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  • Atlassian

    53 articles in this category

      Related Pages for Confluence - discovering content just got easier

      Related information has been used on written content since it's inception, and now Confluence is adding functionality for this as well. It is a feature that not always is welcome, however, but don't worry, you get plenty of control to decide if it should be used or not. Not just per space, but even down to page level.
      While we don't have specifics on the algorithms that make this new Related information work, but we can probably assume that labels and keywords in title and headers in the content is used somehow. We do know that the related pages will honor permissions, so you can only see pages you have access to. The official information have this to say:
      When this rolls out, it will be turned on by default, which may be a bit annoying. Fortunately, you can turn this off for whole spaces in the Space settings under Space settings > Related pages. You can also turn this on or off on individual pages under More actions (•••), then Advanced details > and either Show related pages or Hide related pages.
      In the first iteration of related pages, it will not support Blogs or Jira Service Management customer portals. While this might seem strange as these two areas are where you normally would use this feature, but I think it is a good thing as they can tweak the algorithms a bit before taking that step. This should help make that feature better when it is released. This should help a lot with support if the algorithm is good enough, which I think it will be once they get some data from Confluence usage and tweak a bit first.


      Upcoming changes to Epics - finally getting some flexibility for Epics

      Back in December 2021 Atlassian announced that there would be some changes coming to Epics and in April we learned that Epics would see an update to how Jira manage Epic Name and Epic Summary. What does all this mean, and when can you expect to see the changes in your Jira instance? Let us dive into the information we have and see if we can answer those questions.
      Why is Epic changing?
      Having the ability to change, or rename rather, Epics have been requested for well over a decade and up until recently it has been ignored. It was only when SAFe started to become popular that Atlassian started to consider this, however:
      This is not the only change that SAFe have initiated and for everyone working in an enterprise company where small agile teams may not be the norm, this is a positive thing. I will talk more abut that in the future.
      So what is happening to Epics?
      The changes are pretty big from a technical point of view, but even from a consumer perspective, there are pretty big changes as well. The reason for this big change is that Atlassian is merging features from Advanced Roadmaps into the core Jira experience. In doing so, they change the old architecture quite a bit and things will certainly move round a bit as a result.
      Here is what will change:
      Move issue hierarchy in Advanced Roadmaps to your admin setting Rename Epics will reflect everywhere (no more language hacks) Change what Epic fields are shown in different areas New colors based on team based projects Epic link will become Add Parent and move to breadcrumbs  
      Move issue hierarchy in Advanced Roadmaps to your admin setting
      The issue hierarchy that currently reside inside the settings for Advanced Roadmaps will move to the global Jira admin settings. You will find them under Issues by heading to: ⚙️ Settings > Issues > Issue hierarchy. This means that even if you do not have a Premium license, you will still be able to see these settings and when the Epic changes roll out you can edit the name of Epic from this area.

      Rename Epics will reflect everywhere (no more language hacks)
      This is a big one and the one that has been causing frustrations for many, many years. Once you rename the Epic in the Issue hierarchy, you need to rename the Epic issue type as well, and then all areas where Epic is referenced you will see the new name instead. So if you rename Epic to Feature, you will see Feature everywhere you see Epic today, including the Epic side panel in your backlog!

      Change what Epic fields are shown in different areas
      This is more of a technical change, but what it means is that what currently is shown in the backlog will see some changes. This could cause some issues that you might need to adjust when the change happen in your Jira instance.
      Epic name → Issue summary
      Currently, the board and your backlog show Epic Name and after the update it will instead show the Issue Summary. This make more sense, and I suspect that we will see the Epic Name removed in the future as Atlassian adjust Epics to be presented the same way as other issue types. If you have been putting different information in these two fields, then you need to update them to be the same before the changes happen. There are several solutions for this, but I think the solution Bogdan Gorka suggested in the Atlassian community using automation seems like a good way to do it.

