Peek Traffic are based in Houston, Texas, and they provide transportation management systems like Traffic Light signals in North America and beyond. They have been a Fog Creek customer for over 9 years, using both FogBugz and Kiln. We caught up with Ray Deer, CTO of Signal Group, Peek Traffic’s parent company, to find out how they use FogBugz to prioritize their workload, and get the most out of their resources.
About Peek Traffic
Peek is a technology-driven company, says Deer. “We’re a mix of hardware development, firmware development, mechanical engineering and software development. We actually make the hardware from schematics and board layout, we make our embedded field computers that control traffic, intersections, and lights. We also write the central software, the client server software that controls the whole system. So it’s kind of an entire ecosystem that we develop.”
Using FogBugz and Kiln
At the heart of that ecosystem is FogBugz. It’s used by Engineers in 8 cities, spread over 4 countries who work both remotely and in satellite offices. “About two-thirds of our engineers use FogBugz daily,” says Deer. “And it’s not just our engineers, it’s also our support department too”. More recently, they’ve also started “using Kiln, as an integrated tool between the source code and cases”.
Before FogBugz they used Vantage – “it was much harder to use than FogBugz. I came on board and I saw that and thought ‘this isn’t very easy’,” so Deer set out to find another solution and settled on FogBugz.
FogBugz is used to help Peek keep their engineering work on track, and to prioritize their resources for greatest impact. Peek have a number of products, and each product is a project in FogBugz. Then for each project, “we create a milestone of the current scope of work that we are working on… and we use FogBugz for sorting the prioritization of important tasks and managing scope – it means it’s easy to see what’s going to be in the next release”, says Deer.
Features for Managing Product Development
When planning a release, Peek makes extensive use of case filters. “The saved filters, the shared filters and the on-the-fly filters that we create allow you to say, “I just want to know about bugs in this project and what important features there are”. This means they can then ask themselves for this next release, “would you rather implement these three easy cases or this hard one?” explains Deer – “it’s the whole importance versus low hanging fruit thing.”
FogBugz has also meant that there’s “no miscommunication in what an engineering manager wants each team member to do because we have the cases to track it,” Deer says. What’s more, the system has grown with them over the years. “When we bring on new engineers, we can just set them up in the system… we really don’t find that we have a lot of training to do. FogBugz is pretty self-explanatory,” says Deer. “Ease of use is an important factor, and what you guys have done is… over the years, you’ve really increased its usability and made it easier to find things. You don’t have to hunt to find things in the software.”
Just Enough Notification
Notifications are also well used by Peek’s engineering and support teams. “It’s customizable when you want to be notified of things. So whenever something gets assigned to you, it sends you an email letting you know, so it doesn’t just sneak in there and sit. That has really helped us because I know that when something comes in, someone’s going to be looking at it,” Deer says. “It seems like the notifications are just right. When you get a notification, it’s usually something that you need to look at.”
Why Have Peek Stuck with FogBugz For 9 Years?
“We have a lot of history in FogBugz,” explains Deer. “If you look at the cases, there’s going to be more than 10,000 of them”. And in all the time that Peek have been a customer, “Fog Creek has done nothing but make the product better, you’ve done nothing to make us shop for something else, there’s just no reason to change. And the customer service has been good in the interactions that we’ve had with you, it has been excellent.”