principle in SAFe (# 6 to be precise). However, when we work with our clients to evaluate their practices and processes, we see product backlogs in the scrum boards of hundreds of items. In one case, a client used the concept of a Groomed Sprint to define what part of the Backlog had been groomed and prioritized by the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Team.
What we have here, folks, is a failure to right-size Batch Size.
I've been thinking about this for a while. What is the best non-Agile example of Batch Size? It wasn't until I discussed it with my husband for the 4th time in two days that it clicked: laundry.
Laundry is something we all need to do, but don't enjoy. And work is that way too. Sometimes we have a great laundry day: it's not on the floor, it's not stinking up the bedroom(s), it's moving through without being the only thing we accomplish that day. It's a good laundry day. Sometimes, though, it's a horrible laundry day. It's been put off so long that it's almost overwhelming: it's everywhere and is likely the only thing that's accomplished that day. Picture this: it's laundry day at your house. Individual piles are consolidated into a Big Pile. The Big Pile is sorted into smaller piles according to color, fabric, and cleaning products. The smaller piles begin to make their way through the system one at a time.
I know what you're thinking: Amanda, we all know how laundry works. Bear with me.
A smaller load of laundry requires less time per batch to both wash and dry. If you've ever flown into a blind panic when realizing you need clothing for the next day and have washed a single set of clothes, you know what I'm talking about. It takes less time for the washer to fill, agitate, rinse, and spin than the extra large load. In addition, it takes much less time to dry a single set of clothes than a whole dryer full of jeans. However, this is wasteful. It wastes energy and water and time because you still have that Big Pile you have to deal with at some point. And you know you do and you will. At some point. Before your husband decides to drag three laundry baskets across the house. And they're full of jeans and work shirts. <sigh>
Thinking about the above scenario another way, instead of lumping everything together into the Big Pile, why don't we pre-sort? Doesn't that make a smaller batch size and make it easier to flow through the system? Yes, but also no. Pre-sorting does take some of the handling out of consolidating laundry into the Big Pile by making smaller batches. However, those small batches can add up to a Big Pile if not adequately moved through the system when they're ready.
What if, instead, we right-sized the batch? What if, based on the color, fabric, and cleaning products, we put the batch through the system when it was determined to be the right size? Not so big that the Big Pile must be broken into smaller batches to flow through the system, but not so small that we're wasting resources including, the most precious resource of all, time? It's time to right-size your laundry. Just as it's time to right-size your work.
Within any agile framework, this is the essence of throughput. When requirements come to the Team in a Big Pile, the Team must break the Big Pile into consumable smaller batches. These batches must also be prioritized: clothing needed in the next day, versus clothing needed next week, versus something you've worn once and likely won't wear again for a few weeks or until a special occasion. Just as we prioritize our laundry, so too must we prioritize the backlog. What is the immediate need? What can wait a few weeks? What is a nice-to-have? Note: in the extended metaphor, nice-to-have is dry cleaning. Not something you need, but sits on a hangar in your closet, is reassessed as an outfit every three months, and ultimately placed back in the closet in favor of the clean laundry. So too should those nice-to-haves be removed from the backlog to be addressed every once in a while to see if there's a current need. Either put them back in the closet or donate them. Deprioritize items in the backlog or remove them altogether.
How can you tell the batch is the right size to move through the system? Much like laundry, it's trial and error and feedback into the system. You didn't come into this world knowing how to do laundry. And there have been plenty of times that you've accidentally thrown a red sock into a load of whites or bleached something in your darks or even shoved too much into the washer only to have to run the dryer three times to get it adequately dried. So what did you do with this information? You learned from it. In fact, you retrospected on what you did and learned from it. I see what you did there, Amanda. So too will the Team learn from each batch of work that flows through the system. Within a retrospective, the Team should look at their batch size estimates and make adjustments for future work. This allows the Team to establish a predictable velocity with which to plan future work. Much like you've figured out how to do laundry efficiently over time (hopefully). Either way, it all comes out in the wash.
What is GDPR?
If any of your partners, employees or customers are citizens or businesses in the EU, its time to review your company's compliance strategy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new European Union privacy standard that mandates the ability for someone to have access to their personally identifying information (PII) and have the ability to change the information or "be forgotten" by requesting the removal of that data. These requirements can make achieving backward compliance standards very difficult. This new privacy law will impact everyone, from C-level executives to new hires and likely every department to include Human Resources, Information Security, Compliance and more. Regulations surrounding GDPR will affect most organizations, large and small, regardless of whether your business does business directly in the EU.
With the right tools and know-how, companies using Atlassian products like Jira and Confluence can not only achieve forward compliance by the May 25, 2018 deadline but also attain assurance that pre-existing content is compliant as well.
GDPR was designed to strengthen and unify data for European Union residents, regardless of where their data is used, processed, or stored. GDPR essentially legislates a lot of common sense data security ideas, like minimizing the collection of personal data, deleting personal data when no longer necessary, restricting access, and securing data through its entire lifecycle. But compliance violations can have costly consequences including Fines and penalties Your organization can face damaging penalties of 4% of annual global annually or 20 mil. euros.
The GDPR Checklist
Praecipio Consulting has over 11 years of expertise in Atlassian products alone. As an Atlassian Platinum Partner, we have full-service solutions ready to go to get your organization's pre-existing Atlassian application data within GDPR compliance quickly and confidently.
Praecipio's Solutions Consultants come armed with the tools to identify, review, and address the content that may not be in compliance throughout your Atlassian stack. We will conduct a thorough scan of your application's existing data to include all version histories. We produce reports that help your teams identify violations, use that feedback to improve and refine our search algorithms to ensure the highest level of coverage possible.
