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Make sure you've got the right team to support your Jira Align adoption

In a previous article, Helpful hints if you're expanding Jira Align in your enterprise I suggested you form a team to set the standards for how your organization will use Jira Align. 

Whether you call it a Center of Excellence, a community of practice, a guild, or even a committee, it's important you have a team responsible for setting the standards for how Jira Align will be used. As a company tries to scale its agile practices from a number of distributed agile development teams up through the organization, there need to be a small set of rules that everyone adopts so there can be rapid two-way communication about strategy, desired outcomes, and progress toward achieving those outcomes.

As I wrote in that article, 

"Process alignment: Enterprises use Jira Align to support their agile ways of working, so it’s important to ensure the tool is configured to support the process. The folks who are defining the process need to work closely with the folks who are supporting the tool so there’s no dissonance between the two."

For the purposes of this article, I'm going to refer to this group as the Alignment Team. And I'll amend my previous statement and say there are actually three groups that need to be represented on this Alignment Team:

  1. The Tools team: the team that sets up and configures Jira Align, Jira, and all your other tools to support the way your organization wants to work.
  2. The Agile Process folks: most companies have a group that's working to define their specific ways of working; they may adopt a common scaling framework or invent their own, but they'll adopt and adapt common Lean Agile practices for their enterprise.
  3. The Delivery teams: These are the folks that are regularly using the tools and practices, and they're ultimately the customers of the Tools team and the Agile Process folks.

As an Atlassian Solution Architect helping companies set up Jira Align for success, I've seen a lot of companies fill their CoE's with the first two groups, but forget to include the third group. But if we set up tools and define processes that don't help the delivery teams deliver value to their customers then the tools and processes won't be used. Or they'll slow the delivery down instead of speeding it up as intended.

Role of the Alignment Team

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Determine what needs to be standardized and what can be different

Jira Align gives your enterprise tools for sharing strategic direction and checking progress of work toward achieving desired outcomes. In order to get that view, the enterprise needs a common taxonomy or way of looking at the work being done. The Alignment Team should lead the effort to determine what is needed in the taxonomy, and just as importantly, what doesn't need to be included. 


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Manage the backlog of Agile Transformation

We recommend taking an agile approach to rolling out Jira Align. That means bringing on teams in an orderly fashion, and taking advantage of more features in Jira Align as needed. An enterprise can't do everything at once, so having a prioritized backlog of the things you want to do, and managing the amount of work in progress helps ensure the most important things get done first.

In a large organization, there may be many different levels of agile maturity at the same time, so the steps that are needed for each group may be a bit different.

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Training and adoption of tools and process

Teams may have built their own ways of doing things before they used Jira Align, so we need to make sure we show them how to use Jira Align to achieve the same (or better!) outcomes as before by using different tools. So you need to be sure there's appropriate training so people will know how to do the things they need to get their jobs done. (See Emma Murphy's excellent article excellent article about training for job-to-be-done for more on this.) 

This also includes training on how to use Jira to integrate with Jira Align, and having standard templates and system roles to provide people the features they need to do their jobs.

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The Alignment Team can help ensure the management and executive stakeholders are united with their goals for enterprise agility and are taking the steps to ensure there's alignment with strategic objectives and activities.

Inspect and adapt

As you're rolling Jira Align out through your enterprise, you want to make sure you take time to inspect the results you've achieved on a regular basis, and adapt your plans accordingly. For example, we've worked with a number of companies that sped their adoption of Jira Align because they wanted to take advantage of the capabilities for running completely distributed quarterly planning sessions. 






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