Architecting JIRA forthe Enterprise“JIRA is a powerful product,both flexible and highlyconfigurable.”– Miles Faulkner

Problem Statement and an Opportunity forManagementJIRA is a tremendously powerful product, flexible and highly configurable. Configurabilityis one of JIRA's great strengths and yet it's also a potential weakness, if not managedproperly.At Blended Perspectives, we frequently meet with clients who have allowed teams to useJIRA in an organic, freestyle manner. The popular approach we have seen is to allow eachteam to set up its own project independently. Issue type definitions and workflows will varybetween projects. The ultimate result is a lack of shared meaning across projects andteams. Blended Perspectives sees this as an opportunity for organizations to create aknowledge base of best practices as well as a way to monitor performance and activityacross all projects.To illustrate, let's consider: One project team decides to define a bug as a software problem - either confirmed orvalidated. A second team declares all user initiated issues as initially bugs. The bugs are then actedupon or closed depending on their nature and root cause. Some bugs could simply be auser thinking the application should work in a certain way when in fact it doesn't. Thisbug is then closed quickly.Reporting across these two teams will have little meaning. The second team's process reports will show they handle a larger volume of bugs, which they are quick to fix. The firstteam's reports, however, will show a smaller number of genuine bugs that take longer onaverage to fix. Compound this disconnect across multiple teams and multiple issue typesand the total view of the projects becomes meaningless. The ability of team members toquickly move between teams and effectively use JIRA is also impeded, a further loss 1

Strict issue type definitions make sense, yet we have seen multiple cases where thishasn't happened, for a variety of reasons: Clients rushing to implement JIRA Narrowly defining what JIRA can do Encouraging use by not defining rules and definitions (making it easier to use)It is only later then when inconsistencies become apparent that it becomes clear that anopportunity to create an enterprise perspective has been lost. By then it can also be difficult to change the culture and attitude toward JIRA.Example CaseWhy is this a real problem or, conversely, a major opportunity? Let's take an example of acompany with 14 active projects, and 4 project managers using JIRA. Historically this company tracks just feature requests and software bugs in JIRA. The project managers (PMs),some of whom are PMP certified, keep their risk logs outside of JIRA, in spreadsheets.Twice per month they hold a 2 hour meeting in which they collect, rank and filter these upto the Project Management Office (PMO) Manager. The time during this meeting is spentlargely collecting and compiling - it takes extra time to go through each risk and hear fromeach PM which items are driving that risk. The volume of risks can be high across 14 projects - many PMOs of this size would have at least 150 risks. When catalogued in 14 separate issue logs / spreadsheets, understanding the enterprise view of these risks can bechallenging, yet tedious as this compilation step is largely manual.Blended Perspectives advocates that no structured project information be held outsideJIRA. In this PMO case, a new issue type, "Risk," would be appropriate. If that Risk recordis well defined and has the correct field configuration (such as a composite risk index thatscores the impact and severity of each risk) together with an appropriate workflow to drivea risk mitigation strategy, then the Portfolio Manager can see a dashboard of all risksacross all projects. This manager can then understand whether the same risk is beingfaced by many projects, exactly which project management items are impacted, and determine whether risk mitigation should be performed per-project or systematically. By 2

parison, a per-project approach is fragmented, expensive and ineffective, rather than repeatable, automatic and always available.In our JIRA-centric PMO world, the PMO Manager can review a dashboard of Risks acrossall projects, surfaced at the enterprise level. This shows commonalities. High priority riskscan enable the PMO Manager to call a meeting with the PMs to keep each of them fromworrying about these risks by taking unilateral ownership of the risks as a whole. Togetherthey determine who should who is best able take ownership of the risk for the whole portfolio. It is this transparency that enables a company using JIRA to move forward at fullspeed, in a highly coordinated, high performance mode.There are many PMO-related records such as deliverable, milestone and others that canbe adopted by teams: as the power of JIRA is not at all restricted to tracking work (issues)to be dealt with. Atlassian promotes software the JIRA Agile module tracks features andstory boards to underline this point. Using Risk therefore, is just one opportunity of themany record types that teams can use by adopting 3

