Columbia Sportswear maintained legacy applications that limited its ability to keep up with the pace of business innovation. Sales representatives found uploading orders painful. End users couldn't use mobile
devices to tackle supply chain processes. To become more nimble in addressing the growing volume of software needs, the IT organization adopted Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server 2012, which has enabled it to work more effectively across teams and
End users at Columbia Sportswear have become increasingly vocal in their expectations for company applications. "That’s primarily due to mobile devices and tablets," says Brian Summers, Director of Technical Services for Global Information Systems. "They
really want to be able to access their applications anywhere, anytime."
||I have multiple development teams in my organization. And whether you’re a Java developer or a .NET or BizTalk developer, I can use you where I need you because of the Visual Studio 2012 and Team Foundation Server 2012 common tool
| Brian Summers
Director of Technical Services for Global Information Systems
Staying on top of the workload has been intensified by differences between development teams, some working with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, others using Eclipse as part of a Java-based integrated development environment (IDE). Updates on projects tended to
happen by email or through an outmoded collaboration platform. Individual groups had little visibility into others' workload or project status.
Similar problems beset communications between the development teams and their "customers," the business people who needed the new applications being created and didn't always know what they wanted until they'd seen what they didn't want. "We are a supply
pipeline," explains Manager, Microsoft Application Development Team, Dave Harrison. "The more efficient our IT pipeline is, the better we’ll be able to cut costs and sell jackets. That’s what we’re about. So trying to close that gap in between IT and the business
-- that’s going to make or break our success as a company long term."
To address quickly changing requirements, the company has combined Waterfall with Agile and Scrum to show results faster and to give business users previews sooner in the development cycle.
Improvements didn't stop there. The Global Application Development organization was an early adopter of Microsoft's next-generation development toolset. During an early preview Harrison recalls being impressed with Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio Team
Foundation Server 2012. "Code is expensive. I want to be able to use something out of the box." When Microsoft demonstrated built-in functionality that could address common development challenges as well as techniques for customizing the products to fit Columbia's
unique needs, he was sold.
More skeptical, however, was the Java development group within Columbia. They needed a really compelling reason to be interested in new software. They found it with the free Team Explorer Everywhere plug-in from Microsoft, which enabled the Java developers
to continue working in their chosen IDE, Eclipse, while still being able to access the features of Team Foundation Server 2012. That in turn allowed them to leverage benefits of the application collaboration platform, such as work item tracking, source control,
data collection, build management, and reporting.
The combination of Visual Studio 2012, Team Foundation Server 2012, and Agile development has enabled Columbia's development teams to work together more effectively and for business users to weigh in more quickly on new applications. "If you're a little
bit off course at the end of two weeks, that’s a pretty easy correction. If you're off course after six or 12 months, that’s a complete rework," says Summers. "It can cost you millions of dollars."
The dramatically improved integration of the teams through Team Foundation Server 2012 has boosted developer output and quality. "It doesn’t matter what development team they’re on; they’re using the same tools," says Summers. "Having that common tool set
has been huge and allowed us to be faster and do better quality work."
||After just a few months of using Team Foundation Server 2012, the company has saved hundreds of hours of development time.
| Dave Harrison
Manager Microsoft Application Development Team
Java Development Manager Scot Hall says status reporting in Team Foundation Server is "fantastic." "I can quickly see from a burn-down list where we are in a current sprint. How many issues do we have left? What's our workload right now?"
Testing has ceased being an afterthought because Visual Studio 2012 allows the developer to set up automated testing. That encourages the teams to do test-driven development, "which has saved us months of development time," declares Harrison.
Greater Project Visibility
Columbia has six different ways to collect metrics on bugs. Now, explains Harrison, developers can check bug status through a single dashboard. "When I said that in a team meeting, there was a big sigh of relief because checking their status in different
systems was killing them."
The forecasting abilities of Team Foundation Server have given members of the extended development team - testers, business analysts, and project managers - visibility into the project schedule. "I can say, ‘Here’s the capacity of my team, and based on past
experience, we know we’re going to get to your work in about three sprints.’ That’s a fantastic tool," says Harrison. He can leave it up to the business side to prioritize features, enhancements, and bug fixes, and developers don't have to guess at what choices
the end users would make.
Less Administration; More Motivation
However, the biggest impact in terms of hours saved may be in the area of administration, Harrison says. Previously, developers would spend hours every week updating their status and relaying that information to others. When that updating didn't happen,
Harrison would go from coder to coder to find out what they were doing. Now he spends at most two hours a week doing sprint planning and five minutes in daily stand-ups with teams.
Also, developers are more motivated. Previously, each task was pre-assigned to a given person, which often meant that he or she would get stuck doing the same kind of work over and over. Now nobody is pre-assigned a task. "They can start pulling things from
the backlog. In Team Foundation Server 2012 that’s a click and drag," Harrison notes. "People can pitch in on any task that they want " As a result, he believes collaboration is stronger, the entire development organization has matured, and with more say in
what developers work on, the IT employee retention rate at Columbia has improved.
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