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.

Application Review: WatchTower

Imagine being able to view issues from multiple Jira applications on one board.  WatchTower does that easily.  You can view issues and use familiar board features (swimlanes, JQL, and dragging issues to update status) without logging in to multiple Jira applications.  I wish I had know about this add-on sooner!

Author Rozdoum
Marketplace URL https://marketplace.atlassian.com/apps/1217469/watchtower-one-board-for-multiple-jiras
Compatibility Server and Cloud
Version Tested Version 1.2.2, Released 2018-05-08
Tested With Jira Server 7.7.1, Jira Server 7.9.2, and Jira Cloud
Test Date May 23, 2018

First I installed the application in my Server instance.  It was very easy to install and configure.  In minutes I created a new WatchTower board and saw issues from my Cloud instance from inside my Server instance.  From the board, I was able to launch an issue in its source application and update it.  Then, I refreshed the board and the changes were visible immediately.

Two Source (Server + Cloud) Board

In the example screenshot, there are two issues from the “HR” project in my Server instance, and 5 issues from the “DEMO” project in my Cloud instance.

It’s easy to create a new board and add a remote source.  Simply enter a source name and any display preferences.  Then enter your source URL, credentials, and a JQL query to pull the desired data.  Use the handy “Test Connection” button at the bottom to verify your credentials are correct and issue data was found.  Read more

Top of “Add source” overlay

Bottom of “Add source” overlay

I also installed the application in my Cloud instance to test another scenario.  I added the current Cloud instance as a source and also a different remote Cloud instance.  Everything worked as expected from within Cloud.

Two Source (Cloud + Cloud) Board

In the example screenshot, issues are displayed from a Cloud instance named “DEMO” and another Cloud instance named “JA.”  You can name the instances anything you’d like.

I love that you can display issues from only remote sources or from both remote sources and the application you’re using.  It’s great to see a subset of data, a full picture, or to do a comparison.

The add-on is fully documented, but unless you’re new to boards in general, you probably won’t need much configuration or use help.

Use Cases

Here are some ways the add-on helps:

Companies with Multiple Instances

How does a company end up with multiple Jira applications?  Actually, it happens more often than you’d think.  Consider the following:

  • A company acquires another company that has their own set of Atlassian tools
  • A team decides “try out” Jira not knowing other teams already use it
  • One team needs a public instance for customer support, however, other teams need their data inside the firewall

I once worked with a company that had 4 instances!  The goal was to eventually merge them together, but that’s never a quick task.  So how do you give users visibility while waiting?  Whether your end goal is to merge or not merge, having a tool that can help you connect instances is a big help.

Migration Testing

Let’s say you’re working on a Jira merge.  This plugin can help you verify that the data you expect from the source application actually exists in the destination application.  Simply create one board and query for the same data in both applications.

Consultants

This functionality is especially useful for consultants, like me, who regularly work in multiple Jira instances at once.  For example, I track most of my work in my own Jira instance.  Sometimes a company I’m helping assigns an issue to me in their Jira instance, which is perfectly understandable.  Now, I can see all my issues in one place.

Additionally, I store my work tasks in a Server instance and my personal tasks in a Cloud instance.  I do this to separate my different roles and also because it forces me to be aware of changes in each application type.  Now I won’t have to log in to my secondary Cloud instance as often.

Impressions

The WatchTower boards don’t have the Atlassian board feature where you click an issue and details appear to the right of the board.  See screenshot.  But to be honest, I never loved that abbreviated display.  If I want to see issue details I prefer to open the normal issue view page.  That’s the way WatchTower handles it.  Click on an issue ID and the issue opens immediately in a new window.  You can log work on a remote issue directly from the WatchTower board however.

Sharing

Sharing Settings

There are three sharing permissions.  “Browse Board” allows the listed users to view the board and do nothing else.  “Work on Issues” allows users to view the board, log work, and add a work description.  “Transition Issues” allows users to do everything previously mentioned plus change issue status.  This additive behavior was confusing to me at first, but once you know that “Transition Issues” includes the permissions from other levels, it makes sense.  It doesn’t appear that you can grant sharing permissions to groups of users.

