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I attended Atlassian Summit 2019 and learned a lot from the presenters, attendees and knowledgeable Atlassian product managers. The presentations I attended focused on applying Agile, planning, collaboration and personal productivity using the portfolio of Atlassian tools including Trello, JIRA and Confluence. In addition to the all the notes and conference branded SWAG, I left inspired to apply the new learning to my project teams.
Below are six ways you can apply these Atlassian Summit lessons to your project teams using Trello, JIRA or Confluence.
Before you draft another 8-10 slides to present an idea, consider using a Confluence page to document and present your idea. Jeff Bezo’s banned PowerPoint from his meetings in favor of longer form memos. The memo format provided more detail than in a typical PowerPoint document.
PowerPoint may be easier on the presenter but it’s harder on the audience to interpret. Just try to interpret a detailed graph or a data table in PowerPoint format. A Confluence page is a better solution to provide data and detailed analysis and allows longer form content to be presented.
Presenters are encouraged to send out the page prior to the meeting and encourage collaboration and comments before and after the meeting on the page. Try this technique and you’ll increase efficiency, facilitate better questions and maintain a historical record of the discussion. This single Atlassian Summit tip changed the way I will present ideas and presentations in the future!
I’ve applied this technique to providing status updates, conducting my staff meetings and even presented my Key Summit Takeaways as a Confluence page. (It was a lot faster too using the Confluence page format vs. formatting a PowerPoint presentation)
During the Atlassian Summit, Phil Oye presented Atlassian’s 4 Pillars for Product Managers and how Trello, Confluence and JIRA can support product managers. The 4 pillars include:
His presentation provided examples on how Atlassian tools are a product owner’s superpowers. Several noteworthy superpowers includes:
Atlassian provides many free templates and techniques in their Team Playbook. One useful “play” is the project poster at https://www.atlassian.com/team-playbook/plays/project-poster
The project poster is a useful tool similar to a project charter the helps to align everyone to the problem definition, scope and potential solutions.
It becomes a living document to update as the problem is explored Involves the whole team through comments.
As new products are deployed, obtaining real-time feedback from customers can be difficult to obtain. Product managers can include a link to integrate directly with JIRA Software or Service Desk to capture the feedback. JIRA Service Desk includes a pre-built widget that can collect the feedback.
Keeping track of feature requests can be difficult as new requests come from many different sources. Some feature requests will go into a backlog but won’t even make it on to a product’s near term roadmap or release plan. The superpower to solve feature request management is to use Trello to track feature requests.
A Trello board can be used to capture feature requests and then categorize and prioritize them for action or for future consideration
Trello Board: https://trello.com/b/jXiWAmTC/feature-requests
The Trello board provides an Inbox column to capture incoming requests that need to be categorized. It is a helpful tool to perform high level roadmap planning. As features get planned and accepted into the development roadmap, they can be transitioned to JIRA for software development and execution.
A Trello board can also be used to groom user stories as the move from ideas, requirements, estimation and eventually becoming a release candidate. Trello also supports voting so a community of users can vote for their favorite features to drive priority.
Trello Board: https://trello.com/b/FrbAJsbH/product-roadmap
Trello also integrates easily with Confluence and JIRA using these Power Ups capabilities. These power ups let you leverage Trello for the high level roadmap planning while implementing the roadmap in JIRA and Confluence.
Confluence provides a ton of useful project and product templates. PMO usually create a collection of MS-Word documents to support project methodology. Instead of relying on a MS-Word template, teams can collaborate more effectively by using Confluence templates.
If your team is developing product requirements, creating a project plan or managing a launch schedule, consider using a Confluence template before creating a spreadsheet or document that needs to be distributed via email.
The real superpower is communicating effectively and immediately with Confluence. Instead of emailing the latest version of a document, simply check the Notify Watchers checkbox and everyone will be notified of the latest changes. Collaborators can use the @ tagging Confluence feature to tag team members to support questions and follow-up answers. For more detail, check out this article on How to Build a Release Plan in Confluence
Agile teams continue to balance using Scrum vs. Kanban as models for delivering solutions. Teams often find themselves in the middle of being “Wagile” – Waterfall and Agile as they continue along their Agile journey.
