Monday, September 1, 2008

Choosing ThoughtWorks Mingle, Version One, Rally, or Team Foundation Server 2008

Problem

We needed very good project management tools for managing and facilitating the development process. Also, for this review keep in mind that we take into account our budget which is very low.

It came down to 4 products for the review: ThoughtWorks Mingle, Version One, Rally, and Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition.

References used to research and learn

ThoughtWorks Mingle
Version One
Rally
Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server Workgroup Edition

Assumption

Readers understand the need for project management tools in the complex projects.

About the review

We installed and spent few days trying out the products on our dedicated Windows 2003 server hosted at 1&1 hosting - Enterprise I server.

Requirements

This was our requirements for choosing a right product for our needs:

1) Must have web access.
2) Must link to source controls.
3) Affordable.
4) Easy to use.
5) Be able to manage multiple products (small and big) from multiple clients.

Review

0) Saas vs On Site installation

Rally and VersionOne are very similar products in that they offer SaaS or software installed on site. Our strong preference is on on site installation so we can control everything about the product so SaaS model was not so appealing to us. Also, it was cool factor to have use our own sub domain New Age Solution Project Server and made much more sense when dealing with our customers.

1) Must have web access

All products offered some kind of web access. VersionOne lacked 64 bit support which forced our server to convert to 32 bit IIS 6. Not an ideal since we wanted to take advantage of 64 bit server's IIS. Mingle also ran as 32 bit process and we hope in future ThoughtWorks will release 64 bit. Mingle was somewhat slow in performance than other products.

2) Must link to source controls

They all linked to SVN which I prefered. For TFS it used Microsoft SQL server. We had some problem of all the sources being saved into SQL server. We prefered SVN which can be hosted else where with minimal server requirements not worrying about the database.

3) Affordable

All the products offered up to 5 users free or first year free and free is good :)
For Rally and VersionOne free versions had some functional limitation. For Mingle and TFS there were no limitation in function which made it very useful. As far as price went TFS was just way too expensive to use in small business. Microsoft partner program can help save some money but TFS could get very expensive over time. Rally, VersionOne, and Mingle are very affordable and does not require Visual Stuido Team edition.

4) Easy to use

This is where we have to say Mingle shines compare to other products. We have to say it was easy and customizable for our purpose. Only thing about Mingle is that it is slow. May be when it is released as 64 bit and ThoughtWorks optimized the app for next release Mingle might speed up.

5) Be able to manage multiple products (small and big) from multiple clients

Only Mingle and TFS offered this feature for free version. TFS has seemless integration to Visual Studio to checkout based on work item and be able to track work. With Mingle it can be done using SVN where during the commit process of SVN check in with specific comment which then Mingle will read the specifically formatted comment. It is just matter of training the developers.

Conclusion

We choose Mingle: see New Age Solution Project Server because of following things after going through our review criteria:

1) Web based so it can be accessed from any where.
2) Free up to 5 users fully functional.
3) Supports multiple projects for multiple clients. This is must feature we need since we have various clients constantly requesting features, fixes, or updates. We need a way to delegate this to developers. We can customize Mingle for this specific purpose very easily.
4) Easy to use. It took 30 minutes to install and setup and a day of playing around to understand Mingle's potential. It took another day of playing to make it work for complex project.
5) There is potential to hook into JIRA, BugZilla, CruiseControl or any other ThoughtWorks products.

13 comments:

David said...

So having chosen Mingle, how did you get on with on a real project?

NewAgeSolution said...

Well my team members were not familiar with the use of Mingle so there was lots of training on how to. Also since my team members are located in different places we used Skype, chats, and emails to constantly communicate.

Not sure that answers your question. If you could be more specific I could answer things like what features I use, how I assign different team members to different projects ect...

Anonymous said...

We are also trying to evaluate these three, and we have a small team and a small budget.

It would be very interesting to know how thoughtworks was going for you, since it seems to be the cheapest, but it also seems to be the least polished of the three.

This post came up in a google search, im sure other people are reading it also, so let us know :)

NewAgeSolution said...

We been using Mingle successfully here without any problem for two major projects.

Now here is some twist :)

Last few months we were asked to implement Continuous Integration using TFS for two major Enterprise grade projects and we were fortunate enough to deep dive into TFS and Team Build and we would have to say TFS is definitely good choice as well.

