HQ: Washington, D.C.
Employees: 95
Hours of digital literacy training provided to underserved communities: 56,000
Goal: Connect 637,000 low-income households to broadband by 2011
Tools used: Jira & Fisheye
Atlassian Community license case study
Atlassian Community license case study
Clark Ritchie                   Ada Kardos

Last week we announced our Community Awards for our Community License holders. There are a lot of powerful stories among our non-profit customers, and the awards were created as a way to share some of those case studies. But more than storytelling, the winner of the Community Awards will receive a very tangible $10,000 check for their cause.

We’ve written about some of our non-profit customers in the past. Just last week, I spoke with Clark Ritchie and Ada Kardos at One Economy about their use of Jira and Fisheye. Clark is One Economy’s CTO, and Ada is a Project Manager for the dev team. They’re a shining example of how our Community license holders are making good use of our free licenses.

Could you give me some background on One Economy?

Clark: We are a global nonprofit we work in the US and also 14 other countries. Fundamentally we are an anti-poverty organization. Our objective is to connect people with appropriate technologies to help them to make better informed decisions and improve the quality of their lives.

It takes a couple different forms. It starts with access, we provide networks and wireless networks in low-income housing projects. We also provide affordable computer programs and a digital literacy program where we train at-risk youth on technology. Lastly, we provide public purpose Internet content on sites such as The Beehive and Public Internet Channel that’s targeted targeted at low literacy, multilingual internet users, and general content such as how to build a budget, manage your diabetes, kidney disease, etc. Content is localized to the target geography — not just in terms of language, but also in terms of content.

We have a number of different projects running in sub-Saharan Africa, for example a program on how to combat malaria. We work with local producers and content creators in those geographies so the content is relevant. The private sector is our main funding source.

Why did you pick Jira?

Clark: We went through a growth period where our team tripled or quadrupled. We outgrew the way we had been managing projects. We needed a tool to help us with the complexities we were dealing with as well as the projects coming down the pipe. The tool that we had been using previously, which had been in place a couple years before I joined, just didn’t offer the type of flexibility to model different issue types, it did not offer a good workflow and it was too simple to meet our needs.

What did Jira have that you were looking for?

Clark: When we finally found Jira we were very pleasantly surprised to find not only did it support all the workflow and issues types, but it also fit into our environment here. We used the LDAP configuration which greatly simplified the life of our IT staff. We use it for both internal projects and an external-facing issue tracker that we can share with our customers. It’s been extremely robust, we don’t have stability issues with Jira at all, which is a blessing. It was a perfect marriage of the right tool for the work we’re doing.

Jira is robust and advanced, it’s about as user friendly as a tool like this will get. It’s in a different class. It’s an enterprise-grade tool compared to the other open source tools that are made for small teams or workgroup level. Your documentation, plugins, and the supporting ecosystem all work together to keep Jira in a class above the other tools out there. Your Support is a big value. When issues come up they get resolved in a relatively timely manner.

Ada: When I first started, I created really complex workflow. You can create whatever you need out of it. You can create a very complex workflow for the people that need it or a very simple workflow. I really appreciate the customization features of Jira.

What are some of the ways it’s being used?

Clark: We use it primarily as a defect tracking tool. We have a very large number of concurrent projects running on it. We have maybe 25-30 projects going on right now.

For example, we have a translation workflow for internationalising our content. We rolled it out to a fairly non-technical group of translators. Now they have a process where they submit content to be translated and there’s a workflow behind it.

We’re in the process of rolling it out for our help desk system. We have made some customizations with a new schema. It’ll open Jira up to a different part of the company that haven’t used it the past, such as people in our finance and elsewhere in the company. When we go live with it they’re going to start receiving Jira notifications.

What kind of training do you offer your non-technical staff?

Ada: I think that while developers find it to be a fantastic tool because it matches the way that they think, it can be a little more challenging for the non-technical people. We have about 95 users set up and I would say maybe 30 use it semi-actively. Maybe a dozen of us use it very actively. I did a lot of one-on-one training for the people in the semi-active group. People that are in the non-active group didn’t get any training. I’m now in the process of working with one of our folks to do basic training which should be done in the next couple months.

And you’re using Fisheye?

Clark:: I installed it not really knowing what it was or what it looked like. We saw we had an opportunity to use it through your community license program. There wasn’t any need established first, we didn’t say, “it would be nice to see the history on my source code.”

I would say that the developers took to it almost instantly. It’s constantly open in their browsers. It’s incredible that it’s linked back to the issues — we have activities and Jira issues tightly coupled. The moment it went into production it became a very important tool for our developers.

Any last words?

Clark: Just wanted to reiterate our gratitude towards your Community License program. It’s really, really exceptional and we’re very pleased to be able to benefit from your generosity.

(Case Study) One Economy (or, how our non-profit c...