Tag Archive for: review center

Review Process Best Practices

Introduction

Reviews play a key role in successful product and systems development, helping to ensure the new project meets stakeholder, market, and compliance requirements. Peer and approval review processes enable organizations to both iterate and innovate quickly while providing a dedicated process to apply appropriate rigor for final reviews. In addition, integrating item workflow with approval reviews can eliminate manual processes and reduce human error.

In this blog post, we examine a generic approach to reviews and review coverage, independent of the application used. In the second half of this post, we’ll look into the way Jama Connect® can be used to support the review processes described in the first half.

Defining the Scope of a Review

The reviews discussed in this post are in reference to informal (aka ‘peer’) reviews, leading up to formal (aka ‘approval’) reviews.

For medical device manufacturers, the first part can also be applied to their existing document management (quality) system, where their formal review and sign-off are recorded for quality bodies, like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Reviews Play a Key Role in Successful Product Development.

Reviews are an essential part of any product quality process, comparable to testing the product. Document reviews take place in the engineering phases of a product lifecycle when there is no product (parts) that can be subjected to tests yet.

Like testing, a review by itself can never cover 100% of all issues that are in the item under review. And as with testing, a review process is defined at multiple levels, each with a different focus, attention, or goal to ensure the highest degree of coverage that can be achieved.

Review Coverage

There are different ways to ensure your reviews get enough overlapping coverage to catch the issues:

  1. The reviewers you invite
  2. The focus you give each reviewer
  3. The goal you set per review

Related: Leveraging Peer and Approval Workflows to Optimize Your Peer and Approval Process


Who Should Be Included In A Review:

The documents you write, you do not write for your own benefit. Documents created form a means for knowledge transfer from the author to the next person in the product lifecycle. The information within the document should therefore be understandable for its intended audience (readers) and users (appliers).

Since the documents written are related to the level these documents describe in the system’s engineering V-model, it can quickly be understood which process roles need to be invited as reviewers:

Process roles depicted in the diagram above:

At any one level within the applied information architecture, there are at least two next levels that need to be invited, to make sure these following levels understand the information provided through those documents: the next level downstream (decomposition and detailing) and the same level across testing.

It is also important to know if the author has understood the documentation that was provided by the process role in the product engineering phase before theirs (i.e., the upstream level).

Inviting colleagues in the same field, or at the same product level as other product lines (i.e., fellow Subject Matter Experts, or SMEs), is a good way to ensure those reviewers understand and evaluate the documents against company standards to ensure a consistent quality of deliverables. It also ensures that specific product knowledge is spread throughout the company when involving fellow SMEs outside their own project.

Because of their differences in process roles, each reviewer will naturally focus on the information that is important for them to understand in order to be addressed in accordance with the process they manage and maintain.

For example:

The System Requirements Specification (SRS) should be reviewed by the person(s) responsible for writing:

  1. The stakeholder/customer requirements (upstream; correct interpretation and coverage of that level’s ‘asks’)
  2. The Subsystem Requirements Specification (downstream; is it understandable, unambiguous, and specific enough to be able to ‘answer’ the ‘ask’ that the SRS has for them)
  3. The System Acceptance Test Plan (across; is it understandable, unambiguous, and specific enough to be able to be tested)
  4. SMEs on topics described and/or referenced in your document (quality, sanity, and completeness)

General Guideline: There should be at minimum three, but preferably four reviewers in any review.

Tips for Conducting a Successful Review:

  • When parts of the system will be developed and provided by a third party (e.g., subcontractor), include that subcontractor.
  • When reviewing the product needs, or tests to validate these, of a specific customer, include that customer (or meaningful representatives).
  • Although there does not appear to be any relation in the various test levels, it is still interesting to invite testers from those other levels, as they provide different insights, they’ve applied for similar tests defined at their level.

Assign Focus Areas to Each Reviewer

Even though reviewers get invited depending on their process role, related to the document under review, it is also important to assign focus areas to each reviewer to ensure not all reviewers comment on the same spelling error, which usually is only a minor inconvenience that takes away the focus on the important issues.

