Once upon a time, agility required face-to-face communication…. Sorry, what? Face-to-face communication? You mean video calls, right? Zoom?
No, I mean actually being in the room with someone. Physically and tangibly. No screens or vast distances between you, just a little bit of air.
I know. ‘Tis a strange, strange concept.
But that’s how life used to be, and that’s how agile used to be. However, times have changed, technology has moved on, and all the upheaval of the last year has caused agility to evolve. Face-to-face communication is out. Collaboration tools that allow people to work remotely, like mobile apps, are in.
So let’s talk about why it’s critical to enterprise agility that Jira users have the ability to use the platform, and do everything they need to do on the platform, on mobile devices. And then we’ll talk about choosing the best mobile apps for your Jira instance.
2001’s agile versus 2021’s agile
Agile has traditionally emphasized the importance of face-to-face interactions. It’s even in the 2001 Agile Manifesto, which is, you know, gospel to the software dev. It says:
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
However, in 2020, Atlassian commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey 155 global decision makers about how enterprises can stay agile. The research showed that automation and collaboration tools are critical to supporting enterprise agility, and that some of the biggest drags on team agility are manual processes and an over-reliance on face-to-face communication.
Now that’s interesting. Face-to-face communication is now not agile? That does, of course, make sense. Over the past year, face-to-face interactions have become something of a luxury and organizations have had to adapt. And ‘adapt’ is an agile team’s middle name.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Agile Manifesto was written twenty years ago, long before WhatsApp and Zoom were a thing and smartphones became an extension of people’s hands. These tools have made collaborating over vast distances desirable for some businesses, necessary for others.
In effect, agile in 2021 looks quite different to agile in 2001. Instead of being about face-to-face communication, it’s about enabling people to collaborate better remotely. This means the ability of a team to use Jira on their mobile devices is no longer just an option or a ‘nice to have’ but has become essential to their remaining agile.
Facilitating remote working with mobile apps
There are three main problems that get in the way of successful remote working…
- Employees and their colleagues/managers can’t reach out to each each other quickly enough.
- Employees can’t share work fast enough.
- Key information can’t easily be captured, or gets lost in the ether somewhere.
In the past year, apps such as WhatsApp, Slack, and Zoom have come to the fore, and increased adoption and use of these platforms is helping solve problem 1. But problems 2 and 3? This is where your collaboration tools need to go beyond instant message and video calling apps. If your teams use a work management platform such as Jira, then they need the ability to use it on their mobile devices.
For many people, working from home isn’t the same structured affair as working in the office, and sometimes that’s entirely by choice. Homeworkers can sit and do work in their living rooms, their conservatories, even their beds if they want to. They can cook a fresh meal in their own kitchen, walk the dog, or spend a bit of time with the family, making up the hours later. A recent survey by Aviva found that two in five UK employees now have more flexibility in their working hours than they did before the pandemic. Business owners are starting to realize that it’s more important that employees do their work – at whatever times work best for them – than be chained to a desk 9 to 5.
It’s mobile devices and mobile apps that have enabled these more flexible and adaptable homeworking arrangements to become possible. Being able to work on your smartphone enables you to stay on task whether you’re operating from your home office, the kitchen table, in bed, or on the bog! (Oh come on, we all do it.)
It also means that not having access to your work on your smartphone can mean you are less productive at home, particularly if your day is interrupted by school runs, pets, and other homely distractions. To prevent bottlenecks and delays, remote workers should be able to continue working on their smartphones the same way they do on a PC or laptop.
How to pick the right Jira mobile apps for your instance
In order for your remote workers to continue doing what they need to do in Jira on a smartphone, you need to choose a mobile app carefully. Here are some of the considerations you should have in mind when selecting a Jira mobile app:
- Does the app work with all of the features of the particular Atlassian product you’re using, i.e. Jira Software, Jira Service Management, or Jira Work Management?
- How is your Jira hosted and is the app designed for Cloud, Server, or Data Center instances?
- Is the app compatible with your security settings? If your Jira is behind a firewall, is your IT team okay with you rolling out a mobile app?
- How difficult is it to deploy the app? Do you have to pay for an Atlassian Marketplace app to allow people to use it?
- What features do you need out of the app? Do you want an agent view? A portal view? Dashboards? Issue searching? Boards? Does the app provide all of these?
- Is the app compatible with Atlassian Marketplace add-ons that enhance Jira’s functionality and allow you to get the best out of it?
This last one is important. Native Jira has its limits, which is why many Jira users rely on Atlassian add-ons to enhance its flexibility, versatility, and ease of use. If your Jira mobile app can’t integrate with add-ons, it stops the app being useful, and will likely stop your users from doing any or much work on their smartphones.
For example, the official Atlassian Jira Mobile app doesn’t support 3rd party Jira dashboard gadgets. This means you can’t use it with our add-on, Custom Charts for Jira. Custom Charts makes dashboards more useful, targeted, and engaging by letting you build dynamic and fully customizable reports to display on them. If you’re a Custom Charts user, a better option would be Infosysta’s Mobile for Jira app, which does support 3rd party dashboard gadgets and which we have already integrated with.
Although most of the Agile Manifesto still holds and remains relevant, agile consultants argue that the principle relating to the importance of face-to-face communication is out of date. As the Forrester research shows, those holding on to face-to-face communication will be less able to embrace and adapt to change – the cornerstone of agility.
Now, leaders have realized that working from home, or anywhere, is what being agile looks like in 2021. And according to the study by Forrester, businesses can only stay agile if they put tools in place to support a geographically distributed workforce. With so many Jira teams now working remotely, enabling them to do what they need to do on their mobile devices is key to helping them stay on task, wherever they may be.
Christopher is a self-confessed nerd who’d probably take the cake on Mastermind if Star Trek: Voyager was his specialist subject. He writes fiction about time travel, conspiracies and aliens; loves roller coasters, hiking and Christmas; and hates carpet, rom-coms and anything with chilli in it. He’s written extensively for technology companies and Atlassian partners and specializes in translating complicated technical concepts, specs and jargon into readable, benefits-driven copy that casual readers will understand.