Archiving Jira issues helped this government agency comply with privacy rules and keep Jira clean

Life in Codes, an Atlassian Solution Partner was tasked by a major government entity to create a Jira issue archiving system by integrating Jira with their custom, legacy document management system. It's the story of a successful collaboration between Life in Codes and Midori, the app vendor contributing to the solution delivered.

 

It hardly strikes as a surprise for any Jira admin that if you have 32,000 active users, filing a million issues every year, sooner or later you will need to look into long-term solutions for storing, managing and accessing the information they create. That’s exactly what happened at a major government entity with a leading role in the bureaucratic maze of the European Union’s institutions.

The professional solution for this use case came from a resourceful and experienced Atlassian Solution Partner, Life in Codes. We had a discussion with Alexandru Luchian Constantinescu, their founder and lead Atlassian consultant, about how they connected Ares, a legacy document management system, with Jira and created a modern document archiving solution.

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For more background on the subject, see the list of the currently available methods for archiving Jira projects and Jira issues both for Jira Server and Jira Data Center.

Alexandru, tell us a bit about Life in Codes! What makes you different and what areas are you really experienced in?

Life in Codes is a Romanian Atlassian Silver Solution Partner with an international team and clients in Eastern Europe, Benelux area and the USA. We work with small, medium and large enterprises, as well as with public sector organizations and implement the right solutions their teams need.

We have a great experience with both IT-savvy and non-technical teams as well, but our focus is currently on business teams using Jira and/or Confluence. Our services range from installation and upgrade of the Atlassian suite, consultation, configuration to technical support and custom development.

Recently you worked for a large government organization, where your task was to create an archiving system for Jira issues and make that accessible in a document management system. Can you tell about this business problem and how you approached it?

The client in this story is a large government organization with around 32.000 people. They are using their own in-house developed document management system across the entire institution. It offers them basic capabilities for managing documents, like filing, preservation, search, management of access rights and workflow. It also functions as long-term storage of documents coming from all applications.

So in summary, documents are stored centrally regardless of how they are processed or which department they belong to. This, in turn, ensures secure access, avoids any duplication and facilitates the sharing of information.

At the same time, many teams also use Atlassian tools.

One of these teams, for example, is HR, where they use Jira Core as the back-end system to handle all questions coming from the staff (salary related questions, medical insurance inquiries, pensions or other benefits, etc.). The web form on their own website is the front-end and questions are channeled right into Jira via the REST API. Once the question is logged as a Jira ticket, it gets an assignee. The internal procedures are followed and ultimately the team member will receive the answer.

You can imagine that this kind of personal information is often of a sensitive nature. Also, there are more than 100.000 Jira issues created yearly, so you can imagine that a lot of outdated issues pile up pretty fast, stuffed with sensitive personal information.

In order to keep the instance clean and comply with data privacy rules, it has been decided to delete all issues after one year. However, before deleting from the production system, they should be archived (without any private data such as employee details) into the document management system for statistical purposes.

Since our company has already been providing services for their Atlassian tools (such as installation, upgrades, configuration, and custom development), they asked if we could somehow integrate the two systems: Jira with the legacy document management system.

How does your solution work?

As our solution, we created a custom Jira app that is offering the following components:

  1. A configuration page where URL, credentials and other parameters can be provided, telling our Jira app how to connect to the API of the document management system
  2. A button on the Jira issue view that sends the PDF export of the currently viewed issue (including attachments) to the document management system.

20190128-better-pdf-exporter-for-jira-integrated-with-ares-document-management.png

The user is also redirected in order to be able to make some changes there, for example, change the title of the document (by default it's the issue summary), maybe exclude some attachments, etc.

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    3. A panel on the Jira issue view that shows the latest registration in the document management system: date, registration number with hyperlink and the user who did it

    4. A history tab showing all the registrations with dates, hyperlink, and author

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    5. Built-in permission control, to verify if the current user actually has necessary access in both systems to do the action or even to view the registration history.

You selected the Better PDF Exporter app as part of your solution. What made you decide to use this Jira app to handle exporting and how did it solve the problem?

Initially, we started developing a solution that exported Word documents using the default Jira functionality. But it was difficult to add the company logo to them and technically the exported file was not actually a Word file, but an HTML file with .doc extension. This was a big problem since the document management system couldn’t validate the document.

We needed a solution that exports the current Jira ticket under our own terms:

  • We need to reorder the Jira fields into subsections as we want them
  • Some fields must interpret HTML, others should not
  • Ability to easily add a corporate header with logo and other information
  • Make sure the file is in a correct, verifiable format (the document management system is verifying the file headers as well)

Instead of reinventing the wheel we decided to integrate Better PDF Exporter into our app because it offers everything we listed above and also an API to access the exported PDF files we create.

Once we wired the PDF export functionality into our app, we added some controls to the user interface as well. On the configuration page, our users can select the Better PDF Exporter template they want to use for issue archiving. Better PDF Exporter also allows the user to change or modify the template behind a particular PDF export type easily since it is not hardcoded in our app. It means that if users need to change the layout, design or branding on the PDF document or want to add a new template, they have direct access to the resources in Better PDF Exporter.

What is your advice to anyone thinking about trying Better PDF Exporter?

Better PDF Exporter is really great if you need to be able to fully customize your PDF exports, especially in a corporate environment.

For example:

  • You don’t have to worry about adding the company logo or other images to the header and footer, it will work.
  • Also, don’t have to worry if you have some complex custom fields that were created internally and must be exported properly.
  • It will work because if needed, you can code in the PDF template how the values are interpreted, so really any field with any kind of data type can be included.

Better PDF Exporter has already proved to be a top quality PDF exporting app for Jira. As you read in the above success story, its diverse set of features and flexibility are more and more utilized for archiving Jira issues and projects. As the app is Data Center Approved by Atlassian, you can rest assured that your clustered Jira deployment is also supported by Better PDF Exporter.

                          Learn more about Better PDF Exporter on the Atlassian Marketplace

1 comment

Thank you, it was a great journey which proves that regulatory barriers can be easily overcome thanks to the flexibility of the Jira API and a successful collaboration

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