Breakthrough Insights

A Developing Story: Mark Smith, Senior Software Engineering Manager at Tektronix

Writing requirements, managing change, coordinating teams, gaining approvals — these things aren’t easy under tight deadlines, especially when your process works against you. A Developing Story is a new series spotlighting customers that have improved their process with Jama Software. 

Tektronix has over 60 years of experience designing and developing test, measurement and monitoring solutions in Beaverton, Oregon. The company builds everything from probes to 70GHz oscilloscopes, as well as all the accompanying software.

Mark Smith is a 12-year Tektronix veteran working as a Senior Software Engineering Manager in the company’s Time Division — the core of the oscilloscope group. He manages three teams directly, and the software group has additional remote teams spread across the world, including India.

Smith’s team just launched a new series platform of oscilloscopes which will be rolling out, along with new, additional platforms, over the course of the next two years.

The previous applications Smith and his team used to manage requirements would often break or lead to errors. With the upcoming launch, a single error in the design of an oscilloscope could lead customers to catastrophic failure, and Smith and his team could not afford to take a chance.

That’s just one of the reasons Tektronix switched to Jama Connect for its product development in 2014, and we had the opportunity to talk with him about it.

Mark Smith, Software Developer Manager at Tektronix

Jama Software: What types of requirement management applications was Tektronix using to manage projects prior to Jama Connect?

Mark Smith: Tektronix is well-known for building its own tools. We just had lots of challenges with getting those tools to run smoothly and not having the bandwidth to run them without systems crashing. Updating a requirement would end up breaking an entire document. I don’t know how many hours we spent unnecessarily trying to keep those tools updated.

JS: What were some other problems you were having before you purchased Jama Connect?

MS: Requirement documents ended up sinking into inboxes. A document would get created and be emailed to too many people. Someone would try to collect all the documents to review changes and they would usually drop the ball.

We started looking at where we were unnecessarily wasting time and energy. And we really saw the possibility of having a single source of truth, as well as having the ability to implement a far better review cycle process throughout our organization. Jama has really helped us out with that.

JS: Once you decided to stop using homegrown tools for requirements tracking, what lead you to Jama? 

MS: We considered IBM DOORS, a legacy product, but it was unsuited in our journey to modernize our practices and toolchain. It also didn’t help that support for IBM DOORS was dropped. We also considered Atlassian’s Confluence, but it did not provide an optimal workflow — there was no ability for team reviews, content organization, customization and document layout. We are highly satisfied with the quality of Jama’s user experience.

JS: Now that Tektronix had been a proud Jama customer for four years, what other benefits have you seen?

MS: Jama has brought better collaboration across both cross-functional team members and remote teams. It has also made it much easier to extend participation and inputs from a broader audience including scrum teams, software quality engineering teams, UX and marketing. The resulting quality of the finished documentation has been much higher, and it has reduced the number of requirement mistakes and subsequent rework by the engineering teams.

Learn how to gain a better understanding of how your development projects are advancing from requirements definition through to build and testing by watching our webinar, “Make Your Development Process More Predictable with Jama Analyze and Jama Connect.”