One thing to be aware of:  any actions will be logged in the remote system as performed by board owner.

Performance

The WatchTower boards are a little slow to load, but so are regular Jira Scrum and Kanban boards.  Atlassian is making incremental performance improvements on their end.

TIP:  Speed up your boards by limiting their scope.  Use JQL to pull in just the relevant issues, not all project issues.  Definitely filter out issues in “Closed” or “Done” status.

Since performance of any type of board is typically slow, I conducted the following unscientific test.  I created a test Jira Software project and loaded it with sample Jira data, which included a 4 column Kanban board and 10 issues.  I created a WatchTower board to show the exact same data.  Then I used the Chrome browser’s developer tools to compare load times.  Results:

Board
Source
Results
Atlassian Kanban Jira Server 88 requests, 27.7 KB transferred, Finish: 8:06 seconds
WatchTower Jira Server 57 requests, 42.9 KB transferred, Finish: 2:78 seconds
WatchTower Performance Results

The WatchTower board contains less UI elements to load and therefore, with the same data set, in the same instance, loaded faster.  The Atlassian board loads an additional left navigation bar and a lot of javascript, presumably for the right side issue details display feature, which the WatchTower board doesn’t have.  But what happens when you use the power of WatchTower to add a second data source?  I added an additional connection to a Jira Cloud instance, pulling the exact same amount and type of sample data.  Results:

Board
Source
Results
WatchTower Jira Server 57 requests, 42.9 KB transferred, Finish: 2:78 seconds (Example from above)
WatchTower Jira Server + Jira Cloud 83 requests, 44.4 KB transferred, Finish: 3:05 seconds

Adding a second, external Jira source didn’t create a huge delay.  Of course my test was with only 10 issues.  Don’t expect hundreds of issues to display quickly in any board type!  And of course, if any remote instance is already slow or down, you’ll have expected loading issues.  At one point, the connection to one of my sources broke.  It was a quick fix though.  When I loaded the WatchTower board, it alerted me to the problem, and where to fix it.

Bottom line:  Any loading slowness caused by many sources and many issues is easily outweighed by the ability to see all your issues in one view.

Q&A

I talked with Andrey Dekhtyar, CEO at Rozdoum who answered all my questions.  They were:

How many instances can you connect?
There’s currently no limit although in the future the number of instances may be driven by pricing tier.  You only need a license for one instance, not a license for each remote instance you’re connecting to.

What if the instances have different users?  Example:  My username is “rachelw” in app 1 and “rwright” in app 2.
It’s no problem; each user authenticates with their specific system credentials.  TIP:  Avoid using “currentUser()” in your source JQL queries if you have different usernames.

How do you handle different statuses per instance?
Map statuses to columns like you would for a Scrum or Kanban board.  Differing statuses are handled the same way as different statuses between projects in a single instance.  You can also not map certain statuses.  A WatchTower board alerts you if there’s a status not mapped to a column.

Two Instance Column Mapping

What happens when source data changes?
Simply refresh and updated data will be pulled from the source(s).  At this time, there’s no automatic prompt to refresh.

How is security handled?
Account credentials are used once to access the source application and are then stored in a token.  Jira’s built in security mechanisms are respected.  To see issue data you need an authenticated account in the source application.  You cannot view issues you don’t already have permission to see.

What are you working on for the future?
Performance, the ability to display custom fields, and the ability connect to other applications.  Imagine viewing your Jira data alongside your Salesforce or Trello data, for example.  There may also be instance connection issues (like getting through a firewall) and two factor authentication issues to tackle in the future.  Read more

For Users & Board Admins

Look for a new menu, in the main navigation, labeled WatchTower.  All remote boards are in this area.  Scrum and Kanban boards remain under the “Boards” nav link.

Jira Server Nav
Jira Cloud Nav

For Application Admins

This plugin is installed from System > Add-ons > Manage add-ons like other plugins.  There’s only one configuration option for application admins.  It’s located at:  Admin > Add-ons > Configure.   Look for the left sidebar link under the “WatchTower” heading.