Simply mentioning what their expected contribution is will already achieve such a focus, i.e.:

  • A reviewer invited because of their upstream relation to your document should be assigned to look at the correct interpretation and coverage of their provided input.
  • A reviewer invited because of their downstream relation to your document should be assigned to check if they understand your document and if it is unambiguous and specific enough for them to further decompose and detail.
  • A reviewer invited because of their ‘across’ relation to your document should be assigned to check if they understand your document and if it is unambiguous and specific enough for them to define test cases and/or test approaches.
  • A reviewer is invited because they’re an SME to ensure the quality, sanity, and completeness of your document.
  • Finally, only assign one of them to also check for grammar and spelling errors. This (simple) assignment will ensure all other reviewers won’t remark on them, as someone else is already tasked with that and it keeps focus on their own assigned areas.

Informal Reviews Leading up to Formal Reviews

Not every review carries the same weight. Not every review has a formal context and thus doesn’t require the involvement of authorized (senior) colleagues, or managers, to formally sign off on the document.

Reviewers tasked with formal sign-off of your document, usually have yet another focus than reviewers tasked with evaluating the quality and completeness of its content. Combining these two types of reviewers will ensure either role will question their contribution to the review while the other role is addressing their found issue. Therefore, it’s advisable to have a two-level approach to reviewing your documents:

  1. Evaluate the content regarding any product, service, or inconsistencies.
  2. Evaluate the content regarding any business contextual (i.e., legal, contractual) aspects.

The review process and approach as described above have the quality and completeness of the content in mind, to allow the formal approval reviews to be nothing more than an administrative necessity; The subsequent approval of a document becomes a hammer piece.

“Review Center is facilitating communication. It has ensured a shared view of the world and agreement from all stakeholders. There are no surprises anymore. Jama Connect enables us to review documents and make decisions easily with everyone coming to a shared conclusion.” Craig Grocott Head of Systems Engineering, Teledyne e2v


Related Customer Story: With Jama Connect®, TELEDYNE e2v Improves Communication and Reduces Risk


Review Process in Jama Connect

The review process and approach described above are independent of any application supporting your review process and/or approach.

Jama Connect supports the above-described review process and approach. It can even provide more focus.

Divide and Conquer

Atomic Nature of Jama Connect Items

All Items, Components, Sets, and Folders are atomic.

Although Jama Connect doesn’t really have the concept of ‘documents’, most customers use their ‘Sets of’ and ‘Folders’ to represent the content and respectively (chapter/paragraph) structuring of their documents. As with documents where chapters and paragraphs are used to group and structure your information related to specific topics, level/priority of information, Jama Connect uses Folders, and a folder structure in a similar way within a Set.

Because everything in your Jama Connect project’s structure is atomic, you can select a Set and generate a document, or start a review of that Set, and all child elements underneath.

Utilizing This Atomic Nature of Items

The same ability is there when you select a Folder within that Set, allowing you to only select chapters and/or paragraphs on specific topics from your total document to your subject matter experts (SMEs), without them having to go through the entire document. Each specific topic can be sent for review to each (group of) SME(s) to get the most out of finding issues and correcting the (technical) content of each part of your document.

Once all reviews on all specific topics are concluded, you can move to formally approve the entirety of that document.


Related: Review ROI Calculator – Improve Review Process


Rolling Reviews

A “rolling” review is a review that changes the content of requirements that are included in each of the review’s revisions. Using this methodology, the review is much smaller in scope and can typically be completed faster.

Rolling reviews are standard Engagement Workbook nowadays. This mechanism actually binds a number of the review approaches discussed above into one:

  • Divide and conquer
  • Peer reviews leading up to approval reviews

It’s centered around the fact that all Items are atomic, each Item Type has the same status workflow, and the use of Filters to define the content of your review, where each new version you create of your review, will re-collect all Items that comply to the filter you’ve set up and baselines them.

It allows you to review each Item, or a subset of Items, separately, and collect all Items that have reached a status that indicates these Items are mature enough (content is of the quality, sanity, and completeness your organization strives for). Those Items then allow you to organize an approval review for the entire ‘document’.

Jama Connect Review Process

When initiating a review in Jama Connect, the steps included support this generic review process:

  1. Include the linked Items – upstream, downstream, and across – so your review invitees can evaluate the traceability.
  2. When using the ‘Rolling Review’-approach, select the corresponding filter.
  3. Invite at least three, but preferably four, colleagues in accordance with the contributions you can expect from their engineering role.
  4. Rewrite the standard invitation text of the email to assign focus areas to the invitees.

Related: Best Practices for Jama Connect Review Center


Additional Review Activities

Collaborative Review Meetings

Jama Connect allows organizations to run reviews online, which enables reviewers to determine when and where to spend their time participating in that review. However, much is to be learned from review meetings, where comments of a reviewer spark new insights and subsequent questions from another reviewer.

