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What are the main considerations when scaling Jira?

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Whether you are a seasoned Jira admin or have recently inherited your first instance to manage, scaling is something you always need to be considering and planning for.

With Jira fast approaching its 20th anniversary, its become an essential part of software development, project management, and team collaboration for organizations of all sizes around the world. As we know Jira was originally used by software teams. But today it's been embraced by a wide variety of other departments - from HR to Marketing, Legal, and even Finance, with each team having its own needs and unique requirements. 

The widespread use of Jira across teams and businesses is a great thing and helps to break down silos and improve collaboration and teamwork. But it's important to recognize this also brings more users, data, and customization requests - a set of factors that, if unmanaged, have the potential to cause problems further down the line. 

The risk of performance issues and downtime needs to be avoided and Jira admins play a crucial role here. By understanding the factors that could affect your scaling journey, you will be able to plan for and mitigate them with confidence so end users can benefit from a system that is well-organized and high-performing. And that's where we want to help!

 

Register for our free webinar: Scaling Mt. Jira

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On April 14th, we're bringing together an exciting lineup of guest speakers to share their experiences, best practices, and several tools that can help manage and overcome the challenges when scaling Jira.

You'll be able to hear from Rodney Nissen (The Jira Guy), Flora Rubio (DEISER), Kurt Klinner (Atlassian), Peter Byrne (Automaton Consultants), and Jeff Tomband (AppFox). Find out more and register.

When should you be considering scaling? 

Scaling should always be an important consideration. 

It can sometimes be viewed as a point in time where systems reach a certain size and can be referred to as "operating at scale". However, the reality is that it's more fluid than that. Every active Jira instance is continuously scaling (albeit at different speeds) and admins need to be aware of the key drivers for growth in their system.

By understanding these key drivers, admins can build a robust plan and proactively manage Jira's growth in the right way. It also helps avoid being reactive and only focusing on the problems as they arise which can become time-consuming and frustrating.

 

What are the main considerations that can affect your scaling journey?

The true answer will differ for every Jira admin because your systems will have different growth drivers, users, data, and configurations. 

As an example, we surveyed several admins and asked for their top considerations and challenges when Jira is scaling or operating at scale. Whilst the results varied, there were some recurring themes which we will explore below: 

 

User Management

User management remains a critical part of the Jira admin role. When scaling, it's important to keep on top of the 3 groups below: 

  • New users - these individuals will need to be thoroughly onboarded so they are aware of how Jira works, the processes you have in place, and the routes to get assistance if required. Your new users will quickly recognize that Jira is extremely customizable and without adequate processes in place, you could find yourself inundated with customization requests
  • Existing users - the needs and requirements of your end-users will naturally evolve. This may be a result of team goals changing, people transitioning into new roles, or a natural churn of Project admins. Whatever the reason, as your Jira grows always keep its long-term sustainability in mind
  • Inactive users - from a security perspective it's essential that the right people have access to the Jira system. If an employee leaves the business there should be a defined process for how their account is managed. Many companies will choose to de-activate the account rather than delete it because this retains important information relating to their work. It also avoids any unintended consequences with Jira objects that were assigned to that user

 

Managing Objects

Jira appeals to such a wide variety of teams and facilitates great collaboration and project working. As more users begin to use Jira as a core part of their daily work, the number of Jira objects (e.g. Projects, Issues, Custom Fields, Schemes) will inevitably increase. 

The vast options for customization options are a real benefit but these need to be managed appropriately to avoid any adverse impacts on system performance. 

For example, if you take custom fields, these can have a direct impact on Jira performance. There are many stories about teams that have an excessive amount of custom fields because customization requests were continuously granted with little thought about the long-term consequences. Before you know it, there are a ton of custom fields and duplicates that need managing but it didn't need to be that way.

For systems that are growing or operating at scale, this challenge can take place on a much larger scale, and therefore it's essential to have a plan in place to manage this from the beginning.

 

Governance

Governance processes are usually brought in at a later stage once teams have some experience using Jira and it's easier to define an effective way of working. 

Putting governance in place can often be a challenge as it requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders within the business. There will also need to be a defined exception process otherwise there is too much scope for compromise and this can quickly snowball into a problem. 

 

Compromise & Balance

And last but by no means least - Admins can often find themselves in a situation where they are trying to balance 3 key factors: 

  1. End-user requests for customization
  2. Requirements of the business
  3. Maintainability of Jira platform

The real challenge here is providing enough customization and flexibility to meet the needs of the business and end-users, but in a way that avoids a negative impact on system performance or maintainability further down the line. 

 

And more...

There are other considerations and challenges that can impact the sustainable growth of Jira. From system complexity to people, processes, and infrastructure, come and join our webinar on April 14th where the guest speakers will be sharing their experiences, best practices, and several tools that can help you manage the growth of Jira efficiently and effectively. Find out more and register

2 comments

Mohammed Amine Community Leader Mar 26, 2021

will you give more details on how Advanced Roadmaps and/or Jira Align are used? 

Like Dave likes this

Hi @Mohammed Amine. Unfortunately not. This webinar will primarily focus on the Jira application itself (e.g. system, processes, governance) and the considerations and best practices when scaling or operating at scale

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