Francisco Costa

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Partner & Enterprise Solutions Lead

Elevating efficiency of business teams with Jira

5 SECONDS-SUMMARY:
  • Using project management tools like Jira is crucial for elevating the efficiency of business teams by organising tasks and projects in a personalized manner;
  • This tool is useful for areas such as Human Resources, Marketing, and Customer Support. It facilitates the management of audits, recruitment, marketing campaigns, content creation, and customer complaints;
  • Jira promotes clear communication among all team members and automates repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on more important activities.

Elevating efficiency, productivity, and collaboration are essential elements in a competitive and dynamic business reality. Business teams increasingly face the need to manage projects efficiently, ensuring that all stakeholders are involved and aligned with organizational goals.

In our current professional reality, we know resources are scarce – time, money, knowledge, etc. – and we need to employ efficient tools to support organisations with managing their work effectively via collaborative solutions.

As such, project management tools are central to the success of any organisation. Atlassian’s Jira Software, well-known by software development teams, is equally powerful for business teams. However, maximising the productivity of different business teams does not begin and end with implementing tools like Jira.

Achieving operational excellence is a journey where the first step should be assessing the challenges teams face, so it is possible to understand how to optimise their processes. This way, it is possible to map the tool according to the work methodologies that best suit the reality of these teams.

How Jira transforms business teams

Jira is a versatile collaboration platform that adapts to different contexts and organisational needs. One of its goals is to facilitate task management, from the simplest tasks to the most complex projects. Its flexibility allows for a complete customisation of different features, so it is possible to transform and support various work methodologies across different industries and departments, whether it’s Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, or others.

Jira, with its high adaptability and customisation options, helps transform the processes of different business teams:

Compliance:

  • Audit management: Measure and manage the progress of audits, including planning, execution, documentation of results, and recommendations – in real time and with the progress of different audits simultaneously visible.
  • Documentation management: Create, review and approve documentation related to specific regulations.

Human Resources (HR):

  • Performance: Configure and track performance evaluation cycles, recording feedback to define goals for employees.
  • Recruitment: Manage the recruitment process, from the different open positions, monitoring of on going applications and respective follow-up interview and selection stages.

Marketing:

  • Campaign management: Plan and monitor marketing campaigns, from the ideation to execution and the analysis of results.
  • Content management: Coordinate the creation, review, translation and publication of content, facilitating collaboration between various team members involved in the process (designers, content writers, reviewers, SEO specialists, translators, etc.).

Customer support teams:

  • Complaint management: Create, prioritise and monitor complaints to ensure the situation reported by the customer is followed through, from its opening to its resolution, guaranteeing a quick, efficient response.
  • Automation: Configure automation rules for highly common situations, such as complaint escalation rules, automatic notifications for pending situations and automatic status updates, to improve operational efficiency.

Jira has a wide range of features: at a more operational level, you can create tasks, set priorities, define delivery deadlines, assign different responsibilities and track the progress of different tasks.
On a collaborative level, one of main benefits of the tool is to facilitate and promote clear and effective communication among different members of a given team and department. Through features like comments, document attachments, mentions and real-time notifications, it is possible for all stakeholders to be updated with the latest information and decisions on specific projects.

This real-time monitoring is essential for teams to stay on track with delivery deadlines, prevents information from being dispersed over space and time, and avoids misunderstandings.

For team leaders, Jira promotes a completely cross-sectional view of all the tasks of a given project and empowers them to make more informed decisions based on task progress, team capacity, dependency with other departments, etc.

It is also possible for different business teams to create Kanban boards, containing customised information, giving a clear and direct view of the status of projects. Within these boards, you can then choose what type of information is displayed, whether it is who is responsible for the task, the deadline, dependencies between tasks and other category types, such as business area, budget, etc.

kanban-board

Example of a Kanban board with an overview of tasks and their status (to do, in progress, in review and done).

In addition, teams can build dashboards to serve different purposes. Project managers, for example, can configure dashboards that provide critical information about different projects. Whether it’s a list of pending tasks, the progress of different initiatives, imminent deadlines, or task distribution by employee or business area, dashboards can facilitate day-to-day management and inform decision-making.

jira-dashboard

Example of a personalised dashboard with information on a project: task count by priority, tasks distributed by status, sprints with associated effort rate per collaborator and completed tasks per sprint.