Conclusion

This plugin is simple but powerful!  If you have more than one Jira application at work, a work and personal instance, a side Jira administrator gig, or are a consultant, WatchTower can help you quickly and easily view all your issues in one place.  I’m looking forward to not logging into my Cloud instance as often.

Resources

Add-on Vetting
The Jira Strategy Admin Workbook helps you review and vet apps!

There are a plethora of plugins and add-on features available in the Atlassian Marketplace.  But haphazard installs and free trials can leave behind remnants that negatively impact the system after the trial ends.  You should develop specific procedures for handling add-ons and customization requests.  Use our plugin vetting worksheets to craft your procedure.

Reviews

I regularly review applications, add-ons, or plugins that I like!  Have an app users should know about?  Tell me about it at:  info@jirastrategy.com.

 

Baseline Jira Fields List

Jira comes with standard, built-in fields, like “Summary”, “Description”, and “Components” but you can also create additional Custom Fields to track more data.

Your instance starts out with 8-30 fields, depending on whether you have Cloud or Server.  For example, Jira Server 7.7.1 comes with 8 custom fields.  Installing Jira Service Desk on top of Jira Server adds 6 additional fields.  More fields can be created by Jira, by application administrators, or by add-ons, plugins, and applications.

So how do you distinguish the standard fields from the ones created by applications and admins?  Use this baseline list from a clean Jira install.

Standard Jira Fields

From Jira Server 7.1.1

From Jira Cloud

Clean Instance Worksheet

Use this default Jira setup worksheet to compare settings in your  application and see how far you’ve strayed from the default.  Use this template to document defaults in other versions.

Free Worksheet: jirastrategy.com/link/clean-instance

Custom Field Clean Up

Have a lot of custom fields?  Learn how to safely remove them with the Jira Custom Fields & Field Clean Up online course!

Jira Clean-up Time: How to Audit and Tidy Your Jira Instance

Depending on where you are in the world, you may be smack in the middle of spring – as in time for Spring Cleaning.  Even if it isn’t spring, it’s a good idea to occasionally audit your Jira installation, archive elements that aren’t being used and revisit your configuration to ensure that it’s optimized. Below are the basic steps you will need to perform a “Jira Clean-up.”

Jira Clean-up Step 1: Audit

The first step is taking stock of what you have.  To do this, start with the “System info” page and note the number of projects, issues, custom fields, workflows, etc.  Next, visit the Add-ons admin page and the admin area for each scheme and project asset.

Jira System Stats

Rachel Wright offers a worksheet for recording this information.  Alternatively, you could use a spreadsheet or create a form in ProForma. The important thing is that you will want to track the number of Jira assets over time. 

As you go through the admin pages, note assets that are unused (such as a field that doesn’t appear on any screens), duplicated (or perhaps similar enough in purpose that only one field is needed) or inactive.

Once you have a complete picture of your current application, you can set goals for your clean-up.  Along with removing assets that aren’t being used, goals could include reducing the number of workflows for easier support and reducing the number of custom fields for better performance.

Jira Clean-up Step 2: Archive

Before you begin pruning out unnecessary elements, backup and verify your data.  Also, make sure you have a rollback plan in case any of your changes cause unanticipated problems.

Elements

Go to the admin page for each element type and use the “identification” column to weed out unused items.  The Jira Strategy Admin Workbook includes detailed instructions for easily identifying unused elements.  In some cases (for example, if you are eliminating an issue type), you may need to migrate issues before deleting.

Deleting unused items is the first step.  Depending on your goals, you may also want to consolidate custom fields or workflows.  When consolidating fields, consider which field is more widely used, which has a better name, and which can be more easily deleted.  Again, you may need to migrate data before you can delete.

Projects

Jira Project Status in ProForma

Along with pruning down Jira elements, you should also check for stagnant projects.  Use the Jira Strategy Admin worksheet or the ProForma form to identify projects that have an inactive project lead, few issues or no recently created issues.

