You don’t often hear someone say that their lives are being improved by a reporting app.
But such is the case with online gambling company Sky Betting & Gaming. According to Dan McQuade, platform engineer for the Sky Bet division, Custom Charts for Jira is treated like no other Jira app on their system.
“Custom Charts is the only app that we have a dedicated Confluence page for,” says Dan, “and that’s because it gets so much engagement. Our users love it. They’re always asking, ‘Can it do this, can it do that?’ This is a rare thing; we don’t get feedback like this on any of our other apps. But I think that’s because our other apps are just functional and perfunctory. Part of the daily grind. They don’t enrich anyone’s lives, whereas Custom Charts does. Users actually enjoy reporting now.”
Let’s back up a bit and find out why Custom Charts for Jira has been such a hit for Dan and his team.
Native Jira Reports + Excel = Awkward
The Sky Bet division of Sky Betting & Gaming uses Jira Software to release new games and promotions on the Sky Bet website, and Jira Service Management for back-end ticketing. Before Custom Charts, the Sky Bet team relied as much as they could on Jira’s built-in reports. But because they are so limited, most users were exporting their data into Microsoft Excel so that they could make better graphs and charts from there.
The problem was that all this exporting was taking time. A lot of time. There is a limit in Excel on how many tickets you can export at once, so reporting on all tickets over the course of a year would take hours. What’s more is that as soon as you export the data from Jira into Excel, it stops being live.
“It could easily take an hour to produce a report on a single data point,” says Dan. “But our users didn’t see any issue with that. They were used to it. But I knew there had to be a better way.”
In September 2020, Dan started looking into other reporting options and installed three or four different ones in Sky Bet’s test environment. One of those was Custom Charts for Jira.
Custom Charts for Jira takes advantage of Old Street Solutions’ favorite reporting option in Jira: the Jira dashboard. It enables you to replace the in-built gadgets on your dashboard with fully customizable ones. Dan was immediately taken with its visual appeal and could see the clear benefits of good dashboard reporting over all that Excel rigmarole.
“If we could use Jira dashboards, that was definitely going to be better than what we were doing,” says Dan. “It’s basically: taking an hour to get a report out on one thing versus a couple of clicks getting multiple reports on a single screen. The only reason our users weren’t using Jira dashboards properly before was because the in-built gadgets are too restrictive and unsightly. But Custom Charts for Jira solves those problems straight away. It’s customizable, it’s bright, it’s colorful. I like that when you add a gadget, there’s a little box that pops up – a guide that shows you how to use it. And I like the fact that you can change the chart from a pie chart to a bar chart in the same gadget, rather than having to add a different one.”
10 times better now than it was
Even though Dan and his team already liked what they saw in Custom Charts for Jira, he says it was our dedication to seeking and implementing customer suggestions quickly that sold it to them. During the trial phase, our enterprise support manager, Jacek Debiec, messaged Dan on LinkedIn asking for feedback. Dan mentioned something that Custom Charts couldn’t do, specifically, averages of number fields on tickets so that Sky Bet could find out how long on average it’s going to take to resolve one.
Within a few days, one of our developers had mocked up some new functionality and, a few weeks later, rolled it out.
“That was really nice to see,” says Dan. “It wasn’t like, ‘We’ve got your money, now we’re going to run away’. It was clear that Old Street really cares about how its apps work for customers. There were also a few loading issues when we purchased Custom Charts, and these were fixed straight away in the next release. What we’ve seen since is that this is an app that is actively being developed and improved upon all the time. There are always new things coming out. I would say it’s probably 10 times better now than when we first got it.”
Custom Charts is now used heavily within testing and ITSM at Sky Bet. The different ‘tribes’ and ‘squads’ that make up Sky Bet all have their own dashboards and there is now only one non-Custom Charts gadget they are continuing to use: Filter Results. Custom Charts has replaced all the others, enriching everybody’s Jira dashboards in the process. Dan says the app also integrates well with the other Atlassian platforms they’re using, such as Insight and Xray.
Most importantly, all of Sky Bet’s data is now in Jira, as opposed to being spread across countless disparate spreadsheets.
Although Dan says that his favorite feature of Custom Charts for Jira changes every day, he and his team have a soft spot for the import/export feature. This is the ability to copy and paste already-built charts from one dashboard to another so you don’t have to start from scratch. It means that different tribes within Sky Bet can pop into other tribes’ dashboards, see charts that are helpful, and use them on their own dashboards.
So it’s no surprise that Dan and his team are very interested in the new custom templates feature that’s coming soon to Custom Charts. Instead of copying and pasting already-existing charts from other dashboards, you’ll be able to create frameworks for charts that will sit in a designated templates area that all users will have instant access to.
Dan says, “This upcoming templates feature is a good example of what I was saying: that this is an app that is constantly being developed. Frankly our users and I are excited to see just how much better this already-great app can get.”
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.