Using JIRA to support ITIL processes

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.

Incident management

  • 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.

Problem management

  • 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

Change management

  • 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.

Challenges

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.]

Advantages

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

Example

I have posted example JIRA setup for product support (i.e. one product, many customers).

Bottom line

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.

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About martinskemme

I am an IT professional who spends leisure time mountain biking and enjoys photography.
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24 Responses to Using JIRA to support ITIL processes

  1. JP Patrikainen says:

    Hi,

    This was a Great blog for person who is trying to implement ITIL with JIRA. Thanks for that!

    Hopefully I can help you and other with a few issues:

    “When problem ticket is closed, there is no signal sent neither to incident nor to the assigned person. Same applies to change implementation.”

    This can be done like this:
    Precondition: there is a mail server connected to your JIRA
    – change you JIRA projects “notification scheme” to send email notification to “All watchers”
    – When you create a “Problem” to your problem management group you add incident management side person to Watchers list

    This informs the person who handles the Incident management issues by email when Problem is closed.
    After that he can check and close the linked Incident reports.

    —-

    “It is inconvenient to create problem and change tickets manually. Some kind of supporting automation lacks.”

    If you ment, that there should be functionality, which creates automatically e.g. from Major incidents/incidents which are got over SLA limits a problem report .. well, there is no such functionlity in JIRA.

    If you ment just creating a Problem automatically a copy from Incident.. there is this “Clone and Move” plugin for JIRA:
    By using this, you can clone Incident and move it as a Proble to another JIRA project, where you handle problem management. If you have separate JIRA project for problem management, you can limit the Customer access just in Incident management project and their own incidents only.

    —-

    “Tickets can be assigned only to individuals. For large service desks it would be desirable to be able to assign to group.”

    I think that there is a plugin for assigning issue to group:
    http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/JIRAEXT/Assign+Issue+To+Group

    —-

    “No automated (real-time) SLA management”

    This is probably some cases true. You can send a list of issues, which goes over some SLA limit every 15 minutes, but not less. The minimum sending cycle by using subscription on JIRA fi
    lter is dayly every 15 mins.
    You can also shared dashboard for Service level manager, but you have to refresh the page manually.

    One way is also to use e.g. separate JIRA Yahoo widget, which reads SLA filters from
    JIRA time to time. You do not need to go JIRA.

    Hopefully this helped someone.

    Best Regards,
    JP Patrikainen

  2. martinskemme says:

    Thanks, these are very useful hints!

  3. Vivek says:

    Hi! A very useful blog post! I’m trying to implement ITIL processes in JIRA and this provided me with some helpful hints! And thanks to JP Patrikainen too!

  4. Dinesh Bhat says:

    Good post! I am looking at Jira to make it our primary ticketing system.

    Does ITIL talk about version/source control system? If so, could you please share which part?

    Thanks,

    Dinesh

  5. Mario Apitz says:

    Hi,

    this is a very helpfull post. In my former company we’ve used JIRA as
    a classical ticket system. The ITIL processes were covered be an own Service Management Tool.
    Nonetheless, strating the new company, we tried to a get a clou, if it is simply possible to use JIRA or to prefer a different tool, i.e. OTRS with
    the Service Management Module.
    I am very sad, that Atlassian doesn’t take a care to support ITIL processes out of the box.

    Best regards,
    Mario

  6. Magnus Lübeck says:

    Hello,

    At our site, we had a similar problem (creating tickets), as we wanted non Jira users to be able to create tickets. We solved it by creating a very simple CGI, displaying a small form on our internal MS Sharepoint server, collecting the information from the form to create a pre formatted email, which is sent to the JIRA mailbox.

    Jira is configured to check this mailbox frequently (every 5 – 10 minutes), creating tickets using the pre defined tags we put into the email.

    Simple for the users and it works well in our environment.

  7. Ivo says:

    Hi,

    this is indeed a very interesting post.
    I was just wondering how much time/effort you spend performing the customization required to use Jira as a service management tool.

