• Confluence Page of the Month – CommonWealth of Massachusetts CommonWiki

    The Confluence Page of the Month for March goes to a Template & Training page from CommonWealth of Massachusetts CommonWiki


    4 reasons why we like this page

    • The content is useful
    • The template files are attached to the page and versioned automatically
    • Using composition macro to group the content in various tabs
    • Using icon to denote the type of the file

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  • 6 Reasons Why You Should Learn JIRA

    24 March 2016
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    6 reasons why you should learn JIRA


    JIRA has become sort of a standard for keeping track of issues. In fact, over 70% of the Fortune 100 companies are using JIRA.

    I just did a search for JIRA on Indeed.com and found 10,947 positions available. The positions that requires JIRA expertise ranges from JIRA administrators, Scrum Masters, QA Analysts, Software Engineers, Project Managers to Service Desk Specialists, etc.


    Today JIRA has 3 different flavors

    • JIRA Core – for business teams to track tasks, approvals, legal reviews, marketing campaigns, etc
    • JIRA Software – for software teams to track bugs, system enhancements with features to support agile development
    • JIRA Service Desk – for helpdesks to track user problems and requests

    It is possible to mix and match the 3 applications to run on a single server and web address. This provides the flexibility for business teams, software teams and helpdesk teams to collaborate on the same platform. 

    Easy-smallEasy to Use

    The UI is intuitive and Atlassian provides very comprehensive user documentation on their Confluence site. You can extend the features from the big set of add-ons from Atlassian Marketplace.


    By using JIRA to track the issues, all the historical changes and discussions are captured in context to the issue. This provides visibility and traceability that makes audits less painful.

    time-saving-smallTime Saving

    Another side effect of using JIRA is that you can save time compiling reports and sending emails. With the reporting gadgets and automation add-ons, you can focus on getting the real work done.


    The server license for 10 users starts from US$10 with 1 year of annual support. If you wish to save the hassle of setting up your own server, you can also use the Cloud edition which goes for $10 per month for up to 10 users.

    JIRA training 2016

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  • 8 Secrets How Successful People Get Work Done

    16 March 2016
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    8 secrets successful people get their work done

    Have you always feel frustrated at the end of the week that you have accomplished nothing despite being busy for the entire week?

    I was inspired by Barking up the Wrong Tree to write how using an issue tracker can improve the way of getting work done by incorporating behavioural science theories.

    1. Attention is equal to Time 

    First, you need to be aware that your smartphones and inbox are huge time suckers to your productivity.

    Each new email or a notification is likely to distract you from what you are doing. Mobile notifications is the new evil with a constant flood of notifications from your group chats and apps.

    According to research, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task after getting interrupted

    People who do a lot of attention switching, they believe they can focus when they need to, but the reality is they have lost that ability.
    When you give them a task that requires focus, they perform worse than people that don’t spend a lot of time fragmenting their attention.

    Bakadesuyo: How to focus

    Therefore, you might want to check your mails and mobiles after completion of a task. 

    2. Maintaining a list 

    According to research, an average human can only keep track of 7 ± 2 tasks in working memory

    Therefore it is better to use computers to keep track of your tasks. It helps to keep you organised and ensure no tasks get missed.

    3. Setting up a routine 

    Have you ever wondered why people will always remember to log in to check their Facebook or to play their mobile games?
    Well, they all send you notifications periodically to remind you to do so.

    So you can set up a reminder for yourself to check on the tasks that you need to do at the start of the day/week.

    4. Create small wins for yourself 

    The biggest difference between working and studying is there aren’t regular tests to tell you how good you are performing and to let you move to the next level.

    You need to create small wins for yourself to and your team have the feeling of progress.

    People’s inner work lives seemed to lift or drag depending on whether or not their projects moved forward, even by small increments.
    Small wins often had a surprisingly strong positive effect, and small losses a surprisingly strong negative one.

    Bakadesuyo: How to be motivated: 4 new insights from research

    Start having a report to see how many tasks you have accomplished at the end of the week.

    You will not feel nothing is done at the end of every week.

    5. Start to reduce shallow work 

    A mentor once shared with me the concept of “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts”

    Similarly, small insignificant tasks consume your time and distract you from getting the real work done.

    Shallow work is little stuff like email, meetings, moving information around. Things that are not really using your talents.
    Deep work pushes your current abilities to their limits. It produces high value results and improves your skills.

