The Jira Mobile Plugin – A Review

As of Jira version 8.3 released this year, Jira can integrate with a mobile app developed by Atlassian. The plugin comes standard in 8.3, but you can view it here: Mobile Plugin for Jira.

In some areas, it shows promise, but we are also finding others where improvement is needed. This article is a brief overview of the free Mobile app for Jira Server and Data Center.

Logging In

To connect your Jira instance, you will need to first download from the Android or iPhone app store. For this blog, I’ll be using my iOS device and connecting it to one of our sandbox instances (running 8.4.2). To connect, add your URL and add your credentials.

Figure 1: Logging In

Accessing Jira Software Projects

Projects and boards were easily accessible when first logging in, allowing you to navigate to your SCRUM or Kanban board quickly. As shown in the figure below, the board was available with drag+drop touch capabilities.

Figure 2: SCRUM Board Example

Opening an issue was simple as well; by tapping on the issue, you were able to open the issue details. All fields, including custom and system fields, were visible in the app.

Figure 3: Opening an Issue

Issue Searching

No JQL necessary – search is based on pre-selected filters and free-text search as shown below.

Figure 4: Free Text Search

Transitioning and Editing Issues

Transitioning and Editing Issues is accomplished by opening and editing the issue’s fields on-the-fly. Note any permissions you have access to on the server will be active in the mobile app as well. To transition an issue, you can click on the transition, and the options in the workflow will be available to you.

Figure 5: Transitioning Issues

Known Limitations

There are some known limitations/workarounds for the mobile app.

  • Currently, it does not support Service Desk (see the figure below)
  • No support for connecting through a VPN (unless you have this set up on your phone)
  • It may have issues connecting to an instance utilizing an SSL certificate (if the certificate is self-signed).

These configurations/workarounds are forthcoming, and beta versions of the app showed promise around the Service Desk and Software implementations. Also – looking for Dashboards? You won’t find any here, unfortunately.

Figure 6: Jira Service Desk Project View

Our Recommendation? Try it!

Check it out and see if it’s the right fit for your team. If you have a more advanced implementation, we recommend reviewing some of the other mobile apps on the Atlassian Marketplace. Have questions? Feel free to drop us a line! Get In Touch

Testing Jira Configurations (and other Atlassian Tools)

Testing Jira Configurations (and other Atlassian Tools)

Testing is often the task in your project that is often left behind, or becomes the recipient of a shortened timeline based on scope creep, time crunch, or whatever the reason. With more organizations relying on the Atlassian Tool Suite (specifically Jira and Confluence) as their core enterprise tool suite, the importance of testing new configurations, add-ons, and custom scripts developed in a widely-used tool suite is more important than ever before. Answering the questions “What broke?” and “What works?” is essential to understanding the impact and risk your new functionality or requirement implementation poses. This blog is not a catch-all, end-all, be-all for your testing woes, but we want you to start thinking through some strategies and best practices when it comes to testing and maintaining your Atlassian Tool Suite. 

How much testing? 

This is generally defined in your governance model, but we recommend setting up a defined and succinct list of functionality you are looking to testing any time major functionality is developed. For instance, if you have a custom script running for only one project, test the core functionality and workflows already configured for that project, along with testing core features inherent with major projects in your instance. 

When should you test?

Test early, test often. Following the implementation of any major configuration, add-on / app, or custom script in your development environment, have a list of core functionality you are testing, major projects you will review, and also a running list of any bugs. To state the obvious – make sure you resolve the bugs before pushing the script into production.  

Some Of Our Recommendations

These recommendations may seem straightforward, conspicuous, and previously alluded to in the paragraphs above, but they’re still very relevant:

  • Have a plan: understand and dedicate the role of tester to a team member (hint: not the developer), when testing will be performed, frequency, and scope of testing. Understand what functional tests you want to perform, and load testing strategies. 
  • Development Environment: Don’t have one? Get one. If you’re on Server or Data Center Atlassian generally allows you to use the same licenses across your development and production environments. Have Cloud? Contact a Partner (like us) and we’ll help you.
  • Test early, test often: Going back to having a plan. Test early, test often, and automate. Review your scripts on a monthly or quarterly basis to ensure scripts detailing core functionality remain relevant.  
  • Use Configuration Manager: easily migrate project configurations between your development and production environment using the Configuration Manager for Jira add-on (for server and data center). 
  • Automation: Automate your load testing and functional testing scripts. Use tools such as Selenium, Gatling, and others to automate your testing scripts and pull out testing reports. 

Interested in improving performance on your Jira or Confluence instance? Talk to us today! https://www.ascendintegrated.com/contact/

Becoming an Atlassian Community Leader

Becoming an Atlassian Community Leader

Whether you are just starting in the Atlassian ecosystem, or you are a veteran looking to grow within the community, this article is for you. 

I’ll begin where I started, delve into what I did to get to my position today, and finally, I’ll leave some tips for those in a similar position as I was. 