    • martinskemme says:

      Actually it didn’t take so much time. Other thing is that you most probably don’t want all configuration to be done in one day.
      Jira is developing so fast and new features are introduced very frequently. Therefore it is hard to give estimates for configuration.

  8. Thank you, great post!

    But:
    “When problem ticket is closed, there is no signal sent neither to incident nor to the assigned person. Same applies to change implementation.”

    I see no problem to configure notification scheme to send a email, when any issue is closed.

    “JIRA is not convenient when there is a large number of tickets (1000+ @month):
    Web interface is not very suitable for huge ticket amounts”

    I cannot agree. With filters and dashboards and proper security scheme, you can see in JIRA any slice of the database.

    “Some kind of supporting automation lacks.”
    There is XML-RPC and SOAP API, that allow to create tickets programmatically from scripts. JIRA may also create tickets from email, and your monitoring script can send such email, if you don´t like XML.

    “Tickets can be assigned only to individuals. For large service desks it would be desirable to be able to assign to group.”

    You can create a custom field for a group of users (eg. “Team”) and you get a sort of assigment to a group. But there is no reason to do responsible for the task more than one person, which would be equial to no responsible at all.

    In general, it looks like your JIRA was not properly customized for support use.

    I invite you to join my presentaion at 10.02.2010, where I will explain how to confugure JIRA for project management for general business use.

    • martinskemme says:

      Right, I agree to most of your comments, though I want to emphasize that one size doesn’t fit all – for really big service desks more ITIL specialized tool might be considered.

      • May be, but how big is the team and how far it go with ITIL?

        As a supporter, I would prefer an easy and light tool that covers my main needs, rather then a heavy fat client with many categories (Remedy, HP Help Desk? No way!)

        To be honest, I do not believe in use of full ITIL implementaion. I never see a company where even the very basic ITSM processes work rather smooth. I like theory, but the life is quite far from them.

      • One more point about ITIL. It is all very well, when managers doseminars and trainigns and show each other nice presentaions about ITIL. But it does noway mean that ITIL is implemented in any way in your company.

        The simple test is to come to a line supporter and ask him/her what is the difference between incident and problem? What is the purpose of the service? Then the truth reveals.

  9. Sorry, the presentation will run at 10-Feb-2011

  10. Jakob Gormsen says:

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks for fantastic blog. Will it be posible for you to provide med with the difrent workflows for JIRA.
    Jakob

  11. martinskemme says:

    When I wrote this post, I wrote “No automated (real-time) SLA management”. Now this is fixed – we built a tool to track SLA in real time and create SLA reports. And I have to add one more note – right now this tool is for free. Check my latest blog post

  12. eyeShare says:

    Thanks Martin for all the useful information. I would like to share with you guys a blog on how to automate JIRA ITIL based – ITSM processes. http://bit.ly/Oq6WAe

  13. This excellent blog, “Using JIRA to support ITIL processes | Martin’s Blog” shows that you actually understand precisely what you’re speaking
    about! I definitely agree with your blog. Thanks ,Ewan

  14. Dennis says:

    Hello Martin we are using OTRS and JiRa and I would like to know what are your experiences of using JiRa and what you think it lacks for a good servicedesk and ITSM tool

    • martinskemme says:

      Actually I think that JIRA is a great service desk tool for small and medium sized service desks. It offers a really rich set of features and it is highly configurable.
      I would not recommend JIRA for a service desk that handles hundreds to thousands of tickets a day, because of its concepts and architecture. Otherwise, for any smaller size service desks I would say that JIRA is highly recommended!

  15. Dennis says:

    Do you know OTRS and it’s main features in comparison to JiRa?

  16. sitio web says:

    Your way of explaining everything in this piece of writing is genuinely nice, all
    be able to without difficulty understand it, Thanks a lot.

  17. art says:

    I implemented itil process on jira in my company(2000 persons). Glad that you are doing it as well

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