UK communications provider Virgin Media is using JIRA project tracking software from Atlassian to monitor how its technical systems and applications are performing.

JIRA is traditionally associated with software developers building new products, who use the application to capture and organise issues, work through action items, and stay up-to-date with team activity.

Nick Good, Head of Technology Efficiency and Field Teams at Virgin Media, came across JIRA after carrying out a pilot project to identify opportunities to improve the company's IT systems. The pilot had been carried out using spreadsheets, which Good described as an “absolute nightmare”.

He asked around the company to find out if anybody knew of a program that would enable his team to record data in a way that could be easily monitored and analysed, and it emerged that a couple of the other development teams were using JIRA for bug tracking.

Good therefore downloaded a trial version of the software, pumped the pilot data into it, and discovered that it was ideal for his team's needs.

“JIRA struck a good balance between simplicity, flexibility, and extensive reporting,” said Good. “It made it possible for us to quantify why each issue needed to be resolved and how best to prioritise each and every one of them.”

Good opted for a hosted version of JIRA, which allowed him to get the software up and running within a couple of weeks. After just one month, the program had resolved 35 potential issues, and within a year it was hundreds.

“During our agents’ field visits they captured their observations in a highly-customised JIRA ticket, triaged the issues, and instantly assigned them to the responsible department,” said Good.

“In a couple of clicks, JIRA could show us how best to prioritise each case. JIRA also allows remote working, so we could access our system and update it as easily in the field as in the office.”

Good claims that the project has delivered savings five times greater than the investment cost. Furthermore, he believes that JIRA has prevented Virgin Media from being left with legacy issues from a complex and unsupported spreadsheet system.

In particular, he praised JIRA's simple interface, and the way it helps to break down large, complex problems into smaller ones.

“Many issues we encountered turned out to be non-technical opportunities for improvement. Things as simple as teaching staff to use shortcut buttons on applications to save time, or identifying that certain issues were taking far too long due to process issues rather than technical reasons,” he said.

“All these factors added up to huge savings in time and money.”

Virgin Media will continue to use JIRA indefinitely to audit its IT inventory and identify ways to improve business solutions. Good added that using the software has allowed his department to carve out a niche for itself, and other parts of the business are now looking to follow suit.

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