Verify Approval in a Jira Workflow

It’s smart to make Jira workflows as simple and flexible as possible. I like to give users multiple ways to transition issues between statuses and even let them skip statuses when needed. But sometimes skipping a status is undesirable or creates a compliance problem. Consider an approval status for example. You’d certainly fail an audit if work was started on an issue or an issue was completed before it was approved. Luckily, Innovalog’s Jira Misc Workflow Extensions (JMWE) app has a validator to prevent it.

Use Case

Before work is started or an issue reaches its final workflow status, make sure it passes through the “Approval” status.

Requirements

You’ll need the following:

  • Access: Jira application administrator permissions (to install the app) and the ability to edit workflows
  • Environment: Jira Server, Jira Data Center, or Jira Cloud
  • Install: Install the JMWE app from the “Find new apps” page in your Jira instance. Apply a free trial or paid license on the “Manage apps” page.

We’ll use the following app features:

Set Up

Simple workflow with an “Approval” status and global transitions

Set up or create the following:

  • Workflow: Create one simple workflow with an “Approval” status. Example: Open > Approval > To Do > In Progress > Closed
  • Issues: Create one issue

Implementation

Here’s how to do it:

  • Edit the workflow
  • In text or diagram mode, add a validator to the “In Progress” transition
    • Select the transition leading to the “In Progress” status
    • Click the “Validators” tab (text mode) or link (diagram mode)
    • Click the “Add validator” link
    • Add the “Previous Status Validator (JMWE add-on)” validator
    • In the “Previous Status” field, select the “Approval” status
    • In the “Error message” field, enter the copy “Please transition to the “Approval” status to collect approval.
    • Click the “Add” form submission button and publish the workflow
Innovalog Previous Status Validator
On the validator’s setting page, the “Approval” status is selected and a custom error message is provided (optional).
The “In Progress” global transition has one validator, requiring an issue to have previously transitioned through the “Approval” status.
  • Using the same steps above, add a “Previous Status Validator” to the “Closed” transition

With the two validators in place, issues may not skip the “Approval” workflow status. The validator checks the issue’s transition history, to make sure it previously reached the “Approval” step.

Result

Test your work:

  • Transition your sample issue from its initial status to the “In Progress” status
  • The transition should fail and display an overlay with your custom error message
A transition from the “Open” status to the “In Progress” status fails and a custom error message is displayed.

Bonus: Allow selected issues to bypass the “Approval” status

If an issue is small or low risk, you may want to conditionally bypass approval. An easy way to do this is by checking the value of a custom field before executing the transition validator.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Create a custom “Select List” field called “Risk”
    • Create the selection values: “Low”, “Medium”, and “High”
  • Add the custom field to your issue’s screen
  • In the sample issue, set the “Risk” value to “Low” or “Medium”
  • Edit one of the existing Previous Status Validators
  • On the validator’s settings page, click the “Conditional validation” checkbox under the “Validator scope” header
  • Use the wizard to craft a simple Groovy script that checks the “Risk” field for a value of “High”
    • Click the “Issue Fields” button
    • In the “Select a field: ” form field, chose the “Risk” custom field
    • Under the “ACCESSING THE FIELD’S VALUE” header, click the “issue.get(“customfield_10700”) == “An option”” button
      • Note: Your custom field ID will be different than the example
    • In the Groovy statement inserted above, change the “An option” copy to “High”
    • Click the “Update” form submission button and publish the workflow

This simple script allows issues with a Risk of “Low” or “Medium” to ignore the entire validator. Learn more about Groovy customizations here.

With this added condition the validator only runs if the “Risk” field’s value is “High”

Q&A

Why is the “To Do” status needed in the sample workflow?

Two reasons:

  1. When an issue is approved, it doesn’t mean work automatically starts. There may be a review or assignment process that occurs before someone actually starts work on an approved issue. The “To Do” status helps signify that the issue is ready to work, but work has not yet started.
  2. An issue must pass through the “Approval” status for the validator to function. Simply reaching the “Approval” status is not enough to indicate approval was collected.

Why did you use the “Previous Status Validator” instead of the “Previous Status Condition“?

Workflow conditions allow you to show or hide transitions. I wanted the “In Progress” and “Closed” transitions to display regardless of whether the issue reached the “Approval” status.

Still having trouble? Check the Jira log file, turn on error handling on the Jira Misc Workflow Extensions Global Configuration page, review the JMWE documentation, review answered questions in the Atlassian Community, or raise an Innovalog support request.

Need Workflow Help?

