VSCO + Atlassian

Picture-perfect solutions for transparency, time savings, and teamwork




Oakland, CA

Company Size:

0-500 employees

As VSCO has grown from a photography app to a rapidly growing subscription business and vibrant global community of users, so too has their need for fast, effective collaboration. All it took was one Atlassian power user to unlock the tools’ – and their teams’ – potential.

Now that every smartphone has a camera and social media has sparked a culture of sharing, pictures are part of our daily lives. Influencers, tastemakers, and serious photographers alike can’t resist documenting their every delicious meal, on-trend outfit, and inspirational experience. VSCO helps everyone turns those moments into an opportunity to stretch creatively

VSCO started as a photography app in 2011. Now, over one million paid members around the world look to VSCO for its suite of powerful mobile photography tools and a creative community that help them express who they are.

VSCO relies on a variety of Atlassian solutions to keep their teams move forward. Since the beginning, teams have used Jira Software for bug and task tracking, Confluence for documentation and announcements, and Jira Service Desk for internal IT requests. In recent years, they’ve also implemented Trello for project management.

“I had relied on Atlassian tools at Twitter and LindenLab so when I moved to VSCO, I was excited to see they used the products I had come to know and trust.” says Sky Frostenson, Director of Program Management. “In my first few months, I noticed some operational and process issues that could easily be fixed with the tools we had. Support representatives, engineers, designers, and project managers were constantly pinging each other about the status of bugs and tasks. Team members spent hours in meetings every week, often just discussing basic updates. I made it my personal mission to solve these challenges by fine-tuning and customizing Atlassian tools to optimize the way VSCO teams collaborate across disciplines.”

[Atlassian solutions] balance power and ease of use. There’s not many tools that do that well and continue to meet your needs as you grow.

Sky Frostenson

Director of Program Management

For example, VSCO’s Support Team was keeping daily records of product issues so they could track user-reported problems and surface them to other departments. However, Support didn’t have visibility into whether those issues were being resolved, or when.

To bridge the gap between Support and Engineering, while also cultivating transparency throughout the organization, Sky set up a release dashboard in Confluence that integrates with Jira to show a high-level development pipeline. Having access to the dashboard (as well as other engineering information) in Confluence allows Sky’s team to add more context to the Jira data, so it’s clearer for non-developers. Plus, it’s open to everyone, so in addition to alleviating Support’s concerns, the dashboard gives the entire company an easy-to-read glimpse at what Engineering is working on and when they plan to complete each task.

“[The release dashboard] has gotten everyone on the same page – literally – and unlocked a ton of value,” says Sky. “We used to have bi-weekly release meetings with 10-15 people in the room. But with the release dashboard, we’ve been able to not only kill that meeting completely, but also move from a bi-weekly to weekly release schedule because we can move faster with better coordination.”

Engineering and Support aren’t the only teams using Atlassian tools to work faster and improve visibility. Employees throughout the company rely on Confluence to create, share, and collaborate with each other. From marketing briefs, to style guides, to HR policies, to on-boarding information, and beyond, team members can find all the documentation they need to deliver quality work, strengthen VSCO’s culture, and grow the company.

“In addition to powering productivity within each department, Atlassian tools have connected the dots between different teams and projects. For instance, Marketing creates briefs in Confluence, making the process active and participatory. Then, they link each brief to the related product requirements and Jira epics, so everyone can see how an idea flows from strategy to execution.” notes Sky.

VSCO is also using Atlassian products to preserve their history and keep the entire organization aligned as they work toward achieving their mission of equipping, educating, and inspiring users on their journey toward realizing their creative potential. VSCO’s strategic planning process is a prime example. The company uses Confluence to track both past and current Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), which link out to individual initiatives for more detail. Sky says the OKR page has been vital to maintaining VSCO’s institutional memory while orienting everyone around shared objectives and a shared mission. And since the company embraces transparency, pages are open by default, so anyone can access the information they’re interested in or need to do their job.

VSCO is made for creators, by creators, so the lines between work and individual interests are often blurred. In fact, employees get the chance to blend their personal and professional passions every week during their all-hands session. To support their core values of “Creators First” and “Be You,” the team reserves five minutes during each meeting for a team member to tell a story about a personal passion related to the company’s mission. Those stories often start their life as blog posts in Confluence.

“Most of our people actually come from creative backgrounds, where they were previously photographers or practitioners of the arts,” Sky explains. “So a lot of the ways we do business come from the ‘Creators First’ mindset. We want to explore ideas for the sake of them and try to understand how those might take shape in the form of tools, offerings, or products that would benefit our community.”

VSCO employees’ deep passion for their work has fueled the company’s growth. And of all the ways Atlassian has made a difference for their team, Sky says the most important is that the solutions support that growth and evolution. “[Atlassian solutions] balance power and ease of use,” he says. “There’s not many tools that do that well and continue to meet your needs as you grow.”

It’s this flexibility and scalability that has unlocked VSCO’s potential and empowered the company to do the same for its community of creators. With Sky’s help customizing Atlassian to their processes and culture, VSCO’s team is now working faster and more effectively than ever as they support users through every step of their creative journey.

To stay connected to their network of volunteers, staff members, doctors, and researchers, they needed a better way to track projects and collaborate on a cure for cancer.

The Delivery Team at Carfax doubled in just 4 years, and project management reached a tipping point. Here's how they solved it.