eggs unimedia now has a 17 member programming team, which is located across two sites, one in Munich and the other in Lviv, Ukraine. They have both been successfully using agile development methods, such as Scrum, for many years. However, for larger projects this method of working has limitations, which is why scaling is needed. This transforms the agile principles of smaller teams from a manageable framework into a holistic, enterprise-wide approach. In addition, agile framework concepts such as the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) have emerged in recent years.
Also, Siemens wanted to unite different Scrum teams through a common co-operation model. Everyone involved in the project should understand the overall context and not just look at "their island" of responsibility. "The management and specialist departments within our company should also be actively involved in project planning and design and not just simply demand new features for the users from us," says Winfried Wirth. Moreover, the aim was for our individual development teams to be able to communicate better with each other.
Of central importance in the SAFe methodology is the so-called Agile Release Train (ART), which can be thought of as a train with a permanent crew of self-organising teams. These provide virtual organisation within the train and produce the required software almost in step with each other while progressing forward and without losing momentum. As with a train, the code packages are created by all teams according to the timetable at the same rate and delivered to the "station". In six biweekly Sprints, new program modules are synchronised and then after three months they are assembled into a single release for customers.
"We have established a SAFe Navigator & Friends Collaboration workflow in which the various teams at Siemens and eggs unimedia work together," reports Release Train Engineer Winfried Wirth. Today, as part of Continuous Delivery, we can launch one deployment each month with minor enhancements and a fuller release to Navigator users each quarter.
Furthermore, eggs unimedia now implements a DevOps concept, in which the developers are also responsible for system maintenance. It overcomes the dividing lines between two formerly highly isolated business units, Development and Operations, and represents the mindset, practices and tools that organisations can use to make applications and services faster, as well as, being easier to deploy. Developing and improving products is faster than other companies that are still using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. Plus, necessary infrastructure adjustments are much easier because their possibility can already be taken into account during development.
"Thanks to this speed advantage, we can serve customers better and have shorter and quicker reaction times," says Winfried Wirth smiling. In addition, we can now react much more flexibly to requirements and avoid the blame game, which pushes responsibility back and forth, making it a thing of the past. At the same time, resources are more efficiently used during development and the combination of knowledge from development and infrastructure results in a better product.
The long-standing partnership with eggs unimedia - according to Winfried Wirth - has developed positively in line with their new requirements and the entire project continues to run very satisfactorily. "We successfully work hand in hand and have an excellent relationship based on trust," he emphasises. The increased transparency for all involved parties through the introduction of SAFe and DevOps is also having a positive effect: "Now everyone knows exactly what is being worked on and what priorities there are in the further development." In addition, the future improvements and capabilities for Navigator are endless.