Jira, Jira Service Desk, and Confluence courses

Take the “Jira Workflows for Business Teams” online course, get the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, and check out the workflow materials in the Strategy for Jira store.

Trekking with Trello: Gear Tests and Practice Walks

Series Menu: Intro | Gear Tests and Practice Walks

In this post of the “Trekking with Trello” series, I’ll share how I used Trello software to prepare for my long distance walk on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I’m a planner and a researcher. I like data and hate unknowns. I want to know exactly what I’m getting myself into whether it be a new project, a new business, or a new personal adventure.

Planning this trip was no exception. I researched this topic to death and enjoyed every minute of it! I read 7 books, browsed countless websites, viewed every documentary I could find, and even watched two different people’s daily videos of their own experience. I’ve shared the most helpful books, websites, and movies in a public Trello board.

Rachel used Atlassian’s Trello application to research, plan, and prepare for her long-distance walk on the Camino de Santiago. She created this board to share helpful books, websites, and movies with others planning their Camino journey.

Copy this Trello Board

Copy my Trello board

Planning your own hike on the Camino Francés route? Use my “Camino de Santiago Resources” board as a starting point! Trello makes it really easy to copy cards, checklists, and even entire boards. Here’s how:

  1. Visit my board
  2. Open the board’s menu on the right
  3. Select the “More” option and select “Copy Board”
  4. Give the board a new name and click the “Create” button at the bottom

A copy of the board, complete with the cards and my recommendations, is created in your account to further customize to your liking.

This feature is an excellent way to quickly create new boards and share information. Use it for onboarding new team members, performing regular maintenance duties, or as a template for any repeatable set of tasks. To let everyone (including search engines) view a board, set its visibility to “Public”. The visibility setting is at the top of the page, to the right of the board’s name.

Camino Decisions

Add a checklist

Also included in my resources board, is a decision checklist. The checklist is automatically copied to your new board along with the other cards. You can add one or more checklists to any Trello card by clicking the “Checklist” option, on the “Add to Card” menu, in the right sidebar.

This is the questions list I wish I’d had when I was researching. Answer the following to start planning your Camino journey.

Top Camino de Santiago Decisions
  1. Will you walk, cycle, or travel on horseback?
  2. Will you travel alone, with a group, or join a tour?
  3. What is your budget?
  4. How many days will you spend on the trail?
  5. Will you camp, sleep in albergues (hostels, shared accommodation), or stay in hotels?
  6. Will you pre-book accommodations or choose where to stay along the way?
  7. Which route will you travel?
  8. Where will you start and end your journey?
  9. Will you wear shoes or boots?
  10. How will you stay cool in the heat or warm in the cold?
  11. How will you stay dry in the rain?
  12. When will you go?

Training & Exercise Plan

Part of my planning was training my body to walk long distances. I set some overall goals in Trello and tracked the details of my preparation walks.

As you can see, I marked the “Training & Exercise” card “complete” but didn’t actually check off all my goals. I didn’t make smart decisions on my 10 mile test hike, which you’ll see in the video below. I also didn’t complete any sizable back to back hikes.

For each official prep walk, I noted how far I went, the conditions that day, and the failure or success of the gear I was testing. If I wanted to report on or sum this data, more structure is needed and that’s a job for Jira. Since I only wanted to record the details for my own memories, a simple comment in Trello worked just fine.

Gear Tests and Practice Walks

Caring for your feet and preventing blisters is a high priority for any long distance walker. I spent a lot of time breaking in shoes and finding the right brand of socks. I walked into a river to verify my shoes were waterproof and tested all of the “smart” socks to learn which would work best for me. I took short practice walks to disqualify socks that were too hot or too thin. I took longer distance walks to make sure my body was up for the challenge. I learned what distance I could handle and made some silly mistakes along the way. This video shows some of my preparation:

What’s next with Trello?

In the next post in this trekking series, I’ll share more Trello tips, Camino advice, and photos from my trip.

Have a question about my trek or about using Atlassian products like Jira, Jira Service Desk, Confluence, or Trello? Ask questions in the comments section below.

“Best Practices for Managing and Maintaining Your Jira Application” in Atlanta

The Strategy for Jira Tour continues! Our next presentation is a remote one in Atlanta, GA. Rachel will present “Best Practices for Managing and Maintaining Your Jira Application” at the next Atlanta Atlassian Community Event, on December 11, 2019.

Hear Rachel’s Jira best practices in Atlanta, Georgia

You know if you don’t maintain your Jira application that it can quickly grow out of control. But where do you start? How do you make small improvements without impacting daily business? What should you do if your application is already a bit of a mess?

