At Blended Perspectives we’re keen to share our extensive knowledge on all things Atlassian through our webinars and we’re very happy that so many of you choose to join us both live and on-demand. However, we also recognize that in the busy work day many would be viewers struggle to find an hour to set aside. Therefore, from now on all of our webinars will be accompanied by a brief summary that covers all of the key points so no one has to miss out.
Our recent webinar was on Issue Cross-Referencing Apps. There are many reasons to link issues, and many ways to do so. Furthermore, issue-linking provides the foundational capability for many of our solution blueprints, from PPM to GRC and beyond. In this webinar recap we’ll go over all of the main points from the webinar such as the key use-cases for linking issues, third-party apps that provide this functionality, data catalogues, asset records in Jira, requests from Service Management, and the power and limitations of object graphing.
According to Atlassian, the average large Atlassian user has 1.4 million issues in Jira. Furthermore, with Atlassian’s ever broadening set of apps & templates, like Jira Work Management, and new approaches to using Jira, like our Synthesis™ approach, customers are using Jira for additional functional areas. E.g., product management (Atlassian’s new app), and GRC/HR/CRM (our templates). This is leading to an explosion of issues and issue types, for instance, we have over 250 issue types in our Jira instance. Therefore, with issues and issue types proliferating, issue linking is increasingly becoming a foundational capability of Jira as it provides coherence and clarity to all instances.
As an example, in our HR Synthesis™ Blueprint it is essential that a particular candidate is linked to the role they are applying for. Meanwhile, for instance, in our CRM Blueprint contacts, companies, transactions, and products must all be linked. If these thousands particular issues and multiple issue types were not linked then things would be organizationally chaotic.
Cross Referencing issues is also important when issues and issue types increase. If you put connecting information–such as people’s names–into Description text fields rather than link them, or if you have a text field containing company name and don’t link them then every record becomes an island. For instance, a person may work for a company and this company may sponsor a community. Likewise, an individual may have a specific skill in a certain app or program that they can be associated tto. Being able to see associations such as this is very important as relationships between issues are hard to infer and time consuming to search & jump around Jira finding them (on top of being very error prone).
How to Link
Now that we’ve established the importance of linking issues we need to establish the best way to do it. In this regard native Jira functionality is not suitable for a number of reasons:
- In Jira you can pick a value into fields: Select lists (Red, Green, Blue), Components (UI, DB, Network), Groups, or Users. However, you can’t pick Issues (at least, not a constrained pick).
- Jira links are issue to issue: These are associations between records, not at a field-level, and while the UI for making links is freestyle as you can make any link you like this is not necessarily a good thing as we need constraints and these dialogs are designed for general purpose.
- There are a number of drawbacks of the default Jira visualization in terms of usability and productivity
– Important information about sub-tasks or linked issues which is captured in custom fields cannot be shown
– There are no column headers and non-technical users cannot understand all the information shown
– The panel name “Sub-tasks” or “Linked Issues” is generic and does not help users understand semantically the data shown in the table
– You cannot customize the view to be different for different Issue Types or Projects
However, all is not lost as there are many quality apps that enhance manipulation and visualization in Jira.
vLinks provides three new custom field types that allow the user to select issues & create and/or remove issue links depending on the selection. Essentially it picks issues from a JQL and stores the value in both a field (which you can search) and in the links.
For example, in Jira Service Management the customer could link to issues representing inventory items, such as their laptop or monitor.
At Blended we often use Issue Matrix to replace the default visualization of related issues in customer Jira instances while we can also create an Issue Matrix field, showing SubTask or Epic, or Filter; JQL or Issue Links.
Issue Matrix appears as a table in your issues and shows custom fields as columns in Matrix table configuration.
Enhanced Issue Matrix views are also accessible in Filter List and Kanban Views are a few examples
STAGIL Assets has the broadest capability of the apps discussed here and its price point of $6600 for 500 users is very high when compared to the others.
It does, though, have unique capabilities with no equivalents in the other tools today.It is more of an Asset Management tool and STAGIL like to point out that it avoids the costs of Insight.
STAGIL allows you to visualize connections:
And it provides table visualization of related issues – such as showing fields of linked issues with ease:
And, like in Issue Matrix, you can build tables specific to your needs:
Insight vs Jira
There are a number of reasons and times to use both Jira Records and Insight. What you chose will depend upon your unique circumstances:
If you want to learn more about anything mentioned in this blog post then you can watch the full webinar here.
If you have any further questions or if you would like to learn more about our Synthesis™ blueprints (built for functional purposes like GRC, CRM, and HR), then you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.