On my previous article about The Purpose of the Atlassian Marketplace I mentioned that the main challenge for those trying to get a new app purchase approved is to justify the Return on Investment. Furthermore, considering that the app price is based on the platform number of users, and not based on the users that actually justify the business case, the goal of the person looking for approval is to find a way to extend the application usage beyond those that are the primary target audience. Of course, budget will be always a barrier, but if we find the "extra leg to the table" we will increase our chances.
In this article, to support the concept of extending the use of the app beyond original design, I picked one of the apps that I mentioned on my comments to the February Challenge, it is called Automated Release Notes for Jira. Based on the name you will think that it is just an app for Jira to automatically generate Release Notes. However, i could tell you that with few tricks you can do more than that, you can create pages in Confluence, send emails, notifications to Jira Service Desk and more. I will explain how to use the app and where you can find additional elements to increase the users base. I am sure that each one of the apps on the marketplace could be used in more ways than on the original scope. A liitle bit of effort and imagination could get the extra justification to get your app purchase approved.
While we track product development in Jira we can add power and increase our productivity and performance by bringing Confluence to the game. I will show you how to combine the power of both tools to deliver faster and better software or products. But before that let's have some fun with this Atlassian video.
To accomplish our goal we start with the first step, to evaluate the business need: "How to improve the out of the box Jira release notes experience", requested by one of our Director of Product Management
Due diligence: we evaluated internal solutions and Atlassian Marketplace. Then, after founding one of the potential solutions, we contacted the vendor to measure the level of response and commitment. The experience fulfill our expectations and we decided to move forward.
Considering that the cost is based in the number of users of our Atlassian platform, we look in how we can maximize the benefits opening the app to other users. As we implemented the solution, and new app version were released, we found additional usage of the new functionalities.
You are tracking your products in Jira and then in "that" Monday mid morning you receive one of "those" emails... just enough to warm up your week (or burn it...)
Well, it sounds like a good and compelling call to action. The question here is: what type of action? Let's explore a couple of options.
As I am sure you are familiar with the option A, I will focus on the option B so you can have more time to relax with your team.
This app will add a new menu option in your Jira project visible based on project permission. In order to start using it you will need to master some key concepts: JQL, Templates, Rules and Actions.
One of the main reasons of why we selected this app was because the flexibility provided on the templates because they are purely based on Jira Query Language (JQL). Personally, I think it is the core power that adds flexibility to basic functionalities and allowed me to find additional use for it.
There are Global Templates and Local Templates. This is a good feature but it could generate some confusion among your team members.
In spite of having multiple type of templates, all of them follow a similar process during creation. I will use, as example, the generation of Confluence Templates that are used to create pages in Confluence directly from Jira with content from the projects and based on the JQL statement.
The option to Create new templates is under the tab Templates. There are some parameters that the user needs to provide.
The example above shows alternative JQL stateemnts that could be used on the template JQL sections, all of them could be combined in the same template that will end in a Confluence page.
Despite of the effort of the developers of Global Templates you might need to customize it to meet your needs, a change of a title, additional fields, different sorting, changing tables to layout to add more information, etc. Fortunately, this action is just one click away.
On previous version it was easier to clone the Global Templates from any project, unfortunately on the just released version 2.2.4 the vendor change that and the templates can be cloned only on the host project, which is a problem for the user as they might not have admin access to the host project. I personally don't like this decision made by the vendor because it is generating silos and not helping fostering the sharing of best practices. I will show a workaround to this option. It was a product design decision and I am not sure the reason behind it but it will requires an extra step to clone templates from other projects.
Now with version 2.2.4 of ARN you can clone a template from the host project by clicking on the icon (highlighted on the screen capture)
Unfortunately, if you access from a different project you won't be able to clone the global template.
If you desire to use a Global Template as the baseline for a new template, but you don't have admin access to the Jira project hosting the Global Template, you can still grab the source code and paste it into a new empty template in your own project.
The key to the vault is on the Source Code Icon from the toolbar, once you click it the window will pop up with the whole template code, select all, copy it and then open the target template and paste it replacing existing code.
Ctrl+A | Ctrl+C | Ctrl+V will solve the problem and voila! you can start changing the template from there, starting from a pre defined global template.
There are a lot of more flexibility for ARN Templates, please consult the product documentation for details, for now, I will explain how to use them.
Templates are useless without rules that trigger the action referring the template. For instance, with your templates created we need to build the rules that will use those templates, in this case our Confluence Template that will be part of the actions triggered when a rule condition is met.
Each type of action will require specific parameters, in the case of Confluence Action you will need to provide the "demographics", basically the target location of the new page that will be created. Both Space and Parent Page is needed. Caution call here!, if you are planning to run this rule manually or multiple times be sure you add a variable on the template on the name of the page field so the page generated is unique, I decided to add timestamp.
Navigate to a specific page
Page ID will be displayed as a parameter in the URL
In the example above, 65541 is the Page ID."
Each Rule could contain multiple actions and a mix of them, so it might create many confluence pages as needed, send emails or create Jira Service Desk announcements
In this example above I have 12 Confluence pages generated and one email sent with just two clicks. And here is where the Click, Click, Click = Boom x 15 happens! This could be reduced to ZERO (0) click if you select the option Version Release for trigger. The rule will be executed when a version is released from the Jira Release section.
Here are the parent pages in Confluence with the corresponding reports generated from Jira using this app called Automated Release Notes (ARN)
Maximize the power of the templates by adding JQL statements and use filters if needed. Test JQL and filters in the Jira Issue Navigator and then replace it with the ARN Variables if needed.
Consider the use of variables as parameters in your template JQL like projectID or versionName
Please follow this Article Part 2 to learn more about how to maximize the use of this Marketplace App, used as an example to obtain better Return on Investment on purchased Atlassian Apps.
Fabian A. Lopez -ACL -Mentor-Community Leader
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