Awaken the force you can, with Jira Jedi Atlassian contractors

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Awaken the force you can, with Jira Jedi Atlassian contractors

A long time ago in an office far far away… a business needed Jira, Confluence, and DevOps Contractors, but they were impossible to find!

Recruiters didn’t know their docker from their DevOps, and the team within the business were on the verge of giving up their quest for an Atlassian contractor.

Until…along came the Jira Jedi Masters — ClearHub!

The solution to all their problems, ClearHub provided the team with expert Atlassian Jedi knight contractors, technically tested and proven to work with their mission-critical Atlassian tools. The business couldn’t believe their contractor came with 24/7 access to the ClearHub help desk where the Jira Jedi could get answers to questions from an Atlassian certified support team in a galaxy not too far away.

The contractor joined the team and helped the business achieve their mission, before departing on to his next quest.

Can you relate to the protagonist in this tale? Perhaps you’ve got what it takes and are waiting to be recruited by the Jira Jedi Order? If this is you, you are in the right place, become a hero and have your story told. ClearHub only places expert Jira Jedi knights — padawans are for recruitment agencies who don’t know there docker from their DevOps.

Perhaps you’re the business in this story, and you are looking for a Jira Jedi Knight to help your team work better? There’s no need to search the galaxy far and wide, they’re right here. Find expert Jira, Confluence, and DevOps Contractors, anywhere in the world, with built-in technical support.

Attending TechXLR8? We’ll be stationed at stand CL202, no matter what you’re looking for, we can help.

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5 Reasons To Hire A Contractor

5 reasons contractor
5 reasons contractor

5 Reasons To Hire A Contractor

In this blog post I’ll show you how hiring a contractor instead of employing a permanent staff member, can be more beneficial to your business in the long run.

Why do companies hire contractors?

For a number of reasons, one being expertise, perhaps the in-house team do not possess a particular skill-set required to complete a specific task, or maybe they don’t have the time. Whatever the reason, contractors can be a crucial asset to any team.

Contractors are set to be in high demand with the rise of the gig economy, putting businesses ahead of the game in a number of ways, yet many employers remain oblivious to the benefits.

Here’s what you need to know…

1. Contractors are often skilled in a particular area that may be difficult or rare to find in a permanent employee
Contractors are specialists which means they work fast, completing tasks over a preferred amount of time. This is often favoured over permanent employees who are more likely to come in, get the job done and then go on to create more work that didn’t need doing in the first place. The role of a permanent employee will likely include other areas of expertise which may take their attention away from the reason they were hired to be there in the first place.

2. Save money
This one is self-explanatory. Permanent employees are their permanently, contractors aren’t, therefore the cost of hiring a contractor will save a business more money in the long run.

3. Permanent employees have a longer start time
The notice period of permanent employees can vary from one month, to two or more — this only delays the need for the role further. Contractors can not only get the job done faster, but sooner.

4. Less hand holding for contractors
With the built-in technical support that comes with hiring a ClearHub contractor, little input is required from the employer which leaves the contractor to focus on the job at hand. We’re there for them so that you can focus on YOUR priorities. All of our contractors are technically tested to ensure you get the best quality contractor for your business needs. We also match according to company culture and skill, because we understand how important attitude is.

5. ClearHub contractors come with a peace of mind guarantee
If at any point you decide that it’s not working out for any reason, that’s OK. Our risk free guarantee means we’ll replace your contractor free of charge.

These are some of the benefits of hiring a contractor, ClearHub just makes the process better  with support and peace of mind to help you get the job done.

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Brexit and your Business

Brexit and your Business
Brexit and your Business

Brexit and your Business

On Tuesday the 13th of november , a draft withdrawal agreement text was settled upon by UK and EU negotiating teams.

But just days later, numerous ministers resigned, the value of the pound dropped once again and calls for a new referendum were louder than ever.

With time running out until Britain is supposed to leave the EU, and the majority of experts still unconvinced that May will ever secure a deal (or even if a deal is possible), uncertainty about how it will happen is just as prevalent as ever.

The reality that Britain may be facing a “no-deal” brexit is a distinct possibility again, and employers and workers alike are having to consider their next steps with little clarity on what’s to come.

Downing street recently confirmed a statement from home secretary Sajid Javid, in which he states that employers would have a transition period in the event of a “no-deal” brexit.

However many employers are still not reassured, and an increase in unemployment in the UK reflects not only this uncertainty, but highlights the growing problem of a skills gap, particularly in IT skills.

