Yes, that’s right, a chicken coop full of hens. Yes, as in bawk, bawk, feathers and eggs. A coop-full at my house is four hens to be exact, five if you count good ol’ Cuddles. Rest her soul. Don’t worry, my cohorts poke fun at me for owning chickens in the middle of suburbia San Diego. It’s all good. I still love them anyway…. my hens that is. Ok, so yes I get fresh eggs, and yes my kids get to a new pet-care skill set, but what I didn’t expect to get from these feathered friends was a lesson or five in Jira Administration. I shall explain. 

Establish a Pecking Order

peck·ing or·der
/ˈpekiNG ˌôrdər/
noun
1. a hierarchy of status seen among members of a group of people or animals, originally as observed among hens

I’m personally not interested in knowing how the hens decide who goes where in their pecking order. It’s hard enough to witness the social solitude, feather-on-feather cruelty and food mongering that goes on in a pecking order match up, much less indulge myself with all of it’s intricacies. Regardless, it is undeniable. I say then that it should also be undeniable with your Jira Governance Practices. An established and respected Governance Practice is key to sustaining a healthy and well-oiled application and certainly includes a shared understanding of each person’s pecking order, or rather their role:

  • Steering Committee – ensure that your organizations processes for completing work are properly modeled in Jira and reviews and approves change requests
  • Jira Administrators – implements configuration changes
  • Project Administrators – implements project specific configuration changes and manages users in project roles
  • Jira Users – request changes and describe requirements for changes needed to support their team complete work 

I’ve only scratched the surface (looking for earthworms, ha!) with this high-level list of roles, but Jira Governance is certainly a topic that deserves its own a series of blog posts. For this poultry lesson post, suffice it to say that your Governance team should be top of the pecking order as far as changes to Jira are concerned. This means that not everyone will have admin access and not everyone will have the ability to implement changes to Jira exactly when and how they see fit.  

Spread Your Wings and Fly….

…in your designated area, that is. My hens are free range, but lets be real, I don’t need “fertilizer” all over my patio if you know what I mean. They’ve got their own area of the yard and they are expected to stay there. Jira Administrators should know their free range boundaries as well, i.e. the development environment. That’s right, spread your wings and test out your ideas or proposed changes to prod in a dev or staging environment first. 

What’s that? You live in the Atlassian Cloud like a free bird? Chances are slim… errr make that none. You’ll have no chance of getting a copy of production for testing in a safe, separate environment. For Cloud users, “testing” in prod is possible, but requires a keen understanding of the impacts a single change can have. Stick to a specially created project that has NO shared schemes and fly with care.  

Sit On It For a Hot Minute

Chickens meditate, I swear! While they’re chill’n on their freshly laid, soon-to-be-my-breakfast huevo… They. Totally. Space. Out. I’m talking looooooong pause. Why though? What if they’re fully relishing in and appreciating their work of creation? Too much? Well, fine. But no matter how kooky my imagination, I think it’s a little something we can take into our Jira administration lives.

How many times have you implemented a new field, updated a workflow with a new status or jumped through hoops to solve a problem just to get a pesky project manager or scrum master off you back asap? How quickly do you jump to a solution before giving yourself the liberty and time to get curious and tap into your creative side?

There is a crucial pause we administrators can take. This pause exists between problem and solution. It’s crucial because this is the space where creativity is accessed and our ability to be even more effective and influential lives. I’m not suggesting you light some incense and meditate every time someone brings you a problem to solve. I simply suggest becoming more aware of how fast we respond. Is it immediate? Is it different when you’re upset or annoyed? And then make an effort to widen the space so as to access your creativity, your intelligence, your je ne sais quoi… more fully.  

Go to Bed When the Sun Goes Down

I, like any other night owl, will tell you, “no way am I going to bed when the sun goes down!” In fact, I do some of my best work in the quiet wee hours of the night after the munchkins, dogs, chickens, husband and fish (do fish sleep?) have gone to bed. Chickens, nope. Sun is up. They’re up (sorry neighbors, especially in the summer when our windows are all open). Sun goes down, they toddle back into the coop. Just like that. 

For us Jira Administrators, I’m proposing more a routine of balance rather than a circadian dictated start and finish. Work hard when you’re working, then rest. Do the rest part. It’s so important – self care – whether driven by the rise and fall of the sun or not will make the difference in what you deliver as an administrator. Be on your game, balance yourself. And if you’re having a hard time making that a reality at your current position, call me.  We’re always looking for experienced Atlassian folks and balance is definitely valued at Isos Technology.

Scratch, Dig, Peck, Flap Around – You’ll Get the Worm

I met a woman the other night who had been administering Jira for 10+ years. She made it very clear to me, right up front, that she was no expert. She went so far as to clarify that she had a long way to go before claiming expert status. LIES! Oh, ahem. I mean, I politely and wholeheartedly disagreed with her. Here’s why:

Not one person knows all there is to know about every nook, cranny, in and out, up and down of all things Jira or Atlassian. This is precisely one of the best reasons to Partner up with a team like Isos, we’ve got lots of brains behind every project, but I digress. It’s true, though. The ecosystem of marketplace vendors, the variation from one organization to the next, the regular feature enhancements and changes… I mean its all just too enormous a feat for any one person to have all the answers all the time. So sure, by this measure I could agree with her. However, let’s be real, and if you’ve read this far, well we’re practically besties so here’s why I really disagreed with her… 

We as Jira Administrators are scrappy. We will scour the lengths of the trusty ol’ interwebs for answers and the internet is a big place. Answer finding, researching, brain picking, it’s a vital skill in and of itself, and certainly one that should NOT be minimized or overlooked when evaluating level of expertise. So sure, not every Jira Administrator knows it all, but I bet after 10 years of “we can’t possibly be the only people who’ve had this problem, someone else has to have found an answer. C’mon google, don’t fail me now”… there’s a whole lot of EXPERT knowledge in that brain of hers. 

And for those who are new to Jira, here’s my top answer finding gold mines:

  • Google (duh!)
  • Atlassian Community
  • Atlassian Documentation
  • You Tube (surprisingly good gems here)
  • The Atlassian Partner Eco-system
  • Atlassian Training Classes
  • Atlassian Support
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