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9 ways Canva uses automation in Jira Premium to help their unicorn fly


Hello Atlassian Community,

Today we have a very special guest to the Jira automation space. Welcome Jeff from Canva!

Canva is one of my favourite companies and Jeff is one of my favourite automators. He kindly agreed to join me for virtual coffee over Zoom to show us the Jira Cloud automation rules he uses the most. We will be publishing a wider case study with Canva soon showing how they use Jira Software Premium but considering there was so much automation gold in Jeff’s brain, we wanted to share this value with you all today.

Who should read this article?

Any Jira Cloud admin who wants to improve the way they work. Whether you are already using Jira automation or are simply curious as to how other folk use it in the real world, there is a ton of value here. Remember, if you are new to automation - it is free to every Cloud admin across all Jira products. Just seek out ‘automation’ in your navigation bar.

Why you should read this article?

As ever, we try to avoid any fluff and just offer practical value. This article will take 5 minutes to read and 10 minutes to copy some of Jeff’s rules into your own instance. At the end of the day, you will have saved countless hours, enabled your team to stay in focus mode and have learned new skills. Pretty good!

First, a little about Canva and Jeff

Canva is a Sydney-based graphic design platform that allows users to easily create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and pretty much any visual content. It is what is known as a unicorn in the startup world (a private company valued at more than $1 billion and an excuse for a catchy title). It operates across 190 countries and 100 languages. In short, it is an awesome and fast-growing company!


Jeff is on the Internal Infrastructure team but is also the ‘go to guy' for Canva’s automation. However, this doesn’t mean he is the bottleneck. In Jeff’s words:

“Automation lets people who have project admin level powers to do a lot without breaking anything. It gives the best of both worlds. No need to mess around with workflows, post-functions, etc. It gives me (Global Admin) a way to give Project Admins a way to solve their problems independently and control their own destiny.”

First…why Jira automation?

“To start with, it probably saves 80 hours+ per month for my team alone. Also, it’s easy to use so I can easily show someone how to create rules and they can start optimising for themselves. Canva is a very techy, engineer-focused organisation but we also have a broad set of creative teams who have less technical knowledge. Jira automation solves problems for both. Because we are on a Jira Software Premium plan, we have unlimited global automation rules so we don’t have to think about hitting limits.

Remind me…what are global/multi-project rules?

A global or multi-project rule simply means that you can set up one automation rule and it will run across as many projects as you like. It’s quicker to set up, easier to manage and generally speaking, it's the most efficient way to use automation and scale your company.

Multi project rules (2) (1).png

Canva are Jira Software Premium customers which means they have wide access to global and multi-project automation rules. In fact, they are executing half a million global rules per month!

If you want to learn a little more about what the Jira Software Premium package offers, and a glimpse into newer automation features - this on-demand webinar will help.

The category of Canva rules we are going to run through today

People use Jira automation for everything from basic Jira updates to connecting with third party DevOps tools like GitHub and Jenkins. However, the four main categories that Canva use it for and we are going to cover today are:

  1. Slack Alerts (also relevant for MS Teams, Email, etc)

  2. Auto-assign rules

  3. Keep Jira issues & projects in sync

  4. Jira Service Desk rules

Slack + Jira + Automation = ?

Automation has acted as the glue between Jira and Slack for a long time. We recently ran an AMA where customers shared lots more ways that Jira and Slack are used together and automation was often what turbocharged that partnership. It just so happens that Canva use Slack so that’s what we will look at for these first 4 rules. However, you could just as easily use Microsoft Teams, email or even Twilio to deliver messages.



Rule 1 - Alert the team when a critical issue is raised

This is a really simple and common automation rule that we use internally. In Canva, whenever a critical issue is created in Jira, this automation rule will send a Slack message informing the entire team.

Problem it solves: provides extreme transparency and reduces time to solution dramatically. We have seen many companies send this message to a universal HOT room also which removes the burden of the on-call dev having to update various stakeholders in various channels.

image (41).png


Rule 2: Send a Slack message whenever an issue transitions to 'Escalated'

This is a super simple rule used by one of the customer delight teams at Canva. Whenever an issue transitions to ‘Escalated’ status - send a Slack message to our team. (Could also be included in the Jira Service Desk section)

Problem it solves: Again, this is about transparency and visibility. As a manager, one of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse is to get real time knowledge of any escalated issues. You can always add conditions in to refine the rule further.

image (33) (1).png


Rule 3: Auto create one weekly task summarizing what issues are left to do

This powerful rule uses only 3 building blocks. The real magic lies in the ‘Lookup Issues’ action. Using JQL, you can surface selected issues in Slack every week. Jeff explains below:

“In this rule, it creates a list of all of our inventory items (when people have asked for a loan, asked for an update, etc). It then creates a weekly task for tech support that says ‘hey, follow this guide and action these items’. So every week, they can easily go in and see what needs to be done. It reduces any chance of items falling through the cracks. Better again, I was able to teach a junior member of the team how to create and use this one so I don’t become a blocker.”

