In-Depth

Workflow fits the bill

Not all teams are alike, so the solutions they may choose to enhance collaboration can be as varied as the teams themselves. For software developer Intuit, a workflow process management engine fit the bill.

Daniel Bright, manger of engineer services at Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit Inc., said there is a lot of good teamwork that occurs within groups, but the 20-odd development organizations ''have always worked somewhat in their own silos. They're doing a good job, but now we're starting to do a lot of cross-department work; we're doing distributed development and starting to feel the pain points associated with that and with having a variety of tools,'' he said.

One of the groups Bright manages is the corporate tools team, whose charter is to select and deploy a common set of development tools. Rather than looking for an all-encompassing suite, Bright said they took a best-of-breed approach with the aim of getting one win at a time. Senior management told them to pick the best tool and ''don't worry about price.''

First on the agenda was a common defect-tracking system. Bright assembled a virtual team to put together the requirements. Four vendors made it to the short list: Rational, Segue, TeamShare and Siebel. The group selected TeamShare's TeamTrack, which is at its heart a workflow process engine.

''We focused on a workflow process engine. When you've got a collaborative software development environment, you're crossing boundaries and it's difficult to enforce ownership and accountability,'' said John Keller, director of product management at TeamShare Inc., Colorado Springs, Colo. ''You can take advantage of escalation and notification engines to make sure things get addressed.

''We're also offering a best-of-breed strategy,'' he added. ''TeamTrack is typically not the first application deployed in a development environment, so it is open and can integrate with all applications existing in the environment. TeamTrack is the glue that ties together these different apps without doing duplicate data entry.''

That is a perfect fit with Intuit's strategy. ''We wanted a defect tool that was open and could create integrations with other tools,'' said the firm's Bright. ''I was also happy it was all Web-based and we don't have to do client installs on thousands of desktops.''

See the related story Can IT developers work together? by Colleen Frye.

About the Author

Colleen Frye is a freelance writer based in Bridgewater, Mass.

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