What are the Risks?

The main risk for employers at present comes from having to make mission critical decisions with little guarantee over the outcomes of the Brexit deal.

Uncertain Future Plans

The first thing many companies will have done is to look at their roadmap and try to identify any potential complications. Projects may be postponed, brought forward or come off the roadmap altogether, and this will have a direct impact on resources.

Increasing Skills gaps

The skills gap is certainly not a new issue for british employers, but with less workers coming in from europe to help balance it, many fear that the problem will increase.

“That immigration restrictions may take place at a time when the UK labour market is already tight and facing challenges with its ageing population raises added concern.” (https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/brexit-workforce-planning-guide_tcm18-38797.pdf)

Changing Tariffs

Another expected impact of Brexit is that the “IT systems of so many companies will have to change to cope with it. They will have to cope with changes in tariffs for virtually all goods and services.” (http://www.itcontractor.com/will-brexit-affect-contractors/)

Combined with a skills shortage this can throw up a large potential risk to businesses, as it may be difficult to make these changes efficiently.

The Benefits of a Flexible Workforce

One way to prepare for an uncertain future is to create a more agile environment, where you will be able to respond to changes quickly and
minimise the impact of problems.

Particularly with the growing concerns around talent acquisition and new immigration laws, one significant way that you may do this is by creating a flexible workforce, made up of freelancers, remote workers and temporary staff.

“One of the main advantages of using contractors is the ability to be agile – to rapidly upskill your workforce or scale it up or down according to demand, which could be affected by a vote for Brexit.” (https://www.nicollcurtin.com/brexit-contractors/)

There are many benefits of adopting a flexible workforce.

Reduced Costs

There are several ways that flexible work forces can cut your costs. You may find that you no longer need to house all your employees in an office, saving you space on renting or buying office space and equipment.

You may decide that you only need certain employees for limited periods of time, and with contractors you can tailor the length of their employment to suit your needs.

The best Talent

Many of the best technical professionals have moved into contract work, as it offers them freedom and control over their careers.

By using contractors, you will also find you can employ highly skilled specialists for every aspect of your project, rather than having a single in-house generalist.

Innovation and Productivity

By maintaining a fluid/ flexible workforce you are much less likely to see innovation and productivity dipping, as people will bring new ideas and enthusiasm and help to keep your teams fresh.

Conclusion

Despite the potential disturbance due in a post brexit Britain, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you are protected, even in an uncertain future.

If you’re looking for support building your agile workforce, our network of highly skilled technical contractors are here to help. Talk to ClearHub today to see if we can help you fill your next vacancy.

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The Real Future of Work is Your Company Attitude: Here’s Why

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The Real Future of Work is Your Company Attitude: Here’s Why

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about the effects of the skills gap, the cost of employment and the value of contractors.

As well as giving me some great insights, the research for these pieces also got me thinking: Why has recruiting become so complicated in recent years?

At ClearHub, we spend every day matching highly skilled technical talent to our clients. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realised the process of matching we use bears little resemblance to the recruitment I’ve done in the past.

As part of my job, I regularly work with hiring managers of technical teams. Many of these people are what you call “digitally savvy,” – and highly respected in their fields. They know their areas of expertise inside out. And starting a few years ago, they all started saying the same thing:

“We’re struggling to hire skilled Millennial employees.”

This troubled me. Why were they struggling? And what’s happening in recruitment today?

Digital Disruption has Transformed Recruitment

The answer to this seems like an obvious one.

Back in my parents’ day, finding a job meant responding to newspaper ads, sending CVs in the post and travelling miles for interviews.

The first time I was responsible for recruiting, I lost days updating job boards, wading through CVs and meeting applicant after applicant – only to find they were lacking some of the critical skills we needed.

It was slow

Recruitment is Easier Than Ever

Technology has made the recruitment process faster, slicker and more intuitive than ever:

Social media,advanced online recruiting platforms, data analytics, automated scheduling; and artificial intelligence have had a major impact on modern day recruiting.

CVs now act as a starting point for recruiters; an initial high overview screening – before they dive into each person’s online portfolio of information, using:

  • Linkedin;
  • Facebook;
  • blogs; and
  • personal websites.

– Plus a host of other data sources to determine if candidates are suitable.

However, even with all these techniques and information available to them, recruiters are finding it harder than ever to fill roles.

Why is this?

