Unlike the plethora of project management systems available today Devshop stands out because it is focused on one thing – managing software development projects and assisting project managers with delivering quality software on time. Devshop was largely developed and founded by Ottawa, Canada based former developer and project manager Craig Fitzpatrick (who writes a great blog about project management theory and devshop at www.uncommonsenseforsoftware.com). Devshop is in a private beta at the moment but I have been using it for the past few weeks (evaluating it for our own use).
Like many of us who are responsible for delivering software, Craig was frustrated with existing project management tools such as Microsoft Project as they were over-complicated and didn’t help in eliminating scheduling and other problems responsible for the fact that over 70% of software projects fail. Generic project management applications (such as Basecamp) are very good for smaller-scale projects, or for other projects such as organizing a wedding, but are a let-down when it comes to managing teams of developers.
The idea behind Devshop is to really focus in on the unique risks that cause software projects to be late. The solution focuses on project management, quality management and requirements management. It takes care of the managerial aspects of a project rather than trying to be a source code control tool and everything else – project management on it’s own is very broad so having this focus from a product is very good.
When managing a project with DevShop you don’t set start dates for tasks, but rather you assign tasks to somebody and set a priority. Devshop will take care of scheduling from there based on when tasks are complete, their priority, dependencies and any constraints it may have. Managing time properly is crucial in software management and Devshop does a lot of this work for the project manager.
Devshop has taken an innovative approach to solving some of the pains of project management by using risk analysis which can gauge the impact changes to schedules have. With other solutions project schedules are often locked in after initial planning, which causes problems when there are delays or when tasks change (which always happens). Devshop allows your schedule to be more fluid and dynamic – and it will forecast the impact certain changes and delays will have allowing the project manager to plan accordingly or to undo changes. It will allow the project manager to plan properly by looking at different scenarios before locking them in, ie. changing the priority of a schedule or the order in which a particular developer approaches tasks.
Besides the intelligent logic, Devshop has a very nice interface that allows you to drag and drop tasks, use context menus and edit all variables in-line (it will dynamically redraw charts etc. – a very rich user experience). Users of other project management solutions should have no problem diving into Devshop and getting full use of it immediately. There are many help pages as well that cover both the basics as well as explaining some of the more advanced aspects. Craig’s previous project management experience comes across in the help pages as he offers tips and tricks to managing your projects more effectively and offering advice. It took me no longer than a few minutes (and just a single page refresh) to setup a project with a number of tasks and a schedule.
At the moment the private beta is of a basic version of the product, but by the time it launches there will be both basic and professional editions (with the professional edition you get more metrics, trends and predictions). The professional edition will also offer multiple views that are customized for different team members and roles (ie. A CEO’s view will be a general overview with scheduling etc.). Pricing is very reasonable and will start at $20 per month. Devshop is an easy to use and innovative solution that will make project management easier for the 15 million software developers out there. For more information and to be notified of when the beta is released visit www.devshop.com.