      Epic status → Issue Status Category
      In the current solution you have Epic status, which is only available in the Epic panel, that define what Epics should be shown in the Epic Panel. In the new solution, the Epic panel will instead look at the Issue Status for each Epic to determine if it should be shown or not. If the Epic issue is in a green status (done), then it will not be shown, unless there are still open issues inside the Epic.
      Again, this makes sense as it shift Epics to behave the same way as other issue types, which align behavior in Jira.
      New colors based on team based projects
      This is something that comes from team managed boards, and I am guessing this is an architectural decision to have a uniform design that can be expanded later using the Parent Link feature from Advanced Roadmaps. In Theory, it would allow you to treat any parent link the same way, and you could set any story color to the issue. To make that useful, there would need to be a change to the Epic panel to show the levels above epic as well somehow.
      For now however this will just be a slight color shift when the upgrade comes as the upgrade will match the nearest color.

      Epic link will become Add Parent and move to breadcrumbs
      Perhaps the change that will confuse users the most is that the Epic link will become Add Parent and that this functionality will move from the standard locations to the breadcrumbs. This makes sense from several perspectives, but it will have a learning curve for many users. Changing the Epic Link to the Parent link from Advanced Roadmaps will once again align Epics with other issue types and allow for a uniform handling of the issues hierarchy.

      My Opinion
      This is a great change, not just because it will allow us to change Epics to Features (or whatever we want), but also from a technical perspective. It breaks down Epics unique behavior and replaces it with something that can scale, which is exactly what I have wanted for more than a decade.
      In the screenshot over the new issue view you also see that there is a pretty significant change to naming for subtasks as well where we now instead see "Child Issues". This is again a way to make way for a more flexible structure that is uniform regardless of level.
      This is absolutely a great step in the right direction from Atlassian and it makes me very happy to see.

      Jira harder to control - Jira projects slowly becoming less collaborative.

