Retrospective: Boondocking with Jira and Confluence

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Retrospective in Confluence

In the software development world, each time you complete a project, you review what went well and what you could do better next time.  It’s called a “retrospective” or a “post-mortem.”

We did a retrospective on our boondocking adventure, using Confluence’s template.  These are the results.

What We Did Well

  • Excellent preparation, research, and pre-event testing
  • Used Jira and Confluence to plan and track the adventure
  • Didn’t ruin or damage any critical systems (except for the battery)
  • Bought the right equipment (generator, drill pump, water tank filler attachment)
  • Built a structure in truck bed to transport and store gas and water containers
  • First try was at a large event attended by experienced boondockers
  • Had fun and connected with new people
  • Stayed close to town in case other supplies were needed
  • Managed and conserved water well
  • Parked facing the best direction for temperature control
  • Planned for known cell reception issues
  • Have future plans for solar equipment

What We Should Have Done Better

  • Develop a use and charging schedule
    • Charge with generator more often
      • Took longer than expected
      • Requires us to remain onsite
      • Only possible during day hours
    • Recharge devices on AC (not inverter) power
    • Utilize existing USB and solar chargers
  • Understand the measurement for 50% battery draw (12.06 volts – see chart below)
    • Killed the battery
    • Battery may have already been weak from age (no good baseline stats)
    • Failed to maintain needed distilled water levels
  • Failed to realize cell booster requires constant electricity
    • Device is not generally reliable
    • If not attending an event, we would have switched locations
  • Neglected “day before” moving list
    • Was having fun and decided to do the “day before” tasks on the “day of”
    • Was rushing and made stupid mistakes
      • Closed slides out of order
      • Caused injuries:  Hit face with drill, cut leg on screen door (again!)
  • Remove hitch when driving on dirt roads (cleaning takes more time than removing)
  • Develop a better system for managing grey water levels
  • Spent more than normal on food and entertainment (due to social events)
    • Saved on camping costs however

Subsequent Mistake

Overall, we met our goals of living off the grid for one week.  By gaining boondocking skills and equipment we’ve enabled ourselves to camp in different types of locations.  City power, water, and sewer are no longer a limiting factor.  We also had fun networking with other full time campers.

We were so confident with our experience that we decided to try it again immediately.  We needed a one night stop between Pagosa Springs, CO and Santa Fe, NM.  We searched the online camping directories and decided on a free overnight spot, in a municipal park, near the half way point.  The location was excellent and we had the entire park to ourselves.   How could this go wrong?

We neglected to check the weather report.   RVs and travel trailers heat up very quickly, just like a vehicle does.   When it gets hot, you put our your awning, unfold your camping chair, and work outside until the sun goes down.  It’s not too bad if you also have a cold glass of iced tea to enjoy.

113° F (45° C) Temp

It’s Summer in the United States so we expected it to be hot – but not this hot!  The truck’s thermometer read 113° F (45° C) and the analog thermometer inside the RV read 106° F!  For the first time ever, the inside of the RV was just as hot as the outside.  There was no escape and no amount of iced tea provided a reprieve.  We had to sweat out the afternoon and night and learn a hard preparation lesson.  I always check the weather report for storms and high winds, but never for excessive heat.  The learning continues…

I hope you enjoyed following along on our adventure and alternate use of Jira and Confluence.  Atlassian tools can track anything!  I encourage you to experiment with alternate uses from both your work and personal life.  Happy Jira issue and Confluence page creating!

Rachel Wright named “Teacher to Watch”

Skillshare, an online learning community for design, business, and tech has named Rachel Wright a “Teacher to Watch“!  This distinction is for instructors who consistently create high-quality content, continuously grow and innovate, and find new ways to further engage with students.

Rachel has created three courses for Jira administrators on workflow building, custom fields, and admin mistakes to avoid.  The 30 minute courses also include a quiz and sample project to complete.

She’s also created an introduction course for Jira users and one for Confluence users.  The intro courses help new users become comfortable with the software so they can get started creating issues and pages immediately.

Additional classes are on the way!  Have a topic request?  Add it in the “Comments” section below.

Take Rachel’s courses on Skillshare or at training.jirastrategy.com.   Need training for your entire team?  Contact info@jirastrategy.com.