You have several options for dispatching completed or stagnant projects:

  • Prevent new issues from being created
  • Mark the projects as read only
  • Hide the project
  • Archive the project
  • Export the project

Rachel Wright describes the appropriate use, as well as the implementation steps, for each method in the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook.

Users

Finally, you need to address users who have left the organization.  Don’t users because you want to retain the history of their actions.  Rather, set departed users to “inactive.”  However, before doing so, Rachel recommends the following steps:

  • Move any not closed, assigned issues to the user’s supervisor
  • Move any not closed, reported issues to the user’s supervisor
  • Remove unshared custom dashboards, filters, filter subscriptions and boards
  • Remove favorite designations for dashboards
  • If a dashboard is used by others, move the dashboard to the supervisor or a generic user account
  • Remove favorite designations for filters
  • Move shared filters to the supervisor or a generic user account
  • Reassign project leads to the supervisor
  • Reassign component leads to the supervisor
  • Remove filter subscriptions
  • Remove draft workflows
  • Reassign agile boards to the supervisor
  • Check workflows for any auto assignment transition behaviors
  • Make the user account inactive

Making the time to regularly review and tidy up your application will make your ongoing admin duties easier and will keep your application clean, relevant and high-performing. 

Translations

We're exploring offering the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook in additional languages. Tell us which language(s) you're interested in! Enter your email address (optional) and we'll notify you when a translation is ready.
Which language(s) should the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook be offered in?

JIRA Strategy Admin Workbook

Sample Chapter: Chinese and English

Chinese and English Sample Chapters

More than one Jira administrator has approached me about translating the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook into another language.  But I only speak English and Jira Query Language!  Enter wonderful Kerwin Chung, a Senior DevOps Consultant in China, who’s up to the task.

Kerwin’s translated the sample “Projects” chapter from Jira Strategy Admin Workbook into Chinese!  You can download both the English and Chinese sample chapters for free.  If you’re interested in a full Chinese or other language translation, let us know below!  If there’s enough interest, we’ll translate the whole book!

Translations
We're exploring offering the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook in additional languages. Tell us which language(s) you're interested in! Enter your email address (optional) and we'll notify you when a translation is ready.
Which language(s) should the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook be offered in?

About the Translator

Kerwin Chung, ACP-SW, ACP-JA
Atlassian DevOps Senior Consultant at Cenoq in China

The reason why I love Jira is its expandability.

It is the best tool for the DevOps toolchain. Lots of companies in China use a lot of open source tools but they use only one commercial tool, which is Jira.

I am proud of being a Jira evangelist. I enjoyed using Jira to organize my own job and am very happy to introduce Jira to my customers and friends. Everyone loves it.

Five Steps to a Successful Jira Upgrade

For most Jira Server users, an upgrade is a major activity that requires careful planning.  What is your upgrade plan?  How will you prepare?  How will you ensure success?  How often will you upgrade?

I approach upgrades as five high level steps:

Step 1:  Research

Conduct all pre-upgrade “what changed” and compatibility research

This very important first step can determine the success of your upgrade.  Start by reviewing the retrospective from the last upgrade so you can improve the upgrade process and plan for issues encountered in the last event.   Also, it’s a good time to make sure your emergency rollback plan is still accurate.

Next, read all of Atlassian’s “Release Notes” and “Upgrade Notes” for every version between yours and the one you’re upgrading too.

  TIP
Look for changes that might impact the application, users, or user behavior.  Look for bugs you’ve been waiting for fixes for.

Also read the Security Advisories, End of Support announcements, and End of Life policy.

  TIP
Ask your REST API and database users to read the Atlassian documentation too, so they can prepare for any changes needed in their applications.

After, verify the compatibility of your hardware, operating system, database,  java version, add-ons, and any internally developed customizations.  Resources:  Jira Requirements, Supported Platforms, and Checking Add-On Compatibility

Finally, double-check that your license is valid through the upgrade testing period and you are not about to reach your license limit.   You don’t want license issues to delay your upgrade.

