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Technology and Collaboration in the Workplace

Collaboration is a top priority for many organizations and business leaders. At Optimus, collaboration is integral to office culture and how we evolve and stay flexible. Collaboration within the workplace elevates the group as a whole. We are better able to solve problems and serve our clients by incorporating technology into our collaborative practices

Open Communication

Every desk in the Noida office is in an open work-space which provides easy communication between all members of a team. This helps facilitate the daily huddles that happen between team leads and their members. Firstly, a detailed plan executes all tasks. Following that, each individual takes responsibility for their sections and logs their efforts. A retrospective meeting addresses what can be improved. 

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The Optimus team collaborating in the office

Our two offices have weekly check-ins to maintain clear communication of projects and keep up to date on their status. Leads of test and development meet to converse on the status of projects, and what challenges need to be addressed. Furthermore, clients are kept up to date through weekly status reports which analyze what work has been completed, where efforts were directed for the week, along with dependencies for the clients to act upon. 

Collaboration Across Time Zones and Platforms

Optimus Information uses technology to come together and spread information across a multitude of platforms. For instance, internally you can see birthday messages posted on Google Plus, schedule a meeting overseas through Zoom, keep up to date with your colleagues through Slack, and track your metrics on Zoho. Moreover, the use of Azure boards provides lucidity in work. A ticketing system assigns a ticket to each collaborator amongst the projects.

Through this common board, collaborators can see which tickets are assigned to whom, and what the progress is on each task. As a result, allocating tickets is based on individual capacity along with how many projects they are working on. In addition to filters, there are separate boards per project. These boards optimize differentiation and keep an organized way of merging a multitude of channels. Technology and collaboration in the workplace happen homogeneously. To reach overseas, Zoom ensures all calls are easily accessible. This allows for the Vancouver and Noida office to have a seamless partnership.

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Daily huddles keep our teams up to date on each project

Technology is constantly evolving. In order for a company to remain at the forefront of the industry, information must be accurate and up to date. Collaboration allows for knowledge to be shared, cultivating a culture of continuous learning. Optimus utilizes technology to pass forward the information efficiently. Each individual has their own strengths, and by combining their unique standpoints it accelerates the achievement of common goals. 

Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

By Goran Kimovski, SVP Global Customer Solutions (Onica)

For many decades, technology businesses were considered a separate industry sector. These were typically companies whose revenue was dependant on developing technology-based products and selling those products to other businesses. The majority of other businesses were relegated to the role of technology consumers. Wanting to reduce their technology budgets, these technology consumers focused on minimizing their technology costs by standardizing their business processes and tools. This approach worked for a while, since everyone in their industry and market were in the same race. However, with the advent of ubiquitous technology – in the form of cloud services, mobile and edge devices – a new wave of companies emerged. These new companies shifted technology from the periphery to the core of their business model.149 Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

Technology Became the Differentiator

New businesses in sectors ranging from healthcare to transportation to financial services were able to compete and steal market share from existing businesses. We started using terms like fintech, healthtech, and transportation as a service to differentiate these businesses from the respective industry sector they were competing within. They almost always looked more like technology companies based on their R&D budget and technology innovation. This new wave of hybrid startups has attracted tons of investments across the globe.

Many traditional businesses have changed their direction to keep up with the competition. They had to take advantage of the same trends in cloud, mobile, and edge, to start catching up to (or in some cases outperform) their new competitors. These traditional businesses have recognized that these new businesses are using technology to differentiate themselves and grabbing market share from them. Some have been able to successfully change their direction and take their competition. Many found new solutions for their customers by partnering with these new vendors. Some have decided to acquire these businesses and bring them into the core of their operations. This effectively started a transformation towards becoming more and more technology oriented.

What Drives This Process?

Several technology innovations:

  1. Open and fast internet access
  2. Adoption of mobile in every aspect of our business and professional lives
  3. Extensive processing and sensor technology being built in every device
  4. Low cost and easy access to large computing power in the form of cloud

Screen-Shot-2019-05-14-at-11.14.03-AM Technology is Becoming the Core to Every Business

These innovations have converged and democratized access to technology. This enabled new business models like “everything as a service” to thrive. As businesses adopt more technology, they create a greater wealth of data and many new integration possibilities.

In turn, this drives innovation to:

  1. Make sense of all the data
  2. Help businesses drive better decisions and optimize the user experience
  3. Offer new ways for users to obtain services from their business
  4. Create additional revenue generating opportunities uniquely enabled by technology

What Does this Mean for Your Business?

If you’re not already on the path of transforming towards a technology-centric future, now is the best time to start.

This is how you can begin:

  1. Starting the Discussion
    Initiating discussions with your leadership (or, if you’re an executive, by leading such discussions) about making an initial investment.
  2. Create a Team
    Empower a small team to start experimenting with technology and exploring how to solve current business challenges in a different way using cloud-based or related technologies. It is critical that you truly empower the team to try different technologies. Give them a budget and authority for creating a sandbox with enough guardrails and support from your IT and security teams to enable them to safely run experiments fast. It is equally critical to hold them accountable for their learning and sharing the results of their experiments. Therefore, you can build a roadmap for transforming your business through the use of technology and get wider support from the organization to continue further investments.

If you’ve started the transformation and feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The technology driving the trends discussed here is largely developed for builders. These are companies that employ engineers and others that have the skill and know-how to build solutions from various technology components. However, many of the businesses outside the technology sector employ people that are good at customizing and managing solutions who don’t have the capacity to maintain their existing technology stacks.

