Blueriq and Yonder have worked successfully together for many years. Two teams in different countries work closely together while each has its own focus and come up with great results. What is the secret to their success? And what makes a collaboration successful? Mark van Kessel (Blueriq) and Voicu Moldovan (Yonder) got together to identify what makes the relationship between Blueriq and Yonder so unique.
Having a successful collaboration means everybody works toward a common goal; everybody wants to achieve the same objective. You can find many reading materials on this topic, but are there any best practices shared within our group or industry? So, Mark and Voicu set out to identify the key success factors and write a best practice on successful collaborations. They share their story on the five rules for a successful collaboration.
Here are the five rules for a successful engagement identified by Mark and Voicu.
Both Blueriq and Yonder are tech-savvy companies delivering high-end software solutions and services to their clients. We know that the world of technology changes at a mind-dazzling speed. So, when we started the journey, both companies were very aware that they could only have a successful collaboration if they constantly could adapt to new standards and ways of working. The agility to adapt quickly is paramount. This defines the partnership on every level, from how they handle the process to the last line of code.
If you want to improve, you must first know where you stand. And to achieve that, you need to communicate as if you are in the same building: very frequently and be transparent in both directions. Furthermore, you need to measure everything. This makes retrospective sessions vital. Every team member is heard, every topic is important, and every session has a list of action points that are small and doable and can be achieved in the next sprint.
Because what gets measured gets done, continuous improvement can be planned. After you know where you stand, you just do it. And we did it.
You achieve better results when you enjoy what you are doing. Work can be fun, but then everyone needs to feel included and have the space to show their talent. Demos are the moment where everyone can proudly show the work. Show it to all so everybody can see what a nice piece of functionality looks like. Everyone puts in the effort to give an inspiring biweekly demo. Each team has its own style and culture, which you can see in the demos. There is no lack of fun!
From inspirational meetings to the fact that there are no barriers, everyone has direct access to everyone; this is how we managed to keep the passion in the relationship and give all involved a sense of self-worth and self-government.
We speak of “Our Product,” no matter if we work for Blueriq or Yonder. We both feel pride and ownership over the realization of the product. When this happens, you know that the level of commitment is immense.
To get this degree of involvement, you form an environment where everyone can grow. If someone has a great idea, you create the context and space to explore and test it together. Research weeks and Hackathons in which we had the teams collaborating on the next level. We also reshuffled the teams to work with everyone at least once during a certain period of our collaboration. But we didn’t stop here. To inspire the teams to take it to the next level, we created a game in which developers and testers have a fun competition removing technical debt, solving bugs, and increasing the overall quality. We created ‘bug hunts’ with real prizes. In other words, to empower the team, you need some gamification and many-to-many collaborations.
This has led to spreading the empowerment across the team members’ place agnostically.
Pain is a particularly powerful bonding agent used in the army and hazing to create a real relationship between those who face the same challenge. So, we developed a deeper bonding between all team members by sharing our challenges and being transparent about them. Developers like to develop nice, new futuristic top-notch software, but we also have to work on what needs to be done (the pain). We solved this by sharing the parts and giving each team (Blueriq and Yonder) a part of the pain. In our cooperation, every team is iteratively responsible for releasing and documenting a new version. If there is a high priority incident, every team has the tools and capacity to fix this. We look at the best team to perform the task rather than picking the easiest way. So, the work is balanced, and every team works according to percentages; 60 % is for developing features, 20 % for support, and 20% to keep our platform up to date and managing technical debt.
While we share the pain, we also celebrate success together. And we had some great times such as the R10 party, when the Yonder team joined us in Den Bosch on a camping ground, or the Yonder 25th year party in Cluj. Or the annual hackathon in Cluj or research week in Den Bosch. Whatever we do, we do it together!
Having shared values means that both teams believe in the same core values! Just think of quality, for example! Which quality values do we share, and can we commit to? To commit to the same shared quality level, Yonder and Blueriq developed a new testing strategy (developers and testers) in a pressure cooker. We developed it together into an automate first policy! As a result, the testers became more involved in growing a developer mindset instead of a regression tester one. Functional testers and the developers both became automation testers. Now every team member (developer and tester) shares the same quality values. Moreover, technology was no longer a barrier; everyone spoke the programming and testing languages.
Another common problem is ‘finger-pointing’ behavior and waiting for someone to fix it. For example, the Jenkins master is red; will someone point it out and wait for someone else to fix it? Or will all team members behave proactively? A shared value we have in our collaboration is to keep our master green. Instead of pointing it out, we fix it first so that the master is green. We are all proactive in maintaining our green values together.
You can see that the work relation is great and autonomous, and continuous improvement is ingrained in the team’s DNA. We have an empowered team that believes in quality first and is also willing to share the pain, not just the success, together. On top of this, there is the old Blueriq motto, “Make your own rules.” We had to try that. Leaders have their own rules. They inspire and create other leaders.
So, you could say that the conclusion is rule number six, to make your own rules in creating one team where all members head in the same direction, pursuing the same values and viewing each other as one team. It is paramount that you create your own recipe to have such a great collaboration and adjust the ingredients where needed. However, we believe that the basic principles apply to all situations, but we are interested in hearing your experiences or comments.