      In the last few years, Jira have moved more and more towards JIRA project isolation. This is causing problems for companies that are working collaborative across multiple JIRA projects, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to use because of that. In a short period of time boards have become almost unusable where cross-linking projects cause things like roadmaps and scrum boards to stop working. This is a mindset issue, as well as an architectural one.
      It is clear that Atlassian's tools are focusing on an Agile mindset, focusing on Scrum and Kanban. This has always been the case, but it has never really prevented anyone for using their tools in a more traditional way as well. In recent years however this has changed and with the introduction of team managed projects this has taking a turn for the worse.
      With the introduction of team managed products, we have seen product development becomes increasingly fragmented and teams within Atlassian seem more and more isolated. This is typical for organizations working with Agile teams, and we also see this in the new products that are more MVPs than full-fledged applications. This fragmented way of working seem to cause not just alignment issues between the different Atlassian products, but it also seems to affect the architecture as well.
      The architecture is all over the place...
      If we look at the very basic architecture, we have "projects", which is the highest level of grouping data. This is what we have configuration for, like what issue types, workflows and custom fields we have for that set of data. Projects are divided between Team Managed and Company Managed types, where team managed are unique and isolated projects where anything goes and company managed are controlled and globally defined projects.
      On top of this, we add a board, which is a visual representation of a filter in either a Kanban or Scrum view. This is not something that I would consider "optional" because a project without a board is pretty useless. The boards are divided into four areas:
      Roadmap - Featureless Gantt using Epics that only work with data from one project. Backlog - Basic list with priority and iterations/status for selecting items to work on. Scrum features stop working if you add generic fields to bring in with a specific project attached to it. There is a hard limit of 5000 issues that will actually shut the backlog down if you hit it. Active sprints - Basic column based structure that you map statuses in the workflow to. Hard limit of 500 subtasks that will shut down this feature if you hit it. Reports - Basic reports for different purposes. As boards are defined based on a filter and filters can include any data from any project and since it is placed on top of a project you would assume that the data would be presented within the configuration of the project. Strangely, it does not because boards actually override project configurations and allow for customizations, even on Company Managed projects.
      This makes little sense, since the purpose of having a company managed setup in the first place is to ensure that the setups are the same. If each project can define their own views and configuration of estimates, for example, then what exactly is company managed?
      Things like that data from multiple projects can cause problems, like the roadmap being able to change from multiple projects is easily managed by adding permissions for who can and can not change things. A simple check to determine origin project and then who have permissions to make different changes in that project already exist, but it is not used in the roadmap.
      Disabling whole boards because of generic queries like "Related System[Dropdown]" = Jira" for the simple reason that it is not specific in terms of what project the issue belong to is a decision I do not understand. Sure, it can add overhead to the query if there are a lot of issues and a ton of customization, but that is solved by having a cache for every board that you check delta for on load instead of dynamically load all items. You also only load data for the listing and then fetch additional data on request.
      The limit of 5000 issues in a backlog is not just stupid, it is borderline illegal as it is an unknown limitation that cause denial of service. What makes this worse is that this limit does not just count the issues, but subtasks as well. This makes no sense in a Scrum board where subtasks never show up, and for a Kanban you should be able to turn this off in the settings.
      The Atlassian Agile Attitude
      This attitude towards technical architecture is not really surprising considering Atlassian is very open about their culture and how they approach things. Atlassian is very dedicated to Agile and especially Scrum, and that bleeds into everything they do. When asked about these problems, the response has been that Agile teams don't need to collaborate as they are empowered and self-organizing. Having a 5000 issues cap is not a problem for Atlassian because an Agile team never have that many issues, so if you do then you are not Agile.
      Don't get me wrong, these are all valid responses, IF everyone that used Jira was doing Scrum the way Atlassian defines it. They are not. The vast majority of companies, especially the larger companies, are NOT doing scrum. Or any other Agile ritual for that matter. There are product discovery teams for sure, but in general companies do product delivery, not product discovery. Just check to see how many UX or CRO experiments are currently running in any given company, and you probably will find there are few, if any.
      This mentality is also what is consistently blocking requests that go outside the Scrum sphere, like having estimates on subtasks show up on the story in an aggregated form or any form of resource and finance management in any of their products.
      It will only get worse
      I hate to say this as I like the products, but I have a feeling that this is only going to get worse, at least for another 5 years or so when we will either see Atlassian change directions or another product has emerged that better fit the way companies work. Atlassian is doubling down on the Agile mindset and you can see it in the products where they regularly remove functions and new products seem to be half done with little to no connectivity to other products. This would be ok if the new products would see rapid development once released, but that is not the case.
      So I am afraid that if you are looking for a tool to manage projects and tasks where you can set a standard for your company to follow, then Jira may not be the tool you are looking for. Not because it is very bad today, but because it continues to degrade as a uniform tool.
      If you on the other hand are looking for a flexible tool that your teams can adjust as they see fit in a snow globe type of setup that is great for design and explorative situations, then you are probably better off with Trello or Asana to be honest.
      If you are in need of a predictive tool for financial planning, then none of the Atlassian tools are what you are looking for. Atlassian doesn't support traditional financial structures, as Agile is an exploratory ritual. This could change however as Atlassian is focusing a lot on SAFe it seems and as you probably figured out by now SAFe is a traditional steering renamed and repackaged. So we could see more support for predictive planning tools because of this.
      Is there no hope?
      Of course, there is hope. Atlassian just must start to focus more on what companies actually need and less what they think they need. To do that, they have to look at the bigger picture and they have to focus on what matters most to all companies: finance. While they have a tool that is supposedly targeting this area it is way too expensive and since you can not test it, it still remains a tool you have to buy on faith alone.
      The first thing should be to implement proper team's setup with resource management. Make teams assignable and take a look at BigPicture that have most of what you need: workload plans, holiday plans, absence management, skills, roles and of course time allocation. Connect other applications like Confluence to allow for team spaces only visible in the teams section as well as basic information like contact information, team lead and connected systems from Insight.
      The second thing is to stop the Premium nonsense and just have one product. Locking key products like Advanced Roadmaps and the old Insight asset management in a price tier is plain stupid. Not only will you prevent your own products adaptation, you also annoy the customers that are forced to pay for things they don't want. At twice the regular cost, no less.
      The third things that should happen is to add seamless integration of the products. If you have ever seen a user trying out OpsGenie from Jira Service Management, then you know what I mean. New products like Atlas should be clearly be marketed as separate products, just like Trello, if they do not connect to the basic Atlassian ecosystem.
      Make issue hierarchy open to everyone to define. Have predefined sets for Agile or SAFe setups, but make it open for everyone to define their setup instead of locking down every user in a structure Atlassian want. We are already getting new features for the Epic, which is a great addition, now take it to the next step.
      Finally, make boards useful again and remove the caps and the breaking of features if you cross Jira Project boundaries. Add the color background feature from Business projects and allow for any colors instead of a defined set.
      My Opinion
      In my opinion, Atlassian is moving in the wrong direction in some cases. In other cases, they are doing great things. If you are working in an organization with a project based financial structure that is based around a set of portfolios and budgets, then you are probably hurting right now using Atlassian products, with add-ons.
      I also feel that Cloud is way too much of a playground right now, with little to no way to mitigate negative changes when Atlassian destructively removes features from their products. If you are on DC and are considering a move to Cloud I would strongly suggest you reconsider that unless you really know what the result will be and how your workforce will be affected with the limitations and constant updates that you can not control.'
      If you are already on Cloud, then keep careful watch on what is going on as information on changes that destructively remove features is rarely very well announced and you have to follow the community forums like a hawk to spot them. Also make sure you frequently check the well hidden suggestion and bug section of Atlassian and submit requests and bugs when things dont work or when you have features removed from the systems.
      Working with Atlassian's systems is a bit bumpy at the moment, but it is never boring!