Step 2:  Pre-Upgrade Tasks (Test Environment)

Copy all production data to lower environments, update plugins, upgrade and test

  RECOMMENDATION
Don’t have a test environment?  Remedy that issue first!  Ideally you’ll have a secondary server instance but if that’s not possible at least create a local instance on your personal computer.  Make sure the resources powering your test environment match your production environment as much as possible.  Make sure the software version and configuration are an exact copy of production.

  RECOMMENDATION
Before upgrading your test environment, be sure to copy all of your production data to the environment.  It’s not enough to test an upgrade on a vanilla instance; you need to test it with your specific configuration data!

By now you should know which version you’re able to upgrade to.  Download the installer file, stop the application, and run the binary.  Document the installation process, so you can repeat the steps in production.  Review all configuration files, paths, custom files, and settings for accuracy.  Also check the logs for major problems.

If all is well on startup, it’s time to update the Universal Plugin Manager, other add-ons, and re-index.  After the re-index, start your regression testing.  Make sure all basic application functions and new features are working as expected.

 MISTAKE
During testing, I discovered one of my heavily used plugins wasn’t compatible with the upgrade version and had moved from free to paid.  I clicked the “Buy Now” button on the “Manage add-ons” page, assuming it would take me to a shopping cart with pricing information.  Instead, it immediately installed an unlicensed version of the new plugin code!  All of our workflows broke and I was inundated by reports of license errors from users.  I had to quickly generate a free trial code to restore functionality and sheepishly contact the purchasing department to secure emergency funding for the new plugin.  I did all this in production!  #facepalm

Finally, contact your REST API and database users so they can verify all is well with their applications.  Also, compile any “new features” documentation to share with end users.  Conduct an end user and project-level admin demo if UI or feature changes are substantial.

Step 3:  Upgrade Preparation

Line up support resources, schedule production upgrade activities, and announce plans

At this point, you are confident in the stability of your test environment and ready to schedule the production event.  Start by identifying an upgrade team.  Who will execute the upgrade?  Who will “smoke test” the major functions?  Who can you contact if there’s emergency?

After you have your team assembled, pick an upgrade time outside of peak use hours.  Communicate the upgrade date, time, and expected duration to users and any support teams, like the company help desk or network operations center.  Don’t surprise these teams with “Jira is down!” reports during the upgrade window!

  TIP
Use Jira’s announcement banner function to communicate upgrade plans.

Sample Code:
<div style=”border: 1px solid #9e1c1c; background-color: #fff; padding: 10px;”>Upgrade Outage
The upgrade will start on [day], [date] at [time] [timezone] and conclude before the start of business on [day], [date].  During the upgrade window: (1) you WILL NOT be able to login to JIRA, (2) any changes attempted WILL NOT be retained, (3) API calls will fail, and (4) issue creation via email will fail.  For a list of new features and fixes, see our JIRA Upgrade notes.

Download sample wording for your entire upgrade process from the Strategy for Jira store.

Step 4:  Upgrade Tasks (Production)

Backup production data, update add-ons, upgrade and test

  RECOMMENDATION
Hopefully you’re already taking regular (automated) backups of your database and file system.  But when’s the last time you verified that your most recent backup occurred and is actually usable?  Do that before proceeding.

At last, you’ve planned as much as possible, know what to expect, and are ready for the upgrade event!  It’s time to repeat the installation steps you practiced in your test environment including:  installation, add-on updates, and regression testing.  Use the notes you took in step 2 and be sure to address any differences that exist in the production environment.

Step 5:  Communication

Announce upgrade and communicate changes and benefits to user base

Finally, it’s time to announce the upgrade to users and complete post-upgrade steps.

  RECOMMENDATION
Use Jira’s announcement banner function to communicate the upgrade is complete.  Include a link to the “new features” documentation you compiled in step 2.

Review any previous trouble reports, in case the upgrade remedied them, and be ready to respond to new reports.  Check in with your REST API and database users, to make sure all is well with their apps.

Finish any outstanding tasks, compile your retrospective, and make any needed plan updates in preparation for the next upgrade.  Also be sure to thank your upgrade team!

