Guest blog post by Erin Jones, Partner Manager, xMatters
Access your monitoring platform and find the alert. Export the data report. Create an issue in Jira, then attach the data report. Search assignees and add all necessary parties to the ticket. Spin up a chat room for the incident to facilitate swarming. Log into your StatusPage and let your users know about the incident, at each stage, as you can now finally get around to resolving it.
These are all the things Incident Managers may find themselves doing when a major issue or outage occurs - and all of these put together increase the time to when your teams can actually begin working on fixing the issue. Not to mention, if this incident occurs in the middle of the night - imagine repeating all these steps, under stress, and at 2 a.m.
When the average cost of downtime is $300,000 per hour, doing all these steps manually can easily add six figures to this total - so, why aren’t you leveraging proactive notifications to decrease this time?
We’ve assembled a simple checklist of the top proactive measures you should be automating to decrease time to report and engage for a faster time to incident resolution.
- Create a Jira Issue
With the push of a button from the xMatters notification, you can create a Jira issue in your team’s project, including issue type (as you’ve customized it for your use case) and proper assignee. Plus, the data from the incident alert in your monitoring tool (ex. Splunk, Dynatrace, AppDynamics) will automatically be added to the issue - so your assignee and watchers have all the information they need to get started on the issue
2. Start a Chat Room
Swarming is one of the most effective ways to get your team collaborating on incident resolution in real time. From xMatters, you can also push a button to start a chat room in HipChat, Stride, and/or Slack. Then, select from your on-call schedule to pull in the necessary people. And just like with the Jira automation, your monitoring alert data appears in the chat room without any additional work.
3. Spin up a Conference Bridge
Need to get the right people on the phone? You guessed it - another button click and you’ve got a Conference Bridge with the right people invited to join. No more logging into your call system, setting up a number, and texting/ emailing folks to share this info. Now, you have more time to get to what matters.
4. Notify Stakeholders
At this point, you have stakeholders needing updates - but you probably don’t have the time to stop working and craft an email with all the information. By customizing your Comm Plan[DG3] in xMatters, all this can be automated too. Simply set up who needs to know what and when (i.e. “Email this list of people only for a P1”) and you have one less thing pulling you away from resolving your incident.
5. Post to StatusPage
Outside of your internal teams, you also have other important stakeholders: your customers. To keep them up to date on the issue and your steps to resolve, click the StatusPage button in xMatters to automatically push updates. Not only does this let your clients know what’s going on (without added time away from incident resolving), but it also significantly decreases the number of new tickets you’ll get from clients who don’t know you’re aware of (and working on fixing) the problem.
Automating any of the five above steps drastically reduces your mean time to resolve - and with xMatters, you can easily accomplish all five. Optimizing your Incident Management process saves your company money and keeps your teams, stakeholders, and clients happy. Plus, it makes those 2 a.m. outages a lot less stressful.
Ready to implement these 5 steps to faster MTTR?
Contact Praecipio Consulting about licensing and implementing xMatters.
By Jack Harding
There's a common saying that you can't manage what you can't (or don't) measure. Often attributed to Peter Drucker, the godfather of Business Management, the thought here is one must clearly define success criteria, establish a benchmark, and track variance in order to realize improvement and/or identify problems. A quick Google search returns articles both lauding and contesting this maxim. In a Forbes article from 2014, Liz Ryan writes, "That's BS... the vast majority of important things we manage at work aren't measurable, from the quality of our new hires to the confidence we instill in a fledgling manager." She continues to explain that by focusing too much on the numbers, companies often miss out on the big picture.
While it's true there are intangibles in business and IT that are difficult to measure, there are several clearly defined metrics that can be reported on easily in Jira Service Desk. Personally, I'm a fan of measurement. I believe the acts of defining goals, baselines, and tracking variance bring about a shift in psychology that naturally increases the probability of achieving successful outcomes. Listed below are three important IT Service Management (ITSM) Service Level Agreements (SLA) and some links to Atlassian articles explaining how to implement them using Jira Service Desk.
MTTR: Mean Time to Resolution
The R can stand for Resolution, Restore or Recovery. Whatever the translation, this metric generally measures the cycle time of unresolved issues. This can be measured as an SLA in Jira Service Desk, and reported on in a number of different ways.
