Managing projects involves ongoing collaboration among teams using various tools like project management, document management, and intranets- just to name a few. Obviously, when we talk about project management, Jira is often the usual suspect, and for good reason.
Although Jira on its own can do the job, we should not forget the collaborative nature of the project management process. Thus, the use of Confluence. Confluence is a great tool for project teams looking to foster collaboration, streamline communication and document processes. Similar to Jira, Confluence comes with a host of native features all designed to facilitate the project management process.
In this blog post, we will first define Confluence macros (both native and third party), walkthrough the different challenges faced by project teams, and finally, explore some of Confluence native features dedicated to project management.
Introduction to Confluence Macros
Confluence macros are add-ons that you can use to take your confluence content to the next level. Think of macros as your nifty tools in your confluence toolbox like dynamic content types, and advanced formatting options. Macros can help you create rich, well-structured and engaging content with an intuitive page structure.
Built-In vs Third-Party Macros for Project Management
As mentioned earlier, Confluence comes equipped with a variety of native macros all designed to help extend the capabilities of Confluence and give room for customization.
Although the collection of native macros is quite rich and covers multiple use cases, users often want more. Thus, the emergence of third party macros. The latter are available to download from Atlassian Marketplace (paid or free) and cover more advanced and niche use cases. Both native and third party macros can be accessed from the “Insert” menu within the toolbar. There, you can browse macros per category including Formatting, Navigation, Project Management, Development, and more.
Challenges Faced by Project Managers
As projects grow in complexity over time, teams often find themselves facing challenges related to collaboration, communication, documenting processes, reporting, and others. With many tools in use, data can be spread and even lost in the process. Confluence is the go-to platform for project teams to centralize project information and ensure alignment. However, a growing of pages and unstructured content in a Confluence space can easily turn it into a problem.
For example, if managed poorly, a project Management space will quickly fill out with various unorganized and unstructured project pages. It becomes difficult to gather and organize data from different pages to create concise reports and monitor your teams’ work.
In fact, your team will most likely be working on the project in a Jira space, thus some of your project’s data will exist in your Jira project. As a project manager, it’s important to include all project data and communicate it to your team in a centralized space. No need to overthink it!
You can transfer technical work to Jira while using Confluence as your documentation and collaboration space. And, easily link your corresponding Jira project to visualize relevant data, such as the time your team spent on this project.
For any project manager, it’s essential to:
- Enhance collaboration between teams dealing with a certain project
- Structure your project confluence space and pages making them easy to navigate.
- Gather, organize data and centralize information related to your project
- Create concise reports.
So, how can you optimize your project management confluence space? Simply, Confluence already got this for you.
Built-In Confluence Macros for Effective Project Management
Get started with Confluence Templates:
Confluence contains a large array of dedicated templates to help you get started on the right foot.
Choose from a variety of templates and customize your Confluence page structure to fit your role and needs. Confluence also allows your team to explore additional apps that provide pre-existing and customizable templates.
While the predefined template provides a well organized structure to guide your content, each confluence page is different based on the nature of the project and team.
In our example, a project manager can create a new page in the project team confluence space dedicated for the new project, or add a new page to report project Plan and share it with the relevant contributors.
While setting up your page, Confluence provides its own proper built-in macros to customize content. It provides a range of functions, from basic toolbar options to advanced formatting like the Roadmap Planner macro.
For instance, a project manager can create a confluence page using the “Project Plan” template. Then, while filling out their content they can refer to various formatting options. In this case, there are certain formatting tips that will take your PM page up a notch.
Starting with a generic tool that can be applied to all organizational teams: the emoticons. Project managers can create separate project plan pages for different projects, each with unique templates and emoticons. As it is important to differentiate each space and each page with a certain look and feel. You can use specific emoticons as a branded stamp for each project Headings or include a page cover.
When starting a project, filling out the overview section is crucial for easy reference in the future. The project Manager can make use of different confluence macros to enhance the overview section.