9 Ways to Learn Jira Administration

I’m asked the same question all the time:  How do I learn more about Jira administration so I can be a great admin?  There are a ton of resources available;  you just have to know where to look, to seek them out, and be willing to put in a little time and effort.  Like anything in life, the more you put in, the more you get back.

Here are some ways to increase your Jira admin knowledge:

1. Seek out new opportunities
You’re never finished learning.  I’ve used Jira since 2011 and there’s still plenty I don’t know and new things to learn.   Every time I think I know it all, I humble myself very quickly by reviewing the unanswered questions on the Atlassian Community website.  Look for opportunities to strengthen your knowledge, or learn something new, by trying something new.

Ideas:

  • Pick an unanswered question, research the answer, and document the solution
  • Identify a problem Jira can solve and create a proof of concept
    • Example:  Who’s tracking information in email or spreadsheets?  Show them how to do it better in Jira.
  • Do a side by side comparison of changes between two versions
  • Install an add-on and learn everything you can about how it works
  • Get read only access to the database and learn how information is stored
  • Help a team adopt Jira or improve their processes
  • Set up Jira for a non-profit
  • Try to break Jira (Not in production, of course!)
  • Hold info share sessions and teach others how to solve common problems
  • Thoroughly document a feature
  • Use Jira in different ways
  • Download the Atlassian Plugin SDK and experiment with a plugin tutorial
  • Learn a related skill, like agile principles or server administration

Opportunities are everywhere.  The goal is to stretch your exposure and do different things then you’re already doing.  I’m no DBA but I learned a lot by experimenting with the database!

2. Install your own test environment
Even if your company already has an official test environment, I recommend you have your own personal one.  You need a place to experiment, play, and make mistakes, without impacting others.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or complex.  A $10 instance installed on an old laptop is sufficient.  You’ll stretch your skills and learn a lot by installing, using, maintaining, and upgrading it.

3. Join your local Atlassian User Group
Atlassian Users Groups are where users meet, learn, network, and share best practices.  Members are newbies and veterans who like to “talk shop” about Atlassian software, about Agile development, and about related business topics.  You can network with your peers, share solutions, meet Expert Partners, get special content from Atlassian, and enjoy a beer.  Find a user group near you (or start one) at:  aug.atlassian.com.

I’m an introvert and was new to Jira, but I took a deep breath and started a group.  It helped me learn new things, meet people, and become a contributor in the Atlassian community.

4. Read a book
There are a number of Jira books written by fellow administrators.  My book, the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook helps you set up, clean up, and maintain Jira.  It’s about strategy – not documentation and it’s not version specific.  Check it out and all the companion Jira offerings on Amazon.

5. Take an online training course
I’ve developed quick, 30 minute, online training courses for:  cleaning up custom fields, building workflows for business teams, admin mistakes, and other topics.  Take the courses and earn a certificate to add to your portfolio or resume at:  training.jirastrategy.com.

Atlassian also provides live online training, recorded training, and hands-on team training through Atlassian University.

6. Join the Atlassian Community
The Atlassian online Community is where you find answers, support, and inspiration from other users.  Join with your Atlassian ID at: community.atlassian.com.  Post your question or start a discussion.

There are also a plethora of Jira-themed support and networking groups.  Check out the Strategy for Jira® group on LinkedIn or Facebook.

7. Attend the user conference
Summit is the grand Atlassian event of the year.  With the palpable enthusiasm of the employees, the knowledge of the presenters, and the immense networking opportunities, this is the place to experience all that is Atlassian.  Add the next annual event to your calendar now.  Visit summit.atlassian.com for details.

8. Get certified
Taking an exam or extending your Atlassian Certification is a great way to show your existing skills and learn more through the study process.  I learned things I simply didn’t know and explored parts of the application I hadn’t touched in a while.  The certification experience made me a better Jira Administrator.  I learned so much valuable information earning the “Email in Jira” Skills Badge.

9. Read the documentation
Official product documentation is available at:  jirastrategy.com/link/official-docs.  The documentation includes information for end users and a guide specifically for administrators.  The documentation is categorized up by application type (e.g. Server or Cloud) and also by version.  Make sure you’re reading the correct version!

