6kites | 5 Tips for Evaluating Atlassian Add-Ons

Progress in development is all about collaboration. Add-ons are a great example; developers take applications they love, and improve or modify their characteristics or abilities so they’re even more useful than before.

There are thousands of add-ons for Atlassian applications uniquely designed to make the lives of developers, IT Staff, business professionals, and their customers easier. As an administrator of your Atlassian application, you can use add-ons to change or improve the functionality of software like Jira, Confluence, HipChat, and others.

Essentially, add-ons alter or enhance the way your Atlassian application works. On the one hand, Atlassian add-ons can harmonize different processes in your system to boost efficiency and utility, but on the other, unnecessary or ineffective add-ons can add clutter and chaos.

Let’s take a look at five ways that users and developers can determine whether the add-on they are considering is worthwhile and useful for their goals and purposes.

  1. Determine if the Add-On Meets a Specific Business Need

If a marketplace add-on piques your interest, the first step is to ask yourself: “Does this software address a specific need of my business?” It’s helpful to look at a specific example. Consider ScriptRunner for JIRA; this add-on is popular for its use of groovy, implementing custom scripted fields, and a whole host of JQL functions. While reviewing this add-on as a potential investment for your business, the following questions will be useful:

  • Does this add-on offer my business something it needs (maybe your team isn’t fluent in maven)?
  • Would this add-on optimize or improve existing processes?
  • Is this add-on cost effective, or can I achieve the same result with a more affordable solution?
  • Is the add-on scalable to the degree required for my business?
  • Are there competitor add-ons? Which is the best?

If you determine that an add-on does respond to a specific business need, always Google “alternatives to…” before downloading a trial. You may find competitors with more cost-effective or superior solutions.

  1. Assess Details of the Add-on

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches if you confirm the appropriateness of an add-on before trying it out. At a minimum, always assess details such as:

  • Server vs. cloud structure
  • Whether the add-on functions with the specific version of your Atlassian product(s)
  • How frequently the developer releases updates for the specific add-on
  • Documentation and support resources, which should include vital information such as prerequisites, installation guides, Administrator’s guides, and more
  • User reviews, ratings, and number of installations

As always, don’t restrict your evaluation to the marketplace entry alone. Search for the add-on on Google or Stack Exchange, read what people are saying about it, find out real-life users’ specific problems, and use that information to help you decide if it’s worth trying out.

  1. Assess the Developer of the Add-On

Even if you love the idea of an add-on, it’s always a good idea to check out the developer. On the marketplace, for example, explore their niche and specialty; look at their other published add-ons (and user reviews), and evaluate their resources and website for documentation and support of their add-ons.

After doing a bit of sleuthing on a developer at the marketplace level, it’s time to take to Google or Stack Exchange to find out what other users are saying about this developer. Visit the developer’s website, and try to establish an overall reputation. What’s more – while this information isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for identifying a solid developer – check out the Atlassian Partner Level (Gold, Platinum, etc.) to help you establish further credibility for this developer.

  1. Assess Performance and Usability through an Evaluation Process

If everything above checks out, it’s time to download a trial version of the add-on. Even if an add-on sounds perfect and the developer is credible and popular, it’s still important to perform a trial assessment to ensure the add-on works with your unique business. Your evaluation process for any potential add-on should help you answer the following questions:

  • Is this add-on easy to use?
  • Does this add-on perform well and respond to my business’ processes?
  • Does this add-on help my business achieve its specific goals?

Use this trial as an opportunity to find out if the add-on helps you extend or customize the application(s) with which you work. Make sure it meets the needs of those who will be the primary users. In short, determine if it’s worth it, or if you’re better off without it (or with an alternative).

  1. Re-Evaluate Competitors, Utility, and Cost-Effectiveness Before Purchasing

Lastly: the all-important final evaluation. If you were dissatisfied with the trial, or determined that it wasn’t the right fit for your business needs, it’s time to drop this prospect and hit the marketplace again (if you’ve decided you still have an unmet need).

If you’re happy with the product, it’s still worth it to go the extra mile and run a few competitor tests. All too often, businesses try to bend to adapt to specific software rather than doing the legwork to find the right fit for them, and that never ends well. Therefore, it’s worth it to try out multiple add-ons (you should have identified competitors already) to give yourself a few comparisons. Reviewing the competition will give you a better bird’s eye view of  cost-effectiveness and functionality. Not only will your business benefit, but it’ll be a much easier sell to C-level executives if you’ve done your homework on a potential investment – and as any administrator knows, the easier it is to get executives on board, the better.

Finally, never forget that this process begs for creativity! Remember, you can try Atlassian add-ons, easily set them up, and coordinate them to harmonize with one another. Administrators can enable them or disable them at will, meaning that you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in an unfavorable long-term commitment. You can even install or uninstall them at any time when you go to the administration page of your Atlassian product. So, feel free to explore a variety of add-ons to help your business enhance productivity and connectivity to make your work easier and more effective.

At 6kites, we’re proud to be a full-service Atlassian Gold Solution Partner. For help with any Atlassian add-ons, or to explore our own award-winning Atlassian add-on solutions, contact us today.

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