Message from CEO
Q: Agile Transformation? It begins with mindset change!
A: Today, in the programming arena, a transition from the traditional Waterfall model to Agile has already started. While Agile is a common methodology for the new generation programmers, there are many misused terminologies that need to change.
Answering all the queries regarding the Agile model, Ms. Jyothsna Madhunapantula, SVP, Delivery and Operational Excellence, coMakeIT, talks about the significance of Agile transformation and the importance of mindset change in adapting the Agile model.
Read on to know more about her views on the Agile transformation.
Q: Tell us about the significance of Agile transformation.?
A: The new generation of programmers are born and brought up with Agile, they wouldn’t have heard about the Waterfall model. But, why are we still talking about transformation if everyone has already adopted it? There are many reasons, most importantly, it’s about how we use the terminologies.
Scrum and Agile are the most misused terms. It’s often equated with standup meetings, doing cadence of two weeks, and delivering at the end of the sprint. The entire process is managed by a product owner and Scrum Master (who replaces the project manager). And, of course, there is a Jira board and the teams are able to see progression every day.
Q: What exactly does ‘being Agile’ mean for a development team?
A: Let me give an example about being Agile from Yoga. While doing Yoga, you bend down and touch your feet. But, how do you let the energy when you exhale, help you touch your feet, with so much ease and flexibility? How comfortable are you in touching your feet and staying in that position comfortably? Answers to these questions will help you in understanding what it means to be Agile.
When our customers say that they are Agile, we often observe they would be missing many fundamental aspects of Agile and hence they are not able to proceed with it.
There is a danger to the simplistic interpretation of being Agile. Having a Scrum Master on board instead of a project manager doesn’t equate with building an Agile team. In the same way, if there is a product owner who is responsible for the backlog and there are tasks on the board which can be seen along with each other’s progress, it doesn’t amount to adopting Agile practices.
Yet, the most important hurdle – the hierarchical way of working – remains the same. And, that’s where we need to make a transformation! Let’s look at who should be the Scrum Master. Ideally, the Scrum Master must have excellent facilitation skills. What if a junior person takes over this role, provided he / she has all the necessary skills, most importantly,
being able to question? It’s definitely possible for this person to take up the role, irrespective of seniority and experience.
Q: How has coMakeIT facilitated Agile transformation? Can you describe the journey of a company?
A: At coMakeIT, we’ve facilitated many Agile transformations by empowering the teams.
When the team feels empowered, they know when to raise a red flag, when not to commit to a goal if it is not feasible and practical. This way, they continuously improve their performance as a team.
One of our partner teams found it hard to believe in the change Agile can bring about. They did not follow Scrum earlier and worked individually. We planned the transition to Agile very systematically by making small teams of 5 to 6 members.
The first sign of resistance was when we reorganized the teams. Earlier, they were working with a lead (Scrum Master) who would assign them the tasks. Now, someone else became a lead and they were doubtful whether the new set up would work and become successful.
Gradually, we introduced them to other nuances of Agile. We told them that they can define their sprints and speak up in the meetings. They knew the best about what needed improvement in areas like DevOps, knowledge transfer sessions, timely access to information and so on. We guided them on conducting the standups, planning, refinements, retrospectives in a phased manner.
This was followed by performance measurement by answering the question ‘what’s in it for me in each sprint?’ We came up with various metrics to measure performance. We also captured their happiness index. We gradually prepared them to do their own metrics and draw inferences by themselves. The management is there to facilitate, coach and guide.
After a year, 90% of their concerns were resolved. They were amazed at their transformation; things were simpler now! The best part of the journey was that the management was not directly involved, they just provided suggestions and guided them.
This has added tremendous value, as the team has started its journey just before the lockdown. They tried transforming to Scrum for a long time and they were not successful, However, in the last two years they’ve been very successful. They want to extrapolate it to their Dutch team and apply it in a business consulting environment.
Q: How does the mindset change reflect in the way the teams work?
A: In a Scrum setup, the team members don’t have to compete with anybody else; they have to compete with themselves for their previous results. They look at the performance metrics and see where they want to improve. The questions they ask are more growth-oriented.
Unless the mindset change happens, the transformation is not successful.
I can recall a situation when one person was extremely unhappy with Scrum transformation. He was a senior team member, not happy with the designation and role. Eventually, he became a hurdle to the team’s progress. However, with the help of special coaching, he changed so much that later he was recognized as the best performer in the team.
Q: How has Covid-19 situation impacted remote teams that follow Agile principles?
A: We’ve always executed globally distributed Scrum teams for our partners in a product development environment. We’ve had members from different locations in our teams.
Hence, the challenges thrown by Covid-19 in terms of working from home hasn’t really impacted our work. We are used to remote working because of distributed global teams.
The team members are closely knit and well-bonded, they don’t need to interact with the manager on a daily basis. Occasionally, they do swarming, share the screen, write the code together, discuss together, come up with the solution.
In fact, the teams are getting stronger in this mode of working! After three months of lockdown last year, we evaluated the productivity and our partners found it excellent, surpassing the previous levels. It shows that the teams are delivering on promise, often surpassing the client expectations.
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New Customer Wins
We are delighted to welcome Zahara Systems of UK to coMakeIT family. Zahara’s software helps in simplifying time-consuming and overly-complicated financial processes. Their cloud-based software is focused on giving organisations complete visibility of expected costs and enables better spend control.
We are excited to welcome Blue Zinc of UK to coMakeIT family. Blue Zinc has a smart software for healthcare industry specialising in the optimization of referral and practice management. Focused on rehabilitation, their solution helps in improving, connecting, and automating the musculoskeletal and talking therapies arenas for all parts of the market, from funders to practitioners
We are happy to support Pacsoft International, New Zealand for their marine solutions. Their marina management software was built to help for marinas, boatyards and yacht clubs to provide efficient and effective operations, accounting and management of vessels, berths, customers and members. Pacsoft helps in improvement of business by saving both time and money.
We are happy to support Symbox, UK for their BPM platform. Symbox technologies provides organisation with seamless connections, deep understanding, and multiple efficiencies required to optimise business processes. Their digital business platform that takes the brakes off change and provides enterprise-wide visibility, instant operational insight, and the agility to accelerate change.
News about coMakeIT
Global IT consultancy firm Xebia acquires coMakeIT: Special announcement from Steven ten Napel, Co-founder and CEO, coMakeIT: It gives me great pleasure to announce that coMakeIT has been acquired by Xebia, a global IT services major. This step is very exciting for coMakeIT and myself, because we are now part of a larger endeavour to support continuous innovation of ISVs and digital transformation of enterprises. With the digital leader Xebia acquiring coMakeIT, our combined strengths will make new collaborations possible to transform businesses across the globe. Being value-driven, coMakeIT complements Xebia’s ‘people first’ policy. Since we share a similar culture, both companies having Dutch origins, we would be able to better assist clients in overcoming scalability issues, implementing modern technology and realising growth.
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Chai Pe Charche: We believe that no topic of off limit, especially these days when we want to bring in challenge and #choosetochallenge. In our Chai Pe Charche session, our employees came together for a virtual high tea where we discussed about topics like equal pay, how everyone is coping up with the new normal, coming back to work when schools and day care centres are still closed, equal sharing of responsibilities between spouses. It was a casual interaction to understand different perspectives women face in coming back to our workplaces after we reopen.
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We had an interactive session on financial awareness with the expert advisor to help employees be more aware of their investments, mutual funds, tax planning strategies etc.