What are other ways to learn more about Jira?  Add your ideas to the “Comments” section below.

Day 5-7: Boondocking with Jira and Confluence

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We’re “Boondocking with Jira and Confluence“!
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Day 5

When boondocking it’s easy to run out of water.  How many times you wash your hands in a day?  Simple things like this deplete the supply quickly.  Our 46 gallon fresh water tank won’t last forever, no matter how much we conserve.  We got lucky though;  there was an on site water hose we could use sparingly.  We filled our 5 gallon portable container, used a pump that attaches to a drill, and slowly pumped the water through a hose and into the travel trailer.  A few rounds of filling the tank really made a difference.

I always research our location before we arrive and knew cell service would be a challenge.  The previous post took 2 hours to actually publish.  It was quick to write, but each time I’d save or upload a photo, the connection would die and I’d have to get it back and then recover the content from the cache.  Luckily I officially took off work this week for the experience and the Convergence.   Had this been a normal working week however, we would have needed to move to a different location.

Pagosa Springs, CO

With the morning chores done we took off with our boondocking buddies on a 60 mile, dirt road, scenic tour.  We also floated in a tube down the San Juan River.  Pagosa Springs didn’t get the normal level of snow melt so the river was low.  It was still fun though.

Day 6

We killed our battery.   I can’t be sure if the battery was already close to end of life, if we killed it during our tests, or if it happened during the Convergence.  We bought a hydrometer, which measures liquid density in the 6 battery cells.  They measured “dead”, “really dead”, and “give up now”.  The generator will recharge it, but will only hold a charge for a few hours before we need to charge it again.  I’ll be buying a new battery soon and will try to figure out where we went wrong.

Rising Water from Tropical Storm Colin (2006)

I’m starting to compile my list of items for the final post:  the Confluence retrospective.  After major events, we always review what we did well and what we need to work on for the future.  For example, when we evacuated for a surprise flash flood in Florida, we compiled a retro and reworked our emergency plan.  When we evacuated for a Tornado in Texas, we used our improved plan and made small adjustments then too.  Documenting our mistakes and making improvements makes us more prepared for next time.

This day we attended a pot luck brunch, played miniature golf, and watched “We’re the Millers” (an RV themed movie) together under the stars.  A Convergence attendee provided popcorn for the movie.  They must have figured out how to power their microwave.

Day 7

We survived!  We learned a lot about batteries, solar, and met lots of great fellow full-time travelers.  The Convenience was a lot like Atlassian Summit:  you have something in common with everyone and are instant friends.

Normally I complete the first half of my Confluence move day checklist the day before, but we were having so much fun, we saved it all for the travel day.  (Not smart.)  Everything was completed, but some tasks were done out of the preferred order, and I made two stupid mistakes.

  • I hit myself in the face with the drill and almost broke my prized Atlassian sunglasses!  I was raising the stabilizer jacks with the drill, like I’ve done 300 times before.  Only today, something looked odd and as I bent over to take a closer look the still moving drill smacked me in the face.
  • I also cut my leg (for the second time in two weeks) on the corner of the screen door.  I’ll need to file that down or cover it with foam.  Or, I could just be more careful and do the “day before” work on the actual day before.

We packed up, said our goodbyes, and hit the road for our next camping destination in New Mexico.  At the next location, we’ll have full hookups (power, water, and sewer) for a whole week before we move on to the next adventure.  I hope you’ve enjoyed following the journey we planned in Jira.  The Confluence retrospective will be available soon.

Day 3-4: Boondocking with Jira and Confluence

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Day 3

Lightning Strike Damage

In 2006, my stationary house was hit by lightning.  One strike sent electrical outlet face plates flying across the room and broke mirrored walls.  The fire department opened walls with their axes, checking for internal fire.  All the house’s appliances were fried.  No more fridge, no more hot water heater, etc.  The only electronics that survived were my computers, because they were connected to an APC battery backup and surge suppression system.  The APC took the lightning strike – not my devices.

