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Smart People Operations with Atlassian Confluence and JIRA

Our way to structure internal processes to support employee on-boarding and internal knowledge management at the same time.

This is the first article of a short series of articles I want to do about our recent updates to internal processes and tools at EMAKINA.

As a digital agency providing a wide range of services in the area of software development thereby helping our clients to digitize basically any business process, we have been using Atlassian's tool stack for around 5 years now. Last year we also started to use these tools with great success for our own business operations, especially people operations. By using the content linking capabilities of Confluence combined with JIRAs management of workflows and issues across multiple teams, we were able to streamline our internal processes to support a solid on-boarding experience for our employees. At the same time continuously improving our internal knowledge management, which is a key part in taking on the challenge to keep up with ever-changing environments in this digital world.

In this part of the series I want to focus on how me manage the transfer of knowledge when on-boarding new hires.

Our approach

First, we split the whole content we want to provide during on-boarding into 3 parts. The first week, the first month and the first quarter when starting to work for EMAKINA.

Every content block was further separated into two sections. A general section, containing relevant information for all employees regardless of their department within our company. And a separate section containing all the necessary knowledge that is related to the new employee’s specific job. This section differs not only by role (e.g. developer or project manager) but also depending on the specific products (CRM, CMS,...) or individual solutions on which the new employee will work on.

The overall structure of the content is basically one big checklist giving everyone involved a list of things to check off during the first days and weeks. The guide also names a buddy for the new employee, who is responsible for assisting the new colleague during the first couple of weeks.

onboarding_1.png

So, if a new employee joins our company, they get an individualized version of our on-boarding guide. In order to be able to easily set this up, we manage all content within a blueprint of this guide which we have set up as a template in Confluence. It is easy to create templates with Confluence.

During internal preparation of on-boarding a new employee (which is handled by JIRA Service Desk, JIRA Software and Automation for JIRA - more details about that in the next article of this series) our operation support team sets up a personal space for them (this can be done using Confluence SOAP API) and creates a copy of the on-boarding guide, containing only the parts relevant for the new hire.

Current Benefits

Living documentation for internal processes.

If anyone involved into the on-boarding tumbles upon a part of the guide that is already outdated, not relevant or needs further improvement that person has the responsibility and the ability to note this by adding a comment on the on-boarding guide or the blueprint itself. This enables us to easily identify the necessary steps to update our guide. So, the next time we use the guide, we are sure to base it on the updated version of the blueprint.

 

Living documentation for sector-specific topics.

The guide gives every unit in our company the responsibility and the ability to structure, continuously improve and deliver a specific on-boarding task list, handling all relevant topics that cover the foundation for everyone working in that specific area of our business. This reduces the risk of losing important knowledge in areas that may not be directly within the general realm of consciousness.

Continuous improvement

This set-up helps us to clearly identify possibilities to improve the on-boarding experience. Since every employee has a structured document to relate to, it makes it much more transparent for HR and the operation support team to uncover opportunities to improve the overall process. The guide acts as a dedicated feedback channel for new employees. Not only do we get constant input from new people, but we also provide our new hires with an opportunity to actively be part and shape our internal process. It shows that their feedback is appreciated and picked up by others.

Introduce the tooling

Since Confluence will be a major part of anyone's daily working routines at EMAKINA, using it during the on-boarding significantly lowers the entry barrier and shows the tools benefits and capabilities. We use a lot of cross references and point to various important content elements within the guide. On the one hand, this opens the possibilities for new hires to start exploring all available content and on the other hand showcases the various features to structure, inter-link and format content.

onboarding_2.png

E.g. for many this is the first page properties macro they see.

Ways to socialize

One element of the first-weeks task is to introduce yourself to the company. New colleagues used to do this by sending out an e-mail to everyone, providing some information about themselves. It did the job but ended up being a one-shot solution. We couldn’t persist this information anywhere and if someone started to work at our company the next day, this person was left in the blind about the other new guy that just started the day before. So, we moved this content into Confluence as well. A new employee designs the landing page of their personal space in Confluence themselves.

onboarding_3.png

There is still an e-mail being sent out to everyone, but this only contains one or two sentences and the link to the corresponding personal space. By doing so, everyone has easy access to personal details about their colleagues, we give them a sandbox to try out Confluence features and can collect valuable soft facts about our teams. We also use labels based on personal interests or hobbies to tag personal spaces. Giving human resources and everyone else interested the opportunity to identify common interest groups throughout different units of our company. This also makes it easier for new members of EMAKINA to find others interested in the similar areas or spare-time activities. People also started to add comments to welcome the new team-member or colleague. 

 

Current plans for future improvements

Our current plan aims towards making (technical) skills of employees more visible for everyone interested. So we’re thinking about starting to use the on-boarding guide to encourage people to maintain a list of personal areas of interest and technical skills. This information could be used in different areas of our internal knowledge management.

In short

  • Provide an individual check list for new employees to guide them through the first weeks at your company.
  • Makes the current status of the on-boarding process available to everyone involved.
  • Dedicated ownership of relevant content for on-boarding.
  • Create a living template for on-boarding new employees that is always up to date.
  • Easily find outdated content or elements in need of improvement.

 

Future readings

My current plans for other parts of this series are on:

  • How we use JIRA Service Desk, JIRA Software and Automation for JIRA to organize internal processes for on-boarding and off boarding employees efficiently and seamlessly across different parts of a company.
  • How we support employee off-boarding with Confluence.

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