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Danube Looks To Bring Scrum to Enterprise Developers

Maintaining that Scrum Agile development methodologies have not gained substantial traction with enterprises, Danube Technologies is attempting to address major shortcomings of past efforts.

Danube, regarded as the leading provider of the ScrumWorks agile-process automation tools and ScrumCORE training courses and certifications, yesterday released ScrumWorks Pro 4.0. The company's founders said the new release is a major change from its prior iteration by emphasizing program management, release planning features, flexible modeling of development organizations and enterprise reporting.

"Enterprises are looking for the ability to manage deeply complex organizational structures," said Danube CTO Victor Szalvay. "And there has been a paucity of tooling to support that. But when we and our competitors tried to address this problem a year or two ago, we all fell flat."

The new release addresses that shortfall, he said. "It enables high-level planning at a release-cycle level for a single product, and tracking across multiple related products. It addresses the question our customers have been asking: 'How do you maintain the Agile development model in a shared-component environment?'"

Agile software development methodologies (also known as lightweight methods) differ from traditional approaches, such as the waterfall method, in a number of ways. They’re based on just a few key rules and practices, all of which are relatively easy to follow. They emphasize individuals and interactions over processes, and working software over documentation.

Scrum is an Agile framework that structures software development into cycles of work called "sprints." Sprints are iterations of work lasting two to four weeks. During each sprint, dev teams work from a prioritized list of customer requirements, called "user stories," which helps to ensure that the features developed first are of the highest value to the customer.

Among the enterprise-focused features of this release are "epics," which are designed to allow companies to manage the release of complex projects with multiple, shared components. "Danube has put some real thought into what it means to be an enterprise tool with this release," said Forrester analyst Tom Grant. "They’ve made some smart connections, for example, with the tagging feature. It might not sound important for an enterprise-ready tool, but it is."

Built on Java Enterprise Edition, ScrumWorks 4.0 uses keyword tagging instead of hierarchies to enable project managers to see projects from different perspectives and multiple dimensions. "It’s a very thoughtful approach in terms of enhancements for the enterprise," Grant added.

"The tree structures, which is the way traditional tools handle large groups of people trying to develop in concert, is just too rigid for Agile methods," said Szalvay. Agile development methodologies have been making their way into the enterprise for a few years now, but a recent spike in inquires from Forrester customers leads Grant to conclude that enterprise Agile may be gaining traction.

"Agile did get off to a slow start, but there’s been a big jump in interest," Grant said. "I think we’ve finally seen a critical mass of success stories, best practices and lessons learned that people can apply. The questions we’re getting about Agile today -- is there anything about my situation that would make failure likely, how will this impact the other groups we work with -- are signs of a maturing adoption."

Scrum has emerged as the most popular lightweight method overall, and may well take the lead in corporate app dev, as well, Grant said. "It’s far and away the most popular Agile method," he said. "Why that happens to be is something we’re looking into right now."

Szalvay said he believes Scrum addresses key concerns among those who manage development teams. "There’s talk about ROI, business priorities and the demands on business," he said. "As Agile gets more mainstream, and as larger organizations try to implement it, that’s the language we should be speaking."

Pricing for ScrumWorks 4.0 starts at $500 per seat, though the company offers volume discounts.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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