From that experience, I don’t plug important devices directly into a wall outlet.  But how do you handle surge and voltage fluctuation when you live in a travel trailer?  The answer is you have to protect the entire dwelling.  Power pedestals at campgrounds are notoriously problematic.  They are wired incorrectly, deliver uneven current, shut off and on as they please, and frequently deliver too low voltage or too high voltage.  It’s really easy to ruin everything.  I will NEVER plug my travel trailer in without a Electrical Management System (EMS).  The best is made by Progressive Industries.  It is the one “must buy” thing for your RV!  It’s saved our travel trailer and the items inside it from disaster twice.  It’s worth every penny and more.

BUT you can’t use an EMS with a generator!  What???  We’re going to plug the trailer into something without my precious safety system?  Queue my anxiety.

Today was the big day where we’d use the new inverter generator for the first time.  On the previous day, we tried plugging in an old fan first, just to make sure everything was working as expected.  If the fan exploded, that would be alright but I wasn’t willing to take that chance with the entire travel trailer.  Luckily, there were no explosions.

In two days, our battery drained to 11.76 volts.  That’s probably lower than we should have let it go.  Time will tell if we’ve damaged it.  To recharge the battery to 12.45 volts (under 100%) we ran the generator for 1h 45m and used 0.5 gallons of gas.

After our morning generator fun, I joined the Convergence festivities.  There 32 people and 28 “rigs” attending this off grid get together.  “Rig” or “coach” is slang for your camping setup.  At the convergence, we have travel trailers (towed by a hitch on the bumper) like ours,  fifth wheels (towed by a hitch in the bed of a truck), and motorized RVs of all sizes and configurations.   The day’s activities started with a trip to the in hot springs which included a shower.  I was excited to use someone else’s shower and not waste our water!  Back at camp, we ate a “Taco Tuesday” pot luck dinner.

Day 4

It’s time to charge again.  Our travel trailer is wired for 30 amp, which is a different plug than a regular house outlet.  We have to use an adapter to connect to the generator.  The adapter cuts our amp possibilities down by half.  When connected to a normal power pedestal, we can run multiple things at a time as long as we don’t exceed 30 amps.  We can use the microwave with the lights on.  We can use the hot water with the radio on, etc.  But with the generator and only half our amperage capacity (15 amps), we have to limit what we use.  We did some tests and learned we can run the air conditioning, as long as we start the fan before the compressor and NOTHING else is running.  We cannot run the microwave using the generator however.

As shown in the picture, the generator has standard US wall outlets.  There are two – the left one is empty and the right is used by our yellow trailer plug and yellow adapter.  If you look closely, you can see we had to file down the adapter in two places to make it fit.  The outlet on the left has a red button that’s in the way and the one on the right has a grounding screw in the way.  Also pictured is where we had to file off the handle on the yellow trailer plug.  The plug is a replacement and was too big to store with the original handle.  This is typical of the RV lifestyle.  You buy something perfectly nice and intentionally ruin it to make it work.

I’m used to having my laptops plugged in all the time, so it’s pretty annoying to run out of power and have to wait until our next generator charge to be productive again.  Today I got a bit of work done but was up against the laptop battery deadline.  I stood up a new Jira instance but I was rushing and messed up the database part.  I created the database with the wrong table collation.  Jira requires “utf8_bin.”  When Jira started up, it notified me of the problem.  There are two options:  recreate the database or change all the tables and columns.  I opted for the latter.  The needed queries are documented and it didn’t take long to fix.  Some of the queries make the change and others generate a new set of queries to run.

Day 1-2: Boondocking with Jira and Confluence

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As previously announced in Boondocking with Jira and Confluence, this week, we’re “off the grid” in our travel trailer.  We’re boondocking which means camping without hookups to city power, water, and sewer systems.  We’ll provide our own resources which includes enough power and internet to connect to Jira and Confluence – vital resources for our long-term RV trip.

We’re also attending a “convergence” which is like a conference with fellow digital nomads.  We’ve all parked together in the same place.  If we fail at boondocking, we’ll do it surrounded by experienced campers.

Week Before

The week before our trip, we further tested our preparations.  We were at a campground with full hookups, but instead of plugging in, we tested how long we’d last with conservative use of battery power and stored water.