In this presentation, we’ll address:

  • how to set standards so you don’t have more schemes to maintain than necessary,
  • how to clean up schemes and custom fields when you have too many,
  • how to archive old projects and unneeded issues,
  • and how to track changes and customization requests so you have a record and an audit trail.

Atlassian Community Events are where users meet, learn, network, and share best practices. User groups meet locally and all over the world.  Group members are newbies and veterans who like to “talk shop” about Atlassian software, Agile development, DevOps, software, and related business topics. Attend these events to network with your peers, share solutions, meet Atlassian Solution Partners, get special content from Atlassian, and maybe enjoy a beer or two.

Will you be in Atlanta on December 11?  Join us, join an Atlassian Community Event in your city, or start a community group!

Meet Rachel Wright in Palm Beach, FL

Fabian L and Rachel Wright
Fabian Lopez, Palm Beach Community Leader and Rachel Wright

The Strategy for Jira Tour continues! Meet Rachel Wright, author of the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, in Palm Beach, Florida on December 3, 2019.

Rachel will present “Best Practices for Managing and Maintaining Your Jira Application” at the Palm Beach Atlassian Community year end social event. Come celebrate the end of 2019 with networking, Jira presentations, and cutting-edge interactive golf at Drive Shack.

About the Jira Presentation

You know if you don’t maintain your Jira application that it can quickly grow out of control. But where do you start? How do you make small improvements without impacting daily business? What should you do if your application is already a bit of a mess?

In this presentation, we’ll address:

  • setting standards so you don’t have more schemes to maintain than necessary,
  • cleaning up schemes and custom fields when you have too many,
  • archiving old projects and unneeded issues,
  • and tracking changes and customization requests so you have a record and an audit trail.

About Atlassian Community Events

Atlassian Community Events are where users meet, learn, network, and share best practices. User groups meet locally and all over the world.  Group members are newbies and veterans who like to “talk shop” about Atlassian software, Agile development, DevOps, software, and related business topics. Attend these events to network with your peers, share solutions, meet Atlassian Solution Partners, get special content from Atlassian, and maybe enjoy a beer or two.

Will you be in Palm Beach, FL on Dec 3?  Join us, join an Atlassian Community Event in your city, or start a community group!

How to Get your Boss to Send you to the Atlassian Summit 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.

Visit http://summit.atlassian.com for all the details about the upcoming event.

Business Justification

With all the tech conferences occurring every year, how do you convince your company to send you to Summit?

In your proposal, answer the following questions:

  • What do you hope to learn? Use specific examples of problems you can solve by attending. Example: “I’ll learn about the new Certification program you were asking about.” or “I’ll take your question about X straight to the Support Bar!” Use the “continuing education” or training angle. You need to learn something new this year right? This could be cheaper or the same cost as other training opportunities.
  • What valuable experiences will you have?
  • Who will you network with?
  • Add statistics to your pitch. Example: How big was last year’s event? How many people attended? How many sessions were there? Who were the speakers and sponsors?  This information is useful to compare against other events and communicate value.

Top 5 Justification Reasons

  1. Each year I leave with pages of “new ideas” to bring back to my company.
  2. You’ll get answers to your questions directly from Atlassian or from companies sharing similar problems.
  3. You’ll meet fellow users, Solution Partners (vendors, consultants), and Atlassian employees you wouldn’t normally have access to.  How useful would it be to have some Atlassian employee business cards in your pocket?
  4. You’ll gain an “insider’s view” into upcoming features and changes in the works.
  5. It’s a marketing opportunity for your company. You’ll hand out your business cards and wear your company logo shirt, right?

Budget

The flight and the conference hotel are likely expensive, so you need to prepare your supervisor for the sticker shock. Help soften the blow with a list of things your company won’t have to pay for. 

For example, you probably don’t need a rental car. Parking in a major city is challenging and cost prohibitive. If your hotel is close to or in the conference location, skip the rental car. You’ll save hundreds by taking a cab or public transportation between the airport and hotel. List a big, visual $0 next to that line item.

The “meals” line item can be listed as $0 or almost $0 as well. Atlassian feeds you well on conference days. You won’t be spending money on additional food.

Also see: Atlassian Summit Survival GuideAtlassian Summit Travel Guide, and Summit Through the YearsR

Translations: Read this in German

Better Form Design in Jira (Series)

In 2017, ThinkTilt and Rachel Wright teamed up with the goal of helping business teams get more out of Jira and conquer their “to do” lists. In 2018, we helped administrators effectively manage Jira and battle custom field bloat. Now, we’re collaborating again to help you create better screens and forms in Jira and Jira Service Desk.

