This is a guest post by Kevin Allen, Atlassian Expert Partner, and 20-year Process master with a focus on Service Design.

At this year’s HDI Conference, the need to address the “service” in IT Service Management rang loud and clear. HDI is one of the biggest conferences in the world when it comes to all things ITSM methods and processes. With the IT world changing to mirror consumer-level experiences, it’s important to get the most out of your IT tool.

This drive for a better service experience is supported by a recent blog post by Stephen Mann, which notes that service was overwhelmingly the top reason for changes made in Support Centers, with 67% of responses indicating a desire to improve the customer experience.

I completely lost count of how many demos of Jira Service Desk I did during HDI, but one thing I do know is, service management pros wanted to know how to meet their customer needs better. Through my demos, I noticed a powerful differentiator of Jira Service Desk was extensibility, made possible with add-ons available in the Atlassian Marketplace.

How to find the right add-on

I could blog for years just about Jira Service Desk add-ons and still not get them all, so in lieu of that, here’s the criteria I use to pick out what will work best for me:

  • Atlassian Badges – Verified and Supported. Has the add-on earned one or both of these badges? Verified add-on vendors demonstrate high quality, reliability, and business traction. A supported add-on is one that offers product support to customers.
  • Development history – How many releases does the developer do in year? How long is the gap between a new major application version and the compatibility release of the add-on?
  • Reviews – What’s the rest of the marketplace community saying? How many people took the time to review the add-on?
  • Consider the source – Who are the developers? What else do they do? How long have they been a part of the ecosystem?

Before you choose an add-on, research what you really need from it. When push comes to shove, an easy way to find out what you need is by asking questions:

A little due diligence can help you mitigate risk, keep your instance running smoothly, and help find solutions for users or customers. And while not every add-on will solve for each and every use case, a free trial that many developers offer can help you determine if one will work for you. Here are a few of my go-to add-ons for Jira Service Desk:

1. Teams for Jira Service DeskHelp customers team upheadphones.jpg copy 2

Recently, a prospective client outlined an interesting Jira Service Desk use case. The client is in the SaaS space and they support small teams at each of their client organizations. They wanted any team member to be able to see tickets from other team members at the same client, but not any other Jira issues.

In other words, a pretty common B2B support scenario.Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 1.35.46 PM copy

How to solve it? Remember what I said about researching your add-ons? This is a prime example of picking the right one based on your needs. I did some digging which led me to an add-on called Teams for Jira Service Desk.

With Teams for Jira Service Desk you can group customers in a team, and enable customers to view requests created by other team members so that everyone has visibility into team member issues.

Prepend, the developers of this add-on, also do a nice job of maintaining compatibility with the latest Jira and Jira Service Desk releases. These developers identified a need, fulfilled a solution in seven months, and maintained an active development schedule for the past eight months. That’s impressive. For more, check out their user documentation, and see if you can spot their clever A Team references.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 1.35.55 PM copy2. Extension – Present questions that need to be answered and the request types that matter

I’ve been using Extension (aka Service Pack for JSD) based on work I did previously with Dynamic Forms for Jira. Having the ability to set dynamic, or conditional, forms is a great way to work with complex request types or catalogs.

Extension works by using the add-on interface to associate an option on a custom field to the visibility of another custom field. Think of it as a more data diverse Cascading Select List custom field, but you aren’t forced into using “selects”; you can use checkboxes, text, etc. It’s pretty awesome. It’s a nice way to get rid of those optional text boxes or irrelevant choice-based options and streamline your forms.

A favorite functionality of this add-on is the ability to restrict request types to groups. This is invaluable in numerous places where requests should be limited to collections of users.

One of the most common use cases centers around HR. For instance, you might not want anyone in the organization to be able to generate a New Hire or Termination request, right? To avoid this, you can find the ‘people manager’ group, install the add-on, and make a quick configuration change so that only members of the target group will even know those options exist.

Imagine how you could use this feature as an admin to test new request type additions or modifications, allowing a limited group to verify the change before it goes live. This can all be done in your live portal with no mess, eliminating the need for unnecessary and non-invasive work.

It also eliminates work getting done twice – once in a lower environment and again in production. I tend to use the admin group to lock down in-flight work, but it’s also helpful to use the group that represents the Service Desk team so they contribute to the changes or sign off on the work.

Keep the experience on point for your customers. When you’re attempting to funnel requests, sometimes less is more.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 1.36.02 PM copy 3. Jira Automation Plugin and Canned Responses for JiraAutomate everything that you can

I’m going to assume that you’re all taking full advantage of the amazing features that Jira Service Desk automation rules provide. If not, stop here, read that link, then come back.

Once you’ve mastered the built-in automation, you can automate even more with other solutions in the Marketplace. It’s simply automagic. (See what I did there?)

One way to take automation to the next level in Jira Service Desk revolves around the question: “How long do I wait for a customer to let me know the issue is truly resolved?” We all know how this can play out, issues sit in a queue for days when they could have been resolved.

The Jira Automation Plugin has helped me solve this one several times. It makes it incredibly easy to setup a JQL search that runs on a set schedule that is powered by cron (aka very granular). You can add a variety of actions to this automation job.

In this case, we added a comment letting the customer know that the issue was being closed due to inactivity and how to reopen the issue should it become necessary. We then transition the issue to resolved and set resolution. We wrote a blog post on this if you’d like more information.

Another classic example of turning seconds into ROI comes from our friends at Spartez. Their add-on, Canned Responses for Jira, allows you to create comment templates directly from the comment editor. It’s super simple and allows you to add new templates from comments on the fly. It also adds the action “Add canned response” to Jira Service Desk automation rules.

Somebody stop me! I’m in love with add-ons

One ripple is not a tsunami, but when you consider the explosion of add-ons in the Atlassian Marketplace, it is easy to see how the Atlassian ecosystem can extend Jira Service Desk almost indefinitely. See what add-ons you can use in the Atlassian Marketplace.

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