    Bakadesuyo: How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

    Instead of spending time to compile reports and filling time sheets, use tools to automate this to free up time to do meaningful work

    6. Learn how to say no 

    Do you know that a common characteristic of successful people is that they know how to say no at the right time.

    By asking your co-workers to log a task in the system for you, it makes them think harder whether it is necessary.

    This either helps you to filter unnecessary tasks or prepare the information for the task upfront.

    It also helps your superior to see your workload and balance the assignment accordingly. 

    7. What gets measured get done 

    Usually most of us work together as a group. Sometimes you need someone to complete a piece of work before you can work on it.

    If the task is passed over to you late, you will have less time to work on it. The worse scenario is that it interrupts you 

    Try to set a due date when assigning out a task and send automated reminders to chase them.

    8. Use the correct tool 

    A major limitation of using the Inbox to keep track of your tasks is that emails are sorted with the latest first.
    It creates a natural tendency to read and react to newer emails than to follow up on the earlier emails.

    Work should be FIFO (First In First Out), not LIFO (Last In First Out).

    If you keep on reacting upon those newer incoming tasks, your older tasks will eventually become urgent and get on top of you.  
    Then you will be pressured to rush finish those late tasks. 

    You might want to use a To-do list tool or issue tracker to manage your tasks.


    You can find more useful tips and related information for the quotes and links referenced in this article below:

    1. http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/01/how-to-be-motivated/
    2. http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/12/how-to-focus/
    3. http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/08/how-to-stop-being-lazy/
    4. http://lifehacker.com/how-long-it-takes-to-get-back-on-track-after-a-distract-1720708353
    5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magical_Number_Seven,_Plus_or_Minus_Two
    6. http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/4-steps-to-say-no-like-the-super-successful.html

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  • Confluence Page of the Month – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    19 February 2016
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    The Confluence Page of the Month for February goes to a Scheduled System Outage announcement from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

    Berkeley Lab Scheduled Outage announcement

    4 reasons we like this page:

    1. The author took effort to add the logo of the affected system so that it can be identified easily
    2. Good use of blog to communicate time related announcements to users 
    3. Facilitate navigation by putting latest news and common links on the right sidebars
    4. Integrating with Google Calendar to show upcoming events

    Tip: You can select the image uploaded previously from the Confluence image browser

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  • How we migrated from VertygoSLA to Days Elapsed Traffic Light plugin

    16 February 2016
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    Report on the Traffic Light status of issues using 3D Gadgets

    Why we built Days Elapsed Traffic Light plugin

    We have a customer using VertygoSLA plugin to track the SLA for requests in their JIRA, but VertygoSLA was acquired by Atlassian to be embedded with JIRA Service Desk. There were 3 options available:

    1. To switch to JIRA Service Desk
    2. To find other suitable SLA plugins
    3. To build our own SLA plugin

    We decided to build our own Days Elapsed Traffic Light plugin due to the following considerations:

    • Need to calculate the number of working days. As the business requests can take many days to resolve, displaying 9 days elapsed is less mathematically challenging compared to 72 hours passed
    • Ability to flag out issues that is going to exceed the SLA soon. The yellow traffic light is helpful for alerting users
    • To be able to retain the SLA information from the old requests

    Setting up the Traffic Light custom fields

    The setup for the Traffic Light custom fields is pretty simple with a couple of steps

    1. For every VertygoSLA custom field, we added a corresponding Traffic Light custom field with the same name Added Traffic Light custom field
    2. The working calendars have to be added to define the working days and non working days. In order to cater to departments with different calendars, we introduced the concept of country calendars and organisation calendars. This will alleviate the administrators’ tasks of having to update each calendars individually
      Defining the calendar
    3. The mappings have to be defined to specify the thresholds and conditions for the SLA to be applied
    4. Post functions are added into the workflows to start and stop the Traffic Light Timers
      post functions to start the timers

    Migrating the VertygoSLA data

    The patching was the most time-consuming part as it was done incrementally over different JIRA projects. We built a patcher module that can select the issues to patch.

