Agile Suites

Agile software development is making inroads into organizations as a beneficial software development approach. What began as a revolution in 2001 has now become a regular part of many engineering organizations’ development projects. The benefits are attractive: increase overall throughput of the development organization by up to 40%, and work better, smarter, and faster in a world of shrinking budgets. For most companies, gaining those types of benefits and successfully implementing Agile development processes requires more than just retraining people and moving to Agile methodologies.

This Upside Research report highlights how senior developers and management can gain a higher level of control and productivity out of the entire software engineering organization by optimizing Agile software development through the use of professional Agile Suites. The report identifies several leading vendors of professional Agile software development suites, and also builds a business case for using an Agile Suite to further improve efficiency and deliver better end results for all software development.

For the full Upside Research report on Agile Suites, download the Agile Suites Report


Doing more with less – IT and the Economy

For many IT departments, 2009 is turning out to be the year they’re doing more with less. At more, with a lot less. With a lot more uncertainty. I believe that there’s going to be more pressure on organizations and on IT organizations than we’ve ever seen.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities, and perhaps they are the opportunities that we’d choose, but I believe there’s an option here for some companies to turn a the crisis into an opportunity to reexamine what they’re doing and look for new opportunities. I think the organizations that are willing to work and take risks now, will be the ones gaining benefits down the road.

To help stimulate a discussion (if not the economy), it’s worth calling out a few ways in which organizations can manage (or even reduce) IT costs while retaining (or even increasing) functionality.

One of the first ways is to make sure you’re working more closely with the business–when it comes to everything from application development to maintenance to governance. In fact, you can start by stopping–it’s a good time to clear the decks and realign priorities and value to the new economic landscape. Start by working more closely with business leaders, sharing the projects you currently have, and their priorities, and then work with business leaders to determine which ones are most critical.

One potentially practical tip for stepping back and savings some resources or money might be in temporarily (depending on business requirements) agreeing to reduce services levels, for example, on select systems or applications. Perhaps an organization could reduce service levels by increasing the amount of time the help desk has to respond to requests (say from 2 hours to 4 hours) or lengthening the amount of time IT has after a disaster to get systems (or selected systems) back on line.

Of course, any changes like these have to be a joint decision with the business. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea for all IT groups to take a step back and make look for opportunities to save or cut back on resources and spending where they can–as long as those cuts or savings are aligned with business needs.


Compuware Refocuses—Optimization, Performance, Portfolio Management In, Quality Out

Well, okay, maybe that headline is misleading, but the details aren’t.

Detroit-based software giant Compuware isn’t really dropping the quality of its products, but it is selling off its Quality Solutions product line to help refocus its business on areas where it can compete most effectively.

On Wednesday, May 6th, Compuware announced an agreement that MicroFocus would acquire Compuware’s Quality Solutions line, including the products themselves as well as the 330 people in the development, sales, and customer-support teams. The deal is valued at $80 million and expected to close this quarter.

Compuware has never been a company that moves particularly fast—but for them, and their customers, that’s been a good thing. For years, Compuware has been a reliable, steady and practical IT partner for governments, mainframe-oriented IT shops, and large organizations.

But this announcement, which Compuware portrays as another step in its “Compuware 2.0 evolution” is expected to allow Compuware to invest resources and energy in what it sees as high-opportunity markets, from application performance and mainframe optimization to IT portfolio management and healthcare collaboration. Perhaps another way to read this is that while Obama’s stimulus package has the potential to jack up the need for new technologies, modernization of healthcare and other government IT environments, it doesn’t necessarily mean that companies will be spending significantly more on code testing or development tools.

In a fascinating move, MicroFocus also moved to acquire Borland Software Corporation (which, after all these years, I still have a soft spot in my heart for. Who can ever forget Turbo Pascal, SideKick, or my favorite, Turbo C ((that was a great development tool!))). Of course, more recently, Borland had spun off its traditional developer tools group into CodeGear (sold last year to Embarcadero Technologies), and had refocused on open application lifecycle management. MicroFocus hopes that by acquiring complementary technologies from Borland and Compuware that it will be able to create a market-leading position in the application testing/automated software quality market. Such a position would work well to broaden

MicroFocus’s leadership in the application management and modernization business.
And although this move makes some sense from Compuware’s perspective, don’t kid yourself that quality or good old testing is dead—it isn’t. And even though the next five years will no doubt see a big inflection point between traditional, workstation-oriented development products and processes and cloud-based ones, there are still plenty of applications and organizations that can benefit from solid application quality solutions. Longer term, however, the real winner that market will be the company (perhaps MicroFocus?) that’s able to deliver forward-looking (i.e., cloud-oriented) technologies that span these IT needs and deliver practical solutions to increasing software and application quality.


