The Jira Dream Team.

So, I know I had said I’d have a book review this week. Unfortunately, it’s not ready. It’s like I’ve spoken to software teams forever now: A Bad product released on time is far more memorable than a Good product delayed. I want to make sure the review is worthy of the effort P.J. put into writing it. So, a delay is in order.

The second reason for the change is something I noticed late last week. This past Monday was the anniversary of the first post that went big. I had a few posts previously on here, but they weren’t consistent. Honestly, I was re-posting stuff I’ve done for work. But my post on using Jira for a job search – that had some legs and inspired me to start posting regularly. Seeing as that post was about me trying to get hired, I’ll take the opposite approach. I’ll look at who I would hire if I could build my perfect Atlassian team within a business. So, lets get started on this.

What Everyone Needs

We’ll start with the roles that every Atlassian team will need, whether they are supporting a software team, IT Team, or just general business teams. I fully realize that you’ll need additional people depending on your situation, but this is a good starting point. So let’s hop into it!

Team Lead/Product Manager

Every good team starts with a guy who can chart the path. I see this role as someone who will look ahead of where the team is going and remove roadblocks before the team arrives.  

Of course, to see these roadblocks, this person needs to be more than a little familiar with the tools and setup, which means it would help if this person were a former Systems or Jira guy themselves. Additionally, this role will need to interface with many people, so you don’t want someone here who isn’t good at managing these interactions.   

Ultimately, this person’s job is to look at everything that needs to be done and set the priorities. To do so successfully, they’ll need to balance a lot of different interests. They’ll need to take input from the team, stakeholders, vendors, and their research and experience, and make some tough decisions. These decisions won’t always make people happy, so they’ll also need some good conflict resolution skills. However, if you can get a superstar in this role, things will always seem to work out well for the team.

The Systems Guy

If I’m honest with myself, this is me. This role will ultimately be responsible for the backend health of Jira and Confluence. So, let’s talk about them.

This role should be familiar with running Java applications on the Server OS of your choice. Honestly, I learned to do this by running a Minecraft Server. Just saying, this isn’t the most challenging box to tick.

They should also be aware of how different front end changes can impact performance. This role will likely be your technical lead, so they’ll be expected to advise and review changes some of the other roles are making. 

Something you also want to look at is who will cover for who during PTO. In this case, the System Guy should be able to cover for the Team Lead or either of the Jira/Confluence guys should they need to take off. Ideally, I see the career progression here being Jira Guy -> Systems Guy -> Team Lead. This means that this role should be starting to develop those essential leadership skills. They aren’t ready to fly the plane solo, but they are definitely on their way there and can take over for short hops. 

The Jira & Confluence Guys

 This role manages Jira’s front end. While that is a simple statement, this will require a fair bit of specialized knowledge. This person will create and manage fields, work on workflows, and do all of the necessary things to configure Jira for the users. In fact, there should be enough work here to justify two of these people in any large organization.

In my mind, these people should be developing the necessary skills to start working on the system side. Ideally, they should be able to help out should the System Guy have to be out, but I wouldn’t expect them to be doing installs and upgrades solo just yet.  

This role will also be interfacing with end-users quite a bit – whether it’s capturing requirements for a proposed change or solving a user’s problems. So you’ll want someone good at asking “the right questions” to understand what’s going on. I’ve seen it time after time – what the user says they want and what they need is nowhere near the same. As the “expert,” it’s up to this role to guide users to what they need.

Customizing for your Org

So above are the people I’d say you need at the minimum. However, depending on what your organization is going, you might need some additional expertise. That’s where this section comes in. You might not need these people – but if you do, here they are.

The Developer

If I’m honest, I almost put this as an essential role. I’ve had one on the team before, and it’s incredible. Jira’s great about extensibility, but you won’t always find what you need in the Marketplace. That’s where having someone on staff who can write plugins to be a fantastic asset. 

This person should be familiar with the Atlassian SDK, as well as Java in general. Remember, though – once you go down this path, you will need to update these plugins with every upgrade. Custom plugins can also be a nightmare to deal with if you plan to migrate to the Atlassian Cloud in the future. For these reasons, I don’t ever recommend you go crazy with the custom plugins, and always look for Marketplace solutions first. 

This person can also take point on any Groovy scripts you use with Scriptrunner. This method is another excellent option to extend your Jira instance’s functionality without writing your plugins. It will still need updates now and again with upgrades, but it won’t be as bad as having a custom plugin to support. 

The Build Guy

So, you’d likely only find this in Software or DevOps organizations. However, if you are using Bitbucket and Bamboo, you’ll need one or two people to manage your build processes and systems. These should be people who are familiar with Build and Deployment pipelines and how to compile and deploy with your toolset. 

Honestly, this is one of my weaker points as an Atlassian Expert. I understand the basic concepts, but to scale it up to Enterprise level makes my head spin. However, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some real superstars in this area who can even team a pleb like me something useful. 

This role won’t be needed for every deployment. For example, if you are only supporting IT and General business teams, there won’t be a need. However, I did want to mention it as if you need to support this kind of function; having a dedicated person is invaluable.

HelpDesk

So – this won’t be a part of your team. But if your organization has a dedicated helpdesk team, it would behoove you to empower them to help end-users with simple problems. That is, give them the access and documentation to update permissions and other problems users are likely to contact them for. That way, they can handle the day to day and let you focus on the larger, more complex tasks.  

The Helpdesk is also an excellent place to look for up-and-coming talent. Someone who takes som initiative and learns the Atlassian platform more might be a candidate should you need another Jira guy. It also lets them acquire the skills they need to better work with users to get the information they need to solve problems. 

And there you have it. The Jira Guy’s Dream team!

Honestly, in most organizations, I’ve performed multiple of these roles. But with the team I described, you should be able to handle almost anything that comes at you. But what do you think? Is there a role you consider essential that I missed?  

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