In our upcoming series, we’ll help you understand how form design can help or hinder data collection. We’ll help you write good questions, choose the right custom fields, and create forms that users actually want to complete. We’ll explore the screen and form capabilities of Jira, Jira Service Desk, and ProForma. Finally, we’ll provide use cases for various teams and turn bad forms into good ones.

Our first article tackles the differences between screens in Jira and forms in Service Desk. It’s important to understand how screens, screen schemes, and issue type screen schemes work together. Then, you can map screens to issue types and leverage JSD and ProForma forms.

We hope you’ll check in regularly to see the upcoming installments:

  • Why Form Design in Jira Matters  –  How you design your forms will impact the quality of data you receive, and much more!
  • Layout and Flow: Creating User-Friendly Forms in Jira – Form layout affects completion rates and user frustration. We’ll discuss the right way to do it.
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 1 – How do you choose the right words, field types and validation levels? This article will dig into the nitty gritty of creating good form questions. 
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 2 – Choice questions are great for collecting structured data. We’ll look at the options for choice questions and discuss ways to influence, or mitigated influence on the user.
  • Things to think about when converting forms in Jira – Bringing a process into Jira for the first time? Don’t just copy forms straight across. This is a chance to make improvements.
  • Efficient Jira Screens and Jira Service Desk Request Forms – Jira screens and JSD request forms aren’t the same. Here’s how you can make each one work for its audience.
  • Tips for Creating good forms/screens in Jira – Learn how you can leverage Jira features like tabs, workflow transitions and icons to create better forms and screens.
  • Form Design Best Practices: What you can and can’t do in Jira – Now that we know what good form design means, we’ll hone in on which practices can be applied to Jira and Jira Service Desk
  • Use cases – We’ll also include a series of use cases illustrating how using forms expands what you can do in Jira.
  • Form audit – Finally, we’ll take a bad form and transform it to an awesome, user-friendly, data collecting machine.

About ThinkTilt

ProForma is the forms solution for Jira, making it easy for teams to build and deploy online forms, backed by Jira’s great workflow engine. Empower every team in your organization to take control of their processes and deliver first class request management. All the information you need, where you need it.

About Rachel Wright

Rachel Wright is an entrepreneur, process engineer, and Atlassian Certified Jira Administrator.  She is the owner and founder of Industry Templates, LLC, which helps companies grow, get organized, and develop their processes.  Rachel also uses Atlassian tools in her personal life for accomplishing goals and tracking tasks.  Her first book, the “Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, was written in Confluence and progress was tracked in Jira!

Easily Deliver Company-wide Atlassian Product Training

What is your Atlassian product training strategy? You know you need to train your Jira, Jira Service Desk and Confluence users, but organizing training can be daunting and finding a time that works for everyone’s busy schedule is a challenge. How will you educate everyone, encourage adoption, and deliver information on a continual basis? How will you train new users when they join the organization? Training could easily turn into a full time job for application admins and burden an already busy training department.

Many companies either don’t have product-specific training or want training but can’t implement it. Others gather everyone in a room for a marathon training session that doesn’t provide an optimal learning experience. The content is not tailored to different user roles and everyone forgets what the instructor said by the end of the day.  Employees who missed the “training day” don’t get the help they need and new hires won’t get a training opportunity for a long time.

When users don’t understand the software, or when admins don’t have enough experience, the applications won’t work as well as they should. As a result companies spend time and money cleaning up the mess caused by prior mistakes. I saw this first hand. With no training, I became an application administrator! I built things badly and eventually realized I’d copied the mistakes of others and added to the overall mess.

Let Us Handle Your Training

We know training departments don’t always have the time or expertise to create product-specific training. We do and we’re good at it. Let us deliver company-wide training though our efficient, 30-minute, online, skill or topic-based courses.

Our courses are self-paced and include video lessons, homework, and a quiz to test and reinforce understanding.  There’s even a course certificate for your employee’s portfolio or resume!  Users self-enroll and leadership can view enrollment, progress, and completion at any time.

Please complete the form or share it with your training coordinator so we can recommend courses, presentations, and materials.

How can we help with your training needs?

Role Based Jira, Jira Service Desk, and Confluence Training Strategy

When considering your Atlassian product training strategy, select content that’s specific to each user’s role and delivered in manageable pieces. Different types of users need different information, different levels of detail, and need it delivered at different times. It’s tempting to gather everyone in a big room for a marathon training class. But it’s much smarter to offer role-specific information in small, digestible, and progressive pieces.