I quickly discovered a problem recharging the computers.  My 12 volt inverter charger works perfectly in a (running, and therefore full battery) truck, but not so well on a dwindling trailer battery.  Its 75 watt output could handle the Chromebooks and phones but couldn’t recharge my HP laptop.  Also, it only has one outlet, which is inconvenient.  I immediately upgraded to a 2,000 watt device with 3 AC and 4 USB outlets.  Right now I only have a WiFi booster plugged in and its internal fan is running more often than I’d like.  We’ll see if it works long-term.

Week Before Test Results:

Item Measure Notes
Battery
  • Full battery:  13.09 volts
  • After 48 hours:  11.63 volts
We’ll need to charge our trailer battery every day or every other day, to sustain the 12 volt system and recharge electronics.
Electronics Battery time with heavy use:

  • HP laptop:  6 hours
  • Chromebooks:  8+ hours
  • Phone 1:  10+ hours
  • Phone 2:  5+ hours
  • WiFi 1 (Verizon):  Requires phone use, needs boosting
  • WiFi 2 (Sprint):  Lasts day however, unusable due to proximity to tower
  • WiFi 3 (Sky Roam):  4 hours, dupe of Verizon signal
While boondocking, we can only use the 12 volt system, which powers the lights, water pump, and fire and carbon monoxide detection systems.  It also generates the spark for propane appliances, like the fridge, stove, and oven.

We won’t be able to use luxuries like the microwave, coffee maker, or air conditioner.

When the trailer is briefly connected to the generator, we’ll be able to use the wall outlets to charge electronics.

Water & Sewer Tank capacity:

  • Fresh tank:  46 gallons (+6 gallons from hot water heater)
  • Grey tank: 33 gallons
  • Black tank: 33
Our fresh water lasted 4 days with moderate use and 4 showers.  We can easily extend that with conservation, including less dish washing and fewer showers.

Our grey water tank lasted only 3 days.  Storage of used water is an issue.  We can extend capabilities by limiting how much water goes down the drain.  Next week, we’ll need to use the outside shower and wash dishes outside to avoid storing excess water.

Our black tank is never an issue.  We can go a week or two without dumping it.

Day 1

RV Moving Day Confluence Checklist

We woke up, made a quick breakfast, and completed tasks from our Confluence “moving day” checklist.  There are 32 things I do the day before any move like:  verify our route, fuel the tow vehicle, and check the pressure on all tires.  (The correct pressure is CRITICAL for trailer tires!)  On moving day, there are another 52 items to complete like:  draining all tanks, turning off the electric and propane systems, and properly coupling the tow vehicle to the trailer.  My Confluence checklist is vital to the moving process.  Missing any item could put us, others, or our property in danger while rolling down the road.

We completed our standard checklist but this time one thing was different.  We filled our fresh water tank, otherwise, we’d have no water at our next destination.  We’ve never traveled with a full tank before.  Water is heavy and the extra 450 pounds means extra risk and even less gas mileage.  Luckily our off-grid destination was only 10 miles away.

Boondocking Parking Spot

We arrived and parking was much easier than usual.  Usually you have to line up very carefully, so all your connections reach and you fit in the spot.  But with boondocking, there are no connections to worry about.  We simply parked, drove up on leveling blocks, detached the tow vehicle, and opened our slides and awning.  Voila – we’re camping!

This night we met our fellow convergence attendees and cooked dinner together on many grills.  There’s a fire ban in this part of Colorado, so only propane grills are allowed.

Day 2

So far so good!  I’m able to launch Jira, Confluence, and other web apps, but only through my phone’s hotspot and only when the cell booster is on.  Both are a constant draw on the battery.  Our electronics are running low and we’ll need to charge the battery tomorrow.

We spent the morning re-reading the generator manual and filling it with gas, fuel stabilizer, and oil for the first time.  We only broke one plastic piece doing this.  We turned on the generator and tested it with a cheap appliance.  It worked as expected and the generator was quieter than anticipated.  Tomorrow we hook it up to our entire rig.

Today we took a group hike to Treasure Falls, saw part of the continental divide, and drove a dirt road up a mountain for a beautiful view of the area.  I’m looking forward to charging everything tomorrow and possibly a soak in the natural hot springs!

