1557758640 <![CDATA[Blog]]> /blog english nigel@newverveconsulting.com Copyright 2019 2019-05-13T14:44:00+00:00 <![CDATA[Guest blog - Andriy Stukan, Accenture]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/guest-blog-andriy-stukan-accenture https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/guest-blog-andriy-stukan-accenture#When:14:44:00Z Guest blog submitted by Andriy Stukan, Technology Consultant at Accenture.

Challenges with Digital PM Tools

On March 19, 2019 at the inaugural Atlassian conference in Scotland organised by New Verve Consulting I presented a talk on ‘Challenges with Digital Project Management Tools’. This conference was a great experience filled with great talks, interesting people from various organisations in Scotland and a great platform for me to share my personal views on a topic that has impacted my professional life – digital project management (PM).

Having worked as a Technology Consultant in Accenture for around 6 years now, my experience centred around delivering digital projects and technical solutions meaning working with various project managers and their tools, or at times acting as a project manager myself. Therefore, this digital project management element linked well with what Atlassian offers, so that is why I decided to explore the challenges experienced with digital PM tools by me and the industry while looking at some solutions, and some of these come from Atlassian which I focused on in more detail (Jira, Confluence, Trello).

In this post I provide an overview of the presentation about the challenges with digital project management tools in a modern day to day context. These views are my own which are influenced by my experiences and research.

Importance of PM Tools

In project management, PM tools, and more precisely the software nowadays, is important to the success of the project manager and even the wider team. Great tools enable project managers to employ their methodology and strategy and share it with the team. Below I outline the key daily uses of PM tools:

  • Schedule, delegate, track, communicate, collaborate.
  • In digital projects that are becoming predominantly agile, it becomes more of a collaborative effort hence one person cannot hold all the ‘keys’ to the project, so the tools and PM information needs to be available to other team members.
  • New technologies are improving the software (e.g. cloud, analytics, SAS) creating new project management tactics and tricks.
  • Day to day PM software or tools help to keep track of various detail and moving parts providing notifications and alerts.
  • At the end of the day the software, especially if it is of high quality, acts as a ‘virtual assistant” to the PM.

Modern PM Tool Challenges

According to GetApp Lab research 75% of PMs use two to five total tools for project management

From the previous section it is clear that digital project managers juggle various tasks and activities hence they need multi-functional tools that are made for the modern workplace context (whether that is cloud based, shareable, mobile app functional, etc.). Therefore, the statistic that PMs use two to five total tools is not that surprising and I see that as one of the worst issues which I evidenced on projects. The juggling of tasks is one thing but adding to that juggling of tools, especially ones that have different UIs, rules, philosophies, create so many inefficiencies.

In the presentation I delved into more challenges with day to day PM tools that can impact the organisation and can influence the statistic outlined above:

  • Usability and ease in learning/adopting – software can have great features but can be difficult to understand due to elements such as: complex UI and/or UX, jargon. Furthermore, tools should be relatively easy to learn and adapt in organisations and it is important to understand that no matter how technically innovative the tool is the PMs may not be technical people.
  • Existing software integration – organisations usually have go-to software used by other teams that may feed into PM related tasks, and the PM tools ideally should integrate to them or be easily configurable to facilitate this link.
  • Customisation – PM tools need to allow customisation as each organisation’s way of working has its own philosophy (e.g. agile vs waterfall).
  • Plethora of choice and price points – in 2019 there are many providers of software ranging from more large and established brands like Atlassian, Microsoft to smaller brands like Asana, Monday, etc. This can be overwhelming, and the price points and licensing will also be different, catering to specific types of customers. I found GetApp a quite useful online resource to compare tools, it is like uSwitch for applications.
  • New rules, new thinking – PM is innovating (agile methodology is a must for any forward-thinking project but there are bespoke versions of agile arising), so are the tools with their own rules and thinking behind the features, UI, UX and structure.


PM Tool Solutions and Comparisons

The market nowadays is filled with project management tools yet there are still go-to tools at major firms.

Atlassian is one of these brands which flagship tool is the Jira application. Jira, alongside Confluence and Trello is what I found efficient as I had the chance to use these Atlassian applications a couple times. They solve several challenges modern PMs face. Here is a list of some of the characteristics:

  • Top rated EAP provider by Gartner
  • Jira is simple to adapt, flexible and has a great user interface
  • Collaborative features with Confluence, Trello, Slack
  • Support GitHub
  • CI through Bitbucket
  • Strong workflow capability
  • Easy to understand and navigate

Another brand I have dealt with many times is Microsoft which is also a big player and is constantly innovating across all enterprise needs, not just project management. Microsoft has a software ecosystem which stretches across office, planning, cloud, collaboration, development, planning, etc. The ecosystem edge may useful for large organisations who want everything from the same provider and brands. Its main tools for PM purposes are MSP and TFS, which have a different feel to the Atlassian tools. They at times feel clunky but Microsoft has been very good in innovating to keep up with the market and improving these tools and adding things like Teams, Planner, etc.

There are other big providers, but also there is a huge number of smaller providers that have been catering to niche requirements. Some of them eventually get acquired, for example recent acquisition of AgileCraft by Atlassian proves that. I have seen the following common PM tool characteristics from smaller providers:

  • Works better at times for SMEs due to price plans and scalability
  • May not integrate with enterprise tools as easily or be as advanced
  • Niche
  • Provide at times a very large amount of functionalities
  • Integrate more with web apps, so limited integration with other enterprise suites (i.e. MS)

Day to Day Project Management with Atlassian

To close off my presentation I demonstrated some quick applications of Atlassian tools to bring to life how solid PM tools can combat some of the challenges outlined earlier in the talk.

I demonstrated how Jira can be used to manage ‘issues’ which can be tasks, stories and defects focusing on the configurable feel of Jira, the workflows, and other features (permissions, WIP limits, CSV import, roadmaps). Following on from Jira I touched upon collaboration with Confluence, which can be integrated with Jira, and is a great ‘space’ to collaborate and manage collaboration across teams (blogs, team structure, pages, etc.)

