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How to Choose the Right Jira Add-on


Krzysztof Skoropada - 7 August 2017 - 0 comments

Are you using Jira to manage teams at your organization and you’re need to solve a specific problem? You should be looking for a Jira add-on. An increasing number of companies is turning to Jira because of the richness of functionalities it offers thanks to the wide range of the available plugins. It’s safe to say that without its add-ons, Jira wouldn’t be the platform we know today. But there are so many Jira add-ons on the market, so how can you be sure that the solution you’re considering is the right one? Here’s a detailed guide to help you pick the right plugin that meets the needs of your organization.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Where to look for Jira plugins;
  • How to choose the plugin that solves your problem;
  • Which aspects of the plugin listing are most important;
  • How to tell whether a vendor is trustworthy;
  • What are the key aspects of the plugin to which you should pay attention.

Where to look for Jira add-ons?

The best place to search for a plugin that will help you solve a particular problem is the Atlassian Marketplace.

Launched in 2012, today the Marketplace offers more than 2200 plugins that address various organization needs and present different solutions to common problems. You can be sure that all add-ons featured on the Atlassian Marketplace have been verified by Atlassian before publication. These plugins don’t contain any malware and most of the time are of high quality.

Plugin Listing

Found a plugin that might help you solve the problem? Your first step is to take a good look at the plugin listing on the Marketplace.

Description

Is the description of plugin functionalities accurate and not overblown? Smart vendors know how to tell potential users what kind of problems their plugin solves in few, well-chosen words.

atlassian marketplace description

If you spot an unusual density of keywords in the plugin description, chances are high that the vendor cares more about the SEO than providing accurate information about the add-on.

Plugin features

Does the plugin offer the functionalities you’re looking for? Great, you’re on the right track. Now, does the add-on have any additional features your team could use?

Good plugins offer comprehensive solutions to problems. That’s why it’s smart to look at all their functionalities – they could help you solve the problem even more efficiently.

Screenshots

Now it’s time to look at the visuals included on the plugin listing. Do they present the add-on in action? Or is the listing full of meaningless graphics that don’t tell users anything about how the plugin works with Jira?

Pay attention to the quality and aesthetics of these screenshots. You can actually get a lot of information about the plugin from screenshots. For example, you’ll be able to tell how the functionality you’re looking for is implemented in the add-on. Plugin screenshots also give you an idea about the plugin’s usability.

Number of versions

Look at the plugin’s history to learn how many new versions of the plugin were introduced while it was available on the Marketplace. It’s a good sign if the add-on has been around for 4-5 years, went through a series of updates, gathered a solid number of active installations, and got a fair share of positive reviews.

Number of active installation instances

That number is very important, but it shouldn’t be the only decisive factor in your decision.

The thing about add-ons that have huge installation numbers is that they’ve been around for a long time and initially, they were promoted on the Marketplace. Most often, they’re leaders in their fields – but that doesn’t mean that such plugins offer universal solutions to specific problems. 

In fact, just because a plugin has a large number of installations doesn’t automatically mean that it’s the best available product. What counts more is the specifics of the problem you’re trying to solve and whether the plugin offers you the solution you need.

That’s why you should look among new add-ons.

Spot an add-on that is new on the Marketplace and hasn’t gathered many installations yet? That doesn’t mean you should cross it off your list. It’s smart to look beyond the giants and check out recent Marketplace additions. If you spot a plugin that might solve your problem, but hasn’t got a large number of installations, it’s still a good idea to try it and see what it can do for you.

Don’t forget that all plugins featured on the Marketplace have been checked for quality by Atlassian, so the mere fact that it’s included there already means something. 500 installations can be considered a solid foundation for a new plugin.

Naturally, installing a brand new add-on carries some risk. It hasn’t been verified on the market and might potentially contain errors that can negatively affect your Jira performance.

Reviews

That’s where things get a little complicated.

If you spot an add-on with a relatively low rating, but boasting many active installations – and you note that the number is constantly growing – it doesn’t mean that the product is completely useless. If it was, people wouldn’t keep on using it. So even if its rating is low, it still brings value to many organizations.

On the other hand, if you see a plugin that has been on the Marketplace for several years, has excellent reviews, but a low number of installations, chances are that some of these reviews are fake.

Some vendors set up fake accounts and write such reviews for their own products. We consider that practice unethical.

In fact, you should take a closer look at the reviews themselves. How detailed are they? What do customers say about the plugin? Are the reviews similar to each other?

