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Is Jira Align Right for My Organization?

By Contegix

Agile adoption is growing in all areas of business today. At an enterprise scale, this flexible methodology requires a scaffold of support. Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) brings together processes, vocabulary, and best practices for scaling agile. SAFe is currently in its sixth iteration, with continued popularity due to its comprehensive structure and consistent results. 

Still, some organizations need extra support using SAFe due to structural or operational complexities. SAFe provides a framework of practices and team structures, but it’s most effective when supported by a solid communication platform that follows its precepts. 

Enter Jira Align, Atlassian’s purpose-built SAFe work management tool. 

What is Jira Align?

Jira Align has the tenets of SAFe baked into its design and configuration—and as a result, many organizations use Jira Align to ensure they’re leveraging the full potential of the framework. 

You’ll know it’s right for your organization if… 

…you need to help organize and track inter-project dependencies

Jira Align brings the hallmarks of Jira—an intuitive interface and flexible functionality—to the structural solidity of the SAFe methodology. The tool organizes dependencies within and across projects, making it easy for users to visualize and navigate these connections. Because Jira Align integrates with the whole Atlassian toolstack, users can navigate from the management and documentation of a project to its dependencies and back, without missing a beat. 

Take FinTech company NCR, for instance. The team was using SAFe to manage multiple projects with interdependent timing, as well as overall change management efforts. The SAFe AI framework was creating agile practices and providing structure to execute these complex projects more quickly. With the addition of Jira Align, NCR was able to track and visualize these dependencies easily in a way that wasn’t possible with SAFe alone. With project information synced across Jira and Confluence, teams can easily reference dependencies and make informed decisions about project timing and execution. 

…you need to unite teams with separate functions for a common goal

Agile methodology challenges organizations to promote flexible, cross-functional collaboration. But in some organizations, long-separated teams have distinct cultures and ways of working. Jira Align supports the adoption and day-to-day use of SAFe methodology, helping disparate teams orient around common processes. 

For example, at Lutron, a lighting manufacturer, hardware and software teams were used to working at very different cadences. A lack of organization and visibility was preventing both teams from getting on the same page.

SAFe helped them come together on one, unified work cadence. It also helped them better understand how their processes and products were interwoven across hardware and software. With the addition of Jira Align, the teams gained a platform to manage dependencies and coordinate timelines with organization, simplicity, and transparency, so that they could seamlessly collaborate. Jira Align enabled Lutron’s engineering teams to proactively identify process improvement opportunities, rather than playing catch-up.

…you need to give diverse stakeholders some common ground

Sometimes key players for a single project might come from even further afield: for instance, teams from different companies might have extremely different backgrounds with mutually exclusive workflows, goals, and vocabulary. Agile methodology depends on collaboration, so these stakeholders need a common understanding of the project and its goals—and the right tool can facilitate that understanding. Using the terminology of SAFe, Jira Align provides a common foundation on which to build collaboration with disparate stakeholders. 

At engineering firm PK, a project called ZenKey needed to bring together contributors from several major cell service providers, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. These competitors had disparate vocabularies and processes, creating enormous complexity, and leaders worried the project would move too slowly as a result. 

PK used SAFe to facilitate the adoption of common terminology and processes. Jira Align provided a platform on which to codify and solidify that unified understanding. After adopting the tool, the rate of approval of each feature by each company’s product management team increased by over 50%, speeding up the whole project. 

Agile for the enterprise requires the right platform

Jira Align isn’t right for every team. Because it’s designed to help organizations connect their day-to-day technical execution with business strategy, Jira Align can provide an unnecessary layer of strategic scaffolding for smaller organizations, or organizations where all teams already work as a cohesive unit.

For organizations in need of a user-friendly platform to support a complex set of projects and business goals, Jira Align can serve as a  Using Jira Align, all team members can stay on the same page, and better understand interdependent operations. That means agile at scale can better support business strategy. 

There’s a plethora of resources available for teams looking to implement SAFe. However, organizations should be certain they have a work management platform equipped to facilitate the transition. Contact Contegix today to learn more about Jira Align and SAFe.