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    Setup Jira and Confluence - Part 1: Defining the tools

    Jimi Wikman

    The first thing we need to do before we can actually build the setup in Jira and Confluence is to define the tools. What should be done in what tool. We also need to define how we will use the tools based on what need we have. This may sound easy, but it is actually a bit trickier than it sounds and it's the source of many failures when using Jira especially.


    Who are we building for?

    In our example, we will build a setup based on a development team. It is a traditional team that tries to adopt some agile methodologies. The company is medium-sized with dozens of teams distributed in several countries where waterfall methodologies are still the norm. Most development happen in projects, which cause some overlap, but overall this get done even if it is not always easy. Requirements have decent quality, but varies greatly between teams, and most work process related changes are driven by management and test.

    In short, it is a pretty common situation for many companies. There are some challenges, but the organization is moving towards a more agile and uniform way of working. There is a struggle over control and visibility because the teams want more freedom and the managers still want to feel that they have the control because they are still a bit too far away from the teams.


    The Areas of Responsibility

    In order to see what tool is best suited for what task, then we need to identify who do what. We start this by breaking down areas of responsibility so we know what areas we hand over responsibility to. In our setup, we identify the following areas:

    1. Business - This is where the need originates from. This is actually a whole process in itself, but we just consider the output as a responsibility area. This is represented by the Product Owner.
    2. Requirement - This is where the need is defined and translated to actionable information for the development team. We include design (UI/UX), technical design and non-functional requirements such as legal as part of this area as well. This is because they are supporting the requirement process.
    3. Development - This is where the need is realized in the form of code.
    4. Test - This is where we ensure the development have good quality.
    5. Acceptance - This is where business ensure that the need has been fulfilled. Doing so also conclude the legal agreement between business and development.
    6. Deployment - This is where the need is made available to the end users.
    7. Support - This is where feedback related to the need is managed.

    Since we are building in Jira and Confluence, all of these areas are not going to be represented due to the limitations and capabilities in those tools. In order to identify the best tool for the job, we identify the need for each area.

    Business - Jira Align
    This is a big area that are actually made up of multiple processes. In this area we need to be able to organize people, money and resources into initiatives that span the whole company. We need to follow up and see when cross initiatives have issues in order to mitigate. This area do not just deal with IT, but include things like marketing, product development, human resources and so on. Jira and Confluence are not a good match for this area. Instead, portfolio tools such as Jira Align or Portfolio for Jira are better choices.

    Requirement - Confluence
    This area work with documentation to break down a need into actionable items. Design is delivered in multiple versions and file formats. Technical design include flow charts and tabled specification of data. Legal and non-functional requirements are usually global, so we need to be able to link in from other locations. We also want to prioritize work, add estimations on multiple levels and eventually create work orders that can be traced back to the original need. Since a requirement is both a translation of a need to an actionable task and a legal agreement on what need to be done, we need to be able to control the requirement. This means that we need both version control to identify changes and the possibility to restrict editing when agreed upon. We will use Confluence for this area for the final documentation. We will also use Jira as an optional tool to drive the requirement forward until it is ready to be locked down in Confluence.

    Development - Jira Software
    This area work with code where they need to have tasks on what to do. This task is actually the work order, and as such it must be connected all the way to the need. This area also need to connect the work with the code in order to trace work to code packages. We need the ability to assign work, so someone is responsible to fulfill the need. We want to see what is ready to be worked on and if the code package is ready to be deployed. This means that we need to be able to see other areas as well in a workflow. For this purpose we use Jira and connect to the requirements in Confluence. The Development team will also use Bitbucket to manage their code.

    Test - Jira Add-On
    This area work with making sure that the code we produce are in accordance with the requirement and that it has good quality. We need to be able to create test cases for what to test and then a way to connect to series of test. These must be reusable so we can use them to make the same tests multiple times. We need a good way to report when something is not working so we can bring that back to the development team to be fixed. We need a way to get reports on progress and result of the tests. Jira and Confluence does not support this fully, so we will add an Add-On for this to extend that capability and connect it to the development tasks.

    Acceptance - Jira Add-On
    This area work with making sure that the need is fulfilled. It is testing in the same manner that the test area, but on a different level and with a different responsible group. We will use the same setup as for Test with the same Jira Add-On, but connect to the requirements instead of the development tasks.

    Deployment - Bitbucket Pipelines / Bamboo
    This area work with making sure that the code packages created by Development are moved to the different environments. In order to do this they need a way to deliver code between the environments. This in not something that we can do in Jira or Confluence. Instead, a tool like Bamboo or Bitbucket Pipelines will be used. We will however use the Release feature in Jira to connect the code base with the deploys for traceability. We will also use Confluence to document deployments to production for traceability.

    Support - Jira Service Management
    This area work with supporting the code that is available in production. This requires the ability to manage incoming support requests, identifying resolutions and when needed to create work tasks for different teams. Continuous communication with the reporter is a must, and there should also be a way to resolve repeating requests to reduce duplicated requests. For this Jira and Confluence is not fully what we need. Jira Service Management is a better option for this.


    As we can see from this our setup for Confluence and Jira will support Requirement, Development, Test and Acceptance. We will connect with Deployment as well, but the full capability will not be in our setup. Now that we know what we are going to support, then it is time to start looking at what work we actually do in each area so we can define the issue types.

    This we will go over in our next article:  Setup Jira and Confluence for success - Part 2: Defining Jira Issue Types


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      About the Author

      Jimi is an Atlassian Expert with many years of experience in configuring and designing ways of working in Jira, Confluence and Jira Service Desk. He has built setups based on multiple processes and methods, including SAFe and ITIL.

      He has good understanding of the technical setup of integrations as well as insight into competing software such as ServiceNow. He understands the problems involved with introducing new ways of working and is well experienced in coaching and training small and large work forces.

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