Foundation and background
Many business are content with average project management, low transparency, and less than optimal efficiency in daily business. Highly educated and motivated employees work on excellent strategies and goals to their best knowledge. And how? Take a look at your daily business: do Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook e-mails rule? There are dozens of different versions of all these files, which are constantly changed and distributed via e-mail.
Some managers are continuously surprised by the results they achieve, despite the lack of structure, consequence, and efficiency in operation.
With JIRA, //SEIBERT/MEDIA presents an Australian software solution from Atlassian, which has the potential to solve these situations. Better project management, more transparency, and less redundancy are just a few of the advantages of the modern and agile software.
This article demonstrates, why you should introduce JIRA in your business and which stumbling blocks are common. We believe that professional support through an experienced service provider is helpful, important and advisable. Read on to learn about the opportunities and our experience. Feel free to send us an inquiry!
Advantages of a central task management
There are many reasons for using JIRA and a central task management in your business. These are the most important reasons:
- Overview over all tasks in the business
You know the situation, you would like to get an overview of a current project and there simply is no reliable list. You then have difficulties in answering the customer's question "Can we meet the budget?" and may have to estimate or guess. Imagine, you could answer after only a few minutes of research. For any project in your company. Many managers believe this to be utopian. It is not.
- Increased transparency for all employees
A successful task management system improves that situation even more. The transparency described above is not only available to managers, but to all employees, who have access (hopefully many). Everyone will be able to tell early on, whether the project is a success.
- Control and tracking of tasks
Most likely, tasks in your business are delegated verbally in meetings, discussed and delegated by phone or e-mail. There is barely any other way. It gets really complicated, when you want to find out, whether really all the tasks that where given to you or that you delegated are being executed. Does it work for you? Honestly? For all your projects? Unlikely.
- Guarantee, that decisions are being executed
Many managers wish they could concentrate on making decisions and could simply rely on their execution. A dream, right? Especially in big corporations, especially those employees are efficient, who continuously check in, remind, are present with their inquiries, and thus are not only decision makers but also workflow manager. Not very efficient, is it?
- Control lead time and discover trouble spots
With JIRA you finally know which tasks are lagging behind and why. You intervene where necessary. You quickly and easily see what is working well and what is problematic.
- Get rid of excuses and enable responsibility
You know all the "ifs" and "buts" and "excuses" when a project didn't go well? What if a project manager could no longer say: "If only somebody had told me" or "If only I had known that John was taking over from David the whole time" or "It was all planned out perfectly in the beginning. Now it will be more expensive. It's unfortunate that we only now know, but it's still worth it…".
- No more tasks that fall through
"Oh, unfortunately we forgot about that." and "Yeah, unfortunately we ran out of time." is something you will no longer hear with JIRA. It will sound more like: "We will drop A and B. We won't have time. Ok?" or "The budget does not allow for Y and Z. But we got C and D done. That was more important. If we want to get Y and Z done, we will need to drop G and H. What's the plan?"
- Strong and reliable process control with strict quality assurance
Have results been presented to a customer, even though you wanted to review them beforehand? It happens to the best employees. In a useful workflow, no tasks are completed and turned over, without quality control. You manage the workflow according to your requirements.
- Finally plan capacities correctly and reliably
Clearly you think about how to best use your employees time. Maybe you are even working with an Excel table to plan. It's a good start. But what if, instead of estimating resources, you were to work with actual numbers? And what if you could even check afterwards, whether your actual numbers were accurate? A central task management and reliable work load numbers are a foundation for exact capacity planning.
- Market leader in agile project management
You want to use or try out agile project management. JIRA is by far the leading, most matured and intuitive system. Just take a look around. Thorough research should yield the same result.
- Operative project management with "natural" reporting from daily business
Many projects are initially planned out perfectly. There are good looking GANTT charts and convincing budget overviews. A lot is planned in Microsoft Project. Once the project starts however, detailed reporting will often come to an end. It is hard to track. JIRA is especially strong throughout the project's development. You will not create GANTT charts. Interfaces to MS Project are there, but rarely used. JIRA shines more in the middle of a project than before it starts.
The list of arguments and advantages is less than complete. Let us know if you have questions or suggestions about central task management.
Stumbling blocks during integration
Get started? When reading the list of arguments and advantages above, you would think that integrating JIRA is a no-brainer. But you can't simply just get started. There are several stumbling blocks, some tricky ones, and you can fall hard. There are projects that start out with lots of energy and then die or only prevail in technically versatile parts of the business (IT, software development, …) It's unfortunate but absolutely avoidable.
Here are the most relevant stumbling blocks, that we continuously see in our consulting projects. Please avoid:
- Degree of change in culture is underestimated: bureaucracy and effort
While a JIRA launch is being discussed in theory, everybody is excited. There are no arguments against it and it seems to be important to everybody to introduce such a system. There may be discussions about the right system, but the consequences of the initial enthusiasm are more important.
Few realize, how inconvenient a central task management system is initially. Tasks that used to be delegated in conversation, calls, meetings and e-mails will be delegated in the same way tomorrow. In addition, you will now need to track the tasks in the central task management system (i.e. JIRA). It is extremely critical: there will be additional bureaucratic hurdles to your value chain. More work in many different parts of the business. It will feel unproductive to many employees. It just won't be done. Your project managers will need to sweat. It just won't be done on it's own. As much as everybody would like it to.
- Lack of an organized concept for the use of JIRA
Do you know how you would like to use JIRA for task management? Only if you have a clear vision of its use and can communicate that to your colleagues, you can get there together. Is the goal realistic? What do your colleagues think? Are you working on it together, or do others believe that different paths should be taken? Create a consistent and clear vision of where you want to be with JIRA. Central system for the whole company? Walkthrough for the whole department? Solution for specific projects? Pilot project for evaluation?
