StarTeam® Goes Agile!

May 15th 2012 marks the official release in beta of StarTeam’s new agile planning and tracking support, which we are calling simply StarTeam® Agile.  We’ll be reaching out to our StarTeam customers to ask them to get involved in what we believe is an exciting new phase in software delivery.

So, if you are a StarTeam customer, aside from hoping you’ll be as excited about this as we are, we would ask you to look out for the information that’s going to be coming your way shortly after that release date and get in touch with us.

In the meantime, read on for why we honestly do believe this is something you’ll want to be part of…

The rise of agile

Software development organizations of all sizes are turning to agile methods to help them improve their ability to deliver great software.  Quite what form that adoption will take tends to vary, based on factors like size, industry, and geographical distribution, but the general view is that a hybrid approach being called ‘Water-Scrum-Fall’ is emerging as the most common scenario, where traditional requirements gathering feeds an agile development phase, before handing off for final acceptance testing.

But whatever the detailed implementation of ‘agile’, it’s generally agreed that software delivery organizations are looking to make it a bigger part of their process.  And why wouldn’t they?  Agile brings collaboration and better stakeholder involvement, which in turn brings faster decision-making, better developer responsiveness and improved time to market.

All of which, of course, tends to bring happier customers.

The challenges of agile adoption

But the adoption of ‘agile’, especially in larger organizations, is not without its challenges.  Integrating agile practices or teams with existing, more traditional processes can prove frustrating for both developers and managers; the objectives, and indeed the overall philosophy, of each party often seem to stand in complete contradiction to the other.  On the one hand, the need for high-level aggregated information drives a desire for data collection, dashboards, and unification across all delivery processes, regardless of method or underlying technology.  On the other hand, the emphasis is on co-located teams and manual processes, on working software and lightweight tooling.

And it doesn’t stop there.

As well as needing management visibility for the purposes of planning and tracking, the question of corporate governance has the potential to strain relationships too, with talk of the need for traceability, workflows and audit trails raising the hackles on many an agile practitioner’s neck.

The power of StarTeam

This kind of visibility and control has always been within the reach of StarTeam users, with the robust change management platform taking things way beyond source control, to provide much-needed insight across the entire lifecycle.

The 12.0 release of StarTeam took things a stage further, enabling users to define their own asset types (through the use of ‘custom components’) and bring in more third-party data (through the use of the Tasktop Connector for Borland).  This now means that many more assets can be tracked, with defects from Jira or Bugzilla, for example, appearing alongside requirements from HP or StarTeam, as well as any other custom assets needed to support the software delivery process.

It is fair to say, though, that supporting agile teams in StarTeam has not been without its own set of challenges, either requiring StarTeam users to bend their way of working to fit the tool, or necessitating the introduction of additional functionality through the powerful StarTeam SDK.

This is no longer the case.

Real agile support comes to StarTeam

Agile teams can now work in a natural, even tactile way, recreating many of their preferred manual activities, without having to concern themselves with any of the underlying architecture – while at the same time, all their assets and all their changes, like user stories and tasks, are being tracked, traced and versioned, helping to build a comprehensive view across the entire project landscape, regardless of methodology or geographical location.

And as well as supporting the needs of the agile teams, some of the more specific benefits coming through the power of StarTeam include:

  • Seamless and automated traceability from agile task to source code.  As soon as you create and assign your agile tasks, they appear in the developer’s task list in their IDE, even without refreshing – and from that point on, as the task is activated and code is edited, traceability is being created.
  • Running agile processes against existing projects, releases and teams.  As soon as StarTeam Agile is installed in your system, it connects to your existing StarTeam server and automatically enables you to see all your existing projects, releases and teams, removing the need for any manual intervention in keeping your agile activities up to date alongside all your other projects.
  • Snapshot the state of your agile assets using the same mechanism that you already use for your code.  All StarTeam users understand that version control is not just about source code; all other software assets are changing too.  Keeping on top of this not only means knowing which version of a requirement or defect links to any given version of source code, but also which release or product build that user story or task got completed in, so your customers can upgrade in full knowledge that their issues or requests have been addressed.

So, if you think this all sounds interesting, please get in touch and look out for more information as it becomes available.  May 15th is the official beta release date for StarTeam customers.

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