No two companies are alike. Every enterprise has its own culture, leadership style, organizational structure, and number of employees and locations. Add to that different product/service mixes and ways of working, such as on prem or remote, agile or non-agile, hierarchical or flat, DevOps or waterfall, and so on. Not to mention where companies are on their digital and agile transformations.

Most large enterprises gather and store data from multiple sources in a variety of formats, such as siloed spreadsheets or department-specific systems. With so much available data, how does your company know what to analyze and measure? 

There are standard reports useful to most companies, like those found in Jira and Jira Align. But with all of the variables listed above, you can see why there is a need for customized reporting and the ability to analyze data in a way that works for your unique company. 

Let’s talk about some best practices for getting the most out of your disparate data.

Start with an assessment

Some organizations suffer from data sprawl, with data being collected without a proactive plan or intention. Reporting is either reactionary to leadership requests or teams try to guess what leadership will want to know. Without a reporting strategy in place, data overload can prevent companies from moving forward with the right initiatives.

Sometimes people gloss over reports out of habit, because they don’t find them useful. Imagine if you got reports that told you exactly what you wanted to know in an easy-to-understand format. You would dive in immediately, right?

Start by looking at the reports you are currently getting.

  • Do they contain the information and metrics you really need?
  • Do reports pull data from all data sources or just a few?
  • Who decides what reports are necessary?
  • Do the reports provide enough actionable insights?
  • Are reports presented in a useful format or are they a data dump?

Excel spreadsheets full of raw data from multiple departments aren’t effective for analyzing data, especially if inconsistent formats are used. What happens if the person responsible for a key spreadsheet leaves the company and you lose access? Pulling data together and syncing it, adding context to the data, then presenting data in charts or graphs can make your life easier.

Understand the challenges of disparate data

Just as you need adapters or hubs to connect computers and peripherals with different port configurations, you need tools and systems to connect your disparate data. For some enterprises, the connections are already in place. For others, there’s work to do. 

Once again, start with an assessment.

  • Where is your data stored? Is it on-prem, public cloud, private cloud, or in a hybrid environment? 
  • What formats, platforms, and tools are you using? 
  • Is your data connected and synchronized?
  • Who owns and controls the different types of data?
  • How often is data updated?
  • What type of quality control is in place for data? As the old saying goes – garbage in, garbage out. 

Once you identify all the places you gather and store data, you’ll have a better idea of where you might have data reporting gaps and other issues. For example, you may find a data breach or an unsecured database of confidential customer data while doing your assessment.

Know what metrics you need to measure and why

Is your leadership in the dark? Turn on the lights with Enterprise Insights

Competitors can capitalize on opportunities your company misses because incomplete data was measured and used. Think about the information you wish you had at your fingertips. There may not be agreement across all levels of the organization, but everyone needs accurate information.

Let’s use a sports analogy here. If sports fans want scores and are given an overwhelming number of individual player stats instead, they get frustrated. Conversely, if coaches only get scores and not player stats, they won’t know how to help individual players and the entire team improve.

You can think of your own data the same way. What metrics are important and why? Are you looking at outputs, outcomes, or both? The scope of work being measured should also be considered. Maybe you want to measure time to market for customer-requested features. Are you including lead time and cycle time? If you only measure time to market after funding, without including the time it took to get funding, your metrics could be way off. 

It all comes down to delivering high-value outcomes to customers and being able to make pivot-or-persevere decisions if the market changes. You need to understand the entire flow – from idea through delivery – so you can see where initiatives are going smoothly and where roadblocks and wasted resources are hurting your bottom line. End-to-end visibility across your organization lets you measure the right things when developing high-quality software quickly and securely. People throughout the company can slice and dice data to fit their needs rather than getting reporting designed for someone else.

Understand how to interpret your metrics – and what to do with that information

Interpreting data and acting on it is a team effort. People can be so close to day-to-day activities they miss the bigger picture, which is why data visibility across the organization is important. A CFO and a DevOps manager may interpret metrics along a value stream differently, with one looking at cost while the other is looking at productivity, but both are working towards the same corporate goals and outcomes. If each person steps back and looks holistically at the situation, they can work together on a solution.

It’s hard to know what data is available when teams are siloed and their information isn’t accessible to others. Enterprises need a tool for breaking down those silos and making all data accessible in one place. Jira Align establishes a single source of truth across teams and keeps everyone working together to achieve the same goals. People can see where activities are on track, at risk, and off track, then drill down for more details. 

By linking people, work, and time across every level of the company, you can improve your processes and manage cross-team dependencies. Let’s say all software development roads lead to the same roadblock, such as an understaffed department, developers manually completing checklists that could be automated, or technical debt. Teams can come together to develop a solution rather than allowing the roadblock to keep the company from delivering value to customers.

Tips for success

Each company has to decide on the metrics that work best rather than relying on one-size-fits-all reports. These tips can be customized for your organization to help ensure success.

  • Get buy-in across the organization on the importance of accurate data and reporting.
  • Connect data and analysis to goals, outcomes, and OKRs.
  • Provide visibility with charts, dashboards, and other views to keep everyone informed.
  • Establish useful metrics tied to customer value and other key areas.
  • Communicate what success looks like so you know what reports are needed.
  • Gain alignment across an organization on how to interpret the metrics/reports. 
  • Drive meaningful action to implement improvements.
  • Review metrics on a regular basis to see how internal and external factors impact success. 
  • Make data-driven pivot-or-persevere decisions after reviewing reports.

Having the right data analysis tools in place, including those with customizable reporting, leads to better decision-making.

Generate the custom reports you need

Get insights you may currently be missing with specialized reports and visualizations to make better business decisions. While Jira Align has standard reporting, adding Enterprise Insights takes it to a new level and brings your program and portfolio data together, allowing you to visualize trends and patterns in real time. Enterprise Insights also reduces the amount of time spent generating your reports and keeps your organization informed and up-to-date at every level.

To learn more and talk about how to become a great data-driven organization with Atlassian tools, join us at Team ‘23 in Las Vegas. Stop by the Jira Align booth to learn how Atlassian’s Enterprise Agility solutions can help you gain the insights you need.

A strategy for getting the most out of your Jira Align data