Holy Moly! That’s really the best words to express the whirlwind of a couple of months I’ve had after standing-up and customizing Jira Cloud and Xray for Jira for an organizational wide rollout. I was responsible for hooking up the QA workflows and screens for Jira and integrating Xray for Jira into it. I was lucky to have some great partnerships throughout the whole process that really made this fun and rewarding. This isn’t my first implementation of a complex tool like Jira or Xray, but this is my first time doing it as a blogger! My goal in this post is to share some lessons learned with you and some tips on how you can ensure your tool or process setup/rollout is successful too. Although this blog post is specifically about Jira/Xray, these simple lessons learned can be applied to any tool or process rollout.
- Before you do, understand: The very first thing I did, before I ever put a customization in place, was to make certain I had a documented process flow for QA. I had some solid process flow documentation already, so it was just about making sure it was up to date and still make sense given our new tooling choice. These new tools were significantly different than the tools our teams were used to. Pro Tip: If you start customizing Jira before you know your direction, it’s a headache to try to back things out later. It becomes quite the weaved web.
- Get to know JIra/Xray upfront: Jira is super powerful and impactful if set up properly. It’s important for you to understand how it all works before you get too deep in setting it up. Pro Tip: Set up a dummy project and allow yourself time to play around with all the settings like workflows, screens, schemes, etc…this will give you confidence once you start setting up your live projects.
- Reimagine the way you work: Switching to a new tool is a chance to look at your processes deeply and make necessary changes. Don’t move bad habits from one tool to another! Pro Tip: Talk to your team and figure out what works and what doesn’t. What processes are often overlooked or skipped? Are those necessary? The key here is to simplify and carry forward the things that allow your teams to work most efficiently.
- Perfection is the enemy of good (AKA don’t sweat the small stuff): Don’t worry about everything being perfect before you roll it to the first person or team. Feedback is essential to the process so get it out there and iterate on it. Pro Tip: Try a phased roll-out that allows you to get small and organized feedback quickly. This also ensures that if there is an issue, you aren’t disrupting everyone at the same time. We have six scrum teams and chose to onboard two teams at first.
- Spiraling is good for hams, not for you: Listen, I’m not gonna mislead you. Jira is a beast to set up. That’s my personal opinion but also the opinion of most others I’ve spoken to. It is really easy to get overwhelmed and start panicking. If you’re following the guidance above, you’ve done your prep work and you know what you’re doing. Just breathe! Pro Tip: Try breaking down workflows and tasks so you can focus on smaller chunks at a time. Jira and Xray also have a vast libraries of resources to help answer your questions as you go. I found myself watching YouTube videos from others that have set up Xray. It really helped me visualize how others were using Xray with Jira as there are multiple different decisions to make during setup.
- Make certain you’ve got the right set of people participating: Engage the people that represent the areas impacted by the new tool rollout. What are their needs? Are you communicating to them or perhaps even asking them to help? Pro Tip: Have a point person that is overseeing everything. This person should make sure each person across your organization understands their responsibilities and timelines. It’s really important not to silo areas of the organization during setup. Both Jira and Xray are tools meant for multiple roles across organizations. Ensuring they all play together nicely was important to our overall success.
- Document and Train (Don’t just do, document too): In addition to documenting process flows before I got started, I also heavily documented what I was doing as I went. Mostly because I knew I’d have 20+ QA folks learning to use the new tools and as simple as we tried to make it, it was still complex. Pro Tip: People learn differently. It’s important to have a well rounded training program such as: In-Person (or virtual) training, formal training documentation, and recorded trainings to reference later if needed.
- Stop and smell the WINS: Each time you conquer a Jira configuration, figure out what the heck a scheme is, or successfully demo your work to someone, take a moment and appreciate your WIN. These types of tools are tough to jump right in and use. They require lots of thought and setup which can get tiring and overwhelming. Pro Tip: The gentleman I had overseeing the whole rollout was super organized. He created a project in Jira just to keep track of all tasks we had to do throughout the setup and rollout. This made it really easy to also see all of the things we’d accomplished as we went. There were many late nights where him and I would spend time going through those lists. It was helpful to visualize the progress we were making and understand what we still had remaining.
If I could impart, and really highlight, one piece of advice for any tool or process rollout, it would be to not just copy and paste from one tool to another. For most organizations, switching to a new tool costs money upfront in setup, training, and rolling it out. Investing in that upfront cost should lead to better efficiencies (more happiness), less time managing the tools, and more time getting work done. In order to get the most out of this investment, it’s important to really understand where your teams are at, what problems you’re trying to solve, and then documenting what you want the new experience to look like and lead to. Doing these things will set you up for success, no doubt!
Do you have any lessons learned to share? Maybe some bad experiences that could help others avoid the same mistakes? Comment below!