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The 3 essentials for building awesome Jira workflows

How can you and your team build awesome workflows in Jira?

You will need the right wingman to successfully map your processes in Jira. This blog post is about how to support you in overcoming the challenges with Jira workflow management apps as this wingman.
In our first blog post, we explained that Jira's standard workflow engine does a great job of covering the basic needs of every team. Going beyond makes it necessary to extend Jira. So we identified what a workflow app should offer to you to become a workflow superhero. The three most basic things were:

  • the needed functionality
  • a user-friendly interface
  • the right guidance

What else you should look for in a workflow app? We wanted to learn more about what you need to be successful in automating Jira and building workflows. And as we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of our automation solution Jira Workflow Toolbox, we talked to our users to find out just that. Our main goal in the upcoming version 3.0 of JWT was to address and solve the identified challenges. (UPDATE: The release is out. Read our blog post)

Image: Person sitting in front of a computer working at their desk

What is a good way to offer customization power to the user?

We want to dive deeper into advanced workflow customization and not stick to the basics. The first key element is the customization power of the app. In other words, the technical possibilities the app offers you. To implement more complex requirements, we already introduced the two common technical solutions in our former blog post. No-/low-code solutions and scripting solutions.

No-/low-code solutions like Jira Workflow Toolbox focus on making workflow design intuitive and easy. They allow users with no formal knowledge of coding to implement even complex requirements. JWT adds so-called expressions as a feature. They provide a huge set of functionalities to read and manipulate data from Jira issues, users, projects and more. There is no need to write code. The configuration complexity does not go beyond drag & drop or selecting values, where possible. Functions used in expressions contain the logic and steps to return the desired result. Access to issue data is possible through virtual fields. Together they form an easy to use and powerful tool.

But what about usability?

All the reduced complexity does not mean that no mistakes can happen. Certain features can and will help to reduce errors while speeding up the configuration. Useful are drop-down selectors and additional features like a spelling/syntax check and auto-completion. This kind of support for the user during configuration makes the design of workflows more efficient.

So make sure that you are technically well prepared for building your workflows. And that it is easy to apply this customization power. But there is more to a helpful app.

Image: A laptop with a big green checkmark on the screen

How can users be enabled to solve their own configuration problems?

Enablement in the app has been a topic so far. Imagine you are stuck with your configuration and can't get anywhere. What is your next step?
Documentation is frequently the first place users look when they have a question. We identified this to be another crucial element of successful workflow customization. It is the content for you to help get the most out of the product and the fastest and most effortless path to getting answers.

What makes great app documentation?

  • It's extensive. It should have answers to all or most of your possible questions.
  • Information is easy to find. A clear structure, appealing appearance and a search function are important for any documentation.
  • It's comprehensible. As simple as possible and as complex as necessary.
  • It's approachable. It should be easily accessible. Ideally accessible or reachable directly from the app.
  • It's valid. That's right! Documents should be accurate and up-to-date. It's your source for solving a problem.
Image: a shining light bulb

And everyone loves solving problems. If you can easily find an answer to your question, you're going to be much more satisfied!
And there is even more to documentation. A collection of usage examples can be a handy addition to kickstart your workflow customization in Jira. You can get inspired. It's all about empowering you.

And for us, user documentation can also be remarkably helpful for customer support. It makes explaining difficult actions a whole lot easier. We can break down complex tasks into simple steps for you.
Also, we know that customers expect to help themselves before submitting a ticket.

Who to ask when it gets tough?

Lots of people prefer the challenge of coming up with their own solutions. They won't reach out for support unless they believe they can't solve the problem by themselves. But nevertheless, the last essential element on the list is good app support.

Image: A support engineer in a Decadis vest sitting in front of their laptop

Keep in mind that the app support is not the right address for a complex and extensive implementation. But through experience, a support engineer will most likely be able to point you in the right direction. Through their experience, they will recognize common errors very quickly.
You should always feel that reaching out to the support team is a great option. Just in case you need it. So make sure to check the support quality when evaluating an app or have a look at the review on the Atlassian Marketplace. What gives you more confidence in the quality of customer support?

Support team are rock stars in their own right. They don't hold back on service and would assist you until you're happy.

- Atlassian Marketplace review for Jira Workflow Toolbox

Or something like "The support reacts slowly and is rather unfriendly. Not very helpful on top of that"?
Make sure that you always feel fully supported as a customer. And finally, a short reminder of what a good support ticket should contain.

What are the key elements of a super support request?

Next to a few basic information about your system, there are three very important elements:

  • Context
  • Configuration
  • Log files
Image: Close-up of a support engineer sitting in front of their laptop

The context is necessary to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Don't forget that we never saw your implementation and processes before. A brief summary of the use case and where exactly you are in the process is a perfect start for working on your request.
Provide the support team with your configuration. Regardless of whether you do not know how to solve your use case or whether you encounter errors. This helps in identifying issues.
And finally, log files are definitely helpful. What is written in the logs is a shortcut to the solution. Even for yourself. Do you have no access to the file system? Access your Jira log files easily from the application administration with the free app Last Log for Jira.

That rounds up our thoughts about the essentials for building awesome workflows in Jira. Consider these three elements when choosing a workflow app for Jira and you are well taken care of. You will have all tools at hand to be a workflow superhero and get the most out of your Jira workflows and automation.
Do you have any questions or suggestions for us? Please get in touch and let us know what you think. We are looking forward to it.

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Written by
Max Förster

Image: A picture of the author Max Foerster 



Decadis AG
ViktoriastraĂźe 15
56068 Koblenz

Tel: +49 261 96373 0

E-Mail: info@decadis.de