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7 sierpnia 2018

Getting your voice heard in large Jira and Jira Service Desk instances

Your users are constantly overwhelmed with an awful lot of information. How to make them not ignore your messages?

E-mail communication fails. Face-to-face communication is impossible. Users ignore your company blog posts. What to do? Where to seek help? The answer lies in Jira itself.

What’s available in Jira and Jira Service Desk?

Unfortunately, not much. Both systems allow only for a static banner, added right above the menu bar. It has two visibility settings – either private or public – and cannot be closed.

It’s essentialy only good when announcing the most critical outages and changes, that should be also seen by users not logged to the system. Moreover, the more often you use it, the less interested the users become, slowly becoming immune to what you’re trying to communicate.

The better solution is to search the Atlassian Marketplace.

Choosing the best app

There are 3 paid apps on marketplace that allow us to somehow notify our users:

  • Simple Announcements for Jira (and Confluence)
  • Announcement Feeds
  • Announcer for Jira (and Confluence, and Bitbucket)

As well as 2 free ones:

  • Announcement Banner for Confluence (and Bitbucket)
  • Public Announcement Service for Jira and Confluence

Let’s start with free ones.

While Public Announcement Service looks promising, it’s incompatible with Jira 7, which makes it essentially unusable. Announcement Banner for Confluence fares far better, but only allows a very simple announcements in Confluence/Bitbucket instances. Both are available for Server or Data Center setups.

The paid ones are much more interesting.

If you’re using Cloud, your only choice is Simple Announcements – a cheap and fresh solution, though with very limited capabilities. While it seems a fair choice, it’s biggest disadvantage is that it forces the administrator to create every message from a scratch.

For Server, we’re left with two choices.

The older Announcer is currently supporting Jira, Conlfuence and Bitbucket, as well as 4 different notification types, possibility to target per project or per group, delegating announcement creation to project admins, scheduling announcements, as well as possibility to style the content with HTML.

All reactions are recorded, and it’s possible to force the users to accept a notification.

Disadvantages:

  • Every new message must be built from a scratch
  • Notification history screen quickly gets overwhelmed with messages
  • User interface is quite unattractive
  • No Jira Service Desk support
  • Separate apps for Jira, Confluence and Bitbucket…
  • …which forces the admin to create 3 separate notifications

The newer Announcement Feeds currently supports Jira and Jira Service Desk, with Confluence, Bamboo and Bitbucket support being planned for the end of 2019. There are 11 announcement types (called Places) available, possibility to target per project, group and JQL query, delegating announcement creation, scheduling announcements and basic content styling.

The app also records the responses and can force the users to accept the message (e.g. terms of use). Last but not least – it allows to create feeds, grouping the messages and saving a lot of work – instead of creating the same outage message all over again, it’s possible to create a targeted outage feed and add new announcements to it.

Disadvantages:

  • No Confluence, Bitbucket and Bamboo support (yet)
  • Simple styling
  • Complicated at first look

Both apps are priced similiarily. While Announcer is and older and proven solution, it fails to live up to its promise, especially when used in a large Jira instances with many announcements created monthly. Announcement Feeds is a much more suitable solution.

Limitations and challenges

No matter which app you use, keep in mind, that there always some challenges when it comes to communication with users. Even the best solution providing the most beautiful and memorable announcements will be ignored by some users, and that’s – unfortunately – perfectly normal.

That’s also where acceptance records come in handy – it’s always good to be able to remind your user, that he/she accepted the policy 2 months ago without looking.

Such situations are much more common if the users are constantly flooded with new messages. To avoid such situations:

  • Try to create public announcements as rarely as possible
  • Split your target groups – people who don’t use dev tools don’t read news about Bamboo
  • Don’t abuse bigger announcements types – keep these for most important news only
  • If a change has no effect on users, just write a blog post
  • If a change has an effect on users, remind your support team about it, too 😊

Do you know any helpful tips when broadcasting messages to your Jira users? Please, share these with us.

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