If the Moderator organizes a Review Meeting, a collective get-together, to discuss the review results and its found issues with all review participants, focus on the issues found, avoid discussions that take longer than a few back-and-forths, as the goal of the meeting is to try to process as many issues as possible in the (short) time available.

These discussions are important, so write down their topics and allow time to go into these discussions later; Ensure the meeting timeframe of the review session has a section for the actual review and a section for discussions.

Simply accept all grammar and spelling errors and ask the author to correct them after the session.

One thing to consider:
Abbreviations, terms, and definitions and how they’re used throughout your document do matter and should not be considered grammar or spelling errors!

Preparing For a Review Session

Insist everybody comes into the review session prepared, i.e., they’ve read the review comments of the other reviewers, made notes, and have their response ready. If they’re not prepared, participants may only read and evaluate reviewers’ comments and then respond to a comment much later, while the rest of the reviewers are already addressing the next issue.

Being prepared means the meeting can have short, to-the-point, and decisive discussions during the session, while still allowing you to process as many issues as possible.

In Conclusion

Defining the steps for approaching reviews and review coverage will help teams bring the scope of the review process into a more precise focus. By using an iterative and collaborative approach for reviewing requirements and other artifacts in real-time, organizations can improve stakeholder alignment, reduce review cycles, and ease the path to compliance.

RELATED



approval workflows

Reviews play a key role in successful product and systems development, helping to ensure the new project meets stakeholder, market, and compliance requirements. Peer and approval review processes enables organizations to both iterate and innovate quickly, while providing a dedicated process to apply appropriate rigor for final reviews. In addition, integrating item workflow with approval reviews can eliminate manual processes and reduce human error.  

In our most recent Ask Jama webinar, “Leveraging Peer and Approval Workflows to Optimize Your Review and Approval Process,” we talked about how to:  

  • Enable item transitions to be automatically triggered by a finalized review – reducing errors, clicks, and time needed to manually transition review items  
  • Improve Part 11 compliance by allowing organizations to set a locked status to review items that have been finalized  
  • Configure your own smart defaults for reviews by moving all settings to the central organization administration 

Below is a recoding of a webinar and an abbreviated transcript.


 

 

Thank you all for joining us today. My name is Julie Goodner, I’m one of the Senior Product Managers here at Jama Software. I’ve been with Jama for roughly two and a half years, and working in many areas of the application, most recently into the Review Center. My drive, really, is to make our product easy and functional for our customers. I am always available to hear your thoughts and ideas, so if you want to reach out to me at any time, please feel free to do so. And today I will be highlighting the work the team has completed in Review Center by adding these new Peer and Approval templates. 

In today’s webinar, we will be discussing how leveraging these new Peer and Approval review templates help connect with your Items Workflow to create efficiency and reduce errors in your project, and how including Workflow with your Approval review will eliminate manual steps and reduce errors. And lastly, we’ll be going through all these settings and features in Jama Connect. I’ll give a full rundown, how to do this, and where to do it. This is the overview of today’s demonstration. 

First, I will be the org admin going into the Review Center settings and showing you the new Peer and Approval templates along with some features that we have added into the Default template, which was the way you’re used to doing it in the past. And then from there, I will take you into Workflow and show you how Workflow and Approval templates merge together to create a cohesive experience for you when you’re finalizing the Approval review. Next, I’ll become a moderator and look at the new settings in Review Center and see the Approval and Peer. And then I’m going to walk you through what it looks like to transition a Peer review into an Approval review, and then see your items finalized at the end. 


RELATED: Check out our upcoming webinars by visiting our events page! 


So in Review Workflow, in Settings, the Approval review with Workflow reduces errors, clicks, and time needed to manually transition reviewed and approved items in your project. How this works is to enable the new Approval review, like I just stated, and we’ll walk through that again, review template and configure the Approval workflow for your items. In addition, this improves Part 11 compliance by allowing organizations to set a lock status to a reviewed item that has been finalized, no longer having to go back manually and locking those items after your review has been approved. And for efficiency, we have moved all the review setups into the admin section. And by doing this, your org admin can now set up smart defaults to eliminate confusion for your moderator when they create that review. 