Compuware Changepoint

For over 35 years Compuware Corp. has been a leader in enterprise software and services. Over the past decade the company has increasingly focused on helping organizations transform IT investments into business assets. A good example of this strategy is Compuware Changepoint.

Changepoint, the company’s business-centric IT management solution, is designed to help IT and business managers gain better visibility into the enterprise IT environment. In addition the latest version, Changepoint 2009, demonstrates Compuware’s ability to meet the changing needs of its customers. Changepoint 2009 focuses on adding functionality in three key areas: financial management, resource management, and usability. These changes reflect the new economic climate that enterprises find themselves in today, enabling IT managers to improve portfolio management, identify priorities, and deliver on business and IT goals with tightened budgets and waning resources. By adding functionality in investment planning, resource management, and funding allocation, Compuware provides an even stronger solution that can help customers develop mature financial discipline, a necessity for today’s IT department.

Download the complete Compuware Changepoint Upside Research Product Brief.


Esker DeliveryWare

With 24 years of field experience, Esker is no newcomer to document process automation. Headquartered in France, Esker has a worldwide presence with more than 80,000 customers and more than 2.5 million people using various products and services that help automate document-intensive processes. The company merged with several other companies in the United States in 2000 to round out its document process automation offerings, and the results are a platform of products that connect a company’s existing systems and move documents through processes in an efficient and cost-effective way. Esker’s products work particularly well within enterprises that have Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) systems such as SAP or Oracle E-Business Suite, helping them to eliminate resource-intensive order-to-cash or procure-to-pay processes that involve printing orders or invoices, walking them to another point and re-keying the data. Esker DeliveryWare is a solution that can automate a wide range of document-based processes such as accounts payable, sales order processing, purchasing and customer invoicing. The product works best in enterprises that have a significant volume of document handling tasks that can benefit from automation.

– Focus on providing products that automate labor-intensive workflows as well as reducing the integration challenges between internal systems and external sources.
– Offer customers measurable ROI with the potential for up to 70% reduction in order and invoice processing costs.
– Work closely with ERP system vendors (including SAP) to provide customers with value-added products that leverage installed ERP systems.
– Offer customers a variety of delivery models, including SaaS and on-premise solutions to complement customers’ existing IT infrastructure.
– Target manufacturing sector with many document-intensive processes and a high amount of ERP system usage.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY Esker DeliveryWare offers customers several options for implementation. For those companies that desire an on-premise solution, DeliveryWare can be implemented within existing IT infrastructure. Depending on the complexity of the implementation, customers are able to go live in as short as one or two days, up to 8 weeks, while costs can range from less than $20,000 to over $100,000.

For those companies that want to reduce the burden on IT resources and minimize capital expenditures, especially in light of the current economic conditions, Esker offers a software-as-a-service model for DeliveryWare that provides a flexible pay-as-you-go model and low implementation costs. Hosted data centers have the highest levels of availability, reliability, security, and disaster recovery to provide enterprises with a turnkey solution for document process automation.

– Raise visibility of Esker and DeliveryWare in North America to build document process automation market share.
– Increase partnerships and alignment with other ERP vendors and also Document Management vendors to create complimentary sell to installed bases.
– Define and communicate value of solution, even though it cuts across traditional market segments or product categories.

Despite the automation that enterprise resource planning systems provide, there are still gaps in coverage, especially when the processes go beyond the corporate walls. This is often a pain point for organization, because they must meld manual processes with automation, and the results can be resource-intensive, error-prone, and inefficient. For example, taking an order from inside an ERP system, printing it out, walking it across to another system, and re-keying the data is not an optimal environment for business operations, and yet it is often the reality in many companies.

Esker’s DeliveryWare solution is part of a category of tools that seek to remedy the situation highlighted above. Document process automation is an important part of increasing efficiency and effectiveness with processes throughout the enterprise. Despite the economic downturn, document process automation provides a bright spot because organizations see immediate cost-savings and bottom-line impact from implementing such a solution. Esker has the advantage of offering on-premise or on-demand services, enabling an even lower initial investment to start gaining efficiency and reducing costs and errors associated with manual document routing and processing.

