Teams come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own style and ways of getting work done. And to be fair, teamwork has never been as important as it is today thanks to an increasing complexity in projects and the takeover of the remote work lifestyle!

What is the golden formula for teamwork?

Productivity and innovation are in the hands of a number of skilled teams today; teams that manage to work well together towards a future, with objectives and a shared vision.

Teamwork = right tools + right people + right practices

Teamwork is about the right practices, tools and people
The golden formula for teamwork

Atlassian uses this equation to define teamwork success, so let’s look at its components and what they mean for us as a team.

1. The right practices


Agile Planning

Agile Planning is a fairly new approach to productivity; relatively speaking since it started over 20 years ago in 2001 when a group of 17 developers met to discuss how to speed up development times so they could bring new software to market faster!

Teams that use Agile in 2020 (Agile Report 2020)
Agile teams in 2020

Today, over 95% of organizations are home to agile teams, but I won’t get into this too much; if you want to know more about Agile (including some stats), this is the article to read!  

Agile planning, work units and sprints are used to plan out tasks that you define, in order to break up your project into milestones; that way, it’s easier to work with it. Also, research shows that agile teams are able to release products 83% faster than those that follow a traditional approach.

Quality vs. quantity

Quality vs. quantity - the debate
Quality vs. quantity

I remember this from back in the day, when I was a broke student who’d eat tuna for days on end. Somehow I had realized that “I’m too poor to buy cheap things”, and it stuck with me as I grew older; that quality is almost always better, and in the long run, it’s cheaper for sure.

See, marketing, brand, vision, intelligence, these things cost money. Take free app developers for example, they manage to draw a few clients here and there from those who actually have the vision. But later on, they end up introducing payment otherwise no company could survive!

And why is that detrimental? Because if you decide to switch to another app in the future (and there’s a high probability of that), the process is a headache that you’ll avoid like the plague! Be careful not to get stuck using a low quality tool just because it’s cheap. And yes, it may work in the short run but beware of quick fixes, they usually come back to bite you in the end. Life seems to value hard work! :P

Visibility

How many hours are wasted looking for things at work; like some document in an email somewhere, a bunch of drafts for a marketing text, random reports, or some permission for a file... honestly, how long?

According to McKinsey, employees spend 20% of their week on average looking for internal information and tracking down colleagues for help.

It’s an absolute waste of time that you’ll never get back! Everyone on your team, or actually, everyone in the company should know where to go to find the right info, talk to the right person or solve problem X!

Transparency

  • Transparency with customers

It's very important for organizations everywhere today, to gain and maintain their customers’ trust. Retention can be quite difficult because customers have so many options at their disposal, so if something goes wrong in their experience with you, they can easily take their business elsewhere.

Basically, they’ve got options and the ability to access information about any product or service they seek, so if you’re transparent with them, not only will your customers trust you, they’ll even help you by offering their feedback as you build new features for your apps!

  • Transparency in the workplace

Workplace transparency is proven to bring long-term success. It creates trust between employees and their employers, helps decrease stress, improves morale and boosts performance, amongst other benefits! This kind of transparency doesn’t cost that much, so why aren't more organizations practicing openness and transparency if it’s such a good deal? Well, maybe companies don’t know where to start, or maybe they’re afraid transparency will bring along some risk; or then again, maybe they don’t have the right tools for it!

Inclusion

What happens when you’re transparent? Inclusion happens, that’s what!

The Science of Inclusion based on Deloitte's model
The science of inclusion

Transparency is a way to ensure every individual in your company feels like they’re part of something. It’s about building trust, and helping team members create work that’s meaningful to them; which brings us to inclusion. ]

It’s common knowledge at this point in time that organizations which do not support a strong, diverse and inclusive culture are asking for trouble! They’re asking for lower productivity, higher absenteeism and more turnovers; in other terms, they’re asking for higher costs.

2. The right people

Let me use my team at Jexo as an example of how when you get the right people to create the right tools, using the right practices, then you’re good to go.

We believe in passion, teaching and data

Jexo is a lean startup and home to a team of hard-working individuals who live across the world from one another. These people were chosen one by one to help build plug&play apps that address key needs in PPM for Jira Cloud.

I’d say what makes our formula successful is our ability to craft clear, delightful experiences for our customers (coming from a true passion for everything related to Project Management and SaaS, but also our ability to collect data) while tailoring our workplace to nurture the growth we desire as individuals and as a team.

Remote work is the best - Jexo team
Nikki and Peanut working from home

We also collect a lot of feedback; from everyone. And with that feedback, we’re trying to build a complete suite of useful products for project portfolio management while bringing a significant contribution to the growth of the cloud ecosystem. Not only with brilliant product solutions, but also with training, teaching and empowering more people to explore and solve their challenges using Atlassian products.

We build apps for the Atlassian Cloud ecosystem

Jexo apps help teams better plan and track work in Jira, that’s a fact, and we only started building for the Atlassian ecosystem in 2018.

