Backlog Case Study: How Fusic Uses Backlog to Collaborate with Customers

Fusic is a technology consulting firm specializing in software development including web systems and smartphone applications as well as cloud infrastructure building (AWS.) Fusic uses Backlog on their development team and to communicate with customers. We sat down with Engineers Shintaro Sugimoto and Keita Mohri to learn more.

Fusic Co., Ltd.

Tell us more about Fusic.

Fusic has been committed to 100% in-house development since its inception in 2003. We work for a variety of clients, from large corporations to national research institutes. Our business in comprised of two services: software development projects and in-house services. Our software development projects include web system development, application development, and AWS cloud introduction. Our in-house services include building personnel evaluation support systems and applications for the distribution of information from local government institutions.

Our Technology Development Department consists of 24 people divided into five teams, and each team splits its time between in-house services and external development projects.

Backlog is used both for in-house services and for interaction with customers during development projects.

Why did you choose Backlog?

The biggest selling point was how easy it is to use. Even non-engineers can use it. We deal with a relatively large number of clients who have never used project management tools before, so we need a tool that’s easy for them to learn.

We tested other project management tools, but the UIs were complicated, and we got the impression that they would be difficult to master. Backlog offered both functionality and intuitiveness.

How do you use Backlog in your workflow?

Many of our clients are startup-style companies without their own development departments. Rather than simply accepting requests and making the desired products, we work closely with our clients using Backlog to develop their projects collaboratively.

Before Backlog, we were using Excel and email to confirm work and manage progress with customers. We decided to improve our task management with our customers by adopting Backlog for all external interactions. We use Backlog for major issues such as project drafts and directions, and we use GitHub for complex development tasks.

 

Keita Mori, EngineerKeita Mori, Engineer

How difficult was the adoption process?

The learning curve from account creation to project participation is very smooth. The invitation emails help get them started, and the UI’s simplicity does the rest.

When we tested other tools, customers would sometimes get stuck on the login screen. It may be a trivial matter, but considerations of small details like these are important.

Do you have any tricks for introducing customers who were unfamiliar with tools like Backlog?

Whenever we launch a project with a new customer, we always create an “Operation Management” issue first. This is where we house best-practices for using Backlog, including how to add an issue, how to set an appropriate title, the timing of the star function, etc. For example, we request that they add a star once they read a message.

Do you use Backlog for any internal project management?

We use Backlog for training new employees. Every year we hire several fresh graduates, and the first part of their training includes lectures and programming practice.

As part of their programming practice, we’ve prepared a training program game called “New Recruit.” The game involves 160 programming tasks put into Backlog. Recruits earn points for each task they complete. To clear the goal, new engineers must collaborate to finish the tasks one by one, with a supervisor checking the answers. In addition to technical skill, this allows us to evaluate human factors, such as how they approach problem-solving and how well they work in a team.

In addition to technical skill, this allows us to evaluate human factors, such as how they approach problem-solving and how well they work in a team.

Shintaro Sugimoto, EngineerShintaro Sugimoto, Engineer

Do you use any technical tricks with Backlog?

We created a Webhook that sends notifications of Backlog issues over to Slack. We named it “BaBo” as an abbreviation for “Backlog Bot.” We initially created an internal hubot, but we migrated it when we realized that it could cooperate with the AWS service. In the beginning, we had difficulties with the Amazon API Gateway, but we worked those out through a process of trial and error, and we now use it for operations across the entire company.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it has become an essential function for making our projects run smoothly.

What functionality do you hope to see in Backlog in the future?

It would be helpful to have a pared down version, or “easy mode,” for customers who are not engineers which offered only a limited number of essential functions.

Other than that, I’d like to see a feature that would allow someone to review a comment before posting. At our company, all comments—from specification modifications to failure reports—must be reviewed before being sent to a customer. It would be great to have a function that would allow us to select a post-approver and mark the post as “awaiting review” before it is published.

 

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