Grapevine Software Manages Offshore Development with TeamDirection Project
Grapevine Software (www.GrapevineSoftware.net) develops workflow management software for emergency response, contingency and business continuity plans. Using the Grapevine solution, city, county and other government agencies are able to transform their planning documents into concrete, actionable steps. After evaluating various options, Grapevine founders Jim Kilmurray and Samuel Zhu opted for a software development partnership with ChongQuing University in China.
Founded in 1929 and with over 35,000 full-time students, ChongQuing University was chosen in 2001 as one of several demonstration software engineering faculties in China to spearhead the cultivation of partnerships with private enterprise. Participating organizations include IBM, Nortel Networks and the Government of Japan. Kilmurray and Zhu decided to take advantage of this program by having the software portion of their solution developed at the University by a team of software engineering graduate students under the direction of Zhu.The Challenge
With his offshore development team in place, Grapevine President Jim Kilmurray was unable to monitor and control his project from California’s west coast. It was impossible to know the status of tasks and therefore when the project would be completed. Staying in touch by email proved onerous once multiple versions of software specifications and deliverables began to emerge.
Separated by an ocean and some difficulties with language, the team needed a project management system that everyone could see, use and understand. It was essential that each developer knew which deliverables he was responsible for and when these were due. There could be no confusion over which version of a software specification was the correct one. In addition, any technical problems had to be resolved quickly so the project could remain on track.
Kilmurray had investigated a number of ASP-based solutions but none seemed to have the right combination of functionality and price. It was after the two founders began collaborating on business documents using Groove Workspace that Kilmurray noticed the availability of the TeamDirection Project tool for Groove.The Solution
"As the only U.S. based member of a 10 person software development team, this solution affords me the ability to actually exercise a real-time, hands-on management presence, 15 time-zones away, in our off-shore development lab in China."
After an intensive evaluation, Kilmurray decided on TeamDirection Project for management of the software team. “As the only U.S. based member of a 10 person software development team, this solution affords me the ability to actually exercise a real-time, hands-on management presence, 15 time-zones away, in our off-shore development lab in China” says Kilmurray. “TeamDirection Project running on the Groove platform is truly the heart of our project - you couldn't pry it from my cold, dead fingers” he adds with a smile.
The solution allows for planning and monitoring the team’s deliverables, and ensuring that all specifications and deliverables are attached to specific tasks. Any problems are discussed and resolved in the context of these tasks, taking advantage of TeamDirection’s integration with the Groove Discussion tool. The latter, in conjunction with Groove Instant Messenger, allows problems to be surfaced and resolved quickly as well as visibly, to the affected team members. To prevent confusion over multiple software specifications, only one copy of any software spec is allowed in the project space – and that is the definitive one.The Benefits
The use of the Groove tools has changed the way in which the project team works. The use of email for project-related communications has been eliminated. All deliverables, their associated information, and valuable communications are managed completely within the TeamDirection Project environment. There is no time wasted searching for technical information, no confusion over current versions, productivity has increased, and the team is able to focus on meeting their deliverables.
Grapevine CTO and co-founder Samuel Zhu has this to say: “The TeamDirection project management solution is the center of the whole development process. It clearly identifies each person's responsibility and associates all relevant information with the task and its deadline. It is a very good solution for focusing the team's time and effort on the project deliverable.”Back to Top