Jexo co-founders Nikki and Biro were working for the same company when they decided to do a side project to continue collaborating closely as they worked in different teams. At the time, Biro was a Release Manager who needed to be able to track release phases in a calendar format across multiple teams, and so came along the first version of Swanly.

Jexo builds apps for Jira Cloud
Building apps for Jira Cloud

We’ve been genuine supporters of the Cloud movement from day one. We managed to consolidate our app offerings and messaging to reflect what we’re here to do; help others deliver work better, faster, and cheaper through software tools that enhance Atlassian Cloud products.

We work hard when the time comes

Working from home is the new norm, and this past year and a half, we all watched as the world changed drastically. Of course, we had to make due and rethink everything; not just how we sell or how we market, but also how we build and what we build. Not just us at Jexo, but the entire community and ecosystem.

2020 was a year of hard work, passion and enlightenment for us, as we contemplated our voice, image and momentum, and what it all means. And we went along with Atlassian, as they took big steps to not only redefine what teamwork is, but also where it takes place and how.

We’re flexible and constantly evolving

Take our app Swanly as an example of how we evolve as a team and as a company.  

As you may already know, Swanly is a Jira Cloud plugin, initially developed to help product teams visually plan their releases, increase their visibility and reduce silos; of course with a great focus on cross-project coordination of release activities.

It didn't take long for non-technical teams (like marketing and business teams) to become interested in Swanly, though it was a release management timeline at the time. We then decided to introduce the issue roadmap, so that teams could plan and track any type of Jira issue, from epics, to stories, tasks and so on. And that is how Swanly evolved from a release management tool into a Jira project management tool.

Project black Swan is the direct result of tons of customer feedback, collected over the past 2 years, with a great focus on improving performance, introducing zoom levels and improving the visual representation of data. And so, as the need evolves, so does the technology.

3. The right tools

Finally, we get to the third and last key ingredient in our teamwork secret sauce: the right tool; without which (let’s be honest) life is a pain.

Use Agile apps that are transparent

As mentioned previously, Swanly was created out of the need to solve a problem; today, it is used to manage project velocity, organize user stories, and track bugs, amongst other things. Now, during our process at Jexo, we allow clients full access to all Jira boards associated with their projects; every user story, every bug logged, and the overall status of the project are always accessible.

Swanly allows us not only to manage our projects, but also remain transparent as team members and stakeholders can see exactly where their project stands, down to specific issues and features. It’s a team collaboration tool that allows you to create, organize, and discuss work with your team, while offering excellent Jira integration so you can easily create issues and link to your existing issues, epics, and sprints.

Swanly product roadmap for Jira Cloud
Swanly's Jira project roadmap

Using Swanly in our Agile app development process not only allows us to remain as transparent as possible, it also greatly helps eliminate inefficiencies, improve communication both internally and with our clients, and keep the project on track.

Always go for quality tools that evolve

App development doesn’t stop at building an app, then sitting back and collecting; that’s not how it works, especially at Atlassian. Apps require constant development to maintain compatibility, answer new requests, adhere to a higher number of users, and so on.

Since we launched Swanly for example, we’ve upgraded 3 versions with entirely new features every single time and we’re nowhere near done with updates. It’s an ongoing reality for SaaS developers that the ecosystem evolves so quickly!

Choose apps that offer you visibility

If you’re looking for visibility across your Jira projects (and you should), you need tools that can support and help organize the flow of information, and share it across your team, department, or even the entire company – and quickly. You’ll want an accessible, online place where your team members can get the most up to date information, give feedback, and help.

  • Confluence
    For Jexo, Confluence has definitely been a key component in expanding our organization as it helps us connect our teams across geographic and operational spaces.
  • Swanly
    Swanly on the other hand is a go-to hub for planning, tracking and managing work in Jira, which means that all of our team members use it for centralized access to information across Jira projects. It is literally designed to bring clarity, structure and visibility. For more on how you can improve teamwork with Swanly, here’s a great article.
Swanly - project management app for Jira Cloud
Swanly offers visibility in Jira

Efficiency and inclusion are a prerequisite

You may be incredibly efficient at doing things that don’t matter much - which means wasted productivity no matter how efficient your team is; and so to remedy this, we use productivity systems that center on prioritization. For more on prioritization and how you can ace your game, here’s an excellent article!  

Priority planning poker

Foxly prioritization plugin for Jira Cloud
Priority planning poker for Jira

Inclusion isn’t about finding ways to fit people into existing structures; it’s actually about finding ways to innovate on work structures that include different types of people instead of sticking to existing prioritization structures that aren’t designed to include everyone in the first place. If you’re interested in a tool that can help you turn any prioritization session into a possibility for collaboration, fun and a true sense of vision, look no more.

Here’s a good article on how Priority planning poker can help your team merge into one mind, with a clear vision and path to achieve it!