Season’s greetings and Happy New Year to all our customers and colleagues!
We want to start the new year with some thoughts about what we have seen last year and trends we believe are important for 2019. We ran two campaigns we will continue – “Plan Together” and “Test Together”; each illustrates our point of view that functionally too many teams are working in silos and using separate tools. For example, in planning we see PM’s using MS Project, Development and Agile teams using Jira, planners using an enterprise Planning tool such as Planview.
Literally pulling the big picture together is very challenging if not impossible. Time and again at conferences throughout recent years we have heard this common complaint. Similarly with testing we see so many standalone testing solutions that need to be stitched back into development backlogs. And then throughout there is the ever present use of Excel – a steadfast fall back to record and track “stuff” – of course then dutifully left in a Sharepoint file folder.
Stepping back from all this – it’s time to call out the obvious: that new technology + cloud, more often than not adds disconnects – in fact it exponentially adds complexity.
The Blended Case study
We see this in our own organization frequently. Because we are an Atlassian partner, we sell and support our licensed customers. We do business with organizations, people and deal with licenses. We also provide consulting and training to the same organizations as well as other organizations. To us this is our business DNA. When we look at this landscape we shouldn’t think “how do a set of excellent but separate tools support this?”. Because if we were to select a traditional pattern – it might be as follows:
- CRM – Salesforce
- Support – Service Now
- IT Atlassian
- Finance and billing – Quickbooks or an ERP such as Oracle
- HR – e.g. Success Factors
- Marketing automation platform – e.g. HubSpot
Doubtless each of these solutions are the strong point or functionally specific answers, but how do they address your business DNA?
The DNA, indeed the human body as a whole is fully connected and that’s why it is such an awesome feat of nature. To recreate the DNA in a siloed systems organization requires understanding the stakeholder’s needs for data from these systems – how this data has to move from system to system and how to maintain the integrity of these connections. In some cases – there are certain applications that have in-built functionality that is simply too hard to replicate using a more common application. In our case though we don’t see CRM as being a complicated application. It involves organizations that are prospects, with people who are decision makers who may or may not buy licenses. Licenses are in essence products. Indeed they are one off instances of products.
Let’s take a consulting prospect: they want us to implement a support service desk for them and we think it’s a 30% chance of closing. We expect it will take 200 hours. A CRM will take all these opportunities and generate a forecast of the likely target net number of hours that the team will need to resource for. Yet our team uses Jira for time management – and that’s where our planning is. Of course, we use Big Picture by Software Plant to do fully integrated resource planning. In addition we use Insight by Riada for managing our core data around licenses and customers and prospects. There are so many excellent apps for Jira and these are just a few.
The answer isn’t to find a way to integrate a Salesforce or a Smartspring with our planning – it’s simply to do CRM in Jira! Jira has all the tools and add-ons needed to connect the organization rather than disconnect it.
By doing this we solve a number of issues:
- Seamless real time planning between our PMO and the sales team. As sales records are updated – we have an instant view of the impact toward our future resource planning (no third party integration required).
- License assets can be organized as we see fit and linked to all organizations and persons. We can also derive better reporting via the range of reporting apps available to us in Jira.
- The powerful Jira workflows offer us better sales lifecycle management than an out of the box CRM.
- Not buying an expensive CRM and then not integrating it with our core Jira operational system.
- Not being locked into multiple cloud solutions that are difficult to exit or move away from.
- Other benefits – such as how we use CRM and service desk to support HR.
All organizations will have their own DNA but arguably the larger they are the more complex the product/service offering and the more interconnected their processes and systems. Though it can be this complexity that causes point solutions that are dedicated to enabling flexible functionality. We are currently building a complex service desk application for processing financial product requests – the client turned away from more expensive BPM technologies and opted for a Jira pilot.
We were able to implement the solution very rapidly and so the client decided to go with Jira. But wait I hear you say – isn’t Jira just for development teams? No – I say take a look at its share price!
Configure first and ask questions later
The old mantra “buy don’t build” has given way to a more sophisticated perspective – “out of the box configuration”. It’s easy to make Jira be whatever you want it to be. Coupled with the fact that Jira has thousands of add-ons, all being worked on by thousands of developers, making extensions (apps) all supported, which enable a multitude of application possibilities.
The original dream of the connected enterprise emphasized the collaborative dimension- and of course Slack and Confluence (wiki) offers all of that making Sharepoint and other legacy file management systems redundant. Thus a key question CIO’s need to ask is “what is my connecting strategy/solution?” Hopefully it’s not just an integration/service bus. I remember well working on one large program where the client insisted on linking the front end app with an ESB and then to a legacy database until all the schema integrations killed the delivery velocity.
Naturally we think Jira is a great “connecting” approach at least at a tactical level, either way we recommend CIO’s and senior management adopt one if not more such connecting approaches.
In summary we think tactical connective solutions are the most cost effective and fastest path forward. Most organizations already have major disconnected systems – spotting tactical wins across this landscape makes sense.
For all new requests for process oriented IT systems or replacing legacy systems, consider a solution like Jira, which you most probably already have. For instance, if you extend Jira to support that new service desk or legal contract management process, the infrastructure is already there, users can be provisioned immediately, a pilot can be implemented in days not weeks. Think of the speed and cost savings!
How do you get there? We can undertake a current state assessment – we call this the connected organizational opportunity assessment (COOp). It will identify connected opportunities, create a prioritized list and a business case for the top candidates that includes system takeouts, connected benefits, cost savings and a plan forward. So unless you plan to be able to fly like superman between multiple, disconnected cloud solutions – please give some thought to leveraging what you already have!