Jira audits: The best way to automate and diagnose large instances

DEISER
Sep 26, 2019 5:36:06 PM

Jira audits should be a periodical activity process for Jira enterprise instances that haven't had clear administration policies since day one; let's be honest. This also applies to all Jira instances. It's part of its maintenance process. In this simple step-by-step guide to consolidate Jira, we show how to make a semi-automated diagnosis of the situation that works for the most complex environments.


Jira audits are the solution to a common problem for any old instance of Jira unless those never had clear administration policies from day one. Time brings chaos and disarray, and that's why in this article, we’re going to show why that happens and how to make a semi-automated diagnosis of the situation that works for the most complex environments.

How many customers of Atlassian started using Jira over ten years ago?

While it’s hard to give an accurate number, given that the company only started publishing its yearly financial reports after it went public in 2015, the volume is considerable and keeps growing.

Whenever you go into a startup or a corporation, these days, you can almost assume the product teams will be using Jira to some extent -almost as much as you can see accountants running their balance sheets on Microsoft’s Excel.

Dilbert about automated and diganose Jira audits

When will we take Scott Adam's MBA? This is where wisdom meets sarcasm...

We have just said Jira had become a facto standard. Becoming an industry-standard also means more people are aware of the typical problems a user is likely to encounter… and, of course, these people need quality troubleshooting.

We’ve identified one of those typical problems in the path to consolidation, and we’d like to help with a proven method for diagnosing the health of large Jira instances. Hint: It all starts auditing in Jira.

Responses times of Jira

In the following chart, you can see the response times of individual actions performed in the tool -which from Jira Data Center 7.9, the "boards" performance has improved by nearly 30%.

Audit of several Jira instances.

Benchmark your instance's response time against Atlassian standards with this reference (Click here for more info)

With small teams, Jira works like a bullet. But as time goes by and more and more people and processes are thrown into the tool, performance takes a hit. And although Atlassian keeps revamping the product to be faster than yesterday, there are many factors still correlated with poor performance in Jira:

  •    The age of the instance.
  •    A large volume of issues (at least in the hundred thousand.)
  •    A large volume of projects with no transparent governance (i.e., when and how they should be archived.)
  •    Bottom-up, decentralized adoption of the tool.

Here are some signs of a corporate Jira crying for an audit:

  •    Different instances of Jira running on different versions.
  •    No clear picture of how many teams are on the tool.
  •    Nobody knows which projects are active and which are abandoned.
  •    The processes supported with Jira are not properly cataloged.
  •    Many Jira Admins with no one acting as coordinator.

We've seen this problem many times and under different disguises: Sometimes it’s a humongous instance migrating from Server to Data Center, sometimes it’s 22 instances of Jira that have to be federated, sometimes it’s a merger. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that there’s a way out.

...but you can stop it from happening

At DEISER, we have over 10 years of experience working with Atlassian customers, and we’ve encountered most of the situations listed above.

For our team, it’s important to have a walk-through that applies to different situations, a doable approach that is generically valid. However, after some initial work, the context will dictate the need for different actions.

The solution described below applies to any large, disorganized instance of Jira with obsolete data, and it’s a proven way to diagnose:

  •    What’s going on in the system?
  •    What needs improvement?
  •    What can be standardized?
  •    Who are the stakeholders, and what are their motivations?

A Jira audit in three steps: automation, a project template, and good old human feedback

In a normal audit, consultants have to manually go into every project to pull the information about the schemes being used, write their own scripts and queries, or directly call the Jira Database to make data analysis there. It’s much work, and it can take days. It’s also expensive and slow for the customer.

1. Automating the baseline diagnosis

Thanks to Projectrak for Jira (formerly Profields), our consultants can create a baseline diagnosis of the instance in about thirty minutes:

  •   To start, we create a project script field for each of the schemes we want to measure.

For example, here’s the script that reads the issue type scheme being used in a project:

Script console of Profields to automate audit enterprise jira instances

 

And here are all of the scripts for you to use:

Copy and paste the scripts to read which schemes are being used in each of your projects from this link

  •    Then we go into the Project Navigator and add the column to check that it’s giving results.
Profields's Project Navigator to make easy Jira enterprise audits

  •    Third, we create a one-field statistical gadget in a new Jira dashboard for each script.

Step 1: Add gadget > One field statistics
auditing and standardizing jira enterprise instances

 

Step 2: Configure the gadget. Don’t base it on any filter, and choose the pie chart.

How to configure gadgets in Profields for Jira enterprise instances audits
 
Step 3: Accept, and repeat for each script.
profields-automated-audits-issue-type-scheme

 

Here’s the result:

Automated standard schemes in Profields for Jira

How to use the statistics: There’s no rule of thumb for what an organized instance looks like by just looking at the workflows. You need to connect to the actual goals of the teams that are using Jira, the organizational chart, and then make conclusions.

In other words: you need to compile context and qualitative data. The remaining two steps are designed to do precisely that.

2. Create a project template to collect information

The project template that we use is a Projectrak layout. This means that it is structured metadata that lives inside Jira and can be associated with Jira projects. For the audits, we associate it with every project, then work on collecting the info.

profields-automated-audits-project-sheet

 

The layout has three sections:

  •    Project sheet, which includes all the feedback from the project leads
  •    Project activity, with automated info about the last activity date and the total issues. This info can be extended as needed
  •    Schemes where the schemes associated with the project are listed

The project sheet is the only section with information that has to be entered manually. It works like a script for conducting interviews with project leads, like the ones that Rachel Wright suggests in this article.

3. Do the interviews

You have to make sure that you understand the full complexity with all its angles.

Interviewing each project lead is mandatory for having a full picture and capturing particular details: there might be projects that looked inactive but have simply very little activity; there may be important reasons why their schemes are significantly different from those usually mandated. In general, it’s just common sense that, before making any decision to alter a project (archive it, simplify its settings, etc.), it’s important to know the intended use of the project in the first place and whether it stills captures value.

While interviews can be a time-intensive process, if there’s enough discipline in the organization, you can also use share the project landing in Projectrak and permit project leads to edit the fields.

Tip on notifications: If you’re having a hard time collecting the info on a handful of projects, you can watch them receive a notification when they’ve been compiled or subscribe to the entire project portfolio to receive regular summaries of the pending information.

profields-automated-audits-watch-digest

 

What next? Choose the best way to control Jira projects

Once all the information has been retrieved and analyzed, it’s time to decide the project governance model. And if this article hasn't good enough, you can always watch the following video explaining this helpful use case:

 

Conclusion: an easy start for something big

The road towards standardization of Jira dinosaurs can be long and exhausting. There’s no need to suffer from manual processes that can be replaced with automation.

This is a summary of the benefits of deploying Projectrak for audits:

  •    A big picture about the customer that you’ve never seen before
  •    Less expensive for the customer: they won’t pay consultant time devoted to manual, repetitive work
  •    Quicker delivery of results and more energy devoted to the interesting part: making recommendations and creating a roadmap towards standardization and defragmentation
  •    Information about the projects is in real-time because it lives inside Jira. As the instance is less fragmented, the visual charts will reflect that

If you are interested in making the tool work for you, you need to be aware of a wide range of automation that might help you maintain audited yous instance; we offer seven use cases when automating projects with Projectrak and Automation for Jira will boost your productivity to the top.

This blog post is a collaboration between the DEISER marketing team and Jaime Capitel.

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