This is a guest post from Remie Bolte of CollabSoft, an Atlassian Expert and developer of 10 add-ons on the Atlassian Marketplace.

In my time as a software developer, I have worked with a number of traditional software teams that made the move to agile development and switched to Jira to track their work. That transition requires teams to reeducate themselves for a new methodology, so I’ve read many of the books and blog posts, attended the training sessions, and listened to the agile coaches. In my experience, the most consistent lesson is this: Every team is different, and that’s okay.

Fitting tools to the team

When the dust settles and the new shiny workflow becomes habit, a lot of teams discover they have created quirks in their process that don’t really go well with the default behavior of some of their tools. But teams shouldn’t always bend to their tools; good tools accommodate the user.

Do any of these examples sound familiar?

  1. Several agile teams  share a release cycle and focus on small parts of the product. Each team has its own Jira project, and now they face the problem of synchronizing the fix versions and components among these projects. They assign one (resentful) developer to synchronize these as a weekly task.
  2. During a retrospective, a team concludes that some issues go ignored for too long and pile up at the bottom of the backlog. So they assign a task for the product owner to regularly check issues to see if they need attention.
  3. A company starts using Hipchat to allow developers to discuss their code and get notifications from Jira or Bamboo. However, IT is struggling to keep their Hipchat user accounts in sync with their Jira, Confluence, and Bamboo accounts as the compnany adds new people. Again, a manual task is added for the IT administrator.

After a while, these small tasks pile up, bureaucratic overhead accumulates, and every team is getting less stuff done.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are three ways to start fine-tuning Atlassian tools to your team:

1. Get help from an Atlassian Expert

As an Atlassian Expert, we’ve fixed each of the above examples for customers who came to us for help, then released the solution on the Atlassian Marketplace so everyone can benefit.

The example of synchronizing fix version(s) and components came from a customer that found JRA-2698 (dating back November 2003!). They didn’t want to change the way they set up their agile teams or release cycles, so they asked us to come up with a solution. We created the Version Sync for Jira and Component Sync for Jira add-ons. The same goes for the Status Updater for Jira and Hipchat User Management add-ons. Both were created to solve small annoyances that were distractions to the teams.

No product suite, even Atlassian’s, will perfectly suit every team’s individual needs. Some features are just too insignificant and will never become a priority. This is where the Atlassian ecosystem of Experts and Marketplace can help out. They will work with you to review the workflow, identify these quirks, and build a custom solution if necessary.

2. (Re)visit the Marketplace

If some aspect of Jira is slowing your team down, you’re probably not the first one, and you would benefit from a visit to the Atlassian Marketplace. In the past two years, the number of add-ons available for Jira and Confluence has increased exponentially. Chances are that your problem has been solved already, you just didn’t know it!

So take some time to look through the Marketplace and you will find a lot of small gems – both free and commercial – to solve your administrative pains. Get started with the “Admin Tools” categories forJira and Confluence.

3. Get suggestions from Atlassian Answers

Post your situation on Atlassian’s user forum, Atlassian Answers, to get help from the community for your problem. Long-time users, Experts, and add-on developers are always looking to help someone else get started. They might point you to add-ons or workarounds, or tell you best practices that can help you adjust your work process.

Atlassian has put together a variety of resources to help their customers help themselves, so get out there and get your team humming!

3 ways to get more from Jira and Confluence...