Trello, which was an Atlassian acquisition over a year ago has been my favourite tool due to its practicality and Kanban board style that can be applied to work projects but also personal things. A recent Bloomberg article actually demonstrated a detailed look into how Trello can be maximised for example in planning a trip.

Photo from Bloomberg article, see original article here.

To conclude, I recommend for digital PMs to test tools for themselves as there are always free trials from providers. Also, comparison sites are useful. A thought-out decision needs to be made when selecting software used by digital PMs to reduce the number of challenges faced and increase productivity and happiness of the user.

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2019-05-13T14:44:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Guest blog - Peter Hinds, Head of Operations at Synergy Learning]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/guest-blog-peter-hinds-synergy-learning https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/guest-blog-peter-hinds-synergy-learning#When:10:21:00Z This is a guest blog by Peter Hinds, Head of Operations at Synergy Learning, who was a guest speaker at our Atlassian in Scotland 2019 event in March.

I was delighted to speak at the New Verve Consulting event in March. Synergy Learning have been using the Atlassian stack for many years and we felt we had an interesting story to tell.

Synergy Learning are a full service provider of Learning Technology. We’ve been a Moodle Partner since 2005 and a Totara Platinum partner since 2011. We offer services similar to an Atlassian partner for these applications.

Moodle logo

  • Hosting
  • Support
  • Training & Consultancy
  • UX Design
  • Bespoke Development
  • eLearning Content

For some, the talk hopefully struck a chord from their own adoption and was a nice trip down memory lane! For those who are just venturing into the ecosystem it hopefully gave them hope and reassurance that it’s a journey that’s worth embarking upon.

To recap our journey; we started using BitBucket in 2011 replacing an in-house maintained “git” server. I wish we’d a better reason for why we chose BitBucket over competitors but it came down to a simple calculation that the per-user licensing model was substantially more advantageous for us. From that point BitBucket has become a central tool in our workflow specifically for our development teams “peer review” process & for managing “pull requests” in our theme products.

Not long after introducing BitBucket we also introduced Jira but for our development team only. We had a number of supporting applications for time tracking, project planning, communication & support services but these all sat as islands of each other with little to no integration.

Surprisingly, this loose group of applications worked rather well for us. Although in hindsight we’re not quite sure how! The company was enjoying substantial growth but as we started to scale and take on larger & more challenging pieces of work the chaotic nature of application sprawl took its toll. We agreed it was time to standardise.

We reviewed several competitors to Jira as we knew this was going to be a long term strategic partner for us. Our Dev Team were strong supporters of Jira and we’d built up a lot of useful information within the system. We were also wary of the learning curve that would be associated with a new system; but this was a minor point in comparison. We chose Jira for its strengths rather than sticking with it out of fear.

The big difference with this implementation of Jira was that we decided to stay within the Atlassian ecosystem i.e. If we needed additional functionality rather than looking to additional applications we would rely upon the apps that exist within the Atlassian Marketplace.

The biggest move during this transition was for our support system. We were quite happy with the current system but in-line with the agreed policy we would standardise within Jira using Service Desk. We were a little uneasy about this as our perception of service desk was that it was more focused on Internal IT type of support rather than external customer facing. Thankfully our preconceptions turned out to be incorrect and ServiceDesk slotted into daily use seamlessly. In fact within a short space of time we were reaping the rewards of the simplicity and power of the ServiceDesk SLA’s. Our Support Team quickly acknowledge how helpful ServiceDesk was for enabling them to be even more productive in their jobs.

One of the biggest mistakes we made with our implementation was that we went overboard on mapping business process into Jira workflows. The number of statuses and number of issue types was excessive. If you’re starting to implement Jira for yourself please don’t make the same mistake. I’d advise that you reach out to an Atlassian partner like New Verve Consulting to discuss your implementation. There are simple tips like this that a seasoned partner can help with that will save you time & money in the long run.

One of the best parts of the “Atlassian in Scotland” event was meeting with the event sponsors as we are a customer of all three. We use Tempo Timesheets for time tracking, Big Picture Enterprise for Project Planning and EazyBI for our reporting purposes.

For EazyBI we’d recently just completed a development project with New Verve Consulting so it was rewarding to be able to showcase the fruits of that project. The EazyBI reports have helped drive operational excellence within Synergy Learning.

It was useful to be able to highlight some of the smaller plugins too.

  • SLA Alerts for Jira Service Desk - A banner notification to help you not miss an issue that’s close to breaching SLA
  • Time to SLA - Similar to SLA’s within Jira Service Desk. We use this collaborate better with our Sales Team. We set SLA’s in a “Pre-Sales” project against “Estimation” issues. The SLA ensures that the Operations Team provide the required information within an agreed window.
  • Double Check - A simple pop-up “Are you sure you want to send this message”. Great for the times you almost reply to a customer with a comment that was meant for a colleague!

The final piece of our implementation was Confluence. This is where we collaborate together as a company. We purchased the “refined” theme and customised it in-house to our requirements. We run two “sites” from Confluence namely our internal “Intranet” and a site for our “Customers” where we store useful documentation relating to their configurations, meeting notes, technical documents and so forth.

The closing section of my presentation gave me the opportunity to speak in broad strokes about future plans we have. I always find this an interesting conversation topic to continue during the breaks and thankfully this was the same here.

  • What’s the future of Jira Server? Will Data Center Edition “take over” for hosted versions with more customers moving towards Cloud versions?
  • Will Confluence gain an offline mode similar to Google Docs? Feedback from our team is that they have to revert back to Google Docs, Microsoft Word or Pages when travelling then copy & paste information into Confluence afterwards.
  • Jira 8 - Batched Notifications & Performance Improvements are right at the top of our list. We’re very much looking forward to this.
  • Greater Slack integration in Jira Server version i.e. full conversation threads accessible in Jira. This functionality exists on Jira Cloud but not yet (?) on Jira Server.
  • Tempo Budgets looks to be the natural next step to build on top of our work in Tempo Timesheets & Tempo Accounts.

