I am Arnaud the new Agile Project Manager at Red Badger. I have worked for over 10 years in the Internet industry notably as Service Support Manager and Product Manager and I am delighted to have joined the ‘Badgers’ a couple of entertaining and interesting months ago.
Agility at Red Badger is not an add-on or a trend but an intrinsic part of the company’s philosophy and business model. The founders have set a very adaptive environment. There is no desk allocated, employees can choose their own laptop and mobile phone and can move around depending on the project or task they are working on. All our internal tools, from HR to project tracking software are cloud based allowing us to collaborate in-house and with customers both local and remote, with great clarity, adaptability and effectiveness. The integrated team members whether they are technologists, creative or business focused are encouraged to self-manage, help each other and learn from each other. Each one of us has a consequent budget for personal development that we also self-manage . The hierarchy is flat and the team empowered. My first contribution to this setting encouraging collaboration and creativity has been to make it an even more visual workspace. Tools like Agilezen or Youtrack are very effective for collaborating with offsite customers, tracking and producing reports but they cannot replace boards and burn-down charts to remind any in-house stakeholder at any time with a quick look what we have done, what we want to achieve and how we are progressing.
In this very favourable environment one of my tasks is to maintain and eventually reinforce Agile and Lean practices as well as adapting them to our customer’s needs, structures and projects. The very essence of Agile is flexibility and at Red Badger we are well aware that in terms of processes, methodologies and even engineering practices one size does not fit all. We believe in best practices within a context and choose our methodologies depending on project. For instance although we are all fervent Scrum practitioners, if an iterative approach is not necessary i.e. low complexity and well defined requirements, we like using Kanban. In any case our aims are to avoid unnecessary overheads and not constrict creativity with processes while providing our customers with control, transparency, and most importantly a setting for enhanced collaboration.
Collaboration between Business and IT, developers and customers, is fundamental to most software development projects. This is particularly true at Red Badger. Many of our customers come to Red Badger because of the exceptional know-how of our development team in leading/bleeding edge technologies and therefore many of our projects tend to be technology driven. Typically in this kind of project the boundaries of the problem to be solved are blurry and the customer wants to achieve market differentiation. Enhanced collaboration allows us to work in short iterations with rapid feedback. Our customers can change or improve their requirements as they discover their new software and get feedback from users. Rapid feedback leads to a better fit to the target market while short iterations leads to regular deliveries and market differentiation for a longer period of time. Red Badger’s developer’s excellence in rapid prototyping comes particularly handy in these projects and I will explain this further in other blogs.
In a competitive market and difficult economic times where software is expected to be delivered within a few months with phases reduced to a few weeks, it is very refreshing and motivating to work for a company that responds to those market constraints by encouraging innovation, creativity, continuous learning and comradeship.