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Gamification is so hot, it’s not even trending on Google Trends yet! Many people are trying their hand at ‘funware’ for gaining traction to non-game applications or websites. The goal is to get people to revisit sites multiple times, encourage users to engage in desired behaviors, or encourage people to perform chores they typically wouldn’t enjoy doing.

The most common gamification tactic is setting up a reward points system. Most everyone is familiar with flight miles or credit card rapid reward points. These gimmicks have been around for years because they work, engage customers, drive traffic, deepen brand awareness and gain customer retention.

I was originally contacted by Carrie Peters, Director of Marketing, at Bigdoor.com. BigDoor is a free gamification platform who helps companies add points, badges and leaderboards to their sites in order to increase user engagement, loyalty and monetization. In short, they help companies increase web-traffic and revenue through social rewards. They are proud to have served more than a billion API calls and have more than 250 live publishers using their technology.

Carrie and I organized a quick chat with Jeff Malek, CTO and Co-Founder, to discuss their use of JIRA Studio for agile software development.

The interview

What does BigDoor do?

BigDoor uses gamification to power social engagement and loyalty programs. We have a platform that provides gamification elements to online digital publishers, including points, badges, leaderboards and virtual currency. Sites can access the BigDoor API free of charge and it is accessible to any network device with our customizable, white-labeled solution. We have hundreds of online publishers using our platform and have done millions of API calls since launch with over 18 million API calls in a single day.

How did JIRA Studio make its way into BigDoor?

When we started BigDoor I researched various tools for project tracking. We had previously been using other free online tools but after looking at all the options, JIRA Studio seemed like a good fit.

We are moving very quickly and we really value a good, solid but flexible, process as well as quality code and code reviews that allow us to keep moving at a break-neck pace.

What was it about the other tools that made you want to switch to JIRA Studio?

The tool we previously used (Banana Scrum) changed their licensing and was no longer available for free. After that, we moved to Bitbucket but it didn’t have some of the agile and project management tools which we needed at the time. When Atlassian acquired Bitbucket we thought it made sense to move all of our project and issue tracking to JIRA Studio. The other integrated tools that JIRA Studio provides for code reviews, continuous integration and agile process management made it very appealing.

How is JIRA Studio being used at BigDoor?

We use JIRA Studio for a lot of different things from Confluence (wiki) to Crucible (code reviews) to issue tracking, but the primary focus is on agile project management via GreenHopper; the GreenHopper stuff is really key for us. JIRA provides the ability to prioritize, schedule and track work that needs to be done, in an agile way that is critical for us so that we can release software on a weekly basis. I really like Crucible’s review process – it’s done very nicely. We also use Google Apps integration with JIRA Studio.

How do you do agile at BigDoor

If we start a big project, we create wiki pages and specs in Google Docs and keep breaking them down until they fit into a week’s worth of work for our dev team. We refer to those smaller units of work as stories. Once it reaches the story level it can go into JIRA. Then we have a short planning meeting that kicks off the sprint. As the week progresses the team meets daily for a quick standup meeting and finally at the end of the week we do our release; we do a retrospective and the process kicks off again for the next week.

Why did you choose SaaS vs on Prem?

We were able to get up and running very quickly. We host other services on our own, but getting all of that installed, patched, updated and secure takes time, so it has worked very well for us to have something that is online that you guys maintain and patch.

Can you quantify your results by using JIRA Studio?

JIRA provides us with metrics that allow us to track what’s been done and how long it takes to get it done. It provides an accurate measurement that demonstrates how well we are doing in terms of progressing against our goals. The mere fact that we can measure how long things take, whether we are tracking through our goals, and if we are going to hit our weekly sprint goals, etc – allows us to quantify what JIRA is doing for us.

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What advice would you give another small dev shop?

We’d definitely advise using GreenHopper to support agile. If folks are using SVN, there is a great integration with Atlassian, and if they are willing to host their SVN repo with Atlassian, it’s an ideal situation. I would tell people not to switch off to another code hosting tool. Atlassian is set up with that very well, JIRA is great at issue tracking and being able to add and edit workflows – it’s a very powerful tool from a project tracking point. We are looking forward to using information radiators; we haven’t gotten there yet, but want to. I’d also like to say I have been very impressed with Atlassian’s support.

Thanks Jeff and Carrie!

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