Atlassian is continuing to push for their cloud services and many new and innovative features for Jira Cloud are added to the new next-gen project type. This is the most open and flexible project type ever created for Jira cloud, which can cause serious headache for large organizations.
"In next-gen, projects are entirely independent from one another, meaning you can change something in one project and it won’t impact anything in another. In next-gen, workflows live within projects and will be tied to specific issue types. So for example you could have a specific workflow for your bugs and another workflow for your stories. Because the projects are entirely independent from one another, it gives teams more autonomy to adjust and continuously optimize their workflows without impacting other teams or having to bother administrators." - NextGen roadmap
The total freedom to create your own workflows and customize the way you work is a dream come true for many project owners. For method and process offices however they are a nightmare unless you are one of the few enterprise companies that actually work with work processes in Jira on a daily basis.
Many of the companies I meet struggle to even maintain a common way of working with a strict workflow policy. The idea of letting every project getting the power to create their own way of working could be a nightmare for those companies. So what can you do to control the way of working so people can work cross projects and still allow for freedom and autonomy within the projects?
I believe in education and freedom under responsibility.
That being said I think that next-gen should not be treated any different than Jira in general. If you have a defined way of working, and I do not mean what words you should use based on methodology, but an actual way of working. Then teach the users. As long as the way of working makes sense to the users, then they will naturally follow it.
You also need coaches to support the teams. This is important, not just because we want to give the teams the best possible chance to succeed, but also so we can capture new ideas and improvements to the way of working. This way we can continuously improve the way we work together.
If there is one change I would like to see in large organizations, then it is to have a proper center for way of working: The WOW office. Many have similar offices, but they almost always follow a top-down approach where they focus on processes and methods. The concept of defining a method rather than asking the users how they want to work is for me a complete waste of time. I see so many companies focusing on defining words instead of describing what is actually done. So I would suggest a bottom-up approach with each capability having it's own organizations.
If you have proper support for the teams and you have a healthy WOW office that can train the teams on how to use the tools in your organization, then you are going to have a great time. If you on the other side do not have a WOW office with a defined way of working that is aligned with the users or a support organization to train and support the teams....then do not allow the creation of next-gen projects in your organization.
Next-gen projects have the potential to fracture your organization, or form mega projects with thousands of users. It can form barriers making working cross projects impossible and lead to customizations that will quickly make life hard for everyone. This is the same issue many organizations face when they have a loose policy for customizations, but with next-gen projects you will loose any possibility to control the way each and every project will define their work processes.
With the push from Atlassian towards Cloud and the changes to licensing models for large organizations this is not something you need to look at in the future. This is a reality now and you better prepare for it before you end up in a bad situation.
Next-gen projects is the future. With right preparation and investment I think it will supercharge your teams to a productivity and creativity that you have never seen before. Make sure you have a plan for it and how to align all that power to a common way of working without crippling the teams autonomy.
Are you prepared?