Here's an article from Atlassian on how to do this: How to calculate Average Time to Resolution SLA for Service Desk
FCR: First Call Resolution
Also called First Contact Resolution, FCR measures the percentage of issues where the customer's needs are fully addressed within the first call or first contact with support. FCR is closely related to other metrics:
- FCR and CSAT (Customer Satisfaction): Customers tend to be more satisfied when their issues are resolved within their initial call to support. It makes sense - they don't have to wait and check their email or the portal regularly to see issue updates. They just call support and their issue is resolved as a result.
- FCR and CPT (Cost per Ticket): When FCR goes up, Cost per Ticket goes down. One of the key reasons for this correlation is that you have the customer on the phone or in the chat session. Capitalize on the opportunity of synchronous communication with the customer. In many cases, the support agent will need more information or will ask the customer to perform troubleshooting steps in order to resolve the issue. Having the customer available shortens the amount of time the agent dedicates to the ticket, lowering the MTTR as well as CPT.
For more information on the importance of FCR, see the Atlassian blog article: Why first-call resolution (FCR) matters.
CSAT: Customer Satisfaction
At the end of the day, it's all about customer satisfaction. Without customers, there would be no services to manage. Jira Service Desk has a built-in CSAT collection functionality that is easy to set up and extremely effective. Jira will send out a questionnaire on issue resolution to collect a score and record comments from the customer.
Atlassian shares more about Collecting customer satisfaction (CSAT) feedback.
- Metrics are important and they're here to stay.
- Keep in mind, however, that they're only a proxy to the real thing. The better you define the success criteria, the goals, and the measurement logic - the closer you'll get to measuring the real thing.
- The three metrics above are extremely important and there are links to how to set them up in Jira Service Desk
Search engines have the ability to house a plethora of information that helps users find the answers they're looking for. As more information gets pumped into a search engine or knowledge base, the importance of finding what's relevant becomes increasingly important.
Search results and ranking go beyond search engines like Google. Confluence is a wiki tool used for team collaboration in a variety of environments. Businesses utilize Confluence as their knowledge base, making it their go-to documentation and collaboration tool. Finding a page with the solution that fits your search criteria in Confluence as quickly as possible reduces the time spent on searching, and increases the time spent doing the task at hand.
It's important to note that all unrestricted Confluence pages have the same chance to appear in search results. However, there are a few approaches to weighing how Confluence pages are ranked.
Pages with similar content will rank according to the number of incoming links to the page. The more pages linked to a particular page will tell Confluence that the content on that page is of high importance, resulting in a higher rank for that page.
Frequency of search term in page title and content
Confluence calculates how many times a search term appears in page titles and content. This is especially true for page titles. Matching terms in page titles based on a search criteria are given the highest priority. For example, if you search "insert example" in the quick navigation search bar, Confluence will return pages with "insert example" in the title as the highest search results.
For each piece of content, Confluence applies weights based on:
- Content type - such as user profile, blog post, etc.
- The type of field in which the search term was found - such as name, content body, or title
- Age of the page returned
User profiles are a content type that has the heaviest weight, among all types of content. This results in a higher rank for all user profiles within a Confluence instance. Additionally, newer pages have slightly more weight than older pages. This doesn't confirm whether the page will appear first, rather it will optimize the page to potentially rank higher among other pages.
Having a better understanding of how these variables factor into how Confluence searches items can help you optimize content items and leverage the platform more effectively.
Over the past few years, we have worked with a variety of organizations to help design and build intranets. The majority of these organizations were moving away from sites that were built on Microsoft’s SharePoint stack, and were looking for custom designs to better meet business needs. From creating intranets from scratch to simply offering a new look and feel, we have seen it all, and we know what works well and what doesn't. And we have noticed commonalities between organizations looking for an intranet solution. Organizations often share the same goals and challenges, and all can agree that the idea of building an intranet can seem daunting.
Most organizations have common goals that include:
Improved collaboration between teams/departments
Improved searching for resources within the organization
A one-stop-shop for employees to consume relevant company information and applications
A system that's easy to update and maintain
These organizations also have common challenges:
The need to find experts that work with development after the instance has been running
Integration with other tools
Yes, there is a solution. No, the Intranet is not dead. It is evolving.
Instead of the intranet serving as just a database, it can serve as a social and collaborative platform with the ability to archive information and documents. Having a knowledge base as an intranet can help organize documents and information in a hierarchical structure.
