With the release of Collaborator 8.2, I could list the product features and tell you how wonderful they are (and those customers who requested and previewed the new features have told us that they truly want and like them), but this release is about more than that.
How do I know?
Because, after many conversations with our customers, I’m finding that with document review – and now Excel review – they are using the product much differently than it was initially intended. Instead of a product for code review that now allows developers to do document review, it’s becoming a product for the extended development team to use as a true collaboration tool.
How Collaborator Extends Collaboration
How does this work? Well, take the example of one of our customers in Massachusetts. Like most of our customers, they purchased Collaborator to solve a single problem: peer code review. But when we integrated document review, they began using it to solve another problem: design document review. Prior to writing any code, developers would write up a description of what they were going to code, seeking reaction from fellow developers.
What many of our users told us, however, was that to become more useful to the extended development team, they needed to reach QA teams that were using Excel to develop their test plans. So, with 8.2, we include Excel support.
Collaborator 8.2 incorporates Excel review, including cell diff view, enabling you to compare two Excel spreadsheets and easily view differences, including what’s been added, changed, and deleted.
How does this help extend collaboration?
Well, take the example of one of our larger customers in the insurance industry. Like most of our customers, they used Collaborator for code review. When we integrated document review, they began using it as a way to unify product management and development. Product managers would submit user stories and even product ideas for review by development. This enabled the two teams to easily and quickly share ideas – and to track the code back to the stories in a simple way.
That particular team is excited about Collaborator 8.2 because it will allow them to extend that integration to the QA team. Because they write their test plans in Excel, they can now submit them to the development, product management, project management, and other teams for review. This company wants to see this collaboration across their Agile team, so that product management not only works on stories, but reviews test plans against those stories. They not only want QA to see the software coming out of development, but - early in the process - the stories development coded against.
The decision to incorporate Excel integration into Collaborator came after discussions with our customers, who told us how they were using Collaborator – and how they wanted it to integrate their extended development team better. If you’re a customer, let us know how you’re using it to extend collaboration across the extended development team.