After the official ‘Atlassian in Scotland’ event ended there was the opportunity to attend an Atlassian User Group. The user group is usually based in Edinburgh but had made the journey to Glasgow for the evening. This was an informal gathering of Atlassian users with additional presentations from Tempo, EazyBI and Software Plant. Tempo presented a product demo, EazyBI spoke about some do’s and don’t when creating reports and Software Plant gave a sneak peek into the “Box Revolution” that’s coming in BigPicture 7.5. There’s sadly no AUG in Belfast so being able to attend this as part of the event was a bonus for me not to mention free Pizza, beer and swag from the sponsors!

Having the opportunity to speak with people working in similar and non-similar fields but all using the same software to achieve their goals made for a fantastic event. The lasting impression from the event was that of shared experiences and challenges.

Huge thanks for New Verve Consulting, Atlassian, Tempo, EazyBI & Software Plant for making the event possible. We are looking forward to next year already!

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2019-04-23T10:21:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Atlassian Summit 2019 - Highlights]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/atlassian-summit-2019-highlights https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/atlassian-summit-2019-highlights#When:10:30:00Z Atlassian Summit 2019 took place on 7th - 9th April at the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre in Las Vegas. Hailed as the largest summit to date and with over 4,000 delegates in attendance, this year’s conference brought the global Atlassian community together to share product and technology updates, company news and Atlassian’s vision for the future.

Atlassian Summit 2019. Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar
Atlassian Summit 2019. Co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes

We were sorry to miss it in person this year but we were delighted to participate virtually via the Summit portal. We would like to share with you a few of the exciting announcements made during the tenth Atlassian Summit:

Cloud

Atlassian Cloud

Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes stated that they are building where customers are today as well as building where they want to go in the future. Mike also quoted that over 90% of companies already use cloud somewhere in their organisation. With more than 100,000 Atlassian customers already on the cloud, Atlassian are accelerating investment in cloud solutions as they believe this will be the destination of choice for almost every customer over time.

Cloud Premium for Jira Software and Confluence was announced at the Summit. For Jira Software, the premium edition includes advanced roadmaps and better visualisation of project status straight out of the box with no apps required. Confluence Cloud premium boasts 15+ new features, including faster, easier content creation, pre-formatted templates, better organisation of content and Analytics for Confluence. Cloud Premium is backed by a solid promise:

  • SLA guarantee of 99.9% availability, removing the worry of any downtime
  • Unlimited storage
  • 24x7 premium support with a 1 hour response time for critical issues

Other updates for standard versions of Cloud included:

Support for 10,000 users: This started at 1,000 users and was increased to 2,000 and then 5,000. Atlassian state their goal is to support unlimited users in the future.

Data centre distribution: Atlassian had originally launched three data centres in Dublin and the West and East Coasts of America. Last year they announced two new data centres in Singapore and Sydney. Atlassian has now added a data centre in Frankfurt, providing customers with better choices with regards to data locality whilst meeting any data residency guidelines.

Cloud performance increases: Jira boards load 50% faster, backlogs 80% faster and navigating in Jira is now 100% faster than before.

Admin experience: Atlassian has unified the admin experience so its easier to manage multiple Atlassian Cloud products in one central place - the Atlassian Admin Hub. Built-in domain capture allows visibility over every user in a company and an all new admin API set to automate user management across an organisation.

New Atlassian cloud migration centre: helping customers plan, migrate and optimise their journey from server to cloud.

Atlassian Access: Launched 9 months ago, Atlassian has witnessed “blockbuster adoption” of this across its customer base in less than one year. Features include 2FA and SAML Single Sign-On. Already partnered with 5 of the largest identity providers, Atlassian are pleased to announce partnerships with two additional identify providers: Google Cloud Identity and Microsoft Active Directory Federated Services. Atlassian Access now also has automatic user provisioning through Okta, Azure and OneLogin. Features include:

  • SSO/SAML
  • IDP integration
  • Central admin hub
  • Unified user management
  • Auto user provisioning
  • Admin API support
  • API tokens
  • Audit logs

Data Centre

Key highlights at the Summit for Data Centre features comprised:

Support for Amazon Aurora Data Centre: More details to follow.

Content Delivery Network (CDN) Support: this will allow distributed teams to accelerate performance as remote users interact with the UI of the product and reduce peak load on the primary application instance.

Smart Mirror Farms: for Bitbucket Data Centre. Allows the enterprise customer the ability to cluster smart mirrors into farms, grouped together behind a load balancer which reduces the time a team has to wait for build results and increases the overall experience for a distributed team.

Rate limiting for rest APIs: “self-protect” instances by allowing customers to set thresholds for the number of concurrent requests a user can make to a server whilst also setting exemptions. Currently released in Bitbucket with similar support to be added to Jira Software and Jira Service Desk soon.

Issue level archiving: Atlassian announced project level archiving last year and at this year’s summit they have introduced Issue archiving. This will allow customers to archive individual issues and use JQL to collect and archive issues as a bulk action. An API will be released soon.

Overhaul of Data Centre AWS and Azure Templates

Centralised licence and permissions visibility: starting with centralised license visibility in Crowd, which will be followed by centralised permissions visibility.

Server

Atlassian stated that major releases across all server and data centre products ensure that the customer will have a platform that they can depend on for years to come. Key takeaways from the Summit include:

Jira Software 8.0: improved performance, 31% faster JQL searches, agile boards load twice as fast and re-index 71% shorter (on average). The overall index size is cut in half.

Bitbucket 6.0: Code Insights takes critical information from third party systems directly into pull requests, allowing developers to stay in the flow and progress work.

Portfolio for Jira 3.0: Key features include:

  • intuitive planning UI
  • enhanced drag and drop scheduling functionality
  • new filtering options and view settings
  • improved dependency management capabilities

Jira Align

Atlassian recently announced its acquisition of AgileCraft and at the Summit a new brand identity was unveiled: Jira Align. Jira Align aims to get teams aligned across an enterprise and drive outcomes, as opposed to outputs, at scale.

