Despite the technology industry being hyper focused on the next great start-up darling, one small Iowa technology company has managed to quietly ink deals with tech giants like General Electric, Siemens, Raytheon, BAE Systems and Microchip. The GForge Group, Inc, based in West Des Moines, Iowa,, has built an impressive list of clients for their collaboration platform, GForge. According to President Tony Bibbs, the success of GForge can be attributed to thinking like their clients, making sure GForge provides them the right combination of collaboration features, itching unique enterprise needs and leveraging their size as a selling point.
Enabling Real Collaboration
While the collaboration industry has long been deployed at scale to the cloud, The GForge Group has gone back to focusing on their roots of on-premises collaboration. Microchip, a global provider of microcontrollers, mixed-signal, analog and Flash-IP circuits is using GForge to collaborate on multiple levels, addressing the unique needs of their disparate teams and customer base. Specifically, Microchip uses GForge to:
- Collaborate across internal Microchip organizational groups.
- Collaborate internally on Microchip products and services.
- Collaborate externally with Microchip partners and customers.
Microchip achieves these varied levels of collaboration by leveraging GForge’s portfolio management features which allow them to organize teams, projects and customers with varying degrees of visibility.
Another key feature of GForge is the fact it is an all-in-one solution which overcomes two key problems faced in the on-premises collaboration space:
- Ala Cart Features – Some collaboration solutions sell similar GForge features ala cart with each having its own pricing and requiring work to configure those features to work in unison. This approach is inflexible because it means you need to know what features each project needs ahead of time.
- Best-in-Breed Features – Other organizations, often times unknowingly and over time, end up buying multiple products from multiple vendors providing specific features. This approach shares the same inflexibilities of ala cart features from a single vendor but this also makes integration difficult, fragile and expensive.
GForge’s all-in-one approach makes all features available to a project but gives its customers the flexibility of scaling with the project. At Siemens, for example, they enjoy the flexibility of taking a proof-of-concept, using a few GForge features, to a full scale, mature project that has expanded to use more of GForge’s capabilities.
The all-in-one approach is paying off because large organizations recognize that not all projects are created equal and with GForge scaling with their needs they are able to focus on their strategic goals without the hassle of renegotiating pricing when the needs of a project changes.
GForge Enables True Enterprise Collaboration
While GForge gives project teams modern collaboration features (like sprints, standups and team chat), it really shines when deployed across an enterprise. For example, General Electric (GE) uses GForge to manage over 16,000 global employees, all collaborating on GE’s vast array of products and services.
With GForge, GE is also able to specify the export control classification of every GE project, to ensure export control policies and procedures are observed in a consistent, auditable manner.
Raytheon uses two key GForge features to elevate their collaboration. Within Raytheon, there are strict security boundaries between various programs. To address that requirement, Raytheon can quickly deploy a dedicated, isolated instance of GForge for each program, giving their programs the collaboration tools they need. For projects that don’t have the same security requirements, Raytheon has a shared GForge instance for managing their entire portfolio. GForge allows Raytheon to classify shared projects for reuse readiness,to ensure systems achieve a level of maturity before they are reused elsewhere.
GE and Raytheon rely on unique GForge features to increase productivity and reuse, and manage regulatory requirements and project risk.
GForge Leverages Its Size
Make no mistake, GForge runs at scale, and it has to in order to support such large customers. According to Bibbs, however, GForge’s true value is the fact they are a small, privately held company:
“Being a small company, we are much more agile and far more responsive to our customer’s needs”.
Bibbs pointed to their unique support model noting that all GForge engineers also provide direct customer support.
“Our size allows us to use this model which has the benefit of engineers getting feedback directly from customers. Nothing gets lost or miscommunicated like you often see with multi-tier support models.”
Another small business benefit GForge brings to the table their customers have the ability to have a direct impact on the product road map. “Listen, there’s a lot of competition in our market and there’s some big fish in our pond. Our success is tied directly to our ability to listen to our customers and, to a large extent, let them drive the direction GForge goes.” Bibbs goes on to point out GForge, despite its size, has been in the collaboration business as long, if not longer, than most of their competitors.