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I’m Jess, a Product Marketer for Jira Software Server and Data Center, and now a huge fan of our products. Read on for a 90 day, new-hire perspective on what it’s like to standardize on the Atlassian toolset.
Before I joined Atlassian, I spent almost 5 years at a B2B startup selling to brick and mortar retailers, restaurants, and bars. We experienced significant growth and entered a chapter where teams ran in different directions, executive leadership was behind a glass wall, and the lack of openness weighed heavily on the company culture.
Fast forward to over 90 days in at Atlassian, and my biggest impression of the company is how much standardizing on our own toolset advances our open culture and helps us Get Shit Done!
At my former company, I worked with a committee for 3 months to create our first written core values as part of an effort to move towards a more open culture and align teams. We met weekly to discuss what we loved about our culture, what needed to change, and the culture we strived to have. We discussed ‘openness' and ‘transparency’ in every meeting, but we were striving to find the balance between openness and distraction.
When does company information sharing hit a tipping point and become a distraction from getting work done?
With over 200 employees across 3 offices and an increasing group of channel partners, there was a challenge in keeping everyone informed. For example, the committee questioned if our sales team in Arizona needed to know about the new Business Development deal that was underway or the new feature in beta. Team members were curious how other teams were performing or the latest news on their projects. We needed to close the gap between product, outbound sales & channel partners, so they had enough advance notice to speak to changes with customers. And we thought the executives should hold more frequent all-hands, as the company wasn’t clear on if we were meeting our goals.
So what did we do? We put nice words on paper and added more meetings in the hopes of moving towards a more open culture.
While it’s beneficial to have defined core values, speak to them in meetings, and have leadership living them from the top down, it wasn’t until I came to Atlassian that I recognized a missing puzzle piece: standardizing on a shared toolset. Our tools help individual teams unleash their full potential, but it's our standardization on them that keeps our team of teams aligned on shared goals, involved in decision-making and held accountable for progress.
Even though we were a small company, we worked with a lot of different platforms! The product and engineering team ran weekly sprints and tracked their work through Jira. They used Confluence for PRD’s (product requirement docs) and technical documentation, though only a few others in the organization had access to it. The team shipped weekly, often with many bugs, and ran betas of MVP’s with frequent changes as we received customer feedback.
My marketing team tracked our work through Asana. While it kept us aligned, other teams had no visibility into our work. Sales enablement documentation was updated in Guru. Account management used Zenefits to respond to support questions, so we also hosted our customer-facing documentation there. As a Product Marketer responsible for sales enablement, I was searching through Confluence trying to stay up to date on product information and then updating Zenefits and Guru with the details. Then we took that info to a partner portal in Salesforce to update our channel partners.
When looking at our company culture problems through the lens of the tools that we were using, it’s no wonder we weren’t aligned! This is what can happen when individual teams start running in different directions, finding solutions that meet their needs at the time.
It’s easy to forget how impactful our tools are, not only for tracking tasks and helping teams get work done, but for encouraging a strong company culture, morale, and sense of connectedness. While each product supports specific bodies of work, it’s the combination of them and integrations between them that ensures our team of teams is aligned and speaking the same figurative language.
I recently completed my first 90 days at Atlassian, and now I can’t imagine working without our tools.