Death to the Office? Hybrid, Remote and the Future of Working Together

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Death to the Office? Hybrid, Remote and the Future of Working Together

The office as we once knew it is gone. But is it really dead?

Remote, hybrid and flexible working models are now the norm; 24% of businesses surveyed by the ONS stated that they intended to adopt more home working going forward. In the same study, 85% of workers disclosed their preference for a “hybrid” approach of both home and office working.

It looks like the office – although totally transformed – is here to stay, too.

With a greater demand for hybrid and home working, even among employers, greater flexibility in the workplace can only be a good thing – but will collaborative teams still thrive?

Concerns over collaboration, hard lessons over hardware

The WFH revolution hasn’t been without challenges. While some solo workers, contractors, entrepreneurs and startups are thriving, many people who once held office-based roles are feeling the negative effects of a corporate world without an office.

A study of 3,000 UK remote workers showed that 67% felt disconnected from their colleagues, while half (49%) said this sense of disconnection was having a negative impact on how they viewed their job. The ONS study found that challenges of collaboration were the greatest negative to remote and home working.

A study in Spain found that a third of households considered their remote working spaces inadequate – citing a lack of technology and resources, as well as not having the appropriate environment for their work.

How can this be remedied?

Video conferencing tools, like the now infamous Zoom and Microsoft Teams, are still the best answer to engagement and connection – but they require a cultural shift to be truly effective. Trust and teamwork are now the most important factors to success in the new world of work, where check-ins and feedback are vital to maintaining employee engagement. Honest reviews that focus on positive personal attributes, from managers who know their teams’ strengths and areas for improvement, will guide and engage people, even without face-to-face meetings.

The goal is to foster a positive remote working culture – free of paranoia and the sense of isolation. Inclusivity and giving everyone a turn to speak (in a manner which suits them best) will help bridge the perceived gaps in human interaction.

On the hardware front, cloud solutions, specifically those which integrate deeply with an organisation’s full software suite, are a key investment for businesses embracing the future of work.

Working together on projects in Confluence, a key pillar of the Atlassian stack, gives teams working remotely or in a hybrid setting the greatest possible collaborative environment. Atlassian Cloud migration is a game-changer for collaborative working over many types of hardware. Unlike other collaborative tools like Google Drive and Office 365, Confluence can be modified heavily with HTML and CSS, to suit any kind of workflow.

Confluence Cloud can be run as an app or in-browser, giving everyone in the team the same experience – regardless of the hardware they have – and all work is centrally managed and accessible, not just locally stored.

See also: How to hire Confluence contractors for a custom cloud implementation

But what about the lack of adequate workspaces? That’s where a hybrid model will truly shine – giving teams the flexibility of where they work from, with an option that gives them focus space and in-person collaboration. It also makes working with contractors much more streamlined, giving an opportunity for an excellent onboarding process and face-to-face working while letting them do the best job they can from the environment of their choice.

Best practices for hybrid working offices

Working collaboratively in the cloud solves many of the challenges of remote and hybrid working. But the office space you have – or decide to move to – needs to be optimised for it. Hybrid offices will be used differently from fully-staffed setups, to suit how people now work. 

It’s likely that fewer people will be carrying out solo, high-focus work in the office, but this should still be catered to. What teams now need are more collaborative workspaces, formal meeting spaces and better casual spaces.

One of the best solutions for open-plan environments is to build “sections” suited to different types of work. By clustering desks together, using booths, and arranging furniture or plants into borders, an office space can be optimised for hybrid working.

With dividers, booths and desks, focus spaces can be created where solo work can be carried out by anyone who still needs them. Active collaboration areas, with moveable seating, dividers, whiteboards, large digital screens and supplies, should be positioned further away from focus areas – and if possible, should have acoustic treatment applied to keep noise from travelling.

A space to hold private and confidential meetings is still a must, even with fewer people in the office – so don’t turn the boardroom into a gym just yet!

Last but by no means least, casual lounges, places to eat and recreational areas are vital to maintaining the bonds that make a team great. Take the opportunity to make these as engaging and comfortable as possible.

Hire Atlassian contractors suited to hybrid and remote working

ClearHub helps the world’s best companies hire Atlassian contractors, for custom implementations and cloud migrations – suited to the new ways of working.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Using Jira and Confluence to create website content

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Using Jira and Confluence to create website content

Did you think Confluence and Jira were just for web developers? Think again!

Any kind of collaborative project can benefit from the powerful scheduling, issue tracking and documentation features in Confluence and Jira. If your organisation is already using the Atlassian stack, then it’s time to get even more out of it.

Let’s show you how you can use Jira and Confluence to create the content for your website; better than you’ve ever been able to do it before.

1 – Set goals

First, you need to know what your content is for. You can’t just blindly make content for the sake of it and expect it to succeed. You have to define what success is, and work towards it.

Read more: How to set goals: think SMART

Each goal has to be specific and quantifiable – not a vague, unachievable ambition like “get more video views” or “make it better for SEO”. What does “more” or “better” mean?

Instead, try goals like “get 10,000 video views in 12 months” and “double our organic search traffic year on year”: tangible, specific targets. Then, you can start working out how to achieve them.

It takes multiple creative and strategic disciplines to make web content that works towards these goals – and setting, tracking and checking off goals with multiple teams can get tricky. But by using Confluence, you can clearly add goals as a reminder in the project overview – so everyone knows why they’re doing what they’re doing.

2 – Project planning

Now that you have goals, it’s time to roadmap them and determine your team’s workflow. The project lead should be able to set mini-goals that form part of the larger objective – using simple project planning tools like Atlassian’s Trello.

