ECS Digital has been operating in the DevOps space for over 20 years and this success is mostly down to our focus on self-improvement and innovating for the benefit of our clients. Our recent acquisition of QAWorks was largely initiated to support the continued efforts in the digital transformation sphere, focusing primarily on strengthening our expertise in software quality and delivery.
What we’ve seen since this coming-together is a greater offering for our clients — not to mention an increase in the number of smart-minds looking to evolve our existing tools and processes. This ‘fresh blood’ has a mix of experience — with some primarily working within big teams in large organisations where the division between development and test was not aligned to delivering business value.
As has been seen from successful adoptions of modern software delivery techniques, shifting left to a more agile methodology results in your development and operation teams working for each other. It also offers them more autonomy — resulting in smaller wait times and reduced feedback loops.
But what happens when you begin to scale this model within larger organisations?
For ECS Digital, the first step of any digital transformation is enabling you to successfully integrate an agile process. Part of this is helping you communicate and adopt a new culture, as well as introducing an engineering mindset to test — this can involve introducing SDETs to your development teams to ensure any feedback or strategies can be put in place quicker. Quicker feedback means improved lead-time and higher quality of applications.
Once you reach a level of confidence in your new process and are comfortable with the effectiveness of your teams and automated tools, our consultants begin to look at reusability — taking an in-depth view of your processes and offering recommendations of how to take them to the next level.
Focused primarily on larger organisations, our team has developed a quality assurance strategy that supports businesses who have around 25 or more working within the software delivery structure. Once you reach this magic number, an opportunity cost presents itself.
This opportunity looks to do the following:
· Reduce duplicated efforts,
· Improve efficiencies of individuals and teams,
· Recognise issues that are affecting more than one team and create a reusable solution,
· Remove the risk of gatekeeping behaviour by breaking down the silos and cultivating a culture of collaboration between teams
Internally, this opportunity is known as introducing a ‘tooling and efficiency team’ (official name to be confirmed). Not only are these teams proving successful in current client work, they are a logical next step for those wishing to maximise their agile business model.
In short, this team consists of engineers with a broad skillset and sits within your business permanently. They are responsible for keeping a comprehensive eye over all your development and operation processes and specifically look for areas that are underperforming or no longer fit for purpose. Once identified, they create reusable solutions to combat individual and company-wide inefficiencies.
But if your agile methodology is already delivering on all your performance targets, why is this new team important?
By analogy, if you have a one-man operation and you invite an additional person to join this team, you are doubling your effectiveness. If work-demands require a third or fourth member of the team, you are again increasing your efficiencies — but as you scale, this math only works to a certain number. It is very much a balancing act, but what we’ve found whilst working with clients is once you reach a large development team of around 25, each new member starts to become less efficient.
By creating a one-stop-shop in the form of a tooling and efficiency team who can afford to spend the time looking for and creating tools to keep your business adapting, you are maximising ROI because you are making the most of the staff you have. This can be seen in our recent client work with NewsUK.
A reoccurring long-term objective for our clients is to increase the speed of delivery whilst maintaining quality. Quality assurance and automated testing are essential to helping them achieve this — and is the reason why a tooling and efficiency team is working so well. We work alongside our clients’ principal engineers to maintain a clear direction for this new team to move towards, measuring against agreed targets periodically. The benefits have so far been a strengthening in DevOps capabilities, as well as a strong improvement in development efficiencies and overall quality.
“ECS Digital consistently provide intelligent, hard-working and professional individuals who always manage to work well together. Kouros provides a strong organisational and delivery focused attitude that resonates through the team — who have made some invaluable and original open source products that will benefit us and others in the future. They are more than simply a QA team, but can-do developers who aren’t afraid of a challenge and putting the client first”
Craig Bilner, Principle Developer at NewsUK
The transition to this efficiency model requires a level of collaborative consultancy to help oversee the adoption of the new team and integrate them with others already in the structure. ECS Digital engineers have the capability to enable adoption by working alongside your current team or by operating autonomously / self-managed within your business.
Their ability to constantly inspect, improve and adapt aligns with the very nature of agile methodologies, making it an ideal structural change to invest in long term.
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Whilst our tooling and efficiency teams are an additional offering to our DevOps consultancy, it is a necessary next step for those wishing to take their agile business model to the next level.
ECS Digital is an experienced digital transformation consultancy that helps clients deliver better products faster through the adoption of modern software delivery methods. Our recent acquisition of the UK’s leading technical software testing organisation, QAWorks, means we’re well placed to offer expert advice about how tooling and efficiency teams can bolster your digital environments.
If you’d like to know more about how the tooling and efficiency approach could benefit your business, drop us a message here.