Is JIRA usable for ITIL process implementation? Today I will share some experience after having done several ITIL [sub]process implementations using JIRA. Although JIRA has not been created to support JIRA out of the box, yet it is possible to successfully implement several ITIL processes with it. These assumptions may be valid for service desks that have < 50 tickets per day.
Processes, that were more or less covered were incident, problem and change management. Partly JIRA was also used for release management and, of course, it supported configuration management process.
Here I will share some key implementation decisions.
- Incidents are implemented as a separate issue type.
- Clone-and-Move plugin used to quickly create problem tickets from incidents
- Custom, lightweight workflow. Basic steps: open → in progress → closed. There are some additional statuses that are linked to “in progress” status – “waiting on customer” and “waiting on problem and change management”. These statuses are essential for SLA calculation.
- Problems are implemented as separate issue type.
- Problems have their separate workflow (includes error management)
- Incidents are linked to problems through standard issue linking mechanism
- Changes arising from problems share problem issue type. Therefore “problem” management workflow includes also change management statuses.
- Changes, that arise from a new business need have their own issue type. This configuration allows easily to distinguish new features from problems.
- Change management workflows include approval process, quality assurance activity tracking, etc.
Configuration and release management
JIRA provides some support for configuration management and release management process to some extent. JIRA provides direct link to version control system Subversion repository. Therefore changes made in version control system are displayed on change ticket page. JIRA provides direct link to continuous integration server BAMBOO (also from Atlassian). Change related builds are displayed on change ticket page. Versions functionality functionality in JIRA allows to use them as releases and assign changes to releases. Obviously versions functionality in JIRA is not sufficient to cover release management, but it can be used to cover some part of release planning scope.
As JIRA was not initially designed to support ITIL processes, then there, of course, are some challenges.
- Custom filters have to be defined to separate incidents from problems, because all default dashboard widgets show all ticket types in one pool
There is a known issue, that time zone is configurable only on server side rather than on client side. Therefore all actions are shown in the time zone where JIRA server has been set up.[Updated in 2012: This has been fixed in Jira v5]
- When problem ticket is closed, there is no signal sent neither to incident nor to the assigned person (for the incident). Same applies to change implementation.
JIRA is not convenient when there is a large number of tickets (1000+ @month):
- Web interface is not very suitable for huge ticket amounts
- It is inconvenient to create problem and change tickets manually. Some kind of supporting automation lacks.
- Tickets can be assigned only to individuals. For large service desks it would be desirable to be able to assign to group.
No automated (real-time) SLA management[Updated on May 2012: There is an external tool sladiator.com that fills in the gap.]
Regardless of the mentioned weaknesses, JIRA can be configured to support ITIL process requirements. There are some advantages, if you choose this powerful and easy to use tool:
- Flexibility: configuration and reporting possibilities
- Usability: customers easily learn to use JIRA
- Customizable: adapt workflows, reports, fields, user interface language to your needs
- Well supported from the vendor: frequent releases bring new features rapidly
- Extendable: lots of useful plugins can be used to add extra functionality to JIRA
- Flexible reporting can provide much information for SLA management
JIRA can be used to implement small scale ITIL processes, but at this moment it lacks some features to be implemented for large scale application service managements.
And… the disclaimer
This overview was not intended as in-depth analysis of JIRA applicability, but should be treated as it is – a blog post, that is based on my experience in process implementation.