How Thunderbolt Software uses Backlog to deliver complex projects for the defense and space industry

  • Industry

    Defense And Space Industry

  • Location

    USA

  • Employees

    100

Key solutions used

Executive Summary

We sat down with Lillian Adrigan, Chief Software Architect at Thunderbolt Software. Thunderbolt Software is an engineering firm based in the United States focusing on open architecture product, system designs, and product line engineering for large scale Department of Defense (DoD) systems including the U.S. Navy Aegis Combat System. Lillian and her team are using Backlog as an all-in-one platform that supports the workflow organization of complex projects while helping them with issue tracking, internal and external communication.

Challenges

Why did you decide your team needed Backlog? What obstacles did you want to overcome?

We are a young company developing some of the most complex C4ISR systems in the DoD. We also have extensive experience in managing Foreign Military Sales programs.

The reason why we started using Backlog is pretty straightforward: to make our workflow organization more agile.

At the time, we had to rapidly build a product for the government. After six weeks, we had the product ready, but we recognized that we had some bugs to fix, our client also wanted some changes made and some additional features. I realized we need a tool that would give our customers the ability to flag the bugs they encountered and send us their feature requests. I also needed a tool that would allow me to track the tasks and assign them to my team.

I started looking for agile software that incorporated all these features, and that's how my team and I began using Backlog.

Backlog is agile and intuitive. Whoever is designing your interface is a very gifted group of people, very nicely done.

How Backlog helped

First of all, we use Backlog to track our deliveries. When I start working on a project, I use Backlog like a typical project management tool: I lay out a list of features that I want to include into each one of our deliveries to our client. Then, as the project advances, I use Backlog to flag any bug that our customer found so that my engineers and I can tackle the issue. Later on, we use Backlog to update our client with the development and progress made.

What I love about Backlog is that we can use it instead of emails. Emails can get lost, but the comments and the Backlog history are not going anywhere, you can't lose them. As you can't lose any file that you store on Backlog. It's pretty great.

We use Backlog not only for internal communication but also to communicate with our clients. When we work on a new delivery, I have to organize our work plan, I have to assign tasks, bugs and feature updates to my teammates, set priorities and milestones - all of this on tight deadlines. I know our customer is waiting for us and I know they want to know exactly what's in the delivery we are working on. What I do is give our customer the search parameters that they need to input into Backlog to do a search so that they can learn every possible detail about our next delivery for them. Thanks to Backlog, we have now a faster, clearer, and more transparent communication with our clients.

Backlog also helps us plan for the future. As soon as a customer gives me the requirements for a new project, I create a new "issue", and I add all the information they shared with me into it. For my team, it's a great way to know what's ahead of us in terms of new projects and expected deliverables.

Features

I have two favourite features on Backlog. I like how you can tie the Gantt charts to the milestones, it really helps me when I have to present the next project or delivery to our management. Gantt charts are excellent to visually and easily show each step of the process my team and I are going to take. My other favourite feature is that you can comment on everything, and those comments are stored!

Results

Backlog helps us communicate and collaborate better, organize our workflow in an agile way, and plan our goals ahead of time. It also saves us time: for a recent project I was working on for the U.S. army, it saved me approximately 4 hours every two weeks. Also, it's a fantastic solution to share information effectively with clients and management and make them happy.

I worked for a major company in the United States for over 25 years. In that period, I used another project management and bug tracking tool. I would not go back to it, it was expensive, it was not agile like your tool. Backlog is much more intuitive. Whoever is designing your interface is a very gifted group of people, very nicely done. Thanks Backlog team!

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