Multi-Billion Dollar Technology Leader Runs a More Agile Business with Roundtable® TSMS

With 250+ developers across the U.S. and India, it is critical this global technology leader has the ability to quickly and easily manage the software development cycle and support audit compliance. Roundtable TSMS provides the tools and functionality it needs to enable team collaboration across various projects, locations, and experience levels; manage multiple streams of development simultaneously; and collaborate and co-develop with its clients all while maintaining the highest levels of efficiency and quality.

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A lot has changed over the 15+ years this organization, now part of a multi-billion dollar technology giant, has been in business. The company has realized considerable growth, has expanded its portfolio of solutions to the insurance and financial services industries, and has been acquired by a global organization. Throughout its evolution, however, one thing has remained constant: the company has continued to rely on the Roundtable® TSMS Software Configuration Management solution to manage the software development cycle and support audit compliance.

We spoke with two senior technical engineers; both have been with the company from its inception. They explained their decision to use Roundtable TSMS: “Our first client was one of the world’s leading insurance providers: we had to get it right. So we knew that very first year we needed something in place to track all of the changes that were being required. We also needed the ability to support strict audit requirements,” explains the first senior technical engineer. “There were people on our team familiar with other source code management tools, but we really liked that Roundtable was based on Progress. It would make it far easier to integrate schema changes for the database as well as the code.”

Based on the Progress® OpenEdge® application development platform, Roundtable TSMS provides the technology leader with the tools and functionality its developers need to maintain the highest levels of efficiency and quality through source code management and version control. Where the company once staffed a mere handful of developers, there are now 250+ developers across the U.S. and India working to support the needs of the organization’s impressive customer base, including some of the top 20 financial institutions in the world. The company uses a number of different Roundtable TSMS workspaces to support its various products and numerous clients, as well as multiple workspaces to support different environments – for example, for developing, testing, and deploying solutions. The organization can also support partner workstations, enabling co-customization through joint development with its clients.

The flexibility afforded by Roundtable TSMS has proven to be a significant point of differentiation for the company. “Our true competitive differentiator is that we are so adaptable,” explains the first senior technical engineer. “Our solutions are very dynamic and flexible and can accommodate some of the most complex plans that are out there. We also have a proven track record for delivering products on schedule and within budget. Roundtable plays a key role in our ability to be so responsive and agile because we can quickly customize our base solution, leverage existing customizations and work on a number of customer projects simultaneously.”

The company’s development group is constantly juggling projects and code across clients. The ability to track that change over time has proven to be a time saver and quality driver. “We have a release schedule for our base product, we have patches, we have custom projects, and we have the daily issues that inevitably come up with different clients. So we are making changes on a daily basis. Roundtable enables us to manage and track all of that change with ease,” says the second senior technical engineer.

This ability to manage multiple streams of development simultaneously also provides the company’s clients a direct competitive edge. He continues: “We can work on multiple versions of the same solution at the same time. We could have the same code base, but then have two different groups working on two different customizations of that code base—one being released in three months and one being released in six months. That flexibility enables our customers to deliver their own solutions to market faster.”

Roundtable TSMS is instrumental in enabling developer productivity and collaboration. Each developer knows what his task is and what he needs to accomplish. And if for some reason a developer is out of the office or changes roles, Roundtable TSMS makes it easy for a new developer to pick right up where the other person left off.

The system makes it simple for managers to set up tasks in the system, track that those tasks are being addressed, and finally review and verify that the changes are correct. This capability is particularly important because at any given time, the company has hundreds of developers working on a number of projects across various locations. “I’m aware of everything that’s going on as far as the code that’s being modified. And that’s very beneficial to me in my role as lead developer,” explains the first senior technical engineer. “This is particularly useful when I am working with a new or junior developer. No matter where they are located, I have total visibility into what they are working on and how things are going. If I do spot an issue, I can quickly jump in. And if there is a problem, Roundtable provides code backup, so I can easily peel off any code changes and make the fix on the spot.”

The ability to leverage work it does for one client across its entire customer base is also a significant benefit for the organization. He continues: “Roundtable allows us to extend our projects, enhancements, and patches out to all our different clients easily and more manageably. We’re not working on 10 different code bases. Rather we can leverage all the work that we do to the fullest, across our entire customer base.”

Roundtable TSMS also enables collaboration across the different life insurance and retirement product lines. “We all have access to both environments. I can go and look at what developers are doing for one of our other products and possibly leverage something they have already done for our own solution,” says the second senior technical engineer. “That ability to re-use and share code saves us both time and money.”

The system allows the company to not only control the code but also to establish certain rules and permission rights. He continues: “For example, if we develop a new patch or feature, an employee with a lead role is required to approve it. We also have a process that mandates only data center resources can put that new piece of code into the production environment. So there is a secure process for deploying code and for storing code. A junior developer is never going to be in a position to accidentally deploy the wrong version or deploy at the wrong time. So when it comes to an audit, we can prove that our code base is secure.”

Roundtable TSMS also makes it possible for the organization to collaborate and co-develop with its clients. By implementing a Roundtable TSMS workspace both at the client and vendor sites, the companies can deploy code remotely back and forth, enabling co-customization. And just as it does internally, Roundtable TSMS will track all changes across both sites and ensure high security and coding standards.

One of the primary reasons the technology leader originally chose Roundtable TSMS was because it was based on Progress OpenEdge, and that still remains a major advantage today. “One of the most beneficial things about the solution is that we can store database schema changes in Roundtable, and we can apply those automatically throughout the regions,” explains the second senior technical engineer. “In other environments you would have to manually deploy these enhancements to each individual region. And there might be a development environment, a Q&A environment, a support environment, and then a production environment. You would have to manually apply these changes to each of the different regions or each of the different clients. This would literally take hundreds of extra developer hours per year. But with the tight integration between Roundtable and OpenEdge, I can quickly and easily apply any changes to any region or client automatically behind the scenes. That also means our developers in those other regions are able to get to work faster versus waiting for us to get the database schemas in place.”

The fact that Roundtable TSMS is based on OpenEdge is also a cost saver because the company’s developers are already familiar with the Progress development environment. He continues: “We already have our own Progress DBA. So we don’t need another resource to help us set up or manage the database. And because Roundtable is so tightly integrated with the OpenEdge platform, we are able to take advantage of various OpenEdge tools, for example, to easily develop our own custom reports.”

Growth inevitably leads to change, and change requires business agility. One of the most dramatic changes for the company was its acquisition by a global technology and services provider. “There was a big influx of people,” explains the first senior technical engineer. “Amidst all the change and confusion we could have easily stalled or gone off track with some of our projects. But because we had Roundtable in place, we maintained our status quo. We gave some of the developers read-only access so they could just review code. Others were doing development work, but they were new so we had to monitor them closely. If we didn’t have Roundtable in place, there is no telling what could have happened to the code base: things could have gone very badly. But instead, Roundtable proved to be a driving force in our ability to maintain our business agility and keep our business moving forward.”

Over the 15+ years the company has used Roundtable TSMS, it has never really entertained moving to another solution. “When we evaluate the merits of other solutions, it quickly becomes clear that these other code management solutions just can’t give us what Roundtable can,” he continues. In fact, life without Roundtable TSMS is one they would both prefer to not think about at all. “It would be very difficult and chaotic,” says the first senior technical engineer. “A lot of mistakes would be made and our productivity would slow to a crawl. I would not be able to sleep at night if we didn’t have Roundtable in place today.”

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