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The IT Shop Arsenal: Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight

21 June 2010 No Comment

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Why are tools so often an afterthought in the software shop? An expense?  A training burden?

Because no one bothers to do the math.

Track your teams activities for a week and in most cases you’ll find wasted hours, unneeded stress and frustration, and a range of festering problems that could be remedied by the use of a good tool.  Excel and Word are good pocket knives but your shop deserves more effective tools.

Here is a short list of the arsenal at your disposal:

  • Project Management –  ex. MS Project
  • Development Tools – ex. Visual Studio .NET, J2EE, Eclipse
  • Database – ex. MS SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL
  • Document Management – ex. Sharepoint, network shares
  • Bug Tracking – ex. Axosoft OnTime
  • Source Code Control – ex. Perforce, MS Team Foundation Server, Subversion
  • Test Tracking – ex. Silk
  • Code Documentation – ex. Doxygen

Choosing a tool should be a team effort.  Treat it like any software project. Take the time.  Gather the requirements.  Talk about the business users and their needs.  Get buy-in from the team before purchasing.

A tool is useless without follow-up.  Train the team on it’s use.  Appoint a leader for the integration process.  Build a group consensus as to the tool’s use within the team.  If appropriate, make sure managers and tech leads use the tool, too.  Lead by example.

Stop working with your hands and use tools.  Think you’ve got tools already?  Are they doing the job or did you bring a knife to a gunfight?

How do you approach tools in your IT shop?

Your thoughts?

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