The Silicon Review
Software development projects can be fraught with delays and overspend and it’s not uncommon for the root cause to be a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of software requirements, leading to rework. The communication gap between stakeholders in the business and the software development team can too often lead to failure to deliver the required functionality, manifest in the phrase “That’s not what I wanted” heard during demonstrations.
Identifying a Gap in the Market
With many years’ experience working in software development, Alan Parkinson, founder of Hindsight Software, was perturbed by too many projects failing due to poorly defined or misinterpreted requirements. As an agile coach Alan had been exposed to a new technique called behavior-driven development (BDD), which proved extremely effective in solving the requirements crisis that software projects were facing.
BDD addresses communication and collaboration between product owners, developers and testers to achieve a shared understanding of requirements; however, the tooling of the enterprise teams Alan was working with was becoming a barrier to successful BDD adoption. This shaped the need to develop Behave Pro, Hindsight’s flagship software product.
Behave Pro is a powerful and easy-to-use agile testing and requirements discovery tool to support teams practicing BDD. Hindsight was founded in 2012 with just three months’ worth of funding to validate the demand for Behave Pro as a tool that supports BDD. Creating it as an add-on for Atlassian’s Jira was a clear choice since Jira is the #1 software development tool used by agile teams globally.
The founding of the company happened to coincide with the launch of Atlassian’s Marketplace and their annual App competition Codegeist, which then provided the initial channel to market and promotional opportunity for Hindsight. By tapping into Atlassian’s infrastructure and distribution, Hindsight was able to focus all development resources into producing the minimum viable product of Behave Pro for the Codegiest deadline. With just two engineers developing and only two months to enter, there were a few weeks of late-night coding fuelled by beer and pizza, but it paid off – from among 94 high-quality entries, the Behave Pro MVP won first prize in the Best Marketplace-paid Add-on category. The $7,500 prize money enabled Hindsight to secure funding until their first commercial sale a few months later, and first banking customer within nine months of starting.
Behave Pro for Jira has evolved to integrate with the team’s end-to-end DevOps tool chain – including source code integration with two-way real-time sync with Git repositories, and support for automated testing tools such as Cucumber, Behat, and SpecFlow. With features that include an easy-to-use editor for collaboration on user stories, tracking of scenario changes and full traceability of automated test results to user stories, Behave Pro supports agile teams as they work through the three stages of BDD practice: discovery, capture, and automation.
Always Moving Forward
Hindsight views all product reviews and customer support requests as an opportunity to help them see where they’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement, in relation to Behave Pro’s ability to solve customer problems in the real world. The game-changing feature of secure Git repository integration was a recent rollout, soon to be followed by test reporting features. The company is an Atlassian Top Vendor, awarded for reaching a critical volume of active product instances and providing an exemplary customer experience, helping customers buy with confidence.
What Hindsight is aiming for is to make it easier for everyone to experience the benefits of BDD, as testified by a customer that provides safety-critical systems: “Behave Pro has become one of the backbones of our product development process. The integration with Jira is great and allows us to be very efficient in the application of BDD” – Thorsten Scholz, CTO, Forwood Safety. Alongside Behave Pro, Hindsight supports agile teams by offering BDD training and coaching services. Delivered by their BDD experts on the customer site, training ensures that everyone who is involved in the software development process has a grounding in the core principles behind BDD, leading to successful adoption of BDD techniques.
Today, Behave Pro is trusted by thousands of development teams across the world, in companies ranging from e-commerce to regulated industries like banking and medical devices. Boasting a clientele that includes Spotify, Canon, New Balance, Starbucks, McGraw Hill, HSBC, Astra Zeneca, and Jetstar, to name but a few, Hindsight has continued to invest its profits into itself to fund growth. In the medium term, they plan to increase the size of the engineering team and will consider the viability of building applications for alternative agile project management tools to Jira.
The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts
Alan Parkinson considers the people, tools, and processes as the biggest assets for his organization. People are what turn the vision into a reality, and getting the right people in the right positions is crucial, with everyone on the team understanding and working in line with company values. While the engineering team indeed practices BDD and uses Behave Pro as one of their tools, implementing the right tools for all teams is also important. Last, but not least, having the right processes in place allows the team to work cohesively to achieve common goals. With all this in place, Hindsight is well positioned to stay focused on making it easier for everyone to experience the benefits of BDD.
Meet the Pioneering CEO of Hindsight Software
Alan Parkinson, CEO: With more than 18 years in the software industry, Alan’s journey started as a developer, then tester, and he is an experienced coach in agile methods. Alan has spent the last 9 years helping companies implement behavior-driven development (BDD), including significant involvement in the development of BDD-related open source projects such as the early version of Cucumber-JVM. Organizations where he has worked include Amadeus, Avis, Cisco, Roche, and Thales. As a respected authority on agile methodology and behavior-driven development, Alan regularly speaks and leads workshops at conferences in the UK, Europe, and the United States. He has also contributed to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) strategy in further education, such as informing the Computer Science curriculum at several universities and colleges in the UK, and through the “Inventing the Future” report and launch at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
“Our mission is to bridge the communication gap between software development teams and the business, to help them reduce unnecessary rework and regain time.”