|By Charles Souillard||
|May 2, 2014 10:45 AM EDT||
In the five years since I co-founded Bonitasoft with Miguel Valdes Faura and Rodrigue Le Gall, our organization has come a long way.
We started with seven developers. We now have 17 dedicated full time to Bonita BPM - along with a systems architect, a QA team, a documentation team, and a "human factors" engineer. We've logged 2.75 million downloads, booked 875 customers and built a community of 60,000 contributors.
How do you triple the size of your development team in less than five years and keep consistent control over your processes? Well, even for a company that's in the business of helping others improve processes, it's been a challenge, a learning experience - and a great opportunity to apply some interesting "advanced" agile methodologies.
How We Started with Agile
Our initial small team focused on development of the Bonita Execution Engine, the Bonita User Experience (web), and the Bonita Studio, with each of these groups having a specific skill set and a technical leader. From the very start we applied agile development practices - with everyone in the entire team working together in the same two-week sprint, participating in the daily scrum meetings, and so on.
With a small team, we were able to make very efficient progress all working on the same code - we got the first release of Bonita Open Solution out in six months.
But as we grew our development team and as we dealt with the inevitable errors that crept in, we found ourselves being held up. If the build chain broke, everyone's progress was affected.
With the growing team, to avoid these compilation issues, we broke up R&D into three individual teams (still focused on the Engine, the Web, and the Studio components of the Bonita BPM suite) and gave each team an independent release process for each component. This greatly helped us to isolate bug errors, but for fixes, the Studio team was always last in line - they needed a stable build from the Web team, who needed a stable build from the Engine team. It might take as long as two weeks before a bug-discovered-and-fixed on the same day by the Engine team actually propagated to the Studio team.
The Business Pressure to Change Our Development Approach
The growth of our team was only one aspect of the pressures we faced in engineering. As we moved through our Bonita Open Source version 5 product releases and began to prepare for the release of our new product, Bonita BPM version 6, we began to work more and more closely with the Product Committee. Together we started looking at ways to allow R&D to work on multiple features simultaneously, end-to-end, without pulling resources from one team to another. We wanted to reduce the time to fully develop new features of better quality, and to fix bugs. Bonitasoft's use of Value Streams at the strategic level offered a logical possibility: link R&D to corporate strategic goals for innovation and improvement.
The New R&D Organization: Agile Streams
Our development team is now organized into four streams: Innovation, Core Product, Integration, and Fast-Track. Strategically speaking, Innovation development keeps us at the leading edge of BPM suite capability, Core product development keeps us competitive in the current market, Integration remains one of our key differentiators, and Fast-Track helps ensure that users' needs are given appropriate priority.
The product committee's guidance heavily influences the priorities of the first three streams. The Fast-Track development priorities come from Support, Customer Success, Pre-Sales, and Delivery, the customer-facing groups inside Bonitasoft. In this way we continue to improve our product through both radical innovation and incremental improvements (new and improved features).
Each stream is comprised of Engine, Web, and Studio developers, plus a Product Manager and members of the documentation and Quality Assurance teams. Our systems architect and human factors engineer work across all four streams.
When a feature or improvement is developed in a stream, it is fully developed and tested on the stream's dedicated continuous integration server. A feature is "done" when the language translation is done, the documentation is done and the tests are done. When the entire code stream is stable, then and only then it is pushed to the shared continuous integration server where it can be accessed and used by the other streams.
When it is time for a major release, the code is pushed to another dedicated server where the final QA is done.
The advantages of this development approach are already being realized: the isolation of each stream and the involvement of QA inside each one means that the code is only shared when ready - and no other stream is dependent on work outside of it in order to advance.
It's also much cleaner to always have one stream dedicated to maintenance. We use a round robin approach so each stream has a turn, and only one stream is working on maintenance fixes at a time.
There's Always a Challenge
Our big challenge now is no longer the speed of code propagation. It's how we can manage effective communication among streams. Development may be appropriately isolated, but clear and timely communication on big changes is critical. We're addressing this challenge by sharing information frequently through informal presentations, and each team has a team leader whose responsibility includes sharing information across teams. Their entire mornings are pretty much dedicated to coordination tasks while their afternoons are dedicated to development tasks.
We are already seeing excellent results from our agile stream approach. Our maintenance releases are coming regularly each month, and the implementation of development roadmap is better balanced among the four strategic Value Streams. Bonita BPM has had two versions released in 2013, with two more on the way for 2014. With the Fast-track stream, we have been able to quickly respond to customers' and users' innovative suggestions and business needs - with a flexibility that underscores and confirms the very concept of agile.
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 8, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 144
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 7, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 376
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 7, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 563
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 7, 2016 01:45 PM EST Reads: 366
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 7, 2016 01:30 PM EST
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 7, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 347
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 7, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 349
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 7, 2016 10:15 AM EST Reads: 120
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 7, 2016 07:00 AM EST Reads: 125
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 724
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 789
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 414
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 853
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 941
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 729
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,148
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 815
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,221
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 792
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,271