OutSystems Releases New Agile Application
- By Jim Barthold
OutSystems recently released its All-In-One Agile Suite, which promises to
save time both for developers trying to incorporate changes into customer
applications, and customers who want to get the process right but do it quicker
while still having a say over the development.
"It's an approach that breaks application development down into simple
property sheets and some higher-level tools, [and] people have been able to
do some pretty amazing things with this product in terms of delivering applications
very quickly," said John Rymer, principal analyst for Forrester Research,
who said he is "pretty well-impressed" with the product suite.
The product's goal is to reduce the time between the moment an application
is first suggested and when it's released as a fully functional service by employing
an "end-to-end change management solution that supports collaboration between
the business users of the application and [the] IT side of the house that's
responsible for changing and maintaining that application," said Mike Jones,
vice president of worldwide marketing for OutSystems.
OutSystems calls its patent-pending method Embedded Change Technology (ECT)
and believes, after 12 months of trials, that it provides a more intrinsic and
mature link between IT developers and customers while raising the customers'
trust in IT to make suggested changes in a timely fashion.
"Normally, IT goes off for six months and builds stuff and when they finally
give it to the end users...it needs to be changed," Jones said. "By
using this interim approach, the trust factor goes up very quickly because the
development team is using the agile platform, which is a repository which makes
the change process very easy."
According to Rymer, ease is the key. "They've done some really cool things
[and one that] I just really love is that any application that's deployed on
their software has a feature where you...can put a cartoon caption-bubble
on the screen" -- where users can write their questions or suggestions
-- "and send it to the developers."
He added, "It's like a snapshot of where you were in the application
and then you can, right in situ, describe what the problem is. That's
While improving communications -- and therefore improving speed to market --
is what the platform is all about, it requires trust and maturity on the part
of the customer to make judicious suggestions because, as Jones said, "if
you start changing something, you risk breaking something else."
"That risk is dramatically reduced when you use our technology because
we understand the interdependencies of these objects," he said. "With
agile, [customers] learn very quickly that they can trust IT to deliver what
they say they're going to deliver and that there is a limited set of capabilities
and they have to be willing to compromise. The onus is on them to do the productization
and it's on IT to deliver what the business asked for."
That, said Rymer, "puts more structure around [the process] so you can
capture feedback, manage feedback, sequence how you put the actions in place
to deal with the feedback. Before, it was a little bit more ad hoc. They
put a lot more structure around that."
Jim Barthold is a freelance writer based in Delanco, N.J. covering a variety of technology subjects.