You have been assimilated – a real good thing!

Warning: all opinions are my own personal opinions and does no necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer.

On Thursday last week, the employees at the company I work (Notus) was informed that Visma Unique has bought the company.

I for one am thrilled by this. A couple of years ago, there was talk about a potential buyer of the company. And there has also been talk about a fusion earlier with another company.

I warned you earlier of personal opinions, so here goes; This is the first real opportunity for our developers to apply a development process. We’ve been struggling since I started in the company in January 2002 with applying processes. We started off in 2003/2004 with eXtreme Programming and had some success but ended up with loosing the process, again. A year later or so I started looking at MSF Agile, which was in beta stage. We started applying the process later on in 2005. Now, we’re turning our head to the calendar and it says 2008, and still we’re struggling with the same things as in 2002; we are not predictable, we are not able to deliver software with the quality we want and in the timeframe we want. All this is, in my opinion, due to the ability to apply a process. I’ve often asked myself the question why we aren’t able to apply the process and I think there is no single answer to it. One of the answers I think, is the lack of respect from marketing and support for how a developer is working. The result is that everyone working with support confronts the developers directly with all bugs reported from customers and the bug should (at least if you ask the support guys) be prioritized that very instant. If you have a couple of support guys running around doing this, your day as a developer is pretty much ruined. On top of this you got sales running around selling stuff that has not yet been discussed with any of the developers. And they keep doing it and expecting it to be finished soon, typically in a couple of weeks – at most! 

But, I think this is just half the truth. When you want to apply a process, I think everyone has to sort of pitch in on making it happen. This means that you have to get the department that is applying a process to really be committed to applying it. In order to do this, knowledge is the key. By focusing on enlightening the people that will be working with process through training and constantly talking about every step in the process, I think people will be more open to the change and will help in applying the process. It’s pretty much about collective awareness, or global ownership as it’s called in most modern agile processes these days.

Well.. Back to what I started off with. I believe being a branch/department in Visma will help us achieve the goal of having a software development process that really works. With a company as big as Visma is, they’ve gone through the hoops a couple of times and knows the value of having a good process. The really nice thing about their process is that they open for diversity within the organizations they acquire, they only need a couple of roles represented at the site. Lucky for us, we’re trying to work under the regime of MSF Agile that covers the roles they need.

Over the years I’ve often found myself discussing the lack of process at our company and very often been confronted with the argumentation that we’re too small to apply any real process. I still hear this, even now when we’re 7 developers. My response to this is; you need a process the very instance software development enters the discussion of a startup company; 1 developer – apply a process and stick with it if feels good. Embrace change – change it if it doesn’t fit the organization anymore, be process-aware.

By “we” in this post, I’m referring to the developers. We’re all alone in this dark forgotten place.. 🙂    

Btw: If you want to read the press-release of the acquisition of our company, you’ll find it here and here (English version here).

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