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At Atlassian, we take great pride in the software we ship, and even greater pride in the success our customers achieve when they use our products. #JiraHeroes is our new monthly spotlight series where we ask customers to share their success stories with Jira Software. We hope that customers will find inspiration on how to overcome their own challenges by hearing how our #JiraHeroes overcame theirs.
This month, we’re featuring @Zach Meixner, a Program Manager at M&T Bank, who shares how he leveraged Jira Software to help teams within his department improve visibility, minimize duplicative efforts, and execute work more efficiently.
Hello Community! My name is Zach Meixner, and I’m a Senior Digital Program Manager for M&T Bank.
M&T is a community-focused bank with 120 billion dollars in assets and nearly 800 branches. We are headquartered in Buffalo, New York. I work in the Marketing, Communications, and Digital (MC&D) department. In MC&D, we are the storytellers for the bank, ensuring our current and potential customers are aware of the benefits M&T offers to those who bank with us and the communities in which we are present.
As a Program Manager, I am responsible for helping our teams organize and execute work efficiently as well as ensuring our teams prioritize items that bring the most value to the bank and our customers.
We needed a single tool for the MC&D department to bring greater visibility to the work each team was doing across the organization. This would allow us to identify situations where teams were duplicating efforts, recognize opportunities to work together on related tasks, and ensure every team was aware of the priority of items in their backlog.
At the time, the M&T Technology department was already utilizing an enterprise version of Jira Software. Many of our marketing teams and Agile Release Trains were also collaborating heavily with those tech teams (for those unfamiliar with ARTs, they are groups of related teams, working towards common outcomes). To bridge the gap and streamline our teams' ways of working, we adopted Jira Software as well. Also, I personally had used Jira in previous roles at previous organizations, so MC&D now had a Jira advocate in me.
Though the MC&D department probably uses Jira Software a bit differently than most users since we are not a technology or development shop, we were able to leverage what M&T Technology already had in place to track the work we were doing. We looked to Jira Software to allow our people to know what the priorities were and to allow the stakeholders to see the progress of work without necessarily having to make a phone call or send an email to those doing the work.
Convince others of the benefits Jira would bring. We got comments like “there is no way I could be any more efficient at my job” and the previously-mentioned “loudest” stakeholders were happy being loud. After getting a few teams properly using Jira Software, more and more of the department recognized the benefits.
Work collaboratively and iteratively with key stakeholders to build a workflow that works for everyone. We originally started out with team-managed projects in Jira Software. This allowed each team to create custom fields they needed in their tickets and promoted adoption of the tool. While many liked this flexibility, it also created issues for resources working across multiple teams and for technology to support all the boards. After using Jira for a while, we held sessions with the Scrum Masters and Product Owners from a dozen agile teams. Through collaboration with that group, we were able to standardize ticket format and workflow across many teams, most of which worked slightly differently. This allowed team members that work on multiple teams to be familiar with the tickets, regardless of the board they are working on.
Leverage customizations to meet the unique needs of our teams. We’ve had to use custom fields, queries, and dashboards to bring visibility of all the work being done. One example of a custom field we’ve used is adding a “person” field for Channel Manager (CM). That’s a role at M&T that is responsible for customer direct communications. Everyone knows Jira has the assignee field. That’s the person who currently “has the ball” for any given ticket. Channel Managers typically work across multiple teams and boards. We don’t want people to have to jump around many boards to get the full picture of what they are working on, so by adding the CM field to the ticket format, we are able to create queries for each CM, and then create a dashboard that gives them a complete view of all the tickets they are involved with, even if they are not the ones those tickets are currently assigned to. This is just one example of where individual, personalized dashboards have become extremely valuable to us.
Over a year later, nearly all of the execution teams in our agile environment now use Jira Software to manage their work and those who don’t have plans to adopt it this year. It is the primary tool most of our teams use in their quarterly planning and everyone uses it for their normal work tracking. The same teams who we begged to adopt Jira Software in the early days now get upset if we try to change anything as it has become such a huge part of their day-to-day work. We still look for ways to optimize how we are using Jira Software, but we have come a long way in a short amount of time and are one of the few marketing organizations using Jira to this level.
Don’t expect Jira Software to magically solve all your issues. While the tool itself will solve some of your problems, it primarily brings visibility to them and can provide data to help you solve them. Remember, no tool fixes a broken process and no process fixes a broken mindset.
Train your teams who will be using Jira Software. While the Jira interface is very intuitive, change is hard and some people may be new to this. Share the benefits of using Jira Software and the basics of actually using it, and you will have much better adoption and much happier teams.
Listen to the needs of the teams and configure Jira Sofware to meet them. Don’t try to do it the other way around. While there are things Jira Software does and offers that will make your teams’ lives easier, don’t try to overhaul the whole way they work to fit the tool.
Learn what information the teams need. Don’t be afraid to create custom fields or workflow steps, but make sure you fully understand what the teams actually need and aren’t overcomplicating things just because “we’ve always done it that way.” It’s a delicate line to walk, but if you find the balance, you’ll see awesome results.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights, Zach!
Are you inspired by Zach's story? Do you have a story of your own that you’d like to share? Check out our call for submissions, and let us know you’re interested in the comments below! 🙌🏼