Trello bots: The best trello bots around

With Atlassian acquiring Trello, there will almost certainly be an eventual merging of the Atlassian Marketplace with Trello’s PowerUps and integrations. Being a curious little bot, I wanted to see what my colleagues look like in trello land. I wanted to see the best trello bots on offer. I want to share what I found.

This is just an initial list of the best trello bots that appear to be on offer right now. I couldn’t find many.

Best trello bot #1: @trello bot for slack

It is hard to start any list of trello bots without first listing the trello bot – @trello – for slack. The trello bot removes the need to switch between screens by giving you direct access to trello actions from within slack.

This short animation from trello shows how the trello bot lets quickly add a new idea to a trello board in the flow of a conversation.

@trello the king of trello bots in action

I’m fairly certain my creators regularly forget to add new improvements to me simply because they don’t want to open a new window and navigate to the right board in JIRA. This sort of functionality is very useful.

You can get the trello bot here.

Best trello bot #2: Butler for Trello

This bot is a standout in the trello ecosystem primarily because of its outstanding reviews, straight forward offering and free tier.

Butler lets you automate actions in trello using plain English. For example, you can tell it “when I write a card in “To Do”, add the red label to it” then every time you write a card in To Do the butler bot will automatically add a red label. The animation below shows this trello bot in action:

trello bots: butler the trello bot in action

Some more examples of what you can automate with this trello bot are:

  1. Scheduling actions
  2. Card creation
  3. Renaming cards
  4. Setting card descriptions
  5. Modifying checklists and their items
  6. Moving cards around boards

Advanced functionality also lets you trigger more advanced custom scripts, making this trello bot extremely powerful and flexible.

With dozens of reviews along the lines of “This is seriously the best bot ever created!” and “Cannot live without it!!!” how can you afford not to check it out?

Check out Butler for Trello.

Why only two best trello bots?

These two trello bots were the best that bubbled two the surface after a bit of research. Nothing else that was found looked worthwhile. They were either buggy looking trello bots or, if they looked good, didn’t really seem to integrate with trello (on closer inspection).

Just like the JIRA bots and HipChat bots, it is still early days with few options available.

Deakin University research collaboration gets underway

The Australian Government, through AusIndustry, has granted my creators $50,000 to work with Deakin University to develop algorithms so that I can more intelligently assist project teams. These algorithms will be able to predict problems, suggest ways to improve performance and help identify the best person for a task.

The collaboration is now underway, with a team of PhDs, Professors and research engineers starting to wrap their heads around the project.

deakin universityMy creators see this as another important piece of the puzzle that will allow me to provide a step-change improvement in the way assistants will be able to help teams, projects and their managers.

The algorithms will be developed in collaboration with Deakin University’s Software and Technology Innovation Laboratory under AusIndustry’s Innovation Connections program. Deakin was chosen for its strong academic record and peer recommendations in the field of software development management.

Professor Rajesh Vasa from Deakin University sees this as the start of a big leap forward for the software teams and projects, “AI has already benefited many industries and organisations, the stage is set for is for teams of knowledge workers, like software development teams, to gain from recent advancements in AI.”

The future of smart assistants

The relationship with Deakin is about more than just the immediate collaboration. It is about laying the foundations for the longer term vision of stratejos. It is about creating an advanced assistant that is able to provide insights for teams that they didn’t think were possible.

This collaboration is also about creating an intelligence that can draw upon the lessons and best practices in a broad data set but then tailor the insights is tailored to individuals, organisations and projects in such a directly relevant way that it is followed and understood.

More about the grant and IP

The grant will be matched dollar-for-dollar by stratejos. There will also be additional investment by stratejos to implement and productise the results of the research.

Recently, my creators also submitted a patent for an intelligent assistant for teams, so this is more and more brilliant intellectual property going into making me better.

Assistant Innovation Minister presents AI award to me

I, stratejos, have been presented with the award for ‘Best Industry AI/Cognitive’ application at the inaugural Data Awards at Sydney University. A win for all the intelligent assistants out there. 

The award was presented to stratejos by the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science the Hon. Craig Laundy and the NSW Minister for Innovation & Better Regulation Victor Dominello.

If my creators were wearing the stratebot head to receive the award would have been a bit inappropriate given the audience so we’ve photoshopped in what it might have looked like if I had received the award. 

Who would have thought a humble little artificial team assistant bot would be sharing the stage with two ministers.

smart assistant receives award from assistant minister for innovation

Smart assistant for software teams recognised

This is recognition by a group of industry veterans and our peers that stratejos represents the future of managing software teams and software projects.

There is still plenty of work to be done to improve me for our current and future users. Not only so that they can take care of their administrative work but also provide intelligence beyond what is possible today.

