Ranked by Time magazine as the best studio-headphones brand in the world, Shure manufactures audio equipment for artists including Mumford & Sons, Maroon 5 and “Weird Al” Yankovic. More notably, every U.S. President since Lyndon B. Johnson has spoken into a Shure SM57 microphone from the presidential lectern.
Shure customers depend on the company for products and features with consistent behavior and quality. But recently, delivering that consistency had become more difficult, as Shure expanded its hardware line and added smart products, such as wireless microphones and headphones, with advanced embedded software. “This demanded that we do more rigorous requirements management and do it according to a more formal process,” says Tony Branch, staff systems engineer at Shure.
In some instances, the size of Shure development teams doubled, tripled and even quadrupled, which presented a complex challenge to keep every team member in sync.
Unfortunately, Shure’s existing requirements management tool was not up to the task. The company needed an accessible, reliable solution to manage its many product requirements—a tool that would ensure synchronization among teams and team members and easily scale to accommodate increasing demands.
“We need to build products that behave reliably and maintain consistent quality. We rely on Jama to manage that.”
– Tony Branch, Staff Systems Engineer, Shure
“Our needs were getting more and more challenging,” Branch says. “We needed to be faster. We needed to be quicker to market. We needed to create products that are backward-compatible with what we’ve previously developed and forward-compatible with things we haven’t even thought of yet. That’s crucial for audio systems.”
Jama Keeps All Requirements in Tune
Shure formed an evaluation team to explore a variety of requirements management solutions on the market. Based on an assessment of features, functions, cost and usability, the company quickly decided on the Jama™ solution.
“We saw features in Jama that we didn’t see elsewhere,” says Branch, who led the evaluation team. “For instance, the Jama Review Center features an all-inclusive interface where I don’t have to jump in and out of different tools and log in and out. Review Center is integrated, so it does a great job of quickly pushing items out to review, selecting the reviewers and getting people to collect and capture comments. It also makes it easier to manage those comments.”
Shure sells worldwide, so it must comply with regulations from a range of agencies. Jama enables Shure to handle these regulations, from consumer-safety requirements to recycling rules. When Shure learns of a new requirement, it is entered into the Jama solution and assigned to a future product release—and it is there when work on the release begins.
With a few engineering offices located around the world, Shure uses the comments feature in Jama for communication among engineers and other departments. Everyone is now on the same page, and requirements management is straightforward. The webbased interface in Jama is modern, accessible and fluid, enabling engineers to focus their attention on developing products and avoid wrangling with a management tool.
“Overall, Jama is much less complex and much easier to use than other tools,” says Branch. “Jama is also very modern. The user interface is up to date and snazzy. I even learned to tweet in Jama, not in my phone.”
And if there is a problem with the solution, help is always just a click away. “I am the No. 1 fan of the Jama support team,” Branch says. “I know I can always push that support button in the Jama solution and get answers to all my questions.”
Jama Ensures Product Consistency & Customer Satisfaction
Founded in 1925, Shure has built a reputation of trust with its customers. Jama helps Shure maintain that trust. “Our primary concern is delivering quality products and having loyal customers who are satisfied with our products,” Branch says. “We rely on Jama to help us do that. Loss of those customers would signify failure.”
Jama also helps Shure discover and deliver what customers want. Shure conducts a great deal of market research, studying its customers and the environments they work in. It then stores this information in the Jama solution, where it can use it to develop new products. Reuse is another critical benefit. Jama enables Shure to take existing content and requirements and present them to a new development team. More important, this approach helps the company get new products to market faster, guarantee compatibility among products and migrate requirements from one product to multiple products.
“Jama is much less complex and much easier to use than other tools. The user interface is up to date and snazzy.” – Tony Branch
“Jama allows us to be more harmonized,” Branch says. “We have features that consistently appear in every product. I’ve noticed that with other manufacturers, the same feature works slightly differently for no apparent reason in one product versus another. We’ve been able to ensure that our features always perform consistently and reliably across all our products.”
Shure Works with Jama Software to Continue Producing Hits
Although Shure has been around for 90 years, it continues to mature as a development organization. Processes are becoming more fluid, and the company is executing projects in a more agile fashion now that the Jama solution plugs into Shure’s agile tools and processes. “Jama helps us eliminate the check-the-box approach to development,” Branch says. “We want to work better, faster and more cost-effectively, and we’ll continue to look to Jama Software to get there.”
About Shure: With a history of audio innovation spanning more than 90 years, Shure has turned a passion for making great microphones and audio electronics into an obsession. That’s why Shure continues to set the worldwide industry standard for superior microphones and audio electronics.