- Identify: we use tools and techniques developed in-house to locate potentially non-compliant data within JIRA, Confluence and other Atlassian applications.
- Review: We then provide a detailed analysis and report of our findings and conduct a thorough review of potential violations with your team.
- Address: Praecipio then incorporates findings from the review into further refinement of identification and generates an execution plan to redact pre-existing content to ensure compliance of your legacy data.
Maintaining Compliance in Confluence with Secure Content 2.0
Once your data is fully reviewed and in compliance, you'll need solutions to keep it that way. After all that effort and expense, you don't want to be one Confluence page edit away from a violation. For Confluence, Praecipio Software offers Secure Content 2.0 to easily secure and limit access to sensitive page content. We use 256-bit encryption to ensure any new content will not expose your organization to penalties in the future.
Your organization can invest considerable time and expense to get your Atlassian data GDPR compliant, but you'll need the tools to keep it that way. Praecipio Software's Secure Content Confluence App, available on the Atlassian Marketplace, gives your team an easy and safe way to store content securely that is both encrypted and with granular-level access control. This means sensitive data is securely encrypted on your database and access set by the author at the group or even individual level.
Secure Content is designed for robust security and ease of use. Ideal for shared, sensitive content such as passwords, data, reports - anything you need to restrict access to; anything that would likely fall under the 'identify and remove' GDPR regulation requirements.
- Owner Report macro: See all your Secure Content in one place. Drop it on any page and be a click away from all of your Secure Content across the entire Confluence instance for time-saving administration and editing.
- Transferable ownership: Control of Secure Content blocks can be optionally transferred by the Confluence administrator if needed. Or the owner can lock it down to make sure they maintain complete privacy and control, even from Confluence administrators.
- Implicit rendering: Less sensitive but still protected data can be optionally made to render automatically with the rest of the page content but only to Authorized users.
- Access request: Non-Authorized users can request access with a single click, alerting the content owner immediately for action via Confluence notifications.
Custom Compliance Solutions
Praecipio Software's custom development solutions can be engaged as well to address your organization's unique GDPR data security and compliance concerns.
Small errors can cause big problems. In 2007, a car dealership hired a promotions firm to mail 50,000 scratch-off tickets to potential customers, with one lucky winner designated to receive a $1,000 prize. However, the first 30,000 tickets were all mistakenly printed as winners, adding up to a $30 million mistake. Obviously, the dealership was unable to honor the pay-out, and instead offered $5 gift cards to the numerous lucky winners.
Perhaps a comma in the wrong place caused the prize value to skyrocket? Whatever the reason, this error was caused by inaccurate data.
Data Accuracy is Important
Data accuracy is important, and while Jira provides a solid foundation for data collection, Turbo Kit for Jira can enhance your data with field validation
As agents and customers are entering information into a Jira issue, key data points will need to be stored correctly for future retrieval. For anyone working directly with customer issues that refer to a specific item number (e.g. policy, product, part, account) it's necessary to be able to lookup the ID of the specified item. Collecting the ID, however, isn’t always a straightforward task, and often involves multiple conversations with the customer. People will often leave fields blank, enter the wrong type of ID reference, or enter a number with a typo, and many other errors that contribute to data inaccuracies.
Turbo Kit for Jira offers field validation ensures that people provide the right information. Organizations typically have standardized formats for their ID numbers, often consisting of a string of letters and numbers with a specific number of characters. By checking the count of numbers and letters entered into the field, Turbo Kit for Jira can validate that the ID is formatted correctly before it's submitted.
Validated Data Will Show You the Patterns You Care About
Reporting is huge. Identifying trends in the information that's reported on can help your organization recognize what is and isn't working and where energies are being focused.
If you're curious about what type of insurance policies have the most associated issues, you can filter issues based on the insurance policy field. Maybe you'd like to see how many open tickets related to the newest insurance policy 'NEW1234'. But if half of the tickets had 'NEW-1234' written in the Policy custom field, the extra dash could prevent these tickets from showing up in a search. If all of these ticket policy numbers are written in the same way, you'll be able to query the entire set in a search. Turbo Kit for JIRA and its field validation enables these reporting conditions so you can get a more accurate picture of what's happening in your organization.
Mystery Solved, Case Closed
Is your company able to survive a $30 million mistake? Do you want to end up a cautionary tale because you didn't enforce data validation and other data best practices in your Jira instance? It's elementary, my dear Watson. With Turbo Kit for Jira on the scene, the data mystery is solved and this case can be closed.
Work smarter, not harder. Easier said than done.
However, in agile software development, there are some things teams can do to begin working smarter and more efficiently.
Many companies still estimate the amount of time a project will take in hours. But this approach, typical of the waterfall methodology, can lead to cost overruns and missed deadlines. "(Humans are) terrible at estimating how long something is going to take. We're just not good at it," said Christopher Pepe, Chief Technology Officer at Praecipio Consulting. "But what we are good at is estimating the relative sizes of things." And so he makes this point in his story above on story points vs. hours, and why companies should adopt this agile concept of planning and managing development projects.
But first, what is a story point? According to Dan Radigan in his article The secrets behind story points and agile estimation, "Story points rate the relative effort of work in a Fibonacci-like format: 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100." Story points provide an abstract way of understanding how complex a project is, and how much work a project will take.
In a comparison between agile and waterfall time estimates, Steve Cooke at Swarm Online writes "The reasoning behind using points rather than hours, is that it might be difficult to estimate in units of time at speed. Also, the speed at which the team can deliver points of effort will depend on the skills of the individuals in the team. Team A might not be as fast as Team B but the relative size of the stories remains the same."
If you want to know more about how using story points could help your team with project estimation, reach out to us today.