100% renewable by 2025

On an end note, Atlassian has pledged to go 100% renewable by 2025. They are joining RE100, an initiative that is bringing together a group of influential business across the world who are committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity.

Summit 2019 Session Playback

Interested in learning more? Full replays of the General Sessions and Product Keynote Presentations are now available via the Atlassian website. Enjoy!

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2019-04-16T10:30:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Atlassian in Scotland 2019 - Event Summary]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/atlassian-in-scotland-2019-event-summary https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/atlassian-in-scotland-2019-event-summary#When:10:12:00Z New Verve Consulting were delighted to host the inaugural Atlassian in Scotland conference on the 19th March 2019 at the Technology and Innovation Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The event brought together Atlassian users, vendors, partners and product evangelists from across Scotland and from wider afield to exchange knowledge and share insights of the Atlassian product suite. With over 70 delegates in attendance from a range of public and private sector companies, the event enabled the Scottish audience to collaborate, discover and network with like-minded professionals with the same aim: to explore how Atlassian solutions can inspire effective teamwork!

Check out the Atlassian in Scotland 2019 social story on wakelet!

Unleashing the potential of every team

With a central theme of Project Portfolio Management, an exciting programme of keynotes, product demos and a thought-provoking panel discussion was arranged throughout the day. Nigel Rochford, Managing Director of New Verve Consulting, welcomed delegates to the first ever Atlassian in Scotland event and set the scene for the day ahead. Feico Mol, Head of EMEA channels at Atlassian, acted as MC and panel host and opened by outlining Atlassian’s mission and core values. The recent acquisition of AgileCraft by Atlassian was announced, with Feico explaining Atlassian is now better equipped than ever to scale agile to the enterprise.

Feico Mol, Atlassian
Feico Mol, Atlassian

Scaling agile leads to business success

The first keynote of the day was delivered by Giulio Iannazzo, Solutions Engineer at Atlassian, who continued with the importance of scaling agile for enterprise. The journey that organisations embark on to become increasingly agile requires acceptance that the world is uncertain, scaling agile isn’t only about tools and of the importance between growing and transforming. Giulio explained that properly laid foundations for scaling agile leads to business success; these include visibility, evolution, decision making (by those closest to the problem), structure and the power of a team of teams. Alignment requires insight without stifling innovation. Giulio finished by exploring how Portfolio for Jira enables the enterprise to gain visibility across all teams and projects.

Presentation: Scaling agile with Portfolio for Jira - Giulio Iannazzo, Atlassian

Distributed team cohesion and inclusion

Darline Auguste, APAC & EMEA Community Manager at Atlassian, shared with the audience 5 tips for working effectively as a distributed team. Expanding on Atlassian’s mission to unleash the potential of every team, Darline stressed the importance of staying connected, over-communication, involving everyone, being considerate and to level the field. Tools from the Atlassian product suite (principally Confluence and Trello) along with Slack and Zoom were instrumental in enabling distributed team collaboration, organisation and communication. Adopting the mentality of taking ownership and the realisation that it’s not only up to your teammates, Darline concluded that you are the key to unleashing the potential of your organisation.

Presentation: Tips for working effectively as a distributed team - Darline Auguste, Atlassian

Darline Auguste, Atlassian
Darline Auguste, Atlassian

Tempo and Jira

Next up were Eyglo Oskarsdottir, Sales Manager at Tempo Software and Thorunn Oskarsdottir, Solutions Architect at Tempo Software, who demonstrated how teams can achieve strategic objectives with Tempo and Jira. Eyglo and Thorunn discussed how it is possible to gain insights into potential returns on a project whilst enhancing transparency and gaining real-time insights into scope, resources and timeline. Eyglo and Thorunn highlighted the event theme of project portfolio management as a way to ensure that a company’s work contributes to its goals. Jira as a tool provides the building blocks and the Tempo software suite better enables Pipeline Management (Tempo Budgets), Resource Management (Tempo Planner), Financial Management (Tempo Budgets), Change Management (Tempo Budgets) and Risk Management.

Customer journey implementing the Atlassian product suite

The final presentation before lunch was from Peter Hinds, Head of Operations at Synergy Learning. Peter discussed the reality of implementing Atlassian software in a growing organisation and how Synergy Learning uses the Atlassian product suite to create globally leading learning management systems and e-portfolio software.

It was really interesting to learn how a company with hyper growth has standardized on Atlassian to facilitate project delivery and support future growth. Synergy Learning started on their Atlassian journey with Bitbucket for code reviews and Jira was next introduced for the development team alongside various supporting 3rd party applications. Ultimately, the number of tools was becoming a hindrance and with the help of a long-term partner, Synergy Learning decided to scale and standardize using Atlassian software.

Presentation: Our experience with implementing the Atlassian product suite - Peter Hinds, Synergy Learning

Challenges with digital management tools

After lunch Andriy Stukan, Technical Consultant at Accenture discussed an interesting statistic “75% of PMS use two to five total tools for project management”. Andriy explored day-to-day planning with Jira and collaborating with Confluence and Trello, addressed the challenges that project managers face when it comes to tooling and how Atlassian software can solve them.

Andriy Stukan, Accenture
Andriy Stukan, Accenture

Perfect project reporting?

Janis Plume, BI Consultant at eazyBI illustrated how to create project reports for Jira using eazyBI. EazyBI allows the user to gain insights into project status, progress and forecasts. To achieve perfect project reporting Janis recommended consistency, continuity, availability and effortlessness.

Presentation: Project reporting for Jira - Janis Plume, eazyBI

Janis Plume - eazyBI
Janis Plume - eazyBI

Project portfolio with BigPicture

The final keynote of the event was delivered by Jerzy Sekula, Product Owner and Business Analyst at SoftwarePlant. Jerzy introduced the BigPicture product suite and examined how BigPicture facilitated project portfolio management. Waterfall, Agile and hybrid project management methodologies can all be adopted within BigPicture. Jerzy closed by highlighting the use of SAFe in BigPicture and the portfolio management, resource planning and risk management features.