Intranet solutions based on Atlassian's Confluence can help users and employees locate and view information faster and use applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities – allowing businesses to publish information for their employees on a need-to-know basis and allow restricted access that is dependent on groups. An intranet is an efficient way to provide easy access to all authorized users within the organization, even on a global scale.
While Confluence can serve as an intranet and knowledge base for organizations, it falls short in meeting the 'Intranet 1.0' and 'Intranet 2.0' requirements, nor does it try to. Luckily, there is a solution. Linchpin, a fully personalized collaboration hub, focuses on modern team collaboration (Intranet 2.0) as well as the classic intranet (Intranet 1.0), and is based on Atlassian's Confluence.
The Linchpin suite adds modern intranet features at a lower cost on an easy-to-use platform. It was designed for large companies needing to communicate far and wide. Linchpin allows management the ability to distribute important information top-down with customization options for content dissemination. Linchpin turns Confluence into a modern, collaborative, user-friendly intranet.
Integrates top-down communication aspects of large companies ("Intranet 1.0").
Reduces complexity through personalization based on language, location, department, etc.
Improves social features by adding microblogging and beefed up profile pages.
Integrates other enterprise applications making it the web cockpit for all things digital.
Builds on a system your people already love and makes it the foundation of your intranet.
Saves you tons of license fees compared to the usual intranet suspects (Sharepoint, JIVE, Salesforce, etc.)
With Linchpin Mobile, organizations can now bring the entire intranet to the palm of their employee's hand, no longer requiring them to be at their desk or in the office. The mobile feature allows all employees to stay connected, informed, and up-to-date on the latest company news, no matter where they might be. Employees can even customize the content they receive, search for colleagues, allow notifications, share pages, create collaborative works spaces, and more!
As organizations have the need for employees to collaborate and communicate, the intranet will be alive and well. To learn more about Linchpin and Confluence, check out our upcoming webinar.
In many walks of life, the word custom is synonymous with time and money. This is particularly true of technical solutions, and Jira Service Desk is no exception. It’s not unusual for a Jira Service Desk implementation to result in an intensive months-long project involving significant resources for the development of custom workflows. If that doesn’t sound ideal, you’ll be relieved to learn that there’s another option: A Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting.
A Quick Start implementation is exactly what it sounds like. We get you up and running with Jira Service Desk in weeks rather than months, allowing you to realize a speedy return on your investment and reduced time to value. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we take our baseline best practice implementation and tune it further to fit your organization's needs.
So how do you know if this approach is best for you? Here are five signs that you can safely forgo a fully customized Jira Service Desk implementation and realize the benefits of Quick Start implementation by Praecipio.
1. You’re not looking for bells and whistles.
Jira Service Desk is touted as an enterprise-grade service desk platform. But the nice thing about it is you don’t have to be a large enterprise to take advantage of its benefits. If you know you don’t need extra customizations, don’t let a large consulting provider tell you otherwise. You can still realize Jira’s value by implementing common workflows that we have developed for other organizations over the last decade under ITIL best practices.
2. Your service organization is small, new or both.
As service desk organizations grow, their workflows tend to become more complex, and Jira’s flexibility is an advantage. However, if your organization is small, new or both, you probably only require basic workflows. Don’t worry—you can always take advantage of Jira’s flexibility later when you have a business need to evolve your workflows.
3. You want to adopt ITIL—but haven’t a clue where to start.
As a framework of best practices for delivering IT services, ITIL aligns IT services with the needs of the business. While Jira Service Desk is ITIL certified, it requires careful oversight and expertise to implement. The out-of-the-box workflows require some tweaking to enable you to fully realize ITIL’s benefits—but there’s not a lot of variation from one implementation to another. A well-experienced consultancy can implement ITIL-compliant workflows without significantly increasing your implementation time or cost.
4. Your organization has a low-risk tolerance.
Every project has some risk associated with it. It stands to reason that the longer, more complex the project, the higher the level of risk. If you can’t afford to wait months to use Jira Service Desk “in the field” and demonstrate success, then you need a Quick Start. Once you realize a quick win with an industry standard implementation, then you can go back and expand your implementation.
5. Your organization lacks the necessary resources.
A custom implementation is great if you lack the necessary skills in-house, but it won’t necessarily remove the burden from your staff. Their input will be needed to determine what workflows are needed and how they should be customized. Relying on these resources for several months can have quite an impact on productivity and morale.
