The journey started with Adam’s (our COO) initiative to conduct an internal audit. All throughout the organization, we met in teams, eager to evaluate our customer journey from start to finish.
We were also thrilled at the prospect of mapping potential risks that awaited, hidden around corners.
Despite some slight uncertainty about what lay ahead, we plowed through and came out on the other side, gaining a deeper understanding of our organization.
How it started
After going through several rounds of mapping, auditing, and analysis, it was revealed that there were numerous challenges related to software development itself too.
And after having pondered through countless contingencies, we decided to tackle at least some of these tasks. Why? Because by questioning the status quo, we were able to discover better ways of doing things. Identifying areas where our product development process could be improved, we created a new standard of how we work.
We called it Polaris.
Here comes Polaris
The North Star has been a powerful guide for many, shining its light throughout the centuries and always pointing north. Taking inspiration from this idea of powerful guidance, we set out to name our in-house project efficiency tool Polaris.
Although appearing to the naked eye as a single point of light, Polaris is a triple star system, composed of the primary, a yellow supergiant designated Polaris Aa, in orbit with a smaller companion, Polaris Ab; the pair is in a wider orbit with Polaris B.
About our Polaris
At Inwedo, together, we set out on a mission to discover the “Polaris” of software development.
We had a map (the Software Development Lifecycle divided into zones) and a strong desire to find a land nobody else had explored yet.
To support our teams while preserving autonomy, we have formed a set of best practices that have proven time and again to be effective in delivering projects on time and within budget. It’s an approach that allows teams to work with autonomy while being supported by the high standards set by the company.
Polaris by Inwedo is designed to help teams run projects with efficiency and client satisfaction. It’s like having your own personal guide at hand.
Polaris can be a helpful ally for those times you need an external opinion on the state of your project. If you need careful recommendations and best practices, it’s Polaris that will have the knowledge and experience to provide informed guidance. If you’re starting fresh on a brand-new project, Polaris can keep order and structure by helping organize things from the start.
And if there are worries about process, implementation, or quality within a project, using Polaris’s up-to-date observation and analysis can help identify potential problems early on.
We have a well-thought-out and organized organizational support structure in the company, so representatives of the three main forces – our triple star system – involved in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) got to work:
➡️ Beata Król – Agile lead; specialist in product and process, agile, and team collaboration.
➡️ Magda Sulerzycka-Bil – QA lead, test and documentation engineer, guardian of quality and value.
➡️ Grzesiek Izydorczyk – Head of Tech; our undisputed specialist in best practices, software craftsmanship, and DevOps; plus chief technical strategist of Inwedo – all in one.
Agile organization + standards = ?
At Inwedo, we believe that the best way to complete our projects on time and within budget is by giving teams full autonomy over their work methods, as well as providing them with a set of standards that provide helpful guidelines for getting the job done.
With this model in mind, certain elements don’t need to be discussed – such as our use of certain tools and our technology stack – as these are based on the company’s specialization.
Let’s talk about taxonomy for a minute
Our team of diverse experts at Inwedo was presented with the issue, and after intensive analysis, we all settled on an impressive 57 elements that would aid in attaining project success.
Breaking these down into three distinct areas, each one targeting a different aspect of the SDLC, deeper insights were revealed:
#1 Product and Process: what and why?
It encompasses everything from product requirements and management, to scoping out features and functions desired. It also looks at why certain decisions are being made. Participating in that FUN, taking challenges, and building rapport within the team is what people enjoy about it.
In the Product and Process area, we identified such elements of the standard as:
- creating and updating the Definition of ‘Done’ (DoD)
- creating and updating the Definition of ‘Ready’ (DoR)
- maintaining a roadmap for the product for the next quarter (or another relevant period of time)
- communicating regularly with customers (through emails summarizing findings and sync meetings)
- taking care of the frequency and purpose of scrum meetings (planning, refinement, demo, retro)
#2 Technology and Development: how and where?
The area of Technology and Development is primarily focused on building, developing and delivering the product.
