Conxillium Group develops, commercializes and supports a broad range of company software for local governments. Recently the company was recognized by Gapstars as a “Star Partner – 2019” for achieving the highest standards of innovation and performance in remote development. One of its keys for success is its adoption and practice of agile to build engagement.
We spoke to Dirk Jan van Kessel, Team Lead for Conxillium’s Software Development center in Sri Lanka on building engagement and agile practices.
Q: Could you start by telling us more about Conxillium and your remote operations?
DJ: The Conxillium group consists of eight companies developing software for the local government in the Netherlands. The applications pool is divers. Conxillium develops software for election systems, civil affairs, tax applications, workflows management systems etc.
Today, the Conxillium group is the 3rd largest software provider in the municipal domain in the Netherlands. We partnered with Gapstars to scale up our development and since then have grown rapidly at our remote tech center in Sri Lanka. Gapstars facilitates fast-growing tech companies with high performing agile offshore developers.
Dirk Jan van Kessel, Team Lead for Conxillium, Heads the Sri Lankan operations.
Q: What are some of the challenges in remote software development?
DJ: The challenges are centered around mostly collaboration and communication. We can’t deny the fact that it’s easier to collaborate face to face than remotely. Especially working from different time zones means that all teams members are working at the same time for about 4.5 hours per day. On top of this, is the cultural differences (work ethics) that come with distributed teams. However, these can be navigated with having a simple system, such as having a reporting structure, team roles, daily stand-ups and scrum meetings to name a few. Over time it becomes a way of life and part of the working culture.
Q: How is incorporating agile methodology helping the team overcome these challenges?
DJ: Agile in practice can bring a system to the working culture we talked about. It gives control of the progress and process despite of being in one room or in a distributed location. It introduces transparency, a fixed development rhythm, and a continuous inspect and adapt cycle.The progress and issues the team faces in the process are always transparent for the team and its stakeholders. By regularly reflecting on the product and the process the team collaboration and communication improves.
Q: What steps have you initiated in practicing Agile? Is Agile for everyone?
DJ: Agile is an enabler. Team members have to be committed to make it a practice. That’s the reason for teams which have the necessary skills set to get the job done and a dedicated product owner have the best results.
Agile is no magic bullet. If the team does not comply to the preconditions a Scrum team should have to be successful, it will have less good results. For example the teams within Conxillium that do not have a dedicated product owner are having less results and a lower team feeling. This a problem Agile cannot solve. For continuous development we have kicked off a series of Agile training and coaching programs facilitated by Gapstars. The kick off training proved valuable and the feedback I’m receiving so far has been excellent.
Conxillium team during their recent training facilitated by Gapstars.
Gapstars facilitates agile training and coaching
As part of our commitment of building dedicated development teams packed with skilled developers for scaleups and startups to accelerate the phase of growth, Gapstars recently launched agile training and coaching for client teams to enhance their high performance culture.
In my journey as Head of Agile Delivery and Agile coach i often emphasis and remind teams that “Agile is a way of working”. Teams often are confused. They think Agile is a project management methodology just like PMBOK or Prince2, no! it’s not. So we wanted to find out the best ways to help our teams to adapt agile concepts and practices which led us to designing a program that would nurture teams through the agile journey. Here’s a quick introduction on basics you need to know about agile.
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At Gapstars, we are firm believers in the Agile philosophy when it comes to building dedicated scrum teams and SaaS software. Within the Agile framework, teams have the freedom to organize themselves and manage their own work.
On a daily basis, we enable our teams to deliver SaaS products with the best time-to-market and the highest possible quality. As a result, our clients benefit from a competitive business advantage, which in turn enhances their customer’s satisfaction.
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