Book Review: 7 (non-user’s) stories on (not only) Jira governance

Governance. If you are like me, this brings to mind long, boring meetings where you, as the admin, try to seek approval for some change, only to have the discussion quickly off the rails to something not even related to Jira. No, just me?  

I have long stood on the fact that I don’t know everything Jira. As much as I’m teaching others through this blog, I am still learning myself. And knowing my efforts at Jira governance have been less than successful, I was excited to see a new book on the way. I was even more excited to be offered a copy of “7 (non-user’s) stories on (not only) Jira governance” by P.J. Wysota to review! So, let’s take a look together with the first Book review of the blog!

As a note here, I did receive this book free of charge. Honestly, I was planning on reviewing the book even if I had to pay for it, so I don’t think I’ve let the fact it was given to me sway my opinion too much. But if that matters to you, now you know.

Summary

This book takes a rather holistic approach to the idea of Governance. Which is to say, it starts you out with some of the basics. As such, the first chapter’s theme was “Governance’s ‘Zen’ – keep balance.” Here, P.J. goes into detail about the balancing act that is being a Jira Admin, or “Solution Architect” as he prefers. And he nails it. The art of being a good Jira Admin is balancing competing interests. Your users want a fast, responsive system, but they also want every custom field and workflow under the sun.  

Another Story in the book that we had a lively discussion about on Twitter (especially after last week’s post) was about Getting the right people. While we don’t agree on terminology, I should point out that we at least agree on principle here. He prefers the idea of a “Solution Architect” – someone technically savvy enough to understand and manage the system, while being aware of how people are using Jira and what the teams need Jira to be. This person should be the core of a larger group of Jira Admins and a Sysadmin. While I’m not opposed to this idea – such people are at a premium in the workforce, so I’d instead work on building that competency yourself rather than finding someone to fill that role immediately. 

One of the stories I loved in this book centered around the concept of Strategic choices. I love this chapter because part of it argues, “Why and when not to use the Atlassian Stack.” It reminds me of something I heard a comedian say one time that stuck with me. This comedian said his father would often say, “If you can’t think of a counterpoint to your opinion… you’re not entitled to that opinion.” Or as P.J. put it:

And if you are to successfully govern Atlassian applications, pardon my French, but you need to strip off whole marketing bull***t of Atlassian, know pros and cons of your applications thoroughly, and be able to map any potential showstoppers in “Atlassian transformation” plan.

P.J. Wysota, 7 (non-user’s) stories on (not only) Jira governance

We, as Jira Admins, should know where all the pitfalls are. We should be able to go, “This tool may not be the best fit for this process.” However, P.J. goes into some detail about situations he’s been in where the answer wasn’t an Atlassian solution. And he raises a valid point here. If we aren’t empowered to say “Look, Jira’s great, but it’s not a good fit here.”, Jira will quickly get a reputation as a half baked solution.  

The Last Story in the book deals with the Atlassian Marketplace. This topic brought this blog to P.J.’s attention because it’s a topic I also covered recently in my “Jira Sucks” post. We both talk about this idea that some users have that Atlassian should put more core functionality into the product and lean less on the marketplace to fill these needs. 

We both approach the topic from different directions but arrive at the same conclusion – That Atlassian puts what they feel is needed by the majority of teams in their tools, and that any further needs can be met to fill those niche requirements. While the functionality may feel significant to you, they aren’t needed in a Project and Task management tool in the grand worldwide view.

And look – I just covered four of the Stories here. There are seven stories in total, and I took something I could apply to my practice from each one. When you have an infinitely configurable tool like Jira, finding a standard set of best practices is difficult. What works for one team may not apply to others. It’s up to you to figure out your teams’ needs and match up the specific capabilities to those needs. And that is the primary take away from the book. Governance isn’t about rules or processes, though they require those things. Governance is about figuring out the right setup for your organization in an inclusive way and requires you to build it into your processes from the ground up. 

Areas of Improvement

When I review Apps, I make it a point not to shy away from the bad points. If I can think of a way they can improve, I include it. And every App can be improved. I think the same should go for books. While I still wholly recommend the book, I feel I’d be amiss to my responsibility if I exclude this section. So, here we go.

I hesitate to bring this point up, though. As any long time readers can attest, I’ve always had my own struggles with editing. However, there are a few passages in the book I found myself reading a time or two to understand fully. They were always minor spelling, tense, or grammar mistakes – and trust me, I’ve published similar mistakes too – but it did interrupt my flow while reading.  

However, that was it. The ideas in the book were sound and well explained. I can see myself referring back to this book repeatedly to refresh myself on concepts as different situations come up. And I feel that is the real test of a book like this. It’s one thing to read it and understand the concepts. It’s another altogether to go back to it to apply those concepts at the appropriate time. And I feel this book hits that mark well.  

Would I recommend this book?

Yes, absolutely! As I started this piece saying, Governance is something I’ve always struggled with. And from what I’ve seen, I’m not alone. However, P.J. does a great job of breaking it down to reasonable Stories to apply to your Jira Administration practice. So if you can, take the time to read this book. You won’t regret it. 

However, that will be it for this week. If you’ve enjoyed this book review, don’t forget to like, share, and comment on it! I always enjoy reading your feedback! You can always find me on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter, where I post the latest from the blog. If you’d like to get new posts automatically delivered to your email, don’t forget to subscribe below! But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your Jira issues today?”