9 Tips for Getting Action in Jira

A Jira issue was created, but its been a week and you’ve heard nothing.  The issue hasn’t been updated and you can’t tell if anyone’s seen the issue, triaged it, started work, or done “something” to get it addressed in the near future.  Does this sound familiar?

When issues stagnate, it may be because the needed expectations haven’t been set.  Leadership needs to make sure overall Jira engagement and Project Leads need to play a large role in triaging and managing issues in their individual projects.  Here are 9 tips for setting the right expectations and getting users to take action in Jira.

1. All work is logged in Jira

  • It is hard to track initiatives, capacity, and resource allocation when work is stored in multiple systems.  Strive to decommission old systems and banish low tech tracking methods like spreadsheets and Post-it notes.  You need “one source of truth” for everything teams are working on.
  • In meetings, emails, and chats about tasks, encourage users to provide the Jira issue ID for the item they are discussing.  Repeat the phrases “Which Jira issue are we talking about?” and “If it’s not in Jira, it’s not real!” it becomes reality.

2. Users login to check their issues at least once a day

  • A tool is just a tool.  It takes human action and engagement to make it work in your organization.  If users aren’t regularly logging in, they are missing what is going on around them.
  • Make sure users are proactively logging into Jira to review issues created and assigned to them.  Waiting around for Jira to send email notifications is reactive.  Jira info in email quickly becomes out of date.  Email should be treated as supplemental information and never be the primary engagement method.

3. The “Assignee” takes action

  • Each issue has an assignee.  The name in that field is the person who needs to take action.  If the name is incorrect or reads “Unassigned”, it’s easy to reassign the issue to the correct person.
  • Other users should feel empowered to update or correct issue data, even if they are not the current assignee.

4. The “Reporter” is ultimately responsible for the issue

  • You cannot create an issue and walk away, expecting the issue to champion and remedy itself.  The “Reporter” is responsible for the issue from conception to completion.  If the reporter is no longer the responsible party, it’s easy to update the issue to the correct person.  And don’t worry – Jira keeps a record the original creator in a separate field.

5. Share the assignment strategy

  • There are many ways issues get assigned in Jira.  Each project has a default assignee setting.  The default assignee can either be the Project Lead, or it can have a value of “Unassigned.”  The former is typically used when the team lead will triage issues and assign them to the correct team member.  The latter is sometimes used when the whole team is expected to review the issues and assign the ones they can work on to themselves.
  • Additionally, there’s a third assignment strategy, using Components.  Each Component can have its own lead and issues can automatically be assigned to that person.  For example, James does all the contract work for the Legal team.  When an issue is created in the LEGAL project, any issues where the “Contracts & Agreements” component is selected will be automatically assigned to James.
  • Finally, avoid the trap of assigning issues to a generic Jira user, like a user named “Legal Team”.  It’s often true that if an issue is assigned to everyone, it’s assigned to no one.  How are issues assigned in each project in your organization?  Make sure users know so they know how to act.

6. Utilize issue views

  • Jira provides many ways to users to see issues.  All users should know how to login and go straight to the Default System Dashboard.  This serves as a good starting place to see recent activity and issues assigned.  The Jira administration team can further customize the default dashboard to add elements to make it even more useful.
  • Users can also create their own custom filters, filter subscriptions, dashboards, and boards.  Encourage each team or department to have a dashboard or board they share and monitor regularly.  Users can bookmark or “favorite” these locations to make them easy to return to.

7. Use statuses, backlogs, versioning, and dates

  • Statuses, backlogs, versions, and dates all communicate when an issue will be addressed.  Each issue’s status must reflect reality.  Users need to transition issues forward in the workflow as they work them.  Completed issues must reach the “Closed”, “Done” or similar final status.
  • Every Jira project should have a backlog – a place to put issues not addressed immediately.  If a team member finishes work early, encourage them to review the backlog, to see if an issue can be accommodated earlier in the schedule.
  • If an issue is not in the backlog, it means it is being actively worked.  Development teams should utilize the “version” functionality to assign issues to a specific release target.  Non dev teams can also leverage versions.  Example:  A Marketing team has a version called “Q1” representing all the work targeted for January through March.
  • Used a custom field (Example: Requested Date) to collect the issue’s proposed completion date.  Use the “Due Date” field to indicate when an issue will actually be completed or released.
  1. 8. Tag users, share issues, and add watchers
  • To get a user’s attention, tag them in an issue’s “Description” or “Comments” field.  Use the “@” symbol to mention a specific user.  They will get an email about the mention.
  • Need to alert someone to an issue?  Use the “Share” button at the top right to send them an email.
  • Add yourself or a colleague to the issue email update notifications by making them a “Watcher” of any issue.
  • Again, emails are often lost, delayed, or out of date by the time they are read.   Users should always login to Jira for real-time information.