Problem it solves: It reduces the noise from notifications in Jira and makes sure nothing slips through the cracks. Previously a person had to filter through issues regularly to ensure everything was done, now automation does it.

image (34) (1).png


Rule 4: The ‘gentle reminder bot’! Send auto-reminder when action is needed on issues

When certain issues have not been updated in the past 2 weeks, send a Slack message with a list to gently ‘remind’ folk. Again, we use the magic Lookup Issues action here, which allows us to define the issues we are looking for using JQL. Then, every week, it sends a message highlighting these issues for the team to act upon!

Problem it solves: people naturally forget to update Jira issues. In the past, the Project Manager might comment on each issue or ping people separately. Now, automation takes care of this, ensuring Jira remains the central source of truth.

image (35) (1).png

Auto-assign rules

Jira is a tool that is used across all teams in a business. It is important that the right issues get assigned to the right people at the right time. Automation can take care of this for you now with smart assigns. Below, we will look at two of Canva’s examples or you can read more about what is possible in this blog.

Rule 5 - Auto-assign issues to the subject matter expert, based on groups

In this rule, when an issue is created, check which group the reporter is in. Then assign the issue to the person who is responsible for that group.

Problem it solves: Not all issues are created equally. You can provide better support to your team and customers if you assign the right issues to the best matched people. Better again, you can get automation to do it for you.

image (36) (1).png


Rule 6: Auto-assign the approver

Some rules are meant to just automate away some of the more mundane aspects of the job so you can spend more time on what you enjoy. In this rule, for example, we know who the approver is supposed to be for the group ‘China’ so automation now makes 'Cool Frog' the approver by default.

Problem solved: Automation gets rid of the repetitive work so you can focus more on the high level aspects of your job.

image (37) (1).png

Keep Jira issues and projects in sync

Nothing exists in isolation in Jira and that is by design. So many teams collaborate with Jira that it is necessary to work across projects and products. These two rules that Jeff and Canva use are good examples. You can also check out more on our Jira automation YouTube channel (not as TikTok as it sounds)

Rule 7 - Auto link laptop support tickets (20 mins)

Whenever an internal issue is created for laptop support in Canva, link it to any related issues.

Problem it solves: This allows you to track your inventory with Jira. Using this rule, you can see historical issues related to inventory so you have a complete view of the ask. Other customers have used similar rules to link customer support tickets together.

image (38) (1).png

Rule 8: Copy status updates across linked issues

Whenever a status update is made, copy that same status update to any relevant linked issues.

Problem it solves: Jira is always the central source of truth. It is essential that all information is correct and up to date. However, sometimes it means updating the same status more than once. With this rule, automation does that job for you. This is the kind of rule that helps Project Managers sleep better at night.

image (39) (1).png


Jira Service Desk rules

Automation works across all Jira products including Jira Service Desk. There are tons of use cases including these 7 most popular Jira Service Desk use cases. Below is a really intelligent use case from Jeff and Canva.

Rule 9: Allow anonymous employee feedback - Jira Service Desk

“At Canva, we are constantly asking for feedback so we can improve. We used to use Google forms for this but it was a bit painful. Now, we have a custom field that says ‘would you like to remain anonymous?' If the employee says ‘yes’ then this automation rule clones the issue, erases the reporter and permanently deletes the issue.

Problem it solves: this rule means you can track employee feedback in Jira, while keeping the person anonymous, all without as much as a click.

You could even take this one step further and surface the feedback anonymously in a weekly Slack message.

image (40) (1).png

Watch this space

With Canva, you don’t ever need to start from a blank canvas. At automation, we are trying to do the same. We have just launched new templates within the automation product space and will be launching a public library of automation templates soon.

If you enjoyed reading about how Canva use automation, keep your eyes open for the bigger case study we are putting together in the next few weeks. I want to say a big thanks to Jeff for giving up so much of his time to share his knowledge.

Happy automating!

1 comment

Erika Bartošová
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October 20, 2023



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