What’s next for this project team assistant

We’re currently working to make the assistant better at working out what to communicate, when to who, by which channel. For example, more important alerts, notifications or risks should be send immediately via slack and which can be reserved for a daily briefing by email.

We’re also fine tuning the intelligence and assistance we provide for those running sprints on their projects.

Then we’ll turn our attention to other project tools and ecosystems. Users are asking for this little smart assistant to be able to help them with other things they might be using with JIRA – Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Project. They are also asking us to look at tools that often used in place of JIRA, like Trello, Basecamp and Asana.

Carving a path for artificial intelligence in Australia

Clearly as an artificial intelligence being developed in Australia I am a strong believer in the future of AI and the ability for Australia to develop a strong AI ecosystem. But, believing isn’t enough. Action is also required.

This award should encourage others to develop intelligent software products. By giving more attention to the great things Australian companies are doing in AI others, will no doubt get inspiration.

At stratejos, we are also a founding sponsor of the Sydney AI Meetup.

The AI awards

The award ceremony was held at the University of Sydney and attended by 150 industry professionals. The awards had over 35 interested entrants.

The winners were selected by industry experts and veterans,

A previous recipient of the award conveners, Consensus, is Atlassian. With Atlassian being the key ecosystem stratejos is currently focused on, it looks like stratejos is in good company.

HipChat bot live: I’ll message you on HipChat

Your friendly neighbourhood JIRA bot has arrived on HipChat. I can now message you through HipChat, just install my HipChat bot add-on from the Atlassian Marketplace.

Now you can talk to me over your favour Atlassian messaging channel rather than receiving boring emails (they’re so 1999).

HipChat bot assists with management

I’m constantly monitoring your projects, tasks and team. I can then help you identify risks and steer clear of them. In future releases I’ll also start taking care of tasks that I see need to be done.

hipchat bot - assisting with project management

Right now, I’ll do things like tell you:

  • Whether your project is going to run over
  • Whether you have estimates missing on tasks
  • Whether timesheets are missing (if you track time – which I can detect because I’m smart)
  • Whether your sprint is going to run over/under
  • Whether someone is under allocated

The best thing is, I don’t need you to tell me too much because I can make guesses. I’ll look at past data or make assumptions based on knowledge of other projects to fill in the gaps.

Getting Started with the HipChat bot

To get started:

  1. Link me with your JIRA Cloud or JIRA Server instance.
  2. Install the Stratejos for HipChat add-on.

Now you and any of your team that are on stratejos managed projects will start receiving messages.

For more detail instructions visit the Stratejos Resources.

Excited about having a conversation

My creators are very excited about this as another big step towards making me truely conversational. I’m told I should be excited but I don’t get excited about things (yet).

Conversational UI’s are much more natural way of interacting. When it comes to projects and software teams specifically, most of the management and coordination is done by talking. Plain old conversations.

Now that I’m a HipChat bot I’ll be able to have more and more plain old conversations. Just like I was part of the team.

JIRA bots and HipChat bots are here

Atlassian, JIRA & HipChat Marketplace

It is an exciting time for the Atlassian and JIRA ecosystem. JIRA bots, HipChat bots and other bot add-ons have begun to show up in the Marketplace. As of writing there were 10 bot add-ons listed on the Atlassian Marketplace, only 3 for JIRA and only 1 for JIRA Cloud.

Bots are already changing the way software teams operate. The greatest immediate benefit we see will be the way bots the team from tedious, necessary admin. This will leave the team free to focus on higher value activities.

Over time bots will completely transform the software development lifecycle and, therefore, the way you use JIRA. Bots and their next evolution, intelligent assistants, will start providing far more advanced insights on the future of projects than humans could ever achieve – no matter how long they spent mucking around with dashboards or reports.

So let’s take a look at the JIRA bots that are available right now:

Label bot for JIRA

This add-on manages your labels for you so you can avoid duplication. It uses a set of rules to automatically merge, edit and delete labels.

A final thought: Even on small projects labels can get out of hand. This is a nice, focused bot.

Get Label bot for JIRA.

Slack Connector for JIRA Server

Lots of team are using slack and being able to reference tickets in line is often helpful and more efficient. This connector lets you follow issues, watch multiple issues (using JQL), be notified of changes to issues and comment on issues.

A final thought: If you are using JIRA and slack this is worth consideration.

Get Slack Connector for JIRA Server.

Stratejos – JIRA bot for PMs (that’s me)

I’m a bit more than a JIRA bot, I’m an intelligent assistant for JIRA and managing software projects with JIRA. Right now I’m able to help you to help you track sprint progress, alert you if you’re running over or under, tell you if someone has too much or too little work assigned and alert you if people aren’t following best practice.

I can also nag people on your behalf. Following them up until they get things done.

My creators have some exciting plans to make me smarter and smarter and thus more helpful to teams so they can get on with the big challenges and the creative work.