    1. The patching was done during off-peak hours to avoid disruption to the users
    2. The patcher will read the VertygoSLA information and find out the duration of SLA timer
    3. Using the number of days elapsed, the traffic light colour is determined
    4. The information is then populated into the corresponding Traffic Light custom field
    5. We created dashboards with our Multiple Filters Chart Gadget for the users to verify the resultsDifference in SLA Reports
    6. After verification, the VertygoSLA custom fields were deleted

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  • Confluence Page of the Month – Maxwell Render V3 documentation

    19 January 2016
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    Nowadays, it is a more frequent occurrence to find technical documentation written in Confluence and some of them had done a great job. Then the idea came: “Why don’t we showcase them on our blog? A well done piece of work deserves recognition and other Confluence users can pick up the good practices too.”

    That’s why from this month onwards, we will be starting a Confluence Page of the Month to showcase a Confluence page that we chanced upon and think it is interesting. 

    The page to start the ball rolling is the Maxwell Render V3 Documentation

    Maxwell Render V3 Documentation

    3 reasons we like this page:

    1. By embedding the Vimeo video, the page became much more interesting
    2. The layout looks neat and organized with the RefinedWiki theme
    3. It looks easy to navigate through the content from the left side bar


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  • When do you upgrade Jira Server to Jira Data Center

    5 January 2016
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    It is a frequent question – Why should I buy Jira Data Center?

    Due to that, we are sharing our experience with Jira Data Center as an Atlassian Solution Partner in this post. Hopefully, we can help to shed some light on it.

    What is Jira Data Center

    Jira Data Center is a deployment option designed for high availability and performance at scale when hosting Jira Server in your own premise.

    This is possible with a cluster of servers to share the workload from incoming requests through the use of a load balancer. To add on, each node is a complete Jira instance with its own index.

    JIRA Data Center Reference Architecture
    Jira Data Center Architecture

    What are the benefits of using
    Jira DC

    • Performance – Faster performance with it distributes the load across the various nodes
    • Increased users – A 2-node Jira DC cluster can support double the load of concurrent users with the same response time as compared to a single Jira Server 
    • High Availability – With active-active clustering, it guarantees uninterrupted access in event of hardware failure. This is because it will redirect requests to an active node automatically
    • Instant scalability – It is possible to add more nodes without any scheduling any downtime
    • Disaster Recovery – Option to have another set of hardware on standby

    When you should start looking
    at Jira DC

    The Jira Server should be sufficient for most users until you encounter one of the scenarios below:

    • your existing Jira issue count is hitting a million
    • you are growing at 20,000 issues per month
    • there is a need for high availability (HA) or disaster recovery (DR)
    • the CPU usage for your Jira Server is peaking constantly
    • more and more users are complaining of slowness

    Before upgrading to Jira Data Center

    • Can you allocate more resources (e.g. CPU and RAM) to the Jira Server?
    • Have you explored performance tuning?
    • You may want to check whether virus scanning is slowing down the system. Likewise, you can use our Attachment Checker for Jira app to limit virus scanning to file attachments
    • Have you upgraded to the latest version of Java and Jira? Do you know Jira 6.4 is 30% faster than Jira 6.3 on average? Check out 5 Things to Know for Scaling Jira Performance

    What are the considerations

    Licensing Costs

    • Jira Software Data Center is an annual term license. That is to say, you need to renew annually to continue using it
    • The pricing is based on user tiers and does not have any limit on the number of servers or CPUs
    • There is a discount for upgrading from Jira Software Server to Jira Software Data Center
    • If you are only setting up a cold-failover server, you can use a free development license without additional cost


    • The apps must be with Data Center compatible
    • If you are moving from Jira Cloud to Jira DC, this could be tricky

    Cloud Option

    Atlassian is also launching Jira Enterprise Cloud which you can find out more from the differences between Free/Standard/Premium/Enterprise for Jira Cloud.

    Recommended Strategy

    For those who do not need HA setup, we recommend the following strategy

    1. Start with Jira Software Server
    2. Do performance tuning to stretch the limit of Jira Software Server
    3. Conduct benchmarking tests to measure the improvement with Jira Software Data Center
    4. The number of nodes to allocate depends on the number of concurrent users and the usage pattern. The following chart can be a reference on how increasing the nodes increases the number of requests handled without affecting the time taken
    JIRA Data Center Performance Test

    Useful Resources

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  • An infographic on the differences across various JIRA products

    23 December 2015
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    We have been spent a lot of time explaining to customers the differences between JIRA Core, JIRA Software and JIRA ServiceDesk. Think this infographic summarises them well.

