The General Services Administration is an independent US Government agency that employs about 12,000 people. This organization helps manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. It simplifies their procurement processes and oversees the management of billions of dollars worth of property, mainly real estate and vehicles.
The GSA is required to use the Earned Value Management (EVM) methodology for measuring project performance and progress. The team also uses Jira for project management approach, so the EVM reports are often need to be created from Jira data.
We talked to Celeste B. Plaisance, Atlassian Collaboration Administrator, about how Jira Excel exporting fits in their processes. In addition to general-purpose Jira Excel exports, the GSA team also uses Jira data to report on earned value metrics.
It is only a subset of their methods, but an important tool in their set of techniques.
What does the General Services Administration (GSA) do?
GSA supports other US government agencies by providing products and services to government employees, like transportation, office space or office equipment.
GSA manages all federal properties, the federal government's fleet of vehicles. This department also provides acquisition services to the whole federal government of the United States. We offer government-wide acquisition contracts that other departments can use to buy products and services for themselves.
This makes their life much easier when they need to procure new equipment or services and also make the process more secure and complete.
In what capacity are you working with Atlassian tools?
I am the lead administrator for Jira, Confluence and Crowd instances maintained by GSA IT (Office of the Chief Information Officer). I have a couple of contractors working for me to provide Jira and Confluence to GSA staff across the whole enterprise.
What challenge did you face with Jira?
We needed to be able to seamlessly export from Jira during project iterations. We wanted to export all the Jira issue fields for a select group of Jira tickets into Excel spreadsheets for planning and management purposes.
The team responsible for software procurement turned to the Atlassian Marketplace and searched for Excel reporting and exporting apps. It was easy to find Better Excel Exporter which we understood was a popular app from a trusted vendor with previous experience with the government sector. The fact that it's not only available on Jira Server but also as a Jira Data Center offering was a positive factor as well.
The description on the Atlassian Marketplace further ensured our feelings, as well as support materials, like Jira Excel export samples. We also read some blogs by writers who were using it, and we found ourselves confident enough to buy it.
How does Better Excel Exporter for Jira help you in your work?
We use it every day to export all the system and custom fields from Jira tickets into Excel spreadsheets. The Jira Excel exports are used by project leads to generate a multitude of reports with graphics, etc.
Our users can create their own unique reports in Excel from different Jira screens. We use the Earned Value Management (EVM) method, so it's especially valuable when managers need to use and report on earned value metrics.
What is Earned Value Management?
It originates from the US Air Force from around 1966. They were the first organization to use this method to overview their project budget and progress, together with other iteration planning techniques.
Earned Value Management is a project management technique which aims to let managers gauge the performance of an ongoing project. It allows them to discover delivery problems early in every iteration and dig deeper to the root cause.
The earned value metrics determine if a project is on budget and on schedule or they need intervention. Usage of EVM is primarily preferred in the government sector, but it's getting broader popularity throughout other industries.
What's your message to anyone thinking about trying Better Excel Exporter?
It's a great app!
Matching the power of Jira with the flexibility of Excel allows users to respond to unique management requests. It also helps with other reporting needs when those emerge in our work methods.
In case your use case is much complex, there is still a lot Better Excel Exporter can offer. The app integrates with many popular Jira apps, making it possible to export data managed by those apps. You can even mix data from multiple Jira apps into a single Excel report.