Jira change management best practices

A good idea can’t benefit your organization until the people responsible for making it happen agree that it’s a good idea. That’s where change management comes in. As your company grows (and when departments or processes need reorganization), managing change thoughtfully will help your team to improve, grow, develop, and evolve.

In this article, you’ll find information on Jira change management: what it is and why it’s important. You’ll also find a list of the top 10 best practices for Jira change management.

What is Jira change management?

Change management is an initiative focused on implementing internal or external changes within an organization. But before we dive into the details, let’s cover the basics.

Any change in the work environment is a process: changing or adjusting something might involve people, procedures, systems, vendors, culture, or anything else. Any change might (and probably will) impact several areas in terms of how your company functions.

Change management is the procedure for requesting, managing, approving, and controlling changes that alter the architecture of your business. It’s a structured operation of transitioning from the old to the new. It covers anything that’s added, changed, or removed that might affect services either directly or indirectly. Change management aims to reduce risks and interruptions while modifying essential systems and services. It may impact network environments, buildings, and other resources that are part of the managed infrastructure.

Jira can be a valuable tool for change management, provided you configure it to suit your processes and workflows. In software development, for example, you can use change requests to track software and infrastructure modifications like code deployments and server upgrades.

But change requests can be used for much more. For instance, a product team can use the same request and approval process to consider and communicate changes to a product’s launch schedule. The legal team can accept or reject proposed changes to the services agreement. Other teams can track changes to their procedures, policies, services, records, and more. Recording the “before” and “after” state of anything is a great way to track change over time (and keeping track is important for compliance, depending on your industry).

The process of change management in Jira

If you’re at the beginning of your journey regarding change management, and you’re not sure whether leadership sees the need for change management, you may want to take a look at The Best Show: “How do you help your organization see the need for change management?” featuring Michelle Bartonico, certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

  • When starting your process of change management, ask yourself some important questions. These may include:
  • What is the change and who (or what) does it affect?
  • Why do you need the change or what are the consequences of not making the change?
  • What specific steps do you need to fulfill the request?
  • And what are the specific steps that you need to undo the change (just in case)?
  • What is your intended outcome?

Considering these questions will help you assess the necessity of the Jira change management process, allow you to establish some key points of the changes you’re planning to make, and establish a starting point.

Executing the change management workflow

Your first step when any change request comes in is triage: a set of steps to help determine impact, risk, complexity, and urgency. Your triage person should make sure that the requestor provides all information needed to understand the change, and that they’ve answered any initial questions.

Once you’ve assessed the idea and committed to making the change, the next step is to outline it. This means you should create a precise description or definition of what the change will be. You should consider what the change will consist of, how you’ll implement it, who needs to be involved, and what possible risks exist.

Once everyone involved knows about the planned change (and what it will require), it’s time for a change request review and approval. This means that you have double-checked, questioned, and verified all of the changes and gathered information.

Assess your plan. Consider things such as the possible risks involved. Consider the proposed timeline, the necessary resources, costs, benefits, and scope, as well as the testing requirements. With change management in Jira, there are also some important considerations around deployment.

Common deployment considerations

  • Can you deploy this change in conjunction with other scheduled changes?
    • Will this change overwrite another?
    • Can multiple changes occur in the same location?
  • What are the dependencies?
    • Does this change require or affect additional areas? Example: specific environment configurations, libraries, code language support, etc.
    • Does this change depend on another change?
  • What is the risk of deploying (or not deploying) this change right now?
    • If not deployed immediately, how long can the change wait?
    • Is there a temporary workaround available?
  • Is there a specific deployment day or window needed?
  • Are there enough resources and knowledge to successfully deploy (or revert) this change at this time?
  • Who needs to know about this change and how much notice is required?
  • Will mitigation efforts or training be needed after the change?

Looking at all of these variables makes it easier to assess the change request. It’s worth considering questions like:

  • What are the chances that this change will succeed?
  • Are the benefits and concerns valid?
  • Is it worth following through with this change?
  • What effect will this change have?

The person responsible for this type of review is your change manager, a peer reviewer, or an approver. They decide whether the change request is necessary and feasible, and determine whether you need any changes to the plan before proceeding.

