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Why you need to update your JIRA regularly

Updating your Atlassian application is sort of like asking yourself if you want to go to the gym – you’ll always find an excuse not to do it, but you probably should.

Atlassian admins and decision makers might say to themselves:

  • ‘It is not necessary because it currently works very well.’
  • ‘We only should upgrade when we need new features.’
  • ‘I don’t have time to devote to this sort of project, it will take far too long.’

How do I know what the common excuses are? I used to be one of those JIRA admins. Yet I wasn’t alone, it is in fact the situation for many companies.

However, what happens is that on one dark, fated day, a customer will come to you and ask for the latest feature or a new add-on. Suddenly, it becomes necessary to upgrade 2 or 3 major versions. This operation takes time, bugs are discovered, and other countless problems arise like a wrong transition in the workflow or fake active users. Naturally, these operations will take time to fix and the customer will not be satisfied because weeks or months will pass before the arrival of a functional version.

With slightly more effort, this doesn’t have to be your fate – upgrading your JIRA or Confluence can be done quickly and without stress. You just need to organise yourself to execute regular upgrades. After all, Atlassian solutions are Agile oriented and therefore designed for regular and effortless updates.

It is therefore necessary to plan application upgrades every year. If you’ve never done it, the first time is probably going to be difficult, the second time a little less, until finally it merely becomes a formality.

Here are my top tips to start implementing seamless upgrades:

  • Communicate with your users regularly. At first they might be reluctant about the inconvenience, yet over time they will learn to trust the process as previous upgrades will have worked smoothly, quickly bringing them new features.
  • Identify non-critical periods for the business which are ideal for the upgrades. There is nothing worse than a JIRA application which is unavailable right at the moment a major project is being finalised or when the company’s portal is unavailable during the launch of a marketing campaign.
  • Have a test environment and a copy of the production. This does not take an extra license.
  • Verify that your license has not expired. This will block the upgrade. If you’re finding it difficult to manage your licenses, it might be time to delegate this task elsewhere.
  • Check the compatibility of your add-ons.
  • List the specifications which you have personalised to your application. This will make it easier to define your test booklet and allows you to quickly find the critical features. Generally, we advocate reducing the specifications and using add-ons.

Implementing this in a previous company I worked for was really difficult. My first nightmare upgrade was from JIRA 3.13 to 5.1.4. We forgot to renew our licenses and also decided to merge the JIRA instances by ourselves. It took six months to finish it, as we had to create the test environment, define an upgrade procedure, specify the development to merge the instances, manage add-ons constraints, etc. The deployment in itself took two days…

Our next upgraded was from JIRA 5.1.4 to JIRA 6.1.  It took one month because we had roughly 100 scripts to refine our JIRA, and one day for the deployment. Yet six months later, when we migrated to JIRA 6.4, we finished the upgrade within five days. With the upgraded to JIRA 7.1 and the new addition of Confluence, the process was pretty smooth – no problems with JIRA and some minor technical bugs with Confluence.

With a regular strategy for upgrades, your applications are no longer roadblocks for innovation. Customers are happy users because they adapt the tools to their work, rather than adapt their work to the tools.

If you need help managing your upgrades don’t hesitate to contact Valiantys by clicking the button below!

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