Hiring managers spend an average of 27.59 days (one month) recruiting for new roles. And, in spite of best practices and new techniques, 95% of companies have admitted to hiring the wrong people every year.

“95% of companies have admitted to hiring the wrong people every year.”

Fast Company

I discussed some possible reasons for this in my article: “The Cost of the Skills Gap – and How You Can Solve It”.

As well as a shortage of skills, it makes me wonder:

Is it possible that hiring managers are simply failing to identify and attract the right candidates amongst all the digital noise? – Or is there more to it?

I believe that there is a generational shift in progress, one that is causing disparity between us ‘Gen X’s’ (pre-1980) and our younger ‘Millennial’ coworkers.

Digital Growth Has Created a Generational Divide

“The generation currently entering working age are the first true digital natives. They have never known life without tablets and smartphones, but most importantly they are empowered by digital technology.”

City A.M.

Here’s the thing...

As a ‘Gen X’, you’re probably already one step behind in embracing new technology into your recruiting process: For the younger generation, IT is second nature.

And, if your recruitment process gives the impression that your company is behind the times, top young talent is not going to be drawn to working for you.

That’s my truth.

It’s important you also understand other implications this may have on your recruitment.

The importance of digital technology may indicate that you should only hire people that have an in-depth understanding of of it.

But – as we’ve already established – the younger generation have been bought up with these skills as second nature. They no longer feel the necessity to prove their technical skills with qualifications and certificates.

They already live and breathe the digital landscape.

Conclusion

In an age where software developers are self-taught through YouTube videos, e-learning courses are rapidly growing in popularity and toddlers are using iPads – technical knowledge is now a soft skill, akin to communication.

And, truthfully, isn’t it patronising of us Gen X’s to expect otherwise?


The way companies need to recruit is changing: It’s no longer enough to post on a couple of job boards, or send off a vague job description to some recruitment agency.

Yes, Millennials face a different employment landscape. But so do you.

In order to find the best talent in today’s market, you need to be ready to embrace new technology and a new way of thinking to attract top professionals to your company.

Avoid making the mistakes above, and you can hire happy, multi-skilled Millennials who want to be on your team.


Do you consider technology as a soft skill? Tell me in the comments below!

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5 Predictions For the Future of Agile and Teams

5-Predictions-For-The-Future-of-Agile-Teams

5 Predictions For the Future of Agile and Teams

As a consultant, I get the privilege of working with a large number of organizations. Some organizations are world-class software development powerhouses and others are just getting their feet wet. No matter their size, their technology, or their market, they all have at least one common interest: to gain a competitive advantage.

They might not always word it the same way from company to company, but it’s what they want. They want to build a better product than their competitor or they want to improve the efficiency of their own operations and they’re demanding quality, consistent product from their development teams.

The best development teams out there are cultivating a work environment based on the principles of leadership, teamwork, and trust. They’re capable of shipping high-quality software on a consistent, reliable basis for an extended period of time with maximum flexibility. This is great because the organization can have more trust in their planning activities. The team is keeping the cost of maintenance low because they’re managing quality and enforcing good standards. It always focuses on self-improvement in the name of efficiency or sanity.

Using some of the best agile teams in the business as a measuring tape, I’d like to offer five predictions I have for the future of agile and teams:

1. Agile pods will prevail

The best teams are cross-functional and autonomous. We will soon see the majority of agile teams working in “pod” structures—self-organizing, autonomous teams who are equipped with all of the talent and skills required to deliver a product. This works because multiple competing perspectives tend to push the team in the best overall direction.

Think: “Entrepreneurial in spirit. Professional in attitude.”

Agile Connection has a good summary of agile pods:

Agile pods are small custom agile teams, ranging from four to eight members, responsible for a single task, requirement, or part of the backlog. This organizational system is a step toward realizing the maximum potential of agile teams by involving members of different expertise and specialization, giving complete ownership and freedom, and expecting the best quality output.

These teams help their organization by producing a product for less cost over the long term.

2. Team maturity will grow

Team member consistency will allow teams to mature their processes over time, leading to less waste and more business value.

We will also see more of the elite software development folks move into agency work. Agencies will be able to sell their clients a “solution team” that’s established and capable of delivering a high-quality product for a lower price than what you can build in-house.

Mature teams grow into productive and predictable mini-companies with strong personalities given the right blend of leadership, skill, autonomy, and drive.

