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I've noticed that a lot of discussion between a developer and a Product Owner happens in private conversations in various communication tools (Skype, Slack, email, etc). The reason is because these tools are more convenient for communication than Jira.

  1. a lot details is hidden from the rest of the team
  2. it is difficult to find these details in message history
  3. these details are not reflected in Jira

Are there any good practices to avoid this?

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    Took a stab to make the question summary a bit more specific. Feel free to revert it if that doesn't express what you wanted to convey. – Tiago Cardoso Nov 21 '20 at 19:58
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From Agile manifesto:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Your objective is NOT to avoid communication. You want to promote it. People in a project must communicate in the most effective way they see fit. I believe you should shift the focus of your energy, changing the question you're looking for answers to questions such as

  • How can we as a team effectively make sure information is available about any conversation?
  • Where such information could be available?
  • Why do I need to write down the outcomes of team conversations?

These questions might help you fine tune the specific needs for your context. There's no canonical answer as it heavily depends on your environment.

Environment #1: Junior team, low confidence between parts, time zone differences. You still want to keep conversations flowing, but you want to have it written somewhere for future reference. Each conversation might be related to a specific ticket, so the outcomes of this conversation could be summarised as a jira comment. Special attention to outcomes and summarised. You definitely do not want transcripts of conversations (as I saw someone doing some years ago).

Environment #2: Seasoned team, high confidence between members. On these cases, there's no better "communication" than working software. Nothing else needs to be written.

===

Remember: Everything that's not directly contributing to delivery, is a waste. Oftentimes, wastes are needed, but a team doesn't need to stick to them for the sake of the methodology. A methodology is just a mean, a tool for a purpose, not an objective in itself. Your focus should always be on the consistent delivery, not on consistent methodology usage.

  • Our team is seasoned (Environment #2) and still we find it inconvenient that pieces of information are scattered over different places and difficult to find. – Daniel Nov 22 '20 at 8:32
  • There's no best written evidence of understanding a requirement than working software. If you need to refer to a specific piece of conversation from 6 months ago, something is off. Notice I'm focusing on "conversations", not on formal docs one may need. In any way, jira isn't the best place for "documentation" in any way. – Tiago Cardoso Nov 22 '20 at 13:44
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First and foremost, you can't use tools to solve this. If there is any problem here, it's a people problem and a communication problem. I say 'if' because this may be fine. Maybe it's something that really only effects them. Or maybe they are, after their 1-on-1, sharing the info with the right people.

If you are seeing impacts where info isn't being shared from those conversations and it's impacting how the team works, my best recommendation would be to raise those impacts at the retro and then as a team, discuss how you'd like to work differently to avoid those impacts. If they are using other tools instead of Jira, maybe Jira is a poor tool for that communication, but other options exist, like having the slack conversation in the team chat instead of 1-on-1. I'm confident the team can find the solution that works well for them, makes communication easy, and avoids accidental side-effects.

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Jira is not a communication tool, but that doesn't mean you can't add information gained elsewhere to a ticket.

If something is unclear in the ticket description, by all means ask around until you understand it, and then come back and update the ticket description. If your conversation unearths missing acceptance criteria or a link that would be relevant to anyone who implements (or just looks at) a task, go ahead and add it.

Note that while you can use comments to have a conversation inside a Jira ticket, a long comment thread can easily get out of hand. It's also easier for comments to go out of date than a description (which can be updated by anyone). Comments are a good way to get someone's attention, though, and to get specific questions answered, for example when you need more details about a task or bug report.

  • Who should update Jira? Do you think that Scram Master should oversee all the conversations that happen and keep summarising them in Jira? – Daniel Nov 22 '20 at 8:37
  • @Daniel Anyone can update Jira tickets. If for some reason team members lack permissions to do that, maybe the Scrum master can help them in getting these permissions. Otherwise, it's the team's jobs to make sure the tickets are up to date. – Llewellyn Nov 22 '20 at 17:35
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Tiago's answer and Llewellyn's answer both give good perspectives on the overall approach. However, I'd take a slightly different approach.

Since Jira tends to be more accessible than an individual's email inbox and private Slack channels or DMs, I tend to think of Jira as the source of truth and use integrations to allow people to push content into Jira when it's appropriate.

What you should consider is a way to get information out of these other tools and into Jira. Fortunately, Jira has integrations for email, Slack, Teams, and other tools that can help to either link content to the Jira ticket or get content attached to the Jira ticket as attachments or comments. The integrations with Slack, for example, allow people to receive issue notifications and make certain edits, including leaving comments, without leaving Slack. There are similar integrations for Gmail and Outlook as well as more generic emails to and from Jira.

  • To add the link to a message in Slack is not enough, because a dicussion consist of many messages. Someone need to summarise the dicussion and add the summary to Jira. But this takes time, efforts... Who should be doing this? – Daniel Nov 22 '20 at 8:43
  • @Daniel I'm not suggesting just adding a link to a Slack message. Using the Jira/Slack integration, you can use Slack to create new issues, add comments to existing issues, and (I believe) transition the state of issues. You can also have notifications of changes pushed to individuals or channels to facilitate discussion about issues. As far as taking time and effort, if you have a pro Slack plan and hold discussions in more open Slack spaces, you don't need to summarize. You can just post a Slack URL as a comment in a Jira issue. – Thomas Owens Nov 22 '20 at 11:22

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