Keeping the growing Ovotrack Development Team on track with ‘Shape Up’

Keeping the growing Ovotrack Development Team on track with ‘Shape Up’

Shape Up Basecamp book cover

Customer value has always been the key and leading factor on how Ovotrack prioritises projects. We listen to the market, the demands of our customers and always try to keep a step ahead. This means we never stop developing our Ovotrack Software. This continuous process is essential to our business and to succeed in upgrading and developing new solutions for egg traceability regularly.

With our focus on continuous improvement, customer satisfaction and all the exciting developments we have in store there was a definite need to expand the Ovotrack Software Development Team. In September we welcomed a new Front-end Developer and thanks to the Make IT Work program, which supports experts from different sectors of industry that want to move their career towards software development, we have added 3 new Back-end Developers to our Software Development Team.

With a Development Team growing so rapidly it can become a challenge to keep focused and not to lose sight of strategic goals. Therefore, we introduced the toolbox and guide developed by Basecamp, called ‘Shape Up’. The main aspect is a mindset shift to ‘Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters’.

It all starts with our Sales and Support Department collecting the requirements from our customers. Then it’s up to the Shaping Team to shape these requirements into an idea and to define the challenges, set boundaries, targeting risks, and taking out the rabbit holes. At the end of this stage, we have the elements of the solution, patches for potential rabbit holes, and fences around areas we’ve declared out of bounds. We’ve gone from a roughly formed solution with potential risk in it to a solid idea that we now hope to bet on in the future.

That means we’re ready to make the transition from privately shaping and getting feedback from an inner-circle to presenting the idea at the betting table. To do that, we write it up in a form that communicates the boundaries and spells out the solution so that people with less context will be able to understand and evaluate it. This ‘pitch’ will be the document that we use to lobby for resources, collect wider feedback if necessary, or simply capture the idea for when the time is more ripe in the future.

Shape Up image

When the Shaping Team has formed the pitches it is time to put them on the betting table where our Sales, Support and Development Department are all represented by a member of the team that decides on which pitches to bet.

Once this has been decided it is time to start the ‘sprint’ of actually developing. Each sprint takes six weeks, teams of two or three developers work on a specific project, which has been prepared by the Shaping Team. At the end of the sprint the software is ready to be installed, but not before it is presented at the final ‘Sprint Demo Ceremony’, in which everyone from Ovotrack participates. After each sprint the teams are reshuffled and it’s time for the cool-down. During cool-down the teams are free to work on whatever they want. After working hard to ship their six-week projects, they enjoy having time that’s under their control. They use it to fix bugs, explore new ideas, or try out new technical possibilities.

We started the ‘Shape Up’ process early this year and it has proven to be a true success. The efficiency of our development team has increased besides keeping on track with our strategical decisions on developing (new) solutions for egg traceability based on market demands.