Many will know the thought "... why doesn't it actually work by itself? ...". This is also how our customers feel from time to time when they use Jira to organize their tasks, developments or tests. The answer is quite often - "because nobody has taken care of it yet ...".
Automating tasks to reduce manual work and minimize input errors has been a core part of Jira since post-functions opened up the ability to manipulate the content of a task. This has been addressed by apps such as Scriptrunner, Workflow Essentials or JSU Automation Suite built and significantly expanded the possibilities. With Automation for Jira has Atlassian also provided its own app.
For several years now, the Server and Data Center variants of Jira Service Management have been equipped with their own automation engine. But in Jira Cloud, all project types in all variants (Standard, Premium or Enterprise) get a complete, very comprehensive and powerful way to automate tasks that goes far beyond the capabilities of the current Server and DC implementations. In some cases so far that previous apps are no longer necessary in the cloud context.
We have listed concrete examples and implementation approaches that we have implemented at our cloud customers in recent months. In doing so, we primarily look at approaches that are not commonplace or even unknown to some:
Data migration between fields
The following situation: When merging two cloud instances, the "Due Date" field was also migrated. So, unfortunately, in the target instance, the "Due Date" field now exists twice, once as a system field from Jira and once as a custom field. Since the two fields have the same name, users used both fields and wondered why the fields remained empty.
To make a long story short: Data that was mistakenly documented in the custom field must be migrated to the system field. Previously, this was only possible via additional apps or a CSV export re-import. With Jira Automation, a suitable rule can be created and the migration automated in 5 minutes. No matter if there are 7, 50 or 1000 affected operations, the automation will solve the problem without any further manual intervention.
Synchronize tasks between different projects
Again and again we get the request to synchronize tasks from 2 different projects with each other. For example, comments, statuses or date fields should be aligned between the developers' project and the project with business requirements.
While for on-premise variants of Jira there was no way around additional third-party apps (more on this later), in Jira Cloud this requirement can be realized completely natively with the capabilities of the built-in automation engine.
Mathematical and date calculations without a script
Whether simple arithmetic calculations, percentage calculations or calculating the difference between 2 date fields - with the possibilities offered by the automation rules and so-called "Smart Values", even relative values can be displayed in a Jira operation without any manual effort.
Example: In Jira Service Management, there has been a predefined automation rule for some time now that automatically closes processes as soon as a designated SLA has expired. Quite helpful! However, this rule also means that a large part of all processes will probably break at least one SLA and thus evaluations on this topic are very negative.
Query from external applications via REST interface
Also, to get data from external data sources into the fields of Jira, there are various third-party extensions such as Elements Connect. In the cloud variants of Jira, simple webhooks can be configured to fetch information from other applications to Jira via REST interface. Even authentication via OAuth2 to the external app is no obstacle.
To reduce the duplicate documentation effort of a customer, we linked their CRM application to a project in Jira. In doing so, new cases are opened by Jira and comments are sent from Jira to CRM. While different groups of employees work in 2 tools, the content stays in sync, plus communication can be documented in the tools and is not outsourced to email.
"This sounds too good to be true ..."
"This sounds too good to be true ..." - yes and no. While Jira Cloud automations have a lot of advantages in scope and flexibility, there is also a disadvantage compared to Server or DC implementations.
This is because the number of executions of such rules is sometimes limited. Cross-project rules, so-called "global automations", are, depending on the cloud variant, limited:
500 executions per month per application of the "Standard" option
1000 executions per user per month per application of the option "Premium"
However, this limit can be easily met with creative definitions of the automations without having to make too many compromises. This is primarily also due to the fact that there are significantly more options for triggers for cloud automations. From CRON jobs to status updates to manual triggers, there is a whole range of options for starting automations.
In addition, these automation rules are no longer only available for Jira admins, but project admins can also independently create and manage rules. Thanks to the simple interface, the creation process is almost self-explanatory.
Hope for all with Server or Data Center installations
Atlassian offers a very clear incentive to switch to the cloud with additional functions. However, not everyone wants to or can comply with this incentive. Thus, some of our "Swiss Hosting"-Customers rely on these apps for more complex automations.
But there is good news from Atlassian for all Data Center customers. Not only has Atlassian recently made an explicit commitment to their Data Center products, but the next major version of Jira (Software, Service Management & Work Management) has been released in June 2022.
Why this helps with the topic of automations? Because "Automation for Jira" will be an integral part of Jira starting with version 9.0. (see post by Atlassian)
A new LTS version based on 9.x can probably be expected in Q4 2022.
Banking or healthcare sector, HR or development team, we are happy to help you map and optimize processes in Jira as well. With a combination of organization-specific requirements and good practice approaches, we are convinced that we can find a suitable solution for your company.
Erik Neudert, Swarmit AG