- All or nothing. There is no successful half hearted JIRA launch
No matter how small your focus. JIRA needs to be launched completely. All or nothing. A half hearted launch is in most cases the death of the system. That doesn't mean that you can't make mistakes or that lack of discipline will harm your project. The symptoms and challenges are common and known. But they cannot be tolerated long term.
- Lack of strong backing from the top
If the management is not convinced of the project, there is only one recommendation: don't start! You will never be able to implement such fundamental changes as are necessary for the successful launch of a central task management system without the support of the decision makers. Keep fighting and convince them. Take charge. Promise results. But win the strong and full support from the top. This may be the biggest stumbling block of this list. Without this support you will possibly lose in the end. That can be very frustrating. Save yourself the stress. You may be lucky and convince the management during the project. But a project should not be a gamble, right?
- No pilot project - think big, start small, move fast
Many businesses think big, start small and move fast to create quick and convincing results for the big goal. Do that. We will help you. A broad JIRA launch is rarely successful in a big bang strategy.
- Lack of discipline and toleration
Inconsistent use of the software and no opportunity for discipline are often the beginning. And many times it is the beginning of the end. An example may be that not all tasks are tracked completely. The ones that are not tracked will be neglected and explode. And often the blame is on JIRA. It is critical to tolerate such avoidable challenges. Here is where you will need courage, endurance and seniority to continue to speak with project managers and colleagues to remind and urge them. You will need the management for escalation.
- Alternative strategies in project management
Many project management systems face the challenge that project manager use other media to track tasks, such as e-mail, Excel, MS Project, Outlook, Lotus Notes (databases) or wikis. JIRA is not exempt. Actively tackle this situation. Question the reasons and try to find sustainable solutions. JIRA is strong in usability, functionality and accessibility.
- Performance control of employees I
The system is sometimes misinterpreted as the employees enemy and thus politically fought. Especially workers' representation often times see challenges in JIRA. It may be reasonable to perceive risks in high service transparency. At the end of the day, however, it is also a question of organizational and systemic definition and configuration. JIRA is not an enemy of the workers' representation. That is a tale. However, if the system is launched without support of the workers' representation, you can expect headwinds. You don't need that.
- Performance control of employees II
It is therefore not a great idea to evaluate the employees performance with JIRA. It actually won't work without active participation of the employees. It is more of an attempted abuse, which fails when that goal becomes apparent. To work to its full potential, JIRA will need constant participation by all employees. You lose that, you lose your control.
- Licensing of the software directly with the developer instead with a partner
It's a rather small point. However, //SEIBERT/MEDIA offers a 10% discount on Atlassian licenses such as JIRA to its clients. Licensing with us versus licensing with the developer has the same characteristics and additional benefits. A simple and clear decision. Find more info on our page Purchasing Atlassian licenses with //SEIBERT/MEDIA - Your Advantages.
- No licensing of JIRA Agile
Another minor issue, that is often based on the desire to keep the budget: you should license JIRA Agile even if you don't plan on establishing project management processes. Buy it now, if you don't already have it. As mentioned above, you will receive a discount of 10% and further benefits from //SEIBERT/MEDIA. We will gladly explain to you, why JIRA Agile is important.
- No clue about workflows and no settings
Many JIRA systems are used without adjusting any processes or workflows. Thus chances are lost. The system may appear to be unmanageable and stubborn. On the other hand, quality assurance processes and safety may be lacking. It won't fit well in that case. It doesn't lead to contentment. Yes, workflow configuration is pretty complex and a real challenge. But there are professionals who can help you. Or you can use the excellent software documentation if you want to familiarize yourself with it.
- No understanding of rights and everybody can do everything or nobody anything
It speaks for itself: Not everything in the business should be accessible to everyone. You don't leave the cash register or personal files out and accessible to anybody. To have no rights settings in JIRA is as if there was only one lock for the complete business. No safe, no door locks, no locked entrance door.
- Uncertainty about useful extensions and non use (i.e. no e-mail import,…)
Is it possible to create, complete and comment on JIRA issues by e-mail? You don't know how that works? Quite common, but wasted potential. This potential is not only reduced to e-mails. There are hundreds of high quality and matured extensions for JIRA. Many of those will be very useful for your business.
- Rotting JIRA issues are tolerated
We already spoke about a lack of discipline above. Project manager will need to check, validate and update tasks in their projects regularly. It is so simple, that often times it is not systematically controlled.
- "Reading the JIRA" is not executed, supported and cultivated
The Australian software developer Atlassian themselves coined the term "reading the JIRA" and indicates with it, that employees and manager should keep up to date on what's going on in the business by reading comments, changes and updates in own projects in the activity stream. It is interesting and relevant. Give it a try.
- Anybody can manipulate workflows, without knowing how to set them up
A problem in configuration of rights has led to a complete stop in many JIRA instances. Make sure, only those people do the configuration who are supposed to do it. No business needs 30 JIRA administrators. That is a problem, not transparency.
- Customer access without a concept
Access is granted to customers without having the rights configured professionally. Just don't do it.
- Employees don't close completed tasks
Issues in JIRA are not closed and remain open way past their completion. Simple and simple to solve. Almost omnipresent.
Quite a few stumbling blocks, right? There are more. Talk to us about your challenges and involve us in your JIRA project. We look forward to helping you with our experience and our competence.
Further info about Atlassian JIRA
With Jira, //SEIBERT/MEDIA presents an Australian software solution from Atlassian