Where I started 

In 2017, I landed my first official job as an IT Support Specialist at a small company. I joined a team that had little structure to their requests, accepting them by either email or paper. These requests included on-boarding and off-boarding employees, general IT support, and system bugs. This system was unmanageable as requests were getting lost, forgotten, and were unable to be tracked. 

Before joining the IT team, I was on the website testing team. They used an external company to help develop the website, which used Jira to track issues and bugs. With my limited experience with the system for testing, I decided this was a solution to their problems. 

What I did

I watched quite possibly every tutorial video out there. Using Jira Service Desk, I made a demo of what I thought their service desk should look like and presented it to my team and the executives. What I didn’t know was that presentation would change my life. I got approval and dove straight into building the final product.

What started with one portal for IT requests only, quickly expanded into five other departments over a year. With the growth of the service desk, my role went from being just an IT Support Specialist to being a full-time Jira Administrator. 

Naturally, through the progression of this, I started my path through the community. At first, I was just asking questions, but I noticed there were questions that I could help answer. I immediately found a passion for the community and helping people. I found myself spending more and more time there trying to provide any answer I could. I was also fortunate enough to be sent to the 2019 Atlassian Summit, a definite must-attend event for anyone looking to grow their career with Atlassian. I was able to dive even deeper into the world by meeting people from Atlassian’s team, other Admins from around the world and my current company, Ascend Integrated. Shortly after the Summit, I joined the Ascend team as a consultant. 

In my first month with Ascend, I’ve obtained two Atlassian certifications. With this company, I have been able to focus on exactly where I need to grow. After a lot of hard work and dedication, I was invited to the Community Leader program in August. A significant accomplishment and something I am incredibly proud to be apart of.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you along your way:

Don’t get discouraged

  • The very first time I took my certificate exam, I failed. It completely crushed my soul, and I started thinking I didn’t belong in this field. I was wrong. Don’t let failures get you down. Failure is a vital part of your success, and without it, you will never learn.     

Ask for help

  • There is a wonderful community of people out there that are willing to help you at a moment’s notice. All you have to do is ask!

Play around (test test test)

  • If you want to know how something works, do it! Play around in the instance. Touch every button. If you don’t have a test instance, get one! Server instances are free if you host them yourself and you can do all the testing and playing around you want. Testing is the best way to learn the many aspects that the Atlassian toolset offers.

Experience is key

  • If you want to get an Atlassian certification you’ll need experience, but you won’t necessarily need the recommended years of experience to pass. I don’t meet all of them myself, but you will need to know how each and every tiny function works. Otherwise, the already difficult exams will be a thousand times harder.

Learn the Marketplace

  • For those that don’t know, the Marketplace is where all add-ons for the Atlassian toolset call home. Learning what is available is important because it opens up options. Even with all the flexibility the tools give you, it’s not always enough, and add-ons are the only way to go. Knowing what options are available will not only let you know alternative paths you can take, but it will help you know where or who you’ll need to reach out to to get your problem solved.

Go to events

  • Most major cities have an Atlassian User Group (AUG), and these groups host free events. I recommend going to yours. You get great information from them, and you get to meet new people! 
  • Try to attend the Summits or other smaller events Atlassian puts on throughout the year. These will be extremely beneficial to your growth.

Atlassian Summit ’19 Recap

Atlassian Summit ’19 Recap

We were pleased to attend the Atlassian Summit this year, what a great turn out! Summit is a great way for Atlassian specialists, partners, and users to discuss the use of the Atlassian Tool Suite, along with reviewing up and coming functionality and capabilities of the tool suite. Here were some major announcements we saw and participated from Summit: 

Renewed Focus on Server

Atlassian emphasized its focus on server, with the recent release of Jira 8, and its upcoming release of Confluence 7. New releases include added functionality, improved searching & reporting capabilities, and performance enhancements. The server includes enhancements already built into the Cloud. 

Expansion of the Cloud

The Cloud is becoming the key product utilized by Fortune 500 firms. Recognizing this, Atlassian has increased the functionality capabilities of the Cloud. Atlassian announced an expansion of the Cloud capabilities to include ADFS integration, new integration capabilities, and an increased user count from 5,000 to 10,000. 

Industry days – what specialists are seeing

Ascend Integrated participated in a number of the industry days, including the Education / University and Government Industry session. We found many of the attendees were interested in understanding how to migrate from their server / data center instances to the cloud, and what it would entail. 

 OpsGenie > A Great Way to DevOps

New integration with Jira Cloud and Server were announced with OpsGenie. One of our specialists, Shaun Jones attended and participated in an OpsGenie session, and explained several use cases for OpsGenie, including text integration capabilities. A special Thank you to all those who visited our booth. We’re looking forward to the Government Symposium, and Summit 20! Have a great Summit experience? Contact Us!