During the process, managers can identify bottlenecks or adjust goals in order to make them achievable, realistic or change their time constraints – but none of that will be possible without first having the plan written out in a collaborative workspace.

The roadmap should include regular check-ins to get progress updates and make notes. Integration with Confluence can make this roadmap (and all knowledge gained during the project) freely available to the relevant teams at the point of need.

3 – Assemble your team

Now you know what you need to achieve, and how you’re going to get there, you need to gather your team.

By creating a collaboration space in Confluence, your team can be assembled from anywhere in the world – so even outsourced work can be included in your central project management tool.

Read more: Looking for a Confluence contractor to help set you up?

Work can be delegated to the right team from here: SEOs and digital marketers can identify targets and popular content topics, while the copywriters start producing headlines and text in response to the research. Graphic designers, developers, videographers and photographers can be booked in or sourced for further assets that are vital to the project.

Now that we have the blueprint and the team, we can start building.

4 – Start building content to your architecture

Once drafted and sourced, all your web content assets can be assembled in a working “proto-website”, within Confluence. This means that your website structure, user journey and CTAs can all be built out, tested and progressed – without any additional burden on your dev team, or the need for a staging website in the early stages of development.

Confluence is very easy to use, similar to an all-in-one website building platform. It allows for easy version tracking, so testing and rolling back is super simple. Plus, migrating to the live site is greatly streamlined as Confluence can export HTML and XML files.

5 – Use Jira to make improvements after launch

Buggy interface? Typos? Pages loading slowly? Your team can create tickets in Jira, giving all issues a clear path to resolution. Issues with content itself can be flagged in Jira and tasked to the right person, while any dev improvements can be allocated to the development team and tracked to completion.

As your company progresses and the offering evolves, the user journey may become more obvious. Using Jira to highlight areas to improve the journey, and then writing and arranging the new structure in Confluence gives teams total flexibility and ownership of their successes – even after launch.

Get deeper control of Confluence and Jira

Need deeper control in Confluence and Jira, for software development and content creation? ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors, to develop custom Confluence and Jira DevOps solutions.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Your business needs Confluence Cloud – find out why

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Your business needs Confluence Cloud – find out why

A team only works well if everyone can collaborate and organise effectively. That’s why over 170,000 companies use Atlassian applications, like Confluence, to empower their teams with collaborative tools. In a hybrid and remote-first working world, businesses are seeing the true benefits of cloud computing and deploy-anywhere web applications like Confluence Cloud.

Shouldn’t your business be using it, too?

What is Confluence Cloud?

Confluence is one of Atlassian’s collaboration tools.

It’s a shared workspace and knowledge-base – sort of like a supercharged, company-focused Wikipedia on steroids – which enables teams to do their best work, with the entire organisation’s expertise at their disposal.

With Confluence, you can build documentation pages and powerful dashboards for data visualisation. Atlassian’s project management and scheduling tools (like Trello and Jira) seamlessly plug into Confluence – and your whole organisation’s community can see what’s going on at any time, in all relevant projects.

Confluence Cloud is web-based, with a mobile app available – allowing anyone in the team to work anywhere, with any device.

Pretty cool, huh?

Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of Confluence Cloud.

ANY team can use it

Atlassian’s cloud solutions aren’t just for software developers. Any team can use Confluence Cloud to work smarter – and know exactly what’s going on in the whole company.

This is especially important in remote and hybrid working environments, where maintaining culture, collaboration and communications is a key factor.

Confluence prevents siloing and keeps all comms open and transparent, which leads to better collaboration and idea sharing.

Confluence is incredibly versatile. The marketing team can use it for planning and reporting, with intuitive dashboards to visualise data. HR can use it for announcements and onboarding – even legal departments will find it useful for storing, tracking, finding, and updating contracts and documents.

While apps like Google Docs and Sheets, LucidChart, DropBox and Slack are great tools for what they do, Confluence Cloud takes their concepts further – consolidating all company knowledge in one place, where everyone has access. It plugs in with industry standard tools and scheduling platforms, with deep integration into the Atlassian stack.

And because it’s cloud-based, anyone can use it anywhere. But how do you manage who can access what – and when?

Full control: security and access permissions

You’ll never have to worry about leaks, privacy or sensitive data being accessible. Confluence Cloud lets admins control who can see what, and even helps maintain the work/life balance of your teams. For large companies, Confluence Cloud Premium provides deep admin controls with custom access levels and executive permissions.

Performance is no longer hardware dependent

Different teams will have different hardware needs. Sales and marketing departments may need little more than a basic laptop and a phone – but the demanding software used by design and production teams will require heavy duty hardware to run.

Locally installed software has a few advantages on high-spec machines, but on the entry-level equipment most departments will have at their disposal, those advantages all but disappear. Adding another app to the mix is enough to clutter and bog down even fairly recent machines – and what if the hardware fails? What happens to all the work on it?

Moving to a robust cloud solution eliminates the need for anything but a browser, and ensures constant, infinite backups. This is hugely important now that work is moving between offices and remote locations.

For one, lost or stolen devices can be bricked remotely without losing any data or work. But for most, the biggest advantage will be having access to the same productivity tools on any kind of device, as long as it has internet access.

And there’s no need to worry about running out of space, either. Your team can use as much or as little as they need, and Confluence Cloud can scale appropriately to accommodate it based on your needs.

Get an expert to manage your Atlassian Cloud migration

Moving into Confluence Cloud? ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian Cloud migration experts, to equip your business for hybrid and remote working – and the next stage of your growth.

Our talent pool features some of the world’s most admired Confluence Cloud professionals. Want to know more? Get in touch with the ClearHub team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

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

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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

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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

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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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