So you’ve looked through the entire Atlassian Marketplace and you still can’t find an add-on that solves your problem?
You might need to hire a company that will develop a custom plugin for your organization.
But how do you go about creating such a custom-made solution? How can you tell that a vendor can be trusted to deliver a high quality add-on that matches your requirements?
Here’s everything you need to know about creating your own JIRA plugin.
In our experience as the Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, organizations usually decide to develop JIRA add-ons when they realize that the available functionalities or plugins don’t match their requirements.
The way in which companies decide about that usually depends on their level of expertise.
Sometimes we are approached by companies that have a group of JIRA experts on board who realize that a custom-made add-on is the best solution to their problem.
They know precisely which functionalities they need for the solution to achieve their objectives. They usually present us with a detailed specification.
Our job is to deliver a solid add-on together with the required configuration that will help them solve the problem.
Other times, the need for a particular JIRA solution comes up during workshops or consultation sessions.
Working on various JIRA-related problems, our client might come to the conclusion that instead of installing a particular Marketplace add-on or arranging extra training, they need to develop and implement a custom-made solution.
When such clients approach us with their ideas, our first step is to verify whether the idea can be realized in its present form or needs to be changed. We are happy to brainstorm with our clients and together come up with a solution that matches their needs.
That scenario can happen with companies characterized by high JIRA expertise as well. If our client’s team of JIRA experts is busy solving other problems, we are ready to jump on board and advise them on developing the right solution.
At InTENSO, we provide a comprehensive service to our clients: we acquire requirements, create a custom plugin, assist in client testing, and deliver quality reporting.
Once you know what kind of solution your organization needs, it’s time to pick a company that will develop and implement it for you.
If you’ve been collaborating with the vendor before – for example, if the idea for the custom solution emerged during a workshop or consultation session with them – you’re on the right track. The vendor already has in-depth knowledge of the problem and plenty of information about your organization.
Now it’s time to check if the vendor can be trusted to deliver your solution.
Check whether the vendor is an Atlassian Solution Partner. Atlassian Solution Partners are usually vendors who created a solution for one of their clients and then published it on the Marketplace.
If they boast the title of the Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, you can trust the vendor to have a solid presence on the market and significant experience. You can be sure that this kind of company won’t go out of business anytime soon. The Platinum marks the highest level of expertise in the Atlassian ecosystem and Platinum partners are required to employ people who are certified by Atlassian for their product knowledge.
It’s also a good idea to check whether the vendor is active in the Atlassian ecosystem. Does the vendor participate in Atlassian events and conferences? If so, you can be sure that the company is up to date with the best tools and practices in the sector.
Is the vendor proud to share the news about their projects? Is it easy for you to find client referrals or access client case studies that show how the vendor went about creating custom solutions for other organizations?
Transparency in this area is a very good sign. If the vendor delivers high quality solutions, there’s no reason for them to hide that fact. Most of the time, such companies include a comprehensive case study portfolios on their websites to show potential clients their capabilities.
If the vendor doesn’t share any information about their past collaborations, consider that a warning sign. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to tell everyone their success stories?
An experienced vendor will never collect client specifications, disappear and then reappear within two months with the ready product.
Professional vendors keep in touch with the client and check in with them once different components of their solution have been completed.
Vendors who know their way around the niche know that it’s smart to meet with the client as soon a as they’ve got something to show. That’s how they make sure that the development process proceeds in the right direction.
If it turns out that these early components depart from the client’s expectations and requirements, the vendor can quickly change their approach and avoid wasting time on developing a solution nobody needs.
Experienced vendors are flexible and ready to adapt to client needs as quickly as possible. That’s why they keep the lines of communication open with their clients.
Ask the vendor what collaborating with them looks like. If they’ve worked with other companies on similar projects, they should have a ready answer and present you with a well-structured, but flexible process.
Developing a custom add-on is just one part of the job. The other is the proper configuration of the client’s JIRA instance to ensure the seamless integration of the new plugin with the platform.
Experienced vendors usually offer to not only write the software, but also implement it inside the client’s JIRA. They never deliver the add-on hoping that the client will figure out on their own how to configure their instance to use it properly.
Another sign that attests to the vendor’s professionalism is the period of time established in the contract as the implementation phase.
Once the solution is delivered and implemented at your company, the vendor should allow you a specific amount of time to make sure that the delivered functionality works well in the production environment and it’s exactly what you needed. It can be anything from 2 weeks to 1 month.
Naturally, an experienced vendor will have already tested the add-on together with the client before deploying it to minimize the risk of major alterations after the delivery.
However, the vendor should allow a certain period of time when the client deploys the solution inside their JIRA instance and identifies potential errors.
The vendor should be able to give you a concrete scenario of what happens once the solution is ready. Depending on the level of technical expertise available at your organization, you might need more or less help in the onboarding process.
Make sure to establish that before signing the contract. If your team needs extra training, remember to include an onboarding workshop in your agreement.
Most of the time, the solution onboarding process is carried out by our clients internally – especially the ones who have a team of JIRA experts on board and approach us with a well-defined problem. They usually test our solution, and if it matches their expectations, the collaboration is completed.
A responsible vendor will have several options ready for you to choose from. For example, In our recent project, we equipped the client’s JIRA administrator with a set of instructions to help in the implementation and onboarding process.
Presenting you with a quote for developing a custom-made JIRA add-on, the vendor should feature every step of the process, including the implementation stage.
If you found the right vendor who will be delivering your custom JIRA solution, you’re ready to start the process.
Doing something for the first time can be tricky, because you don’t know what to expect.
That’s why I decided to describe the development process we carry out at InTENSO whenever collaborating with a client on a custom JIRA solution.
Step 1 – The client makes an inquiry
Once the client makes an inquiry, it travels straight to our Sales team. Our team has a closer look at the order to determine whether the client needs only a product license or also requires services – for instance, developing a custom plugin.
If it’s the latter and the client makes an order, it is taken over by our Service Department.
Step 2 – We prepare our quote
That’s when we prepare a quote that covers the initial cost of the service.
We usually ask the client for more detailed information about the required service at this stage to make our quote as accurate as possible. We also create a preliminary schedule informing the client when we can begin working on their solution and what are the essential steps of our collaboration.
Once the client accepts our offer, we’re ready to start developing their custom JIRA solution.
Step 3 – We begin our work!
At this stage, we assemble the team that will be responsible for carrying out the project and the leader who will be overseeing its development and keep in touch with the client.
Step 4 – Implementation
Once the solution components have been checked and tested, we proceed with the implementation of the add-on in the client’s JIRA instance – including the configuration and the support period when the client tests out the solution on their own.
Step 5 – Project wrap up
Once the support period is over, we consider the project as completed.
Building a custom plugin is far more complex than installing an add-on available on the Atlassian Marketplace.
But the power of JIRA is based on its ability to transform and match organizational needs in the most optimal way. That’s why you should take advantage of the platform’s flexibility and tweak it to make it work for your organization.
Have you got any questions about creating a custom JIRA add-on? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to me in comments, I’ll be happy to help you out in choosing the right JIRA solution.