Digitising a Complex Paper Based Process Using Jira and Confluence

Challenge: A large, international financial organisation approached Automation Consultants (AC) to seek assistance in digitising an existing internal process. These types of processes often have multiple parties working in countries around the world and require strict documentation, an auditable trail,

Challenge:

A large, international financial organisation approached Automation Consultants (AC) to seek assistance in digitising an existing internal process. These types of processes often have multiple parties working in countries around the world and require strict documentation, an auditable trail, and approvals from people and committees at various levels.

Their existing process was largely paper based, with various word and excel documents communicated between teams primarily via email. This led to various difficulties with version control and hindered visibility, which in turn reduced the quality of the outputs. In addition, the high level of bureaucracy required to overcome these obstacles resulted in very long timescales and frequently missed deadlines for submissions.

Solution:

A solution was designed with our customer using Jira and Confluence to unify and consolidate their existing process. The end to end process was mapped to a complex workflow in Jira, using automation (via Scriptrunner and Jira Misc Workflow Extensions) to produce additional issues including sub-tasks to track additional, related tasks. 

Confluence was used to store key artifacts and documentation related to the process, as well as to allow for consolidated conversations to be held in a context which could be easily exported. The creation of many Confluence pages, including pro-formas for key documents, was automated from the Jira workflow, with custom scripted post-functions combining the contents of template pages on Confluence with key information stored within the Jira issues. Other post-functions would update existing Confluence pages, adding information extracted from Jira.

A key criterion for this process was that it was to be used by a very large, multi-national workforce, the majority of whom had little to no experience with Atlassian software, or indeed any substantial IT experience beyond Microsoft Office. This led to key design decisions within the process, such as careful use of conditions and validators to ensure that actions were only performed at the right time, and by the right people.

A series of pilots were run with specific markets in order to assess the usability of the new tooling and process and ensure that the design was suitable for usage, as well as to assess the level of education that would be required.

It was established that due to the nature of the tooling as rather different to what the majority of users were used to, that a substantial degree of education might be required in order to extract maximum utility from the system. A large quantity of custom training materials was thus produced, in varying levels of detail and presentation styles, in order to most effectively allow for self-service education by the users in an ongoing sense. Multiple, detailed training sessions were also delivered to users in over twenty countries covering various different elements of the process.

Benefits:

The new process has received very positive initial feedback from the teams using it. Once they overcame the initial hurdles of unfamiliar tooling, they have reported that the system is intuitive and easy to use, and that having a consolidated view of what items are currently in the process and where they are up to is highly beneficial.

The increased visibility of key conversations relating to items currently in the workflow has allowed for a greater quality of discussion and enabled it to move earlier in their typical timescales, reducing later re-work and increasing efficiency. 

The inherent auditable trails produced by both Jira and Confluence has helped reduce the bureaucracy associated with the process and eliminated the need for manual version control, allowing team members to spend more time doing their best work, and less worrying about the process.

In addition, it has been found that in a number of teams, once they are introduced to the tooling, they begin to use it in other areas of work, with Confluence in particular already being applied in additional exercises to gather and consolidate information from teams around the world.

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