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Its all about balance...

This discussion question centers more around Jira, but could apply to other Atlassian tools as well. With my job as a Jira Administrator, I get a lot of customization request.  Can we add this field, have this status in our workflow, change up our screens?  Some times things are pretty simple, but sometimes the requests are very specific and granular.  

We'd like this Custom field to be drop down instead of check boxes, or lets reword the name of this Custom field from Origin to Point of Origin.  We want very specific users to be able to do very specific things etc.  Making it difficult to keep things shareable, and even just manageable in a large environment!

How do you balance between what customers want (and by customers, this could be teammates, other users in your office, or a client)  and what is really best practices in Jira?  Are there some good tips for assisting with determining the actual needs of folks making the requests?  How do you steer them to options that work best for the global environment vs the one time specific use? 

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I think I use a range of tactics and tricks.  My favourites though are

  • Making it clear that if I add their (pointless) field to their project, inflicting it on everyone else, then they will get the other fields other projects ask for.  Because you're all supposed to be working in similar ways.
  • Get the main stakeholders together as a committee, and in a shallow Machiavellian way, dump all the decisions on them.  It's rare you'll find them all agree enough to actually implement a set of bad practices, they usually come round to doing things that work for most of them, and in good ways
  • Work backwards through the change.  Starting with "What are you actually trying to report on?  Because that's really what most fields are for", you can usually find a better way to report, or show them how convoluted it is, and hence their users won't ever get the data entry right, making it useless.

Those are all pretty negative to be honest, but it's hard to be positive when you're telling people "no".  Ideally, you'd make friends with them instead and then show them just what a pain custom config becomes for you as an admin.

Good stuff there @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_!  I wish I could get them on board with the Committee idea.  I think it would be great to get everyone together to help keep the environment manageable and for them to see how changes affect the organization as a whole. 

Would it be time-consuming to put together a list of the requests received in the last week/month/quarter and email to the potential committee? Let them see the number of and type of requests made in a short period of time and give them an idea of how cluttered their screens could look.

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