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Good morning Jira Guys and Gals! Before we get too far, I love how well last week's article did! I'm experimenting with putting the posts in a few different places. While ideally, I'd still like you to go to the website; I'm coming around to meeting people where they are, which now includes a LinkedIn Newsletter and posting on the official Atlassian Community!
Also, Facebook kindly reminded me that I passed my first ACP exam six years ago last week. It doesn't feel like it should have been so long ago, but here we are, and what a wild ride it should be. If you are on the fence about getting your ACP exams, go for it. It's well worth the work to get the certification.
Anyways, what are we talking about this week? At Unleash, Atlassian revealed they are starting to include customer project templates in their collection. I'm very excited about this concept, so I want to look into their available templates and see what they include, how they work, and what I think of them. So let's dig into this!
I mentioned last week that I pitched something similar to Atlassian during the development of JWM. And I still stand by that, but I don't think they stole my idea. First, it was freely given, but second, what exists today fundamentally differs from what I pitched.
I suggested having a webpage or space where Customers can upload their project templates directly, then rate those of other users. Of course, it would still require some work in moderation (the Internet is tamer than it was a decade ago, but it's still a wilderness), but my idea was the best would bubble up in the ratings, letting people know to use this one over that.
What Atlassian has opted for is a Curated Garden instead. Rather than waiting for people to use a template and rate it, Atlassian has chosen to review a template manually and only allow the best to be in their collection. This methodology isn't a wrong approach. On the contrary, given what a wilderness the Internet tends to be, it's probably the best approach. But it does make it different from what I pitched.
So, the first template is from UserTesting, which helps companies test their products with real-live people. Their template includes 3 Jira Projects (one JPD and two JSW) and a Confluence space. The overall theme of the template is to take an idea from customer requirement to shipped feature while keeping that customer top of mind.
The included Jira Product Discovery project looks like the standard JPD workflow, making me wonder which came first, the UserTesting project (from which they derived the default JPD workflow) or the default JPD, which UserTesting hasn't needed to customize yet. The Project name, Ideate & plan, makes the intention clear, which I approve of. If you have to tell people that "Ganymede is the codename we use for this well-known product that people already know we are making, so that's why we have a project named after a Moon of Jupiter," you've already made it too complex.
As for the two Jira Software projects, they are both standard Team-managed projects. Honestly, I don't care for Team-managed projects. I'm all for giving teams the autonomy to set up how they work, but I've seen too many Jira instances ruined by teams that have gone unchecked and, thusly, have over-added fields, workflows, automations, etc. An experienced Jira Admin can help guide you to what's possible in Jira and even give you shortcuts and configurations that work better (for both your team and the instance) than the "obvious solutions." They can also keep you out of trouble by letting you know the configurations with hidden pitfalls. Cutting them out of the conversation entirely in the name of team autonomy always seemed like an easy road to trouble.
However, these are relatively standard projects and a good place to start. The first one, "Design & test," seems to be about discovering whether an idea is possible. The second one, "Develop & ship," then take the possible ideas and answers, "How do we get these into the product." This is an interesting approach, as most companies take this as one activity handled by the same team. This way, you can have a subset of your team answering the tough questions while the rest focus on what we know can make it into a final product. As I said, it's not a common approach, but I like it.
I was surprised to find out that the UserTesting template includes a Confluence space. In the Atlassian Cloud products, the line between Confluence and Jira is fuzzy at best, but for some reason, it never occurred to me that these could include Confluence spaces. This Confluence space, however, is just a blank space. I hoped it would include some initial User Created [Page] Templates, but no such luck. I also hope this space would include some documentation about the process meant to accompany this Jira Configuration. Don't get me wrong, having a good Jira Configuration is immensely important, but without the proper process, the best-case scenario is it just sits there unused. Worst-case scenario, you inspire another "Jira Sucks" post.
Our second template, by Code.org, might have a soft spot in my heart. I've made no secret that playing FIRST as a student changed the course of my life. But I only got the opportunity to join the team because I already had several programming classes completed by then. I think all students should have the opportunity to learn to program. That being said, I'm here to judge a template, not opine on the virtues of an organization.
This template is far simpler than the one from UserTesting, with only one Jira Software project and one Confluence Space. That is not to say they are worse - in most cases, simpler is better. You should only add complexity when it is required. In this case, this would be perfect for an organization just starting. It allows you to get up and running quickly and without much fuss.
The Jira project is, once again, Team-managed, but otherwise seems standard. They have opted to include a blocked status rather than a flag. I go back and forth on this - both approaches have their merits, but in this case, I think the status is better as it shows an Item is not "In progress" because it is blocked. The Confluence space is yet again a miss for me. I'm happy to have it present, but you should have some pre-published documentation detailing the process. Instead, it's yet another blank space. Don't get me wrong, having it there is a long way from having to create it yourself; I just wish it was a bit more than that.
The last customer template (as of the time of this writing) is from Lumen, who looks like they are a Cloud provider. Their template concept is, "Agile at Scale," and it looks like their template is one of the most involved to date with five Jira projects (3 JSW, 1 JSM, and 1 JWM) as well as a Confluence space.
Before I get too far along, Confluence. It's the same story, so if you want my opinion, re-read what I wrote in the previous two templates above. However, it did create another Confluence space to act as a Knowledge base for the JSM project...in speaking of which.
My test instance doesn't have Jira Service Management on it. Or, more accurately, it doesn't have it yet. I could add it, but I wanted to see what the template would do in this situation. Well, it created what it could and left out the JSM Project. I can see all three Jira Sofware projects and the Work Management Project, so those worked as expected.
As far as the software projects, one is called "Portfolio." Looking at its workflow/board, I wonder if this will eventually be changed to a JPD project - it seems like it would be a natural fit. Otherwise, they all three look pretty standard.
Creating the projects from the templates was straightforward. Select the template, select the instance, confirm what will be made, and click go.
I also attempted to reuse a template bundle I had already populated, which gave me a warning about the duplicated Jira project names. However, It didn't care if I reused a Confluence space name, which was interesting. But if I gave it unique Jira Project names, it was OK to do its thing over and over again.
One thing I wish it would allow is to give me the option to select a subset of the template bundle to create. As I mentioned, the Lumen template didn't create a JSM Project as I don't have JSM. Now, if I add JSM later, I'll have to re-add the entire bundle (with different names for the four Projects I've already created), then delete the four now-duplicated projects. All of which could be prevented with checkboxes that are checked by default.
That being said, I love the idea behind these templates, as I've been advocating for something like this for years. I hope that Atlassian continues to grow its library. Who knows, maybe I'll have to do a follow-up if that happens!
Do you have a favorite template? Or do you have an idea for a template? Or is this just a bunch of complications you will never use? I want to hear from you! Let me know here or on social media what you think!
You can find me on social media via my Linktree link. Please comment, share, and like the posts as it helps more people discover TJG.
But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, "Have you updated your Jira issues today?"
Sr. Atlassian Engineer
The Jira Guy, LLC
13 accepted answers