The announcement of Borland Management Solutions raises the stakes for the former Santa Cruz, Calif., development tools company. It's left its Delphi and Turbo Pascal days behind; it's not yet clear how well its development expertise translates into a new management layer over the sometimes-cantankerous code construction process.
"We want to transform software delivery, which doesn't have the best track record, into a managed business process. ... This is a FedEx tracking system for IT projects," said Rick Jackson, senior VP of corporate strategy from what is now Borland's Austin, Texas, headquarters. In other words, Borland claims it can make the heretofore inscrutable software development process measureable and able to be monitored.
Its framework will sit atop a development team's preferred tools and over Borland's own existing application life-cycle management products, such as its Caliber requirements management tool or Together visual modeling tools. It also will add the following:
-- TeamDemand, the business stakeholders view into how work is progressing on the application sought by his business unit.
-- TeamFocus, a high-level project management system that support different development methodologies, including modern Agile methods, traditional waterfall development, or a rapid, iterative development approach.
-- TeamAnalysis, a business intelligence tool sitting atop development tools and application lifecycle management products to glean an overall picture from interrelated teams, discover trend lines, and project finish dates.
All three are scheduled to become available in the fall with pricing to be determined.
The management tools have already been deployed at several large customer sites and internally in Borland's own development process. Chuck Maples, Borland's VP of application development, said he used to assess projects for top management by interrupting the work of each team and demanding a set of statistics from them indicating their progress. It would take him two weeks to collect the information. By the time he presented his summary to top management, the data was out of date.
"This system replaces two weeks of work, where I would do a mini-operations review to get ready for the operations review," he said in an interview. Most of his interactions with his project managers and team leaders were to get a fix on where the process stood, not whether the goals were the right ones or the team's understanding of the business was correct.
The framework will be able to leverage data collected by Microsoft Project, Borland Caliber, Borland StarTeam change and configuration management system, Borland Silk Central Test Manager and HP Quality Center and assemble it in a single repository as it emerges this fall. TeamDemand, TeamFocus, and TeamAnalysis will all share the information in the repository.
Jackson said Borland plans to expand the tools covered by the framework beyond the initial set "to major market tools," such as IBM Rational RequisitePro requirements manager, IBM Rational ClearCase change management, Telelogic's Doors (a requirements management tool now owned by IBM), and other standard bearers in the marketplace. The scope may be sweeping, but the Borland executives could not at this point put a timeframe on when other elements of the extensive Rational toolset or products in Microsoft's Visual Studio toolset might get included.
"We are working with several third parties who will produce connectors" between tools that Borland can't get to itself, or build connectors to the custom tools used in-house that enterprise managers will want to tie into a management platform, Jackson said.
The management interface to the three new management tools produces dashboards and project summaries with many graphical elements.
Maples illustrated a Agile development method chart that tells him how many user stories (software use cases in more traditional development lingo) are associated with a sprint, or a three- to four-week period of a project. The chart showed use cases completed versus those still to go. Another chart showed how much of the code had been tested, what the defect rate was, and how many defects remained to be resolved. Such data takes some of the guesswork out of projecting how a development process is progressing and when it might be completed.