Central City Concern
Enterprise-Wide Agile Process + Atlassian Tools Overhaul
Central City Concern (CCC) is a non-profit social service agency that has been serving families and individuals impacted by homelessness, poverty, and addictions in Portland, Oregon since 1979.
Over the years, CCC’s innovative mindset and outcome-based approach have helped them expand and evolve programming to address the emerging needs of a growing city. But, like many organizations in a state of constant evolution, one of CCC’s greatest challenges lies in adapting their infrastructure to keep pace with organizational change. Today, with more than 900 team members working across 30 locations including clinics, recovery centers, housing units, and offices administering dozens of programs, this challenge is bigger than ever.
Part of the organization’s strategic plan aimed to invest in the IT department, building capacity to support programs and clients. Through these investments, CCC’s IT team dedicated time and energy and they revolutionized their delivery system with the help of the Atlassian tools and Contegix. Along with their departmental successes, they also helped usher in a new set of tools along with innovative methodologies to improve process and performance across their entire organization. This is their story.
Jeremy Wood, who joined Central City Concern as Chief Information Officer in 2015, says that when he started with CCC, “the IT team was struggling to make a business case for just how much work we were doing – both in terms of number of issues resolved as well as the time spent on those issues.”
The team relied upon home-grown ticketing tools, disconnected trackers, and static, asynchronous reporting methods – team members didn’t like entering tickets (often failing to do so entirely), and an inability to easily pull live, relevant data meant that reporting for the IT Department was almost non-existent.
This lack of visibility was Jeremy’s primary focus in his first year at the organization. With past experience using the Atlassian tools, and an understanding that their price point allowed them the budget to hire expert help, he vetted and brought on Contegix to help design and deploy a transformative solution for their team. Jeremy’s mission? To build a technological infrastructure that supported visibility, reporting, and data-driven decision-making for his team and the organization at large.
Jira for Non-Profits
In late 2015, Jeremy hired Contegix to help design a solution for his team centered around Atlassian’s flagship project management tool – JIRA.
“I knew I wanted to leverage JIRA based on past experience, but our team didn’t know much about JIRA Service Desk* at the time – how to implement it, how it would be helpful, or what the features would be.”
In fact, CCC was concurrently vetting an outside service desk product as the primary solution for the IT department. But in the process of securing licenses for JIRA, Jeremy was able to advocate for JIRA Service Desk instead.
“Since we are a non-profit, Atlassian was kind enough to donate a site license of their tools to us – we figured ‘Why not allocate those extra software funds to hire consultants that can make the tools work for us? A team of experts that can make them really sing?”
–Jeremy Wood, CIO of Central City Concern
Enter Contegix. Jeremy and his team worked with our team of Atlassian Engineers to analyze existing ticketing, tracking, and reporting practices, to scope out potential solutions based on the Atlassian tools, and – ultimately – to customize and deploy their instances for a complete process transformation.
Our collaborative efforts focused on creating a system that was easy to use and that provided visibility to all members of the team at every level. This included:
- A straightforward ticketing system that was easy to understand and efficient to use
- A robust tracking system designed around the lifecycle of a ticket
- Live dashboards updated with real-time data to help the team prioritize issues
Together we came across additional opportunities to improve the working processes of the department. For example, the CCC team was excited to learn how Confluence dovetails with Service Desk to provide documentation.
Our Engineers worked with them to configure and deploy a Confluence instance that empowered their internal customers with knowledge-based articles right on the Service Desk portal. Additionally, the Contegix team helped CCC’s IT Department integrate their work and ticketing systems with the Development Team – circumventing communication issues that had plagued both teams for years, and streamlining the shared maintenance and development efforts.
Since initiating work with Contegix in 2015, CCC’s IT department has seen fantastic traction with the Atlassian tools.
- With new processes in place, the improved ticketing and reporting functionality provide complete visibility into the IT department’s work and value.
- The entire organization knows what the IT department does, where their time goes, and what they are working on every single day.
- SLAs have been introduced to determine prioritization of tickets and establish performance metrics for the IT team.
- The IT team is able to hold themselves accountable to said metrics, and document where, how, and why a systematic problem may be blocking them from success.
- Central City staff liked JIRA Service Desk so much they spun up 4 more instances to enable other service departments to provide better customer service.
- The team has also adopted an Agile methodology, leveraging scrum and sprints to assess goals, outcomes, and performance at regular intervals.
The IT department’s success with this transformation has not gone unnoticed. Jeremy and his team have worked to demonstrate the applicability of JIRA and Agile methodologies across all aspects of the business – including accounting, business, health services, and developers. Stakeholders from across the company are joining for demos, and participating in sprint planning meetings. Teams don’t default to working in isolation anymore – visibility and transparency are embraced as a prevailing ethos of the organization.
“It’s incredible to step back and realize that IT is no longer thought of just as a ‘need-to-have’ department. Now, our organization considers us to be strategic enablers of our programming and mission.”
–Jeremy Wood, CIO of Central City Concern
Moving forward, CCC continues to look for opportunities to leverage the Atlassian tools for their business practices, and have extended their engagement with Contegix to continue working with our Engineers on system customizations and improvements. The outcomes of our work integrate perfectly with CCC’s innovative culture and outcome-based methodology – and we are very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the efforts of such an impactful organization!
*Jira Service Desk is now called “Jira Service Management”