The Need for Governance in Atlassian Tools

Jira and Confluence are fantastic productivity tools – they are open-ended and endlessly flexible, allowing you to build task tracking and documentation repositories that align with your business processes. However, with increased flexibility comes an increased risk of clutter. Too many projects, spaces, custom fields, page templates, integrations, workflows, and so much more can clutter your instance. Having too many administrators or possibly too few administrators can be problematic. If your instance has been running for many years, there’s a good chance it has grown beyond your ability to control it thoroughly, and it may be time to take a hard look at it and see how it can be improved. One of the best ways you can do this is by introducing a system of governance that ensures everyone is compliant with the standards you set forward. This article shows you a few ways to introduce governance to your organization, clean up and standardize your content, and create guidelines to best use your Atlassian tools.

Assess and Remediate

The first thing you can do is assess and inventory your environment. Get a full report of everything you have. In Jira, find out how many projects you have and how many issues you have per project. Look at your other objects, such as custom fields screens, workflows, schemes, Integrations, and apps. In Confluence, you’ll also want to look at your spaces in pages, apps, and other customizations. 

Once you have a complete inventory, determine what you need to keep and what you might be okay with archiving or deleting. Can you consolidate any of your projects or spaces? Do you have redundant custom fields, workflows, page templates, or other objects? Custom fields may be one of the best areas to look at because the number of fields added directly impacts performance. Review all of your marketplace apps – do you use apps that perform similar or identical actions? If so, eliminating and consolidating apps can simplify your instance, improve performance, and reduce your license and costs.

Creating a Governing Body

Establish a governing body such as a committee of Administrators and superusers that genuinely care about the tools and processes you support and whose mission is ensuring continuous Improvement in those areas. This governing body should not simply be a group of product administrators; it should include team leads, stakeholders, and other representatives from your overall user base who understand the tools and how they are being used to meet your organization’s goals. Generally speaking, you should limit administrative access to a relatively small number of people. You have almost certainly heard the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” at some point. You may run into situations where some admins have no idea what other admins are doing, resulting in conflicting or result or redundant content creation. When you have a large group of administrators, it’s difficult to understand who made what changes or who is responsible for what. Larger organizations may need a larger group of administrators accountable for their business units or regions. Administration can be overwhelming for a small administration team in a large organization, so adding more people to the administration team makes sense. However, small to mid-size organizations will likely only need a handful of people with full administrative capabilities.  

Create a request and change management process that manages incoming requests and processes them through completion. Your governing body will need to review every request as it comes in, and they will need to determine whether or not the change is worth implementing and maintaining. Be sure to test all changes in a development environment that mimics your production environment as closely as possible so that you can accurately gauge the impact your new change will have on your production environment. Be sure to track and document all requests, including those that are denied. 

Standardize and Organize

Next, you should think about standardizing content. As you do so, ensure all configurations are as simple and generic as possible so they can be easily shared between teams and projects. In Jira, consider creating pre-configured template projects that you can copy as needed. Create genericized workflows, fields, screens, and schemes as well. In Confluence, build a set of custom page templates that save users time when creating new pages and ensure documentation aligns with your standards. In short, a repository of reusable content will encourage standardization across your organization. Of course, not every team works the same way. However, with a robust repository of templatized content, your team leads will have no trouble building the projects and documentation repositories aligned with your organizational standards.

Your governing body should create and share guidelines for creating content in Jira and Confluence. These guidelines should include any organizational standards that need to be met, who can create, edit, archive, and delete content, and any other rules that apply on an organizational level. You want to ensure information always gets to the right people fast – it must be easily discoverable and collaborative. Everything stored in Jira and Confluence should be named and organized to meet this objective.

To that end, keeping your content relevant and up to date should be a top priority. Consider archiving, deleting, or replacing obsolete content with newer, more relevant content. Keeping your content up to date and relevant is especially important in Confluence, as outdated documentation creates confusion, especially when both current and obsolete documents coexist in conflict. The best way to do this is to delegate this responsibility to a team of Atlassian tool champions. Empower your champions to act as gatekeepers, reviewing content and acting when content needs to be added, revised, or removed. Spread the word about how the Atlassian tools create transparency, encourage teamwork, maximize efficiency and productivity, and how they can be used to build and maintain a collaborative culture within your organization.

Make Cleanup a Habit

Now that you’ve cleaned up your instance, established a governing body, created organizational standards, and empowered your users, our last recommendation is regular maintenance. We’ve written about the importance of cleaning up before an Atlassian Cloud migration; in truth, establishing a cleanup schedule is not just useful for data migration – it’s a good practice at all times. By cleaning up regularly, you can minimize complexity, eliminate redundancy, reduce your overall data volume, and possibly lower your cost if you remove apps that you no longer need. 

An Informed User Base is an Empowered User Base

When building a tool-driven collaborative culture, the most critical aspect is ensuring that your users know how to use the tools or, at minimum, know enough to get started and find the help they need. Atlassian has created many free training courses – self-paced lessons on their products, including Jira, Confluence, and Trello that will help your users get up to speed within less than two hours! For those who are interested in learning more, Addteq can deliver full-day, instructor-led courses that feature both lectures and hands-on labs. These courses are fantastic for training teams or creating a “train the trainer” program for groups of team leads within your company. Encourage everyone to join and contribute to the Atlassian Community, a global network of Atlassian users, admins, and members of the Atlassian team who are passionate about finding new ways of working and are eager to share their knowledge and experiences with you. Do you have a question about using or configuring your tools a certain way? Would you like to learn more about a particular feature? Would you like to engage in a dialogue with like-minded people worldwide? You can do all of that and more in the Atlassian Community!

Another great way to empower your user base is to encourage power users to earn Atlassian Certifications, which will validate their expertise and strengthen their credibility with colleagues and industry peers. Generally speaking, getting certified requires gaining hands-on experience with Atlassian’s tools and studying hard using an Atlassian University certification prep course as a guide before finally passing a rigorous certification exam. Earning an Atlassian certification makes you an Atlassian Certified Professional, which helps you expand your career opportunities by opening doors inside and outside your organization. ACP-620: Managing Jira Projects for Cloud Certification is a great place to start. Project Administrators are experts at configuring and optimizing Jira Software’s Scrum and Kanban projects for their teams – skills that are must-haves for any software development team leader. 

How Addteq Can Help

Decluttering and optimizing an Atlassian ecosystem that’s fallen out of alignment with your organization’s needs may require significant time and effort that requires you to take at least some of your focus away from your core objectives. When implementing the right Atlassian products across your organization, you need a partner with deep knowledge of the Atlassian portfolio that understands your needs and will recommend and build a solution that best fits those needs. Addteq is an Atlassian Solutions Partner with extensive experience and expertise in customizing and deploying Atlassian products and providing innovative results across the software development lifecycle. By partnering with us, you will benefit from the best of our efficiency and technical know-how and meet your software development milestones – without worrying about day-to-day product management.

We can help with all of your DevOps or Atlassian needs.

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