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Managing Projects in Several Jiras at the Same Time

Have you ever noticed that fixing specific problems might be a door opener for a bigger challenge, affecting a wider audience? This was exactly the case when we, as a service company working with multiple clients, missed a highly critical request raised in our client’s Jira. The reason was obvious – we did not expect that to happen. So as a post-mortem analysis of that incident, we decided to make sure that in future we wouldn’t miss any important issues – no matter which of clients’ environments it comes from. We took it further to realize that it is a common case when one has to work with many Jira instances at the same time.

The management process is more challenging when it comes to large teams in a distributed environment. Sometimes different parts of the team use their own setup relying on a dedicated Jira instance. In this case, retrieving data and tracing real-time updates in different Jira instances become a real challenge on a project management level. As a manager, how would you track the project progress having all the tasks dispersed across multiple Jiras? Let’s start with identifying what those cases might be.

 

Multi-Jira Setup: Use Cases

  • You manage cross-department projects within a large enterprise. Oftentimes, departments are brought together to work on a single business solution or advance the enterprise-wide initiative. In either case, project managers may find themselves trapped dealing with multiple toolsets used by different departments.
  • You cooperate with customers who use their own Jira environment. Since the system is cross-functional, it is used by organizations from different fields of activity. In addition, you can also face a situation when a company stores its data in a system separated from the entire infrastructure, for example, when implementing projects with the secrecy status.
  • You manage multiple remote teams. Some companies prefer working with remote employees, which might be another pain point. Other companies organize their environment so as to bring together office staff and freelancers working remotely. Jira is helpful in each case, especially when you have to manage several remote teams working on different projects.
  • You share teams across several projects. This scenario is typical for outsourcing. To ensure the effective operation of the project, remote employees constantly use instant messengers, time trackers, email clients, calendars, file sharing, and many more different programs. Jira incorporates all these functions.
  • You face multi-Jira setup on M&A with other company. It comes as no surprise that the company can end up using several Jira instances acquiring or merging with other organizations. Obviously, the M&A activity results in a larger number of projects descending upon a manager. To streamline the process and prioritize activities, the person in charge should navigate through the piles of tracking tools, pulling the tasks from each of them.
  • You need to map the external customer facing Jira service desk with the internal environment of dev team. In this case, there are initially two Jira environments – the internal and the external one. The former is used by the team of developers, and the latter allows a customer to track the development progress. Sometimes this leads to the necessity of sharing a backlog/kanban board with a customer and allows them to add new issues and prioritize them. The reverse situation is also possible. There can be a case when internal employees should not be informed about changes made by external customers, and this can be the reason to use multi-Jira setup.

 

The Pitfalls of Working with Multiple Jira Instances

When working with several Jira instances, you should keep all the issues together in your mind. This results in a human factor affecting the success of your projects’ development.

  • Have an Overview of Important Items  

Jira allows organizing a workflow by creating issues which, in essence, are tasks to do (for example, write a code snippet, edit a text, publish a post on the website). It is easy to track and manage all the issues if you work with only one desk but it becomes more complicated when you are forced to use several Jiras. So, you should always be aware of the most important changes that occur with your projects.

  • Don’t Miss Critical Items  

There is always a risk to forget something important (for example, critical assignment notification in piles of emails stacked in your inbox) when you manage several projects simultaneously and use more than one Jira for it. So, working with several Jiras you should always keep in mind the most important issues that must be solved to release the project.

  • Stay Focused and Be Able to Operate from One Cockpit

Working with several projects in several systems means that your attention will be constantly sprayed. It is very hard to stay focused when you need to switch between different contexts multiple times a day. Therefore, the best way is to gather your projects in one place.

 

What Are the Possible Solutions?

There are three methods you may use to manage projects in several Jiras simultaneously.

Consider the Federation Approach

The essence of the federation approach to project management through Jira lies in its name. You manage several projects at once that are autonomous and independent from each other, but they still remain interconnected and interoperable.