If any of the above are true for your organization, then we encourage you to consider a Quick Start implementation. Our number one goal is your success and we are committed to helping you realize your goals. Contact us and we’ll help you determine if a Quick Start is right for you.
By Jack Harding
Automation saves teams from the monotony of repeatable processes. More importantly, it saves businesses time and money. According to a recent report by our partner Splunk and Quocirca, organizations face an average of 1,200 IT Incidents every month. Using automation to reduce the time it takes to resolve these incidents is a no-brainer. In this article, we'll describe how you can implement time and cost saving business process automation rules in a matter of minutes using Jira Service Desk.
Out-of-the-Box Automation with Jira Service Desk
Many tasks are iterative, time-consuming and potentially prone to error, and are therefore great candidates for automation. Jira Service Desk (JSD) offers out-of-the-box automation functionality that can be configured in the Project Settings of your JSD project. Some of the preconfigured automation blueprints allow teams to set up rules that can do the following:
- Close resolved issues after a period of inactivity
- Re-open issues when a customer comments on a resolved issue
- Transition issues between 'Waiting on customer' and 'Waiting for support' statuses on comment
- Notify agents when issues are at risk of breaching SLAs
- Triage email requests based on keywords
- Update linked issues when related issues are transitioned or edited
Jira Service Desk also enables Custom Rules to automate business processes that are outside the predefined scenarios.
In the Jira Service Desk interface, users can easily add parameters for triggers, conditions, and actions to create custom rules.
The logic follows a WHEN → IF → THEN formula with the following options:
- Comment added
- Comment edited
- Issue created
- Issue resolution changed
- Status changed
- A linked issue is transitioned
- Participant added
- Organizations added to issue
- Approval required
- SLA time remaining
- Issue matches (JQL)
- Comment Visibility (internal/public)
- User type (customer, not a customer, agent, not an agent)
- Comment contains (key phrase)
- Transition issue
- Add comment
- Alert user
- Edit request type
- Edit issue
- Send email
Automation in Practice
Setting the priority of incoming incidents
The Priority field in Jira can (and should) be used to help triage incoming incidents upon creation. That being said, exposing the field to Service Desk customers is usually not a good idea, as most people tend to over-emphasize the priority of incidents affecting them. One of the best ways to set the Priority field is to use one or more data points to automatically set it while the issue is being created. We helped a Fortune 15 Technology company implement a Prioritization Matrix that calculated (among other things) the custom fields Impact and Severity to set the priority of the issue.
- The field Impact can be used to measure the number of users affected with values such as 1, 2-10, 11-50, 51-250, 251-1000, 1001+. These values could also be represented in words such as "I am impacted", "My team is impacted", "My organization is impacted", "The whole company", or for customer-facing incidents, "1 user impacted", "Several users impacted", "All users impacted".
- The field Severity can be used to measure the degree of impact. Some standard values that we've seen used for this field are, from least to most severe: "Enhancement", "Inconvenience", "Normal", "Critical", and "Blocking."
A similar solution is described in more detail in this Atlassian Support article: Calculating priority automatically
“The average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end."
According to Gartner, “The average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end." Using the average downtime cost of $5,600 per minute, the average company hits $1,000,000 in just under 3 hours. So, yes, millions are at stake and the costs can add up very quickly.
Almost any reduction in mean-time-to-recovery (MTTR) can represent a cost savings, and a quality service desk can help achieve those savings. The Jira Service Desk automation functionality is intuitive to use and the short time it takes to implement will pay dividends by saving your employees time and by avoiding lost revenue by resolving IT incidents more quickly.
Learn more about how Jira Service Desk is the right ITSM solution for you. And if you're already using Jira Service Desk but need to maximize your investment and implement ITIL best practices, we can help.
Once organizations make the decision to adopt Jira Service Desk, they often choose one of two implementation options: they either do it themselves or engage a consultancy for a custom implementation—neither of which is ideal for any but the largest enterprises. Few organizations have the skillsets to do the work in-house, and a custom implementation can be both pricey and time-consuming. Fortunately, there’s a third option: A Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting.
There are distinct differences between a traditional Jira Service Desk implementation and a Quick Start implementation by Praecipio Consulting. To choose the best implementation method for your organization, it’s important to understand how the options differ as well as your organization’s requirements.
Let’s look first at a traditional implementation. Because of the scope of a Jira Service Desk implementation, an experienced consulting firm will work iteratively to ensure your satisfaction throughout the process. The consultant(s) will meet with your 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 Jira Service Desk deployment that meets your exact needs. However, the deployment will take several months.
