The Agile Method has often linked strictly to software development initiatives or digital marketing campaigns. Times have changed, however—now, its effects are reverberating through every corner of the business world, including how IT services are managed in Jira.
Jump to the main takeaways:
CollabNet VersionOne’s 2019 State of Agile Report demonstrates that, while 97% of organizations say they practice agile development methods, only 17% believe they’re doing so at a high level. In other words, only a select few businesses consider themselves truly agile.
Those who can successfully integrate agile best practices into the fabric of their respective organizations are reaping plenty of measurable benefits. They include managing changing requirements (69%), increasing project visibility (65%), improving business and IT alignment, especially on common goals (64%), and boosting delivery speed (63%).
Those KPIs and other related agile performance metrics can all be tied to an optimized Jira instance, especially if you’re using the platform as your IT service desk hub. Becoming a truly agile organization means having efficient project delivery, business value distribution from your IT assets, and overall customer satisfaction with your services.
In this blog post, I’m going to give you a complete run-through of what it takes to be agile in Jira. From defining the concept to outlining some basic best practices, you’ll be able to harness the full potential of your organization’s IT services and take your business to new heights.
Let’s get started!
If you’re going to get the most out of your Jira environment and maximize its value to your organization, you need to have a clear, detailed understanding of not only what it means to be agile, but what being agile means in the context of the platform.
Let’s start with a general definition of the concept via Agile Alliance:
“Agile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment. [...] It’s really about thinking through how you can understand what’s going on in the environment that you’re in today, identify what uncertainty you’re facing, and figure out how you can adapt to that as you go along.”
As a software development methodology, agile runs counter to rigid methods like Waterfall. Instead, it focuses on smaller, iterative improvements over a shorter stretch of time, taking weeks or months instead of years to bring upgrades or improvements to market.
As Atlassian outlines, competition is as much of a driver for this kind of synergy as internal KPIs are:
“With so much competition out there, software development teams must meet customer needs faster [...] Moving to more agile forms of software planning and delivering helps teams do just that. Agile [also] helps organizations in multiple industries improve product quality, time to market, and employee satisfaction.”
The benefits of agile don’t stop at the software development phase. The best agile adoptions happen when organizations are able to connect the technical side of the methodology to short and long-term business goals that affect non-tech-related departments.
In the context of Jira, this means having an infrastructure that’s flexible and progressive enough to allow for project-related pivots that emphasize meeting the evolving needs of your customers. Whether that’s through iterative software development or a streamlined approach to project and service desk management, agile sets the stage for maximum efficiency.
For example, can you imagine if you had to shell out huge sums of money to buy the latest version of Spotify or Netflix every year or two, instead of having the latest updates delivered to your device on a regular basis?
Or, what if it took weeks or months for an IT support agent to simply respond to a ticket request, much less get a crucial customer-facing service back online and functioning in an optimal fashion?
Yeah, not a world I want to live in either.
I’ve talked a lot so far about what being agile in Jira encompasses, but it’s also important to touch on what doesn’t fall under the methodology’s jurisdiction.
Regardless of circumstance, “being agile” isn’t a synonym for:
- Poor project conceptualization and/or planning
- Managerial indecision or an inability to follow through on said plans
- An unwillingness to carry out a business vision in the face of uncertainty
- General sloppiness or disorganization when it comes to project execution
Sounds simple enough, I know. The truth, however, is that more businesses are hurting themselves by letting those and other obstacles get in the way of becoming a truly agile operation—sometimes, without even knowing they’re doing so.
Atlassian’s Martin Suntinger points out as much in this blog post:
“All too often, companies set out with the mission to ‘go agile’ before truly understanding what that means. Cracks begin to show and expectations are missed, leaving everyone questioning the value of ‘going agile’ altogether – and hurting your chances of ever getting there. The truth is that going agile will result in more productive teams and faster delivery of projects, but only if everyone can agree on the rules of the game.”