Once the moderator now sees these new templates, they want to know what the difference is between probably the Peer and Approval review. Well, how we look at it as a Peer review is used to collaborate with your team, refine your requirements, and get them into the spot that they’re really ready for that final approval. Once they’re ready, the moderator then can transition the Peer review to an Approval review. They can invite all the stakeholders and, when completed and signed off, they can finalize that Approval review, which will then automatically trigger the Workflow items. So they don’t again, have to do a batch update or go into each item, transition, put locks on them, et cetera. All this is done automatically for you, now, with this new Approval review with Workflow. When the review is transitioned, it maintains all the previous comments and signatures, again for audit, or if you need to look back in historical facts. Peer review and Approval review transitions are all captured in the activity stream and version history. 

This greatly improves the moderator’s visibility to participants’ progress, and workflow transitions apply to review items when finalizing that review. And I just want to call this out, that the settings no longer change if a review, settings in the admin have been updated when a review is in flight. So if you’re working on a review and your org admin changes something, for whatever reason, your review will maintain its exact settings as they were when you started that review or edit that review. If you do need to take on these new settings, you will have to create a new review. 


RELATED: Introducing Jama Software’s New Hands-On Workshops (H.O.W. with Jama Connect®)


Alright, so let’s get into the demo. I’ve opened my project, I’m now the org admin. I’m going to go into my admin section, and we just got the 862 release, which will give you these new settings. First, I’m going to go into the Review Center. As you’ll notice, we have added the electronic signature settings and the optional settings into this main area. So again, your admin can now create, like I said before, those smart defaults. And these will carry over into your Workflow or your Review wizard when they create that review. But let’s really talk about the Peer and Approval. First, let’s get into Peer. You’ll notice all the settings are the exact same as they are in the Default or Non-template review. We suggest that you let the moderators override, but if you don’t want to, you can simply turn this off. What that means is a moderator can override any of the settings that your org admin has set up. 

You can have electronic signature, but we don’t think you need it for a Peer. But if your company does, you can just simply keep those on. And we always suggest to have the comments show up in the single item view, but again, you can turn those off as well. We have them private, or you can make them public, and so on and so forth. Once I’m done with that one, I’m going to go into my Approval review. Again, the settings are the same. These settings can not be overridden by your moderator. So once they’re set up by your org admin, they will be the settings in your wizard. If you do need to adjust them, you will have to contact your org admin and have them update whatever settings you need, and then you can carry forward with your reviews. 

To learn more about optimizing leveraging peer and approval workflows to optimize your reviews, watch the full webinar here. 



Reviews play a key role in successful product and systems development. They help ensure a new product will meet stakeholder, market, and compliance requirements.
Unfortunately, not all teams recognize the importance of implementing a solution for a formal review process: Almost a third of teams either have no requirements management system in place and rely on informal forms of collaboration and reviews with email and shared spreadsheets, according to a research report from Engineering.com.

Outdated review processes — involving long email chains, shared spreadsheets, and lengthy meetings — stifle collaboration, increase miscommunication, and result in team misalignment. This often leads to long review cycles, versioning issues, and an abundance of unnecessary meetings.

While a breakdown in communication can happen at any point in the product development lifecycle, reviewing and approving requirements is a particularly important process for ensuring all stakeholders are aligned. In fact, collaboration and clear communication during the review process has tangible benefits that impact speed to market, product quality, and your bottom line.

And while every review is different, there are generally three primary roles that exist in a product review: Moderators, Approvers, and Reviewers. In Jama Connect™ Review Center, each of these roles can be formally assigned to mirror best practices and ensure everyone understands the scope of their responsibilities.

Formal and informal reviews may necessitate different things from each of these roles, but we’ve compiled a list of best practices by role to make reviews go quickly and smoothly.

See the development time savings and efficiencies that our customers are experiencing with Review Center in this infographic.

Best Practices for Requirements Reviews by Role

As the Moderator, you are ultimately responsible for facilitating the review and incorporating the feedback from Approvers and Reviewers.

Best Practices for Moderators:

Provide thorough guidance. What type of feedback are you seeking? That the requirements are valid and correct? Or that the requirements are feasible? Or that the requirements are written well with proper grammar and syntax? Be sure to include specific focus and instructions in the review invite so all participants know exactly what to provide.

Balance the number of participants. Think carefully about the number of people you invite to a review. Too many and you’ll never have time to incorporate all the feedback. Too few and you may not receive enough feedback or miss critical stakeholder opinions.

Incorporate all feedback. If you have thoughts, feedback, or ideas related to a requirement, add comments for transparency so all participants can see the feedback.

