The Atlassian product suite may make an excellent toolset allowing efficient implementation of ITIL best practices for ITSM to more efficiently provide IT services and work better as a team.
Atlassian products such as Jira, Jira Service Desk and Confluence are very powerful as ITSM tools. They may be used by both developer teams and operations departments. With their extensive customisation capabilities, the Atlassian products’ environment may be consistently used throughout organisations. This is a huge benefit to everyone responsible for IT service delivery.
What is ITSM?
ITSM is the comprehensive IT service management in organisations. The acronym comes from Information Technology Service Management.
ITSM may be done in many ways using diverse tools. One of the most effective and proven methods is the ITIL framework. This approach is based on many years of experience and accumulation of effective know-how in this area.
There are also other methodologies facilitating the implementation of ITSM in companies. They include Microsoft Operations Framework, COBIT, DevOps and ISO 20000.
ITIL compliant IT management
Providing IT services is a complicated and time-sensitive process requiring coordination of many activities and collaboration betwen customer (internal and external) support departments, developer teams and IT operations specialists.
To this end, the IT teams use the ITSM software to make their operation more efficient and to allow work organisation to adapt to and change in line with the strategic business requirements.
Looking at the range of tasks of any IT team, one may distinguish:
Minimising the impact of change on service operation
To execute all these tasks in our team we need appropriately powerful tools to support our work. One of the vendors providing a suite of relevant solutions is Atlassian, the supplier of flagship team collaboration platform called Jira (Jira Core, Jira Software, and Jira Service Desk) and many other software development tools.
Atlassian tools are a solution focused on effective teamwork, supporting the delivery of IT services.
Atlassian tools that facilitate ITIL compliant ITSM system management
The first one we should list is Jira Service Desk, one of the best-known solutions supporting the delivery of IT services.
What is Jira Service Desk?
Jira Service Desk is state of the art customer service desk software providing the team with a comprehensive set of functions for self-service, automation of selected agent task, SLAs and CSAT reports.
Jira Service Desk is ITIL certified by PinkVerify and Axelos for all four processes – request fulfillment, incident resolution, problem and change management.
Fig. 2. Jira Service Desk in PinkVERIFY™ 2011 Toolsets
What does Jira Service Desk provide?
Jira Service Desk is a support tool working with the Jira platform. This allows easy connection of teams of various specialties (support personnel, engineers, developers, and even the business teams).
Using the Atlassian products, our support teams organise their work in Jira Service Desk, the developer teams in Jira Software, and the business teams can use the Jira Core. All these tools are tightly integrated and allow the teams to swiftly share information and stay in touch all the time.
Jira Service Desk provides:
powerful and flexible workflows,
excellent organisation of service queues,
automation of selected tasks.
With Jira Service Desk, we may customise the portal name, its logo and messages so that the customer feels at home and is not lost in a flood of information. Also, the communication language should be straightforward and easy to understand, also enriched with icons symbolising specific topic areas. This is an important part of customising this tool for our own needs.
Communication using Jira Service Desk
The transparency of the interface of Jira Service Desk simplifies the identification of important information. With a glance at a request, you can see who is responsible for its handling and its current status. Persons submitting an incident receive a confirmation email allowing them to get in touch with the agent handling their request.
Jira Service Desk has a smart tagging function (@mention) that when used in a request will automatically notify the agent specialising in a given area or other persons that may be of help in handling the request.
Automation in Jira Service Desk
Jira Service Desk has a powerful automation mechanism that helps the agents in resolving the most common problems that may also automatically become issues in Jira while preserving the key functions of this platform.
The automation rules also apply to the most popular ticket types. All this to avoid performing repetitive tasks caused by requests concerning the same issue.
Automation in Jira Service Desk allows the use of preconfigured templates that allow the creation of new non-standard rules to match the specifics of incoming tickets.
With smart automation rules, everyone involved in resolution receives an e-mail with an SLA status notification.
Reporting in Jira Service Desk
Analysing what is happening inside Jira Service Desk is possible with the advanced reporting function. It allows us to track at any time the operation of our IT team. The reports generated show the trends of events requiring customer support interventions, type of requests resolved and their resolution times.
The information from the report may be important in the context of how many most frequent requests had top priorities in the context of SLA and if they were met.
The concept of service level agreements (SLA) refers to the guaranteed levels of providing IT services to customers and ensures that their quality matches customer requirements. Keeping a high level of IT services involves the constant cycle that includes:
Review of results achieved
When developing the catalogue of services provided, they are grouped into individual categories that together constitute the definition of service the precise parameters of which are put in an SLA.
Most of the SLAs consist of time-related data that track how fast the agents perform the service, so it makes sense to set the task queues in a way giving priority in the request queues to the requests significant to the terms and conditions of the relevant SLA.
The SLA timers define the time needed for a request resolution or provide the time in which the initial response is to be expected. They also include an interesting feature for expanding their functionality with other targets. This employs the use of the JQL language for creation of rules based on defined parameters.
This allows an individual approach to specific customer support rules in line with the SLAs concluded with them. For example, resolution time for customer X may be 6 hours while for customer Y only 3 hours.
As the IT services environment is changing dynamically and every transformation in an organisation results in a new reality, not all changes turn out to be good for organisations. That’s why it makes sense to identify and investigate their reasons.