Detailed Upgrade Plan

Jira Detailed Upgrade Plan

A well-crafted plan can help ensure upgrade success.  Download the sample upgrade plan worksheet.  Customize it to fit your needs and environment.  This worksheet may contain more or fewer steps than necessary for your situation, but it gives you a great starting point.  Don’t forget to update and improve the plan after each upgrade.

A test instance and a healthy application are the foundation of a successful upgrade event.  You’ll want to upgrade often for the newest features, fixes, and performance improvements.  Happy upgrading!

Best Practices for Creating a Custom Workflow

If you’re on a software team, you probably use the default Jira workflow or something close to it.  But what if you’re on a business team or the default options don’t fit the way you want to work?  Then it’s time to create a custom workflow.

A workflow is a standard set of statuses (steps) and transitions (movement between steps) that each issue follows in its lifecycle.  Statuses take an idea from “conception” to “completion”.  Each Jira project can have its own workflow and each issue type within a project can have its own workflow as well.  For example, the Legal team has a specific process for contract review and a general process for all “other” types of requests.  Their Jira project might include issue types like the standard “Task” and a custom type like “Contract.”

  • The “Task” issue type has a very simple workflow, with the statues “To Do” and “Done.”
  • The “Contract” issue type requires additional statuses for approval and execution steps that occur in a contract review process.

  RECOMMENDATION
In the beginning, keep workflows as simple as possible, until you’ve uncovered a deficiency or process step that needs special attention.

Custom Workflow Tips

The steps below outline the best practices for creating a workflow:

  1. Before creating a new custom workflow, have the user explain their real life process to you.  The workflow should be as simple as possible.
  2. First, draw (preferably on paper) a workflow to ensure it makes logical sense and all forward and back transitions are accounted for.  You can use the “Custom Workflow Documentation” template in the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook or in ThinkTilt’s Process Template library as a way to communicate and document workflows.
  3. After drawing the workflow, write the workflow out in words. This can uncover additional needs you may have neglected to draw or consider.
  4. Include logical backwards transitions so users can self-manage issues.
  5. Give users options to abandon or stop progress on issues at appropriate times.
  6. Give project-level administrators appropriate options to fix improperly transitioned issues.
    • Example:  Include a “reopen” transition button in the final status to address issues that were improperly closed.
  7. Use transition conditions sparingly.  If a condition is needed, set the restriction to a project role, rather than to an individual, for easy maintenance.
  8. Use transition validators and post functions to minimize the amount of manual work a user has to do.
    • Automatically assign an issue to the reporter when moving to an “information needed” or “verification needed” type of status.
    • Automatically assign an issue to the Project Lead in a “triage” type of status.
    • Automatically move a parent issue to “In Progress” when a child issue starts progress.
  9. Name your statuses:
    • Name statuses so they reflect the current state.  Good status names immediately tell a user what is occurring and what state an issue is in the workflow process.  For example, “Pending Review”, “In Review”, “Being Reviewed”, “Awaiting Review”, etc.
    • Make any status names short and easy to understand what is happening.  Long, multi-word names are harder to query and may be truncated on certain screens.
  10. Name your transitions:
    • A Transition name should be short and reflect an action taken.
    • Good transition names immediately tell a user what action to perform to progress an issue.  Example:  For an issue in “Pending Review” status, a good transition name would be:  “Review Complete.”  If you need a “pass/fail” situation, where an action must pass a test before a transition can occur, good transition names would be:  simply “Pass” and “Fail.”
    • Bad transition names confuse the user about how to move forward.  Example:  “Review.”  A transition button should signify the start or end of an action.  The word “Review” is ambiguous.  If a user clicks “Review,” does that mean they should start a review or that the review has already occurred?

It’s easy to customize workflows and therefore easy to go overboard, creating more structure than you really need.

Phased Approach

It’s certainly possible to capture every little step in your work process and build that into a complex and long Jira workflow.  An alternative however, is a phased approach.  Simply break your process into phases that represent a collection of smaller steps.  The phases represent key decision points. An issue can’t be moved to another phase until the requirements of that phase have been satisfied.  Your Jira status represents the entire phase, rather than a status for every small step in the phase.

