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The Shaw Group, a leading global provider of construction and related services, was growing rapidly—but its Java-based development platform hindered developers from being as productive as they could be to meet the demands of the business. So, the company migrated most of its software development to the Microsoft® .NET Framework. Also, Shaw moved from a variety of application life-cycle management tools to Microsoft Visual Studio® Team Foundation Server. By adopting the Microsoft platform and tools, Shaw increased development productivity by 40 percent and cut the time needed for specific functions, such as reporting, in half. The development team also has more confidence that it is releasing robust, high-quality applications that meet business needs. To increase these benefits, Shaw is now upgrading to Visual Studio Team System 2008.
Shaw Group Boosts Developer Productivity 40 Percent, Meets Growing Business Needs Overview “The increased productivity we see from Visual Country or Region: United States Industry: Manufacturing Studio Team System enables us to keep up with the needs of our business. Our business is growing Customer Profile The Shaw Group, based in Baton Rouge, rapidly—but our development budget doesn’t Louisiana, has 27,000 employees and is have to.” a global provider of engineering, con- Jason Coursey, Programmer Manager, Information Technology, The Shaw Group struction, and management services for energy, environmental, and related markets. The Shaw Group, a leading global provider of construction and Business Situation related services, was growing rapidly—but its Java-based To keep up with the company’s rapid development platform hindered developers from being as growth and business needs, Shaw needed to boost its developers’ pro- productive as they could be to meet the demands of the ductivity. business. So, the company migrated most of its software Solution development to the Microsoft® .NET Framework. Also, Shaw Shaw moved from a largely Java-based moved from a variety of application life-cycle management tools development framework to one based primarily on the Microsoft® Visual to Microsoft Visual Studio® Team Foundation Server. By Studio® Team System. adopting the Microsoft platform and tools, Shaw increased Benefits development productivity by 40 percent and cut the time Productivity up 40 percent needed for specific functions, such as reporting, in half. The More effective development boosts reliability, confidence development team also has more confidence that it is releasing SOX compliance easier robust, high-quality applications that meet business needs. To Rapid adoption cuts time-to-benefit increase these benefits, Shaw is now upgrading to Visual Studio Team System 2008. “It was crucial to get Situation ALM processes—for source control, bug The Shaw Group is responsible for the tracking, and project management— applications into pro- planning, building management, and weren’t giving us the productivity we duction as quickly as maintenance of some of the world’s larg- needed to keep up with the business,” says est and most sophisticated construction Coursey. possible.” projects, particularly in the energy, Jason Coursey, Programmer Manager, chemical, environmental, infrastructure, and Because Shaw developers worked together Information Technology, The Shaw Group emergency response markets. Just as in teams, it was essential that they had impressive as the size of Shaw’s projects is tools that would enable them to the size of the company itself. The Shaw collaborate quickly and effectively, Group is a Fortune 500 company with regardless of where they were located. But U.S.$5.7 billion in revenues and operations Visual SourceSafe, which the team used to throughout the world—and the company keep a project’s developers working on the has accomplished all this since its founding latest version of that project’s code, was just 21 years ago. not accessible to remote developers. Because Coursey had to manage the Developing the technology to support this developers’ work, he needed better tools rapid growth and massive business can be than he had to automate much of the work a challenge. Shaw relied mostly on the J2EE of team management, such as creating Java development framework to develop its automated reports on application status. business applications—for instance, an application that generates earned value for Coursey and his colleagues were also the company’s projects—which tended to looking for ALM tools that would provide become highly complex and difficult to support not only for the entire software maintain over several years of develop- development life cycle, but also for the ment. important interaction with end users and the line-of-business managers who were “We didn’t get the productivity we wanted the “internal clients” for an enterprise from Java,” says Jason Coursey, application. Programmer Manager, Information Technology, The Shaw Group. For example, Yet another set of needs centered on the Open Source nature of Java compliance with the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley development led to an open systems (SOX) act, which requires companies such design for the database, which made the as The Shaw Group to maintain audit trails Java code base more complex and and standardized processes for activities decreased performance. such as enterprise software development. Beyond the issues with Java development, “We needed to manage our software Shaw recognized an inherent need for processes more carefully,” says Coursey. standardization of its application life-cycle “We were using a variety of tools and management (ALM) tools—such as the solutions. We found those technologies open-source Concurrent Versions System difficult and time-consuming to work with, (CVS), JIRA from Atlassian Software and they didn’t give us the end-state Systems, Microsoft Visual SourceSafe® auditing we needed for SOX compliance.” version control software, and spreadsheets. “It