What is our primary use case?
We generally use it for reporting. It's to have transparency, to get to the incremental values. We do have value streams built up on Align and we get the metrics, how the program works, or the dependencies, not just between the teams, between the programs, or between the portfolios.
What you have in Jira are the scalability and the agile approach. It's all about getting to all the stakeholders or the enterprise users so that they can see what is happening from the bottom to the top or from top to bottom and how it's happening.
When it's all other agile tools, you could just view what each team is doing, and how the work is delivered within the team. However, it is going above and beyond the teams. When you are doing a scaled agile, when it all involves the whole enterprise, you use the Jira Align. It's a combination when you try to do the scaled agile combining the teams, combining the programs, and combining the portfolios, that is when the Jira Align is of most use.
We use Jira Align on top of Safe 4.0 right now. They're not supporting Safe 5.0 yet, however, they are using it as VR; I used it on top of the framework as Safe 4.0.
How has it helped my organization?
We brought it for a very big program. Before that, everything was all silos. The teams were independently working and there was a lot of dependency from one team to another team, which was either tracked in Jira in the roadmap, and it was all over the place. Once we bought the two and tried to combine the teams, depending on what their objective is or what they're working towards, combine the teams and make them into our programs and combine the programs and make into our portfolios, what we saw was a huge value-add. It was transparency. You could see the vision, and the transparency is what was the most beneficial thing - that, and dealing with the dependencies.
.For example, if you have so many teams working towards one goal, not everything can be understood, done in silos. You have to group them in a value stream so they can work towards that one value, and even when they're working towards that one value, you would see a lot of dependencies between the teams and between the programs. Managing that and delivering that on time is what when we push it towards a scale agile with the Jira Align as the thing that holds everything together is what we saw most beneficial
Of course, after that, you would get further enterprise agility, business agility, et cetera, when you start using it more and more.
What is most valuable?
The objectives are good. If you do use a scale agile, the concept of moving objectives and moving your team's work towards the objective is what is going to give you the most value. You plan around the program increments. That's what the program is about. You plan around the program increments, you do the inspect the workshop, you do the retrospective and all those things. However, for example, when a stakeholder doesn't understand the feature, or they don't even care about it, yet they have an objective or a theme, they move towards it. It makes the objectives very clear, and very obvious.
When you try to move work where the stakeholders know what it is and what they're moving towards, at the same time, when you break down the work, the team can understand what they're working toward. A program manager would understand what they have to deliver in a particular timeframe. That kind of split, you could see. There's great visibility there.
I really appreciate that Jira Align gives the concept or the functionality of what is called a work tree or a roadmap, which brings it all together and gives you a view of what the company or team is moving towards and who is contributing to what. The OKR experience is great.
What needs improvement?
There are fewer customization options in Jira Align due to how it was designed.
For example, in Jira, you can combine stories and you can create an epic. However, in Jira Align, they combine the stories and call them features you can combine features and call them capabilities. You can combine capabilities and call it epic. It's structured differently from Jira.
You just cannot buy Jira Align and just started using it. You can, however, the most beneficial thing comes when you start using Jira, and then integrate it with Jira Align, and bring in all the work done together as the actual work is done in Jira, and Jira Align is just a representation of that work.
It's the naming convention that everyone is struggling with. Jira is more widely used and has a bigger customer base. They shouldn't change the terminology if people need to use Jira in order to get the most out of Align and then have the two different naming designs. It's very confusing.
The UI needs work. We are part of the pilot team who are testing the new UI. Jira Align is trying to change the UI so that it is just like Jira. We didn't like it as the UI makes the functionality kind of change. If you have never used Jira Align and you are a brand new customer who used Jira, the sales pitch would go better.
There are lots and lots of reports and it's very hard to understand exactly how we can use all of them. It's quite dense. They need more documentation.
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For how long have I used the solution?
I started using the solution in 2020.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
They have done a lot of work fixing bugs and making all types of enhancements. They are working to make everything more functional for agile.
The stability is very good. Our company was very mature and they have 800 programs in it and ten big portfolios. Jira Align does handle everything with no issues. We don't often have big performance problems. However, for example, if you try to load the roadmap for one big portfolio, it does take time. That is understandable as it's loading huge amounts of data. Other than that, it is actually good.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It is very good at scalability. It's not complete scalability, however, Jira getting integrated with Jira Align is great and it scales that way. If Jira Align is open to getting integrated with other team levels, and managing the work tools, then it would be easier. Right now, to use the Jira Align, either you have to use it as a silo, or you should have Jira in the backend. You cannot have other tools. A lot of enterprises would have other Azure tools or Microsoft tools, from which they manage the team's data, and they would be hesitant just to move to Jira Align as they are using some other tools which cannot be integrated.
Right now, we have more than 5,000 users on the solution. On Jira, we likely have more than 20,000 users. Not everybody needs to be on Jira Align. It is being used extensively, however.
How are customer service and support?
The support was good. They recorded all of the training sessions, for example. They really helped us learn the tool early on and were very supportive.
In terms of ongoing support, we do have weekly calls where we go over support tickets, issues, bugs, et cetera. We have regular productive TAM meetings.
How would you rate customer service and support?
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We did not previously use a different solution.
How was the initial setup?
I was not part of the deployment. That said, looking at it, it seems to be very user-friendly and would not have been a hard setup. I'd rate it a four out of five in terms of ease of setup.
The deployment took more than two months. It's not full-time and we didn't rush through it. We didn't do it enterprise-wide either. We had a lot to consider and we were being strategic. Likely, if you were aggressive, you could do it in a couple of weeks. For us, bringing in the scale agile concept did take a lot of time. Once we figured that out, there was just connecting and creating and mapping the states and all of that was pretty straightforward. There's pre-work to be done, however, it's worth it to take your time.
What about the implementation team?
We do have a solution architect from Atlassian that helped us with the setup. It wasn't a hand-in-hand implementation. there were training sessions.
The person who helped us and ran the training was very supportive and very pleasant to work with. What they taught us via training was about Atlassian, however, the setup was so specific to our company, that without having an extensive background in our organization, they really didn't have the capacity to go beyond training. We'd have questions like "what if we did this, or that?" and they would have to circle back to a program manager to get the answers. That said, they did cover all of the topics.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I can't speak to the exact pricing.
What other advice do I have?
We are customers and end-users.
We are using the most recent version of the solution. We're using an enterprise edition cloud.
I'd advise users, if they have Jira, to just go for Jira Align. Just start off with a small number of full licenses. You don't need to have a lot of full licenses just to implement Jira Align. With us, we could actually see what's happening in the organization. The silos disappeared. People can see deliverables and objectives more clearly. It helps bring a lot of motivation.
I'd rate the solution nine out of ten, having never used any other enterprise agility tools.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.