On the difficulty of selling JIRA for non software use cases

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On the difficulty of selling JIRA for non software use cases

I see a huge opportunity in using a tracking tool like JIRA to boost team productivity. As a consultant, I've done several mandates around that theme and the results are always amazing. Yet, I find it difficult to express that value when working on sales opportunities. Fortune Magazine recently published an article about Atlassian, How Atlassian, a favorite with software developers, is redefining business collaboration, and the example it contained shows exactly the challenge I'm dealing with. This blog post will explore that challenge.

The challenge

How to sell a tracking tool like JIRA to a non-software / non-IT audience. Most of the non-software uses for JIRA I've seen came to be because the organization was already using JIRA for an IT use case, and JIRA eventually "spread" to business users. My goal right now is to find a reliable way to engage business users directly. I mean, why wait for the tool to spread organically within the organization!

JIRA replaces "nothing"

So I was reading that Fortune article, and it mentions the Sotheby’s auction house in New York. They use JIRA Service Desk to "facilitate everything from moving artwork between exhibition spaces to arranging from carpet cleaning. Previously, these sorts of requests were handled with email."

This lines up perfectly with my personal experience. As a matter of fact, people always ask which tools will JIRA replace, and my answer is "Excel, emails, and nothing". I say "nothing" because as it turns out, a lot of people simply have no tool to help them track the work that needs to be done.

Cannot calculate an ROI when you start off with nothing

In the same article, the author asks Nathan Smith, assistant vice president of IT application development for Sothebys, about the benefits of using JIRA Service Desk, his response: "(the benefits) have been difficult to measure because we had very little data to start with. The data was hidden in emails, and on pieces of paper."

Again, this is exactly what I've seen. People are looking to get some kind of percentage of productivity increase, to eventually calculate cost savings and justify the cost of the project. If you have no data to start with, you will not be able to quantify those returns.

Real benefits for teams

Faced with that problem of not being able to quantify the ROI, I focus on the problems we're able to solve, expressed as benefits for the team we're working with. Some examples:

* Your "client" has a self-service tool make requests, does not need to call or send email

* Your client can see the progress of his request(s), does not need to call or send email

* Complete visibility on the work that needs to be done.

* Clear accountability: each work item is assigned to only one person

* Your performance on on work items is now visible too, you have a baseline to improve upon

Problem must be important AND urgent

In the end, I think the challenge comes from the fact that team productivity is something important, but one could argue it is not an urgent problem to fix, because obviously the team is still functioning day-to-day. I find that as frustration grows on both ends: The client making the request and the team working on the request, the problem will become more and urgent, until the situation reaches a breaking point. That's when me and my team come into play.

Mots clés: jira productity
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