Summit 2014 has officially ended and, with over 2,100 attendees, was our biggest annual conference yet.
One of my favorite additions to Summit this year was an event hosted by the Technical Account Management team, TAM Day at Summit. An exclusive event for TAM customers, TAM Day provided them the chance to meet with Atlassian product and support leadership, and exchange ideas with other TAM customers.
But, what exactly is a TAM customer?
Earlier this year, Atlassian launched a technical & solutions advisory service focused on guiding our largest and fastest growing customers to optimize the way they use our products. The TAM service helps customers maximize the value of their Atlassian investment by providing strategic guidance and best practices on deployment of Atlassian solutions, and risk mitigation through operational reviews and proactive planning.
TAM Day at Summit
More than 25 customers participated in our first official TAM Day event. Attendees were able to provide direct feedback to Atlassian’s product leaders on our strategic product direction, and speak with customers from other enterprise-level organizations about how they’ve successfully deployed Atlassian products at scale. They even got the chance to shake hands with Atlassian co-founder, Mike Cannon-Brookes, who dropped by unexpectedly.
Over the course of the day, we heard several common themes regarding best practices for success with Atlassian products within these customer organizations. Many of the conversations were around addressing enterprise scale needs, but here are my top 5 key takeaways from TAM Day, for customers who weren’t able to attend.
Plan for viral growth: Atlassian’s products are popular because they seamlessly combine powerful functionality with effortless end user design. The very flexibility of the tools, if left unguided, can lead to overly complex usage models when scaled out to thousands of users. It’s a good idea to set expectations on initial scope, and actively update and communicate growth plans across the broader organization from the very early stages of planning. It’s important to partner with your stakeholders and recognize that the decisions you make up front are going to impact how your environment scales for a much larger group of users who will ultimately use the tools and processes you are implementing.
Plan for operational effectiveness: Increasingly, Atlassian’s tools are internally viewed by customers as the default go-to place for all team work. When acknowledging that the Confluence spaces you are setting up will eventually become the knowledge communication hub for many teams, or that the JIRA projects you setup will extend to workflows beyond what you are scoping today, you should think about how to best align your already stretched technical operations capabilities. It’s important to maximize the automation you gain from the rich integration of Atlassian products, but you should also expect that each customization, workflow integration, automation hook, custom add-on or other API tie-in will require resources from the Operations team. They will need to track, maintain and test each one as you scale out to thousands of users and future versions of the products.
Communicate business critical impact: For established solutions on Atlassian’s tools at scale, all the processes that speed through your JIRA instances automatically and keep your global delivery teams humming like clockwork are completely imperceptible to the majority of your business until there is an under-planned change event. Whether it’s planning for the next product upgrade cycle, or needing to invest additionally into capacity planning for the next thousand end-users, Operations teams need to make their case early and often to the business to ensure the appropriate level of attention. Many of our customers have found success by developing champions within each of their key stakeholder organizations. These end users become their business partners for communicating and driving key product, planning and deployment decisions.
Leverage your ecosystem: There are many resources available to help you with your planning, and it’s a good idea to ensure you gather input from all of them. Internally, it’s a good idea to consult business stakeholders, recruit and hear the concerns of your power users, and align with resource plans on your infrastructure teams. When executing a major change it is great to have Premier Support on standby. Atlassian also has online resources, Technical Account Managers and Expert Partners to help you along the way.
All about Teams: Our largest customers have moved beyond just thinking about our products as point solutions. They see the richness of the full end to end user experience, and consider how the productivity of different user personas is impacted by operational and business level change decisions.
For enterprise customers, Confluence now serves as their organization-wide center for multiple teams to capture ideas, requirements, knowledge and dialog across silos. JIRA is the engine that makes product delivery run throughout all aspects of the organization, even extending to Service organizations. Stash is where those ideas germinate into full fledged products, and HipChat is the bonding agent that accelerates and strengthens team dialog.
These customers look at maintaining their Atlassian tools as a cohesive platform and consider how an operational change in one product will impact the dynamics of the overall platform usage. Upgrades are planned in concert, workflows are automated across the board, information is integrated throughout the user lifecycle, and operational execution is coordinated seamlessly.
With so many exciting product announcements, we see great things ahead for our enterprise customers, and believe leveraging these best practices will help enterprise customers proactively plan to get the most out of their Atlassian applications.
TAM Day at Summit was a great opportunity for our most advanced enterprise customers to share their knowledge with each other. Following the event, several attendees told us they were able to connect and gain ideas from customers facing similar business challenges. They also felt they gained visibility into Atlassian’s direction and found the chance to interact directly with Atlassian’s executives invaluable to their organization.
Overall, we felt the event was a huge success and want to thank our TAM customers for participating and making the experience valuable for everyone.