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TechExcel's DevPlan


In general release as of August 23, TechExcel's (www.techexcel.com, 925-871-8900) new DevPlan is an integrated project-planning environment aimed at the specific needs of software builders. Though DevPlan should find a ready audience among the large installed base for TechExcel's successful DevTrack issue-tracking system (a new version of which has also just been released), DevPlan works fine as a stand-alone product, too.

Project-planning for developers is an underserved category -- dominated on the low end by ad-hoc use of productivity applications like Excel, in the midrange by project-planning modules associated with specific IDEs (e.g., Visual Studio), and on the high side by enterprise- and business-oriented project-planning tools. TechExcel's assertion -- and it seems reasonable -- is that none of these approaches really fits the bill. What project-team managers really need is something like DevPlan: a tool that adopts the standard battery of visual project-planning tools (e.g., Gantt charts, critical-path analysis, resource scheduling and leveling, etc.), but also integrates, on the one hand, a sleek set of utilities for people- and time-management (an event calendar, workload estimation and charting), a tool for comparing different baseline Gantt representations with current project timeline (helps you determine and communicate about how far a project has deviated from its original plan), comprehensive management and access control on large libraries of related documents (link specs, designs, prototypes and other documents to project areas, with automatic communication to relevant personnel), and seamless integration with a mature issue-tracking system (DevTrack): essential for keeping tabs on multiple sub-projects and strategizing around bottlenecks.

Integration with DevTrack provides significant muscle, here. Standard project management software tends to presume centralization of the planning function and provides centralized views, offering limited detail (e.g., within Gantt charts) on sub-projects. In software, however, sub-projects themselves may have complex lifecycles, requiring detailed planning by domain experts. DevTrack functionality accessible via DevPlan offers this second layer of close-in management -- permitting a high-level project supervisor to delegate planning and resource assignment as necessary, closer to the ground. The DevTrack integration also permits DevPlan users to exploit DevTrack integration with industry-standard version control and build-management systems.

DevPlan is built on a secure web services model, so can be extended globally and used as a participatory environment. Project managers get all the control and detail they need, while "resources" (that's project-planning lingo for "you, the five guys in your cube-star, Sri and the boys in Mumbai, the freelancer in Boston and the other freelancer in Prague") see a clear, fully-documented, synchronously-updated picture of whatever's been assigned to them. The planning environment can also be extended to provide convenient high-level views for nervous execs and other stakeholders.

Several whitepapers on DevPlan and DevTrack are available from TechExcel at http://www.techexcel.com/Formwise/DReg.asp?k=wp_devsuite&apptype=1.

TechExcel's new DevPlan integrates seamlessly with DevTrack for detailed sub-project management.

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