Make the seams invisible

Lots of ink has been spilled as to why small startups deliver value faster than large companies, and I won’t rehash it all here. I’ve been a part of small startups, large enterprises, and everything in between (different sized product companies, services companies, and hybrids), and the companies that have moved the fastest had two things in common:

1. A shared vision that everyone understood (We exist to help X do Y)
2. There were either no seams, or the seams were invisible

In a cross-functional agile team, you would have no seams — everyone acts as one and delivers together; but in an enterprise where you have matrix’d reporting structures or traditional reporting structures, you would have visible seams. The UX designer reports to the UX lead, the Automated QA person reports to the QA lead, etc. Those QA testers may even be working for several teams that all have demands on their time.

You can remove the seam (go entirely cross-functional and keep a team on one project or product without splitting their time), or you can work to make it invisible through automating JIRA.

What would this invisible seam look like? (the pun was unavoidable, I didn’t see it coming) It may look like automated hand-offs between groups based on their workload and their availability. It may look like a warning when you assign an item to a person that they won’t have availability to work on it. It may look like JIRA suggesting a person to hand it off to based on their past work. It may be an automated email that let’s people know who have worked on that area before that your code is ready to review.

There’s a lot you can automate in JIRA to hide the fact that handoffs take place. Automating JIRA to hide the seams enables two major wins: 1) JIRA truly is a value-add to your organizational efforts, 2) your software fits your process which enables your team to focus on what matters: delivering value effectively.

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