This brings us to the biggest myth about agile: that it’s about practices first and people second. In fact, it’s really the opposite. Both your customers and internal stakeholders need to influence the parameters of your agile integration in Jira. Otherwise, your approach to implementing agile will lack the purpose needed to make it work long-term.
Similar to our blog about ITSM best practices, being agile in Jira isn’t about following any sort of rulebook to a tee. That said, it’s also not about being complacent or passive in how you apply those principles to your day-to-day business operations. Embracing change is key, as is turning wayward project management into flexible, resolute project workflows.
Check out our blog post on agile change management for more on how you can ease a transitional phase for your Jira operations.
Let’s move from the conceptual to the practical now and go over some action items you can use to create an agile (and thus more efficient) Jira environment for managing your IT assets and services.
Keep in mind that these are jumping-off points and not set-in-stone rules. There’s no single “right way” to implement agile, so take these tips and mold them to meet your organization’s specific objectives, whether those are strictly IT-related or not.
Set Goals That are Ambitious but Realistic
This is often done using scrum, an offshoot of the agile method that prioritizes self-organization, learning through doing instead of talking, and continuous learning through reflection. By setting detailed goals that are ambitious but still plausible, you’ll set the stage for bold, innovative project execution in Jira.
Identify Problems Quickly and Maintain Informational Transparency
Another big part of scrum of daily, all-hands meetings. These are great for keeping all team members on track and ensuring that major problems related to project execution are identified early on and nipped in the bud right away. These meetings should be brief and all stakeholders should come prepared with updates or questions to maximize everyone’s time.
Create a Fast, Reliable Feedback Cycle
What separates great ITSM and ITAM strategies from average-to-mediocre ones is how fast and reliable an organization’s feedback cycle is in Jira. IT service agents need to be able to identify and respond to feedback quickly, both from customers and internal stakeholders. Without a feedback cycle, there is no iterative improvement to your Jira services.
Focus on Iterative, Specialized Service Delivery
At the heart of agile success is how software developers, Jira administrators, and managers alike can use goal-setting, scrum meetings, and consistent feedback to deploy smaller improvements more frequently. This way, you can make the needed adjustments to match and even go beyond the customer expectations attached to your IT services in Jira.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks and Experiment
Because of agile and scrum’s flexibility, you musn’t be afraid to take risks and experiment with new approaches to Jira-based ITSM/ In fact, this goes for any part of your business, not just IT-related initiatives–take Triplebyte’s unprecedented hiring workflow that helped HR dig deeper into a candidate’s competencies.
Establish Consistent KPIs and Learn From the Results
Investing in becoming agile in Jira means working towards achieving certain benchmarks based on predetermined KPIs. Those should be established during the goal-setting phase and progress monitored using reports. Whether a project is deemed a win or a loss, use the experience to inform not just what you work on next, but how you work as an agile team moving forward.
While this blog post hued close to how to be agile within the Jira ecosystem, I’ve only scratched the surface of the online knowledge base that exists about the methodology and how it can make a difference for initiatives in marketing, sales, HR, and much more.
Below is a list of resources I’d recommend as supplemental reading material, but there are more that are only a quick Google search away:
- The Agile Manifesto, which offers a pretty thorough cross-section of what agile stands for philosophically.
- This visualization of common agile practices, mapped out in the style of a subway map.
- Trello’s beginner guide to scrum and agile project management.
- These tips for efficient agile project planning in a Sprint setting, although the core ideas can be applied outside of that framework as well.
- These pearls of wisdom for those new to the world of scrum and agile, straight from a Jedi master!
- This panel discussion about successful agile IT service management
- Atlassian’s library of information about agile best practices that are specific to their software options.
- Finally, Atlassian’s tutorial on how you can learn scrum with Jira software.
If your organization is looking for a tool that boost your productivity using the agile method in Jira, I'd suggest checking out the newest version of the Insight app in the Atlassian Marketplace. From structuring IT assets into a database to mapping dependencies to ensuring that all internal stakeholders stay informed with the latest project information, it's become an indispensable part of the Jira ecosystem.
Click below to get started!
Originally published Jul 30, 2019 2:29:23 PM