The University of Oregon’s Educational and Community Supports Department specializes in research and training to support everyone from children to adults, especially those with disabilities.
Part of the department’s work involves creating products like behavior tracking software that are distributed to schools across the entire United States. The team, led by project manager and Scrum leader John Fuller, manages more than 15 applications. These applications touch a number of different project teams, developers, and other stakeholders within the university who are involved in their creation or management. Fuller coordinates with all of them on a daily basis.
Different teams, different tools
Within the department, new development projects typically originate in non-development teams. They plan new projects and then hand them off to the development team for execution. John and his team rely on both Asana and Jira to help them manage these projects.
They use Asana on the project management side because it’s lightweight and anybody in the department can jump in and create a task without much technical knowledge. His development team requires something a little more robust, so they use Jira to plan, release, manage, and track their code.
While these two tools help individual stakeholders manage their personal roles in each of these projects, much of John’s time was being spent traveling between them — acting as a bridge between multiple groups of people and their apps.
“Initially I was just doing it manually,” John explains. “If we had an Asana task, I would go into Jira and create an equivalent issue.”
Too much manual work
John had to remember to update the task in one tool anytime it was updated in the other. He used two monitors, keeping Asana open on one and Jira on the other. He needed 20 minutes per task to make sure all the fields and columns matched and all other information was up to date in both tools. Consolidating everything was a huge effort, and there was no end to it. There were always new tasks to transfer over.
“Oftentimes I would tell them it wasn’t feasible to provide task updates in real-time. Instead, I’ll send a weekly email,” John says. “There was always a concern because of the lag time. If something changes folks want to know right away because if something changes, we’ll have lost a week of progress. Or worse we’ve gone for a week in a direction that was wrong.”
In addition, John had to manually generate analytics reports and manage any product bug fixes on a day-to-day basis. This involved jumping from task to issue, project to project, sometimes hundreds of times.
He needed a system that could transfer any Asana task with a technical component into Jira — without his involvement. This would allow developers to start on bugs and projects more quickly, and free up John’s time for more important work.
With Unito, John was able to build real, cross-team collaboration on major projects. He also built-in systems for daily bug tracking.
For new product launches or cross-functional projects, an Asana project is synced to an equivalent Jira project. John used the example of a development project that impacted the department’s website, which the marketing team leads. The marketing team doesn’t use Jira, but any update made in Jira is immediately reflected in Asana. This means everyone involved can provide updates, give feedback, and track progress. Previously, that could only happen through John and his two monitors.
Each of the 15 existing products John’s team manages also has its own Jira project. These are all connected to an Asana project called “Bug Tracking” using a Unito workflow. This allows non-technical teams to log bugs in Asana as they encounter them, and have them immediately appear on the relevant Jira project. Then, as the developers work on the issue in Jira, other teams can track updates from Asana.
Less time wasted on manual work
Implementing Unito has drastically increased efficiency within John’s department. Developers can react to new bugs and requests as they come in rather than waiting for John’s weekly email. And other teams can follow updates directly from their own tools. Plus, John says Unito personally saves him at least a day per week compared to the old system.
Because his department uses Unito, John has also been able to ramp things up and still get more done than before.
“With the increase in efficiency and flexibility, we keep finding new things to add. If I were to try and do it all manually again, it would take me nearly a whole week,” he explains.
Better visibility between teams
Beyond building efficient collaboration, John says Unito has made it really easy to build trust and transparency between teams.
“It can be challenging if we’re all standing in a meeting and we’re talking about a specific Jira ticket when some people in the room don’t have access to Jira and can’t even go look at it on their own,” he explains. “There can sometimes be a sense of distrust or a feeling that we’re hiding stuff if there’s a system they can’t access.” With Unito, all stakeholders have access to the same information no matter what tool they use.
And that comfort is a huge benefit in and of itself, John says.
“We didn’t have to try to find a project management tool that could also be used by the developers. We could have, but it would have been crap for both parties. Unito allows us to have the right project management tool and the right development tool so those teams can get done what they need to get done without either of them having to sacrifice a lot.”
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