Esker has carved out a specific niche in the broader BPM space, and as a result has a very focused, highly successful business model. Upside Research recommends that Esker continue to expand its alignment with the leading ERP vendors, tighten integration to their solutions, and build its brand awareness outside Europe to capture more market share.


Esker DeliveryWare is a comprehensive solution for automating document processing throughout and beyond the walls of the enterprise. It replaces costly manual and error-prone steps in common procure-to-pay and order-to-cash cycles by automating document routing and reducing document handling times. DeliveryWare allows enterprises to capture, customize, transform, route and deliver data and documents from any source to any destination. The solution’s centralized management enables streamlined electronic business communications and facilitates faster payment cycles, increased visibility into order processes.

Upside Take
The area of document process automation is a subset of Business Process Management, and it has the benefit of a very clearly defined return on investment for organizations. Enterprises that have high volumes of paper- and document-centric tasks around sales ordering and payment are well aware of the pain points of their non-automated processes. Therefore, offering a solution to these problems with a clear ROI and several delivery options is a key to success. Esker has done a remarkable job aligning itself with one of the leaders in ERP to offer customers a complementary solution to the ERP systems that run their businesses. The key for Esker will be to raise its visibility and extend its interoperability with other ERP vendors to appeal to a wider swath of customers.

Esker Inc.
U.S. headquarters
1212 Deming Way
Suite 350
Madison, WI 53717
Phone: 800.368.5283
Founded: 1984
Ownership: Public
Employees: 240
Employees in R&D: 25%
Total Company Revenue: 26.6 million Euros (2008)
Industry Segment:
Process Automation
Key Partners:
– Microsoft
Reference Accounts:
– Whirlpool
– Kimball International
– Pentair Water
Product: DeliveryWare
Number of Installations: 80,000 customers worldwide, with more than 2.5 million users.

Download the complete Esker DeliveryWare Upside Research Product Brief.


Using SOA to Create Better Compliance

Okay, okay, so SOA isn’t easy. And no one (well, perhaps auditors, governments or shareholders) like compliance. But good compliance can make SOA easier to implement–at least that the gist of Jaimin Patel’s article in Computer Technology Review. Patel, director of business development at WebLayers, a company that focuses on automating SOA, Mainframe and SDLC governance, makes a number of good points in his recent article on “Breaking Down the Barriers to Compliance through SOA.”

In fact, you have to like his opening paragraph–

“Why is it that when we hear the word compliance we tense up anticipating that we’ve done or are about to do something wrong? Perhaps it’s the widespread misperception of the role that compliance plays in the organization. Or maybe it’s because we’ve experienced challenging or even unsuccessful attempts at enforcing compliance at various levels in the company.”

In my experience, compliance does make people tense up–it make both IT and business people cringe a little. Often times talking about compliance is like someone running their fingernails down a chalkboard–it’s jarring, and instantly your mind turns to other things you would like to be doing, or other places you’d like to be.

But Patel’s point in the article isn’t just that compliance is unpleasant–it’s that compliance may actually be easier than you think. From his perspective, if done right, there’s no need to actually tense up after hearing the word compliance. No need to protect your ears from the chalkboard sound.

Instead, he argues, a SOA infrastructure can actually be the enabling connection between IT and business:
“Successful organizations will tell you that the speed and efficiency of implementing and enforcing compliance is directly proportional to the health of their IT infrastructure. Ideally, a standards-based service oriented architecture (SOA) can be the bridge that enables IT to meet business goals. In this case, the goal is compliance.

With SOA as the foundation, a company can move from a weak IT infrastructure that doesn’t support business goals to an organization that has a more flexible architecture that ensures adherence to regulations and policies required by both internal and external forces.”

Okay–so that doesn’t necessarily mean that SOA (or compliance) is easy–but he does make a good point that when an organization has a strategy plan that encompasses SOA and compliance, they can work synergistically to enable each other. The end result? A far better connection between business and IT, and corporate goals that are being met, instead of being ignored.

“By driving compliance and governance across lines of business through an SOA, companies can ensure greater consistency and reuse of best practices. These capabilities become increasingly more important as the SOA evolves and new policies are introduced.

Ensuring a successful governance solution requires analysis, tracking, and improvement of enterprise policies and architecture as a company’s initiatives change and evolve. A policy-based approach to SOA governance will help establish strong auditing and conformance mechanisms that limit corporate liabilities, ensure business continuity, and reduce integration costs and complexities.”


