Jira for HR Teams

By Mick Flanigan

Atlassian tools empower teams to collaborate and communicate. Originally designed for software development teams, more and more non-software teams are discovering how effective the tools can be for tracking work items and communicating everything from status of projects to commentary on documents. There are many use cases for Jira and Confluence that have nothing to do with software development or agile methodology. In this article, we will examine a work process that is common to every team in every business and compare a typical process with how it could be accomplished using Jira.

Typical Onboarding

Onboarding a new team member is a common process for all organizations large and small. While the levels of complexity can vary greatly and the needs of one organization may be unique, there are invariably some common activities. Every new hire requires some paperwork, for example, for tax and payroll purposes, a review of organizational policies and standards, providing access to company email and systems, and assigning them necessary hardware. 

In a typical onboarding process these separate tasks could be separated out into several different tool sets and managed by yet another. Typically, the onboarding process will start with a checklist, perhaps on paper or on a spreadsheet. Each task that needs to be accomplished is identified with column for check marks for "done". Perhaps there is even some traceability of tasks included by assigning a staff member responsible for completing the task, or even a space for updates on the current status of a task. What is common in this process for teams of all sizes is the core process of identifying a piece of work that needs to be done, assigning that work to someone to accomplish it, and tracking that work from beginning to end. 

While effective, these tools present some serious limitations. For example, what communication system will be used to assign tasks to different team members? How can a manager review the status of the onboarding process? How is the person being on-boarded brought into the process to help drive it forward? How will outstanding issues be identified as incomplete before a critical date or event? All these and more are issues that organizations struggle to overcome when working with flat tools that do not leverage the power of communications and collaboration.

Onboarding with Jira

With Jira this process could be more collaborative and communications on status and blockers could be instantaneous and transparent to all stakeholders. One potential solution to this would be to submit a ticket in Jira Service Desk to request that a new onboarding process begin for a new team member. Critical information, such as the name, role, and contact info could be captured in that initial ticket. 

Once submitted this ticket could automatically create a series of tasks associated with the on-boarding process. These tasks would reflect the needs of the organization, but would one could be for collecting necessary paperwork, another task could be to review company policies and standards, another would be for providing access to email, and a forth could be for issuing hardware such as a name badge, computer, or business cards. In each of these tasks accountability for completing the work would be defined to one Jira user. By using the simplest workflow of "to do - in progress - done" the status of each task would be visible to all stakeholders.

For HR paperwork another task could be programed to automatically generate and assigned to the appropriate resource. Subtasks could be created for each piece of paperwork necessary and the policies around handing sensitive personal information could be reinforced with a custom workflow to manage those sensitive documents. 

This basic example shows the power of Jira to take a non-technical business process and provide communication, show traceability for each task, and provide reporting on progress though a number of channels. Jira has evolved into a set of tools that can be used by any team needing to track and collaborate on work.