Utilizing Client Portals in Jira

Matt Trimmer

As a business owner launching an eCommerce site, there are always issues that arise that need the attention of the development team on the project. However, when a client needs to get ahold of a developer for changes or additions to a project, the process can be drawn out and frustrating. The client is at the mercy of the development team to understand and fix the problem, while the developers explore the issue and why it is occurring. As the developers do all of this, there is often silence between the client and development team, leaving the client in the dark and wondering about the progress on the problem. The process often looks something like this:

  • Call the development team
  • Discuss an issue that needs to be addressed
  • Have the development team submit a ticket
  • Wait
  • Call or email the development team asking about the status of the ticket
  • Wait some more
  • Receive an update from the development team that the issue has been resolved

While it gets the job done, this method leaves the client growing more and more frustrated with what may be perceived as a lack of follow up while the development team discovers the problem. It also results in the development team to spend precious time fielding update queries from the client rather than addressing the problem at hand or addressing other aspects of the project. All of this waiting can lead to bigger problems, such as the client thinking the developers are not addressing things fast enough, or the developers getting irritated as they attempt to fix the problem while dealing with client inquiries. These complications can easily derail a project. A solution to this exists, however, and provides more transparency and improved communication between the client and developers. That’s why our development team utilizes the Client Portal in Jira.

client-portal-happyUsing the Client Portal in Jira, the client can take a proactive approach to addressing the problem by creating a ticket for the developers to address and they can then track its progress throughout its lifecycle; the client is no longer left wondering about what is going on or waiting anxiously for the developer to respond. Although Jira can sometimes be complicated to maneuver, the Client Portal strips away anything superfluous, leaving behind only the information that is absolutely necessary. In most cases, this is just a title, summary of the issue, and any related attachments. Some clients have customized portals that also include spaces to set priorities or specify sites.

How Does it Work?

Clients submit their own tickets and can discuss them with a developer through comments, as well as check the status of a ticket through the portal. They can view whether or not the ticket is in progress, in testing, blocked for some reason, or if it’s open and waiting for a developer to address it. Additionally, if a developer has a question for the client, they put the question or comment directly on the ticket. All of this information is readily available through the portal, and anytime the status of a ticket is changed or a comment is posted, the client receives an email update. These aspects keep the customer involved every step of the way and expedite the process.

Communication in the Client Portal

Communicating on the ticket and through the Client Portal is not only time efficient, it also increases the transparency of the development process. With the detailed nature of so many of these requests, it would be nearly impossible to keep the client up to date through individual calls or emails each step of the way. Using the portal, the customer knows when a ticket is in progress and they are able to find out who is working on it by commenting on the ticket.

This visibility is beneficial for the development team as well. With all discussions happening on the ticket, everyone on the development team is up to date on the status of a given issue.

Using Confluence

Another bonus of the Client Portal is the Confluence application. Confluence, along with Jira, is a member of the Atlassian Suite, the enterprise software products that are often used by software project managers. Confluence contains a Knowledge Base, which is used to store information and files. As more and more informational documents become available on the Knowledge Base, clients can use this resource to find answers to their questions before they determine if they need to submit a new ticket in the Client Portal. These stored files can be anything from outlines and how-to documents, to pictures and videos. Any Client Portal can be linked to a Knowledge Base so that anyone with access to the Portal can also access the files being stored in the Knowledge Base.

Service Level Agreements in the Client Portal

The benefits of Service Level Agreements correlate with the Client Portal as well. Service Level Agreements define the terms of support and, when required, the timeline of response from our team. An SLA outlines rules for identifying a ticket as a bug or a request, as well as the guidelines for determining the severity of the issue. Our team can set up SLAs that are tracked by Jira. For example, if we have a contract with a customer in which any critical errors that occur will be addressed within four hours and completed within eight, Jira will track the corresponding tickets and make sure our team is hitting their deadlines. Jira can measure those metrics which demonstrate to our clients that not only are we supporting their site, we are doing so in the agreed upon timeframes.

So far, the Briteskies Magento team has not heard any complaints from customers using the Client Portal. In fact, when our Magento development team first implemented this program in March, they were holding 30-minute, introductory training classes with clients. However, the clients found it so easy to use that those classes were deemed unnecessary and they were eliminated.

The Jira Client Portal is a great resource for customers who want to be involved in every step of their project. This customizable tool is the easiest, quickest way for customers to voice their concerns or provide tickets to our development team.

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