Rational Decision Making

In his blog, The IT Governance Evangelist Steve Romero from CA brings up a great point about decision-making. From his perspective, decision making is the heart and soul of IT governance.

“What decisions are made, who makes them, and how, are the essence of Governance.”

And now that the economy is significantly tougher than it’s been in recent memory, most corporate decisions are more critical than they’ve ever been. To help organizations make better decisions, Romero has come up with a couple rules for rational decision making:

– First, be clear on the objective.

– Second, be sure you can measure the result of your decision.
Of course, in his blog, he goes into the details for each point. Suffice to say that if you can’t answer either one appropriately, you’re not going to have a governable solution!


IBM Extends SOA Influence with Series of Announcements

Recently, IBM announced its latest SOA and BPM-related new product and service releases, which are centered around what IBM calls Smart SOA™. Smart SOA is a term that IBM is using to describe IBM’s approach to using SOA to power the enterprise and create smarter business outcomes. IBM started using the “Smart SOA” in the fall of 2007 and believes that now, one year later, it’s been able to refine the message and marshal its product lines behind the message to deliver (what it calls) a “true integrated and consumable technology platform” for enterprise customers.

According to IBM, those customers have not been idle in the past several years, with more than 7,000 of them successfully launching some type of SOA project, and a number of them well into significant SOA projects. IBM numbers reveal that 61% of IBM customers define themselves as being at the foundational, or starting level of SOA adoption, another 29% have extended into end-to-end SOA projects, and 11% define themselves as being involved in transformational SOA that involves a dynamic enterprise mindset.

Among the core announcements that IBM has included in its Smart SOA™ event are the following:

• IBM announced its new SmartBusiness INSights to help clients start down the SOA path by identifying where the most opportunities for success lie within their organization. These are an actionable set of guidance and approaches around core, industry-focused business processes that will help the client identify the process and describe how SOA can help them achieve their goals. SmartBusiness INSights exist for a number of industries, including banking, insurance, and healthcare.

• Enhancements to IBM’s CBMSOMA Method, an integrated methodology that connects business strategy to services and focuses on componentization from a business method and technical method, threading a path together from strategy to realization. According to IBM, this has been extremely well-received and many customers have adopted this as a reliable way to manage their SOA deployments.

• Industry Solutions and Frameworks – IBM is increasing its building frameworks for SOA to nine, including three new entries: Integrated Information for Chemical & Petroleum; Network Centric Operations for Defense & Public Safety; and Product Development Integration. The frameworks reflect key industry processes and consist of pre-built industry components built on IBM Smart SOA™ foundation. The frameworks leverage industry and technology open standards.

• Key Agility Indicators are benchmarks that IBM has created from more than 16,000 engagements through Global Services. IBM believes that KPI’s are no longer enough to identify the agility necessary for today’s business. The company has over 300 Key Agility Indicators that span processes like supply chain, IT, human resources. All of these are now embedded into WebSphere Business Modeler & Monitor to provide additional content to help customers rapidly align their monitoring with the key agility indicators in their industry.

• In the BPM arena, in addition to several enhancements to IBM’s existing BPM platform, the company announced The Business space, a new capability that is delivered in many of its products, creating a unified user interface. It is a combination of Lotus mash-up technology and the world of BPM. Through Business space, users can customize their workspace by role. This is integrated across multiple IBM products to create a customizable and flexible user interface that retains a uniform consistency to align all stakeholders to the business process goals and objectives.

• Also new in the BPM arena is the BPM Healthcheck Services, designed to identify current strengths and weaknesses, provide a diagnostic BPM report, and create a strategic roadmap for BPM.

• IBM has created a number of enhancements to its entire SOA platform that tie in with the Smart SOA™ brand, including tools both web-based and traditional that help customers choose a path for SOA – taking a closer look at their business priorities, identifying a project, develop an idea of the ROI they might want to achieve, and when ready graduate to a complete SOA assessment with Global Services. IBM stressed in the announcements that it wants customers to find the right “on ramp” to SOA and therefore drive their success.

To further establish itself as the renowned leader in SOA, IBM is launching a global road show designed to display some of the successes its customers have seen using its platform for SOA. The IBM Smart SOA™ World Tour visits 100 cities in 10 days during the month of October 2008, and includes 100 customers telling their SOA success stories, designed to meet the current needs of that locality. The events will include various roundtable discussions and seminars targeted at all levels of the SOA workforce, from line-of-business down to developer.