      Atlassian acquire Percept.ai - strengthening their ITSM products even further

      Atlassian announced yesterday that they have acquired the small California based company Percept.ai, a company that focuses on AI technology to automize support flows, in quite impressive ways. This will strengthen the tool set of Jira Service Management with a new automation technology in the form of a no-code virtual agent that I think will add a lot to the Jira Service Management experience.
      While Edwin Wong, the Head of Product Management at Atlassian, did not go into any details in the announcement, it is clear that this will be an important part of the future of Jira Service Management. I also think the acquisition of Percept.ai and their virtual agent technology will find its way into other areas of the Atlassian suite, and I would not be surprised to see an AI driven onboarding agent in the future!
      I think this is a strong acquisition and an important one for the Jira Service Management product specifically and for Atlassian in general.

      Jira Product Discovery - The missing link between business and IT?

      Atlassian has just released their new product called Jira Product Discovery in Beta. It is a new project type in Jira Software, just like Jira Work Management, and sadly it is equally a bit lackluster when it comes to functionality. It is however a very nice addition and it has the potential to bridge the gap between business and IT, which is currently being done with creative setups in Jira Software.
      So what is Jira Product Discovery?
      In short, it is a tool for adding good ideas where you can define value and cost in order to make educated decisions on what to focus on first for your different products. Or just to start new products and value streams. Right out of the box in the Beta, we find many good features such as visual fields for effort and goal impact, the ability to score ideas and the most powerful aspect is the connection to create epics in other Jira projects to truly connect ideation with delivery.
      Jira Product Discovery is a very nice new product that can compete with other tools like Aha!, but it is also a typical Atlassian product with limited functionality that may or may not expand down the road. This has been a problem for Atlassian in the last 5 years or so and it can affect the sales of this new product, unless it becomes part of the core like Jira Work Management is now.
      Functionality looks great!
      Even with the risk of having a less advanced feature set than some of the competitors, Jira Product Discovery have a good feature set already.  Things like goals, what can target strategic values, or even smaller product goals is something I work with a lot. Things like effort ranking, key customers and connections to time periods and something they call buckets are all great features.
      The ability to add automatic calculation of value is great, but I would like to see the ability to add negative values as well for things like risk and effort. Overall the score system is quite simple and it needs a more granular setup for it to be useful in large scale organizations.
      Overall, I think this first iteration of Jira Product Discovery looks impressive and it will most likely fit many companies need as is.
      It is a Beta
      It is easy to point to things that are not awesome right now, but it is important to know that this is a Beta. As such it will be features that are either not yet there, not finished or that will change during the Beta. While I see several things that I think are essential for the future success of Jira Product Discovery as a product, I would not discourage any organization from trying this out even in its Beta format.
      That is because this fit a very critical gap in the current product flora for Atlassian and I think this hit the spot pretty close to what a lot of people have been asking for, for a long time.
      Don't take my word for it, though, head on over and try it out yourself.
      Introduction Video
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