Can a JIRA Leopard change her spots to Azure DevOps?

JIRA and Azure DevOps

Diving into Opportunities

Over the last 9 months I have found myself primarily acting as an Azure DevOps Administrator for a customer transformation project.  The role was initially posed as an Agile Coach role, and the team was primarily made up of business representatives, who had had no exposure to any systems development tools, let alone Agile.

The companies BAU tool of choice for software development tracking was Agile DevOps, not the ubiquitous JIRA, and so it was with some trepidation that I began to not just champion Agile, but to actively embrace their system of record.  And I was very pleasantly surprised; on both counts.

I started the gig by asking questions and listening to what was said; and what was left unsaid.  I engaged with the various teams and looked to understand their interactions.  Because that is where we start – isn’t it – creating connections with people, uncovering pain points, and working from where they are at.

There was little if any visualisation of work, so it seemed a natural place to start to improve the system, and introduce simple kanban concepts.  This was my entrée into the world of Azure DevOps.  My personal history has been dominated by JIRA, and I have always felt comfortable working both in and on the tool set, especially in my many years as an RTE.

Azure DevOps Leopard Spots-01

JIRA and Azure DevOps

Learning Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps comes with five different services, and each can be utilised independently or jointly which made it very easy to scale.  I started with creating team boards to manage workflow and introduce the benefits of visual management.  I was very impressed with the intuitive interface provided by Microsoft, and the common sense approach to managing teams, their work and customisations that we were able to make.  And the ability to start with one service – Boards.

I am a big believer in managing the system, not the people.  It’s much easier to change the environment so that people can not only adapt and change their behaviour, but they can also manage themselves.  And that’s what started to happen.  The teams were in the discovery phase and we used the visual kanban board to manage the workflow to capture the process documentation, and the teams became familiar with the tools internally before the advent of vendors and software development sprints and delivery.

JIRA and Azure DevOps

Findings

As vendors began appearing, we turned on more services to allow the capture and management of Test plans, and as we begin to deploy we will turn on Repos(itories), Pipelines and Artifacts to create an ongoing BAU environment to manage the products post implementation.  Those that have worked with me previously will know that I am a big believer in co-creating, and I have loved working with the internal and vendor teams to create environments that help them to do their job.  I love delivering value, and love negotiating to create an environment that delivers win-wins.

I have recently started exploring the various capabilities and widgets to create real-time dashboards for teams and the PMO so that we can get a handle on how we are tracking.  As a team, we are continuously improving the system to deliver more value.

Azure DevOps stands out for me with its seamless integration with Microsoft’s development ecosystem. The structure makes logical sense and if you are really wanting to adopt CI/CD then it’s probably a no-brainer.  Nine months ago I wouldn’t have thought that there was any way that I would be recommending Azure DevOps, but…  I have to say I have been converted.

Microsoft Azure logo displayed on mobile phone
I have also enjoyed taking on the role as an Azure DevOps Administrator as part of my role.  With over 40 years of IT in my back pocket, and more than 10 of these operating with an agile mindset, HCD approaches and Lean Change management exposure I have truly enjoyed blending these to deliver great service.  At Accuteque, we always like to make a difference and to leave our clients in a better place.  As this gig comes to an end, I am hoping that my clients are happy with their results.
If you are looking for a responsive, collaborative and engaging Azure DevOps Administrator for your project, and to tap into my lessons learned, don’t hesitate to DM me, or contact Accuteque.

Michelle Prosser-Roberts, Head of Operational Excellence

September 25, 2023

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