During Team ’22, Atlassian’s annual flagship conference, Atlassian announced the launch of Atlas, a new service for cross-functional team updates. Atlas is a product some of you may already be familiar with, as it was previously offered as a beta under the names “Team Central” and “Town Square.”
What is Atlassian Atlas?
Most organizations have many teams and silos, and communication within these teams and silos is generally excellent. However, communication starts to break down when communicating between silos, teams, and various levels within the organizational hierarchy. In large organizations, communication tends to flow upwards within the hierarchy, then over to another silo, with information possibly trickling down in some form.
Atlas was built to flatten these classic hierarchical communication structures, putting the right tools in the hands of those at the source of information: the teams themselves. This allows you to build a web of communication for quicker and more accurate dissemination of information.
How Atlas Works
Projects and Goals organize content in Atlas. You might think of these in Jira terms of Epics and Issues right away, but keep in mind that Atlas is about easily sharing status updates instead of strictly structured project management. In Jira Software, you can have three layers of structure (Epics, Issues, Subtasks, with Initiatives as the fourth level above Epics if you’re using Advanced Roadmaps). Generally speaking, there are only two levels in Atlas: Goals and Projects. There’s a little wiggle room as Goals can have sub-goals, but these are the same functionally as Goals.
Goals are high-level items that might take multiple streams of work to complete. For example, your organization may be looking to reduce or eliminate its carbon footprint. This goal is quite lofty and may take a lot of projects to achieve!
Projects are the specific streams of work that you will complete and define success criteria around. Taking the goal above as an example, adding solar power to the Main Street office may be a single project contributing to that goal. The success criteria here are easily definable: is the Main Street office getting solar power?
At an even lower level (tracked in Jira or Trello), your teams will work through individual tasks, such as installing panels on the roof or buying power certificates from an energy provider. What they’ll update in Atlas is how close they are to achieving success: running the office from solar power.
You can follow the goals and projects you’re interested in, and updates will automatically appear in your feed and your weekly digest email. You can write and read updates when it works best for you. Every week for projects and every month for goals, owners are reminded to post their updates.
Atlas uses everyday language to build a shared understanding and ensure everyone is on the same page:
• What are we doing?
• Why are we doing it?
• How do we judge success?
• When will it ship?
• Who is the full-time owner?
Why Shouldn’t We Use Jira Reports and Dashboards?
In terms of reporting, Jira reports and dashboards are very effective for communication within your immediate team but far less so for your stakeholders. Atlas is built for communication outside of your team. Atlas facilitates the delivery of high-level project progress detail to external parties, whereas Jira reports and dashboards are typically intended for intra-team communication.
If you would still like to guide stakeholders into Jira to provide more granular details, you can connect your Atlas projects to Epics in Jira Software.
Can I Receive Updates Automatically?
Like watchers in Jira and Confluence, there are Followers in Atlas. Followers can follow the projects and goals they are interested in. Tweet-sized project updates will automatically appear in their feed and weekly digest email. Updates are small blurbs about the latest project status. Updates can contain rich content, such as links to other pages, icons, and emojis, and provide space to add comments.
With apps for team collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams, you can automatically have reminders, updates, and digests delivered to your team channels and rooms!
In short, Atlas aligns teams by bringing them together to create a conversation about how work is progressing and provides visibility into how that work connects to shared outcomes. With this alignment, your teams are empowered to do their work in their tools while delivering updates in a form that everyone quickly understands. Atlas can even eliminate the need for many live meetings because it’s completely asynchronous: you can write and read updates when it works best for you. Every week for projects and every month for goals, owners are reminded to post their updates. With meaningful updates – and ones that followers will engage with – Atlas will drive alignment across teams at your company in no time.