End of Financial Year – A Retrospective

In the past I’ve tended to reflect on the year that was around Christmas time. However after I took my new role (can I still call it a new role?) it felt premature to look at what I had (and hadn’t) achieved given that at Readify our year ends on 30 June.

When I took the role of CTO I had a number of very clear objectives to achieve this year. The first was to come up with a well defined managed service offering around solution development. All the raw building blocks were there – great people, great technology and a good understanding of agile principles. What we ended up with was the “DevPod” offering.

DevPod

Before you say it, no I haven’t stolen a page from Steve Job’s marketing handbook. If you look at the definition of the word “pod” you can see that it is more about either the concept of grouping or a vessel containing the seeds of growth. And that is really what our DevPod offering is all about – we provide the right mix of people, technology and process to ensure that our customers software dreams can be turned into a reality.

Overall I think the DevPod offering has been a success this year with three out of three projects successfully delivered with happy customers. We have more in the pipeline and I am confident our success will continue. One part of that success is that we use Scrum as our core delivery methodology and invest in helping customers understand that process. The second part of our success is tooling. Our first two projects made use of Visual Studio 2008 and Team Foundation Server 2008, we later migrated to Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2010 and I think we rode the BETA/RC wave quite well. The end result is that we now have a sophisticated development and test lab environment where we can run multiple projects simultaneously.

Finally – but perhaps more importantly our people actually take responsibility for the delivery. You can’t underestimate the impact that having a committed team has on the outcomes of your project. Because they actually care about the outcome they are much more likely to identify and adapt to issues during the lifetime of the project and they have the bravery to raise issues early. Personally I’d like to thank everyone at Readify who has been involved in delivering a DevPod project over the last twelve months.

SupportPod

Of course you don’t spend twelve months working on a problem without learning some lessons. The first lesson is that some of our customers don’t just see us as a one shot implementation team. They actually want us to deliver and then manage the application through its lifecycle. Whilst we do this internally for our own line of business applications, when we went to market with the DevPod offering we assumed that customers would want to transition the asset into their internal development teams. Sometimes this was true – sometimes it wasn’t.

As a result we had to bring to market our second managed service offering – SupportPod. What we wanted to do with SupportPod is use the same sophisticated development and test lab to provide ongoing maintenance and support for software applications. Software is either handed over from a DevPod or on-boarded into our environment.

Once the software is established in the SupportPod we continually triage issues entered in via our CRM system, some are pure support issues and some are software engineering challenges. In this model we can provide the high level support required for line of business applications and can enhance and release new versions of the software over time (ensuring quality with the consistent use of our test lab).

Once again I am left thanking individuals within the business that have made this possible including members of the management team who have given the offering the runway required to get off the ground and the day to operational support to the individual members of the SupportPod who are already producing value.

Retrospective

In retrospect there are things that we did well, and will keep doing, and things that we could do better. The above is really around what we did well. One of the areas that I want to improve is really our flow through the SupportPod. When we first started we contemplated whether something like Kanban could be used but for various reasons our SupportPod has ended up using a traditional fail/triage/fix routine. I personally need to do more research on how Kanban can be used with a blended Support/Sustained Engineering environment.

Come Join Us

Readify is on a journey and we have a purpose. If you want to join the team please send me an e-mail (no recruiters please). We have positions open ranging from support, sustained engineering, development and consulting and are always looking for good people.

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