9. Check progress in team meetings, standups, and scrums

  • The key to success is communication.  Each team meeting should include a discussion of what’s being worked now and what’s being worked next.    Launch Jira in your meeting and review the issues on the team dashboard.  Take the time to discuss any unassigned issues in your Jira project and regularly groom your backlog.
  • Team leads need to regularly monitor their Jira project and follow up on stagnant issues.

The key to Jira success is engagement, setting expectations, and regularly monitoring issues.  All users should feel empowered, be proactive, update issues, correct information, and contribute to the health of the application and its data.

What are your tips?  Share them in the “Comments” section below.

Boondocking with Jira and Confluence

Menu:  Intro | Day 1-2 | Day 3-4 | Day 5-7 | Retrospective

We’re “Boondocking with Jira and Confluence“!
Enjoy $10 off your order at the Strategy for Jira Store

Code: BOONDOCKING Shop Now
Valid: July 8-15, 2018
Truck and Travel Trailer

Did you know I’ve worked from the road for over 3 years?  It’s a lot like working from home except when I look out the window of my home on wheels, the scenery is always different!  In May 2015, we got rid of most of our stuff, sold our cars, and hit the road in a travel trailer.

Strategy for Jira Tour

Our trip started in Virginia.  From there we traveled South through the Eastern states, explored the entire Florida coast, visited 8 Texas cities, stayed a while in Arizona and California, and then went North through Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.  This entire time I’ve worked as a Jira administrator, consultant, and speaker on the Strategy for Jira Tour.  The tour highlight was speaking at the Atlassian office in Austin, TX and at Summit!

Boondocking

After three years, we’ve decided to add a new element to our mobile lifestyle:  boondocking.  Boondocking is camping without hookups to city power, water, and sewer systems.  We’re used to bringing our own internet connection but until now, we’ve paid a campground to supply the other utilities.  It’s a bit limiting though;  it means we can only go where others have resources available for us.  I’d prefer the ability to go anywhere (anywhere with a usable cell signal, that is.)

So what does all this have to do with Jira and Confluence?  Plenty!  Throughout my trip, I’ve had to guarantee my access to power and wifi in order to work, support the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, and participate in the Atlassian Community.  I need reliable access to Jira and Confluence for my consulting practice, for my volunteer work, and for my personal life.  Without Jira, I can’t access my “to do” list, help Jira administrators clean up too many custom fields, or prepare to merge multiple applications.  I track where we go in Jira and record the specific details of each location in Confluence.  Now, I’ll need to do all that without the convenience of “full hookups.”  We’ll need to bring our own water and store it – before and after we use it.  Most importantly, we’ll need to find a way to generate our own power.

Power Options

There are a few power generation options so I used Confluence to research and make the decision.  The travel trailer has its own 12 volt battery that’s responsible for the lights, water pump, fire and carbon monoxide detection systems.  It also generates the spark for propane appliances, like the fridge, stove, and oven.  The battery is constantly recharged when connected to city power but without it, it doesn’t last very long.  We need a way to recharge it and heavily researched all the methods including:  solar or wind power, gas or propane generator power,  disconnecting the battery altogether (not sustainable), and even sacrificing one or a series of $80 batteries (not smart).

