How Interactive Release Dashboards in Jira will empty your Mailbox

Mature software delivery organizations release often, with an automated or almost automated process. But we all know, the majority of large organizations have not reached that level of maturity yet, or at least not across their entire software landscape.

I worked for an organization that shipped major releases quarterly, and in my experience, release reports go like this:

The Release Manager organizes a weekly status meeting with the representatives of all the relevant stakeholders (Test Leads, Dev Leads, Operations, Configuration Managers, Environment Managers, etc.)

Release Follow-up Meetings are often boring

Bored by the release status meeting?

As soon as we get closer to the go-live, the frequency of that status meeting increases to 3 times a week (!) and its duration goes from 15 minutes to almost an hour.

The meeting minutes are sent by email to a looooooong list of stakeholders (developers, testers, release managers, operations, top management, etc.) with a status report structured like this:

  1. 1
    Release timeline, copy-pasted from a Powerpoint file
  2. 2
    Two-sentence status summary per team (Dev, Test, Infra, DB, Security, Code QA, etc.), based on the meeting discussions
  3. 3
    List of actions (who, when, and status) copy-pasted from an Excel file
  4. 4
    Deployment summary: what was and what will be released, on which environment, when, based on the meeting discussion
  5. 5
    Blocking and critical bugs, copy-pasted from Jira
  6. 6
    Open and resolved bugs speed comparison with the previous releases (copy-pasted from Excel using Jira report copy-pastes)

You get it, tons of copy-pastes. Of course, each meeting attendee has to be present for the whole meeting, even if her/his task is to communicate a single piece of information, already available somewhere.

Moreover, there is a fair chance that people interested in the meeting outcomes are going to miss the minutes in the flow of urgent emails. Which is a pity, because adding the time of all the meeting participants, it cost 10 hours to write.

Have you tried replacing a meeting with a Jira Dashboard?

Release Teams should be using a Release and Environment Management Tool. If this sounds logical to you, you're in good company, because the majority of Release Managers are happy working from spreadsheets.

There are many tools out there (Xebia Labs, Plutora, Micro Focus, CA Release, etc.). Unfortunately, their installation and configuration takes time, and they’re not native to Jira, and that's before we mention the procurement process that takes months in some companies...

Did you know that Jira could also be used for Release and Environment Management?

Apwide Golive is the #1 Jira app for Release and Test Environment Management, and allows you to build a Live Release Dashboard like this one:

Example of Release Dashboard built in Jira using Apwide Golive and Custom Charts

Jira Release Dashboard built with Apwide Golive and Custom Charts

With these kinds of live dashboards, do you still need to keep your weekly status reports?

I'll give you a hint: YOU DON'T

What we’ve all noticed is that there are some smart team members, very aware of what’s possible with powerful tools like Jira, properly utilized. They manage to get all the relevant information from those tools but then... they copy-paste all the graphs into a release status Powerpoint.

Someone has to take the extra-step: move out of his/her comfort zone and start building a live dashboard that will aggregate all the relevant release information.

A fully-automated dashboard collating information already available in Jira or other tools. Nowadays, there are easy ways to sync and transfer information from one system to another.

Yes, it takes a bit of time.
But hey, can you imagine the thousands of hours your team will save?

How can you build Smart Release Dashboards?

And how do I build Smart Release Dashboards in Jira?

If building live Release Dashboard is relatively easy technically, there are still important skills needed in order to make it user-friendly for your audience.

  • Define your dashboard objective and audience
  • Select the right type of charts for presenting your data
  • Follow color theory (be mindful that roughly 8% of men and 0.5% of women are colorblind)
  • Make sure your dashboard is mobile-optimized; this is not automatically the case when using Jira or Confluence out of the box.
  • Arrange the data to fit the way it's used. KPIs should be displayed on the top of the page, followed by the supporting data.

Last but not least, do not forget to share the good news about your new dashboards, and ask for feedback from the teams that use them.

A live report published, but not advertised is useless!

Apwide Golive is a Jira app that gives you visibility and control over your environments.

  • save time when looking for environment information: no need to login to several tools
  • avoid environment booking conflicts: no more config issue in the middle of a demo
  • stop being spammed: each user decides what notification he/she wants to receive and can unsubscribe in a click
  • plan environments and release activities faster: use drag-and-drop on a timeline
Southwest Airlines Company
Mercedes-Benz Company
Manulife Financial Corporation is a Canadian multinational insurance company and financial services provider.
Sky Television Company
Barclays Bank

Many leading companies have already chosen Apwide Golive for Test Environment Management as it integrates easily with many other DevOps tools.

Check our free trial on Jira Server or Jira Cloud!

More about TEM and Release Management

5 ways to solve your Test Environments Booking Conflicts (with Jira)

It’s going to be great! It’s now over a week that you and your team could not sleep much, fixing the latest bugs (or let’s Read more

5 ways to solve your Test Environments Booking Conflicts (with Jira)

How Swiss Re’s Release Management Team halved their support time

Release Manager at SwissRe, Philipp Junghans explains how his team noticed a 50% decrease in calls and emails, after they replaced Excel spreadsheets with Jira Read more

How Swiss Re’s Release Management Team halved their support time