If you can’t avoid Jira, at least have an admin on your team

I used to be one of the people in favor of electronizing your task board using jira with the Greenhopper plugin – of course only after starting with a paper version first. Greenhopper has morphed into something called Jira Agile, accompanied by something called Jira Kanban.

And I have to tell you: am very weary of Jira Agile and Jira Kanban.

Especially if there is a central administrator who is in charge of the tool-handling.

Agile processes (and lean approaches like Kanban as well) almost always include a section on how to improve the process – called a retrospective in some processes or an operations review in some others.
This means that the process is meant to be changed. Often. From within the team.

Modeling the team’s process in a tool that is so complex that it makes economic sense to have someone outside the team cater for its administration makes it almost prohibitively harder to change the process.

And a lot of the admins I’ve met are so overburdened by too many projects that they have to optimize. For example by using Jira workflows (i.e. process-definitions) for more than one project. Which might be good, because: reuse!

But then I hear things like “our jira admin doesn‘t allow that” or “I think we‘ll have word on that from our jira admin in a couple of days” or “yes, we could try that – but I’m afraid it might break some of our reports.”

How is a team self-organized when they have to ask for someone else’s permission to change the process? Not so much, in my opinion.
And if they are worried that their process might break, then obviously “working software” isn’t the primary measure of progress any more.
If they have to wait “a couple of days” to find out if they can implement the process changes they came up with in their process improvement meeting, then – I would say – their process isn’t exactly agile any more.

Don’t become that team. Keep control of your process – even if that means you have to administer yet another tool.

till next time
  Michael Mahlberg

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