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Managing large Jira instances: Best practices for Enterprises

March 28, 2019

No matter which of Atlassian products you are using – whether that’s BambooConfluence or Bitbucket – managing large scale instances can be challenging without the right tools, structures and methodologies in place. But Jira, Atlassian’s project management tool for development teams, is arguably the most difficult.

This is because Jira instances can suffer from a huge build-up of different configurations, including custom fields, workflows and user accounts. This build-up slows down performance and hinders progress on key projects and deliverables.

If you have over 2,000 Jira users and upwards on a single instance of Jira within your enterprise, you are more likely to encounter such challenges. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best practices for managing large Jira instances.

Performance vs. Freedom

One of the main challenges with managing large scale Jira instances is striking a balance between high performance and good reporting, while ensuring that teams have enough freedom to customise how they work with Jira (e.g through use of different configurations and apps).

In order to manage this, it’s best to utilise different settings for two main types of users: admins and non admins.

Non-admins should have all global permissions except admin and system admin permissions, and arguably bulk change permissions.

At the moment, non-admins can’t change project permissions, which is inconvenient – it would be useful for project managers to be able to change more permissions within their projects. This issue can be mitigated as follows:

  • Manage project creation (which requires admin permission) through a helpdesk. This enables users to create different types of default project controlled by you, rather than the default Jira projects.
  • Update the default permission scheme. All projects start with the scheme you choose.

For simplicity’s sake, boards, dashboards and shared filters should be shared globally, except where restriction is essential.

Case study: Finding a solution to reporting issues

A large organisation with 12+ cross functional teams and platform teams was struggling with reporting in Jira.

It had no structure to align funding and requirements with work delivered, no structure to report milestones and achievements to the business, and there was no accountability for teams to deliver on start of year pledges.

In addition, there were conflicting reporting requirements, assenior managers made varying and conflicting requests for custom reports and metrics, requiring large manual administrative overhead to fulfil them.

In order to tackle this, the company did the following:

  • Established the following portfolio structure in Jira as standard: Initiatives, Epics, Releases.
  • Standardised the reporting of risks and issues across all teams, using custom workflow transitions.
  • Used Portfolio for Jira to plan and track Initiative delivery, which lets teams map dependencies and gives dashboard to management.
  • Held regular workshops on best practice, trained power users, and created documentation on the standard ways of working.

These measures served to clarify what would be standardised and what would be configurable by users. Over time, as users became used to them, the company saw a cultural change, with a reduced demand for custom reports.  Various reporting metrics (e.g. RAG status and expected delivery dates) are captured at Initiative and Release level and reported in a central Confluence space.

In addition, the standardisation of Initiatives and Releases provided a workable interface across teams and management, while still giving teams freedom to customise at the project level.

It also helped to make a clear link between the funding provided and the value delivered, which allowed teams to communicate issues to stakeholders promptly, providing earlier warning of problems and coming up with solutions in good time.

Apps and Methodologies

There are also some tools and methodologies designed to help you manage a large scale Jira instance, including:

  • Portfolio for Jira helps with project management and collaboration. It gives an overview of team capacity, creates plans and timelines for projects and makes it easy to share insights with your team.
  • BigPicture helps manage multiple projects at once with cross-Program dependencies and Gantt charts.
  • Structure for Jira helps with collaboration on projects by visualising work across teams and projects with aggregated views of progress and timelines.
  • Optimizer for Jira, developed by Automation Consultants, helps to find, analyse and remove elements that you’re not using in order to clean up your system.

Further reading: Top 5 Apps for Jira Data Center

Moving to Data Center to avoid downtime

What about Jira for enterprises?

If you have 2,000 Jira users or more and are still running the Server edition of Jira, you might want to consider migrating to Data Center.

Jira Data Center allows multiple (clustered) application servers. The benefits include zero downtime upgrades, which reduces the need for planned outages for upgrades, high availability and performance at scale. Licensing for Jira Software Data Center is more expensive but should be assessed relative to the cost of a potential outage.

Download our free Guide to Atlassian Data Center Apps

Work with an Enterprise Platinum Solution Partner

Automation Consultants is an Atlassian Enterprise Platinum Solution Partner. We can help you manage your large scale Jira instances with expert consultancy and dedicated support tailored to your specific requirements.

Our consultants can advise you on how to deploy and mage your Jira instances, fix problems before they occur, and ensure your systems are kept running when you need them most.

To further discuss Jira Software Data Center or any of your other Atlassian Data Center needs, contact us today.

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