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  • How templates can be Agile

    by Krzysztof Skoropada Jan 09, 2018 0 Jira apps recomended

    Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

    You can find it practically in every kind of work there is. To produce anything of consistent quality and customer value, an optimal working model must be applied repetitively with precision.

    But humans are not built to keep up with such requirements! They tend to make mistakes and variate the work slightly, which is good for creativity, but can sometimes lead to insufficient results. If we trace back as far as to Medieval artisans, we’ll discover they already knew it well, because they eventually started to come up with tools that helped them manage repetitive tasks and thus maintain the best possible quality of their crafts. As technology was developing, creation of more complex templates became available. This enabled manufacturing and then industrial production of goods to emerge, being fully based on applying pre-produced forms to the source material.

    This means that if it were not for templating, we may had never seen a Ford Model T, let alone Tesla…

    You’re right! But not only are templates a production tool – they are basically a way in which our mind structures thoughts and emotions, often making us biased towards a particular behaviour or worldview. Templated beliefs are often referred to as stereotypes – a word that originally used to mean printing plates which duplicated typography. The word is often heard in a negative context these days – mainly due to their impact on cross-cultural communication. But in a broader meaning, the stereotypes are produced by the brain as ready-made ideas to save us a lot of time and energy. This is why we never overthink common issues, get used to them and react quicker. This is really a natural thing to all the people, if we think about it this way.

    People sometimes perceive templates as rigid, hard to edit or blocking creativity. In fact, the situation is exactly vice versa: there’s more spare time for creative work, when the repetitive one has been already done! Moreover, since everything is editable in the digital realm, software templates become the most useful, especially when you work in an Agile environment like Jira. As you may know, Agile project management implies high iterativity and frequent change – be it about sprint planning, handling Service Desk requests, building a website or executing an email campaign. With the ability to template tasks, you and your team create commonly used objects or documents just once. These objects serve you all the time and can be easily manipulated to suit your needs at any given moment.

    This must be an outstanding feature, isn’t it?

    Yes, it is! Unfortunately, the functionality of Jira that comes inside the box does not include issue templating. Having known that, we designed an app that helps your team maintain high-level performance. We’re continually working to add up more value to it, so recently we have released version 7.0 of Issue Templates for Jira Server – one of the bestseller apps at the Atlassian Marketplace. In the new version, we revamped the template configuration section with introducing a dedicated panel at the issue view. Thanks to this panel, the users have the entire configuration of a given template available in a single place. Moreover, even to create a new scope (a set of fields to be copied from the template), no longer have the users to waste time looking through the template repository project settings. Instead, the scopes can be set up or edited directly at the issue level.

    That sounds great! But how does it actually work?

    At the template repository, every issue now includes the following tabs in its view:

    • General,
    • Scopes,
    • Availability,
    • Jira Service Desk (if you’re working with Jira Service Desk).

    You might be already familiar with the features that these tabs provide – previously they were located at the Create Issue screen of the project. Basically, there you specify the properties of the template, the scope which you’d like to use with it, and its availability to users. If you’ve never tried this app, read this to dig into the details.

    With Jira Software installed, Stories inside an Epic will also feature the Agile tab. To use this feature, simply add an Epic with a Story inside it to the template repository project. At this tab, you can find two options:

    • Only for Epic – with this ticked, Stories located inside Epics are not treated like separate templates and thus will not be displayed on the template list when creating an issue;
    • Copy sub-tasks – with this ticked, the sub-tasks which you add to the template will be copied to the target issue altogether.

    If it comes to sub-tasks, the template panel is slightly different. There are only two tabs: Scopes and Create conditions. At the latter, you specify the stage on which the sub-tasks will be copied to the issue created from the template, and also may provide an additional JQL condition, upon which it should happen. For instance, if you make product presentations on a regular basis, such as webinars or event talks, you would probably use sub-tasks to make the workflow clear and transparent. This kind of work is often done one task by one: first you gather all the required information and write a text, then create some multimedia slides to support it and prepare a promotional campaign for the whole. You may want to add these sub-tasks to the parent issue one by one as well, and automate this process. To do it, create all the tasks inside your template and type in the appropriate conditions for each one.

    Remember that only sub-tasks with a defined scope will be copied to your new issue, and the Copy sub-tasks post function has to be added to the proper workflow transition in you target project settings. This way you set up a template that automatically adds required sub-tasks to the issue.

    But that’s not all – to streamline your workflow at most and handle multilevel task structures painlessly, you can copy a whole Epic with all the tasks inside it from a single template! Let’s say you also organise events where you talk about your products, provide troubleshooting tips, discuss the latest news from your industry and what not. In this case, your product presentation will be just a part of a more complex task, or (speaking in terms of Jira) a Story inside an Epic. The Epic for the whole event may also include “Organisation” and “Promotion” Stories, which may contain tasks like “Book a venue”, “Make a guest list” or “Prepare social media content”. If you’ve got a dedicated team for this kind of work or need a more detailed workflow, these tasks may be divided into sub-tasks as well.

    Seems like a big load of issues to create, doesn’t it?

    Indeed! But with our app you can prepare the whole structure in advance and store it inside your template repository. That will surely help your team be organised well and save their working time, as they don’t have to create all the tasks by hand anymore.

    The feature works properly under following conditions:

    • issue linking is enabled in Jira;
    • all the issue types under the Epic template are available in the target project;
    • the issues under the Epic template have the scope set for Copy;
    • the issues under the Epic template are templates as well (they need to be created within the template repository project).

    The rest of the setup for copying Epics is similar to the one for copying Sub-tasks – the only difference is that you should add the Copy Epic post function to the Create Issue transition in you target project settings.

    As we can see, templates significantly reduce the amount of unforced errors that could be committed by your team and thus increase consistency of their work. They save plenty of time for your employees and therefore save money for the company. That’s why you should consider giving Issue Templates 7 a go at your organization.

    The detailed instructions on making the app work are provided in the user documentation. In case of any concern, feel free to drop a line to the InTENSO Support Team (contact@intenso.support) – we will help you as soon as possible by providing comprehensive answers or scheduling a screen sharing session, if you need it.

    We’re also hosted a webinar on the new version of the app – you can see it on YouTube.

Krzysztof Skoropada Head of Atlassian Apps

As a Head of Atlassian apps, together with a team of 130 experts, I help companies select the correct app for Atlassian according to their individual needs. I am proud of the fact that more than 2 million people from companies such as listed below are trusted clients: CISCO, Ferrari, Samsung, KBC Bank, Deloitte, Allianz, Blizzard Entertainment, Lufthansa, Walmart, Spotify, Sony, MetLife and many more.

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