was crucial to get applications into A small development team within Shaw production as quickly as possible, and the began to use Microsoft® technologies— “We were using a such as ASP.NET and Microsoft Visual used for development, collaboration and Basic® .NET—for some modestly sized source control, testing, and project variety of tools and intranet- and extranet-based applications. management. A single intranet portal solutions. We found Shaw developers saw great success with environment includes all of these functions the Microsoft technologies—setting the and more, giving developers a single those technologies stage for the company’s new development environment to manage the complete difficult and time- solution. application life cycle. consuming to work Solution Coming up to speed on a new develop- with, and they didn’t The Shaw Group found the alternative to its ment environment wasn’t difficult, Java platform and collection of ALM tools according to Coursey. Developers at the give us the end-state in Microsoft .NET Framework and the company had a five-day onsite training auditing we needed for Microsoft Visual Studio® development session and then participated in another system. The company initially adopted five-day offsite session. The company first SOX compliance.” Visual Studio Team System 2005 and Team deployed Visual Studio Team System 2008 Jason Coursey, Programmer Manager, Foundation Server 2005. Now, developers in a test environment to gain experience Information Technology, The Shaw Group at Shaw are in the midst of upgrading their and confidence in the software. After about deployment to Visual Studio Team System a month, Shaw moved Visual Studio Team 2008, an integrated ALM solution com- System into production use, using it to prising tools, processes, and guidance to assist in the development of a major, help all members of a development team enterprisewide solution that typifies the improve their skills and work effectively company’s larger software projects: the together. Employee Performance Management System, a human resources application that The development solution includes: could have 15,000 simultaneous users Visual Studio Team System 2008 worldwide. Team Foundation Server, the collaboration server at the hub of the For that solution and the others that have system, which combines project followed, Shaw has taken advantage of a management, work item tracking, version growing range of Visual Studio Team control, reporting and business System features. With Team Foundation intelligence, build management, Web Server source control, for example, devel- access to project resources and opers have a faster, more responsive tool functionality, and process guidance into to manage the source-control process. a unified team server. Source control enables a team—Shaw puts Visual Studio Team System 2008 up to nine developers on a project at any Team Suite, an integrated set of tools one time—to work together effectively on for architecture, design, development, the most current version of a project, database development, and testing of despite continual updates made to various applications. Shaw has been adopting parts of the project during the develop- the Team Suite tools incrementally, ment process. starting with those for its 25 architects and developers, and now including tools Shaw developers are using the branching for the 5 database developers on staff. features of Team Foundation Server to create “phased releases” of an application. The solution replaces the disparate and With this tool, developers can work on a disconnected systems that Shaw formerly limited portion of the solution—called a “Load testing in Visual “phase” or “branch”—refine that portion, tion life-cycle management, including and then merge it back into the overall increased productivity, fuller collaboration, Studio has been very solution, all within a single environment. faster reporting, and easier compliance with significant for us. It After development, developers employ the SOX and audit requirements. unit testing, load testing, and Web testing enables us to imme- capabilities of Visual Studio Team System Productivity Up 40 Percent diately identify large 2008 to refine their applications, to ensure Shaw has achieved its goal to boost that the applications work as required, and collaboration among developers, issues that would have to confirm that they support the required consequently cutting the time and cost of gone unnoticed other- number of users and meet other perfor- application life-cycle management and mance parameters. putting applications into production more wise, until the applica- quickly and cost-effectively. tion was actually put In addition, Shaw has adopted the reporting capabilities of Visual Studio Team Coursey estimates that software coding and on a load in produc- System 2008. Out-of-the-box components ALM processes are up to 40 percent more tion.” make it possible for Coursey to quickly productive thanks to Visual Studio Team create on-demand reports on tasks, System 2008, saving the company time and Jason Coursey, Programmer Manager, software bugs, and issue-tracking money each year. “The increased Information Technology, The Shaw Group associated with the team’s projects. productivity we see from Visual Studio Team System 2008 enables us to keep up When custom queries are needed—for with the needs of our business,” says example, to view all tasks completed or Coursey. “Our business is growing rapidly— updated for the current week—Team but our development budget doesn’t have Foundation Server enables him to create to.” those queries without the time-consuming task of writing the query directly to the For example, the unit, load, and Web database. testing features of the solution reduce the number of software fixes required at the The company supported its initial deploy- end of a development project by 30 to 40 ment of Team Foundation Server on a percent, resulting in a similar reduction in single computer. Even as it both