Worth remembering: In order to make the change less risky, the approver may decide to delay approval.

Implementation of the change request

Once the change request is all set and has been approved, it’s time for the most important part – Implementation. This part is pretty self-explanatory, as this is the time for actually making the change that you have requested.

It is worth remembering that the implementation phase is also the stage for testing and rollback planning. In this stage, you should also document the procedures, expected outcomes, and results.

There are three main stages to moving the configuration changes:

  • Testing — Test any proposed change and verify it works as expected, didn’t break links, etc.
  • Staging — Check the configuration in a staging environment.
  • Production — Go live/deploy, then check the result in production.

Apps can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. For example, Appfire’s Configuration Manager for Jira (CMJ) helps you handle migration, governance, and change management tasks through automation, quick fixes, change and impact analysis, change roll-back, and audit logging.

To see Jira change management in action, check out this article on how to perform change management tasks in Jira using CMJ.

Executing the change or “going live” is not the end of your change management story.

Make sure you factor in another review as a part of your timeline. It’s critical to evaluate whether the change was successful.

Now’s also the time to do a quick retrospective. This will get you thinking about what you could improve the next time around.

Now you know how the whole process of a change request happens from start to finish. It’s time to consider why change management in Jira is so important.

Why is change management important?

Jira change management is important because it creates a structure to control the transformation process, allows you to make any necessary adjustments, ensures the appropriate distribution of resources, and helps you to make more informed decisions.

Change management on a grand scale can be tricky. If you could use an assist, check out this webinar on how CMJ can help you with daily change management and large migrations. Take a look if you want to automate the promotion of configuration changes between Testing, Staging, and Production environments with transparency and complete data integrity.

A well-organized, automated, and collaborative process between IT and development teams will increase agility. Effective change management also manages risk by replacing long evaluations and non-technical user clearances in the change management process for high-velocity teams.
If your change management system’s not working, it’s time to change things up.

A successful change management procedure will:

  • Adjust IT offerings for changing company requirements
  • Ensure better management and consistency of future changes
  • Make your IT services more stable
  • Improve decision-making and communication
  • Increase efficiency
  • Boost employee satisfaction and foster a happier workplace
  • Reduce risk, downtime, and errors
  • Help you avoid repeating unsuccessful patterns

Implementing a change management process may sound overwhelming, but there’s a wide variety of marketplace apps that can help you to apply configuration changes in a safer, more reliable way, while minimizing business disruptions. Explore Appfire’s change management apps, that can help you do everything from day-to-day changes to larger merges and consolidations.

If your change management system’s not working, it’s time to change things up.

What are some Jira change management best practices?

Now you know what Jira change management is, what the process looks like, and why it’s important. More than likely, you’ve decided to start the Jira change management workflow process. Here are some helpful tips to ease the process:

  1. Consider and define all of the reasons change management is necessary before making any changes.
  2. Make a plan to track the success of your changes and processes. Establish the metrics, indicators, and milestones you’ll use to measure progress and outcomes.
  3. Consider using apps to streamline your processes and lighten your workload. There are plenty of tools that can make your work easier.
  4. Document as much as possible. Having a clear history of what you’ve already done and what’s still on the agenda will enable you to retrace your steps in case of an emergency (or in case you just need a record of what’s been done).
  5. Include everyone necessary on the project. Remember that change management is a collaborative effort.
  6. If keeping people updated is difficult with your current tech stack, explore tools that help you collaborate, video conference, chat, complete tasks, configure workflows, and more. (Appfire has some!)
  7. Deploy releases gradually. Smaller, more frequent releases can reduce a possible incident’s potential impact.
  8. Keep track of frequently asked questions. Build content around any questions that come up often. A knowledge base or FAQ can save your team valuable time currently spent answering repeat questions.
  9. Review changes. Evaluate the changes you applied: which were the most common? What impact did they have? What worked well? The answers will help you in assessing any future changes to the management workflow, etc.
  10. Celebrate! It’s important to notice and appreciate the effort every member makes to make change happen. Recognize those accomplishments!

Change management is important. And we’re not saying it’s easy! But with the right mindset (and the right tools), you can make change happen, achieve great results, and avoid missteps along the way.

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Last updated: 2023-06-05

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