Handing over an issue from one person to another is more than pushing ‘assign’, changing the assignee, and hope for the best. A proper handover requires that the person who is receiving the tasks, knows the requirements and is able to commit.
With the flexibility of JIRA, you can configure many different assignment approaches, such as:
- Throwing it over the wall
- The traffic agent model
- The ping pong game
- Passing the baton
What can go wrong
Everyone has its own agenda, and one thing we want to avoid is that Cindy is pushing work to Kevin, without Kevin acknowledging the task …
Also it is important that when Kevin ‘receives’ an issue, he fully understands what is expected. Issue descriptions are not always capturing all the details. So Kevin should have an opportunity to discuss the request, determine a proper approach, and assume full responsibility.
Throwing it over the wall
A first approach is when someone is assigning an issue to someone else. It is a bit like throwing a problem over the wall – imagine the following assignment, which says it all:
Hilde is not going to be very happy when she’s coming back from holiday. The problem is urgent, the customer didn’t receive a timely answer and you associate her name with the problem. Nice way to get started.
The traffic agent approach
The traffic agent approach is the one where one user – mostly the team lead, has the authorization to assign issues. S/he can then ensure that the tasks are clearly defined and commitments properly taken. But, of course, this person is not always available. Creating a bottleneck in the process is never a good idea.
The ping pong game
You can either define the assignee as the person who has the responsibility to resolve the issue, or the person who needs to take the next action. In the latter case, we call it the ping pong game reflecting the situation where an issue is being tossed around as a hot potato. The advantage of this model – where the assignee is the person to take the next action – is that it is easy to list all the issues someone has to deal with.
This approach is fine as long as it is clear how it can be escalated in case the issue doesn’t get resolved – who is carrying the responsibility?
Passing the baton, a polite handover method
Passing the baton is the approach where you can only assign to yourself, confirming that you want to take the responsibility of handling an issue. If Cindy wants Kevin to take over an issue, she mentions him in a comment. Kevin can assign the issue to himself (or send another comment):
This is fine but doesn’t work well during scrum and planning meetings, where you want to have the liberty to assign at will.
As always, there is no silver bullet for this type of configurations. Every project and team has its own way of working.
In our case, we have a mixture of models – either ‘passing the baton’, or ‘the traffic agent’ depending on the situation at hand.
Are you still using multiple issue trackers?
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