Learning the New Model

Customization, integration, and maintenance is commonly outsourced to professional services or managed services firms. In addition, most of those firms are too invested in their existing technology platforms and unable to move as fast as their customers who feel the pressure of the market. They need to adopt new technologies faster than their vendors can. This leaves room for a new kind of service firms (Optimus Information and Onica included) that have been born in the new technology-centric world. These new service firms are not constrained by old business models or large numbers of customers with support agreements that keep their staff working with outdated technologies. These companies are more than happy to share the best practices they have developed over the years working with early adopters of technologies like cloud, IoT, serverless, Big Data, Machine Learning, etc. Larger enterprises are also great examples of this new model. Many have already started their journeys and have been relying on those new technology-centric services organizations to help.

Technology Transformation Trend

It is somewhat useful to think of all of these trends as enabling a transformation towards technology-enabled businesses. However, in my 6+ years offering cloud consulting and managed services in Canada and the US, I have often seen this trend of technology becoming central to the business. These businesses are on the path to becoming or have already become technology-centric; and many aspects of their organizations have been transforming to support that. I expect this trend to continue over the next 10 years. I predict that we will find ourselves in a world where almost every business will become technology-centric.

DevOps: Embrace the Culture and Speed App Development and Deployment

The past decade has seen some tectonic shifts in how application software is developed and deployed.

Traditional waterfall methods, which siloed teams and produced apps that mostly worked well (until they didn’t), gave birth to Agile, a fresh new way of including the various design, development and production teams in a holistic way while creating a lean operational approach.

iStock-607969272 DevOps: Embrace the Culture and Speed App Development and Deployment

 

Going Further with DevOps

While Agile spelled out a new, far more efficient way for teams – and clients – to work together to produce an app, DevOps goes one step further1. It recognizes that development and operations teams must also work efficiently with each other, because the full end-to-end life-cycle of creating, testing, rolling out and improvement are inextricably linked. A well-integrated DevOps environment can deliver the highest customer experience levels.

It’s all about evolution, and Optimus Information has embraced the concept of DevOps, putting it into practice earlier this year.

 

Taking a New Approach to Project Development

“Lean” was pioneered by Toyota in Japan at the end of the Second World War, where its principles of reducing waste and Continuous Improvement have influenced software development methods.

Khushbu Garg, Optimus’s Senior Technical Lead at the company’s office in Noida, southwest of New Delhi, refers to DevOps as a culture. It’s a way of approaching and working a project, she says, and should be the path that every new organization should follow.

“By ‘new organization’,  I mean a new company trying to make a name for itself to attract customers. The only way to do this is to deliver fast, with A+ quality in the work. You want to gain the trust of your customers and this is the only way to do it,” she explained.

The net result of using the DevOps approach, she says, is a significant increase in the speed of development, delivery and deployment time while dealing with issues and scaling up the application.

 

The Five Stages in the DevOps Process

Organizations, new or otherwise, can’t simply plunge into DevOps and expect it to work straight out of the box. There is a process that must be followed before success can be achieved.

It begins with delineating the stages:

  • Define your business logic and plan around that.
  • How will you build the solution, where will you place the coding, where will you put the configuration?
  • This is where you ensure the quality of the build through regression testing, acceptance testing, etc.
  • Package the app, release it and configure it.
  • Monitor, to be certain the app remains functional.

DevOps is not an outgrowth of the Agile methodology; it stands on its own. But the two share similarities in approach. Agile allows fast development and rapid bug fixes so deployment occurs in production as soon as possible – you test fast and release fast. The DevOps approach allows this to occur smoothly, especially within the CI/CD pipeline, where automated testing using the Optimus Test Harness can pay huge dividends.

 

Technology Considerations of DevOps

When faced with a new project, Khushbu points out, it’s important to determine if it will be easy to implement DevOps for that project. Then, an organization needs to consider which technology will be used. At Optimus, numerous projects are running at any given time and the company makes use of a variety of technologies, both cloud-based and open source.

“Currently,” she says, “we’re using Jenkins, an open source technology. Jenkins works well for us because it supports almost all the technologies we use, like Node, Angular, C# and Java. Also, there’s no cost to Jenkins because it’s open source.”

Her team in India uses pipelines for Continuous Integration and Continuous Development because the pipeline method requires very little developer knowledge – which contributes to fast app development.

She then tasks her team with researching which technology will work best. Once the project is underway, a great deal of testing occurs smoothly with the DevOps method:  unit testing, deployment stage testing, automated testing, and so on.

 

The Critical Role Played by the Customer

A hallmark of Agile app development is how the client, and sometimes the customer, is involved at every point in the project. That’s no different with DevOps, Khushbu explains.

“In fact, we place great emphasis on email notification of all stakeholders whenever a stage is deployed. Even here, we get granular: how many emails we send, what information we include, what test reports are pertinent, even what template we use to convey the information and which developer is working on which stage.” The result of this care and attention to communications means the stakeholder can identify how the project is progressing and contact the appropriate developer to offer input, if needed.

By putting the DevOps culture to work, through the step-by-step process that Optimus has implemented, the client is always up to speed because of the collaboration that occurs. “We don’t need a separate IT person to deploy our builds, we don’t need IT infrastructure time, and we can quickly share a build with a customer and give the development team any feedback needed,” said Khushbu.

DevOps is as much a discipline as it is a culture. Optimus has adopted DevOps for all our projects and we’ve already seen great success with it. We know it works because it’s inclusive when it’s deployed properly.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about this evolutionary approach to app development. Our job is to stay at the leading edge of software technology and our goal is to provide our clients and customers the benefits that such technologies bring. So, get in touch with us today!


More Resources:1 https://theagileadmin.com/what-is-devops/

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