    JIRA Product Family Infographic

    For those who wants to check out the screenshots and links, it is available at https://www.akeles.com/what-are-the-differences-between-jira-software-jira-service-desk-and-jira-core/


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  • How to Deploy Changes to JIRA in a Day

    30 June 2015
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    Recently, we completed a project for a bank. Their original idea was to build a system for tracking but they decide to leverage on JIRA since they were already using it. The requirements can be met by adding a few new JIRA projects and customised plugins.

    However, there was a big challenge to quickly deploy changes on an existing JIRA Production system. The changes had to be replicated across 3 separate environments (DEV, QA and PROD). This meant that the users had to wait a longer time to use the new features.  Luckily, we discovered the Configuration Manager Plugin. It is a JIRA add-on that enables automated deployment of configurations across JIRA instances.

    With this plugin, we managed to replicate the configuration in 1 environment within 1 day instead of a week. We managed to shave 8 days of effort for QA and PROD environments. It eliminated human errors which could not have been avoided if we took the traditional method. There were just too many steps to replicate with zero errors.

    We were very impressed and want to share our experience with fellow JIRA users.

    How we did it

    Due to confidentiality, the steps are listed using the screenshots taken from the plugin author’s page.

    1. The initial configuration in DEV had to be done manually. We cheated! Using our in-house Project Creator plugin, we created hundreds of custom fields from a MS Excel file
    2. After the schemes and workflows were set up, we got ready to create a configuration snapshot for export
    3. The Configuration Manager can only be accessed by a JIRA Admin under the admin console
    4. Select the Add Snapshot button (or Create Snapshot for newer version) 
      view snapshot 
    5. We used System Configuration to capture all the configuration so that we can deploy multiple projects at the same time
      Create a system snapshot
    6. After the snapshot was created, we downloaded the xml file by selecting Download from the gear icon on the right side
    7. The file was copied to the UAT environment to be deployed
    8. Similarly, the JIRA Admin had to log into the admin console to access the Configuration Manager page
    9. To play safe, we did an backup of the UAT environment before applying the changes so that in event of error, we can still restore the UAT environment to the previous setup
    10. Click on the Deploy link on the left sub-menu to access the Deploy Configuration Snapshot page
      deploying the snapshot 
    11. Click on the From Snapshot File button to upload the xml configuration file created from DEV
    12. The snapshot will be added to the list of snapshots available for deployment
    13. Click on the Deploy link under the Actions
    14. The list of configuration changes will be listed. The additions are identified by additionwhereas modifications are identified by modificationAnalyzing the changes
    15. We spent more time verifying the changes identified with the modification changes to ensure they do not affect existing configuration. 
    16. When the changes were confirmed, we proceeded with the automated deployment
    17. Once completed, the changes could be viewed in the Audit logs
      Viewing the changes from the audit log

    Interested users might want to consult the plugin documentation page at https://botronsoft.atlassian.net/wiki/display/CMJ/Configuration+Manager+Documentation for details.

    Feedback for Improvement

    We were very glad such a plugin is in existence. However, there are some limitations or possible improvements

    • The configuration stored using ActiveObjects had to be replicated manually. This is because there is no easy way to differentiate the configuration settings from the issue values
    • The selected role for the Issue Alternative Assignee custom field had to be re-configured after it had been added automatically


    We recommend Configuration Manager Plugin to JIRA Administrators who need to implement many changes across multiple JIRA environments frequently. It’s a time-saver! 

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  • How we are using JIRA for Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA)

    8 July 2014
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    The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) has come effect from 2nd July 2014

    The PDPA establishes a data protection law that comprises various rules governing the collection, use, disclosure and care of personal data. It recognises both the rights of individuals to protect their personal data, including rights of access and correction, and the needs of organisations to collect, use or disclose personal data for legitimate and reasonable purposes.


    Data Security

    We recently completed an enhancement for Data Request Tracking with JIRA.
    This enhancement tracks all requests and facilitate the approvals that is pertaining to personal data.

    Some of the steps required are:

    • create a new issue type “Data Request”
    • create a new project for Data Request
    • add those fields that you need to track
    • associate the fields to the screens
    • copy the default workflow and change it with the Workflow Designer
    • associate the schemes to the project
    • If you need reports, you can create a dashboard and add some of the built-in gadgets

    By using a centralised application instead of emails to track all the requests, it provides visibility in the handling of all requests and fulfils the audit requirements.

    We thought it was useful and adapted it for ourselves. Hence, if you have previously submitted your personal data to us, you know your data is safe.

    If you are using JIRA, you can start tracking your Data Requests today!

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