Progressive, Role-based Training

Intro to Jira Cloud Agenda

In the beginning, a brand new user just needs to know the basics.  Answer questions like:  “What is this application?”, “How do I use it?”, and “How do I access it?” Take a look at the agenda in our 30 minute “Intro to Jira Cloud” online course, for example. It’s short and specifically designed not to overwhelm new users. The goal is to get them feeling comfortable in the application immediately. Consider that some employees may have used Atlassian applications before. Their previous experience, version, use, and expectations could differ from what’s expected in your organization.

As part of initial training, give new users a simple homework assignment. Here’s an example: (1) to log into the application, (2) bookmark it in the browser, and (3) create a Jira issue, a Confluence page, or a Jira Service Desk request. You can test whether their creation meets the needs of the organization. This is a great time to catch problems before they turn into bad habits. Look for future trouble like missing an important issue field, creating a page in the wrong global space, or providing vague request details.

Once the user understands the basics start adding additional content. Select new content based on user role, how they’ll use the software, and skills they’ll need to do their regular job. Time the content delivery so they can learn little by little without impacting their other work.

User Types and Roles

Here are some additional user types and content recommendations:

  • The regular or occasional user needs info about sharing and organizing their data, creating filter subscriptions, linking, and logging time.
  • The power user wants information about basic & advanced search, JQL, and bulk changes.
  • Team leads, project managers, and scrum masters want to know about views like dashboards, boards, and reports.
  • Service Desk Agents want to understand service level agreements (SLAs) and how to use JSD features to support their customers.
  • Application admins want information about configuration, performance, effective workflows, best practices, mistakes, and certification.

Delivering information progressively, and based on roles, lets you quickly and effectively train users. They can put the info into practice immediately and won’t forget everything they learned by the end of the day.

Let Us Handle Your Training

We know admins don’t always have the time or expertise to train users. We do and we’re good at it. Let us deliver your company-wide training though our efficient, 30-minute, online, skill or topic-based courses.

Please complete the form, or share it with your training coordinator, so we can recommend courses, presentations, and materials.

How can we help with your training needs?

“Jira Scary Stories” in Toronto

“Halloween Horror Stories” Atlassian Community Event in Toronto

It’s October and time for some Halloween fun! The Toronto Atlassian Community Event is featuring content from Rachel’s Wright’s “Jira Scary Stories” presentation, along with Confluence horror stories of their own. Join them for lunch on Oct. 30, 2019 to hear stories of spooky security, freakish custom fields, and the potential horrors of user-created projects and issue types.  These stories are based on the gruesome mistakes in the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook.

Atlassian Community Events are where users meet, learn, network, and share best practices. User groups meet locally and all over the world.  Group members are newbies and veterans who like to “talk shop” about Atlassian software, Agile development, DevOps, software, and related business topics. Attend these events to network with your peers, share solutions, meet Atlassian Solution Partners, get special content from Atlassian, and maybe enjoy a beer or two.

Will you be in Toronto, Canada on on October 30?  Attend, join an Atlassian Community Event in your city, or start a community group!

“Best Practices for Managing and Maintaining Your Jira Application” in Orange County

The Strategy for Jira Tour is back on the road! Our next presentation is a remote one in Anaheim, CA. Rachel will present “Best Practices for Managing and Maintaining Your Jira Application” at the next Orange County Atlassian Community Event, on October 22, 2019.

Speakers: Rachel Wright (Strategy for Jira®), Peter Toudjarski (Botron Software), and Michael March (Isos Technology)

You know if you don’t maintain your Jira application that it can quickly grow out of control. But where do you start? How do you make small improvements without impacting daily business? What should you do if your application is already a bit of a mess?

In this presentation, we’ll address:

  • how to set standards so you don’t have more schemes to maintain than necessary,
  • how to clean up schemes and custom fields when you have too many,
  • how to archive old projects and unneeded issues,
  • and how to track changes and customization requests so you have a record and an audit trail.

Atlassian Community Events are where users meet, learn, network, and share best practices. User groups meet locally and all over the world.  Group members are newbies and veterans who like to “talk shop” about Atlassian software, Agile development, DevOps, software, and related business topics. Attend these events to network with your peers, share solutions, meet Atlassian Solution Partners, get special content from Atlassian, and maybe enjoy a beer or two.

Will you be in Orange County on October 22?  Join us, join an Atlassian Community Event in your city, or start a community group!