Skip to main content

4 min read

Go agile for Jira success

Jon Kern
13 June 23 Jira
Go agile for Jira success

Go agile for Jira success

Life can be tough as a Jira admin. So much to do, so little time, so many complaints! 

I want to help change this.

You name it, Jira admins do it

A Jira admin is pulled in every direction imaginable. From administering dozens of workflows, unpicking complex custom fields, and keeping tabs on ever-changing permission schemes, it’s a challenge to keep their heads above water.

Also, if you’re drowning in the nitty-gritty detail of Jira, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. And, any business value for that matter. Too often, the user experience suffers and they secretly say bad things about the tool.

Turning the tide of change

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. As a Jira admin, your only limitation is your imagination, certainly not Jira or your users. 

So, to all of you amazing admins out there (you know who you are!), I’m going to offer up some ideas for how you can raise your game, reimagine what’s possible for your users, and be the lovable admin your organisation needs. 

How? By applying a little agile magic to the wonderful world of Jira.

But wait, isn’t Jira anti-agile? 

When people complain about Jira being the root of all evil, it’s rarely down to the tool itself. Instead, it’s more likely to be about how it’s been set up, and the way people are forced to use it. 

What we have to remember is; Jira is a tool, agile is a mindset. If you want to be agile, you have to take a step back, put the tool to the back of your mind, and think about the way your team is actually working. Agility thrives with the right people and mindset. Any tool you use will only be as good as the intent of the people behind it.

So, here are my top tips to bring an agile mindset to everything you do in Jira:

1. Remember, users are your customers

As a Jira admin, the critical work you do behind the scenes enables Jira users to get on with their work, deliver value to their customers, and achieve great things. Your users are real people, doing real jobs. So, remember, you can play a critical role in helping enable their success and of course your organisation’s success too. 

When dealing with a user request, don’t become the Department of Work Prevention. Instead, take a step back and ask to learn more about the bigger picture. What’s motivating the user to make this request? What are they trying to achieve?

Be a facilitator, speak up, and advise them if there’s a better way. And, if you have to say “no” to a request, provide some context about the negative impact on other Jira users that could result from fulfilling the request. 

Talk, collaborate, explain, negotiate, explore options, and learn. Together. The goal should always be for the business to win.

2. Be ready to embrace change

Believe it or not, Jira is designed to be agile. It exists to be flexible and responsive to rapid changes in your business. Not static and unchanging. Never be afraid to change Jira to meet your users’ needs.

Jira becomes rigid and rule-driven because people choose to make it this way. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, apply agile principles to all your work in Jira. Favour working software over comprehensive documentation. Jira will never be perfect, no tool ever is. 

Just like any other application you develop, Jira has features, improvements, bugs, and a user interface and experience to consider. Continuous improvement of all of these key elements is critical to your role as a Jira admin and guaranteeing user success.

User requirements will always change, as will users’ minds. Embrace this change, don’t see it as a barrier or inconvenience, but rather as part of a continuous learning process. A chance to grow. Work with your users, strive to make them happy, not miserable. 

3. Reimagine what's possible

As a Jira admin, it may feel like your work is never complete. Welcome to software product development! But, allowing time for innovation is essential. Experiment with workflows, custom fields, issues, everything.

It’s a fantastic tool when you know what you’re doing, be that person in your organisation who pushes the tool and the user experience to the max.

Put your problem-solving hat on and research new add-ons for Jira that will help make your users’ life easier. Seek advice from user groups and the wider Atlassian community, keep ahead of what’s on offer out there and integrate add-ons to meet your organisation’s needs.

To innovate you have to be open to ideas, so don’t shut user requests down with no explanation. Instead, act as a dynamic facilitator between the tool and your user community. Use it to help them deliver value, not hinder it.

4. Reign in requests

So all this openness and embracing change and user empathy has led to raging success and now you have more requests coming in than time to manage? Maybe you need a smart Service Desk (any ideas where to find such a tool?) to deal with “intake” of new requests, to help weed out duplicates, get folks to vote, and otherwise use some automation to help “triage” the inbound issues.

To sum up...

Think of Jira as you would any other piece of software you would develop. Give it the respect it deserves, and it will deliver what you need. Bring an agile approach to everything you do in Jira, and I promise you will not only delight your users but may even bag yourself a promotion to boot!


copy_text Icon