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New DevSuite 8.0 tools aim to aid multi-project collaboration

TechExcel, a decade-old maker of development tools, released new features to its application lifecycle management software package, DevSuite 8.0. Included are MyWord dashboard engine and wiki tools promise improved team collaboration and status reports on concurrent software projects. Another bow to collaboration support comes in DevSuite 8.0’s new multilingual capabilities and user-definable UI names and values for multiple languages.

When a new product or features are announced, I always wonder what user problems or requests spurred the vendor to invest in developing them. So, when I heard about the DevSuite 8.0 additions, I posed those questions to Paul Unterberg, associate director of product management for Lafayette, Calif.-based TechExcel.

First I asked how users have been getting views and an overview of project status prior to the release of the MyWorld dsashboard engine. Unterberg responded:

“Before we introduced MyWork, the data for an overview was available to a user or a team based on a report. The user had to login, select a project, navigate to the report view, and then run their report. This took a lot of effort. Since the data was already in the system, we simplified the process and put it all in one place.”

My next question: How about the before-and-after picture for integrated wiki tools?

“There was no integrated Wiki before DevSuite 8,” Unterberg said. “This meant that people wishing to collaborate on a requirement or document had few options. They could leave notes to each other, but there was always the risk of someone overwriting another person’s changes. The Wiki simplifies the entire process, and eliminates the risk of user unintentionally erasing another user’s data.”

The overall goal of DevSuite’s integrated set of tools is to marry the strategic and tactical worlds of application development together by creating software that lets management and planning processes co-exist seamlessly with specific task-driven development processes. The team of software tools that enable this relationship provide workflow, process automation, searching, reporting and customization capabilities, among other things.

DevSuite also co-exists with various application development methodologies. For instance, teams using both waterfall and agile processes can live in TechExcel’s ALM framework.

“From our perspective, there should be no relationship between an ALM system and the development methodology a team uses,” Unterberg said. “We’ve heard from many customers the horror stories of their former systems that tried to change the way they worked based on what the system could do.”

It’s better to create processes in the ALM system that change based on how the team works. He described such a situation, saying:

“If a team is agile, for example, they might need less process control and a greater degree of flexibility with how they are able to prioritize work. They might also have the system limit the amount of time they can spend in a certain area; adding a time box to a development iteration, for example. This same functionality might be useless to a non-agile team. A good ALM system should be able to adjust to these needs and give the teams the most flexibility in modeling how work is done.”

Not adding another management layer with ALM is a stringent goal of TechExcel and is played out in DevSuite, Unterberg said. Adding different management when adopting ALM is only necessary if lack of management in a certain area was a driver for the ALM adoption in the first place. “Who is in charge depends greatly on the team and the process they follow,” he concluded. “ALM just enhances, automates and ties that process together.”

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