Mastering Jira Governance: Prioritizing Global Happiness over Complexity

Atlassian and the human factor

This blog emphasizes the significance of establishing effective governance and outlines how every (Atlassian) product can thrive with a robust governance framework. Our motivation for this blog stems from extensive year-long interactions with customers. Many of these customers began with modest setups, witnessing their instances grow in both scale and intricacy over time. We aim to impart practical insights gleaned from real-life Idalko experiences in managing Atlassian products, providing strategies to maintain their integrity. Moreover, the insights shared here are versatile and relevant not only to Atlassian tools but also to various other products within your IT ecosystem.

What is Governance?

First, for people who are not familiar with the term or want to know what it means. According to Wikipedia:

  • “Governance is the process of making and enforcing decisions within an organization or society.” and
  • “Governance is the way rules, norms and actions are structured, sustained,[3] regulated and held accountable

In the Atlassian ecosystem, it means that changes to the system are ideally applied via a structured way of working. Recording Who/When/What and having a process in place to ensure this is enforced.

Note that Jira and Confluence can also serve as an excellent platform to support recording changes and the decisions made.

We often see there is a key person responsible for keeping track of the requests and changes and deploying them in the organization. This ensures they are properly applied according to the rules in the organization.

Recognize the lack of governance

Now that we defined governance, how can you recognize the lack of governance when managing your (Atlassian) products?

Signals that indicate there is no adequate governance in place are:

  • Bad (Server / Data Center) performance
  • Changes often introduce new problems or issues
  • Unable or difficult to estimate the impact of a change
  • Lack of transparency, for example: permissions/security 

If you recognize any of these symptoms, then this blog can give you guidance on how to alleviate and possibly resolve these issues.

Real-Life Examples

Below are some typical examples where a lack of governance will bring problems down the road. This is not a complete list, but just to get an impression of symptoms with an absence of governance.

Action Could introduce future problems like: With Governance
Uncontrolled creation of custom fields Uncontrolled number of custom fieldsDuplication of fieldsPerformance issues Clear list of custom fieldsclear usage for end-user and administratorserving a large user base
Uncontrolled introduction of new add-ons Duplication of functionality offered by add-onsLicense costs spiraling out of controlCustomization leading to high maintenance / support costs Clear list of offered functionality and it’s relating cost
Uncontrolled creation of Jira projects and or Confluence Spaces Creation of unused / duplicate schemes Clear what the function of each project isCriteria when projects or spaces can be archived / closed down / deleted

Other Alarm Bells

Here’s a snapshot showcasing a typical workflow we occasionally come across (the screenshot below is sourced from the Atlassian community and is not linked to any specific customer)…

While there’s no definitive right or wrong, or a strict boundary defining when a workflow becomes ‘unmanageable,’ it does raise concerns when dealing with such complex workflows.

Consider the challenge of overseeing the multitude of conditions, validations, post-processing steps, and automations interwoven within these types of workflows

Workflow Diagram

Putting governance into action

Firstly, clarity in defining roles and responsibilities among Atlassian users within your organization is paramount. This involves assigning duties for project creation, management, issue handling, content oversight, and regulating access to specific system areas. By establishing these roles clearly, everyone can understand their role within the system, promoting more cohesive collaboration.

Another crucial element of Jira governance involves crafting suitable workflows and defining issue types. Workflows dictate how tasks move through projects, necessitating a coherent workflow tailored to your organization’s requirements. Reusing workflows ideally maintains a streamlined overview and simplifies management while catering to your organization’s unique needs.

The management of access controls and permissions is equally vital for effective governance of Atlassian products. Ensuring that only authorized individuals access specific information with appropriate levels of access facilitates task performance. This involves configuring diverse access levels—like read-only or full access—for various users. Regularly revisiting and updating these controls and permissions is essential to align them with the evolving needs of the organization.

Some organizations leverage Change Control Boards (CCB) to deliberate and assess changes with relevant stakeholders.

Consider employing templates for Jira projects or Confluence spaces to expedite project deployment while maintaining a consistent appearance across your Atlassian ecosystem.

Remember, Governance is an ongoing process requiring periodic review and updates to ensure optimal performance.

Free Resources

Atlassian also has a free learning activity on this subject which you can follow and learn more on the subject.

Using this link, you can view information and can even perform an exam, with the corresponding badge, to prove your skill set on this topic.

Need help?

If you still have any questions regarding governance in your (Atlassian eco-system) – or any other – Atlassian topic? The certified experts of Idalko are happy to help you with all of your questions, requests, or remarks.

Feel free to reach out to us via our contact page to start the conversation. We can advise, implement, or review the governance of your Atlassian eco-system.

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