Tideworks Technology®, Inc., is a leading provider of full-service terminal management and planning software solutions, catering to marine and rail terminals tracking container cargo.
When Vice President of Products, Thomas Rucker, joined Tideworks Technology in 1999, he immediately noticed several business challenges stemming from the company’s development process – specifically, numerous standalone tools were being used to manage product development. Not only were these tools not integrated, the various groups were working in silos; there was no visibility into project status.
“Because of the disparate view of development activity, no one had a clear picture of where the organization was headed,” said Rucker. “We were moving into a new industry and starting to develop at a much faster pace. Growth is great, but without the right tools to help us scale and a streamlined development process, we had a recipe for disaster,” added Rucker.
Rucker stopped and asked his team: How do we become more efficient? How do we do more with less? How do we solve the business problems that are holding us back?
With 170 people involved in software development in the U.S., Panama, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore and the U.K., and without a standard method for planning and tracking projects across geographically dispersed offices, executing on priorities was a complicated endeavor. Teams were focused on everything from ongoing maintenance to new revenue-generating projects. They were using an array of disconnected tracking tools, resulting in inconsistencies, overlap, unneeded expenses and zero visibility.
“We knew we needed an easier way to manage the process. Developers are technical artisans and details are at the heart of what they do. At times, it can lead to analysis paralysis,” joked Rucker. “However, when productivity suffers, it’s serious. Our desire was to get developers focused on what they do best— developing. Removing impediments and providing integrated tools that enabled project visibility and team collaboration was our top priority,” continued Rucker.
At that point, they realized they needed a more robust project management tool to get the job done.
Rucker first learned about agile methods while researching alternatives to waterfall development. While familiarizing himself with agile, Rucker met a colleague whose team was having success rapidly deploying software. It turns out they were practicing agile, using VersionOne.
Rucker and the Vice President of Engineering, John Smith, quickly decided to find the right agile management tool for Tideworks. After evaluating multiple tools, Tideworks chose VersionOne. Not only did the product best meet their visibility and collaboration needs, they also found VersionOne to be easy to work with and genuinely committed to Tideworks’ success.
“It was an easy decision. The user experience is spot on and they are very active in the agile community – providing educational content and engaging directly with practitioners.” remarked Smith.
It was also an easy implementation. With the goal of scaling agile across the organization, Tideworks worked with VersionOne to set up their entire organization on the platform. Everyone was organized into functional groups to help foster increased communication, which enabled teams to get up and running almost immediately. From there, each department within the organization was quickly added to the tool.
“Everyone at the company uses VersionOne to some extent and from a management perspective it’s now considered a necessity.”
Vice President of Products
Rucker and Smith anticipated some internal resistance transitioning to agile, but were determined to move ahead. They were pleasantly surprised when their plan met with quick acceptance. According to Rucker, “Selling VersionOne internally was easier than expected; people saw the value quickly.”
“Everyone at the company uses VersionOne to some extent and from a management perspective it’s now considered a necessity,” said Rucker. “The transparency VersionOne provides has been a tremendous benefit to Tideworks. The ability to see what is being worked on at any given time in VersionOne is invaluable. Teams always change, and developers or staff members are inevitably moved to meet the demands of our business. With VersionOne, if you’re moved to another team, you’re up and running with your new team that day.”
The ability to deliver more efficiently on customer needs is perhaps the best result that Tideworks has experienced. Using VersionOne allows team members to immediately identify and track all impediments. It has allowed project managers to identify obstacles early on, and more importantly, help their teams remove them. Because of this, managers can define the goals and then allow the teams to make decisions on how best to accomplish the tasks. “The increased team efficiency and transparency allowed us to effectively communicate development plans to all stakeholders, including our customers,” raved Rucker. “When we are engaged in a large project, using VersionOne provides us with a more accurate estimate of when we are going to finish.”