Presentation: Project portfolio management with BigPicture - Jerzy Sekula, SoftwarePlant


Panel discussion - how can Agile, governance and the PMO work together?

Delegate questions for panel discussion
Delegate questions for panel discussion

A lively and insightful panel discussion followed the keynotes which was based around questions submitted by the audience over the refreshment breaks. Philippa Christie, Production Manager at Equator, Sorcha Lorimer, Founder of Trace Data Ltd and Anthony Christensen, Agile and DevOps Centre of Excellence Lead at RBS made up the panel. The overall discussion was around ‘How can Agile, governance and the PMO work together?’ with the audience keen to learn more about “what is the role of the PMO in agile?” and “how to stop metrics being misused”.

Philippa stated that from her experience the nature of work and client demands drives the approach companies adopt, resulting in not always being able to use Agile methodologies. Philippa also felt it was important for people to feel empowered and comfortable raising concerns, something which the PMO should encourage as the role of the PMO is to proactively make things better.

Sorcha reminded delegates to be inclusive and to go at the pace of the whole organisation when implementing agile. The use of language was also very important. With regards to metrics, Anthony suggested we keep it simple and to ensure you know what the metrics are for and why you are reporting. Anthony also asked the question of how best to encourage a large organisation to implement Agile in a consistent way and is this something we should be doing?

Panel discussion at Atlassian in Scotland 2019
Panel discussion at Atlassian in Scotland 2019

Other key takeaways from the panel discussion included the importance of a PMO to facilitate and not to dictate, to focus on the outcomes and to consider the best fit for your organisation and objectives.

In addition to engaging keynotes and panel discussion, Atlassian in Scotland provided a valuable opportunity for Scottish businesses and fellow Atlassians to exchange ideas and to discuss the personal challenges encountered around project portfolio management. The New Verve team were in demand at our booth throughout the day showcasing the Atlassian product suite in action and exploring any queries the event delegates had in relation to the tools. Tempo, eazyBI and SoftwarePlant were also exhibiting and on-hand to discuss issues ranging from how best to schedule resources, manage budgets and track time to creating business intelligence data reports and dashboards, and Jira project management plugins. Everything was covered!

Kris Siwiec at the New Verve Consulting booth
Kris Siwiec at the New Verve Consulting booth

A drinks reception followed the main event which allowed delegates, speakers and panellists a chance to relax and unwind after the conference. Discussions continued over a glass of wine and a beer in the airy surroundings of the atrium.

Drinks reception
Drinks reception

Evening event - Atlassian User Group

The Edinburgh Atlassian User Group changed location and tied in with Atlassian in Scotland with an informal evening AUG event. Tempo, SoftwarePlant and eazyBI stayed on and presented to the user group. With beer, pizza, conversation and swag it was the perfect way to wrap up the first ever Atlassian in Scotland conference!

New Verve would like to thank Atlassian, all the speakers, panellists, vendors and the delegates for making the inaugural event such a success.

Atlassian in Scotland 2020

Would you like to be involved in Atlassian in Scotland 2020? We are in the early stages of planning next year’s event and we would like you to be part of it! We are sourcing speakers, sponsors and panellists and aim to make Atlassian in Scotland 2020 even bigger and better than the last. Contact us for more information and watch this space for speaker blogs and exciting developments in relation to the next event. See you next year!

#TartanTeamwork

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2019-03-27T10:12:00+00:00
<![CDATA[We are now Atlassian Gold Solution Partners]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/we-are-now-atlassian-gold-solution-partners https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/we-are-now-atlassian-gold-solution-partners#When:11:52:00Z ​I’m delighted and proud to announce that New Verve has achieved Gold status as part of Atlassian’s channel partner programme.

As an Atlassian Gold Solution Partner, we are recognised by Atlassian as highly trained and committed to our Atlassian practice and delivering value to our customers. Graduating from Silver to Gold has been a strategic goal for us in 2019, and we’ve achieved this goal ahead of schedule.

Over the past 3 years, we’ve established ourselves as a trusted channel partner here in Scotland and throughout the UK. By investing in staff training and industry accreditations, we have now gained a new level of recognition and confidence from Atlassian. More importantly, our highly trained team are in a position to meet and exceed customer expectations.

With a year-over-year growth of 50% since joining forces with Atlassian in 2016, we’re excited about what the future holds for New Verve. Next step: Platinum!


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2019-02-05T11:52:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Why we joined the Scottish Business Pledge]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/why-we-joined-the-scottish-business-pledge https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/why-we-joined-the-scottish-business-pledge#When:18:00:00Z

​The Scottish Business Pledge is a voluntary commitment made by Scottish businesses to promote fair employment practices and boost productivity. As a business, we strongly believe in the values upon which the pledge is built and are delighted to do our part in promoting this initiative.

Each of the 9 pledges contributes to a stronger and more balanced landscape in Scotland, and we’d encourage every business to also make the pledge:

  1. Paying the living wage
  2. Not using exploitative zero hours contracts
  3. Supporting progressive workforce engagement
  4. Investing in Youth
  5. Making progress on diversity and gender balance
  6. Committing to an innovation programme
  7. Pursuing international business opportunities
  8. Playing an active role in the community
  9. Committing to prompt payment

As a small and growing business, I feel it’s important to lay great foundations for the future - both for us and for Scottish business in general. I’m proud to say that New Verve already enacts 7 out of the 9 pledges.

Like many other tech businesses, we fall short on gender balance. As we scale over the coming couple of years, this is a key area that we will address. Ultimately, diversity and inclusion are crucial factors to building a more balanced business and culture within it.

We’re also considering numerous ways to play a more active role in our community in West Dunbartonshire. One of these is Pledge 1%, a movement of corporate philanthropy, which involves committing 1% of equity, profit, product, and/or employee time for their communities. It’s spearheaded by Salesforce, Atlassian, and many other big names in our industry.

Find out more

Check out the Scottish Business Pledge website for more information.

