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Beyond Software Development – Getting the Most Out of Atlassian and Jira for Your Business Projects

Developers love Jira. An estimated 89,000 organisations rely on the Atlassian software, mainly using it to manage projects in software development. But how can Jira be utilised for non-software projects? The agile approach is more and more becoming a topic of boardroom discussion and the number of CEOs who no longer regard Scrum as “rocket science” is growing constantly. Nerd talk at C-level? We’re not quite there yet, but let’s have a look at some ideas to help transfer the language of the Jira world into the world of business projects step by step.

1. Describe Your Scope and Requirements in the Backlog

The first step is to define your project scope with the help of Epics. With Epics, you describe what should be done, similar to a chapter in a book (Example: Implement a new supply chain strategy in Brazil). In the second step, you break down your epics into stories, which define more precisely what needs to be done (Example: Build a new warehouse in Sao Paulo). The sum of all stories make an epic, the sum of all epics defines the project scope. The backlog is the task pipeline for your project team and gathers all stories. This is where all the requirements for your project are listed and constantly updated. It contains all the activities your project team has to carry out to achieve the overall project goals. According to Scrum, the product owner is responsible for maintaining the backlog. In a business project, for example, a project manager could do this and then prioritise the tasks together with their project team.

2. Describe Your Backlog Entries with User Stories

With the help of user stories, the entries in the backlog are formulated using everyday language and from the perspective of the user. A user story describes which characteristics of the result need to be fulfilled in order for the customer to be happy. In the case of a business project, these characteristics could be replaced by figures. For example, a concrete increase in sales that is to be achieved through a new sales campaign project.

3. Achieve Quick Results in Short Sprints

The available time frame is normally fixed in a sprint, whether that is two weeks, three weeks etc. The question to be posed in a sprint-planning meeting is: What can be developed in the upcoming sprint and how will the tasks be organised? In doing so, draw the project tasks from your backlog and plan for the next sprint. Deliverables produced in a sprint should be measurable, testable and deployable. Sprints should be as short as possible in order to minimise wasting resources in case of failures. Short intervals and steep learning curves are the motto.

4. Keep Track of Progress with Daily Stand-ups

Project teams come to stand-up meetings to discuss progress and any challenges for just a few minutes. While the scrum master facilitates the meeting, you as a product owner should listen intently and every team member should have a say. The purpose of this meeting is to share information and investigate blockages. The style of the stand-up is informal, but make sure you listen carefully to where the challenges lie so that you can quickly introduce improvement measures and provide support. 

5. Find Out What to Improve in the Retrospective

A retrospective comes at the end of a sprint. Your project team can look back on their approach and the progress that they achieved, as well as discuss ways of improving the project work in the next sprint. Candour and honesty are the values that should underlie each meeting. Therefore mistakes are not really a problem, but rather present the opportunity of working even more efficiently in the next sprint.

6. Spot Risks and Dependencies

One of the challenges of working in Agile mode with Jira and other tools is spotting the risks and dependencies across teams, projects and issues. Atlassian software takes the first step into improving this visibility, which is great. Full transparency and visualization of dependencies is something which can be fundamental to your project success. Especially in business projects these risks and dependencies are high. swarmOS Analyzer is developed exactly to analyze your dependencies and visualize all kinds of risks and bottlenecks by predefined business queries.

By the way, we presented swarmOS Analyzer at the Atlassian Summit, which recently took place in Silicon Valley. We would like to use the valuable feedback that we received from visitors to our booth as an opportunity to take a brief look at the most important features. swarmOS Analyzer provides you with a complete overview of your business projects in a visually unique interface. With access to Jira, swarmOS Analyzer presents you with all the tasks, resources and links that have the greatest impact on your project success. Hurdles, resource shortages and escalations will be visible at a glance. The swarmOS Analyzer interface, which is modelled on our neural system, can quickly and easily analyse the weakest links in the chain of your dependencies, all without loosing visibility of the connections. By scrolling you can get back to the starting point in a few milliseconds. Let’s put it this way: swarmOS Analyzer is the Google Maps for your Jira world.

free trial version is now available for download on the Atlassian marketplace for all Jira users. Come and test swarmOS Analyzer today – we would love to hear your feedback! By the way, we are currently developing a server version of swarmOS Analyzer that can run on your own hardware for all those organisations that use the Jira Software Server or the Jira Software Data Center. Register here for our beta programme. The server version will be available during the course of the year.