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Safeguarding PHI / PII in Jira & Confluence

Safeguarding PHI / PII in Jira & Confluence

We know it is something you shouldn’t be doing, storing personally identifiable information (PII) or protected health information (PHI) in your Jira issues. But, mistakes happen, or maybe you are required by your organization to securely store / access this information. Throughout Ascend Integrated’s time as an Atlassian Solutions Provider, we’ve worked across Healthcare and Financial organizations looking to protect their highly sensitive information, including PII and in the case of Healthcare, PHI.

Here we explore several key factors to maintaining HIPAA Compliance with your instance, along with ensuring data is stored correctly. 

How to keep PHI / PII secured? 

HIPAA compliance is made up a group of safeguards, including Administrative, Physical, and Technical safeguards, defining processes and procedures for guarding and securing your PHI / PII. Atlassian has already come out and stated the Cloud is not meant for PHI / PII compliance. A server, or data center instance is absolutely required for maintaining this type of information (or if your Jira / Confluence system touches this data in any way). 

What techniques can you use with the Atlassian Tool Suite?

Use a SSL Certificate

While its basic, installing and configuring a SSL certificate with your Jira / Confluence suite is an absolute necessity when implementing HIPAA compliance. Ensuring all data is encrypted and accessed only through a secure connection is step 0!

Control Access Tightly Using Permission Schemes and SSO

There are several options here, including restricting who can access projects / spaces using advanced permission scheme configurations, or implementing a SSO / Active Directory authentication and authorization step will ensure only those users within your organization will have access to your data. Ensure groups are properly set up and controlled across both applications.

Make use of Issue Security

Out of the box, Jira allows you to restrict the viewing of issues to specific individuals / team members or groups. Similarly in Confluence, ensure only specific users have access to any pages containing links to, or actual PII / PHI. 

Explore Add-ons / Apps: PII Protector for Jira

A plug for the hard working folks at Enhancera, the PII protector will help you maintain PII securely, hiding data from users who are not required to view / manage the data. Auditability and traceability is built right into the tool as well. You can find additional information on this app here: PII Protector for Jira.

Enable Database Encryption

While not supported by Atlassian, Database encryption provides an extra layer of security. All Jira / Confluence applications sit atop a RDBMS (i.e. MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, Oracle). Enable encryption, and ensure backup / copies are maintained in a secure location. 

Conduct Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits (monthly / quarterly, etc.) will help you determine where your flaws may be, and what you can do to alleviate / reduce the risk of exposure. Ensure your security team understands and documents the use of Jira and Confluence in your system. 

What Next?

Interested in learning more, or have Ascend Integrated review your instance? Contact Us Today! 

3 Ways to use Color Queues in Jira

3 Ways to use Color Queues in Jira

By now you have heard of our latest free app to reach the Atlassian Marketplace, “Color Queues for Jira Service Desk”: Color Queues for Jira Service Desk. If not, Color Queues is a free app developed by Ascend Integrated enabling users to highlight and focus on queues in their Service Desk project. Using Color Queues enables your agents / teams to organize their queues using color coding, ensuring a faster response and resolution time for your customer’s requests.

In this blog, we’re going to cover three major use cases for Color Queues and leveraging existing Jira Service Desk functionality so you can get the most out of our app. Note, you will need to be a Project Administrator to enable and configure Color Queues.

Identify Your Tasks

Do you have a specific queue you work within? Quickly and easily identify your queue from the list, especially if your team is working with A LOT of queues. Working with your Project Administrator, create a queue with issues assigned only to you (i.e. assignee = currentUser() and resolution is empty) and assign a color. Now, you (and all your fellow Service Desk Agents) will be able to focus on which queue identifies your current, open tasks / requests.

Figure 1: Creating the “My Open Requests” Queue

Figure 2: Viewing the “My Open Requests” Queue with “Color Queues” enabled

View Critical / High Priority Requests

When your customers enter high-priority requests or issues, you want to identify these right away in your large list of queues. To configure, create a new queue and set “Issues to Show” to only high priority issues where there is no set resolution (i.e. priority = “Critical” and resolution is EMPTY). Identify a color, click “Create”, and your queue will appear!

Figure 3: Creating the High Priority Requests Queue

Figure 4: Viewing the High Priority Request Queue in the Queue List

View Expiring SLAs For Powerful Reporting

Does your organization monitor SLAs closely? Use Color Queues in Coordination with your SLAs! Create a queue showing all open requests / issues that are expiring in 1 hour or less (i.e. use a JQL query like “Time to resolution” < remaining (“1h”).

After you create this queue, assign a color to it, and easily identify all requests whose SLA’s are expiring:

Figure 5: Creating a SLA Expiration Queue using Color Queues

And now your service desk team can easily identify those requests expiring in 1 hour or less!

Figure 6: Viewing the Expiring SLAs Queue

How are you using Color Queues? Let us know in the comments section or drop us a note: Contact Us!