Look at review history as well. If you spot a lot of negative reviews in the past and more positive reviews posted recently, the vendor probably took a lesson from customer feedback and invested a lot in improving the plugin to match user needs. And that’s a good sign. Still, the plugin will have lower rating because of that first round of negative reviews.

Reviews offer valuable information, but they shouldn’t serve as the only criterion for choosing the plugin.

Plugin bugs

If a public bug tracker is available for the plugin, be sure to have a look at it. Knowing how many bugs users of the add-on had to deal with in the past and what the vendor did about them is an important indication of the plugin’s quality and the vendor’s professionalism.

Vendor

Now it’s time to take a closer look at the plugin’s vendor. Screen the company with these questions in mind:

  • Who created the plugin?
  • Did the vendor develop other add-ons?
  • If so, how many installations/positive reviews do they have?
  • Is the vendor active in the Atlassian ecosystem? Does the vendor appear at Atlassian events and conferences? Smart companies send out people who developed the plugin to such events to talk and interact with potential customers.
  • Are they an Atlassian Partner? Atlassian Partners are usually vendors who first created a solution for one of their clients and then decided to publish it on the Marketplace, so you can be sure that the plugin’s quality is high.
  • Do they have the Atlassian Verified badge?

You’ll stumble upon vendors who are small, don’t have many add-ons, and these add-on don’t have many active installations. Should you trust them and try their plugin? Only if you accept the risk, which in this case is quite high.

What’s their sales like?

It’s smart to pay attention to the salesperson trying to sell you a product license. If somebody reaches out to you with that type of offer and you decide to get in touch with them, check how well they know their product.

If you’re talking to someone who can’t give you product specifications or doesn’t seem to fully understand your questions, it’s a bad sign.

Plugins are particular products that must be delivered and sold by experts who specialize in the field, not general salespeople who juggle several different products.

The best vendors invest in technical sales. Instead of setting up a sales department and hiring salespeople to do the job, these vendors use technical staff who work closely with the product to reach out directly to their prospects.

Why it’s not worth to trust overblown marketing materials

If you attend an industry event where vendors show off their products, you might receive plenty of attractive marketing materials that present the plugins in a way that promises more than the tool can deliver.

Let’s make one thing clear: plugins are not regular products.

They’re solutions to specific problems intended to be used by technical professionals. That’s why they can’t be sold or marketed like regular products.

What counts is the plugin itself and its range of functionalities that help to solve a problem efficiently – not its logo, video campaign, or social media presence.

If a plugin doesn’t solve the problem as promised, it simply won’t survive on the market.

What’s their support like?

You can tell a lot about a vendor’s professionalism by their support team. How quickly do they reply to queries sent in by users? Do they provide users with comprehensive information? Is the support ‘human’ in nature or do you feel as if you were talking to a bot?

Good vendors are interested in building a relationship with the users of their plugins. Their support team will reflect this interest in asking you about your experience with the product.

They will also be interested to learn whether any features are missing from their plugin. How soon they start working on a suggested features and add it to the plugin is also a sign of the vendor’s professionalism.

Plugin documentation

Vendors who are serious about building a great relationship with their customers invest time and effort into creating product documentation that helps plugin users in making the most of their acquisition.

Have a look at the plugin documentation and ask these questions:

  • Is it clear and easy to navigate?
  • Does it cover all plugin functionalities?
  • How recently has it been updated?
  • Is it helpful in solving common onboarding problems and doubts?

Plugin configuration

You should pay attention to plugin onboarding as well. How much time will it take to configure the plugin so that your team can start using it? A good add-on doesn’t require its users to spend hours on configuring it before use.

The onboarding process should be well-designed to allow users start their work with the add-on as quickly as possible.

Reliable vendors hire product owners who are responsible for designing the user journey with the product. Giving users a plugin and asking them to deal with all its features on their own isn’t professional.

How to pick the right plugin for the problem

If you’re looking for an add-on to give your team a specific range of functionalities, there’s something you should know.

You’ll never find a plugin that solves 100% of the problem. To get such a product, you’d need to hire a team of experts like an Atlassian Partner to develop a custom Jira solution for your company.

But the Atlassian Marketplace is full of fantastic add-ons that might do the trick – especially if you take the time to configure them to serve your needs.

Would you like to know more about Jira plugins and how to choose the right solution for your organization? Reach out to me on LinkedIn or drop me a line at krzysztof.skoropada@deviniti.com, I’ll be happy to help you out and boost your team’s performance.

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