I started working at Parker Hannifin as a contractor late in 2017. I was coming into a department that had little to no project governance standards, used this new software called “Jira,” and wanted me to learn the tools and recommend best practices. I noticed a few wrinkles right away: I’m a PMP with extensive Waterfall experience, so the lack of any governance was daunting. That was OK though, because I’m also a Scrum Master and the department was Agile-ish. (More “ish” than Agile, I later learned.) To top it off, I was an MS Project guy through and through.
Finally, after a bit of practice, I was made a site-admin of our Jira instance and made the primary contact for questions on all things Atlassian.
Question: How does one reset, learn a new tool, manage projects, and take over admin duties without jeopardizing one’s contract with a world renown Fortune 500 company?
Answer: Relay on what one knows in the highest detail, right down to one’s very core.
If there is something I know, down to my deepest core, in the highest level of detail it is this: The Princess Bride is the greatest swashbuckling, adventuring, laugh-out-loud funny love story ever made into a movie. And I know the movie by heart.
What does the Princess Bride have to do with Jira you ask?
First, I think we can all agree that the secret to a successful Agile project lays in writing good user stories, and a good movie is a good story, right?
Second, new technology can be frightening, even to a seasoned professional. So, whenever I teach someone something new I take the technology out of the equation. Confused about managing sprints in a release? Build Want to learn a new project management tool? Break down a movie into Epics, Stories, Tasks, etc.
As I watched YouTube tutorials and read through Community posts I also set up a Jira project that followed the adventures of Princess Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Fezik, and of course, Wesley: The Dred Pirate Roberts.
I jumped right in, setting up the project’s epics, stories and tasks as I worked though the movie script.
As I set these issues up I found that I needed to add some custom fields, new screens, some workflows, and other stuff. Since I was playing in a sandbox (i.e. a made-up project) I was able to use trial and error.
As I was working on this I was tasked with finding an add-on that would help manage risks and manage at a portfolio level. How you say?
Well, surely there would be risks in an adventure as fraught with danger as rescuing a Princes:
I set up a new Issue Type called “Risk,” added it to the Issue Type Scheme, and started entering risks.
And of course, The Rescue wasn’t the only thing going on…there was a whole other project being run by Prince Humperdinck to consider…
So, I set up another project from his point of view and started creating dependencies between projects, assigning team members, and putting the stories from both viewpoints together in a couple of add-ons.
In short, know that mistakes will be made, and that is okay. By taking the technology out of the equation I was able to think in ways that tasked the creative side of my brain and squeezed in the logic of managing a project without worrying about what I was doing in the tool.
Most of all, not only did I have WAY too much fun doing this, but I learned just how powerful Jira can be when it is set up to optimize a project team’s processes, gained invaluable experience with creating stuff in Jira from scratch (and troubleshooting it when I broke things) and I am now, after just 6 months on the job, an integral part of the team, one of the few Jira experts in the entire company, and a resource for other teams.
Oh…and if I never have to go back to MS Project I will be a happy PM.
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