Example:  Your company is signing a partnership agreement 
The contracts process requires a review of the contract by both parties and potential edits before final execution.  It’s a predictable process requiring a short workflow like:

Open > In Review > In Execution > Closed

Sample Legal Contracts Workflow

  TIP
A generically named status like “In Review” is better than a legal-specific name like “In Contract Review”.  Other Jira projects can use the generic version regardless of what type of thing needs review.  You want to share assets and schemes between projects as much as possible.

The Legal team is doing many things in the background that may not need to be reflected in the workflow.  For example:

In the “In Review” phase, the Legal team is reviewing the contract, researching legal topics, communicating with internal teams, negotiating terms with the external company, etc.

In the “In Execution” status, the CEO is finding his favorite signing pen, both companies are trading paperwork, and your Legal team is entering the final result into their contracts database.

In the above example, is it useful to create a status for every step that occurs in the contracts process?  Do you need to track how many times the contract was modified during the review process?  Do you need to track which parties have signed the agreement so far?  If the answer is “no” a phased approach may be more useful.  Also, it might be more useful to track signature collection in a custom field.

  RECOMMENDATION
If you’re not going to report on something (ex: “How many contracts have been signed by us?” in the above example) that status or custom field may not be necessary or useful.

Don’t over-complicate your custom workflow with steps and statuses you don’t really need.  Your end users will thank you for it.

System, Application & Project Admins: Who Does What in Jira?

I was recently asked:  “If Jira project admins can now edit their own workflows and screens, what’s left for the application admin to do?”  Plenty!  Application admins are still very much needed, and their work extends way beyond managing a Jira project.  Further, the new project admin abilities aren’t as liberating as they may sound.  Let’s examine the types of admin users.

Types of Jira Admin Users

There are many different types of Jira admin users and responsibilities vary depending on the type.  Admin users generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • System Level Administrators – Users with the ability to perform absolutely every Jira administration function
  • Application Level Administrators – Users with permissions to perform most Jira administration functions
  • Project Owners or Leads – A project’s single point of contact, often responsible for project strategy decisions
  • Project Level Administrators – Users with permissions to manage settings for individual Jira projects.  (Example: Components, project users, etc.)

While the admin types have distinct abilities, a user can be multiple types of administrators at the same time.  For example, an application administrator may also be the owner of a specific Jira project.   An application administrator could be a system administrator as well if those roles have been combined.  For the differences between application administrator and system administrator permissions, see the “Managing Global Permissions” documentation.

Jira Admin Responsibilities and Abilities

Each admin level has a distinct set of responsibilities.  Below we’ll address the four admin types as two levels:  system/application and project.

System Level Administrators & Application Level Administrators

These administrators need to consider the health of the application, impact to the application, and maintenance implications for each decision and change they make.  These admins need to be chosen carefully, audited regularly, and approved by the application owner.

Application admins typically have the following responsibilities:

  1. Assist the Jira Advisory Board in maintaining established standards
  2. Communicate standards, procedures, changes, and maintenance outages to your Jira Ambassador team and end users
  3. Assist end users with user-specific settings
  4. Assist Project Level Administrators with managing settings and maintaining their projects
  5. Complete approved customization requests or suggest alternative solutions within established standards
  6. Manage users, groups, and access
  7. Create and configure new projects, schemes, and assets
  8. Remove projects, schemes, and assets when they are no longer needed
  9. Perform application upgrades
  10. Vet, install, and upgrade apps, plugins and integrations
  11. Check logs for and address errors
  12. Develop and maintain documentation and end user training materials
  13. Monitor and ensure the overall health of the application

Download this list as a worksheet at: jirastrategy.com/link/admin-responsibilitiesTip:  Turn this worksheet into a Jira Admin job description!

Project Owners & Project Level Administrators

Each Jira project has a listed “Owner” or “Lead” who is sometimes also the default issue assignee.   Additionally, individual projects can have an unlimited number of administrators.  As  such, there’s an opportunity to involve additional users in project-level maintenance and  management.