The pledge wall illustrates the range of businesses that have already made their commitment to a fairer Scotland.

]]>
2018-12-19T18:00:00+00:00
<![CDATA[How we moved Crowd user management to a centralized cloud directory]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/how-we-moved-crowd-user-management-to-a-centralized-cloud-directory https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/how-we-moved-crowd-user-management-to-a-centralized-cloud-directory#When:10:58:00Z A common problem experienced by Atlassian Server administrators using Atlassian Crowd for user directory management is that Jira Service Desk (JSD) customers must exist as Crowd users, while the Crowd Single Sign On (SSO) is used across the application stack.

This can lead to a large number of licensed Crowd users, ultimately resulting in unnecessary business costs. Additionally, a Crowd Server user directory introduces a single point of failure when combined with SSO, if the Crowd Server is unreachable then authentication is impossible for any application that uses Crowd.

So, how did we go about solving this problem at New Verve?

Requirements

First, we captured our requirements. We needed:

  1. a centralized cloud user directory that could be used for more services than just our Atlassian stack of applications
  2. to reduce costs for our Crowd license (and handle Jira Service Desk customers elsewhere)
  3. implement Single Sign-On (SSO) across all applications
  4. the ability to enforce Two Factor Authentication (2FA) at application login

Possible solutions

To avoid storing Jira Service Desk customers in Crowd (and hence reduce the license cost), we first considered using a modified Seraph Connector which could default back to Jira’s home directory. However, this approach introduces technical overhead, as you would either have to rely on an open source implementation which has not been actively maintained, or develop your own custom Seraph Connector.

In the end, we opted for a more comprehensive solution that could deliver on all of our requirements.

Centralized cloud directory

There are many SaaS user directory services available, offering similar functionality. The ones we considered were:

Feature Comparison

Google SSO

GSuite customers can create SAML SSO Applications free-of-charge, which can be used by any licensed GSuite users. However, GSuite does not offer an LDAP service, although it is possible to synchronise GSuite and JumpCloud, with JumpCloud providing LDAP access.

JumpCloud

JumpCloud offers a range of different user directories, including LDAP and SAML based single sign-on. There are different user tiers available, offering different functionality at a range of per-user prices.

OneLogin

OneLogin offers a huge list of features, most of which were not part of our requirements. The custom branding functionality is very interesting though, compared to say JumpCloud where you are currently unable to customise the login experience. There are different user tiers available, offering different functionality at a range of per-user prices. Each tier offers LDAP as an add-on, priced at an additional €2/user/month.

Okta

While Okta offers a huge range of features in different tiers, but the SSO tier met all of our requirements at a reasonable price per user. They’re also used by some big names, including Experian and Adobe.

SSO

As we cannot use additional user directories in combination with Crowd’s SSO connector, we could have decided to remove SSO all together, authenticating each application separately. This is a pain though, as each user would then have to authenticate with each application.

There are numerous SSO apps available on the Atlassian Marketplace which provide similar functionality to the Crowd SSO connector, but allowing the use of multiple internal and external user directories.

Example marketplace apps:

2FA

While planning our migration of the Crowd user directory to the Jira User Server and an External User Directory, we looked into solutions for enforcing Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for our staff members, so that we could add an additional authentication requirement to user logins.

Sadly, there is no out-of-the-box functionality provided by Atlassian for 2FA. While add-ons do exist on the Market Place to provide 2FA, we chose to include the 2FA enforcement in the requirements for the external user directory.

Our chosen solution

We chose JumpCloud as our centralized user directory, as it provides all the functionality we need to meet our requirements (SAML SSO, 2FA) as well as providing authentication for desktop PCs and a wide range of other features. In addition to this, we currently sit in the free tier due to our user number requirements.

We made the internal decision to phase out Crowd usage, in favour of moving to a Jira provided user server. This allows us to create as many JSD customers as is required, without exceeding our Jira user licence limits. Migrating from Crowd Server to Jira’s User Server does not solve the single-point-of-failure that exists when centralising all application access in a single Server application instance. To mitigate this single-point-of-failure for company accounts, we decided it was best to introduce a secondary user directory for staff use, and to store customer accounts within Jira’s User Server.

For SSO, we opted for Resolution‘s SAML Single Sign-On apps, available for all Atlassian Server products. We found that the SSO options all provided a similar set of core functionality and vary mostly in user interface. Some add-ons offer Kerberos support, but this was not something we required.

To roll out our chosen solution, we had a couple of challenges:

  • first, we had to migrate from Crowd and then retire it;
  • then, we needed to figure out a way of enforcing 2FA for employees but not customers (this was a medium-term business requirement).

Configuring JumpCloud with Resolution’s SAML app

We followed Resolution’s guide to setting up a generic SAML provider.

At this stage we realised that JumpCloud only supports a single Entity URL, meaning that each Atlassian application had to have its own JumpCloud SAML Application configured and integrated, which took more time than a single Entity.

Staff user directory

We hooked up our Atlassian applications to JumpCloud for user directory management using JumpCloud’s LDAP-as-a-service.

This is a standard OpenLDAP configuration that was applied to Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket and Bamboo following this guide. We discovered that JumpCloud does not at the time of writing support nested groups, which meant they had to be disabled across all of Jira’s user base.

This is something we hope JumpCloud implements soon, as nested groups make user management a more streamlined process.

Migrating customers from Crowd to Jira

We had a few options in migrating our existing Crowd users over to Jira’s internal user directory. These included directly migrating via database queries, exporting users to CSV and importing into Jira or using an add-on from the Atlassian marketplace.

After evaluating a few options, we decided that TechTime’s User Management for Jira was the bit fit for our needs. It supports bulk migration of users between user directories, as well as a lot of other useful features.

The only caveat we discovered was that passwords would have to be reset for each user. Currently Jira doesn’t allow bulk password resets to be sent out, so we had to notify each customer to reset their password through the standard Jira forgotten login form.