A project manager doesn’t just work on different projects but they also work with different teams and different PM team members for each project. This is why it is important to facilitate the collaboration and communication of the project progress. Teams handle different tasks within different projects, this is where the Mentions macro shines bright. You can mention a specific person by name for a specific task within a certain project management confluence page. This helps both the contributor and the project manager stay on track and enhance collaboration.
Confluence also offers content type macros to enhance project management and create interactive and intuitive content.
Use Confluence content macros for setting deadlines, launch dates, and event dates using the calendar.
The status macro also falls under the umbrella of most used and intuitive macros for project managers. You can include a status macro in your project plan overview section to report the project’s progress.
Highlight your project tasks in a list with Action Item Macro:
Now, let’s dig deeper into the confluence built-in macros
With multiple contributors in a project confluence page, Tasks makes it easy to view what needs to be done. The Action Item macro does exactly that. It helps you visualize and understand each team member’s tasks and their contribution to the project.
There is a Task report macro as well! Now what this macro does is simple really. It allows the project manager to filter and search a list of all complete or incomplete tasks across all projects.
With this macro, you are able to oversee different tasks from the multiple project pages in one space for monitoring and reporting. It provides you with a list of complete tasks or incomplete tasks across multiple projects to create an accurate report.
You know what might serve you project managers even better? Include project tasks, responsible contributors, and deadlines in a visually clear table format.
Organize your project tasks with the Table Macro:
The Table macro, a native and basic macro, yet ever so powerful to organize information within a project page and centralize information in a comprehensive view. As a project manager, creating a table in most of your projects is an indispensable task to manage your projects better.
Select the table icon in the menu view to create a new table. Your table is added to your project page. You can modify the table’s dimensions, add new columns or rows, change cell background color, etc.
Once you customize your table, it’s time to fill out the cells with your project data.
Link your PM Jira Project Space with Jira Issues Macro:
The Project Plan template displays a section for reference materials. So you can add external content like your Jira data to your project page.
By using the Jira Issues macro you can link a corresponding Jira issue or instance and include relevant Jira data to your project page. You can also use other native Jira macros like a Jira Project Roadmap, or your Jira project Calendar.
Visualize your project Plan with the Roadmap Planner Macro:
It is important for a project manager to keep track of each project’s progress.
The Roadmap Planner macro does exactly that, by creating a roadmap of your project where you can add to tasks from the task list, as well as set dates. It helps you keep up with the project progress in an easy and clear way.
You can add tasks by selecting the “Add Bar” , Click on the newly added bar, you name it and add a description of the task. Move the bar by a simple Drag and Drop to its corresponding Lane, or add a new lane to your project roadmap. You can move the task bars according to your project timeline.
Centralize your project information with Page Properties Macro:
Confluence also introduces a more advanced macro to your project management space that creates metadata for each confluence page, centralizing all information. With the help of the Page Properties macro, you can add accurate information to your project management page and get a quick overview of the project page’s status for monitoring and reporting.
An easy and common way to use this macro is to copy the project overview section and paste it in the page Properties macro pop-up. This way, Confluence recognizes the overview section as the metadata of your project page summarizing the highlights and main information your page includes.
With multiple project pages on your confluence project management space, it becomes difficult to keep track of all project specificities, their status, and tasks. And for any project manager, it’s essential to monitor and report. Confluence is yet again ahead of its game with its built-in formatting macros for the reporting process for project managers.
That’s not it yet! The Page Properties Report macro we went through also serves to include all project details and information that have the relevant metadata like the same labels or objectives in one hub for project management reports.
As a project manager, you are responsible for organizing information related to the projects’ different pages and Jira relevant issues, as well monitoring and reporting the project’s progress and status. Confluence built-in formatting macros enable you as project managers to highlight one of your job’s most important aspects: ensuring that everyone has the information they need.
So, whether it’s to visually enhance your content, structure it in an organized way or optimize your page analytics, Confluence Macros has got you covered!
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