Compuware taking 'agile' approach to Changepoint

The 12-month roadmap includes frequent, smaller updates as well as big releases; the first release is the Agile Accelerator development tracking and management tool

Compuware announced on Monday a 12-month road map for its Changepoint IT portfolio and project management software that will include a number of enhancements throughout the year, as well as a major release in 2010.

One immediate outcome of the strategy is the new Agile Accelerator -- a version of Changepoint configured for tracking and managing agile software development projects.

[ InfoWorld's Eric Knorr has some advice on how to adopt agile development without falling on your face | While it is beneficial, agile programming will likely ruffle some feathers. ]

Under the agile methodology, programmers create many iterations of a given project, theoretically allowing requirements to be adjusted if necessary along the way, and giving end-users ongoing input in the process.

It contrasts with traditional "waterfall" development, wherein developers receive a set of requirements and then move through a series of stages, such as design, coding, testing, and implementation.

The vendor has "been finding a great deal of activity" in its customer base around agile development, said Lori Ellsworth, vice president, Compuware Changepoint Solutions.

Later this year, Compuware also plans to improve Changepoint's integration with its Vantage product, which is used to monitor application performance.

Shaw Industries, a flooring manufacturer in Dalton, Georgia, is now in the process of implementing Changepoint, said Greg Livingston, director of IS planning and systems development.

Shaw did not previously have an enterprisewide IT portfolio management implementation, but decided to invest in one after the company "got real big, real fast" through a series of acquisitions, Livingston said.

"We ended up becoming fragmented, with each group working with their business areas," he said. The company would consolidate information from its various departments, but the situation wasn't preferable, according to Livingston.

"I don't think we've always worked on projects that had the most value for the business, because of a lack of [overall] visibility," he said. "We finally said, 'It's time. ... We're not going to get there and make the next jump unless we have a tool that's more enterprise-centric.'"

During the procurement process, Shaw considered a variety of software packages. "We wanted one that was flexible, that could embed our processes seamlessly."

Otherwise, "you find yourself forcing your group into the process the tool has laid out," he said.

The choice came down to Changepoint and CA's Clarity tool. Changepoint got the nod because it seemed better aligned with agile development methods, which Shaw is embracing, according to Livingston.

However, he added, Changepoint and tools like it are "truly a means to an end. [They] can certainly offer features we may not have thought about, but you've got to have a clear vision of how you want to execute your [strategy]."

Shaw is now focused on mapping out a new companywide system of processes. The company is working hard to prepare the roughly 300 IT staffers involved in systems development, he said.

However, "no matter how much we try, there are going to be people who don't like change," he added.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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