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Meet Automated Workflows: Automate hand-offs,status updates, and more!

At ZenHub, we envision a future where no one has to “do” project management. A solution where projects manage themselves based on the work performed and completed. We aim to bridge the communication gap between development teams and the rest of your organization without any additional effort. Plain and simple, that is our mission.

We started as the first kanban board for GitHub and quickly evolved from a single repository board into a multi-repository view. Last year, we launched Workspaces, giving every team the flexibility to personalize their individual space and decide the preferred steps in their workflow. For example, every team in the organization can follow their own Agile methodology. Whether it is Scrum or Kanban, teams can create their own workflow over the same set of underlying GitHub issues.

Since then, one common problem we’ve heard from new and existing teams is, “it takes too much effort to update the status of my work across my team, teams I’m working with, and again to other stakeholders in the company.” And we heard the same sentiment from the stakeholders as well: managing progress from a “bird’s eye view”, needing to go to every team for updates, having to be the point of contact and the source of delays.

Today, we are thrilled to announce Automated Workflows, the first solution of its kind that brings workflow automation to project management and development tasks all within GitHub.

visual representation of workflow automation in ZenHub

With Automated Workflows, each team can continue working through their unique workflow while communicating their progress to a collective team Workspace. Automated Workflows allows pipelines in different Workspaces to be synchronized to automate hand-offs from one team to the next. This opens up the possibility of breaking a large, shared Workspace down into smaller teams.

Surfacing the “Big Picture”

As we looked into the problems of cross-team communication, we quickly discovered not every team is structured in perfect team sizes and standard roles. Some organizations form multiple engineering teams with a single QA team; others have dedicated QA team members on every development team. No matter the team size, defined roles per team, or even strength of an individual team’s process, every team struggled to see how everything connects together.

We saw project stakeholders and team leads often don’t have the time to click through an individual team’s Workspace to understand the progress of key initiatives.

Despite that, they still need to remain informed on progress in order to address potential blockers and communicate new product enhancements and features to customers.

creating automated funnels for workflow automation in ZenHub

Automated Workflows grants stakeholders a “big picture” by aggregating individual team updates into a single view. By funnelling each team’s “In Progress” issues into a single pipeline or by separating each team into their own pipelines (see image above), stakeholders now have an automated view of everything happening across their development teams.

As a result, management and stakeholders no longer need to ask developers to provide updates or hold meetings with multiple teams to understand and verify the state of a project. Together with ZenHub’s Roadmap view, executives and stakeholders can get an always accurate view into the status of a project.

Eliminate manual hand-offs between teams

Throughout the lifecycle of a development project, there are typically a number of hand-offs that occur between teams, such as in moving from design to development or development to QA. Each hand-off represents an opportunity for delays if the status of a task is not properly communicated. To avoid these potential delays, teams are typically forced to schedule meetings or overload the team with messages and notifications.

example of workflow automation: moving an issue to the backlog from the Ready for QA state

Automated Workflows puts an end to this by allowing the movement of issues in one team’s Workspace to trigger the movement of issues in another team’s Workspace. For example, if an issue is moved from “In Progress” to “Ready for QA” on the development team’s Workspace, Automated Workflows can trigger the movement of that same issue to the “Backlog” on the QA team’s Board, signaling it is ready to be prioritized by a member of the QA team.

What’s next? More automation!

Automated Workflows is the first major piece in a series of automation improvements throughout ZenHub. Next, we’ll be focusing on automating the connection between issues and pull requests through GitHub keywords as well as allowing a pull request to be connected to multiple issues at the same time—the two biggest requests we’ve received from developers.

Speaking of developers, we will also be improving the experience for them throughout ZenHub. Some of these improvements include: enabling reviews and reviewers on the Board, seeing the issue-pull request connection in the Closed pipeline, automating sprint schedules, and viewing the most up-to-date pull request status throughout the app. Keep an eye open over the next couple of months to see these changes pop up in ZenHub!

Another substantial focus of the series: creating automation rules based on changes to your issues and pull requests. What does this mean for you and your team?

  • When an issue receives the “In progress” label, move the issue to the “In progress” pipeline
  • When you move an issue to the “In progress” pipeline, assign yourself
  • When an issue receives an estimate, move it to your “Backlog” pipeline

These are just a few examples and, of course, we’ll make sure to allow for full customization based on your team’s unique workflow. Do you have your own ideas of how you would use this type of automation? Add your thoughts here!

As always, we relied on an enormous amount of feedback received through our open product roadmap. We may not reply to every piece of feedback but we definitely read through and categorize each piece. Thank you to those who followed up with us on Automated Workflows and spoke with us in design discovery and user testing sessions to help shape what we delivered today.

That’s all from us for now. Stay tuned!

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Recommends automating repetitive tasks and avoiding delays in the hand-off process of work through ZenHub.

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