Revise! It’s ok to publish lots of revisions during a review. Just make sure that all participants are looking at the latest revision so they can easily compare differences across revisions.

Close reviews when they are complete. Reviews finish when 1) you have enough feedback or 2) the deadline is reached. If you have enough feedback prior to deadline, make sure that you close it.

Best Practices for Reviews and Approvers:

If you are taking the role of Approver or Reviewer, your primary responsibility is to provide feedback.

Focus your feedback based on the Moderator’s instructions. What did the Moderator request you to review? Technical feasibility? Validation of requirement needs? Grammar and syntax? If you’re unsure, ask your Moderator.

Highlight important feedback. When adding feedback, highlighting text helps others know that you are focusing feedback on that specific piece of the requirement.

Categorize your comments for clarity. Indicate if your feedback is a question, proposed change, or issue.

Clearly communicate when you are finished. Make sure you clearly communicate that you are finished providing feedback so the moderator will know you are done. Keep in mind that you don’t need to comment on every item – you can abstain from providing feedback on certain items in the review.

Register for our upcoming webinar, “Ask Jama: Tips and Tricks for More Effective Reviews.”

The Benefits of Conducting Reviews in Jama Connect™

Jama Connect Review Center allows teams to:

  • Assign roles such as Moderators, Approvers, and Reviewers
  • Send product requirements for review
  • Define what’s required
  • Invite relevant stakeholders to participate, collaborate, and iterate on resolving issues
  • Approve agreed-upon requirements

Facilitating the improvement of collaboration and communication during reviews is resulting in major returns for Jama Software customers.

Take RBC Medical, for example, who now saves an average of $150,000 per project after they moved from semi-manual processes to conducing reviews in Jama Connect.  Now that RBC Medical has a centralized place to manage and collaborate on reviews, they’ve all but eliminated the need for lengthy, in-person meetings or back and forth emailing, making reviews more efficient and scalable.

But cost savings isn’t the only positive business outcome to result from an improved review process. MediSync estimates that Jama Connect Review Center has saved the team 80% of planning time that previously would have been wasted on meetings, sorting through versioned documents and emails, and consolidating feedback in review cycle.

Another customer, global healthcare leader Grifols, says that Review Center has helped it shorten review cycles from three months to fewer than 30 days, while reducing budget overruns. It estimates savings of over 80 hours per project in medical device development.

By simplifying the revision and approval process, Review Center streamlines reviews and facilitates team collaboration. With the ability to easily provide feedback where required, stakeholders and participants can move quickly and efficiently through reviews and on to the next stage of product development.

To learn more about best practices for moving through reviews quickly and seamlessly, download the Jama Software Guide to Review Center Best Practices.

Jama Connect Review Center

Reviews play a key role in successful product and systems development, helping to ensure a new project meets stakeholder, market, and compliance requirements.

By taking an iterative and collaborative approach to reviewing requirements and tests in real-time, Jama Connect™ Review Center improves stakeholder alignment, reduces lengthy review cycles, and eases the path to compliance.

To that end, we are excited to announce today that we have made significant improvements to Review Center, an already beloved feature of the Jama Connect platform, which are available now to our customers.

See the development time savings and efficiencies that our customers are experiencing with Review Center in this infographic.

Within Jama Connect Review Center, users can now streamline reviews and ease the path to regulatory compliance thanks to:

  • A new Review Center Wizard that streamlines review set up for particular objectives
  • Simplified application, management, and accessibility of electronic signatures for reviews
  • Easier configuration of review settings, such as ones used to apply electronic signatures per FDA 21 CFR Part 11 to ensure they can be properly referenced and signed off on across different teams.

Additionally, customers can now add electronic signature roles, prevent reviews with e-signatures from being deleted, view review activity history for audits, and better set expectations for participants based on their role.

 

Streamline the review process with clearly identified participant roles and electronic signature settings.

These enhancements make the review process more straightforward and help customers meet compliance requirements for standards like FDA 21 CFR Part 11.

In the coming months, we’ll continue to invest in review and approval enhancements to improve collaboration and further address 21 CFR Part 11 compliance in Jama Connect Review Center.

Review Center Departs from Traditional, Document-Based Reviews

Traditional review processes often stifle collaboration and focus on a document-based approach, resulting in misalignment, long review cycles, versioning issues, and an abundance of unnecessary meetings.

By creating a centralized place to manage and collaborate on reviews, Jama Connect Review Center eliminates the need for lengthy, in-person meetings or back-and-forth emailing, making reviews more efficient and scalable.

