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[Success Story] How an Engineering Team at Atlassian Changed Their Physical Board Collaboration Into An Effective (and fun) Virtual One

Agnieszka Józwiak
Agnieszka Józwiak
Dec 8th, 2020

Online collaboration is on the rise this year. Due to the global pandemic outbreak, more teams had to make a quick shift to remote work and make wise decisions about adopting new tools to support them in daily meetings and activities.

Read on to see how Zakaria Benbakkar and his engineering team at Atlassian, mainly focused on scalability and performance in the cloud, turned their brainstorming sessions, kick-off meetings, and other daily meetings into online collaborative sessions with Whiteboards.


Challenge

Converting to remote work forced many teams to adopt new collaboration methods to sustain efficient communication with their teams and maintain successful project delivery. Colocated teams dropped their traditional physical boards and picked up their online tools to keep up the good teamwork in a remote setup. Zak and his Engineering Team at Atlassian switched the physical board in the office to online Whiteboards:

Zak Benbakkar Atlassian" It all started with the COVID lockdown back in March this year. As we had to switch to remote work, my team and myself (I believe this is a true situation for many other teams) felt suddenly deprived of a trivial yet essential tool we had at our disposition in the office was the whiteboard. Be it a brainstorming session, new project kick-off, or simply explaining an idea to a teammate, The Whiteboards was there for us behind our desk! " Zakaria Benbakkar, Engineering Manager, Atlassian

The App is a visual support tool for the team during every meeting and turns out to be even more powerful as it kept the team in the same space, just virtual.

"When Whiteboards came out, I was immediately in love with the product. In fact, it is a product that solves an actual problem." - concludes Zak.


Solution

So how does Zak and the Engineering Team organize their daily meeting boards and make sure they don’t miss a thing and the team is aligned? Zak explains:

"I think that one of the strengths of Whiteboards is the seamless integration with Jira. We use whiteboards for our pre-planning sessions, where we collaborate on coming up with user stories. Among the features we use the most is adding Jira issues from the backlog/board. It offers great flexibility when it comes to the source of the input to the Whiteboard."

Regardless of the type of the meeting, a planning session, prioritization, retrospective, risk analysis, to name a few, every team will find a suitable template to start their collaboration session. The preset whiteboard is there; you just need to bring your team together and begin the creative part.

"Another feature I like, and I intend to try along with my team, is the Blueprints. I believe that this feature is going to help us discover new uses for Whiteboards that we haven’t thought of yet."- Zak adds.

Whiteboards Available Templates


Set of predefined Blueprints available in Whiteboards helps teams start off their meetings in the format they need it- with populated card in a way specific to the meeting type. Moreover, teams can create and save templates that could be reused by other teams in their organization.

When you brainstorm ideas and add more items to your to-do list, you can make sure none of them slip out of your backlog. Whiteboards let you convert post-it notes into Jira issues with just one click.

“Last but not least, being able to create Jira issues on the fly on Whiteboard is really an awesome touch. This helps stimulate thinking outside of the box - you can drop an issue wherever you are able to draw a card.”

Convert stickers into issues


The full integration with Jira allowed the team at Atlassian to:

  • easily populate the whiteboard with their existing Jira issues or create new ones;
  • edit, update, rank, or transition Jira issues - individually, in bulk, or via update zones directly on the board;
  • turn ideas into actionable items by converting stickers created during online planning into issues in their Jira with just one click;
  • attach boards to Jira issues to add visual context to the items;

All sessions end with created action items, set of priorities, and work well organized. The team can come back to the board whenever needed, and the outcomes of all meetings on a visual board can serve as a presentation for stakeholders, during team demos, etc.


Benefits

Successful communication is the key to efficient team cooperation and work effectiveness. So what other benefits Zak’s team enjoyed while using Whiteboards for Jira?

“One of the main benefits I see from using Whiteboards is that it allows us to remotely collaborate efficiently. The notion of a virtual whiteboard simply prompts and stimulates the outside-of-the-box way of thinking required to tackle difficult topics. “

It’s crucial that every team meeting has an agenda and concludes with clear action items, so everyone is aligned and know what to do when the meeting is over.

“Once the thinking is done, converting the outcomes to trackable action items is a piece of cake thanks to the seamless integration with Jira. Obviously, all of this is happening in real-time and all participants can contribute as if it was happening away from the keyboard.”

The last question we asked Zak was if he would recommend Whiteboards for other companies having the same need? Here is Zak’s answer:

“I would definitely recommend it (Whiteboards) to other teams! COVID-19 triggered an irreversible change in the way we perceive and do work. Whiteboards is definitely a product that addresses the needs of the new way of working and help teams effectively collaborate” - As Zak summarizes.

Check out Whiteboards for Jira on the Atlassian Marketplace.


What’s your story?

We’d love to hear your story. It could help other users introduce successful practices to support their remote teamwork and collaboration to be more effective and productive.

If you would like to tell us how you use Whiteboards for Jira and Whiteboards for Confluence drop us a line at hello@spartez-software.com.