issue tracker and agile development customer
HQ: Cambridge, MA
Employees: 18
Founded: 2008
Products: Jira and GreenHopper

Boston-based startup OfficeDrop uses Atlassian’s issue tracker for development, customer service, document-scanning workflows and hopes to spread Jira into Marketing and other areas of the business. They also use GreenHopper for agile software development.

OfficeDrop is a digital filing and scanning software company. They make it easy to scan documents and store the digital files in the cloud. One offering allows customers to mail-in their documents for OfficeDrop to scan, file, and organize the digital files however the customer wants within their account.

We were stoked that Anand Rajaram, OfficeDrop’s Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, was able to discuss their use of Jira with us.

The interview

Tell us about OfficeDrop

issue tracker quote.jpgOfficeDrop is a cloud filing system, scanner software and document scanning service that helps small businesses manage paper and digital files. We offer simple and easy-to-use mobile, web and desktop tools for businesses and home offices to capture, organize, find and securely store their documents in the cloud. All documents are made text-searchable, can be shared with your employees and customers and can be connected to other cloud services like Google Docs, Evernote, and FreshBooks.

How did you start using Atlassian tools?

When we started out, we were using the startup-edition of Fogbugz for issue tracking. We weren’t formally following agile methodology, (it was mostly the 3 founders hacking). After we launched our product and started ramping up our engineering team we needed more structure and predictability. We started formally following scrum, and based on conversations with other PMs and agile evangelists, we knew we needed to start planning our releases in terms of sprints, measure our velocity and actively maintain our product backlog. That’s when we hit our limit with Fogbugz. Based on seeing what other respected companies use, we starting using Jira and GreenHopper.

I set it up over a weekend and we wanted to try it for real for our first sprint and it worked out great. The engineering team loved it. We started with the engineering team because it’s more tuned towards agile, but since then we have also extended specific Jira workflows for other things like customer service.

How did you learn about Jira?

I used to run the local WebSphere User Group and used to be an active member of Java user groups. I was familiar with Jira, but had never used it. When we were considering Scrum and adopting agile formally, Jira was top of the list. More importantly, I wanted to get real-life use cases. I met with Yoav Shapira, the Director of Engineering at HubSpot and got a sense for how they implemented Scrum. I really liked how Jira and Confluence fit in their agile process. Normally we would have evaluated 2 or 3 issue trackers, but because I could see Jira in real life in a company that I respected, I thought we would try it out first, and it worked out great.

How are you using Jira?

We have three broad streams using Jira and fifteen projects across those streams:

First, Engineering & System Operations – we have a web-based product, a product for the iPad, Windows Scanning Software, & Mac Scanner Software. We also have upcoming products for the iPhone and Android. Each product is managed as a separate project in Jira, along with GreenHopper. We use dashboards and burndown charts to track progress. The team uses task boards in the daily standups, while the planning board is used during estimation and planning poker. The engineering team uses a variety of clients to access Jira, some from their favorite IDE, some from the web and others using a desktop client. The System-Operations team that manages our cloud infrastructure also uses Jira.

Second is Customer service – we take a lot of pride in the way we serve our customers. We have rigorous SLAs and follow-ups in terms of reporting back to customers. We really want the ability to track a bug right from the customer that reported it through to the engineer who is going to fix it. There has to be a closed loop from the Customer to Engineering through OfficeDrop Support, and that’s part of the reason why we started out with Jira for supporting our customers.

We used Jira in conjunction with the ’email this issue’ plugin, but we were hitting some limitations with regards to customer service; there was no easy way to auto-reply back to someone unless they were also a user of the system. We were working around it, so we recently moved our external customer support system to Zendesk and have integrated Zendesk and Jira. That’s one of the things I really like about Jira — if Jira does not have the functionality natively, there is almost always a plugin to take care of what you want. And if there is no plugin, there is a partner to help. That’s really the power.

Lastly as a Document-Scanning Service – for users of our online cloud filing system, we also offer a bulk-scanning service where you could send us boxes of paper and we could scan it all for you into your account, and completely organize and label it how you want. Each project is distinct enough, with many specific instructions that need to be carried forward from Inside-sales to Scanning operations to Sys-admins. The order needs to be completely tracked throughout the system and there is a very defined workflow.

So, I set up a workflow in Jira for bulk-order tracking and it made the process significantly more efficient. All the order details are now in one place and it has helped us have a nice operations pipeline. It also helps us plan ahead and ramp up on capacity based on projected demand. I don’t think Jira was designed for something like that, but for such a workflow, it works very well us. This is an 8-10 step process, and depending on where things are backing up, we add resources to make sure we don’t get backed up too much. Jira really helped with that.

How is Jira different from other issue trackers?

agile development quote.jpgJira is like a Swiss Army Knife. Everyone really likes the big upgrade Atlassian did last summer. At first there was resistance with adoption because there were too many clicks to get anything done. With the latest UI, things are very seamless. It lets us do different things and you can shield the complexities with the UI now. I think that is really a big differentiator compared to other systems. Other systems are limited in functionality. With the new look and feel, Jira takes it to the next level and it doesn’t compromise the functionality, but at the same time, it’s really usable. The GreenHopper sticky note feature is also very popular here.

What is it about your business that makes Jira important?

We are in a fast changing marketplace, so we have to be agile in spirit and in action. Jira has helped us react positively to market changes, listen to what our customers want and develop products that our customers use and love. We take a lot of pride in being customer focused, so Jira is a valuable tool that helps us differentiate from our competition. We can commit to SLAs and deliver on the promise of our brand.

How will your use of Jira change in the future?

We follow scrum in the engineering team right now, but I would like other functions, (like Marketing) to also be broken down into sprints. We want to extend scrum to other functional areas. We are also considering integrations with a formal CRM, and using Confluence for managing our knowledge base.

Do you have advice for others considering Jira?

The first week or so might be overwhelming, so I’d suggest starting small and getting a level of comfort with the system. You can do a LOT of things with it, but overall it makes you very productive. Dashboards and reports are one aspect why Jira is great. Use them.

We understand Atlassian inspired something at OfficeDrop?

Yes, inspired by Atlassian, we also have ShipIt Days around here! Developers really love it; it’s incredibly motivating and delivers innovative features to our customers.

Do you have any other comments?

I’ve got to call it out – I’m really impressed with your tech-support. They are highly responsive, and I’ve only had positive experiences. Jira with its excellent ecosystem and community gives us a set of tools that talk to each other, and helps us deliver great products to our customers.

Thanks Anand!

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(Case Study) Issue Tracking and Agile Development ...