Software Project Management



  • I'm looking into utilizing a software development project management system for our relatively small development team and some of the primary business owners.  Basically, the developers would just need to track features/bugs and roadmap the application while the business owners would help prioritize the feature requests.  We'd probably start with 4 people from the technical side and 1-2 on the business side.

    FogBugz seems to have the features require and I've heard good things about it.  What other packages are out there and what are your thoughts/recommendations?  Although I can adapt to non-MS platforms, there are others in the IT department that will make that a hard sell.  So I'd prefer something that could run on a MSSQL 2005 database backend and an IIS 6 frontend if it is web based.

    TIA

     



  • I'm sure that I'll have to run for cover after saying this, but why not just use Excel spreadsheets.

    Really, I'm serious.

    You've got a small team that is a mix of tech and non-tech and you're bringing in a new philosophy and way of doing things - this can be pretty intimidating.  I figure there would be greater buy in selling a (possibly?) complex process to management and the team by keeping the tech on the low side.  If it's a success, but lacking features, you might have an easier time finding exactly what your group needs.



  • Well, we're using Excel spreadsheets and Sharepoint now.  The biggest issue now is one of file contention.  I have to copy the file locally to do any type of feature/task management which I would merge later.  I could probably get away with using Sharepoint if I could get it upgraded to Sharepoint Services 3, but that's on a server I don't control and impacts others.  Basically, I don't need to get anyone to buy into anything as we already adhere to the philosophy.  I also have the money in an approved budget, so if I could get a specialized software package I'd prefer it.

    I don't want to sound arrogant, but the real problem is that our team(s) are a victim of their own success.  Our programs have been so well recieved that the volume of feature requests are tremendous.  We need a better way to categorize, evaluate and manage them.  Example: I've got hundreds of features for the next release targeted at the end of the year.  I'm the only developer on the program right now and we're not done defining requirements yet.


     



  • I'm about to start using JIRA (other teams already use it; we're late to the party). I've not heard any complaints from people already using it. If you have a budget it might be worth a look.



  • @DoctorFriday said:

    I'm sure that I'll have to run for cover after saying this, but why not just use Excel spreadsheets.

    I actually agree.  My advice for developing any process for a small group is simple: find the most basic way to do it, recording things in excel or word or whatever.  It's not a good long-term solution, but it will highlight the actual needs of your group and will allow you to more effectively develop the process and find software that meets you needs.  Sticky notes on a whiteboard can be one of the most powerful ways to organize a small team, but even better it is extremely flexible.  You can change the process at any point, something that "enterprise" software simply does not allow.  Once you have fleshed out a good system for managing projects that is actually based on managing projects for your real team it will be a lot easier to find a "best practice" package to assist.



  • I have used and enjoyed Unfuddled.  It is similar to a lite version of sourceforge for developers, but it has a bunch of stuff geared for the non-techs.  It comes with some developer stuff, but you don't have to use it if you don't want.  When I used it I set up my own subversion repository, but I used their bug tracking and feature management.  One of the only problems I could see with it is that they host everything, so you have to trust them with your data.  That's partly why I set up my own repository, so I could at least keep the code secure.  If your organization has strict rules about storing company confidential data in-house then this might be a problem for you.  Otherwise, the pricing is good, and the company is still very young so the devs are receptive to ideas and suggestions.  I don't remember all the features, but the big ones were, task oriented view and workflow, a wiki, bug tracker, source control,front page messages and notes.



  •  Oh, another thing.  So long as the team stays 20 people or fewer you can use the free edition of SourceForge Enterprise.  Runs in a VMWare image so setup is super easy.  Has shit tons of features and fully customizable.



  • At both my current and my previouse company we used self-made software for that kind of tasks. It's not exactly rocket science to build such an application, and this way, the feature set is neither limited (anything goes if we really need it) nor too complex to start with. Plus it is a nice "toy project" to develop/test new features of our frameworks. When the developers have to use those "toy projects" too, as they implicitely have with this application, they quickly find out what works well and what doesn't.



  •  I've not personally used this before, but Trac (http://trac.edgewall.org/ [why wont the editor let me click the link button?]) might be helpful. It's written in Python and uses any one of mysql/sqlite/postgre.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    find the most basic way to do it, recording things in excel or word or whatever.  It's not a good long-term solution, but it will highlight the actual needs of your group and will allow you to more effectively develop the process and find software that meets you needs.

    This is the way of development. Scratch the itch.

    My personal todo-list is a syntax-coloured text file. Previously, it was a similarly styled HTML document. The 'dumber' text file allows me insane flexibility, and the indent-based code folder helps a lot.



