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Jira Administration

Soft Sell: Strategies for Bringing Business Teams into JIRA

by Jenny Choban on November 1, 2017

You see that the HR team at your organizations is struggling to keep up with their workload. Employees complain that requests submitted to Finance go directly into a black hole. You think JIRA could be a great solution for these teams, but how should you broach the subject? Past attempts to suggest a solution haven't gotten very far. What can you do to overcome resistance?


Accept that Resistance is Normal

Business teams are bombarded with offers for new tools that claim to be the panacea for all of their troubles. From the team member point of view, the one thing these tools usually have in common is that they were built by people who don't actually know their team, or perhaps their team's business area. It's hard for them to imagine that a product not developed for their niche could really fit and sometimes the mere thought of another tool is overwhelming. Expect and accept that resistance is part of the process.

Adopt an Attitude of Gentle Persistence

Sometimes you may encounter a team leader who really digs in their heels when asked to change. It may be that they resent having a decision handed down from the top. Or they may be trying to protect their staff from upheavals which they think will pass. Or they may have been doing things for the same way since life first crawled out of the sea.

When it’s your job to implement a change with someone who’s dead set against changing, you need to do a balancing act. On the one hand you need to keep the process moving so that it’s clear change is going to happen. On the other hand, sometimes it’s helpful to let the person have a little time and space to get used to the idea of doing things in a new way. Investing some extra care and patience at this stage will pay off later.

Use the time to work out a detailed plan as to how you will work with their staff and manage the transition. Create a test account and patiently demonstrate solutions or workarounds to each of their objections. The hold-out will usually come around- sometimes they’ll even convince themselves that it was their idea to convert in the first place!

Find Allies

Cultivate relationships from people, both within and outside of the business team, who will champion the conversion. If you haven't already done so, get senior leadership on board. Oddly, sometimes it's folks at the executive level who are most unwilling to change. Be prepared to demonstrate the efficiencies that can be gained by swapping out an old school method like email for a online system like Jira Service Desk. They'll be attracted to the idea of streamlined, more efficient request management. Make it clear that all of the benefits (like great analytics) that IT enjoys from using JIRA can be available to any team.

While buy-in from organization leadership is key, you should also look for an enthusiast within the team. This person could become your Super Agent, the team member who really loves and promotes JIRA, who can set up JSD functions (automation rules, SLAs, queue assignments, etc.) to fit the team's processes.


Listening is almost always a sure way to win people over. Spend some time with the business team your hoping to convert. Find out what aspects of their current system are working well for them and what things they’re frustrated with. Their pain points can become your selling points, but only if you take the time to find out what their pain points are.

Also keep your ears perked for their terminology. Adopt their lingo when talking about functionality. In addition to showing respect for their body of knowledge, it will help reduce skepticism that an IT system can fit their team. Non-tech teams may not be attracted to the idea of using "tickets" or tracking "issues," but they will be interested in improving and streamlining their ability to provide employees support.

Do a Demo

When the team is ready, do a demo. Focus on the benefits, letting them know how JIRA makes it easy for you to track issues, collaborate and measure what’s been done. Show them the list of ProForma Templates that correspond to their team’s work area so they know that you’re offering a tool that’s been built with them in mind. This is also a time to show the benefits of using JIRA. Show them how anyone involved with an issue can check on its status without interrupting your team with a phone call; how leadership can allocate resources knowing how often certain tasks need to be done and how much time they take; how agents can create and customize forms to collect exactly what they need without having to seek help from IT. Make it clear that fewer requests will arrive in their email inboxes!

Let Them Know You Have a Process for Change Management

Sometimes the resistance to change stems not from fear of using a new system, but from fear of getting to the point where you can use the new system. This is perfectly reasonable. New tools do come with a learning curve and the transition is a high-risk period for things to fall through the cracks. Let the team know that you have tried and tested procedures for managing change so that nothing gets lost along the way.

Run reports that they can reconcile against their old system to build their confidence in how JIRA works. Be clear that you’re not going to install the Jira then abandon them. You will be there to handle any hiccups that emerge (during or after implementation) and to fine tune the system so that it meets their needs.

Offer training both for the initial conversion and as teams onboard new staff. Be willing to accommodate their learning styles (videos and online tutorials are not for everyone, and IT documentation can be daunting) as you train them to use JIRA. Acknowledge that the addition of another system will add a new layer to their team onboarding process, but assure them the efficiency gains will make it well worth it.

Keep Up the Momentum

Do be sure to keep the process moving - too much lag time and people will settle back into their old ways of doing things.

You’re promoting JIRA because you genuinely believe that it will be a useful tool for your business teams. Chances are, happy converts will be coming to thank you in no time. For more information, see our article on Five Strategies for Getting Buy-in When Implementing ProForma for Your Business Teams.