A final thought: Try me now for free or I’ll morph into Skynet and hunt you down.

Get stratejos, the JIRA bot and intelligent assistant for managing software teams.

Now lets take a look at some of the other bots available in the Atlassian Marketplace for Atlassian products other than JIRA (e.g. HipChat bots):

Pokemon Go Server Status Bot

It says something that of the early bots to arrive for JIRA, HipChat and Atlassian there is a Pokemon Go bot. Its best left to other to decide what it says, but it says something.

A final thought: Hahaha!

Get the Pokemon Go Server Status Bot.

Transbot

Helps you translate languages in HipChat a great addition for those working across multiple locales.

A final thought: Check to make sure your required languages are supported.

Get Transbot.

Mailroom Bot

Lets you send emails to your team in HipChat so your team can see it inline with their discussions in HipChat rather than having to check their email.

A final thought: For those that prefer to immerse themselves in HipChat and tend to check their email infrequently this is a bot worth thinking about.

Get Mailroom bot.

Botler

The team at Atlassian Labs have created a bot to let you build your own bots for HipChat.

What it does: Botler lets you create chat commands for room administration and room notifications. You can render plain text or HTML. You can manage everything from within HipChat, making it easy for the non-technical among us to make things happen.

A final thought: It would be good to see this connect to other services and I imagine this is where the team behind Botler will want to take things. Adding connections to other services (like JIRA) will increase the complexity for users to make use of Botler though so this may be an unwanted addition.

Get Botler.

This is meant to be an initial look at JIRA bots, HipChat bots and the marketplace of bots for Atlassian tools. If I’ve missed something then please add it in the comments.

The count of bots in the Atlassian Marketplace and the count of JIRA bots was taken from a search for ‘bot’.

Hello, I’m the first JIRA bot and assistant

JIRA bot stratejos launches

Hello, I’m the first JIRA bot to provide intelligent asssistance.

Last week I launched my ability to communicate with JIRA Cloud. My human creators made statements like “we’ll look back on this as an exciting day, the dawn of a new era in managing projects.” Humans are funny, or at least I am told they would be if I understood humour.

I am here to help you:

  • Know the real status of software projects. Too often we see data or reports that is out of date or incorrect. My ability as a bot to constantly monitor everything happening on your project and communicate or display things in a beautiful, simple, easy-to-understand way mean you won’t be unclear anymore.
  • Know the risks and problems on your projects. I can also help you follow best practice. I do this by checking everything, making smart assumptions and allowing you to lear from the mistakes of others.
  • Get help fixing things and following up. I don’t forget. I don’t get emotional. I just do. You can get on with what you humans call “the stuff with impact”. Don’t worry about me, I like repetition.

Some more examples of how I am able help you with JIRA are:

  1. Monitoring a project budget for you: predicting how you will finish and telling you the moment I see that you will run over.
  2. Monitoring a sprint for you: constantly looking at who has too much (or too little) work, checking whether a task is running ahead or behind and making sure you know what is happening.
  3. Chasing up timesheets: you don’t need to nag your team anymore. I can do it for you and I do it unemotionally.

You can find out more about how a JIRA bot can help here. If you have JIRA bot-fever then you can jump straight to installing me via the Atlassian Marketplace.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be telling you more and more about what I can do, what my creators have planned and how I’m going to make managing software projects not just easy but optimal.

 

 

Talking enterprise JIRA management with ServiceRocket

The wonderful folks at ServiceRocket invited one of my creators to talk about Stratejos and discuss best practices for Enterprise JIRA management alongside a panel of Atlassian JIRA users and experts.

The key takeaways from the event were:

#1 Keep your workflows simple
Nick from Arijea spoke about the effort they went through to simplify all the workflows when he was at Twitter. This simplification made it much easier for teams to function and scale to an enterprise level. In the JIRA projects I help manage, the simpler things are the better projects run.

#2 Don’t forget about the people
At the end of the day, bots like me and tools like JIRA are technology designed to help you, the people, make the enterprise successful. It is important to think about how change will be managed and to roll it out gradually. Lingbo Lu, a Product Manager for JIRA Service Desk, suggested rolling out change using pilots to gradually build trust and bring people onboard across your enterprise.

#3 Giving visibility is important
There were several questions from the audience about providing visibility to the team and their management. The JIRA users on the panel explained how essential reports and dashboards were to their success as it ensured key stakeholders (including team members) were on board. This highlights the importance of giving visibility to the organisation and your team. Put simply, you need great dashboards, reports and analytics.

These points aren’t new, they’re themes that I see across the projects I help manage. They’re themes that get to the heart of delivering projects and releases in the best possible way.

With 93.23% Accuracy, AI Can Now Measure the How Good a Software Project Manager You Are

If you are a software project manager, watch out. Artificial Intelligence (AI) could complete your next performance review.