The Upside Uptake
The quantity of individual announcements that accompanied this market update is extensive. While there are too many to cover in detail here, we would like to add some analysis to IBM’s overall SOA strategy and where BPM fits into the picture. Clearly, IBM is demonstrating with this update that it is firmly planted in the SOA world. The company has been very successful in engaging customers to adopt SOA-based projects and gain business benefits from those early endeavors. The fact that the majority of IBM’s customers are still in the “foundational SOA” stage is indicative of the larger enterprise IT market as a whole as well as the level of complexity that exists with such an ambitious goal as SOA adoption. One of the most important components of this announcement in our eyes is the acknowledgment by IBM that not all businesses are created equal, and therefore creating a variety of “on ramps” for businesses to approach SOA adoption is critical to conversion.

BPM plays a critical role to IBM in the entire advancement of Smart SOA™. The BPM products and solutions that IBM offers are often an opportune first introduction into SOA for many companies because they blend the measurable, results-focused deliverables of a BPM project while building the SOA foundation that IBM advocates. Upside Research believes that building a robust, enterprise-scale SOA foundation is a key to creating a powerful BPM solution.

Much about the BPM announcements from IBM centered on “taming the chaos through business process management” and the product enhancements were about increased business event management, transactional capabilities, and business process optimization. Upside Research believes this reflects the current objectives in the market to optimize key business processes for smarter business outcomes, and again this feeds into IBM’s Smart SOA™ platform. The newly announced Business Space is a clear indication of not only how central IBM holds BPM to its overall platform, but also how IBM is reading the market and trying to deliver an interface for BPM (and SOA) that is more in line with how the majority of its customers work.

With these announcements, one of the themes that was evident was IBM’s awareness of how its core customers are changing and how IBM is keeping pace to meet market demands. The staid notion of the Fortune 500 is one of the past, especially with recent financial market volatility. Today’s company needs to be as agile as possible, and there is no guarantee that the winner today will be holding the trophy next year. Therefore, reading its customer base is a critical component of IBM’s success, and IBM seems to be listening. There is heavy focus by IBM on “Green” technology initiatives, as they relate to SOA in this instance. Also, the notion of creating the “business space” as a parallel to the omnipotent My Space generation is a nod toward the non-traditional ways that technology is being consumed by business and personal users. Upside Research is curious to see how this plays out in the business world, but applauds IBM for thinking outside the box to embrace new paradigms.


Find SOA Success With SOA Registries

No matter what I do, I never seem to be able to create an effective filing system for myself. Whether I’m reading a book, surfing the Web, or browsing the newspaper, I’m constantly coming across items of interest that I’d love to be able to file away and reference again in the future. Problem is, whenever I try to do that, I end up with either a manila folder full of torn-out clippings, Post-it Notes, and scribbles that are too hard to decipher, or I have piles of stuff to be filed for later. Either way, identifying, categorizing, filing, searching and accessing important information is somehow a task that seems to elude my best efforts.

Luckily, I’m not implementing an SOA system around my office or house. Because if I did, such haphazard approaches would doom it to failure. In fact, that’s why registries are so important to a solid SOA implementation. They help organizations achieve one of the key goals of any SOA system: reuse. At their most basic, SOA registries provide a standardized way to store, search and retrieve information on services. Essentially it’s a dynamic catalog of information on SOA services, typically building on standards such as UDDI. SOA registries are also an important component for facilitating SOA governance.


Alternatives to White Papers

In addition to the white paper options listed here, there are a number of other options that can help software and service companies articulate their business and techincal value to prospective clients and customers, including:

– A “First Looks” report is usually a short paper that provides a first look or sneak peak at a new technology or product release. These reports can also include screen shots and examples of how the product is used. These reports are particularly good for helping customers to visualize and understand how new products or technologies can be used and why they’re relevant.

– Technical or business articles are written under the name of a company executive and provide perspective on a particular technology, application of a technology, value proposition or perspective on an industry or business trend. These pieces are helpful for establishing thought leadership and visibility.

– Case studies provide either brief or longer examples of how organizations are being successful with a company’s products. Case studies can call out key recommendations, important lessons learned and business benefits.

– Newsletters provide a way to build and extend customer relationships while providing value and education to prospects.

For information on how Upside Research can help your company create a winning white paper, contact us at