You Can Set up Synchronization

This approach will suit you when there is a need to synchronize one system with another, for example, when two or more departments of a company work together. If this is the case, it is possible to use special services, such as Backbone Issue Sync. This tool will help you to align your projects within Jira and create interrelated workflows for every department.

Use a Consolidation Tool

There is an opportunity to use an app solution like WatchTower by Rozdoum. Its main purpose is to gather all the tasks in one place. As a result, you get a unified agile board that combines issues from all the projects under your supervision. WatchTower is a feature-rich tool that assists managers in migrating projects with no data loss, making immediate changes and updating tasks and matching statuses from external instances – all within a single board that can be shared within the team. The WatchTower app offers a cost-saving solution as all you need is a single license for one Jira instance.

 

Summary

As you can see, there are three basic approaches to managing multiple projects in Jira at the same time. The first one is federation, and its main advantage is the fact that you do not need to use additional tools. The obvious drawback includes the risk of missing something important since the projects are still separated.

As for the second option, you can synchronize the data from several Jiras with the help of special services. The big advantage of this solution is that you can get together all the tasks from all the systems that the departments of your company use. However, this is easier said than done, especially when it comes to setting up the sync tool. Such tools require complex configuration setup and might result in data loss or redundancy if poorly configured.

When talking about the last solution, using the WatchTower allows you to grab issues from different sources into one Agile board, so there is no need to switch between Jiras, and thus, the risk of missing something important tends to zero. In practice, this means:

  • all teams can work seamlessly in a distributed environment;
  • discussing tasks with the members of all teams is getting easier and quicker;
  • you can share data within your team with proper rights management;
  • it is simple to configure to address the needs of a regular Jira user familiar with agile boards;
  • reducing costs as only one license is needed – the system works like a single instance.

So, if you face the need to control projects in several Jiras and consider it to be more trouble than it's worth, give WatchTower a try. Install the app from Atlassian Marketplace, take a look around, and leave your comment under the article. If you are interested in a walkthrough and would like to check WatchTower's features against your specific management needs, book a demo here.

 

3 comments

Nice article, @Andrey Dekhtyar -Rozdoum-!

It is indeed a challenge to work with multiple Jiras at the same time. I'm part of the team behind Backbone Issue Sync for Jira and have talked to many Atlassian users at various events about situations with multiple Jira instances.

Many people would probably add another solution: Migration.
If a company acquires another one which also uses Jira, they are often doing Jira migrations to combine everything into one Jira instance. A Jira migration is not easy to do as you can tell by the many posts in the community, but it is definitely an option to consider.

I'd like to know a bit more about Watchtower:

  • Does every user who views the Watchtower board need an account in every Jira?
  • Can I edit the issues in the other Jiras?

Thanks again for the nice writeup!

Hi @Matthias Gaiser -K15t- 

Thanks for feedback, to address your questions:

 

>Does every user who views the Watchtower board need an account in every Jira?

Well, it depends.

WatchTower board can be shared by board admin with other users. There are two modes of sharing : view only and edit mode. In "ViewOnly" remote source is shared with access details of board admin, and the shared user - cannot make any changes on remote location - only view data. In "edit" mode - shared user can do actions, but he needs to provide his own credentials for remote location, that will be used for tracing all activities the user is about to do

 

>Can I edit the issues in the other Jiras?

Well, users can transition issues, add comments, worklogs right from WatchTower board. Also all specific issue details are shown up on view issue screen. If a user wants to make changes (i.e. edit ) he needs to navigate to remote location that is 1-click away from card on WatchTower board

 

Matthias - if you want - we can schedule a detailed demo, where I walk you through all the usecases. Feel free to book time. Alternative - we can chat at upcoming Atlassian Summit in Vegas

Thx, Andrey

Like Matthias Gaiser -K15t- likes this

Let's chat at the Summit!

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