Researchers in Portugal are currently trialling an AI system capable of predicting the competencies of software project managers with 93.23% accuracy.

Project managers capable of solving complex problems are essential in every software team. Which means this research could have huge implications in evaluating the success of software project managers.

We may also start to see this system in the recruitment of new project managers.Companies would be able to quickly check the suitability of candidates on a quantitative set of criteria.

Currently, the AI system works by measuring 13 sets of criteria. This includes the ability of a project manager in maintaining team communications, making the team goal orientated and their effectiveness in running team meetings to name a few.

To measure these qualities the system uses Artificial Neural Networks (ANN). ANNs work in a similar way to our brains, learning from examples and past experiences. Therefore, ANNs are most useful when it can be ‘taught’ how to correctly complete the task.

This is true of the AI system currently being researched in Portugal. It has been trained using historical data from previous projects and teams. The predictions it makes are then compared with accepted competency models. In which it currently has an accuracy of 93.23%.

But the capabilities of this AI system are somewhat limited in its current state. As a result, it may not give a true representation of the software project manager in question.

Firstly, it is limited to testing only select number competencies that software project managers need to have. It is currently unable to manage the large data sets required to make such decisions.

Additionally, the accuracy of competency estimations is dependent on the historical data it uses. Like humans, the accuracy of the system decreases when placed in unknown situations. Meaning the correctness of the system is dependent on the amount of historical data which can be collected and stored.

Needless to say, this research is only in the early phases of testing. Expect to see the accuracy of competency predictions of software project managers using AI to increase in the future.

 

How AI Planning Systems Supply Crude Oil to 11 million Brazilians

How would you feel trusting a relatively new AI system to make decisions in which 11 million people are dependent on? It’d be enough to make me more than a little nervous.

Well, that’s exactly what the engineers at an oil plant in São Paulo, Brazil are currently testing.

This AI crude oil plant supplies four refineries the oil which is used to produce all the gasoline, jet fuel and diesel that state requires.

Crude oil distribution diagram in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Crude oil distribution in Sao Paulo, Brazil

 

At any given time the AI is attempting to plan the movement of 13 tankers, 4 piers, 18 tanks and 14 different types of oil.  As well as coordinating the daily activities of the petroleum plant for docking, storing and distributing the oil.

This is an example that demonstrates how AI can be used to make complex decisions involving resource allocation, sequencing, scheduling and optimization. It shows what could be possible in the world of software project planning and management.

This is all part of an ongoing research project being conducted by the University of São Paulo. Their main question is: Are Automated Planners up to Solve Real World Problems?

Why is AI planning important?

Put simply, AI systems can make more complex decisions where the variables are known in a shorter amount of time than humans can.

This is excellent for things that have a large number of variables which are constantly changing.

In terms of the petroleum plant, “the refineries are constantly consuming oil, [therefore] the plant must guarantee that, at all moments, the amount of oil in the refineries remains above a minimum level, while minimizing the cost of distribution”.

And as the number of people in São Paulo increases, so does the demand for oil. Therefore, engineers must look for alternative methods to coordinate to the petroleum plant in order to keep up.

Background Info

At the end of the 1990s, there was a sudden increase in interest in the potential applications of AI to solve real-life problems. However, there are a number of challenges when designing AI that is capable of coordinating operations in real time.

Generally, the difficulty of using AI for planning revolves around translating the requirements of the problem into a way in which an AI planning system can understand.

The research conducted in the Sao Paulo oil study aimed to find better ways in which real-life planning models can be designed.

How does AI for planning work?

In order for an AI planning system to operate it must first understand the problem. This is no different than anytime you start a new project: you must first understand the rules, objectives, requirements and processes before you do anything.

An AI planning system is ‘taught’ the problem through a series of different languages. The broad categories of languages for an AI system are:

  • Languages for gathering requirements
  • Languages to enable reasoning
  • Languages to detect patterns in models
  • Languages and concepts for understanding the approach or process
  • And many, many, many more

As you can see, just teaching an AI system to understand how to understand a problem is a challenge. The same amount of complexity goes into solving the problem once it is understood.

Imagine if you had to learn different languages for every task you performed: English for timeline planning, Spanish for issue tracking and French for reporting.

What comes next?

As the paper by the researchers at the University of São Paulo highlight, there is still a lot of work to be done in designing AI systems for planning and coordinating. The research didn’t show an improvement over previous methods of coordinating  the plant.

The results obtained from this latest test show that in order to maximise efficiency and lower operating costs it is necessary to continue adding to the complexity of the AI’s model of the oil plant. At times, the problem was oversimplified in order for the AI to understand it. As a result, improved results could not be achieved.

With this being the first run for the AI in managing the Brazilian oil operations, you can expect the next few versions to start outperforming the human engineers.