Like most Jira administrators, I started my journey with Atlassian by chance and was mostly self-taught. In addition to figuring out how to administer the system itself, I had to learn what it took to make Jira work for the business. Here are three lessons I had to learn the hard way (so that you don't have to...).
Say No to the Project Manager Asking for a Workflow with 70 Statuses
At some point, you are guaranteed to come across this request. It's typically a must-have requirement, crucial to the success of the team and integrity of reporting. And as a Jira administrator, your job is to say no.
After you say no, sit down with the client and review their process. Review how the tickets move around. Discuss the reporting needs of their stakeholders. Chances are that you can trim down the initial ask to at least 10 statuses, which isn't a bad start.
But the true value of going through this exercise is gaining a deeper understanding of your client's business processes and needs. No matter how well their Jira project is configured, it doesn't exist in a vacuum. It interacts with people, processes, and other technology. Connecting the Jira configuration with those elements is key not only to avoid managing a 70-step workflow, but for making Jira work to the best of its ability.
Not Everything Has to be Automated Right Away
Automation is great, but not when you launch too much of it at once. This is especially true if you're launching a new project or creating global automation rules.
You definitely don't want your users scratching their heads as their tickets automatically update depending on any of the 15 factors you considered in your automation logic. You also want to avoid overlapping automation creating a loop, which drains your server resources or corrupts ticket data. And last but not least, you want to avoid automation for the sake of automation.
So how do you automate successfully?
- Do it in small chunks
- Communicate with your end users—explain what's automated, why it's automated, and how often it runs
- Have a plan for testing, monitoring, and upgrading the automation
What Makes a Jira Instance Good?
The best Jira instances are not the ones with the cleanest configuration, heaviest automation, or a multitude of available apps.
They're the ones where their users are comfortable with them and use them as a multiplier for the business value they deliver.
Because of that, the greatest ROI you will get from your efforts as a Jira administrator is in teaching your users how to properly utilize the platform. Helping users understand how different reports reflect on their progress, teaching them how to properly capture business data using custom fields, or simply teaching them about lesser-known features will help them understand how Jira drives their day-to-day delivery and value proposition.
To be a great Jira administrator, you must consider your role as a business partner:
- You're not just configuring Agile boards, you're enabling Agile teams to better measure their delivery lifecycle and improve planning capabilities.
- You're not just setting up reporting dashboards, you're helping surface important business metrics that aid in making decisions.
- You're not just setting a up a new service desk project for a team, you're helping them find better ways to service their clients.
Jira at its core is a collaboration tool, and—as its administrator—making it easier for users to collaborate should be your end goal.