AIM Develops Custom Tableau and Jira Project Management Solution to Overhaul Delivery Leadership Reporting

AIM Consulting

Situation and Business Challenge

The marketing data and analytics (D&A) organization at an American coffeehouse company was experiencing a significant disconnect between leadership and its agile engineering teams that were executing sprints. Leadership would initiate projects but had no way to understand and measure the progress of the sprint deliverables encompassing those efforts.

Organizational leaders, who were responsible for providing D&A products and solutions for customer marketing initiatives enterprise-wide, lacked clear insight into resource allocation and had little ability to prioritize new requests for work against existing commitments. Gaining this insight required building roadmaps in Excel that manually connected Jira-derived sprint summary reports to the group’s initiatives, which often required days of work to compile. One project manager (PM) on the team was devoted almost entirely to manual portfolio planning.

Jira had not been not configured for the organization to use a hierarchy for initiatives, programs, and projects, and was using only the default hierarchy for epics and stories. Handicapped with limited vision into its resource delivery, leadership was unaware why its agile practice was struggling to deliver.  Engineers did not understand or adeptly leverage many basic agile concepts like epics and sprint planning, nor did management know how its project teams were actually delivering work.

Management began to search for a consulting partner to address these issues and shine new light into its resources and projects. Based on its stellar reputation for agile, data and analytics practice, and delivery leadership expertise with other divisions at the company, AIM Consulting was chosen to lead the project.

Solution

A consulting team from AIM’s Data & Analytics and Delivery Leadership practices partnered to form a solution for the client that enabled deep insight into team resources and roadmapping and a greatly enhanced agile-delivery platform.

The project evolved in four distinct phases:

  1. Creating a Jira Hierarchy: First, AIM configured the default hierarchy structure in Jira to enable the connection of stories and sprints to projects, initiatives and goals. The team also began to instill more awareness in agile principles early, to set the stage for more advanced agile training as the project evolved.
  2. Implementing Portfolio for Jira: Next, Jira was enhanced with Portfolio for Jira, which leverages the hierarchy implemented by AIM to create more levels and also visually display the nested view of goals, initiatives and projects. AIM set up portfolios for each active project, introduced and taught the concept of user story mapping, and connected all releases to the new hierarchy, while providing in-depth training on how to use the new tools. Implementing Portfolio for Jira also solved a major resource-management pain with its capacity to automatically slot resources into releases as they become available.
  3. Establishing an AWS Data Model and Pipeline for Jira: As a more visible roadmap started to form, the need grew for more detailed reporting than Jira and Portfolio could natively support. To address this need, AIM set up an AWS data lake to house the Jira data and then piped it into Tableau, enabling custom reporting that articulated the required level of detail for roadmap, prioritization, and sprint actions.
  4. Connecting Reports to Confluence and Automating Reporting: AIM then brought the new reports to Confluence, creating initiative, project, and status pages for all the team’s initiatives, populated with the automated Tableau and Portfolio for Jira reports.

The solution enabled powerful new capabilities for leadership and engineers:

  • Leveraging user story mapping to prioritize and organize work into releases
  • Organizing stories and sprints into hierarchies that tie active work to enterprise-level goals and initiatives
  • Automatically generating real-time status reports that allow stakeholders to see goals and initiatives worked on in active sprints
  • Evaluating resourcing options for new requests against currently assigned and future assigned work in order to make prioritization decisions

The new platform helped modernize the marketing data and analytics team’s tools processes, and overall delivery leadership approach and significantly reduced the need for manual report and roadmap building.

Results

With the solution in place, managers and executives have much more clarity around how sprints are actually accomplishing their overall objectives, a rare and highly impactful level of insight for most organizations. Creating the data lake and exposing all of Jira’s data to Tableau circumvented the requirement to pay for more Jira reporting add-ons, saving resources in the long term.

The future-looking solution allows the team to create custom reports as needs arise and enables more accurate resource planning and forecasting for upcoming initiatives. The elimination of manual roadmap creation frees up massive amounts of time that managers can now devote to other efforts.

The team’s new fluency in agile has generated more efficiency at all levels of the organization, from engineering to leadership. With real-time access to data, managers are no longer spending time on what they think is going to happen; they’re spending time on what they know is going to happen.

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Whether you need help with technology strategy and implementation, an in-flight project in need of additional resources, or individual contributors to bridge critical gaps in your teams, AIM is here to help.

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