|HQ: Wroclaw, Poland
Offices: 2 (HQ and department in Rzeszow, Poland)
Products: Jira, GreenHopper, Confluence & Crucible
Agile development, knowledge management and project tracking are three areas in which many companies struggle. Our tools help organizations tackle all three, and PGS Software is one such company which has taken Atlassian’s product offering to heart.
As a software development and information technology outsourcing company, PGS has streamlined the agile process to provide innovations, quality applications, best practices and methodologies for each and every one of their clients. They provide nearshore outsourcing solutions to enterprises in Europe and offshore services in the USA. Combining expertise in technology and an understanding of emerging businesses, PGS delivers a range of outsourcing services that includes Custom Application Development, Integration Solutions and product engineering.
Atlassian was stoked to learn that PGS uses nearly the entire Atlassian suite of products for application development software. I was introduced to Marcin Stawarz of PGS to discuss their use of Atlassian’s software development tools. In our conversation, it was clear that PGS has a passion for delivering superior software products, services and customer service. With such a focus, it is no surprise that they need the best tools available for the job.
In your own words, what does PGS Software do?
We are an outsourcing company that provides various IT services for clients. We create projects, documentation, develop in many languages and technologies (C#, Java, PHP, Ruby, C++, ASP.NET, Flash, Mobile) and create numerous types of applications from small ones to the really huge European CRM/ERP systems for clients all over the world. The majority of our business is in Europe but we also have clients in USA. Half of our client market is the the UK. We were founded by two brothers Wojtek Gurgul and Pawel Gurgul and went public last year. In six years we have grown from 0 to 102 developers–we are a mature company in reference to clients, revenue and internal processes.
Can I get an overview of your Atlassian product usage?
We started with Jira (version 3) as just a bug tracker – not as the tool that now supports our agile processes. We decided to buy the newest version of Jira when GreenHopper was introduced to the market. We are an agile company so we had to find some processes that allowed us to work as a nearshore/offshore company. Agile was just perfect for us. We looked for tools that would support us and also allow us to share knowledge of the project and project status with our clients. Transparency and visibility is very important for PGS. GreenHopper which supports agile teams is perfect – it’s a great tool and is getting better with each new version brought to market. We are very happy with GreenHopper because we have 11 scrum-masters at PGS. We are trying to do all agile projects and support them with GreenHopper and Jira.
The next step was to replace SharePoint. We tried to create some internal sites on the wiki with SharePoint, but it was a disaster. The fact that every tool from Atlassian is well integrated, we decided to go for more Atlassian solutions. At the moment we are using Confluence. We have our internal sites based on Confluence and an external-facing knowledge base for all the projects at PGS. We brought Confluence on about 1.5 years ago. Last year we had 150 projects, so our KB is quite significant.
Next, we focused on quality. We are trying to invest in this now and for the future. Crucible was selected to make code reviews. Again, transparency and visibility was our goal and we can share information with our clients. When we develop a project and deliver to clients, we can now share the results. Some of our teams work onsite with customers–we collaborate with teams from places like the UK, Norway, France and Switzerland. We use our instances of Jira, Confluence, GreenHopper and Crucible to collaborate in such an environment.
Can you tell me more about your use of Confluence?
We have separate wiki spaces for our clients. For every project in Jira, we create a matching space in Confluence. We use it as a knowledge base complete with screenshots, documents, comments, etc. That is where we can collaborate. It is a typical intranet and knowledge sharing tool for our clients. The biggest benefit of Confluence is when you want to inform the company about something, you just have to hit one button and create a wiki page. It just works. It is very simple. Our new employees don’t need to search for information. The search engine in Atlassian’s wiki software is really good. It’s simply easy to use!
For customizations, Confluence is connected to our internal reporting system for time tracking and invoice system which is also connected to Jira. Apart from that, we have simply changed the design with different colors and logos for custom branding.
How did wiki adoption spread at PGS Software?
We had to convince people that there was valuable information in the wiki. We have only devs who are skilled with software, so once there was important information in there, they just started using it. Externally, our team leaders and scrum masters have to show our clients how to use it. There is generally very minimal training to show them how to use the tools.
Did you use an issue tracker before moving to Jira?
We tried to use Bugzilla, but it was too complex for our clients. We had problems presenting reports and it was hard to force clients to use it. Sometimes we use issue trackers other than Jira because our clients have different software which they are familiar with.
Can you tell me more about your Jira instance?
Our Jira instance is publicly available 24×7 so clients can check the progress of projects. We are using LDAP to authorize and can access all of our internal systems. There are about 70 projects in Jira right now. We group the projects with a client name. There are currently 280 users; not everyone is active, but that is how many users are created.
We have some plugins for Jira which allows us to paste and create screenshots in the issue tracker. We are considering Balsamiq for Jira.
When did you bring on GreenHopper?
We decided to use GreenHopper for scrum. We needed an electronic version of the agile wall. We used the old fashioned yellow cards, but this is difficult to share with a client. We bought GreenHopper when it was still just a plugin and not an Atlassian product.
What advice do you have for a dev shop considering Confluence and Jira?
Confluence just works! It’s easy. You just press a button and can create a new page.
I would say that Jira and GreenHopper are a great way to teach your clients how to do scrum. We use it to visualize project progress and show clients that the tools are not as complex as they look. Preparing a special dashboard and using GreenHopper is great for selling scrum which is what we practice. Jira is the best example of a tool for this purpose. We’ve had a few clients wanting to buy Jira after we did a project with them!
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