We really love the idea of solar, and want to have it one day, but it’s not simple (or cheap) to set it up correctly.  And, it’s not fool-proof.  For example, what if it’s a cloudy day?  “Sorry, Jira, there’s no power to launch your URL today!”  🙁

For our first foray into boondocking, we purchased a small gas inverter generator.  Our $500 unit won’t provide luxury.  We won’t be able to use the microwave, air conditioning, or coffee maker.  But doesn’t a coffee press make better coffee better anyway?  It’s enough to periodically charge the 12 volt battery however so we can run a minimum amount of electronics.  We’ll limit ourselves to the really important things:  2 cell phones, 2 laptops, and one wireless internet router for WiFi.  We’ll open the windows if it’s hot, light a lantern if it’s dark, and generally try to live even more simply than before.  It will be less “glamping” and more “camping.”  I do hope we’ll have enough battery power to run a small fan though.  We’ll see.

We’ve been researching and learning about volts, amps and watts.  I estimate it takes 65 watts to access a local Jira instance and 71 watts (computer + router) for a Cloud instance.  I’m new to these calculations though and my estimates could be way off.  Time will tell!

Official Test

Starting July 8, we’re “cutting the RV cord”.  We’re going to the middle of a field in Pagosa Springs, CO to test our setup and spend a whole week “off the grid.”  If all goes as planned, I’ll be doing all my favorite Jira and Confluence activities like always.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have you boondocked, dry camped, or gone “off grid”?  Share your stories and tips in the Comments section below.

Jira Strategy Admin Workbook Kindle Edition

The Jira Strategy Admin Workbook is available in Kindle format!  Now you can set up, clean up, and maintain Jira on the bus or on the beach!  No need to carry a heavy, 296 page, textbook around.

Get the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook in three formats:

Already have the Print?  Add Kindle or Digital for $2.99!

The book is part of Amazon’s MatchBook program.  Purchase the print version (sold and fulfilled by amazon.com) and get the Kindle version for only $2.99.

Steps to Redeem:

  1. Login to your Amazon.com account
  2. Visit the MatchBook page
  3. Scroll down to “Your Kindle MatchBook titles” as shown below
  4. Click the “Get Kindle Edition” button

No Kindle device?  Add the digital version for $2.99.

Steps to Redeem:

Email a photo of you and the book to:  info@jirastrategy.com.  Bonus points for photo creativity!  We’ll email you a code to discount the digital version to $2.99.

How to Conduct a New Jira Project Team Interview

The best way to understand how a team operates and plans to use Jira is by interviewing the team lead.  Here’s how to conduct a good initial interview.

Interview Objectives

The application administrator should uncover and understand the following:

  • Is a new project needed or can an existing project be leveraged?
    • Example:  The Email Marketing Team wants to use Jira.  Can they use the existing Marketing Team’s project or do they need a separate project (special configuration) of their own?
  • What are the reporting requirements?  What data points are important to track?
  • Are new schemes or assets needed?  (Ex:  a new custom workflow, a custom field, etc.)
  • Who will maintain the project-level settings, serve as the primary contact for all project related questions, triage and monitor issues, and groom the backlog?

The requestor or team lead should:

  • Understand, at a high level, the type of problems Jira can solve
  • Receive answers to any “can Jira do X” questions
  • Provide an example of a common request and how the team completes work

Best Practices

   DO

  • Keep the conversation high-level.  This is an info collection meeting, not a Jira demo.
  • Listen more than you talk
  • Learn the team’s process for a typical initiative
  • Collect team reporting goals and specific data to track
  • Choose terminology wisely.  For example, a “project” is a collection of issues to a Jira administrator, but a “project” is something to work on to a team lead.

 DON’T

  • Demo Jira.  This is a fact finding session.  Concentrate on listening, not clicking around Jira or hosting a “show and tell.”
  • Lose focus or discuss low level topics.  This is not the time to ask:  What is your version number format?  What board column will status X map to?
  • Use industry or “Jira jargon” that’s unfamiliar to your audience
  • Discuss methodology.  Jira can support any or no methodology.
  • Click around the Jira application admin area.  This is confusing and extraneous info for non application admins.

Interview Questions

 Download the “Worksheet:  Jira New Project Interview” at:  jirastrategy.com/link/project-interview.

Next Steps

  1. Identify a team to onboard to Jira.
  2. Interview the team lead to see how Jira might help them track their work and automate manual tasks.
  3. Create a basic Jira project to get the team started.  The project can be enhanced or further customized as the need arises.