 

Gain visibility into all major review activities.

Michelle Seitz, Senior Business Analyst at MediSync, believes one of the most significant benefits of Jama Connect is the reduced time and effort it takes to complete review cycles using Review Center.

“My favorite part of Jama right now is when I get a collection of requirements to send out for a review,” Seitz says. “It is so much better with Jama. It’s the first time I’ve had a product that works as seamlessly as Jama does to produce a review and get feedback without having to do all the track changes and stuff that we used to have to do in Microsoft Word.”

And the results of the improved review process speak for themselves.

MediSync says that Jama Connect has saved the organization 80% of planning time that previously would have been wasted on meetings, sorting through versioned documents and emails, and consolidating feedback in review cycles.

Global healthcare leader Grifols says that Review Center has helped it shorten review cycles from three months to fewer than 30 days, while reducing budget overruns. They estimate savings of over 80 hours per project in medical device development thanks to Jama Connect Review Center.

As an organization, Jama Software is committed to improving stakeholder alignment, reducing lengthy review cycles, and easing the path to compliance by providing our customers with a modern approach to reviews and collaboration. And with Review Center’s new improvements and feature enhancements, we can confidently say that we are doing just that.

To learn more about best practices for moving through reviews quickly and seamlessly, download the “Jama Software Guide to Review Center Best Practices.” 

It’s in the name: Jama Connect™ gives you superior visibility into every stage of your product development process by connecting stakeholders with the right information at the right time. The result is better collaboration within and across teams, so delayed replies and ambiguous feedback won’t hamper your forward progress.

Our Jama Professional Services consultants work with users across a range of organizations and industries to help them optimize collaborative success and get the most value from the platform. To share more of their expertise, our consultants recently conducted a webinar on Jama Connect best practices that covered a range of topics, including creating groups and finding information faster.

Today, we’ll be sharing more insights from that webinar, this time looking at some of the common functionalities and lesser-known features our consultants recommend for teams looking to improve their collaboration within Jama Connect.

(For this post, we’re assuming a reasonable level of familiarity with Jama Connect. If you’re looking for a more granular guide, start with the User Guide or get your questions answered in our support community.)

Stream View

On the far right of your Jama Connect dashboard, you’ll see a link to stream view. Stream view lets you see all the conversations happening at a specific level of the project or across the items located within a project. You can join an existing conversation or start a new one by @ mentioning the individuals or teams you want to connect with. For instance, start typing “system engineers,” and you’ll see that group pop up. Now you can initiate a conversation with a specific group, and everyone in that group can receive a notification that you’ve made a comment.

This brings us to another feature in Jama Connect that makes communication easier: notifications.

Comment Notifications

There’s an easy way to control some of the feedback notifications you receive in Jama Connect, especially during the review process.

By default, when you comment on an item within a review, you start following that item, and whenever anyone else comments on the item or anywhere within the review, you’ll receive a notification.

You can easily change your notification settings from your profile. In the upper right corner of your Jama Connect instance, you’ll see your name; click on it to access your profile. Select the Review Center tab. You have two notification options: “Email me updates to items on following” or “Automatically follow items I have commented on.” Uncheck the second choice. Now, when you comment on a review, you will no longer automatically be following that item.

If you’re already keeping tabs on the comments in Review Center, you probably won’t need email notifications outside of Jama, but this is an opportunity to customize how you receive information about your process.

Subscriptions Notifications

Subscriptions allow you to loop a group of users — like the systems engineering team — into notifications about new defects or updates to defects within the project. You can also subscribe yourself to any item in Jama Connect that’s relevant to you. For instance, if you subscribe to a set of defects, every time a defect is added or updated, you’ll receive a notification.

Just as with comments, you can control how often you receive email notifications. To do this, go back to your profile, click the “Subscriptions” tab in the upper right. There, you’ll see everything you’re subscribed to, and you can unsubscribe or customize how you’d like to receive notifications about updates or additions to items on your subscription list.

You’ll see that immediate subscription notifications are the default, but you can change that to daily or weekly notifications. One of our consultants suggests that daily digests are the most helpful: Weekly notifications contain too much information that isn’t pertinent, while immediate notifications clog up your inbox so that it’s easy to miss what’s most important.

Categorizing Feedback

There’s a single, powerful tip for improving the feedback you give and receive when participating in a review. We’ve all received emails or other communications where it’s not clear what the sender is asking for: Are they asking a question? Do they need action from you?