3. Integrated toolsets — requirements to release

Integrated tools will offer teams unprecedented visibility into their work and their products. Productive teams leverage the integrations between products and use them to drive process improvement and evolution.

The quality of a team’s—and an individual’s—process correlates with product quality.

4. Expansion of agile beyond engineering

It’s hard to be an agile team inside of an organization that’s not agile at all.

Agile has already begun to spread to marketing teams – the Clearvision marketing team, for example, takes advantage of agile marketing – and this way of thinking will eventually transcend other areas of the business. Agile product management is another emerging hotspot for agile principles. It’s more agile to develop a product using the Lean Startup methodology, which is inherently agile, and so we can see how other areas of the business will begin to think in agile ways.

This will be a great thing for the development teams of the world because it’ll cut down on all of the projects that should have been cancelled before they even started.

5. Data-driven agile

Integrated tools and mature processes will eventually collide with the age of big data. Now-niche methodologies like Team Software Process (TSP) and Personal Software Process (PSP) will get a second wind as they offer us a promise for insight into our work. Nobody likes the fact that agile comes with little objective evidence, but we’re willing to trade that for increased flexibility and throughput.

I believe that there is much to be gained in closing the gap left by this trade-off. We can have our data along with our flexible way of working that ties us to agile. Integrated toolsets, mature teams, and a desire to improve will push teams toward analytics — or advanced stats, if you will.

Conclusions

When somebody figures out how to marry big data analytics with the notoriously-difficult-to-measure agile methods, AI and data will become a core part of our decision making.

Companies who foster these kinds of teams will gain a competitive advantage.

Having worked with organizations across the globe, Clearvision’s expert consultants have helped countless businesses align their teams and tools with agile methodologies. From general advice around adopting a culture of best practice to complex configurations to ensure your tools meet your precise business requirements, our team can help. Simply get in touch today.

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Tech and Teamwork in Government ICT: How the Criminal Justice System Uses Jira & Confluence

Government-ICT-USE-JIRA-Confliuence
Government-ICT-USE-JIRA-Confliuence

Tech and Teamwork in Government ICT: How the Criminal Justice System Uses Jira & Confluence

ClearHub attended the recent Government ICT 2.0 event in London alongside Atlassian, where openness and teamwork were key themes of the day. This post takes a look at how the public sector uses technology to empower teams, and how the Criminal Justice System in particular is benefiting from Atlassian Jira and Confluence Data Center.

Many of the challenges faced by government and public sector organisations are unique. These organisations deal with highly sensitive information at a scale far beyond the majority of private businesses; this alone brings a series of challenges around security and data protection.

Like any organisation, though, government bodies are made up of teams of people. It’s not only important that the technology and tools being used are secure – they also need to empower those teams to work together, as in any business.

The value of people – both internal teams and external users – was apparent throughout the talks at Government ICT 2.0. Paul Brewer, Director for Digital & Resources at Adur & Worthing Councils, stressed this in his talk on digital transformation in local governments, where he identified design, people and technology as the three main pillars of digital transformation.

“Flexible technology and common capabilities are necessary to build end to end digital solutions. Team capabilities and human-centred design are key to a successful digital transformation, and new technology forms the foundation.”

– Paul Brewer, Director for Digital & Resources at Adur & Worthing Councils

Technology for teams

Your choice of IT is what facilitates digital delivery.

This was Paul Brewer’s message throughout his talk, and nowhere was this more clearly demonstrated than by the work of the Criminal Justice System. Mark Giles, Digital Operations Manager, and Carl Storey, PMO Planner, gave a presentation at Government ICT 2.0 on how HM Courts & Tribunals Service and Crown Prosecution Service are working together to establish the Criminal Justice System Common Platform:

To create a single (“common”) digital platform across the Criminal Justice System (CJS) based on user needs, unifying and transforming the criminal process.

Criminal Justice System Common Platform: The challenges

The planning and management of the development and delivery of a solution like this is not without challenges. These challenges broadly fit into those three pillars as outlined earlier by Paul Brewer.

People

The Common Platform is being built for a wide range of users, including those within government and the civil service, legal professionals, and members of the public.

This is why creating a “common” platform, whilst a challenge, was so important, to bring all these different areas together.

As Mark Giles said in his talk, “Tools are only productive if the policies, processes and people using them are effective as well.”

Tech and design

The challenge for the Criminal Justice System wasn’t just around choosing the right software for the planning and development of this platform. This was, of course, an important starting point – the legacy tools they had been using weren’t collaborative or flexible enough to meet the new requirements.

