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Vuuch 4.5: Growing Up Before Our Eyes

It seemed like it wasn’t that long ago when Vuuch, something hardly anyone understood, was launched. More than a year later, Vuuch is up to version 4.5 and has new capabilities to offer. Some good. Some questionable. But at this point, one thing is clear: it seems like Vuuch is here to stay. And overall, I think that’s a good thing.

Now, let’s talk about what’s new.

Background

Back in early June, Vuuch announced that version 4.5 of their enterprise social system was available. There are a number of new capabilities provided as part of this new release. For a baseline of the original capabilities of the system, take a look at my first review on the system titled Vuuch: A Unique Approach to Social Computing in Product Development.

Capabilities Provided

So what exactly is new? Here’s the quick rundown.

  • Security and Capacity: Up until this release, Vuuch has been hosted remotely on their own servers. It has now been moved over to Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Cloud Capacity) offering. This not only offers a lot of flexibility in terms of storage and compute power but it actually provides a lot of security too.
  • More Granular Follow Options: In the past, you got involved in discussions by being invited via email for a representation of a particular file. Now, you can follow or be invited to varying levels of engineering detail. For example, you can follow to a specific change order or a specific part. But alternatively you could follow everything happening within a specific development project. Furthermore, you could follow entire classes of things, like all ECOs. From there, you get updates against those items you follow to as well as the ones you are invited to. That’s what shows up in your stream of updates. And last, but not least, there are filters where you can control what updates you get.
  • Dealing with Files: The pragmatism with Vuuch has always been that you could initiate a discussion around a file by simply inviting participants via email. It is that simple. But as you can imagine, there are lots of variations on that simple use case that gets more and more complex. Many of those deal with other files. As a result, Vuuch has been enhanced in those areas. First off, if you use a PDM or PLM system that acts as a source of truth, you can link off to it as a reference. Second, you can attach files that represent Work-in-Process (WIP) documents and the like. These files are actually uploaded and attached to that conversation.

So the folks at Vuuch have been hard at work and thinking about more and more use cases to support. But what does it all mean? Let’s take a look at some implications.

Commentary and Analysis

The three sets of capabilities in version 4.5 are aimed at very different use cases. Let’s talk about each of them in turn.

On the move to Amazon’s EC2 service, that actually a big change. Vuuch has always been a SaaS offering. Changing where it is actually hosted is important. But to be honest, the move towards flexible cloud capacity and security is more of a move to appease IT considerations than actually enable the engineering team to make decisions faster, come to consensus or stay on schedule. Don’t get me wrong. It makes sense. You certainly could roll the system out to far many more users with this infrastructure. But this is more about handling an customer’s IT objection than anything else.

Following options, on the other hand, directly affects the effectiveness of this sort of system for engineering teams. If you’ve ever noticed with other social systems, there can be a lot of white noise cluttering your information stream. It makes it all worth it when you get that critical piece of information that lets you make the right decision early. But it can be painful sifting through the garbage. The follow levels and filters are meant to be tools to let engineers and designers fine tune their information streams to get exactly what they want and need. It makes a ton of sense and will only make teams that use Vuuch more successful.

In terms of dealing with files, moving to some sort of formalized stance on when, where and how you link or host files associated with these discussions makes a lot of sense. So those changes are definitely good. However, I feel a need to split hairs on this one. In the case of when you might want to see the latest or a specific version, for traceability reasons, you actually would actually need both. Hear me out here for a second. As a member of an active and ongoing discussion, you would want to see the latest. But if you are revisiting an older discussion, you actually want to see the file in the exact version it existed at when that discussion took place. Furthermore, for those instances when you need to reference a specific version of a file, it would be good to link to that specific version in the PDM or PLM system. Granted, for those folks not using PLM or PDM, the most reasonable option is to upload and host that file in Vuuch which is what they have done. However, for those using PLM or PDM systems, they might want to link directly to those files as they exist there. Over time, WIP documents are eventually released, tracked and formalized.

Overall though, these capabilities are a good step forward in terms of enabling social computing in product development. Splitting hairs aside.

Conclusions and Summary

In June, Vuuch released version 4.5 of their enterprise social system that includes three major categories of new capabilities. First, they have moved to Amazon’s EC2 service, a move to please IT teams more than anything. Second, they have added greater granularity to subscriptions and filters, letting engineers more effectively control their information streams. And third, they added new options to work with files and, hair-splitting aside, that provides some good capabilities to enable new use cases.

Time to sound off. What do you think of these new capabilities? Are these the use cases and scenarios that are most important to you as users? Let us know what you think.

Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.

Chad Jackson is an Industry Analyst at Lifecycle Insights and publisher of the engineering-matters blog. With more than 15 years of industry experience, Chad covers career, managerial and technology topics in engineering. For more details, visit his profile.

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  • Howard Fine

    Chad, good reading, thanks – any comments on Vuuch Rev 5?

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