Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Summary: how to get Atlassian's attention effectively.

If you were an Atlassian Product Manager, what would get your attention? Obviously show-stopping issues such as the security problems earlier this year are going to stop you cold. But after that, what to do first with your limited time and small, only-human team? You've got literally thousands of issues to choose from.

There's no need to keep guessing because Atlassian publish an official "how we choose what to work on" guide. Here's my take on what it says:
  • We use JIRA and Confluence to track issues and we expect you to also
  • No roadmaps (they change too often)
  • Votes do matter
  • Feature Requests are not Bugs, and are not treated the same way
and finally "We schedule features based on a variety of factors", which I take to include "the importance of your request depends on more than just how irritated you were when you submitted it".

Failed Approaches
  • Angry rants: "this issue has dozens of votes, so you obviously don't care about your customers, I hate you all!"
  • Unfounded estimates: "this is so simple, it should only take you an hour or two"
  • Snarky "Happy Birthday" comments in an issue
I think I've tried all of these in the past five years. None of them worked very well.

Better Approaches
  • Good bugs - define action (what did you do), expectation (what should have happened) and observation (what actually happened)
  • Crisp and concise communication, because vagueness or wordiness makes it look like you don't care
  • Pointing out how your request fits in so nicely with the rest of the Atlassian products
  • Talking to Atlassians about the request at AtlasCamp, AtlasSummit and Atlassian User Groups
Open Questions
  • Does an existing implementation help or hinder your request? It can live on as a workaround, or it could provide a working specification for Atlassian. There's probably no definite answer to this.


Disclaimer: The author, Matt Doar, is an Atlassian Partner with no secret access to Atlassian product managers.

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