Jama’s Review Center includes a feature that allows participants to categorize their feedback as a question, a proposed change or a potential issue. Adding context to your review comments helps ensure clear, efficient feedback, and empowers the moderator to filter and manage feedback by its assigned category.

For a deeper dive into maximizing Jama Connect, check out the Ask Jama webinar or explore the Jama Connect User Guide, which is full of tools to plan and track progress and performance.

Under strict timelines and budgets, healthcare innovation companies must develop safe products that are regulatory compliant. With stiff competition and increasing demands from patients and physicians, many organizations find themselves searching for ways to gain a competitive advantage.  

One of the ways software application companies can find that edge is within their product development processes. For instance, exchanging versioned Word and Excel documents during development to manage requirements, track progress and stay compliant isn’t enough to keep up with the growing complexity, risk and speed of today’s competitive marketplace.  

Such was the case for MediSync, which innovates new methods and care models to help large medical groups achieve nation-leading clinical and cost outcomes for physicians across the United States. MediSync’s offerings for improving medical group performance spans support and consulting for group practice operations, solutions for chronic disease management, transition assistance to value-based pay models, and revenue optimization.  

Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1996, the company has grown its product portfolio and customer base to include more than 170 leading medical groups. MediSync’s mission is to innovate, disrupt and transform healthcare. 

Challenges with Growing Complexity  

MediSync-managed medical groups are consistently recognized for best-in-class chronic disease outcomes for their patients including perennial commendations in AMGA’s “Measure Up, Pressure Down” (hypertension) and “Together2Goal” (diabetes) programs as well as CDC’s “Million Hearts” (heart failure) program.

MediSync sought to translate its care methods into software applications to scale deployment, standardize execution, and share its expertise with medical groups across America. MediSync needed to build new capabilities in software development starting with the identification of a top enterprise software executive to lead the initiative.   

Ray Kaiser, Vice President of Technology at MediSync, joined the team with more than two decades’ worth of experience in developing and delivering enterprise level applications and business processes. He began by starting a SaaS division that builds applications that would integrate and leverage client Electronic Health Records (EHR) to enable care providers to better serve their patients and achieve nation-leading clinical outcomes. 

Ray’s new team began by using standard office tools such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel for product development planning. Almost immediately, these tools proved to be outdated and inadequate for the complex needs of an integrated healthcare software application. He saw that the team had difficulties with versioned documents, spent way too much time conducting in-person review cycles and generally struggled to keep everyone on the same page.  

Streamlining Development with Jama Software 

Kaiser examined multiple product development platforms and ultimately decided on Jama Connect™ because it was easy to use, fully configurable and had cloud and integration options that MediSync’s projects required.  

“Jama was so easy to use that our main challenge was going from paper to electronic,” Kaiser says. “Initially, we really weren’t sure how to apply and adapt our processes to Jama. But what we found was that we could just put it all into Jama and modify it as we needed by adding fields and relationships. It was all reconfigurable and flexible.” 

Over the last year, MediSync has leveraged Jama to achieve substantial time and cost savings through better collaboration, the ability to access the platform anywhere and improved security.  

“Even today, after using Jama for well over a year, we’re still finding things that help us to drive continuous improvement and to make us more efficient,” Kaiser says.  

Reduced Time and Effort Among Improvements 

Of all the user experience analysts and business analysts at the company, Michelle Seitz, Senior Business Analyst, uses Jama the most.  

“If I’m not in meetings, I probably spend 75% of my time in Jama creating reference materials using the tech document feature, storing configuration data and making sure we have all that inter-repository,” Seitz says. “But more so, creating requirements for our software project.”  

For her, the most significant benefit of Jama is the reduced time and effort it takes to complete review cycles.  

“My favorite part of Jama right now is when I get a collection of requirements to send out for a review,” Seitz says. “It is so much better with Jama. It’s the first time I’ve had a product that works as seamlessly as Jama does to produce a review and get feedback without having to do all the track changes and stuff that we used to have to do in Microsoft Word.” 

Gaining Value Through Efficiency  

Both Kaiser and Seitz agree that Jama has become the backbone of their product requirements planning process. Kaiser believes that Jama has saved 80% of planning time that previously would have been wasted on meetings, sorting through versioned documents and emails, and consolidating feedback in review cycles.  

“It’s definitely been a big help in facilitating and communicating with everybody,
Seitz says. “The team loves it when they see a review come across their email from me. Then, when I give them only a couple days to do it, they usually hop on it under our tight deadlines.” 