The other challenge was around the correct configuration and deployment of software. Not only did they need to guarantee high availability, but they needed to be able to guarantee the security of data and be able to meet regulatory requirements, and it needed to be designed with users first

The case for digital business change
At the beginning of this joint venture, HMCTS and CPS were using tools like Word, Excel, email, and shared drives. This would often mean it was difficult to achieve a good level of visibility over work, particularly with two departments now working together. These tools were often high maintenance, difficult to access, and information often ended up out of date. It meant that to create the reports that senior management required, it was a time consuming and very manual process.

It was time for a newer, more agile solution – one that would empower change across business teams, not just in IT.

Atlassian Jira and Confluence: A single source of truth

In adopting Atlassian Jira Software and Confluence to manage the development of the Common Platform, the Criminal Justice System was able to provide one single source of truth thanks to the close integrations between the two.

Confluence, for example, aids daily phone calls between teams, acting as a hub for relevant information. Participants in disparate teams can access this page, and it brings together links, discussion points, related Jira tickets.

Jira tickets, meanwhile, act as a way of tracking not just tasks, but assets, risks, actions, dependencies, and even the people on different programs.

By moving work to Jira and Confluence and taking advantage of the close integration between the two tools, the Criminal Justice System was able to achieve a much higher level of visibility. This, combined with the flexibility of these tools, helped considerably in efforts to break down the silos between teams and aid collaboration.

 


Migrating from Atlassian Cloud to Atlassian Data Center

Atlassian Data Center

The Criminal Justice System knew from this first stage of the project that Jira and Confluence were the right tools – but what about the setup?

 

When considering this, the Criminal Justice System elected to migrate from Atlassian Cloud to an Atlassian Data Center deployment for a number of reasons.

 

Data storage and privacy – government directive to host data within the EU

Increased functionality – Atlassian Data Center offers more functionality than Cloud software

Resilience – Atlassian Data Center offers high availability and zero downtime upgrades

The migration from Atlassian Cloud to Data Center was a large scale project for the Criminal Justice System, so they worked with Clearvision to design and implement the project as smoothly as possible.

 

As an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, Clearvision’s consultants are experts in digital migration. Our teams are more than familiar with the requirements and regulations of government IT, as one of the first Atlassian Partners to be listed on the G-Cloud digital marketplace. We were able to work closely with the Criminal Justice System to understand not only how they currently use Jira and Confluence, but how they need the software to perform moving forward.

 

“Clearvision’s onsite presence, technical skills and calmness proved invaluable for a quick migration with minimal disruption.”

 

– Mark Giles, Digital Operations Manager, HMCTS

 

The migration was a success:

 

Users logged off at 4pm on Friday and back on at 8am on Monday

Opportunity to move to Azure hosting and review Atlassian apps with Clearvision

Confirmation testing took place on the Sunday evening, leading the most issues being resolved

Delivery continued with many users unaware any maintenance had taken place!

Post-migration timeline

 

Six problems by 15th June (largely due to firewall settings)

Just two problems by 30th June

0 problems at the end of July

The results

Thanks to having the right tools, policies, processes and people in place, the Criminal Justice System has seen a number of tangible benefits.

Single source of truth

Easy to configure, change and improve

User friendly

Identifies bottlenecks

Encourages collaboration

Drives quality

 

That combination of the right people, processes and tools was invaluable.


We know that the management, development and delivery of any digital solution is complex. When it comes to government ICT, this is more true than ever.

The Criminal Justice System was able to achieve the above results by leveraging the help of Clearvision’s consultants. As the longest-accredited Atlassian Solution Partner on G-Cloud, Clearvision has been delivering specialist services to the public sector through the G-Cloud framework since 2013.

Browse our offerings on G-Cloud or get in touch to discuss how we can help your teams with a successful digital transformation.

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How to Reorg Your Testing Team Through an Agile Transformation

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How-To-Reorg-Your-Testing-Team

How to Reorg Your Testing Team Through an Agile Transformation

The pace of business is moving faster than ever and in order to keep up with the speed, software developers have been forced to shift their methodology. The traditional “waterfall” method is being displaced by “agile.” According to VersionOne’s State of Agile survey, 95% of companies reported that their organizations practice some form of agile. Which means they’re working and releasing software at a faster pace than ever before.

This move to agile has created some significant challenges for software testers who need to balance speed with quality. How can we deliver software faster than ever, without risking releasing code with poor quality?

