Technology  September 12, 2011

DTS opens GIS office in Fort Collins

FORT COLLINS – In a nod to Northern Colorado’s talented work force in the geographic information systems sector, Data Transfer Solutions LLC recently opened a regional office here.

The Orlando, Fla.-based GIS company hired a team of five software developers about a month ago. The team previously worked for GIS industry giant The Sanborn Map Co. Inc. in Fort Collins.

It wasn’t really that DTS chose the team but that the team chose the company, explained Chris Spagnuolo, the senior project manager and office manager for DTS’ new Fort Collins site.

Spagnuolo said his team formed out of a common interest in agile software development. Agile development is a relatively new method for designing software that involves the end-user throughout the process.

As opposed to waterfall development, in which the software developers receive a project, complete it, then deliver it to the customer, agile development requires constant interaction with the customers during the project. Pieces of the program are completed throughout the process, often in two-week periods, and delivered to the customer. The customer can then critique what has been accomplished, make suggestions or ask for additional capabilities.

Spagnuolo connected with his team through blogs and other agile development-focused forums. He came to work for Sanborn’s Fort Collins office last year specifically to work with these other agile development supporters.

Keeping team together

However, shortly after joining Sanborn, Spagnuolo decided it might be time to look for other career opportunities, and discovered that others on his team had similar plans. After leaving the company, the five developers decided that they wanted to keep working together in Fort Collins, so they shopped themselves around as a team.

“If you want us, we’re a Fort Collins-based team,” Spagnuolo said they told potential employers.

DTS was actually the smallest company that the team considered joining, but it seemed like the best fit.

“They offered us the absolute freedom to build the way we want to,” Spagnuolo explained.

In fact, DTS has decided to promote agile development practices throughout the company as a result. This commitment requires changes to the entire operating structure – something an established company like Sanborn would not be able to do as easily as a newer operation like DTS.

Sanborn, based in Colorado Springs, was founded in 1866 and made its name producing fire insurance maps. Historic preservation researchers rely on Sanborn maps to trace ownership of structures in early Fort Collins.

No one was available to comment on the company’s future in Fort Collins for this story, although the company Web site still lists Fort Collins as one of its 10 offices nationwide. It was also still advertising positions available in Fort Collins – two developers and a technical project manager – through the Web site at the end of December.

Other western offices

This isn’t DTS’ first foray into Colorado. Allan Ibaugh, president and CEO of the company, said DTS actually spun out of Denver-based firm Space Imaging in 2004, and hired a regional manager to work out of Denver last year. That employee heads projects for most of the western and southwestern United States.

“Outside of Florida, Colorado is our next biggest customer base,” Ibaugh said.

About six months ago, the company landed a long-term contract to create an enterprise GIS system for the Colorado Department of Transportation. The Fort Collins team has already begun work on it, implementing agile development practices.

DTS has had a strong history of organic growth. The company has grown from seven employees at its Orlando headquarters to 40 employees in eight offices. Ibaugh sees Colorado as one of its growth areas.

“I think the (GIS industry) is huge in Colorado,” he said. “There’s a lot of opportunity and a lot of talent.”

DTS is already seeking two more employees in Colorado. Spagnuolo said the DTS team is already getting involved with the region’s burgeoning GIS cluster and looks forward to further involvement.

FORT COLLINS – In a nod to Northern Colorado’s talented work force in the geographic information systems sector, Data Transfer Solutions LLC recently opened a regional office here.

The Orlando, Fla.-based GIS company hired a team of five software developers about a month ago. The team previously worked for GIS industry giant The Sanborn Map Co. Inc. in Fort Collins.

It wasn’t really that DTS chose the team but that the team chose the company, explained Chris Spagnuolo, the senior project manager and office manager for DTS’ new Fort Collins site.

Spagnuolo said his team formed out of a common interest in agile…

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