With so much on the line as they prepare to launch their new products, the team agrees that the switch from a paper-based system to a digital one was well worth it.  

Between the saved time and reduced frustrations, MediSync is cleared to focus on creating better outcomes for patients with chronic illness. And MediSync already has several new products on the roadmap to build with Jama. 

As Kaiser put it, “I honestly don’t think anyone on my team could go back to a development process that relies so heavily on using Microsoft Word and Excel. We are far better with Jama Connect.” 

Learn how Jama Connect helps medical device development teams spend less energy on compliance and more time on innovation with our webinar, Accelerate Medical Device Development While Reducing Risk.

The Jama Support Community is a forum for Jama Software users to interact and collaborate with other users and with Jama support engineers. It’s full of resources for everyone from novices to masters, including tutorials and webinars, help guides and FAQs, feature requests and announcements and a robust knowledge base. For today’s post, we spoke with one of our Jama Support Community power users — frequent contributors with great questions and powerful insights into using Jama — about how their organization uses Jama and the value they’ve seen from the Support Community.

Harald Hotz-Behofsits is a product owner at Frequentis AG, an Austrian tech company with staff in 50 countries. Its core business is mission-critical software for the air traffic management sector, but Frequentis also builds voice communications and information systems for defense, public safety, public transportation and the maritime market. After graduating from university, Hotz-Behofsits worked in the Austrian office of Scientific Games until joining the team at Frequentis in 2001.

As a product owner, Hotz-Behofsits works on an agile software team tasked with developing mission-critical software in accordance with international standards. His team needs a product development platform that generates documentation to support traceability from requirements to design to test cases to test results.

Frequentis relied on IBM Rational RequisitePro until 2012, when the team grew “quite unhappy” with its drawbacks, says Hotz-Behofsits, and began looking for alternatives. Jama Software popped up on the company’s radar early on, and in June 2013, Hotz-Behofsits became Frequentis’s first Jama Connect user. Five years later, Frequentis has about 400 projects in Jama Connect.

Hotz-Behofsits cites Jama Connect’s “intuitive user interface” as one of the things he likes most about the platform: “It’s easy to get new people on board,” he says. Hotz-Behofsits’s team uses Jama’s REST API and Jira integrations and makes heavy use of Velocity reports. The team also exports data into Office templates. Jama Connect’s Review Center, Hotz-Behofsits says, gets “daily use,” with what he estimates are 5,000 to 6,000 reviews. Review Center gives teams context and visibility by illuminating the relationship between stories and activities. In addition, Review Center helps teams achieve traceability by demonstrating what happened and why throughout the product development process. Hotz-Behofsits also relies on Review Center to understand how defects have been detected and addressed during the development process.

Hotz-Behofsits uses the Jama Support Community for “inspiration and innovation.” “By sharing solutions,” he says, “everybody gains.” Questions asked by other users, he says, can spark new ideas. When users share their insights or workarounds on the Support Community, everyone has the opportunity to experiment with and even improve upon others’ solutions. Just as the Jama Connect platform empowers collaboration between stakeholders and across teams, the Support Community allows users working in different roles at different organizations to collaborate on how best to leverage Jama for success.

As a seasoned Jama Connect user and a regular presence in the Support Community, Hotz-Behofsits recommends that new users of the Jama Support Community start by querying the existing content, since the chances are that at least some of their questions have already been answered.

Hotz-Behofsits would recommend Jama to a colleague who needed to manage requirements, test cases, test activities, traceability and – “of course” – the review process. For Frequentis, Jama Connect has become a crucial platform for achieving traceability across requirements, clarifying work order (i.e., why something was changed when), and reporting and addressing defects.

Connect with Harald and other fellow Jama users on the Jama Support Community.

 

How can I add items to a review after it started?

There will come a time when you forget to add an item to a review. Rather than start over it would be great to be able to add items to a review that is already in progress. While there are some inherent risks to adding items to a review in progress, we also understand that it is necessary.

The key to adding items to a review already in progress starts with how you initiate the review. For example, if you start a review by clicking on a container like Project, Component, Set, or Folder, you will be able to add additional items to that review. However, if you start a review based on a selection of individual items you will not be able to add items to that review once it is in progress.

Invest two minutes and watch this short video as we break down the steps required to add items to a review already in progress. If you have any follow up questions, either post a comment below or access support via support.jamasoftware.com.