When we’ve decided to develop a complex Idea & Initiative Management solution based on Jira, the idea didn’t come from nothing. In fact, we’ve already tried to do it in a Jira instance linked with Confluence. How did it go? Read this article to learn more.
The solution was created for an IT Department in an international company. Its main goal was to collect new ideas for IT Product development, as well as new feature requests. We assumed at the beginning, that the process will be attended mostly by the most engaged internal customers and that it will be controlled in a semi-automatic way.
The setup in Jira was pretty simple. It consisted of a single project with a pretty complex workflow, allowing the user to submit the requirement, comment on it and perform some simple transitions. Everything else was controlled by the project’s administrator.
What did the individual statuses mean?
👉 Requested – the initial stage, just after the request is submitted by a user.
👉 Need more info – the „Quality Gate” – if the user won’t submit the minimum level of information, the issue won’t get any further.
👉 Accepted – we’ve already checked that there are no duplicates, all the necessary info is filled and the idea looks plausible.
👉 In Debate – there is a Debate Page created in Confluence, where the users can discuss a new idea. The debate could be skipped in case of urgent ideas. This step required a debate page in Confluence to be created.
👉 In Review – the Product Management Team reviews the idea from the budget, technical and security perspective. This step required a decision page in Confluence to be created.
👉 In Implementation – the idea is in process of implementation. This step required documentation pages in Confluence to be created.
👉 Resolved – the idea is implemented.
There were also 3 „negative outcome” statuses:
👉 Rejected – for ideas that haven’t met the requirements.
👉 Canceled – for ideas cancelled by the users.
👉 Suspended – for ideas suspended, e.g. for budget reasons.
In Confluence, we had a dedicated space for handling debates and decisions. In debate pages, we collected the requirements, comments and thoughts submitted by the user community, to check how popular is the idea and should we go for implementation. At first, we tried to manage the pages with labels, but it turned out to be far too work-intensive, so we turned to group these into sub-pages instead.
The primary problem, besides lots of additional workload, was advertising the debate to Jira and Confluence users. We used Banners to do it in most important cases, and used Confluence Blogs and emailing the Project Admins, but overall participation was not so great, and people were generally not aware of the process.
This sometimes changed – when there was a very popular idea submitted, that spread through the organization grassroots-style, but this was rather a rare occurrence than a norm.
The more functional part of the Confluence setup were the decision pages. These were divided into 3 categories (accepted, rejected and in progress) and sorted by date.
Every decision had its executive summary, risk assessment, report from the debate, „as is / to be” section and was hidden from the public. It was generally well-received by the management and (with Jira and Debate links) allowed to access all the necessary information regarding the idea with ease.
While the process work, it was not smooth. The acceptance criteria of new ideas were rated by the users as not clear. The community also complained that the process is not user friendly, and it’s hard to find where to submit the ideas, where are the debates etc.
Despite all that, the process still runs (after a few upgrades) and managed to process over 600 new ideas over the course of 2,5 years, with about 8,5% of these being implemented into the system.
👉 Increase the visibility of the whole process by designing Submitting Ideas inside Jira Service Desk’s Customer Portal.
👉 Add more transparency to the decision-making process.
👉 Define budget limitations for the upcoming months to avoid the situation of last-minute cost-cutting.
👉 Include maintenance criteria from the beginning.
👉 Create a better rating process, as some ideas were rated almost immediately and other waited months for taking action.
👉 Simplify the process and strive to automate it more.
As the process was one of the key requirements from the management, we thought about applying these improvements and launching our own app, focused solely on Idea & Initiative Management. We decided to skip Confluence as a required application and develop the App for Jira only, to avoid switching between contexts.
To mitigate the visibility and transparency problem, Idea Hub has an open, user-friendly portal and a simple, but powerful rating capability. To avoid tons of work with updating the debates and decisions manually, the whole process is simplified and automated, from idea acceptance to final assessment session.
The rest of the criteria – like budget or maintenance – still need your input, but are far easier to manage with Idea Hub than with Jira+Confluence Setup.
Idea Hub is already available on the Atlassian Marketplace. Try it for 30 days for free and tell us how do you like it!
Krzysztof Daukszewicz _CoreSoft Labs_
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