For example, a project team may implement Kanban but also want to maintain and groom a backlog of user stories. As a product backlog grows, the To-Do list can become overwhelming when viewing the JIRA board. In other cases, the team still wants to use epics to categorize the backlog but deliver using Kanban.
The KanPlan presentation was a useful presentation and hands-on lab that demonstrated how teams can use a mixed methodology by changing JIRA filters and boards. I snagged a few screenshots from the presentation to highlight how a Kanban backlog can be configured.
I like how removing all statuses from the To-Do column keeps Open issues on the backlog.
Promote issues into the Kanban board
Now the team can drag issues from the Backlog into an In-Progress status and they will appear on the Kanban board. Epics can still be used to manage the board.
With this configuration, the team can maintain focus on the immediate work instead of endlessly scrolling through the an unplanned backlog. Go ahead and give the hands-on lab a try!
Sherif Mansour presented multiple use-cases for applying Confluence across all phases of the Atlassian software lifecycle – Inception, Planning, Building and Tailoring. The presentation provide many examples including:
The presentation featured how the Roadmap Planner can be used to convey a high level timeline. I’ve used a wide range of tools to develop graphical timelines including Excel, PowerPoint and Microsoft Project. The Atlassian Roadmap Planner is by far the easiest to use for a high-level Gantt chart using a pick-a-date management approach.
Each swimlane can be configured for a workstream, project or major work theme. The gantt chart bars can be a task, project phase or an epic. Milestones are added using the marker icons. It is an effective way to present a high level timeline instead of fighting with PowerPoint or Excel to move each graphic icon when a date changes.
(I prefer to have a tool calculate the timeline based on durations, but this tool is still a fantastic solution to the Arts and Charts problem).
Below is one quick Gantt chart than I created in a few minutes. If the PM wanted to incorporate task or project status into the bars, the color could be changed to reflect a Red, Yellow or Green status. If needed, I can link each of the bars to a corresponding Confluence page for a detailed status report.
At the Summit, Lauren Moon presented on productivity and prioritization using Trello and introduced the Eisenhower Matrix. The Eisenhower Matrix is a simple 2×2 grid to map tasks against importance and urgency axes.
In the example below, a collection of tasks are mapped against the 2×2 matrix for importance and urgency.
Obviously, the Important and Urgent tasks fall into the Do category, while Important and Not urgent become Decisions and Unimportant but still Urgent tasks are Delegated.
Trello can be used to create a simple Eisenhower matrix to map your daily task list into a simple prioritization board. Trello has an example at https://trello.com/b/CXVefGzw/to-dos-eisenhower-matrix-style
Eisenhower Matrix in Trello
Trello can also be used to manage team tasks and manage expectations during 1:1 meetings with team members. Joel Spolsky – Co-founder of Trello and author of one of my favorite software blogs – joelonsoftware.com – used the Rule of 5 to manage teams more effectively.
He applied his Rule of 5 to simplify the number of things to follow up and track with each team member.
To apply the Rule of 5, ask each team member track the:
Managers only need to be aware of 5 tasks per team member and only 2 of them are actively being worked. Managers need to know which tasks are not getting done even though the team thought the person was working on that specific task. Overall, it helps with communication and reduces the burden of tracking a long task list by resource.
You can implement the Rule of 5 using a Trello board. An example is a available at https://trello.com/b/DQDXYzN7/team-tasks-5-things-workflow
Trello and the Rule of Five
Within Trello, you can use the colored labels to identify the different task categories. Active tasks are colored green, future tasks are yellow and red tasks are not being addressed.
Atlassian Summit 2019 was a great experience and you can watch all the keynotes and view all the recorded sessions at https://www.atlassian.com/company/events/summit/watch-sessions/2019/. Conferences always provide an abundance of information and it takes a while to distill in the information and take action. I hope this article will encourage you to put these Atlassian tools into action and apply these techniques your teams!
After the response to these tutorials, I published my eBook on How to Manage Projects and Programs with Atlassian Confluence.
Feel free to check it out at https://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com/shop/manage-projects-with-atlassian-confluence/