Enforcing SAML SSO

Now that our employee accounts are migrated to JumpCloud’s active directory, using SAML SSO for sign on with 2FA, we needed to enforce the usage of JumpCloud sign on. This was performed by using Resolution’s DenyPasswordAuthenticator Seraph connector - which needed to be installed to the lib directory in the installation directory for each application. We had to then create the allowed-password-login group within Jira, and add all non-employee accounts to this group so that customers could still sign on using Jira’s standard login, but employees would have to use JumpCloud with 2FA.

As we’re enforcing SAML SSO for employees only, we needed a way to automate adding customers to the allow-password-login group, as this would have to be a manual step on user creation, including for Service Desk customers. To handle this, we wrote a Groovy script and set this up as a custom listener using ScriptRunner for Jira Server, triggered by the UserCreatedEvent. Once a new user has been created, the script checks their email address to make sure it doesn’t match one of our internal domains (@newverve). If no match is found, then they are added into the allow-password-login group.

 
import com.atlassian.jira.component.ComponentAccessor
import com.atlassian.crowd.event.user.UserCreatedEvent 
import com.atlassian.jira.user.util.UserUtil
import com.atlassian.jira.security.groups.GroupManager
import com.atlassian.jira.user.util.UserManager
import com.atlassian.jira.user.ApplicationUsers
import com.atlassian.jira.user.ApplicationUser
import com.atlassian.jira.util.ErrorCollection
import com.atlassian.jira.util.SimpleErrorCollection

// Settings
String AdminUser = "sysadmin" //User with admin rights
String defaultGroup = "allow-password-login"
String emailFilter = "@newverve"

// Get manager components
UserManager userManager = ComponentAccessor.getComponent(UserManager)
GroupManager groupManager = ComponentAccessor.getComponent(GroupManager)
UserUtil userUtil = ComponentAccessor.getComponent(UserUtil)

// Run as a system admin
ApplicationUser adminApplicationUser = userManager.getUserByName("${AdminUser}")
ComponentAccessor.getJiraAuthenticationContext().setLoggedInUser(adminApplicationUser)


// Retrieve event and user details
def event = event as UserCreatedEvent
def eventUser = event.user
def eventUserEmail = eventUser.getEmailAddress()
def appUser = userManager.getUserByKey(ApplicationUsers.getKeyFor(event.user))

log.info event

// Check filter, exit if match found
if (eventUserEmail.contains(emailFilter)) {
    log.info "User ${appUser} has an email (${eventUserEmail}) containing filter ${emailFilter}, skipping"
    exit(0)
}

// Get user and group
def gname = groupManager.getGroup(defaultGroup)

log.info "User: ${appUser}"
userUtil.addUserToGroup(gname, appUser) //Adds the user to the above group
log.info "User ${appUser} has been added to group ${defaultGroup}"
]]>
2018-12-05T10:58:00+00:00
<![CDATA[A perfect Asset Management Solution?]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/a-perfect-asset-management-solution https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/a-perfect-asset-management-solution#When:19:19:00Z ​What is Insight?

Insight is an Asset Management Tool Created by Riada which is available from the Atlassian Marketplace for Jira Server and Data Center.

This tool fully integrates within Jira to provide a smooth and logical user interface that gracefully blends the worlds of Jira issue management and asset management.

While Jira can be used to house asset related information natively, the results could end up less than satisfactory (Issues filled to the brim with constantly updated custom fields, issues being lost due to incorrectly mapped workflows, etc.).

What can Insight do?

Insight can be a powerful tool if you understand how to use it.

Not only does it give you the ability to sort and log assets in a central repository, such as hardware, software licenses, and even office keys, it also allows you to link each item into a visual web based on underlying relationships and dependencies.



This kind of view provides a better understanding of how objects interact with each other and a greater sense of total system thinking!

What is better is that Insight objects can be attributed to Jira issues so that the users involved can see the exact objects you are referencing and all of their associated data!



Why do we use Insight?

Insight provides us with an easy and visual way to keep track of all of the information associated with the business. It acts as a single source of truth.

Before Insight was included in our toolbox we used to document everything in unstructured, static Confluence pages. Insight wins because it centralises our data in a structured and easily accessible way.

With our legacy approach in Confluence, we ended up with fragmented documentation with legacy and forgotten about content. The support team would often come across incorrect information and it was unclear where it should be updated.

With our new approach using Insight, rather than relying on potentially stagnant content, we now use the Insight macro in Confluence which ensures the team has access to the most up-to-date information.



For service delivery, we use Insight every day. An object picker is included within our Jira Service Desk requests, enabling team members to select an affected piece of equipment..



A support agent working on the ticket can easily see exactly which piece of equipment is affected, along with its meta-data and all other tickets that reference the object. This makes support tickets much more precise and cuts down on duplicated work.







We also use Insight to automatically pull in meta-data from Amazon Web Services which we use for much of our managed services infrastructure. Customers that use New Verve to host their Atlassian server software have their data linked to client projects in Jira, enabling us to closely monitor the services we provide.

Watch out for a further blog post on this topic!

Potential use cases

Apart from the obvious ‘IT assets’ use case, there are many other ways that you can take advantage of Insight:

  • employee onboarding
  • leave management
  • software release management
  • legal assets

When combined with Jira Service Desk for request management, the possibilities are endless!

Summing up

All in all, it’s great to have an off-the-shelf solution from Riada that we could integrate closely into our daily operations.

While we could function without it, we are much better off now with improved service delivery, more automation, and ultimately less cost.

Need more information?

If you need to find a Jira integrated solution for your asset management troubles, why not give Insight a try?

Get in touch with one of our consultants for a free demo and we can help map your requirements to the tool!

]]>
2018-11-08T19:19:00+00:00
<![CDATA[Atlas Camp 2018]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/atlas-camp-2018 https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/atlas-camp-2018#When:15:23:00Z

That’s a wrap for Atlas Camp 2018!

For those that do not know, Atlas Camp is Atlassian’s annual developer event. It’s a time when fellow developers of the Atlassian ecosystem meet up and are able to attend talks from Atlassian’s own developers or from app vendors to share tips and tricks with the community.