No less important is the ability to automate highly repetitive processes. In an era where efficiency is key, automation is crucial. Through automation, different business teams can configure Jira to perform certain actions automatically. Whether it’s updating a task status, assigning tasks based on different changes, sending notifications, or requesting approvals, automation allows employees to focus on delivering higher-value activities, raising team productivity.

These are just some of the features Jira currently offers teams, enabling them to centralise tasks and build a collaborative work platform focused on productivity, efficiency and transparency.

At Xpand IT, we believe that adopting Jira goes beyond implementing a project management tool: it involves questioning old processes that perpetuate inefficiency, discovering new work methodologies, and empowering different teams with the technology and solutions needed to enhance productivity, improve collaboration, and increase the quality of project delivery.

Contact us to support your team in this transformation process.

Francisco CostaElevating efficiency of business teams with Jira
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Strategies for maximising teams’ productivity and collaboration

5 SECONDS SUMMARY:
  • Ensuring team effectiveness demands project management strategies and tools. Organisations must prioritise team productivity, relying on motivating leadership, transparent communication, and clear objective definitions;
  • In today’s competitive landscape, maximising productivity is crucial. Atlassian’s ecosystem of products, including Jira Work Management, facilitates workflow, collaboration, and visibility among teams;
  • Atlassian’s tools offer customisation, improved communication, and enhanced visibility into work progress. Integration with products like Confluence and Tempo Timesheets optimizes project organisation, collaboration, and time tracking for solid, effective growth.

Ensuring that teams are effective can be a challenge when you do not apply project management strategies or tools. Organisations are now more aware of the need to maximise the productivity of their teams, which is the cornerstone of organisational success. Here are some of the fundamental pillars:

• Motivating leadership.
• Transparent communication.
• Positive working environment.
• Clear definition of objectives.
• Time management and task allocation.
• Appropriate tools and technologies.

Maximising teams’ productivity in organisations

With every more competitiveness in the business world, it is increasingly essential to apply tools that maximise productivity and team management, which are the catalysts for the success that organisations are looking for.

For example, if you had 55 tasks to delegate, how would you distribute them? Or if you had to prioritise? These are some of the questions our clients ask when they want to find an innovative solution for managing their business teams.

productivity-tools

Atlassian products for organisational management

Atlassian is trying to overcome the main difficulties in managing teams and maximising productivity by using the potential of its ecosystem of products, which are suitable for improving the profitability of work between teams.

Jira Work Management is one of those products that has boosted the workflow between teams, as well as ensuring that there is collaboration and visibility between them.

There are many benefits to integrating them:

• Customisation, adapting to any process or need.

• Improved communication and collaboration between team members through the assignment of tasks, real-time comments and integration with other communication tools.

• Increased visibility among staff and management of work progress and team capacity, also contributing to efficient resource management.

• Increase productivity by automating routine tasks and organising work intelligently.

• Ability to integrate with other products and platforms, facilitating the scalability of tasks.

If you think about these benefits applied to the banking sector, you realise that it is possible:

• To create specific projects to implement new financial products, detailing each phase of the process, budgets and timetables.

• Greater compliance and audit control, ensuring good security and privacy practices.

By amplifying the potential of this product and combining it with Confluence – a product dedicated to collaboration and document organisation – you obtain a centralised space for storing relevant information about projects, processes, and internal procedures.

As these tools integrate and develop their potential, you realise that it might be interesting to implement Tempo Timesheets – a platform for automatic time recording and creating detailed workflow reports, among other associated tools – where you can control the amount of time allocated to certain tasks.

With the implementation of Atlassian tools assisting solid, effective growth, combined with many others to guarantee an excellent workflow, we guarantee our clients a significant improvement in the profitability and team management they are looking for. Contact us and discover how your internal procedures can give you the edge you need in your field.

Francisco CostaStrategies for maximising teams’ productivity and collaboration
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AI-based innovation: OpenAI and modern web development

5 SECONDS SUMMARY:
  • AI is revolutionising modern web development by enabling personalised experiences, solving complex problems, and enhancing user-friendly processes, crucial in the digital era;
  • Companies not integrating AI into their digital solutions face lower scalability and visibility than competitors, placing them at a disadvantage in the market;
  • AI tools facilitate website modernisation by automating content creation, providing personalised support through virtual assistants and chatbots, enabling website customisation, offering multilingual content translation, and enhancing user experiences and business competitiveness.

