This is the second part of the two part series on making the switch from a Open Source issue tracker to JIRA, our commercial issue tracking tool. You can read part one (how to move) here.
To find out what it’s actually like to make the switch, I spoke with Preston Tollinger, who made the move about a year and a half ago.
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Preston is CTO of Cellfire, a US-based mobile software company that allows consumers to access coupons and deals from brand-name merchants nationwide, through their cell phone. Preston founded Cellfire in 2005. It has since grown to support over 800 different mobile devices, and is available on all US carrier networks.
Preston, when you founded Cellfire, you started with Mantis and MediaWiki. Then about a year later, you switched from Mantis to JIRA, and from MediaWiki to Confluence. What prompted your switch to Altassian tools?
We switched to Confluence first. That was pretty easy, as the internal Wiki champions all wanted Confluence to begin with. For JIRA, it was a little more involved. We had clearly outgrown Mantis’ capabilities. In particular, we wanted to have custom workflows, and several different issues types. At the time, Mantis couldn’t support either of those. We also wanted to add custom fields, another feature Mantis lacked.
How did you approach the switch to JIRA?
Slowly. When we started the switch, our developers were big fans of Mantis. To show them the difference, I setup a test instance of JIRA, adding some custom fields. Then I let the developers play with that for a while. In most cases, they saw the advantages pretty quickly. There were a couple of die-hards who wanted to stay with Mantis, but the majority was quickly on-board with the change. Honestly, had I waited for 100% buy-in, it just wouldn’t have happened.
Did you immediately start to take advantage of JIRA’s customisations, such as workflows, and custom fields?
Exactly the opposite. I took a long time, about six months, to slowly start to use JIRA’s process tools. We started talking about the possibilities immediately, but only made changes very slowly. Initially, the only people using Mantis was our small group of developers, so the first switch was to simply move them. Then, over time, we began to use JIRA’s customisations to add more rigor to our development processes, and to open JIRA up to other internal users.
How are you using JIRA today?
We now track all releases in JIRA, and use Confluence to generate all our Release Notes. Marketing keeps an eye on development, and uses it to manage their own projects, such as when we do a specific release for a customer.
We couldn’t have done any of this in Mantis. We need new fields and new workflows, all of which JIRA provides.
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How do you manage JIRA customisations? Is it centralised?
No, quite the opposite. Lots of people have the rights in JIRA to create and modify fields, workflows, etc. Everyone knows & agrees to only change their own stuff. And, frankly, if something really went awry, we can always restore from a backup. As a startup, we’ve got a small IT staff, so if we tried to centralize all this, it just wouldn’t scale.
Has there been any downside?
The only management issue has been trying to keep the total number of projects to a reasonable count. Initially people added new projects for what was really subparts of another project. This made it harder for people to organize and find data and people felt a little overwhelmed. Once we merged a few together and dropped out the ones not being used things have been running smoothly.
Do you use any other Atlassian tools?
We’re using Confluence, Bamboo and Clover, and Crowd connected to Active Directory.
Thanks Preston!
Have you made the switch from Open Source to JIRA? Let us know the details!

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