Skills for Jira

So, what is Skills for Jira?

Skills for Jira helps you locate relevant experts in your organization with ease and match tasks to your workers based on their skill set. It also helps you turn the subjective, time-consuming manual assignments into a self-service shop. Come in, press a button, get the next task. Not just any task, but the most important task that you are qualified for.

Why focus on skills?

Skills is our approach to evaluating, measuring and matching Tasks (“skills demand”) with People (“skills supply”). How many people do we need for this project? Who should we involve? John? Ann? And this task - I remember Nick having some experience with the technology but he has more important work on his plate, let’s delay it for another sprint. All this mixing, matching and scheduling generally happens in people’s heads, which is inherently flawed due to subjectivity, forgetfulness, dynamically changing environment and the general properties of the human nature.

Executing a project effectively means exchanging team knowledge and time for project progress. The historically common approach is effectively “barter” where each task is evaluated separately and matched to a person based on a multitude of objective and subjective factors including bias and preferences. It doesn’t scale for the same reason as barter doesn’t. This is why historically, people came up with the idea of money that skyrocketed world trade and economy.

Skills for Jira introduces skills and skill/hours as a unit of measurement, currency for describing and quantifying tasks and team capacity, giving you a simple and objective way to match one with another, helping you easily evaluate, plan, assign and analyze supply and demand objectively and automatically.

The skills “currency” opens the door for https://totem-dev.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/SKILLS/pages/422379521 and https://totem-dev.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/SKILLS/pages/416022529 that are otherwise very hard to implement with complex and nuanced tasks and even more complex human beings.

Check out this blob post https://medium.com/skills-for-jira/how-to-assign-jira-tasks-to-the-right-expert-with-1-click-c5532de1e6a2 where we explore the concept and some of the most prominent use cases and benefits in more detail.

Use cases

So what exactly can the “skills” abstraction do for you? Skills for Jira focuses on the main 3 applications:

Matching tasks to workers. Efficiently.

  • Discover relevant experts right within Jira; use the knowledge graph to find colleagues with the required knowledge or clearance or see exactly who is qualified for each individual task;

  • Employee self-service assignments: no idle time between tasks, no overhead, no negotiations, no human factor, all while getting increased quality guarantees;

  • Reduce dependency on the manager for day-to-day work orchestration, eliminating manager bottleneck and freeing up their resources for more value-adding activities;

  • Scale and restructure teams easily as you go: you know exactly who you need on which project at each point at time. You shuffle resources by simply changing their work queue configuration or have them handle the most important task from either project;

  • Know why your rock stars are rock stars and train the team to grow to fill their shoes. You are not ready to give your most important tasks to just anyone, are you? Sure. Then what exactly makes your top performant specifically good for this task? Identify that is a skill, do it consistently, and see how analytics helps you reveal skills that distinguish your rock stars. Now the team knows exactly what it takes to get the interesting tasks. Now you know what exactly to cultivate;

  • Hold employees accountable by objectifying delivery metrics (with work being distributed objectively and automatically, metrics become objective overtime);

Planning and analyzing

  • Identify issues and projects at risk due to skill gaps/bottlenecks

  • Identify team members with exclusive knowledge/skills

  • Make timely risk management decisions as to knowledge transfer, training, or documentation

  • Make informed HR decisions and hire efficiently, knowing exactly the traits/skills you need for current and upcoming projects

Who benefits the most?

In theory, every white collar company, big or small, benefits from objectifying and automating processes, as long as it is ready to accept the transition. Easy knowledge discovery, reduced management overhead, increased visibility into supply and demand, optimized planning. What’s not to like?

Big companies benefit from simplified discovery of SMEs and decision makers, reduced managerial overhead, bias, increased visibility and informed planning and staffing processes.

Small companies benefit from reduced idle time and management overhead, shifting focus from mundane activities on things that mater.

Outsourcing companies can get a unique benefit of dividing the previously indivisible unit (worker) and operating in skill/hours instead. This simplifies and helps scale operations for them as well as for their clients.

In reality, many companies are hesitant to adopt the optimization. Some don’t believe that automation can do better than a human, some have very specialized processes that require too big of a change to adopt the automation. Some just don’t like the concept. This is normal, there is no tool that works for everyone.

Instead of exaggerating the positives and diminishing the negatives, we would rather share all https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1Wi_qQcSQI-q4SbdsZErHUiM7JIkTc3RQ that we have collected overtime with you directly. Check out both rants and raves and see how they apply to your case.

Core features

  • Users get access to the organization knowledge graph, enabling them to easily discover the required SMEs or decision makers via exploration or search

  • Users can get their next most important task that matches their skill set with a click of a button

    • You can configure multiple work queues

    • User can be part of multiple queues based on their user groups

  • Users can view experts qualified for handling the task directly on the issue view

  • Managers and HR can quantify skills supply and demand for current or upcoming work scoped to any JQL query

  • Managers and HR can identify missing, exclusive, or scarce skills/knowledge in their organization

  • Administrators can restrict transitions to experts-only with Jira workflows

  • Administrators can enhance and customize their existing automation by filtering issues by skill requirements or experts in JQL

How it works

SfJ introduces a new custom field (Skillset), which you use to embed skill requirements into issues. The app matches skill requirements with skills you assign to your users and maintains the list of qualified experts in the custom field. Meaning you can query issues by skills or experts in JQL, restrict transitions to experts-only in Workflows, or use experts in custom scripts/automation.

When automated assignments are configured, users get the "Pull work button" to pull their next best assignment matching their qualification from the work queues assigned to their user groups.

Selected user groups get access to the Analytics dashboard, where they can analyze any JQL query for skills demand/supply and gaps/bottlenecks.

Customization

  • Customize the skill tree on global/project/field level

  • Set up multiple work queues to pull from and assign them to different user groups

  • Pre-assign work to a person

  • Analyze skills supply/demand/gaps/bottlenecks for any JQL query - meaning: current or upcoming projects

Roadmap

The product is in active development with a long road map ahead with plans for a skill certification program, resource allocation management, and task outsourcing based on the "skills" concept.