Compuware Mixes Agile, Open-Source Development

Compuware looks to extend its developer skills as part of its Compuware 2.0 makeover.

DETROIT-As part of its effort to re-focus as a more solutions-oriented company with greater responsiveness to customers, Compuware is instituting new agile and open-source development practices that will help the company react faster to changing business requirements and customer needs.

Paul Czarnik, vice president of technology architecture at Compuware, told eWEEK the Detroit-based company is putting in place a Compuware Community Development process, which promotes collaboration, agile development, use of open-source technology and methodologies, automated testing, and project transparency.

Czarnik said the process will help Compuware increase the return on its technology investments and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the company's development team to develop better, higher quality software and provide better time to market.

The company's focus on agile development has paid off in higher-quality software and more complete builds along the development process, he said.

"The way we try to use agile development is to be able to pull the trigger after each sprint," Czarnik said, noting that each cycle or sprint produces a set of tested code that could pretty much go into production if necessary. The teams practice agile development in monthly cycles.

Moreover, with agile development, "Everybody's engaged more; we're using more of the developers' brain power and they can see the connections of their contributions" to the finished products, he said.

Czarnik also said Compuware is moving away from code-centered or product-focused development to a solution-oriented development environment, in which it is doing more resource pooling and community development.

Click here to read about Compuware's initiative to reinvent itself in what the company is calling Compuware 2.0.

"We're taking a page from open source," he said, noting that Compuware works with the Eclipse Foundation and the Apache Software Foundation, and is a member of Eclipse.

The Compuware Community Development approach "gives developers a chance to work on different code lines and bring fresh ideas in," Czarnik said. "They can work on Java or move to Microsoft technology or to other things like the mainframe."

Overall, the process internally works much like an open-source project. On the various efforts, "We have a core team of committers and an extended team of contributors and then the broader community," Czarnik said. "And we let the developers run this as a meritocracy."

He said participation in the community development scheme is even built into the appraisal process for developers, although all developers are not compelled to participate.

"We want to have a model that mirrors open source," Czarnik said. To maintain order, he said the company has a strong project management system in place that looks at the resources and where people are working on various projects.

Some things the teams are doing include "looking at how we can instrument Java in one way across all the platforms," Czarnik said. The company also seeks an open-source strategy for frameworks. "We're trying to create a pluggable framework that every product can leverage," he said.

In addition, Czarnik, under the influence of Compuware CEO Peter Karmanos Jr., has instituted the concept of technology "Eagles" that soar above the crowd in the developer ranks. Among the points describing these Eagles on a list Czarnik showed eWEEK are criteria such as being a "smart, proficient technologist and prolific coder; not afraid to call themselves 'programmer'; works independently, collaboratively; accountable, flexible, ethical; assigned hard, technical problems; appraised on objectives achieved; consultant to other groups; high visibility, high-ROI projects; and won't work on things that aren't 'useful.'"

Czarnik manages a team of 500 people all focused on product development, 300 of whom are programmers, he said. He said he is always on the lookout for Eagle candidates.