In the Technology and Development area, we selected:
- creating unit tests in the project as an integral part of the development process
- maintaining the Application Infrastructure as IaC (Infrastructure as Code) and continually updating it as part of the work in progress
- performing static code analysis after code changes
- automatically running application builds after code changes
- streamlining the process of deploying applications to particular environments
- monitoring of technical metrics on the quality of the project (HTTP errors, timeouts, request execution time, etc.)
#3 Documentation and Testing: is it accessible?
In the area of Documentation and Testing, quality assurance is the key component.
In the Documentation and Testing area, we selected:
- preparing business documentation for the most important elements and areas of the project (processes, users, business objects)
- creating technical documentation describing the operation of the API implemented in the system (e.g. swagger)
- establishing and updating documented regression tests that are used when releasing new versions
- designing and expanding project coverage with automated tests
As soon as we figured out what ingredients go into a successful project, we decided to check “how it went”, i.e. to move on.
Checking on current projects in the company
We all got to work methodically and systematically, sifting out each element so that nothing substantial was left out. Then it was on to the next step – seeing how our theory held up in a live setting.
We know that deadlines come fast and have to be met – often with a few bumps in the road along the way. We want to do things right and wisely.
Reflecting on the success of all the projects at Inwedo, our team took it upon themselves to identify which areas could use a little extra attention.
It turned out to be an enlightening insight into how far we’ve come as a company, and – just as importantly – how far yet we can go!
We holistically evaluated the entire portfolio and went even further with our examination – by making a heat map illustrating potential risks in each project we had running.
With this type of meta-view into our operations, an amazing perspective was gained, opening up new opportunities for further analysis and creativity.
And instead of focusing all of our energy on a single element, we spread it out across the three main areas. We started by making small changes here and there, hoping that these changes would add to significant overall improvements over time.
Did the plan work as well as it sounded?
How we tackled it
We made some small improvements to our priorities and then scheduled biweekly meetings to review progress and plan for future steps.
Our efforts also included spreading awareness about what was happening.
Everyone would get engaged in conversations, so it was clear their motivation was growing and they wanted to help achieve Polaris’ vision.
The enthusiasm was mutual, so it felt like things were really starting to move forward and we were closer to our ultimate destination, indicated by Polaris.
Introducing a shakeup to Inwedo’s processes was always going to be challenging, but the support of our values – mainly “empower others” – made it a surprisingly smooth journey.
The core team had no shortage of willing volunteers from other teams, who provided extra helping hands for the initial stages; thankful for their help, we could move on to more arduous matters like purchasing training and software licenses.
Training is an integral part of any project. For example, when expanding our working knowledge and capabilities to include new technology or when needing to perform tests our team may have never done before. With the right training, we can equip our development and testing teams with the necessary experience and know-how to succeed on any project.
Fortunately, with our training budget and the capacity/ability to purchase any development resources we needed, these improvements were met with enthusiastic approval and putting them into action was a breeze.
And the result is
After a few months of hard work, we have observed a noticeable increase in the quality of delivered SDLC processes.
And, inevitably, this called for a better system of managing tasks among cross-teams – one in which people take accountability and feel invested in their jobs.
This laid the foundations for knowledge sharing within teams, leading fellow workers to brainstorm new ideas to try out – the steps taken to reap maximum value from the use of Polaris.
It’s all about progressing by light strides rather than seeking instant results.
We may not know the destination of our current journey, but we can confidently say that its course is true.
The feedback from our teammates has been overwhelmingly positive; they recognize the importance of plans such as Polaris.
As any sailor knows, while we cannot command the elements, we can make changes in our sails to ensure a smoother voyage (however, we now feel more like we’re on a space cruise).
At Inwedo, this is what we strive to do – slowly regrouping and seeing small alterations pay off. Of course, such progress is only possible with a dedicated and open-minded team; luckily for us, this is exactly what our crew at Inwedo embodies.
Are you a galactic explorer looking for your next mission?
Check out our job offers and join us, as early as tomorrow.