Confluence, the enterprise wiki from Atlassian, is readily adopted throughout organizations and not limited to just IT. However, when you ask non-techies about Jira or Jira Agile, chances are you will be greeted with a deer in the headlights look. On the off-chance they have heard of it, they will probably describe it as a defect-tracking system. That’s akin to calling the space shuttle a vehicle. Jira is a robust, extensible platform with a highly configurable workflow engine used to track issues, events, and yes, even defects. In fact at last year’s Atlassian Summit, one company explained how they use Jira to run their entire disaster recovery (DR) plan.
Jira Agile is a plug-in on top of Jira that facilitates two of the most widely used agile methodologies, Scrum and Kanban. Here at Isos, Jira and Jira Agile are at the core of everything we do – from our consulting practice to our marketing efforts.
Below is an overview of how we introduced Jira and Jira Agile to our marketing team. It is important to note that these are all point-and-click changes. No developers needed!

CUSTOM ISSUE TYPES

Out of the box Jira is very developer focused. Tasks, called issues, come in a few developer-focused types such as: Bug, Story, Task, etc… Fortunately, through the ease of defining custom issue types, we added the following:

  • Event (Epic) – Anything where we will have a physical or online presence, e.g. trade show, hosted webinar, etc. We use the Epic construct from Jira because an event is a bundle of many tasks.
  • Copy – Anything we need written.
  • Collateral – Any finished piece.
  • Communication – Anything to be communicated internally or externally through our communication channels.
  • Web – Anything that needs to be done to the website; this can link to tasks for our technical team.
  • Task – A generic type for anything that doesn’t fit any of our other types.
  • ToDo – A subtask that can be created for any of our types. For example, Collateral will have many ToDos.

After defining each of these issue types, we had to determine what information needed to be captured for each issue type. We used a combination of out of the box fields and custom fields to do this. This exercise will be different for each organization. It’s important to go through the process of setting this up and realizing that defining these types and fields will be an evolving process.

CUSTOM WORKFLOWS

After defining our issue types and the data associated with each issue, we went though the process of defining the workflow for each issue type. As you can imagine, the workflow for an Event is much different from Collateral. Jira allows you to create a custom workflow and assign it per issue type per project. Remember that this process will be iterative. The chances of you nailing the perfect workflow for each type on the first try are very slim. That’s OK. This gives you a chance to define and document the workflow for processes in your organization. And unlike documentation, this will be a living, breathing part of your daily work effort so it will never be outdated. This is the best part of the process that will help you become more efficient and better at what you do in addition to making new employees more productive starting on day one.

COLLECTING ISSUES

Now that you have the blueprint for your process, it’s time to get started. The first rule that should be enforced is that any work to be done should be captured as Jira tasks. This sounds daunting, but it really isn’t. The work was being communicated before via email, instant message or in-person. Just start using Jira as the place to capture and document this work. Jira makes it easy. In fact you can submit and update your issues via email with a simple configuration setting. Additionally, you can embed the Jira Issue Collector (a single line of JavaScript) into any of your internal web applications so that issues can be created seamlessly from your internal (or external) tools.

GOING LIVE

You have successfully created your custom issue types and workflows and have all of your items in Jira. Now what? At Isos, we love Agile, so we do just about everything in Jira Agile. Generally we work all of our marketing items via Scrum Rapid Boards. If your marketing team is like ours, there are many different little projects in process that all generally support some major themes. For example, we are exhibiting at the TechAdvantage show in New Orleans this month. There are dozens of tasks to be done with a clear start and end date. Sounds familiar…this is a Sprint for us.

WRAPPING IT ALL UP

Jira should become part of the daily conversation for any team that uses it. People will begin to talk in Jira issue numbers, “I have to get MARK-123 done today.” Jira will be pulled up in every meeting. There will be no ambiguity as to who’s working on what and the status of any item. The most important thing is that you continue to monitor and refine your processes. Jira is an extremely flexible platform that can be molded to fit your business processes. If you are trying to bend your processes to fit Jira, then you are doing it wrong.
It’s time to start thinking outside of the box with your investment in Jira. Your entire organization can benefit from this powerful tool!