Atlassian users familiar with Confluence know it as a tool for knowledge management and collaboration. Confluence has a ton of built-in features to help teams work together and share information easily. However, just like Jira, Confluence can be customized and extended with third-party plug-ins and custom scripts. Using these plugins, along with Confluence’s native features, you can build custom solutions and support portals for your own teams. These solutions can make your team more productive and improve how stakeholders get information and interact with your team.
In this article, we discuss how a team from Modus Create worked with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to turn Confluence into a full-fledged Product Support Hub for their clients, including live performance metrics and visuals, automated (opt-in) product outage notifications, and a custom professional site theme, all packaged in a scalable solution to support as many products as needed.
Problems to Solve
The Product Support team at AIA had a small staff supporting a large number of different products and sites, each with its own groups of external customers and stakeholders. The team was already using Confluence and StatusPage but was hoping to integrate the two products to easily communicate updates to stakeholders. AIA reached out to Modus, looking for a partner to help build a custom solution integrating their existing Atlassian products, leveraging automation wherever possible.
At a high level, the task at hand was to use Confluence to fulfill the following requirements:
- Elegant product support dashboards
- Real-time product notifications
- Ability to manage each product with its own stakeholder group separately
- Establish a knowledge base for each product
A Balanced Approach with the Right Tools
Given the requests from AIA, Modus set out with a cross-functional team with different skill sets surrounding front-end development, Atlassian tools expertise, and back-end automation. Being able to pool insight and expertise from experts with different backgrounds and talents enables Modus Create teams to deliver incredible value and fully-realized solutions to our clients.
Before starting work, the team needed to make sure we had the proper tools to build this custom solution. The team was able to identify several tools for this project from the Atlassian Marketplace, in the form of plug-ins. These plug-ins would allow us to develop custom code and scripts along with thoughtful configurations in Confluence to create a highly customized solution. This solution, discussed below, offers numerous custom features to support AIA’s team and processes as well as delight their stakeholders and clients.
Steps Towards a Solution
Step 1 – Create a Cohesive Site Design and Structure
Using Refined for Confluence, the Modus team created a custom site structure and theme that allowed the team at AIA to take advantage of some new custom features in Confluence:
- A single product support hub for all products along with product-specific dashboards and associated knowledge bases
- Self-service portals where customers can submit questions to the team (using Smart Questions and Answers), which can be used to grow the team’s knowledgebase.
- Custom theme and CSS to match AIA’s branding.
- Elegant and simple layout to provide an optimal user experience.
Step 2 – Build Dynamic Reports and Graphs with Live Analytics
To transform live data from their instances of StatusPage and New Relic into graphs on the product pages in Confluence, the team utilized PocketQuery for Confluence. PocketQuery is an incredibly interesting and versatile tool that the creator describes as (the ability to) “Fetch data from external SQL databases or REST APIs and display the results on Confluence pages.” Using this plug-in we are able to develop custom code that connects to (essentially) any available information source to create graphs right on the confluence pages, using live data.
The Modus Create team ran with this new ability and created a list of different visual reports and charts, based on a variety of customer interaction and uptime analytics on respective product home pages.
Step 3 – Allow Users to Subscribe to Alerts and Updates with Automated Blog Entries
To add the final piece of the puzzle, Modus used ScriptRunner for Confluence to develop a custom REST endpoint within Confluence. This custom endpoint would allow webhook notifications sent from StatusPage to be received by Confluence (at a super-secret location) and automatically generate blog posts in each affected Product space in Confluence, depending on which product(s) were identified in the webhook alert.
By separating these notifications into different product-specific blogs in Confluence, users are able to subscribe to whichever products they are interested in, without being bombarded with updates that do not concern them.
Confluence is a tool that many people think of as a simple ‘wiki’ documentation platform. But, as seen here, Confluence can be configured to support teams in ways that most users haven’t realized (or imagined) before. The success of this project speaks to both the versatility of the tool suite as well as how much can be accomplished in Atlassian tools when you partner with a team with the right skill set.
A Custom Solution For Your Team
Atlassian tools with deep levels of customizability and extendability like Jira and Confluence can fundamentally shift how your teams work, how they interact with stakeholders, and how much work can get done in a day. However, as some people that are familiar with using these applications can tell you, the only thing as important as selecting the right tools for your team is making sure those tools are configured properly, based on a solid understanding of best practices as well as your team’s unique processes and requirements.
Read more about the value the American Institute of Architects gained from partnering with Modus Create. When you combine industry-leading tools with expertise spanning multiple disciplines and a team that is driven to deliver innovation and value to their clients, exciting things happen. Reach out to our team of Atlassian Experts and begin taking steps to having a customized toolset for your team that will make your work easier and your customers happier.
- Building Successful Self-Managed Teams
In software development, a lot of terms are thrown around for how teams should be…
- Ship It: Release Management in Jira and Confluence
Ship it! Planning, managing and communicating releases is often done as an afterthought. You release…