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Recommendations for Product Release/Management Software?

Any recommendations for a Mac friendly, secure, mobile-enabled product release/management tool?

I was recently asked to take over release management of seven distinct, mature products covering about 300 customers and 50k+ users. This means coordinating engineers, QA, product owners, contracts office, implementation specialists, and sales in order to launch new releases, version updates, bug fixes, etc . I'm inheriting a system where, depending on the team, data is found on Jira, Confluence, Outlook Calendars, and of course MS Project. The good news is that I have relationships with each of the key stakeholders to get the inputs; the bad news is, I need to fix this before Thanksgiving.

I want to give the incumbent tools a fair shake, but am also trying to check out OmniPlan, At Task, Replicon, etc.

Welcome any and all thoughts. Freeware or Paid licenses.

Cheers.

13 Replies

Harman Kochar
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Harman Kochar Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder at RetSKU
It will help if you can elaborate on what you don't like about Jira/Greenhopper?
Olivier Chaine
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Olivier Chaine Entrepreneur • Advisor
SVP, LPO at The Search Agency
GitHub?
Jonathan Chang
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Jonathan Chang Entrepreneur
Product Marketing and Creative Leader
I'm in a similar position in my company and would love to hear people's thoughts. We're currently using a combination of email, JIRA/Greenhopper, Google Spreadsheet, and Project.

I've personally investigated Jamasoft as well as Aha for requirements gathering, but found them to be a little too complicated.

In addition to tools, what processes and best practices do people recommend? Thanks!
Brian Piercy
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Brian Piercy Entrepreneur
Mat,

I presume the stakeholders are located in different locations/timezones, correct? (Just checking.)

I also presume the pain you're seeing is simply the drudgery of dealing with different tools? In other words, porting information from one to the next?

I'm a fan of GitHub (for rev control) and Trello or Gdocs (for collaboration). FWIW.

As for Jonathan's BPs question - the simpler, the better. You'd be surprised how receptive people are to simple text to-do lists (who, what, when, priority, done?), centrally located, rigorously updated.

-Brian

Mat Mathews
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Mat Mathews Entrepreneur
Director at Ntrepid Corporation
Harman:

I'm comfortable with Jira as a dev and issue tracking tool, but I'm not yet sold on it as a program management tool considering all of the "cats that need herding." I'll have a better sense tomorrow for Jira as a PM tool when I get the demo on JIra Gantt. The concerns I need allayed about Jira--and any of the products--are can I experience clean/elegant output that allows for access and edit in Gantt format, calendar, and mobile views.

What are your thoughts/recs/experience with Jira for Program/Product Management?

Cheers.
Mat Mathews
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Mat Mathews Entrepreneur
Director at Ntrepid Corporation
Thanks Brian.

I'm indeed dealing with a geographically dispersed group. I'm in ATL, and I've got stakeholders on the West Coast, up the eastern shore, and a couple sprinkled in PA and TX. I've worked under these circumstances before, but that was usually one product, not 7.

I like Trello and use it for my analyst and analytic teams, but it may be too niche and not address the other items that I'm trying to consolidate. I'll certainly check out what's on GitHub per you and Olivier.

The to-do lists are still going to be there in order to maintain some program management pricipals. I've got a list for the PO, the IS, as well as Tier 2; but these checklists don't capture the temporal aspects. It's the timing and the customized deployments that warrant the need for a tool that can bend for program management as well as Agile methods.

Thanks again for the recs. Keep the advice coming.
Tim Scott
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Tim Scott Entrepreneur • Advisor
President, Lunaverse Software
GitHub + PivotalTracker+ any decent wiki
Mohammad Forouzani
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Mohammad Forouzani Entrepreneur
CEO at Forecast.net
You will find Jira the most powerful tool for this (and also the most complicated). Even the BBC uses it, and they have thousands of projects and 20,000+ employees.
Ian Tyrrell
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Ian Tyrrell Entrepreneur
Co-founder / CTO at Ixty
For distributed high-level coordination I'd recommend SmartSheet -http://www.smartsheet.com/- SaaS, lightweight but with task dependencies. Used to use this in combination with the Atlassian suite. It doesn't integrate but shouldn't be too much overhead to get your PMs to keep it in sync.

Jira/Greenhopper can be as simple/complicated as you want it - in the same vein is Mingle:http://www.thoughtworks.com/products/mingle-agile-project-management- the key thing is to reduce the defaults to only those that are relevant to your org/process.

If you want the teams to be productive empower them to make their own choices (perhaps with recommendations). Then put the burden of reporting on PMs / ScrumMasters (if they're using Scrum).
Mat Mathews
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Mat Mathews Entrepreneur
Director at Ntrepid Corporation
Thanks again to everyone for the great advice. I know a few folks were interested on what I decided to do...

At the end of the day I stuck with JIRA and executed the purchase of 5 floating licenses of the JIRA GANTT feature. It's about $1200.

All in all, I'm not thrilled about this, but a key driver in the decision was my firm's existing investment in JIRA.

I looked at some of the other tools--and while they all had their pluses--at the end of the day, I wasn't able to find the true hybrid tool that blends agile reqs and program management resources. In many senses these management styles are, theoretically, in opposition; however, I think anyone conduction product release duties across several project will appreciate the problem of needing "sharks and jets" to work together.

What I'm going to have to do is a sort of "jerry-rigging." I will use the existing Jira ontology and expand the definitions (e.g. "Milestones") to have meaning for program management. Also, I unfortunately still have to use an MS Outlook calendar. While many of the tools I reviewed had a calendar feature, they were positioned for sprints as opposed to me being able to create events such as "deployments" "vacations" or "smoke tests."

For those who haven't picked a solution (or don't' want to spend money on JIRA), I recommend you take a look at
-Viewpath
-Smartsheet
-Wrike
-Siasto
-Omniplan

The first four also have google app plugins, so that would be a nice integration if you're using the Google platform for emails, drive, etc. Omniplan, which I don't think has a google plugin (but don't quote me), allows you to set up you're own cloud network--if you don't want to use theirs which comes with the license--and they have the mobile solution. JIRA doesn't offer the mobile solution.

Thanks again to all. I have found this group conversation far more interesting and useful!

Cheers!
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