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6th Sense Automates Developers Progress Reports

The latest version of 6th Sense Analytics, announced today at the DEMO conference, offers an improved automated method for gathering performance metrics in development projects, without requiring the developer to do a thing. Other than their job, that is.

The new "6th Sense Analytics January 2007," the formal name for the product, is a plug-in that works with most popular integrated development environments  (IDEs) to monitor the work of a developer. All of the work of the individual developers are aggregated and collected into various reports for management to review, so they can determine where there may be bottlenecks or more resources may be needed.

Because 6th Sense works as software-as-a-service , all of this information is saved on 6th Sense servers, and over time, average measures of performance can be determined. The advantage to a software developer or company is it will be able to compare its progress vs. the moving average of other companies in a similar project.

If their performance is significantly behind the average, it may provide companies with clues as to what they are doing wrong, or at the very least, alert them that their practices are no good.

It also spares developers the nuisance of having to file regular reports on their progress. Human nature is to remember the negatives more than the positives, so reports, even when they were filled out, didn't always give a perfect picture.

"Every development organization I've talked to thinks this is exciting," said Carey Schwaber, senior analyst with Forrester Research. "This is a longstanding problem. Managers want metrics, managers' managers want metrics, but no one wants to slow the project down to gather information. There were solutions like this in the past that made it a little easier but no one makes it quite this easy."

The 6th Sense Analytics program has been around for about a year. But the January 2007 version adds a number of features, such as a series of pre-built reports; more than 5,000 custom reports; reports on investments going into a system or portfolio of systems under development; analysis of team focus, composition, performance and skill set; detailed records of individual team member activities; and high-level evaluations of overall performance.

Todd Olson, CTO and co-founder, came up with the idea while managing development teams in four countries while he was at Borland Software . "We're simply reducing the pain and making it easier in a devloper's life for something they are already expected to deliver," he told internetnews.com.

The 6th Sense plugin works with 25 different IDEs, including Visual Studio from Microsoft, Eclipse, Jbuilder from Borland, and even Komodo from ActiveState. PowerBuilder from Sybase  is not on the list, however.

6th Sense Analytics is available now in two flavors. The Personal Edition is free for individual programmers who want to measure their own work against others, while Team Edition, which includes the ability to aggregate project metrics, has a list price of $960 per user per year.