What impact will the use of Artificial Intelligence have on the construction and modernisation of products and services available on the Web? In this era of digitalisation, companies are affected by the need to provide 100% personalised experiences, guaranteeing solutions to complex problems and improving processes that make websites easier to use.

Looking at the path of companies that do not implement AI in their digital solutions, you can see that their market scalability is lower, and so is their visibility vis-à-vis their competitors, putting them in a vulnerable position.

Main challenges and limitations in a market without AI

If there’s one change that can be pointed to as a result of digitalisation, it’s user demand – the result of the modernisation to which users have been exposed – and it’s because of this that, as users find limitations in digital products and services, they move away from a loyal relationship with a particular company.

According to Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani, authors of the book “Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World”, it is crucial to develop data-centric strategies with the implementation of AI, where analysis plays a fundamental role in strategic decision-making, guaranteeing the growth of the organisational economy and a positive consumer journey.

Modern web development with AI

AI tools have improved web development, opening the door to a long-sought reality: getting closer to the user. It is through advocating the implementation of these tools that many of our clients are able to be at the forefront of their business area.

How is this applied in practice? There are unique needs to be met on a website, the main focus being on providing the best experience, for example:

• Content: allows us to automate product descriptions, articles, and answers to frequently asked questions.

• Virtual assistants and chatbots: provide immediate and personalised support depending on the user’s questions, based on cohesive conversations similar to human interaction.

• Website customisation: creation of a model that learns to analyse user behaviour, offering users a personalised experience when it comes to content suggestions.

• Translation: provides a translation of the content into different languages appropriate to the business area.

AI application for traffic analysis

Have you ever thought about the amount of information you could receive about a user’s behaviour by implementing AI in your business? Today, with constant development, we are able to boost companies’ growth and also improve the user experience through traffic analysis and digital behaviour.

How? In fact, it is simple. By building precise models and well-defined objectives, we can turn your business into a benchmark for both the user and the market. It is through the implementation of AI in traffic analysis that we can obtain:

• Audience segmentation: AI allows us to analyse behavioural patterns, segmenting the audience based on preferences, browsing history and previous interactions.

• Personalised recommendations: thanks to good traffic analyses, we can present content focusing on the user’s interests, increasing the relevance of what is presented to them and narrowing down their searches.

• Layout and design optimisation: by understanding what the user wants, we can adapt the interface to their preferences and improve it regularly.

• Integration of marketing campaigns: we were able to collect enough information and use it in paid campaigns, once again boosting business.

We can see how much information we gain by using the right models, and even more so when they increase the likelihood of making informed and assertive decisions, giving us a competitive edge and an in-depth understanding of what our users are looking for, consuming and researching.

At Xpand IT, we take a holistic view of the potential of AI in modern web development. Our approach focuses on continuous monitoring at every stage of the project, to build a solution that meets the client’s needs; a solution that can and should be monitored so that it can be built on regularly and consistently. Contact us and find out about the personalised solutions we have for you.

Francisco CostaAI-based innovation: OpenAI and modern web development
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Use Case: A digital experience in after-sales service

5-SECOND SUMMARY:
  • In this article, we’ll explore how a retail company was able to improve its customer service using Dynamics 365;
  • How to turn an after-sales service into a digital experience.

After-sales services are one of the most critical parts of the buying experience. The trend is for companies to pay increased attention to their customers, thus bringing organisations closer to people.

After-sales service can be defined by all the interactions of a given customer after purchasing one of the organisation’s points of sale.

Case study

In this article, using a case study, we will take as an example a company in the retail sector to explain and detail all the needs and challenges encountered at this stage of the customer journey – the after-sales service.

Company analysis

Consider the situation the world has been going through in recent years. Imagine a company that grew a lot during the pandemic. Still, amidst the hustle and bustle of that growth, there was never the time and dedication to restructuring its internal processes to keep up. This is a company that dealt with its after-sales process using only Excel sheets, email boxes and the telephone to support customers on their journey. This quickly became unaffordable and was reflected in the relationship with its customers.

There were not, for example, SLA’s, knowledge bases, or even satisfaction metrics.

