Due to the growing demands of the marketplace and the rise of digital transformation, today’s organizations are faced with the complicated challenge of improving the speed and quality of software delivery. Especially for organizations with large, distributed teams, it is crucial to implement Agile processes to streamline software delivery and improve customer experience.
The benefits of Agile are detailed in the transformation story of the French-based Axway, a business interaction networks company which provides the tools to manage, run, secure and monitor all business interactions for today’s organizations. Axway’s comprehensive offerings include business-to-business integration, managed file transfer, email and identity security, enterprise application integration, business process management, and track & trace solutions. Axway was struggling to track and manage development for its extensive, and constantly growing, backlog of product feature requests. After deciding to adopt Agile development methods and testing a wide range of planning and management solutions, the company was ultimately able to chart a pathway to success through strategic planning and its enterprise Agile and DevOps solution.
As a veteran of the software industry, Jorge Rodriguez, Axway’s SVP of Product Development, was intimately familiar with the challenges associated with ever-changing market demands. “Software development is unpredictable, and the job of the software development organization is to put a model in place that manages that inherent risk as tightly as possible.”
Challenges for Distributed, Complex Development Teams
Axway’s managed file transfer business was growing significantly. Like many software development organizations, the team was constantly tasked with innovating to meet market expectations while supporting existing customers. As the lead for Axway’s product development team, Jorge had to contend with the challenges of developing new products while still meeting the needs of an existing customer base. He soon recognized the need to adopt development practices that could provide his team with more accurate visibility into their product release forecasts, while mitigating the risks that come from a misalignment between market demands and customer feature requests.
Another common challenge Jorge had to manage was Axway’s network of geographically distributed development teams, which spanned the United States, European Union and India. The company’s distributed nature meant that 50-60 percent of projects were spread across seven development labs – some with time differences greater than seven hours. “Not only did we have to contend with the geographic challenges, we also had to find a way to manage continuous integration and development across all projects and locales,” said Rodriguez.
With a complex team and development structure, Axway needed to maintain a high level of communication across functions and locations to ensure success. Jorge wanted to get the developers and contributors on board with transitioning to Agile processes for improved efficiencies and communication. He also wanted to help teams understand that these iterative methods played a significant role in risk management and predictability, rather than viewing them as change for change’s sake. “It’s about identifying predictability so that the company doesn’t lose millions on a botched deployment,” said Rodriguez.
Adopting an Agile Approach
Like many distributed enterprise software organizations, Axway looked at platform and process partners to help scale and better manage the Agile process in a more unified and collaborative manner. As Agile sets the foundation for DevOps, and the introduction of more automation, the technical and process aspects of Agile must be coordinated as a single, connected initiative.
By bringing in a highly-seasoned Agile coach to run the teams through a full release cycle, Jorge saw significant improvements in the operating model and an Agile management platform that delivered visibility into release forecasting while identifying misalignment between market demands and feature requests. Additionally, he gained clarity in definition of features through backlog management and was able to create a foundation to measure his software development operation while managing risk more effectively. “We were able to look at trends in our key metrics and course-correct early on,” said Jorge.
Axway’s engineers are now able to streamline operations and effectively align market needs with implementation and delivery. Using VersionOne, and with proper Agile practices and tools in place, Axway can now track customer requests through the development cycle, more accurately forecast releases and better manage risk to improve overall time to market for product deliveries. Axway’s story is a proof point that implementing Agile, especially in organizations with large, distributed teams, can help increase the efficiency and quality of software releases.