We are actually thinking about exporting Mingle items out to Excel and exporting into TFS.

So give TFS try and cant go wrong with either product :)

Project Management said...

Rally have built a connector to enable its web based Agile project management tool to connect to TFS. This new connection enable source code checkins and TFS builds to be tied to the project management features in Rally, enabling a more comprehensive picture of the state of projects.

Krishna Thakur said...

I tried Version One and it is a brilliant planning tool. You can try free version , it support multisite teams, user friendly, integrates with TFS and other tools. My team loved it.

robr said...

How are you getting along with Mingle? We are also looking at streamlining the whole development/project management process and are looking at similar tools (budget is not a concern here, finding the best tools to streamline the dev/project process is).

I notice you mentioned using skype and IM to communicate, by going outside of Mingle, that sort of removes some of the idea behind using one centralized methodology for communication and being able to tie that communication to specific tickets/work items. Are those tools within Mingle lacking or non-user friendly?

NewAgeSolution said...

Many of these tools I mentioned here improved a lot since I blogged on this. And my company also enjoyed growth and need more collaborative work with my client.

So we moved away from Mingle in order to meet our company's need and these are the followings.

1) Client wanted to be able to login and see the status
2) We need to report hours to our clients and bill them on those hours
3) We need simple task board traditional approach of agile shop
4) We wanted app that is fast

Not sure your requirement but basically http://basecamphq.com/met all our requirements.

As for the chat we not mainly use Google chat as our email is Google App based.

But one thing nice about basecamp is that when you email or reply email that was sent from basecamp it will be automatically logged to basecamp which is VERY USEFUL because all your conversation with your cleints and developers will be tracked and logged.

And top of it we use ccnet and share the development build status.

As for more bigger projects I would use TFS 2010. But we are not there yet.

I hope this helps.

robr said...

Thanks for the update. IMO Basecamp is the worst collaboration tool I've ever had the misfortune of working with. We currently use it and I can't wait to get rid of it. The lack of hierarchy and simple approach to everything makes finding things chaotic and time consuming. I could rant on and on about it, but needless to say, it's definitely not for us.

TFS is a big maybe, we're looking at 2010 and we are a .NET shop but we are using SVN for our repo and are happy with that and the fact we can use a SaaS provider for it. We use Devguard. We're also using Devguard Trac for bug reporting but it's not very good, so I'm trying to find something end to end

project management, backlog, development, continuous integration, team collaboration (IM, emails), being able to associate everything together (ie tickets, conversations, project tasks), hour reporting and tracking against a project plan, issue tracking, great insight into big picture and 'what is everyone doing right now'... Mingle CLAIMS to be able to do all this which is why it caught my attention but I'm doing some due diligence first and wanted to get opinions from people who have actually used it. We have development teams all over the world that need to work together and it would be great to have UX people wireframe up something while copywriters and graphics artists are taking the wireframe and building on it and everyone knows what they need to do.

TFS also seems to have some of this, but I don't know if there is a Holy Grail out there yet.

NewAgeSolution said...

This is definitely ideal software you are looking for :) Please come back and post your findings here as I am always looking for all in one solution.

I like SVN and JIRA with CCNET. At least for development life cycle since they integrate well.

Once we come out of this realm and go into dealing with client everything else falls apart. TFS 2010 will deliver all in one solution with Sharepoint and SQL reporting. BUT very Enterprise heavy solution.

Now for Mingle, I really liked visual presentation of things and again once we go beyond 30 projects being managed I agree with on reporting part of it which basecamp lacks but still good enough.

So I would strongly suggest TFS for this matter because TFS has one amazing reporting feature and there are 3rd party templates
http://scrumforteamsystem.com/en/default.aspx that mimics Mingle interface.

Hope this helps

Spacemonkey said...

I'm wondering why nobody has mentioned Redmine yet (redmine.org). It's free, integrates with cvs/svn/git/perforce and has a ton of features.

To me it is JIRA/Confluence, but integrated and CLEAN.

Apologies if redmine was deliberately omitted from the assessment list and I just didn't get it :-)

Anonymous said...

Spacemonkey -

The tools New Age was looking at are Scrum/XP type tools. I looked at Redmines site but don't see that they do Scrum. Am I mistaken?

NewAgeSolution said...

I was also looking for agile as well.