A well-organised change management process stabilises the services provided by the IT teams, making them more predictable and reliable. ITIL offers a proper workflow for change management.
ITIL categorises changes as standard, normal and emergency change — and each of them involves an appropriately tailored process. Jira Service Desk allows management of all change types.
The relevant Jira Service Desk templates contain workflows compliant with ITIL best practices. The teams may use the type of request as resulting from the ITIL classification, thus the workflow in case of a specific request will follow the template for an emergency, normal or standard change.
Approval of individual stages follows the rules designed by the process responsible manager. The element concerned by the change may be selected using a drop-down list.
The workflow in Jira Service Desk may look as following:
Fig. 3. An example ITIL compliant workflow in Jira Service Desk
Interestingly, in the entire process, the approvers do not need to have a licence for Jira Service Desk. They may make approvals using the customer portal. This saves organisations the cost of extra licences.
An additional solution includes automation of reminders about pending approval requests so that dedicated approvers do not slow down the entire IT service delivery process.
Finally, the changes may be linked to incidents or problems, providing the big picture of change implementation progress.
Integration of Jira Service Desk with Confluence
Integration of Jira Service Desk with Confluence allows for self-service operation of the portal, letting the customers resolve incidents by themselves. By integrating the Jira Service Desk with Confluence we make it easier for ourselves to create information pages relating to the topic of incoming requests. Atlassian products offer document flow compliant with the ITIL certificate or their tracking using the Team Calendars function.
According to Atlassian, integrating Jira Service Desk with Confluence allows reducing the number of requests by 45%. All it takes is adding the Confluence knowledge base that will display information when a new request submission attempt is made.
This allows customers to possibly reach the solutions themselves without involving our service agents.
Incident and problem management in Jira Service Desk
ITIL defines an incident as an unplanned interruption that will or may cause a reduction in the quality of an IT service. Incident management is a process aimed at returning the regular IT service (defined, for instance, as system availability or performance) as quickly as possible and at the same time minimising the impact of this event on business operations or the convenience of customer’s work.
The characteristic trait of incident management is that we are looking for temporary short-term solutions consisting of doing everything possible to return the service as soon as possible.
An incident or a problem?
When considering event (incident) management, we have to bear in mind that if they have a common denominator – a common root of a malfunction, then in fact we are already dealing with a problem. A problem is typically the cause of one or more reported incidents.
For instance, unexpected shutdown of an application on our phone is an incident. If, however, this situation will become repeatable and additionally will affect other applications, then we may be talking about a problem, for example, of an outdated operating system that starts generating these incidents. The decision as to what is the problem is made by the customer support staff.
Recording, resolving and investigating interruptions resulting from a non-functioning service is an important element of ITIL practices. Correctly designed workflows in Jira Service Desk are aimed at reducing outages and offsetting the negative impact of incidents on customer satisfaction levels.
Jira Service Desk allows us to create and implement our own workflow for the incident management process and assign every report to defined categories.
Incident management process in Jira Service Desk:
Event report (by a customer or a monitoring system) – may be submitted by Jira SD or e-mail. An email message will automatically be converted into a new trouble ticket.
The Jira Service Desk agents may combine all incident reports into an issue in the form of an integrated report. The time and other identifiers of an incident that occurred are recorded automatically.
The proper designation of incidents allows their assignment to correct categories.
Based on the reports, the support team may analyse the situation and select the best solution to the problem.
Assigning incidents with the severity criteria allows selecting major events that require the relevant commitment by the IT teams.
This allows us to improve the level of services in specific areas by implementing additional improvements or protective mechanisms in the process.
This kind of workflow in the course of incidents is ITIL strategy compliant. Jira Service Desk offers the agents full flexibility in adapting the workflows to specific needs of organisations and customers.
Jira Service Desk offers the possibility of automating certain tasks in compliance with the SLA. For example, resolved incidents may be automatically closed in three working days after their removal by an agent. Jira Service Desk also allows hooking-up event information resources from other projects/departments, and even other applications, such as Jira Software and Confluence.
This is particularly useful when work on problem resolution continues on higher levels of support. The current status of progress of work on the incident may be automatically (using the Update function) published as an automated comment to the incident record on the update status (together with the link to the request in Jira so as to keep everyone interested informed about problem resolution).
Designing the incident management process is of key importance to quick problem resolution and keeping customers happy. The ITIL incident management strategy is a proven method for success and Jira Service Desk guarantees the possibility to quickly adapt the process to the ITIL requirements.
Benefits for IT teams thanks to ITIL
Using workflows in Jira Service Desk that is streamlined with the ITIL assumptions improves processes and creates powerful self-service channels for customers. This allows teams to quickly repair breakdowns and react to incidents.
Also, the incident management in compliance with ITIL best practices gets significant support from the capabilities of Jira Service Desk with respect to identifying the root causes of problems in contact with the developer teams.
Using Atlassian solutions through the integration of Jira Service Desk with Jira Software and Confluence facilitates the collaboration between teams and allows reduction of the number of trouble tickets raised (self-service).
It makes sense to entrust adaptation of these highly flexible products to experts who work with the implementation of optimal ITSM tools on a daily basis.
If you are looking for a powerful solution for your IT department that will ensure a relevant level of ITSM services using Atlassian tools and their use by the operations and support teams, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org