Project admins typically have the following responsibilities:

  1. Set and maintain Components, Versions, and other project-specific settings in accordance with established standards
  2. Manage users and groups in the “Users and roles” area
  3. Routinely triage (or appoint a triage person) to assign and review issues as they are created
  4. Maintain the data and accuracy of data in the project space
  5. Report any project issues or customization needs to the Jira Support team
  6. Respond to questions or approvals requested by the Jira Support team

additional Editing Abilities

Additionally, project admins have limited workflow editing abilities in Jira version 7.3 and limited screen editing abilities in version 7.4.  Also in 7.4 these abilities can be enabled or disabled through Permission schemes.

Project admins can only utilize assets that already exist.  For example, they can add an existing status to their workflow or an existing custom field to a screen, but they cannot remove a status, create or rename statuses, or create new custom fields.  They can modify transitions, but not edit transition screens or transition behaviors (properties, conditions, validators, or post functions).  Further, these editing abilities only apply to projects where the workflow and the screens are not shared with other projects.  If you’ve been sharing project configurations, as highly recommended in the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, it’s possible that few or none of your project admins will have these new editing abilities.  Additionally, the default workflow and default system screen still cannot be edited by anyone.  Read more about these features in the 7.3 and 7.4 release notes.

How to check for Workflow Editing Abilities

  1. Use the Admin UI
    If you have few workflows, you can manually look for ones that are only used by one project.  In the Jira Admin UI, visit Admin > Issues > Workflows.  Click the “View” link next to each workflow.  The following page will show how many projects use the workflow.
  2. Use Atlassian’s Script (Jira Server Only)
    Atlassian created an admin helper script to detect workflows and administrators impacted by the 7.3 change.  The script requires node.js and you must be able to execute it on your server.
  3. Use the Database (Jira Server Only)
    This method is not perfect but it got me to the data I needed.  Work with your database team to improve the sample queries or format them for your database type.

First, I counted the number of projects used by each workflow, looking for any that are not shared (those with a project count of 1.)

Sample Query:  SELECT wse.workflow, count(p.pname) AS `Projects Using Workflow` FROM nodeassociation n INNER JOIN project p ON p.ID = n.source_node_ID INNER JOIN workflowscheme ws on ws.ID = n.SINK_NODE_ID INNER JOIN workflowschemeentity wse on wse.scheme = ws.ID WHERE n.source_node_entity = ‘Project’ and n.sink_node_entity = ‘WorkflowScheme’ GROUP BY wse.workflow ORDER BY `Projects Using Workflow`, workflow;

Next, I retrieved project details for each of the not shared workflows.  I mainly wanted to know the project id, project name, and lead.

Sample Query: SELECT p.id AS project_id, p.pname AS project_name, p.lead AS project_lead, ws.name AS project_associated_workflow_scheme, wse.workflow AS workflow_scheme_associated_workflow FROM project p LEFT OUTER JOIN nodeassociation na ON na.source_node_id = p.id AND na.sink_node_entity = ‘WorkflowScheme’ LEFT OUTER JOIN workflowscheme ws ON ws.id = na.sink_node_id LEFT OUTER JOIN workflowschemeentity wse ON wse.scheme = ws.id LEFT OUTER JOIN jiraworkflows jw ON jw.workflowname = wse.workflow WHERE  wse.workflow = ‘Workflow Name 1’ OR wse.workflow = ‘Workflow Name 2’ …

I put all the info into a spreadsheet for further analysis.  From this abbreviated workflow and project list, I was able to examine individual project settings, like screens and permission schemes, to determine who would be able to take advantage of additional project admin features.

Deciding exactly what you want project admins to do may require experimentation as you adjust to the possibilities of Jira 7.3 and beyond. Ultimately, you’ll want to maintain a balance between providing ease and flexibility while still maintaining standards and control at the system/application level.

What other duties do application/system and project admins have at your company?  What’s your strategy for communicating responsibilities to users?  Can you improve any of the workflow editing ability detection methods?  Add your thoughts to the comment section below.