The agile approach has led to big changes in the people, processes and tools that organizations use to both develop and test software. High growth companies like Atlassian are able to make software that has changed the landscape of software development in a seemingly impossible time frame. Founded by a couple of twenty year-olds in 2002, today they have over 40,000 customers and recently went public with a $6 billion valuation.

While most organizations have now adopted agile, they have focused solely on development and failed to look at their testing team. Are they agile? If your answer is no, then you are not fully embracing agile, and you’re likely to experience some pains from the broken framework.

If you are looking to learn more about the people, process and tools to make your transformation successful, I encourage you to check out our recent webinar with Clearvision – Agile Transformation: People, Process and Tools to Make Your Transformation Successful.

“But my testing team can’t go agile.”

Ideally everyone wants to be fully agile, but a lot of companies say they can’t because they don’t have the right people in place or their testers can’t get involved in the development process.  Innovative companies are shifting their architecture to independent microservices written using more accessible languages like Ruby and Python.

In doing so, teams can make changes independent of other parts of the  product, and non technical employees can understand more of what is going on in the product.  This shift will allow teams to work independently and collaborate closely as a unit, but it will not happen overnight. I recommend starting with one project and slowly evolving.

Below are some tips to help prepare your testing team to go agile.

1) Shift to Embedded Testers

Getting quality integrated into product teams is an essential part of agile success, especially in scrum.  Including an embedded tester(s) on your agile teams is one of the easiest ways to make sure testing gets the focus it deserves.

Agile needs to happen quickly, which means you need to have teams that can work fast by being able to quickly pivot and reprioritize projects.  When I say “Embedded Tester” I am implying that you take a member of a large Quality Assurance team and place them into a team of programmers, much like dropping a reporter into a military unit.

In waterfall, you typically have a large team of testers that work across all the products, and the prioritization queue is large. It can provide a roadblock to coded features ready to be tested and released. When you have embedded testers, each tester works with a group of programmers on separate initiatives, making prioritization up to that small team, and fast.

Here is an example: you implement qTest. 50 testers focus on manual, 50 testers on automation. When you shift towards agile, it is common to shift towards scrum teams, made up of a scrum master (product owner), 3 developers, a business analyst, DevOps, and one or two testers (potentially a mix of automated and manual).  However, instead of leveraging a tester in a huge group of testers, your tester is already in your team.

Your tester will therefore be more knowledgeable about your product, and instead of being good at one facet of testing, they have a broader testing skill set.  This embedded tester focuses on one product, module or functionality within a broader skill set. See the image below for a rough sketch.

2) Embrace Different Types of Testing

On the manual side

The traditional way to do manual testing includes creating test plans for weeks or even months, then creating test cases for several more weeks.  After the software is developed, but before it is deployed, test validation happens – this often causes a bottleneck in the process.

If you are developing small sets of features rapidly, you want to quickly deploy to get the software into your customers hands as fast as possible.  By embracing exploratory testing, you will be aligning manual testing to be as agile as possible and making the most of the manual testing resources you already have.

On the automation side

There is a need is to be more collaborative so more developers and testers can contribute to the automated test coverage.  Agile needs collaboration to be successful.

So we need to break down these walls – developers are the most able to impact the quality of the code, and so it doesn’t make sense to remove developers from testing. It’s akin to a chef that never tastes their own food! Additionally,  developers will then believe in the validity of these tests, and this insight will help them to build for testers in the future.

3) Culture

Testers are often heads down. They want their list of test cases so they can run and report back on the results; they like finding problems, but are not necessarily interested in solving them.

Agile success depends on a culture where there is a shift in power, so testers are seen as change agents rather than rather than as whistle blowers.

They need to take initiative. It’s time to start saying, “Here is the problem.  I think this is why, and I would propose we fix it like this,” rather than, “Here’s the problem. Go fix it.”  Testers need to grow closer to customers, understanding their needs, and closer to developers as well, to learn why they did certain things in their code.

I think this is why we see more testing moving back onshore. It’s hard to find savvy testers that can collaborate well if they are not in the same location.

A shift needs to happen in testing:

  • From pure test authors or executors to more holistic test leads
  • From large test silos to embedded testers in product teams
  • From a culture of one team (testing) owning quality to a more cross functional view of quality

It’s time to ditch Quality Center ALM. Download the “No More Excuses” free guide to find out what you’re missing and why you should consider qTest.