A traditional implementation is ideal if your organization requires:
- Multiple, complex workflows
- Heavily customized workflows
- Heavily customized interface
A Quick Start implementation is also performed in an iterative manner. However, the scope of the project is much smaller. Instead of building out complex custom workflows, the project provides prescribed configurations based on ITIL best practices. Our team applies its extensive experience to build out industry standard workflows with improvements that we’ve identified over the past decade. As a result, we deliver a Jira Service Desk implementation in just three weeks with workflows that are a step above the textbook recommendation.
A Quick Start implementation is ideal if your organization requires:
- Rapid delivery
- Basic workflows such as service request, change management, and incident management
- Minimal time spent configuring using prescribed methods and schemes
- Deployment based on industry best practices
- A solid foundation for future growth and/or customization
The bottom line: A Quick Start implementation allows you to trade customization for speed of delivery and cost. Many small and mid-sized organizations make this trade willingly as they have little need for heavy customizations. If this sounds like you—or even if it doesn’t—our consultants would be happy to discuss our implementation options with you. Check out praecipio.com to learn more about our Quick Start options and other ITSM resources.
By Lauren Schroeder
Over the years, Praecipio Consulting has developed and implemented service desk solutions for a range of clients using Jira's powerful out-of-the-box capabilities and a few key add-ons; however, there was always something missing. When Jira Service Desk was first introduced, we were excited to see Atlassian embracing their customer (and partner) feedback. Over the few short years it has been in the market, Jira Service Desk has revolutionized the way teams serve their customers both internal and external. If you couldn't tell, we're in love with Jira Service Desk. Here are five things to make you fall in love with it too.
Customer Portals make requesting help easy
Jira Service Desk provides customer-friendly portals to assist your customers in creating Requests. The portal can be configured to speak your customer's language while providing Agents pre-set information describing the customers' issues. Give your request types custom names and icons while mapping them to existing Jira issues. Add your company's branding, color schemes, and flair to personalize your Portals. These customizations look great and are a great way to automatically triage and resolve your customers' requests.
Approval tracking and visibility
Visibility is key when it comes to approvals. By assigning an Approver to an issue, Agents can see who needs to approve Requests at each step. Approvers will be listed on the Agent view as well as the Portal along with the details of what they're approving. Once the Request has been approved, this decision will be recorded with the ticket and can be referenced at any point during the lifecycle of the work. This helps everyone keep track of the official stamp of approval.
Jira Service Desk has many out-of-the-box automations to trigger different steps in your workflows. Using automation to facilitate interaction between Customers and Agents stops support Requests from getting lost. Since a Request can almost always be 'Waiting on Customer' or 'Waiting on Support', you can use automation to transition between these two statuses when someone comments on the Request. When the ticket is 'Waiting on Support' and the support team asks a question in a comment, this Request can automatically move to 'Waiting on Customer'. Never worry about tickets being forgotten again! If you don't see what you need, create a custom automation rule using simple When, If, Else, Then logic to automate everything from a Notification to a Workflow Transition.
SLAs that work for you
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) should help increase visibility into how a team can best work together, not something that adds pressure to situations outside of your control. Configure SLAs so that they are paused when a ticket is 'Waiting on Customer' or 'Blocked'. This lets you understand how your team is working while measuring performance in a fair, practical way. Using Jira Query Language (JQL), tune your SLAs to a specific Customer, Request type, even Priority or Severity to ensure your team meets or exceeds your Customer agreements.
Confluence Knowledge-Base Integration
Integrate your Confluence knowledge base to help your customers fix their problems before they're submitted to the team. While a customer is typing in a request name, Confluence uses SmartGraph (tm) to suggest articles that relate to the request. The suggestions could be articles with similar words in the title or articles that other Customers have clicked on while submitting similar requests. Customers can self-serve and ultimately finish what might have gone through the entire support process. This saves the support team time and helps the customer get their problem fixed right away.
While there are many more reasons we love Jira Service Desk, these five things make us here at Praecipio Consulting fall in love with it even more every day. If you haven't experienced this for yourself, contact us for a demo or visit our collection of ITSM with Jira Service Desk Webinars here. We're more than happy to share the love.
By Morgan Folsom
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
By Michael Knight
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 assess 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for troubleshooting help or information on Secure Content.