Visualizing SharePoint and Other Software: A Prototyping Tool

“In the automotive industry, simulation has already caught on. We’re doing the same thing for business software. It’s so obvious, it’s like ‘why didn’t we think of this earlier?’” says iRise CEO Emmet B. Keeffe III.

The problem iRise solves is related to how IT and business communicate about requirements. Typically, in a process that hasn’t changed much in 30 years, Keeffe says, a requirements document is written and screen shots mocked up.

The issue is that “Business people can’t imagine how the software’s going to look. And in many situations you’re shipping these requirements offshore, too. When users get the software is when they actually get to say what they wanted.” Requirements are discovered at the end, costing more money. “There has to be a better way to communicate,” Keeffe says.

iRise makes a visualization authoring tool called iRise Professional Edition designed for business analysts, interface designers, product managers, and project managers. Using a drag-and-drop interface, users can create workflow and basic behavior of proposed business applications.

iRise Enterprise Edition adds team-based collaboration and the ability to export visualizations into sharable files. It also offers components that let you visualize new mobile apps or take existing ones mobile.

From startups to the largest companies, anyone doing software development can benefit, Keeffe says. iRise can replicate the core functionality of a SAP module, making “almost a virtual sandbox,” he says, that you can email to users and let them play with. And simulated data can be imported from production systems to make the final result as real as possible.

The company has customers using iRise in a SharePoint environment, pushing it upstream to business analysts to simulate and visualize what a SharePoint environment will look like. “Anybody who is writing requirements or mocking screenshots, they are our ultimate users,” he says.

iRise can work in an Agile shop, too. Used in early sprints, he says, it offers “a light speed way to do prototyping. It also empowers business analysts to run scrums, doing visualization.”

“It’s a simple idea and it works,” Keeffe says. It does change the software development process, he says, and requires the support of a CIO. But often CIOS are the ones driving the change, he says, citing the widely observed trend of the consumerization of IT—“People are coming back to the CIO and saying ‘I want it in 60 days and I want it elegant and clean.’ CIOs are thinking, How can I change the game?’”

Ultimately, he says, “Developers want their software to be used.” The company offers a free 30-day trial. To learn more, see the iRise website.

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