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Creating Effective Workflows

I am often asked how to create an effective Jira workflow. Other teams notice that the workflows I have are easy to use, easy to understand, allow the team to easily monitor the project and be successful. My answer is always the same, create effective processes that can be tied to your workflows. If you can create an effective process then you will be able to create an effective workflow.  

Jira’s flexibility allows teams to customize the application to their needs. This allows teams to improve productivity, transparency, and accountability. This is essential to running successful teams and projects.  

This flexibility also allows teams to implement customizations that are difficult to follow, confusing, and cause discord. This does not promote successful teams and projects and should be avoided.  

So how do teams avoid this? By creating solid processes that support their team and translating those into effective Jira workflows.

Here are some simple recommendations for creating solid processes that can be implemented into effective Jira workflows.

  1. Understand your goals
  2. Leverage your team to be part of the process and workflow development
  3. Look for opportunities to simplify
  4. Document the process and workflow
  5. Implement the process and workflow
  6. Gather feedback and make changes

 

Understand Your Goals
Goals provide direction and are a tool to measure how successful you and your team are performing. When I create a new process and accompanying workflow it is to accomplish and support specific goals. These goals are derived from other team activities like construction of a project charter, project initiation, or working together to fix a process gap. Understanding your goals as a team will help you move forward in a unified direction and provide a foundation to work off of.

Leverage your team to be part of the process and workflow development
Once we know what we are trying to accomplish we plan out how we will accomplish it. As a team, we work through gaps that we currently see and discuss how we can fill them. We construct processes that will help us efficiently work together to reach our goals. 

When creating the processes we focus on making them simple, transparent and that they ensure collaboration and accountability. The whole team participates and agrees to the process. We then take the process and translate it into a workflow.

Look for opportunities to simplify
When we initially create our process and workflow it is usually more complex than it needs to be. Walking through the process and workflow in Jira allows us to simplify and make the process/workflow more robust. Simplification usually occurs again as we begin using the workflow and determine areas that are cumbersome and provide very little value to the team. At this point, we make additional changes to simplify.

Document the process and workflow
To ensure that there is a clear understanding of the process and the workflow we document. The documentation we construct is very detailed and explains every step/status and why it is done. By creating thorough documentation your team will benefit because they will have a reference for questions or new team member training. It will also identify holes or areas that can be improved. If you go to explain it in the documentation and it is hard to do so or does not make much sense it is probably time to rethink that portion of the process/workflow. (Example Documentation Screenshot)

workflow1.png

Implement the process and workflow
Once you have it constructed and documented it is time to provide some training and begin using the end product. Whenever we implement a new process/workflow we always make sure that everyone knows that things may change as we use it. We also make sure that they know we want their feedback. If there is an issue we want to hear about it and we need the team to be flexible to change and improve the process.

Gather feedback and make changes
Next, we need to listen. After we implement listen to what is being said about the process/workflow. Look and see if the workflow is causing any bottlenecks or if there are any unnecessary statuses or steps to move the work forward. If you do identify issues don’t be afraid to change. Have some brief discussions with the team, make and adjustments and get feedback. Being agile in your project management only helps your agile team.  

Following these simple steps has benefited the teams I work with and has helped us implement effective workflows.

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