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Shaping IT Support with ITSM and JIRA Service Desk

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Shaping-IT-Support-With-ITSM-JIRA-Service-Desk-ClearHub

Shaping IT Support with ITSM and JIRA Service Desk

As an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, we at Clearvision and ClearHub practice what we preach. Which is why we implemented JIRA Service Desk best practices with the use of ITIL framework for IT Service Management.

Throughout my years of providing IT support in small to enterprise environments, the entirety of incoming activities were managed, organized and structured by ITIL methodologies under ITSM. When companies adopt these practices, they give support engineers and analysts a detailed understanding on how the ITSM structure works making service delivery efficient, rather than leaving them wondering: “What is the difference between an incident and a request?”

Once a basic understanding of ITIL for ITSM has been grasped, any service desk or IT manager with application administration skills can implement this framework to their help desk solution. This is where JIRA Service Desk comes in, to champion those ITIL requirements the business has.

I rolled this out internally at Clearvision. Read on to see how I achieved it…

JIRA was already an established application across multiple teams here at Clearvision, which is often the case in many companies that have the demand for JIRA Software as a development tool. IT support issues were logged, tracked and recorded via a JIRA project.

This, understandably, had its limitations, which is why we made the collaborative decision to add and configure JIRA Service Desk for our IT team.

How we introduced ITIL framework

One of the most commonly adopted best practice frameworks for ITSM is ITIL, which is why Atlassian has ensured that JIRA Service Desk is ITIL certified in the four core processes from PinkVerify™ and Axelos™.

  • Service requests
  • Incident management
  • Problem management
  • Change management

We made use of Atlassian’s ‘Best practices for IT teams using JIRA Service Desk‘ knowledge base as a guide to get us started with ITIL processes, and used our own experience to mature our Service Desk.

Any business, small or large will experience:

  • Unplanned maintenance,
  • Outages
  • Problems
  • Requests for changes

These all require an incident/request/change/problem to be logged and managed by a member of the IT team. We implemented the best practices outlined below to help us on our way to create a Service Desk fit for our organisation.

JIRA Service Desk Best Practice

Change Management

Those of you familiar with change management processes know that it involves planning, control and business impact research. This can all be integrated in your JIRA Service Desk with the following guidelines:

  • Have a separate “change” issue type
  • Create and configure a workflow that meets requirements for reviewing, planning, approval and implementation. See below:
  • The workflow can then be amended to include additional requirements your business has
  • Enforce an approval step for change reviews – many enterprise businesses have a dedicated Change Advisory Board for this purpose (CAB)
  • Coordinate changes with a calendar – we recommend Confluence Team Calendars, as it can be used to ensure this is a fluid process
  • Default form fields for change requests – create issue type fields and screens for your change requests, which can include change type, change risk, change dates, impact, urgency, etc.

Incident Management

Start with the best practice guidelines below to optimize your incident management with JIRA Service Desk.

  • Start with a “incident” issue type in your Service Desk Project
  • Create and configure a workflow – see the example below:
  • The workflow can then be amended to include additional requirements your business has
  • Auto-close incidents after resolving them
  • Link incident records to other issues
  • Default form fields for incident reports

Request Fulfillment

Likewise, JIRA Service Desk also allows you to optimize your service request fulfillment in the following ways:

  • Create a separate “request” issue type
  • Create and configure a workflow that meets business requirements – for example:
  • Incorporate your approval process into the workflow
  • Auto-close service requests after resolving them
  • Default form fields for service requests

Problem Management

When your users run into a problem, JIRA Service Desk’s integration with Confluence is a good way to allow them to search your knowledge base for answers. It allows for quick, simple problem management:

  • Create a “problem” issue type
  • Create and configure a workflow that meets business requirements – for example:
  • Document known errors in your linked Confluence knowledge base on an ongoing basis
  • Default form fields for problem reports

More JIRA Service Desk Tips

In addition to the guidance on the above four processes, there’s plenty more JIRA Service Desk offers that helps both agents and customers. Here are some more great JIRA Service Desk tips to finish up with!

Keep your agent queues organized

Ensuring your queues are organised for your team creates a more efficient and user friendly experience. For example, you can create a triage for new issues, separate incidents, problems, requests and changes, and add a queue for SLA’s that are approaching.

Don’t over-complicate your portal

Keep your request types to a minimum. You don’t want users to be baffled by too many choices. You should always ensure the most common request types are covered, but keep it as simple as possible.