Our PerspectiveBlended Perspectives believes that JIRAworkflows. Note that JIRA projects do notrequires a design and an architecture thathave be just projects being run by the com-matches and supports the intended workpany. If JIRA projects are thought of asto be performed using the system. Thereworkspaces then, for instance, "requests"are two principal dimensions to this:can be created and tracked. The layout of the correct naming and use of issuetypes, and the correct field layout of issues."request" then should be aligned with thekind of requests that are being receivedand what is needed to be done with them analysis, prioritization, assignment andwhether they are being actively beingAs it is harder to change workflows for is-worked on. This request management proc-sue types when issue records already existess can also be aligned with ITIL, in accor-for the issue type, it is advantageous todance to standards and best practices.get it right from the start. A way to consider this is to ask the following questions: What are you actually managing?Our view is that really any form of workcan be systematically managed in JIRA.What is important is that there is a conscious design of the workspaces, issue What are you tracking and how? and What are you not tracking but still managing, and probably should track?types, layouts and workflows so that workis executed consistently and to a definedstandard of quality. This will also ensurethat cross-project analysis of issues canAny workspace or project in JIRA shouldbe undertaken with a higher likelihood ofbe designed to match what you are manag-meaningful If, in a project, a PM is effectively managing deliverables, milestones, issues,risks and changes then these should all beissue types with common definitions 4

Our ApproachBlended Perspectives methodology,Because the Synthesis knowledge base isSynthesis, maps out many workspacesconstantly growing, we can also update orand issue types for PMO best practices allmake recommendations to clients as ourmapped to JIRA configurations.knowledge base grows. We tailor issueClients using Synthesis therefore benefitfrom fully constructed JIRA templates withcross-project definitions. These definitionsare documented as a specification in ourSynthesis Confluence knowledge space.Where the client has Confluence we cantypes over time and we constantly consider adopting new issue types that willadd value. Our goal is to maximize thevalue of JIRA for clients both in terms ofthe initial set up and configuration as wellas on an ongoing basis.publish these specifications to their clientConfluence 5

Our Service OfferingsJIRA AssessmentJIRA Workspace DesignBlended Perspectives will conduct a systematic, rapid assessment of your JIRA installation:Blended Perspective's approach to workspace design ensures that the client has astructured set of workspaces and projectsaligned to issue types, along with the correct field configurations and dashboardsthat roll up the data for particular audiences.Design: How many issue types and issue typedefinitions are there? Are the system configuration records well documented andscalable?Execution: How well is JIRA being used? Are issuesbeing consistently documented? Do issues sit idle or are they closed effectively? How frequently is the applicationbeing used by the users?Blended Perspectives will make recommendations focused on increasing usage andimproving the quality of work executedboth at the workspace and enterpriselevel.Blended Perspectives will:1. Identify and agree overall scope andstructure (what kinds of issues and management items need to be managed)2. Review and agree field configurations(any custom fields, in addition to the recommended fields from Blended Perspectives' Synthesis knowledge base)3. Review and agree workflows4. Recommend and agree dashboardviews and layouts for reporting, and5. Handover final report with specificationsfor implementationThis work can be done for a particular initiative or at an overall enterprise level. Theclient can choose to prototype the specified configurations via a hosted BlendedPerspectives JIRA instance or in-houseon their 6

JIRA ImplementationBlended Perspectives offers full hosting as well as on-site deployment and support for client JIRA applications. Blended Perspectives can provide tactical and complete implementation capabilities and execution to clients looking for dedicated assistance to implementworkspace designs.JIRA Training, Coaching and SupportBecause Blended Perspectives provides a value added, structured approach to JIRA deployments, we can offer training in program, project and ITIL processes that use the Synthesis and / or your client-customized JIRA application. This will greatly improve not onlyyour team's efficiency through the use of the tool but also provide learning experiences and best practices. Training can be local or online. Pricing is available on request.Coaching and additional project management assistanceJIRA allows, because of its very nature, "observability" of work across projects. Clientscan take advantage of Blended Perspectives' ability to watch and review work activity intheir own projects providing remote project management, advice, guidance and "tidy up"services of open-loop issues and problems. This support can be in the form of regulartouchpoint meetings, constant monitoring, or dedicated consultancy 7

ContactIf you would like to discuss architecting JIRA for your enterprise, please contact:Martin CleaverT: 1 (416) 273-6883E: [email protected] FaulknerE: [email protected] 2013 Blended Perspectives All Rights Reserved

ences and best practices. Training can be local or online. Pricing is available on request. Coaching and additional project management assistance JIRA allows, because of its very nature, "observability" of work across projects. Clients can take advantage of Blended P