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19 January 2011

I tried Jama Contour and I liked it

Seven Exposures of the Singapore Skyline

Late last year I had a short engagement to prepare some business requirements to be delivered as part of a tendering process for a new enterprise application. The client enterprise is opening a new division and seeks an enterprise application to manage clients, assets and the related business processes and reporting to support growth in a new industry.

I as working remotely from the client and the rest of the project team and in three weeks I needed to get a reasonable draft back to the client reflecting what they wanted. During the three weeks I had a half day workshop and all the access I wanted to the project manager. He then did the leg work to chase down the information I needed with the various stakeholders.

Given the time constraints and the fact that I was going to have to iterate the requirements specification several times I knew I couldn’t do the job with the typical MS requirements tools of Vision, Word and Excel. Things were going to move to fast and I was going to change things too often. I had to operate efficiently and didn’t want to deal with the document management overhead.

I searched for Requirements Management tools online and looked for something that I could use and that was free. I expected that at the end of three weeks I would be producing the final document and then either walking away from the project or making a call with the project manager about buying whatever tool it was I was using.

I looked at a few, but the first one I stopped at was Jama’s Contour. For a couple of reasons; firstly I had just received an email telling me about a product upgrade and secondly because John Simpson of Jama has been a regular correspondent over the years in the project blog world, so I had a tenuous relationship established.

The three weeks is up by now, and the trial version I downloaded has closed down. The project continues and we are likely to procure access to Jama’s hosted solution for the next phase of the project (post tender evaluation.)

I liked it. Even though it is not yet what I’d call a complete product it has some great features and is continuing to grow. The best thing about it is that it I really easy to pick up and use straight way. While you can get some, training is largely unnecessary.

Having said that, this blog is getting on, so I’m going to defer a full review until next week. In the meantime, if you have any questions, drop them into the comments below and I’ll have a go at answering them.

Disclaimer: I have not received any financial incentive or reward for this review.  The views expressed are mine based on my experience of the product's free trial.