Use canned response templates

Who would want to type the same comment over and over? With canned responses for JIRA, you can create templates to send responses to your customers.

Create automation rules

Automation rules in a Service Desk can be a god send. Here are the automations we use here at Clearvision on a daily basis:

  • Automatically transition an issue based on comment type
  • Re-open issues on customer comment
  • Provide an auto-response acknowledgement
  • SLA alerts
  • Urgency/impact matrix custom rule for automating priority

For me and my team, JIRA Service Desk has had a hugely positive impact on how we deal with IT issues. Implementing and using JIRA Service Desk has been a beneficial experience which keeps growing every day, as we continue to improve and adapt to our business’ and user’s IT requirements. I hope you’ve also gained some tips on how to improve and adapt your own Service Desk environment from this blog post!

For information on ITSM and JIRA Service Desk, and how to get the most out of your help desk environment, contact Clearvision about our ITSM solutions today.

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Better Software Faster: An Intro to DevOps

Better-Software-Faster-An-Intro-To-Devops
Better-Software-Faster-An-Intro-To-Devops

Better Software Faster: An Intro to DevOps

What is DevOps? Where did it come from? In this post, we explore what DevOps means for teams, and share tips on how to get started.

What is DevOps?

The term “DevOps” seems to be everywhere these days – and with good reason.

In the fast-paced software world, teams need to release fast and often to stay on top. Older, more traditional development models can’t keep up to the high-demand, high-growth industry today.

Development and operations teams would traditionally work separately, but when you’re aiming to release more frequently and need to move fast, it’s far from the ideal setup. The two teams need to work together, with seamless communication and collaboration, to allow for better development, testing, releasing, and maintenance of software.

In short, this is DevOps: bringing development and operations together. Teams can release more reliable software more rapidly.

A brief history of DevOps

In 2009, John Allspaw and Paul Hammond of Flickr deliver their talk: ‘10+ Deploys per Day: Dev and Ops Cooperation at Flickr’. They address the traditional conundrum of Dev versus Ops, making the case that the only sensible way to build, test and deploy workable new software is to make development and operations transparent and integrated.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You can watch the talk below:

In the same year, disappointed he was unable to see the above talk in person, Patrick Debois organises his own conference: DevOpsDays. To continue the discussion on Twitter about integrating development and operations, he shortens it to #DevOps.

Close to 10 years on, DevOps is more widespread than ever. The fundamental message, though, has remained.

Getting started with DevOps

According to the Puppet Labs’ 2015 State of DevOps Report, companies that practise DevOps are twice as likely to exceed their goals for profitability and market share.

On top of that, they’ll benefit from:

  • 30x more frequent deployments
  • 60% higher change success rates
  • 60x fewer failures
  • 160x faster recoveries

DevOps is all about teamwork, but how do you get your teams started? And if you’re already doing DevOps, how do you keep improving, to work faster and better than ever?

Continuous delivery and the importance of feedback

Teamwork is key to success, and building the best software is about more than bringing dev and ops together, though that is a major step. You also need to work closely with your users.

We know that DevOps teams deploy more frequently. This means they’re in the ideal position to incorporate user feedback and roll out fixes and features quickly. It’s a level of responsiveness that users notice and appreciate – continuous delivery means happy customers and successful software.

Embrace automation

Automation plays a big role in continuous delivery. Not only does it make building software a more efficient process, but it also helps reduce human error, which is something even the best of teams can’t always avoid!

Automated testing is the first, and most significant, step to take, but you can go further with automation. Take HipChat as an example. If your teams embrace ‘ChatOps’ – integrating HipChat with your other development tools, and even with social media – you can automate builds, notifications, JIRA ticket creation, and much more.

The right software

There’s no set “DevOps software” that you can start using to immediately become a “DevOps organisation”, but there are tools that will empower your teams to adopt a collaborative, DevOps culture. Let’s take a look at the Atlassian tool suite as a starting point.

Because they cover the whole software development life cycle, your teams can standardize on the Atlassian toolset. Your dev and ops teams will be speaking the same language, which already puts them ahead. From there, they’ll keep on improving.

DevOps 101

In this post, we’ve given you an introduction to what DevOps looks like for teams, but this is simply a starting point. To learn more about building products, DevOps style, download DevOps 101. In this eBook, Atlassian shares how its teams got started with DevOps, and the positive results they’ve seen since then

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