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I wanted to write an article on how TechTime creates monthly customer reports by harnessing the data and features in Confluence and Jira, with the help of macros and Marketplace Apps of course. It was not long into the article writing process before I remembered why this had not been documented before for internal use, sharing with our customers, or sharing with the Atlassian Community. Reporting is hard!
At the start of every month it is not unusual for customers to want a report summarising the interactions their organisation has had with their supplier along with key discussion points and notices. At TechTime Initiative Group we know the machine does it better so we use Confluence, Jira, and a collection of macros and Marketplace Apps to help us generate monthly reports for our customers.
In early 2018, generating a monthly report was a manual process with multiple reports being run so data could be copied and pasted, and manual updates to title and date fields. Any discussion points were added between the time the report draft was generated and the report was sent to the customer (hopefully). At least the Jira issues list was pulled though (after being manually refreshed).
In August 2018, we replaced the manual discussion points section with another Jira issues list. This meant discussion points could be added or updated any time during the month. Our Administrator no longer had to wait on our Delivery Lead to make updates.
In February 2019, the discussion points section was working so well we added a Version Summary for each customer where we also listed upgrade advice.
In March 2019, we took a big step forward. Using the skills of one of our in-house developers and the functions of our Marketplace app EasyPage Blueprint, the report generating process changed from copying last month's report and making manual edits to using a blueprint customised to our needs. After selecting the template in the Create dialog and entering a page title, selecting the customer's name and Jira project, entering the report period start and end date, and the next contract renewal date the draft monthly report is created.
We are still fine tuning our monthly report (the formatting of the hours table is tricky) but we have reduced a task that could take 1-2 hours per customer down to less than 30 minutes per customer.
Critical to any report is data. We received direct customer queries through a Jira Service Desk project and track internally-raised tickets in customer-specific projects. We collect work log data used in this report using EasyTime – Automatic time tracking and Tempo Timesheets to record work logs against Jira Service Desk issues and customer project tickets. Tempo Budgets allows us to record an account against each issue and also allows us record the monthly budget in hours for each customer. We use epic links in Jira to indicate project phases and work streams.
The report delivery
Generating reports is only part of the process. The Scheduler makes sending reports significantly easier. On the last Wednesday of the month a Jira Service Desk ticket is created for each customer that received a monthly report. This ticket is pre-populated with the recipients and correct account and epic. These tickets are placed in the next sprint with the help of a label "into-next-sprint" and an in-house Jira app.
Ideas, Initiative, and Innovation
At TechTime, the keys to success are ideas, initiative, and innovation. Sometimes small incremental changes towards a final state that has not yet been defined is the best way to improve accuracy and efficiency. And of course remembering to ...