Atlas Camp took place again after Summit in Barcelona this year, and after attending for the first time, we thought we’d share some insights!

The biggest announcements in this year’s developer update were focused around Cloud and Data Center. As with the EU summit, there is a big push for scalability, especially with Atlassian’s own Jira Cloud offering. They want apps to work cross product, so that that users have less start/stop and less friction when sharing work.

Data Center approved apps

For Data Center, there was a big focus on the new Data Center Approved Apps programme.

The aim of the programme is to guarantee stability of apps for enterprise-sized users, where high availability and performance at scale are must-have requirements. The programme requires app developers to rigorously test their apps to prove they can scale well with Data Center. Find out more about what’s involved here.

Empowering users

For Cloud, the main message was ‘empowering users’.

Users will soon get a brand new in-product marketplace in Cloud with improved UX and more entry points in Jira and Confluence, enabling them to more easily discover apps that fulfil their specific needs.

In the near future, we’ll see a wave of apps that empower end-users to customize their own experience. Atlassian’s vision focused on ‘personal integrations’, which will solve the problem of users jumping between multiple app contexts (e.g. Slack, Gmail, WhatsApp etc.). A great proof of concept presented at Atlas Camp is the new Atlassian Cloud for Gmail app, which is an add-on installed within Gmail, enabling users to see information from Jira and Bitbucket and take actions in-context, without leaving their inboxes.

The enabling technology for developers is OAuth 2.0 (three-legged OAuth or ‘3LO’) which allows external applications and services to access Atlassian product APIs on a user’s behalf. Read more here.

Catch up on sessions

To check out more exciting content, you can go to the official Atlas Camp website where they have uploaded many of the sessions for you to rewatch.

]]>
2018-09-18T15:23:00+00:00
<![CDATA[The biggest announcements from Atlassian Summit 2018]]> https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/the-biggest-announcements-from-atlassian-summit-2018 https://www.newverveconsulting.com/blog/the-biggest-announcements-from-atlassian-summit-2018#When:10:17:00Z We’ve just returned from sunny Barcelona, having sponsored and exhibited at Atlassian Summit for the first time.

As usual, the event was jam-packed with a tonne of inspiring sessions across 2 days. You can watch all the recorded sessions here.

The expo floor was also a hive of activity, with a diverse set of partners and Marketplace vendors showing off their wares. We thoroughly enjoyed speaking with fellow exhibitors and returned to Glasgow refreshed and inspired.

I say refreshed, but Atlassian’s biggest party of the year, Summit Bash, left us nursing sore heads for a while after smile

Tartan Partners

Since we are the only Atlassian Solution Partner from Scotland, we thought we’d make a statement this year, and donned kilts for the entire event. The kilts were so popular that we hereby promise that we’ll do the same every year from now on!

Check out more of our photos on Twitter via the hashtag #tartanpartners.

OpsGenie

The first big announcement in Atlassian’s keynote was the acquisition of OpsGenie, a leader in incident management and alerting software.

Until the acquisition is fully closed, we can’t offer much insight at this stage, but we’re expecting tight integrations between OpsGenie and the likes of Statuspage and Jira Ops (see below).

Jira Ops

Following the same theme in IT Operations, Atlassian also announced a brand new cloud product: Jira Ops. It’s free to try until early 2019.

Inspired by the DevOps movement, Jira Ops serves as an ‘incident command centre’, giving IT operations teams a central place to track and manage incidents during their lifetime.

We’re not yet fully up to speed on all of Jira Ops features, but it seems that its true value will come from integrations with other tools such as Slack, Statuspage, Jira Service Desk, and of course the newly acquired OpsGenie.

Cloud

It’s clear that Atlassian is continuing to heavily invest in Atlassian Cloud and not surprisingly.

More than 70% of Atlassian’s customers are now using cloud products, and this number will surely continue to grow quickly. It’s no surprise that the biggest announcement was an increased user limit for Jira and Confluence, from 2,000 to 5,000 users.

Some new integrations were also announced: firstly between Bitbucket Pipelines and Jira Software and secondly between Slack and Confluence.

User experience is continuing to evolve with announcements across most products:

  • a completely redesigned UX for pull requests in Bitbucket;
  • a new look and feel for Jira Service Desk;
  • a simpler editing experience in Confluence, with optimized layouts, in-context toolbars, and new templates.

And it looks like Jira issues in general have a revamp in the pipeline, with inspiration taken from the bento box. Information will be displayed neatly, logically, and beautifully!

Server and Data Center

The spotlight was certainly on Atlassian Cloud at Summit, however, there were lots of announcements and breakout sessions for Server and DC.

Atlassian’s Cloud and Server roadmaps are distinct, meaning that each audience will get features tailored to them. And the new features are driven by feedback directly through the public issue tracker JAC. It’s nice to see heavily voted features finally coming to fruition!

First up: Jira 8.0! It brings with it super fast agile boards, batch email notifications (this is our favourite!), custom email notifications to reduce noise, and a native mobile app.

For Jira Service Desk, server customers will soon be able to customize their portal. If you have fairly simple branding requirements, this will more than suffice without needing to purchase a theming plugin such as Refined Theme.

We were also impressed with the new search experience coming in Confluence with faster UX and better filtering. Here’s a mobile snap from the keynote to give you a flavour:

Beyond Confluence and Jira, there were some other product announcements:

  • upcoming code insights integrations in Bamboo;
  • delegated management of groups to non global admins in Crowd;
  • new functionality in Portfolio for Jira to make it easier to plan across teams of teams.

There’s an upcoming Atlassian webinar which will go into some more detail about these new features for Server. Register here!

Other titbits

We can’t squeeze everything into a single blog article, so we’ll try to get some other useful content up on the blog in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, some other useful titbits to check out:

  • the new Atlassian Incident Handbook, a summary of Atlassian’s incident management process;
  • the first ever Trello Day took place this year! Check out the session videos here!
]]>
2018-09-10T10:17:00+00:00