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Closing Out the Quarter: Part 2 - Buffet of options in Jira Align

Previously, Part 1 discussed some options in the Jira Align toolbox to consider with quarterly closeout activities.  The obvious steps at "pencils down" moment typically involve ensuring that Stories, Dependencies, and Features are marked complete.  So utilizing the options mentioned in the Crawl and/or Walk levels typically do the job for most clients in the early to mid stages of their operating maturity.  

For Part 2, let's step up to the Run and Fly levels of the buffet to understand some less common, but also situationally valuable options that your organization may grow into over time.


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7. Review Program Room - As we move into the Run level, I sometimes use the analogy of getting to your Junior year classes in college.  Now the significant content learning is needed.  Program Room is the capstone view across the Team of Teams with configurable widgets.  You can feel like you are in the cockpit flying an airplane, but it takes time to under the purpose of all the gauges. 

However, once you do understand the insight gained is very useful for most clients.  In the sample below, I've set an optimal position of the widgets, although your needs may vary.  The Progress widget in the upper left offers an executive summary scorecard for the Program in the quarter, with plenty of options below and to the right to drill further into as needed. 


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8. Validate Fix Versions - Although this may be optional for a lot of clients as code release frequency continues to increase so reporting can become overwhelming, there is an important balance of the equation for "develop on cadence" with the "release on demand side".  If you don't actually launch working software into PROD then can you be successful? 

The sync of Jira Fix Versions into Release Vehicle containers offers a way to review what did go out during the quarter and remains to be launched.  Note that the widget for Release Vehicles in the Program Room even includes those releases scheduled for a subsequent quarter if they are tied to work in the filtered view. 

Also, the Consolidate function under "More Actions" of the Release Vehicle grid provides a limited wrapper option to rollup multiple releases together for grouped reporting.


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9. Update OKR Measures – Although formally established outcome measurement practices are still emerging across our client base, the quarter close out period provides a good checkpoint to ensure assessments are done.  Team level value score 1-10 approximations taken at the end of the quarter do not really allow time for business benefits to be achieved.  However, real key results measurements taken from a typically higher level Portfolio or Program objective can be added for quarters following the launch of functionality that enables it. Even if the actual development work was done and accepted before the current quarter closing out, taking the time to follow-up on the broader business objectives that drove it is the holy grail of “building the right thing” and being RUN level.  The OKR Tree offers a great way to track outcomes, although some may find the Backlog useful as well.  Check out for more insight there.


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10. Announcements – Although the functionality of posting announcements in Jira Align upon login is fairly simple, it is surprising underutilized.  Yet in an age where we try to avoid extra meetings and email spamming folks, a minimally annoying,  persistent pop up reminding users of close out activities needed can make a huge difference.  Especially if your organization has challenges managing high levels of WIP (work-in-process), an Announcement can be set for a specific time period to herd the cats.


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11. Evaluate vs. What’s Next (Roadmap) – Closeout of a quarter focuses on wrapping up open items.  Since some environments with lots of lagging activities can be demotivating, consider making sure a segment of the closeout helps the users remember why the closeout period is so important.  Looking along side the planned items to go next may help bring out tough conversations about carry-over needs vs. other future work.  The Roadmap is a great way to show the spanning work visually across closing and next quarters, that can support the necessary conversations about being clearly done and ready to move forward. 


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12. Strategy Snapshot Review - For the Fly stage on the spectrum, I’ve included a segment of the Strategy Room view that can be especially useful checking holistically on close out for Stories, Features, and Dependencies.  Since it use the Strategic Snapshot container where multiple Program Increments in an instance can be set, this report can offer an overall “report card” on completed quarter work spanning the instance and narrowed to a particular Portfolio or Program.  As needed, users can then drill down to access the specific items that are not complete and remedy accordingly.  The reality is that if delivery groups are challenged completing Stories, Features, and Dependencies in a quarter, the likelihood of broader work levels being achieved – and ultimately the company’s success – is probably going to be suboptimal. 


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