  • @ammoQ said:

    At both my current and my previouse company we used self-made software for that kind of tasks. It's not exactly rocket science to build such an application, and this way, the feature set is neither limited (anything goes if we really need it) nor too complex to start with. Plus it is a nice "toy project" to develop/test new features of our frameworks. When the developers have to use those "toy projects" too, as they implicitely have with this application, they quickly find out what works well and what doesn't.

     

    So you're advocating reinventing wheels?  I think they call that "not built here" syndrome.



  • @tster said:

    I think they call that "not built here" syndrome.

    You mean NIH?



  • @tster said:

    Oh, another thing.  So long as the team stays 20 people or fewer you can use the free edition of SourceForge Enterprise.  Runs in a VMWare image so setup is super easy.  Has shit tons of features and fully customizable.
     

    I'm wondering whether they changed things, the only link I can find is for a 3 account trial.

    @ammoQ said:

    At both my current and my previouse company we used
    self-made software for that kind of tasks. It's not exactly rocket
    science to build such an application, and this way, the feature set is
    neither limited (anything goes if we really need it) nor too complex
    to start with. Plus it is a nice "toy project" to develop/test new
    features of our frameworks. When the developers have to use those "toy
    projects" too, as they implicitely have with this application, they
    quickly find out what works well and what doesn't.

    I've built PM applications in the past and although they are simple to build, I'd rather not go through the hassle if I can just purchase and/or install something ready-made.  Considering I have to follow a fairly robust change management process, I can't just make changes on the fly.  Not to mention, I'd rather be spending my time solving the core business's problems and not my own.




  • Thanks to everybody for their input.  I'm really only concerned about feature/release planning.  In that regard, I'm thinking a Sharepoint site would be best for now.  I'm just hoping it doesn't get screwed over like the last time I tried it - IT Operations accidentally released a patch which blew up the site about a week after I got it up and running.

    Since we're a MS shop, if we need anything more; we'll probably go with Team Foundation Server.

     



  • @tster said:

    @ammoQ said:

    At both my current and my previouse company we used self-made software for that kind of tasks.

     

    So you're advocating reinventing wheels?  I think they call that "not built here" syndrome.

     

    I see your point, but on the other hand, since software like that is not too far from our other activities, you could also call it an "eat your own dogfood" approach.



  • @ammoQ said:

    @tster said:

    @ammoQ said:

    At both my current and my previouse company we used self-made software for that kind of tasks.

     

    So you're advocating reinventing wheels?  I think they call that "not built here" syndrome.

     

    I see your point, but on the other hand, since software like that is not too far from our other activities, you could also call it an "eat your own dogfood" approach.

     

    That refers to products that you sell the the outside word that you also use in house.  I don't think the OP is going to be doing that.



  • @tster said:

    That refers to products that you sell the the outside word that you also use in house.  I don't think the OP is going to be doing that.
     

    You're correct.  The PM stuff won't be sold/used outside the company.  The other software I work on may be used externally, at least there is interest in it.  Our primary business isn't software or even IT related.  I think I owe it to the company to focus on those things that are directly related to our core business.  Now, if they choose to spin us off or enter the software market, different story.

    On a side note, I'm really thinking SharePoint is the right solution for this one since SharePoint Services 3.0 allows you to link forms/lists to workflows (running on Windows Workflow Foundation).  MS has a bunch of application templates that seem to be a good start (Help Desk, Bug Database, Compliance, Change Request, etc).  After the 4 hours I spent getting it configured this morning, I've already got an overview meeting to look at its viability for another project.  Yeah!, for making myself more work.  At least it will give the powers that be another alternative. 

     



  • @lpope187 said:

    ...What other packages are out there and what are your thoughts/recommendations?...

    If you're looking for something friendly to an agile development process, you might try XPlanner.

    Ha ha. No, I'm just kidding. You should kill yourself before using XPlanner. If only I had the courage...



  • If you're willing to go non-MS, Redmine is worth a look.

    It's basically everything you could want in PM software, with issue tracking SCM integration, ability to handle multiple projects from the one install (Trac's biggest drawback is that it doesn't), integrated forum and wiki functionality, etc.

    One of the better things about it is that the bits you don't want to use don't get in the way of the subset you do. If you don't care about forum/wiki functionality, you just don't use it, and if you see a need later, it's already available.

    More info at http://www.redmine.org and there's a Bitnami stack for easy setup at http://bitnami.org/stack/redmine


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.