Challenge: AS IS Scenario

Suppose a customer has just arrived home on holiday after buying an automatic coffee machine. While unpacking the product one of the water tank parts was damaged, which caused frustration. The customer immediately went to the company’s website and noticed that the telephone service was only available on working days, between 9 am and 5 pm. Discouraged, continues searching the site and finds an e-mail address, which allows for greater flexibility in contacting customer support. The customer then decides to explain the situation by e-mail, including photographs of the damaged part.

However, the customer service department is overwhelmed with work and is unable to triage incoming emails. It is therefore only able to deal with the customer’s complaint one week after receiving it, without the customer having been given any information about the process during this time.

In turn, and because there was no reply, the customer sent back more emails, generating duplicates of the complaint.

In its response, the company indicated the steps to be taken so that the customer could receive the new part. To do this, the customer was asked to provide billing data, address, and product code and attach the invoice of the purchase – information that the company already had on its side, but too scattered to be useful.

Upon receiving the email, the customer sends the necessary information the next day, and the part arrives four days later.

With this scenario in mind, there are some fragilities:

  • Sense of unavailability.
  • Lack of feedback.
  • Long response times.
  • Customer dissatisfaction.
  • Generation of duplicate complaints.
  • Unconnected or searchable information silos.
  • Lack of mechanisms to measure customer satisfaction.
  • Disorganisation in internally performed functions.
  • Management lacks visibility of processes and/or team performance.

Solution: TO BE Scenario

To meet its Customer Service needs, the customer support department decided to opt for the Dynamics 365: Service and Customer Voice solution, to meet the needs of its customers. To create a digital experience in the after-sales service.

Dynamics 365 is a Microsoft business system which has two components: ERP, where techniques such as invoicing, stock management, and resource management, among others, are inserted, and CRM, for managing business processes, customer support, marketing, etc. The Service module aims to meet customer support needs, offering incident management functionalities, response agreements and knowledge bases, aiming at improving the customer’s visibility over the company. The Customer Voice component allows satisfaction surveys to be created and sent, as well as analysing of the information obtained from them.

To overcome the existing fragilities, the customer service system was configured where it is possible to manage incidents, agent allocation, service agreements (SLAs) and internal knowledge bases (for the team’s use) and external knowledge bases (for customers’ consultation). After this rollout, the above scenario would play out as follows:

This time, the customer, realising there was a damaged part, has a FAQ page available, created from a knowledge base, where he/she can search for ‘Damaged Part’. The customer quickly found an article with a specific address to report the situation, indicating that the process should be resolved within four working days. The customer sent an email to that address.

In turn, the company’s system automatically creates the incidence, which is given to the agent with the lowest number of incidences. This reduces the response time and ensures that the agent knows exactly what to do (because it has obtained this information from one of the knowledge bases). Unnecessary email exchanges with the customer are thus avoided.

As Dynamics 365 is a solution that adapts to the needs of the organisation, templates frequently used by agents for the various incidents were also configured. In this case, the agent only has to select the damaged part dispatch template, which will be automatically filled in with the customer’s information in the system.

After receiving the part and considering that the company has configured the sending of automatic surveys from its new system, a satisfaction form is sent to the client, to obtain information on the resolution of the problem that originated the incident.

Finally, since the system is based on a database with excellent quality information, management can finally obtain information about their teams’ performances with the help of intuitive reports and dashboards.

This allows us to improve on the points mentioned above as follows:

  • Sense of constant follow-up, with the timely exchange of information.
  • Customers feel supported by the company, knowing that the company is aware of them, avoiding unnecessary exchanges of information.
  • Reduction of response times, thanks to the distribution of incidences by specialised groups of workers, and attention to their workload.
  • Team optimisation, as articles and templates are configured so that they can work more quickly and efficiently.
  • Elimination of duplicates, as the system, can identify repetitions.
  • A better reading of the business through the analytics provided by the system.

Visibility of customer satisfaction, through the surveys, sent out.

In short

At the end of the transformation, this company was left with an optimised and structured solution, which allowed it to scale its business to new heights, with a crucial step in building its client’s 360º vision. Excel is still part of the company in a data transaction format, but Dynamics 365 has become the daily work tool.

How Xpand IT can help you:

Our multidisciplinary team can assist in various components, from definition to the implementation of the solution. We leverage all the experience and know-how we have in different areas to offer the best approach, geared to your business. If you would like more information, please contact us.

