ThoughtWorks adds dependency management to Mingle for fast scaling of agile development

As developers increasingly take on a more operational role to support the apps they build, tools that keep everyone on the same page are also needed. And given the rapid pace of continuous software delivery when agile methodologies are embraced, seeing the impact of every change as quickly as possible is critical.

ThoughtWorks Studios recently added a feature to its Mingle project management tool to easily keep track of dependencies across projects for multiple teams, even if those teams are taking different approaches for their own work. Managing director Chad Wathington said a common trend in agile is that teams need “to do their own thing” when starting their agile process and being able to change how they want to work by easily adding or removing a step as they go. “We want a team to be able to work the way they want to work…not a cookie cutter approach.”

Wathington said organizations embracing agile often take a top down approach by adopting a framework and pushing it down for everyone to use, but not everyone gets “infected” by the process: “Some buy in, but others don’t at all.”

Other organizations start the transition to agile by piloting it with one team. He added that both needs to happen at scale with an executive champion. “When teams work, the whole organization can work.”

The goal of Mingle is to help teams be productive, said Wathingon, not heavily processed. “Our tool isn’t prescriptive in that is says you must do agile a certain way.”

Mingle product manager Kunal Shah said the new dependency management feature works automatically but allows teams to continue to work they want. “Even if there are separate methodologies, we want a mechanism that teams can talk to each other without having to change ways of thinking.”

He said most available dependency management solutions available today are complex, as organizations try to plan large batches of work and capture all of the dependencies. “Some program managers spend their entire job finding dependencies.” Mingle aims to provide a common view for every stakeholder across a program that include multiple teams and all dependencies.

Jeff Noris, Thoughtwork’s technical lead for Mingle, said the company eats its own dog food, and that Mingle supports having an integrated team that knows where all of the moving parts are. Mingle provides a card wall of all dependencies, and stakeholders can switch between product support and operations views, as well as have an overall team view. It’s easy and quick to see how a change impacts an overall project.

Mingle was built from a mindset of continuous delivery, added Noris, something not all organizations have embraced; many are still delivering software in big chunks every six months. Moving to the idea of delivering regularly is a pretty substantial shift for developers, but it’s a “fundamental shift that lets you do things that were impossible before.”

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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