Agile philosophies have extended their influence far beyond software development. It isn’t uncommon for organizations to consolidate all their workflows in one tool to boost transparency and accountability. A centralized tool also serves as a knowledge repository.
However, you can always count on mergers to rock the boat.
As an official Platinum Solution Partner for Atlassian, we often get approached by organizations to consolidate their Atlassian products post-M&As. Occasionally, mergers include more than two companies, further complicating the matter. This post will share some of our learnings from consolidating Jira instances and give you a framework to plan the next steps.
Types of Post Merger Consolidation
Every project is unique, but we can broadly classify post-merger consolidations into four types:
- Cloud to Cloud: Merging multiple Jira instances in the cloud.
- On-prem to Cloud: Merging multiple Jira instances in the cloud by migrating at least one instance from an on-premises data center.
- On-prem to On-prem: Merging multiple Jira instances in an on-premises data center.
- External Tool to Jira: Migrating instances from external tools to Jira and merging them.
The Four Phases of Consolidation
Consolidating instances can be overwhelming if you try to do everything at once. It’s best to break the project down into four phases:
1. Assessment — Discover the Pain Points
Before you even begin, ask why you want to consolidate instances. Which problems are you trying to solve? Which goals do you wish to achieve?
Is your goal to improve visibility into overall operations, optimize costs, simplify maintenance, or all of them? Similarly, discuss with all the stakeholders what they expect from the project and how Jira can make their lives easier. You want to avoid situations where the resulting instance ignores a team’s needs, creating further friction down the line.
Understanding team goals and aspirations will help you plan the implementation strategy. It might even make you rethink consolidation. You might discover that the acquired business unit can’t move to a cloud instance due to data regulations. For example, a typical Atlassian assessment digs into the following areas to understand business requirements:
- Data privacy and compliance requirements — HIPAA, ISO/IEC 27018, ISO/IEC 27001, SOC2 Type II, and GDPR
- User management requirements — SSO, User Provisioning, Atlassian Access, etc.
- Atlassian apps — Not every app is available on the cloud
- Product tier and subscriptions — Standard, Premium, or Enterprise
- Atlassian roadmap — Being aware of upcoming releases helps plan the consolidation strategy
2. Implementation — Set the Stage for Success
Once the goals are clearly defined, you can plan a roadmap, starting with budgeting. Consolidating instances often leads to cost savings as Atlassian seats are charged per instance. The resulting savings plus potential costs saved with improved productivity can help offset the budget needed for the project.
This is also the right stage to answer several important questions, such as:
- Who owns the consolidation project?
- What tools/apps are needed to simplify consolidation?
- Do you need external partners to run the project for you?
- Would merging instances disrupt the existing admin/permission settings?
- Are out-of-the-box Atlassian solutions enough, or do you need to customize them?
Consolidating instances involves massive amounts of data. Therefore each team can do their part by cleaning up their Jira instances. This removes redundant information and simplifies the actual migration process.
3. Migration — Perform the Heavy-Lifting
There are different steps involved in migration depending on the nature of consolidation. Let’s take one of the most popular use cases — Server Data Center (On-prem) to Cloud.
Steps Before the Production Migration
- Raise a ticket to Atlassian — This is known as the MOVE ticket, and it’s the best place to get guidance for the migration.
- Communicate your consolidation progress internally — One of the most common complaints is that people are unaware of the upcoming changes and impact.
- Create your cloud site — We recommend using Premium during your migration. This will allow you to access the Sandbox, which will be important for your tests.
- Create a Sandbox environment with the products you will migrate.
- Choose your migration strategy:
- ⭐JCMA/BCMA/CCMA (Recommended option)
- Jira Cloud Migration Assistance (JCMA)
- Bitbucket Cloud Migration Assistance (BCMA)
- Confluence Cloud Migration Assistance (CCMA)
- Site Import (this option is recommended only for large instances)
- External System CSV
- ⭐JCMA/BCMA/CCMA (Recommended option)
- Review and resolve the names of globally available configuration objects (i.e. projects, spaces, workflows, etc.) across the source and destination instances.
- For any objects with the same name, check if the names mean the same thing in both instances.
- If they mean different things, rename the object on one of the instances.
- Plan how to migrate attachments, users, apps, integration, and customizations in advance.
- Review your company compliances, IP allowlisting, data residency, release tracks policies.
- Test the migration using the Sandbox with the main stakeholders — Share a FAQ document describing the main differences to the end user in advance.
- The end goal is a Runbook document describing all the steps for the migration. Include the rollback plan in case of unknown contingencies.
- Claim your user domains
- Verify if your identity provider is supported by Atlassian Access
- Setup SSO and User Provisioning
- Schedule a date that doesn’t conflict with the team releases dates
- Execute the migration Runbook, following all the steps performed in the Test
- Provide a channel to the end user to report bugs and get help, especially in the two weeks after the migration
- Implement a redirect from the old site to the new site
- Decommission the old site
4. Transformation — Drive a Cultural Change
Consolidating Atlassian instances doesn’t simply end with migration. Therefore, it’s vital to provide post-migration support. Answer your team’s questions, share best practices, and provide them a channel to give feedback. The subsequent weeks should focus on incorporating feedback to encourage adoption.
Fortunately, Atlassian has an in-depth knowledge portal and vibrant community that provides answers to most technical questions. However, every Jira instance is unique, and your Jira admin should be available to answer not just technical queries but also questions related to your internal workflows and business rules. For example, a user can google how to tag users to get their feedback on Jira issues. However, when they should do it depends on how your business defines an issue as “done.”
Post-migration support encourages your team to embrace the new instance, which ultimately is the hallmark of a successful consolidation.