expands the time and cost needed to implement and upgrades its deployment, the company those fixes. Source control and branching is continuing to host the solution on a allow development teams—regardless of single computer. “Because of the scalability where the developers are located—to work of Team Foundation Server, we don’t need together more effectively. Also, developers a multiserver environment,” says Coursey. can use Visual Studio to target an applica- tion for multiple platforms while largely Shaw has seen so much success with reusing their existing code. Microsoft .NET technologies that it has standardized its development on the .NET The faster processes extend to reporting Framework for most of its projects. and management. Coursey estimates that by using the tracking and query tools in Benefits Visual Studio, he has cut the time he Among the benefits that The Shaw Group spends preparing for weekly status sees from its adoption of Microsoft Visual meetings in half, saving three or four Studio Team System 2008 are faster and hours per week. more effective development and applica- “Now we have the More Effective Development Boosts System 2008, in part because its developers Reliability, Confidence have been so quick to adopt the solution. confidence that when Shaw is also using Visual Studio Team we put an application System to deliver more reliable applica- “Our developers really rave about Visual tions. “Load testing in Visual Studio has Studio Team System and features such as into production, it has been very significant for us,” says Coursey. branching and source control,” says gone through its “It enables us to immediately identify large Coursey. “When they first started working issues that would have gone unnoticed with Visual Studio and they saw what they paces.” otherwise, until the application was actually could do with it, they were very excited. It Jason Coursey, Programmer Manager, put on a load in production. It used to be has enabled us to adopt aggressive Information Technology, The Shaw Group when we put an application out there we’d schedules for software development.” hold our breath waiting for the complaints. Now we have the confidence that when we One factor contributing to the rapid put an application into production, it has adoption of Visual Studio has been that it’s gone through its paces. We’re not worried based on the highly familiar Microsoft tool about 12,000 people suddenly calling to set. “Our people have been able to adopt say it’s not working. That’s peace of mind.” and use Visual Studio Team System without any issues at all,” says Coursey. “I didn’t SOX Compliance Easier have to go out there and convince anyone SOX compliance is another need that Shaw to use Visual Studio. They can be in the has addressed with Visual Studio Team middle of a project with tight deadlines and System. The company needs to generate, still take advantage of features that they process, and store specific documents for haven’t tried before, because they already each project as part of its SOX compliance know the interface. Visual Studio is helping program. The developers’ portal created our developers to remain excited about through Team Foundation Server makes their jobs.” that process easier, by providing a single online location for that documentation. “We had a variety of version control, tracking, and reporting tools before, and it was often difficult to know where to find audit and compliance information,” says Coursey. “With Visual Studio, everyone is driven to put this information in the same place. That makes it easier to get to.” Other features of Visual Studio Team System 2008 also contribute to greater compliance capabilities. For example, the solution’s tracking history capability provides an audit trail on changes during product development. Rapid Adoption Cuts Time-to-Benefit Shaw has seen rapid time-to-benefit improvements from Visual Studio Team For More Information Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 For more information about Microsoft Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 is the world's products and services, call the Microsoft most popular development environment Sales Information Center at (800) 426- for designing, developing, and testing 9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft next-generation Windows®-based Canada Information Centre at (877) 568- solutions and Web applications and 2495. Customers who are deaf or hard- services. By improving the development of-hearing can reach Microsoft text experience for Windows, the Web, mobile telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) devices, and Microsoft Office, Visual Studio 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 2008 helps organizations deliver a variety 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 of solutions more productively than ever United States and Canada, please contact before. Visual Studio Team System expands your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access the product line with new software tools information using the World Wide Web, that enable greater communication and go to: collaboration throughout the development www.microsoft.com life cycle. Interaction between developers and designers is enhanced with Visual For more information about The Shaw Studio 2008 and the Microsoft Expression® Group products and services, call (225) Suite. With Visual Studio 2008, businesses 932-2500 or visit the Web site at: can deliver modern service-oriented www.shawgrp.com solutions more efficiently. For more information about Visual Studio 2008, go to: www.msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio Software and Services Hardware Microsoft Visual Studio IBM BladeCenter − Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server − Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite Technologies − Microsoft .NET Framework This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published September 2008
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