Francisco CostaUse Case: A digital experience in after-sales service
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Node.js: the JavaScript platform used by Netflix and Uber

The progressive and noticeable growth of JavaScript is hard to ignore. Over the years, this programming language has singlehandedly provided hundreds – if not thousands – of frameworks and libraries, helping developers and companies to create websites, portals, and interactive and agile applications, with modern interfaces. Adding the fact that JavaScript is completely independent from other platforms, easy to learn and supported by an ever-growing community, among many other advantages, it is easy to understand why.

However, for a long time, JavaScript was a language exclusively oriented towards client-side development and never managed to establish itself for backend purposes – at least until 2009, when the first version of Node.js was launched. For the first time in history, JavaScript became a viable alternative for backend solutions.

It is important to demystify the fear that many companies have about this alternative to more traditional backend solutions (Java, .NET, etc.) in the world of Enterprise applications, even though companies including Netflix, Trello, PayPal, LinkedIn, Uber, Walmart, NASA, Intel and Twitter have already successfully implemented Node.js in their infrastructures – and this list continues to grow each day.

For those who are not familiar with Node.js, it is important to highlight some of its biggest advantages:

  • Ideal for the construction of real-time applications;
  • Facilitates the programmer’s full stack vision in JavaScript (as both backend and frontend languages are the same);
  • Decreases development time, thanks to its full stack view;
  • Supported by a gigantic community that contributes new libraries and updates at an astonishing rate;
  • Extremely fast code execution;
  • Ideal in architectures oriented towards micro services.

We can now go back to what we really want to discuss: why should companies adopt Node.js for their applications? In a nutshell, because it was designed for large-scale applications, offering a modern perspective on how to develop applications with complex architectures.

How those capacities actually come to fruition is the most important aspect.

Scalability is essential for the vast majority of current corporate applications, and Node.js responds to that necessity by offering a base clustering module with load balancing on multiple CPU cores. Associating the clustering power with a single-threaded, non-blocking solution, specifically designed for events and callbacks, allows it to handle multiple connections simultaneously, processing millions of concurrent connections.

Being single-threaded is often regarded as a limitation because, theoretically, it can slow down the performance of the application, but that is nothing more than a myth. On solutions that are not oriented towards events, where multiple threads are necessary to deal with multiple requests, the number of parallel threads is limited. Node.js is completely free from these limitations. As long as there’s available memory and if the kernel allows it, we can effortlessly process any number of simultaneous requests.

Companies are also generally afraid to place their code in the Cloud, which would prevent the usage of the NPM (Node Package Manager). In order to address this issue, we have created a new Enterprise version that can be installed and maintained on companies’ own infrastructures, therefore preserving their internal module registry and complying with the strictest security requirements.

We also need to touch on the subject of long-term support. This will always be a priority for Enterprise solutions, but the truth is that Node.js also assures that very same support.

Each major version of Node.js will include active support for 18 months from the period it becomes eligible for LTS (Long Time Support), after which it will transition to a maintenance regime with a duration of 12 additional months. During this period, the version used will receive security updates and bug fixes, but new functionalities will not be added. In this way, we have addressed the potential problem that causes the absence of support for solutions developed with the help of Node.js, due to its lack of longevity.

Based on all this information, the aforementioned companies decided to make their transition to this technology. What have they accomplished?

  • Netflix: a reduction of over one minute on buffering times.
  • LinkedIn: rebuilt the core of their mobile services with Node.js. Their application is currently running 20 times faster and benefits from a substantially better integration between backend and frontend. This was achieved while Node.js was just in its first year of development.
  • PayPal: migrated all their web applications from Java to JavaScript and Node.js and saw their programmers writing 33% less lines of code, using more than 40% less files and reducing by half the necessary time to build their applications (while also requiring less people). Response times have decreased by roughly 35%, which translates to an improvement of 200 ms in page creation times.
  • Uber: built their interpersonal system between drivers and passengers with Node.js, due to its fast response capabilities and massive power to process requests, along with the welcome ease and ability to have a distributed architecture.

I don’t want to plant the idea that Node.js is a “silver bullet”. It might not be the best solution for all cases, but it is always wise to evaluate your possibilities and understand the potential benefits of this technology.

Francisco Costa

Enterprise Solutions Lead

Francisco CostaNode.js: the JavaScript platform used by Netflix and Uber
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