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How we implemented Assignment Groups

Edited

Jira Service Management doesn't presently offer a feature like ServiceNow's Assignment Groups, but you can get pretty darn close with a couple of custom fields, an Automation rule, and (optionally) an Insight object type.

If you implement this, then your agents will have to first choose from a set list of Assignment Groups, then your Assignee field will be restricted to a list of users who are members of that Assignment Group. If you implement the optional Insight object type, you'll be able to create queues and filters which show the logged-in user's group's tickets, so you can have a "My group's unassigned open tickets" queue and an "Assigned to my group" dashboard gadget.

We'll walk first through the setup and then discuss how to maintain the membership of assignment groups. Finally we'll discuss a couple of shortcomings of this method.

Setup

Assignment groups are not restricted to Jira Service Management and could be implemented in other Jira project types. The optional "my group's issues" filter feature depends on Insight, which depends on Jira Service Management Premium.

Custom fields

Assignment group:

  Type: Select List (single choice)
  Options: # Names of your assignment groups
    - Desktop support
    - Network and infrastructure
    - Teams for Space development
    - etc.
  Screens: # Your service desk's screens
    - ITSD: Jira Service Management: Incident Create Issue Screen
    - ITSD: Jira Service Management: Incident View/Edit Screen
    - ITSD: Jira Service Management: Request Fulfilment Create Issue Screen
    - ITSD: Jira Service Management: Request Fulfilment View/Edit Issue Screen
    - etc.

The assignment group should be set as always visible in each Request Type's issue view. You can also add this to the Request Type's request form (recommended for Changes and Problems).

Assignment group picker:

  Type: Group Picker (single group)
  Screens: # ! No screens
Assignment group object: (Optional)
  Type: Insight objects
Insight object field configuration:
Field scope:
Object schema: ITSM # Or your object schema of choice
Filter scope(IQL): objectType = "Assignment group"
User interaction:
Allow search filtering by these attributes:
- Name
  Screens: # ! No screens

Insight object types

(Optional)

Assignment group:
  Object schema: ITSM # Or your object schema of choice
Attributes:

    Group:
      Type: group
  Objects: # Your assignment groups
    - Name: Desktop support
      Group: Desktop support
    - Name: Network and infrastructure
      Group: Network and infrastructure
    - Name: Teams for Space development
      Group: Teams for Space development
    - etc.

The names of your Assignment group objects should match your Assignment group custom field options. The group attribute values are the groups set up in Jira User management.

You could expand this further with additional attributes, like the Owner of an Assignment Group, and you might want to link to this object type in other object types in your Insight CMDB, for example, your assets and services.

Groups

Your actual assignment groups are set up in Jira User management by a site-admin. Their name should match your Assignment group custom field options. Jira cloud now supports renaming groups, which is nice.

Desktop support: 
  - # Desktop support agents
Network and infrastructure:
- # Infrastructure agents
Teams for Space development:
- # Teams for Space development agents
etc.

Project permission

This will cause Jira Service Management to warn that your service desk permissions are incorrectly configured. This can be dismissed.

Assignable User:

 - Grant type: Project Role
Value: atlassian-addons-project-access

 - Grant type: Group custom field value
Value: Assignment group picker

Automation

Assignment group changed ➡ Set the group picker and object:
  Rule details:
    Scope: All projects
    Allow other rule actions to trigger this rule: checked
  When:
    Value changes for: Assignment group
  Then:
    - Edit issue fields:
      Selected fields:
        - Assignment group picker: {{issue.Assignment group}}
        - Assignment group object: Name = "{{issue.Assignment group}}"
        - Assignee: # empty
      Send notifications: not checked

Example filters for queues and dashboards

All my groups' unassigned tickets:
  Resolution = Unresolved AND
    Assignee IS EMPTY AND
    Assignment group object IN iqlFunction(
      "Group HAVING user(\"currentUser()\")"
    )
My group's incidents - Resolved in last 90 days:
  Resolved >= -90d AND
  "Ticket Category" = Incidents AND
    Assignment group object IN iqlFunction(
      "Group HAVING user(\"currentUser()\")"
    )

Configuration summary and maintenance

In summary, assignment groups are configured in three places:
  1.  User management: groups
  2.  Assignment group custom field options
  3.  Insight object schema: Assignment group objects (Optional)

Users only ever interact with the Assignment group custom field. The automation rule keeps the other two custom fields aligned.

Membership of assignment groups is maintained in one place only:

  1. User management: groups.

On your dashboards and queues, you'll generally want to use the Assignment group custom field, as it can be used in many more places than the group picker and Insight object custom fields.

Shortcomings

A user has to be a site-admin to adjust assignment group membership

See [JRACLOUD-3156] Required: Project Group Administrator and [JRACLOUD-77410] Give a set of users the permission to manage other user accounts on this.

However, assignment groups could be provisioned externally via Atlassian Access. In that case, you could assign a friendly name for assignment groups by using the Assignment Group object type as a mapping between the assignment group custom field options and external group names. The automation rule will then need to be adjusted to:

  1. Look up the Insight object based on the Assignment group custom field option
  2. Set the value in the group picker custom field from the object's Group attribute value.

The precise rule steps will be left as an exercise for the reader.

Assignees cannot be selected at the same time as assignment groups on the Issue Create screen and on workflow transition screens

You'll have to choose to either show Assignment group or Assignee on a screen.

This is aside from the limitations of using an automation rule. Even if the group picker custom field was shown to a user, the assignable user REST API endpoint, which is looked up by Jira to show the list of assignable users when you drop down the "Assignee" field, doesn't support being provided with a group custom field value.

Atlassian Support has kindly raised this as a bug. It is more likely that Atlassian delivers a new "Team picker" grant type than any kind of changes to how the "Group picker custom value" grant type works. [JRACLOUD-79760] Unable to assign ticket to a user when creating an issue if the Assignable User permission is set to a user or group picker custom field

Conclusion

We migrated from ServiceNow only two weeks ago with the assistance of GLiNTECH, an Australia-based solution partner, and the core implementation above is completely their work. I added the Insight part but you could just create a queue or filter for each assignment group if you don't have or want to use Insight.

I think this is the best we could expect. The way the assignee field works is hooked deep into the internals of Jira, going all the way back to the osworkflow library that underpins Jira. It won't change any time soon, and this method for Assignment Groups honestly has very little not going for it.

There's a lot that goes into configuring a Jira Service Management service desk to the standard of users who come from ServiceNow. They're very different products, but the Assignment Group feature is one that is genuinely required to operate a Service Desk with more than a dozen agents.

Atlassian may in the future choose to expand the many ways that they have defined a Team (I count four ways: Tempo teams, Advanced Roadmaps shared teams, Compass/Atlassian global teams, and Opsgenie Incident teams) to offer "Assign to a Team" on a service desk. They did for instance enable groups to be configured in approval steps in a workflow, and I don't see why a new "Team picker" grant type can't be added to Project permissions alongside the "Group picker custom field" grant type.

What are your thoughts on this approach to Assignment Groups? How can it be improved, what else would you like to see in relation to assigning tickets to a group?

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