Avoid these 6 common mistakes with your Aha! implementation

Aha! is a fantastic roadmapping tool with a passionate following of users who quickly fall in love with the software.

However, with all the excitement of finally finding the roadmapping tool of their dreams, it can be tempting to rush into an implementation or even form bad habits from the start.

Below are some of the most common mistakes I've seen teams make when adopting Aha! and how you can avoid them.

1. Not planning or architecting your Aha! implementation

Aha! plays a fundamental role in how your team manages and performs their work.

Like with any system, it is important to get things configured correctly with sustainability and scalability in mind. Making changes later can be difficult with active users, real data and live integrations.

Ensure time is spent up-front learning, architecting and configuring the system to support how your team will use the platform, how it will underpin your processes, and integrate with other systems now and in the future.

2. Using Aha! solely as a reporting system for engineering work

Aha! is a strategic roadmapping tool. It is designed to come first in the planning process long before work is sent to an issue management tool.

In fact, the behaviour of the Aha! integration has been designed with this specific workflow in mind. This can be unexpected and confusing to some users who may think of Aha! as simply a business reporting system for the engineering platform. 

Drive a clear distinction between the purpose that each system provides and which will be the system of record for the different teams. This will allow each system to perform its intended function whilst creating traceability across the whole.

3. Making things too complicated or restrictive

At least initially. 

I’ve seen

users try to be so prescriptive with their Aha! configurations that usage becomes inflexible. This can include:

  • Complicated or fixed workflows

  • Mandatory fields where they don’t make sense

  • Large numbers of poorly defined custom fields

  • Unnecessary dependencies such as linking phases in a release that should just be sequential or linking records that are naturally grouped by a higher level parent record (e.g. Features within the same release phase)

Use Aha! to capture the bare minimum of data points to inform critical decisions and trust your team to follow the process.

4. Replacing communication between teams

Some teams get the impression they should only live within “their” tool and that it replaces effective communication.

This can be especially common when integrating with issue management systems - product lives in Aha! and engineering lives in JIRA.

Common misconceptions may be that initial estimates are done in isolation by product in Aha! because that is where the work originates or development will not have visibility of strategy because that lives outside of JIRA.

Instead think of the tools as just being the system of record rather than systems designed for specific roles. Aha! is not designed to divide teams or replace healthy communication. 

5. Give all teams in the company access to Aha!

As tempting as it may be, especially with the Enterprise subscriptions that allow free viewer/ reviewer access to Aha!, I do not recommend giving access to every department or team in the company.

Some departments, especially those that are customer facing, may start to look at future aspirational delivery dates in Aha! as being a committed delivery plan and then start setting expectations with other team members, or worse, your customers.

Instead, consider giving access only to the core teams that perform the work and create beautiful presentations to other departments to keep them informed with exactly the information you choose to share with them.

6. Expect Aha! alone to fix issues with process or culture

A tool on its own is never the silver bullet, especially for fixing wider process or cultural issues. In fact, it can often serve to amplify them by highlighting the gaps or differences.

Be prepared to make some changes to how work is done and look to adopt industry best practices as part of your implementation. Use it as an opportunity to re-evaluate process and then use Aha! to help underpin and re-enforce those new ways of working.

If any of these resonate, you are not alone.

If you’d like to talk through some of your biggest challenges with an Aha! expert we offer free 30 minute help sessions with practical advice that can get you unstuck and fall back in love with Aha! once again. You can book your call here.

Thanks to Greg Rosenke on Unsplash for the photograph.

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