Using “Tribes” to successfully implement Agile

As the Agile software development methodology continues to mature, companies are beginning to leverage new and interesting strategies to implement the concept at their shops. Introducing something as revolutionary as Agile can be a difficult task with older, more entrenched IT teams. Even as the movement celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, it still seems foreign to development teams used to the Waterfall and other traditional methodologies.

Some shops are beginning to organize their development, QA, and business stakeholder teams into groups known as Squads, Tribes, Chapters, and Guilds to better facilitate the collaboration and communication vital for a successful Agile transition. Let’s take a look at this concept to see if it makes sense for your company.

Defining Agile Tribes and Squads

This new method for organizing teams in an Agile shop first evolved at the music streaming company, Spotify. The smallest group in their organizational structure is known as a Squad, led by a Product Owner. They tend to sit together; work closely on the same projects, and typically include developers, testers, and business analysts.

A Tribe is made up of a collection of Squads which share space in a common area. For example, a company’s mobile software development Tribe contains separate Squads responsible for iOS, Android, and other mobile platforms. The Tribe Leader facilitates an environment where each Squad is able to collaborate and share findings with each other, but they aren’t necessarily working on the same projects.

Chapters and Guilds help develop the Individual and the Organization

Chapters are independent entities within the overall structure that group employees based on their actual job duties. Many shops will have a Developer Chapter, QA Chapter, Business Analyst Chapter, and so on. A Chapter Lead essentially serves as the direct manager for everyone in their chapter when it comes to salary reviews, skills development, etc.

Guilds are another, less formal, structure inside the organization that are similar to chapters in that they include employees from different tribes, but are instead focused on specific areas of interest, like web development, Agile coaching, etc. The Guild Coordinator serves as the leader. They support the technical growth of the organization by researching new ideas while sharing found insights, code examples, best practices, and more.

There is a separate operations team for handling network and server administration at Spotify, but enterprises already embracing DevOps can easily include employees in that role into relevant Squads and Tribes. In that scenario, creating Chapters and Guilds specifically for those workers also makes perfect sense.

A Constantly Evolving Structure

Spotify uses quarterly surveys and regular dependency reviews to ensure their organizational structure is successfully meeting the needs of the business. This helps to mitigate any clashes and redundancies between individual Tribes and Squads. Additionally, the scope of daily Scrums is able to expand by including more Squads if required on larger products.

Ultimately, these innovative managerial efforts by Spotify and other firms illustrate how embracing the Agile methodology — albeit combined with the organizational changes more typical of DevOps — lets enterprises reach new heights by fostering a highly efficient software development process.

Come back to the Betica Blog for additional insights from the world of software development.

Transform your Organization with the Inverse Conway Maneuver

As the process of software development continues to mature in the modern business world, the organizational structures of companies engaged in application design struggle to keep up. This is largely due to the tendency of these firms to produce software architectures matching their current structure, which can lead to outdated and lower quality products, especially in this era of Agile and DevOps. This behavior is known as “Conway’s Law,” named for the computer scientist, Melvin Conway who first made the observation in 1968.

Tech pundits recently formulated a technique known as the Inverse Conway Maneuver, which involves restructuring a business organization to more closely match a desired software architecture. In an ideal case, business and technical teams become better aligned and ultimately produce higher quality work. Let’s take a closer look at the Inverse Conway Maneuver to see if makes sense at your company.

A Closer Look at Conway’s Law

Way back in the nascent computer age of the 1960s, Melvin Conway noted that committees tended to build systems that matched their business structure. His basic thesis for Conway’s Law is straightforward and was first made in the article How Do Committees Invent published in 1968 in Datamation Magazine.

“Any organization that designs a system (defined more broadly here than just information systems) will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.”

Conway’s Law can be applied to a whole range of scenarios beyond software development as noted in the thesis. Its counterpoint, known as the Inverse Conway Maneuver, involves reengineering the structure of an organization based on a desired software design.

DevOps and the Inverse Conway Maneuver

In the modern development era, the DevOps methodology serves as a partial example of the Inverse Conway Maneuver with teams merging and evolving to reflect increased collaboration between the programming, QA, and network administration roles. Following a DevOps organizational structure is typically necessary for companies to be able to break down older, entrenched mindsets that won’t work at today’s speed of business.

Jason Bloomberg of Intellyx feels the rate of technology evolution in today’s business world is actually “reversing the Inverse Conway Maneuver.” Instead of companies making structural changes ahead of time in the hopes of reaching goals like DevOps or continuous deployment, the transformation is actually happening in the opposite direction.

“Technology change is driving changing customer preferences and behavior, which in turn are driving organizational change across increasingly software-driven enterprises. The causality question behind Conway’s Law, therefore, is less about how changing software organizations can lead to better software, but rather how companies can best leverage changing technology in order to transform their organizations,” says Bloomberg.

No matter what triggers this organizational transformation, there is no denying modern software businesses need to evolve to produce a better end-product lest they get left behind. The competition remains fierce. It is fascinating to note a “law” first formulated in the late 60s still holds so much weight in the software industry today.

Stay tuned to further installments from the Betica Blog as we dive deeper into the worlds of software development and QA.

Try EnterpriseDB for a Business Class PostgreSQL Implementation

We recently discussed PostgreSQL here at the Betica Blog, which offers enterprises an open source database option to Oracle with similar performance specs. While open source software provides significant cost savings compared to proprietary applications, some companies worry about relative the lack of support. This makes it difficult to consider it as an alternative.

But what if it was possible to combine the lower cost of the open source world with the support and other features typical of commercial software? If you are considering PostgreSQL as a database solution, checking out EnterpriseDB also makes perfect sense. This company’s service offerings make the leap into open source databases an easier proposition.

A Closer Look at EnterpriseDB

EnterpriseDB formed in 2004 with the purpose of building a commercial product on top of an open source database. They chose PostgreSQL based on its active developer community and an already existing array of commercial deployments. The company currently boasts thousands of customers, from giant firms like ABN AMRO Bank and Sony to a host of smaller and medium-sized businesses.

Enterprise DB Product Offerings

EnterpriseDB’s main product is EDB Postgres, which comes in Developer, Standard, and Enterprise editions. All three editions include a version of PostgreSQL as well as tools to handle replication, backup and recovery, migration, and monitoring. Companies looking for the superior performance of Postgres Advanced Server need to choose the EDB Postgres Enterprise.

The Enterprise edition also provides additional functionality not offered by the other two versions. This includes additional security and performance enhancements, as well as added features suitable for your developers and/or DBAs. Full compatibility with Oracle rounds out the feature set.

Fresh software updates in addition to security alerts and fixes are also part of each package. Companies preferring to forego investing in their own on-premises data center need to check out EnterpriseDB’s Cloud DBaaS option. Postgres Plus Cloud Database offers both cost savings and seamless scalability, leveraging the Amazon EC2 platform.

Commercial Support for an Open Source Database

One of the main selling points of EnterpriseDB, or any commercial offering built on top of an open source product, is its production level support. This is vital for firms with mission-critical, public facing database applications. EnterpriseDB offers premium production support for the Standard and Enterprise Editions and even includes a measure of non-production support for the Developer Edition.

The production quality support boasts a 24 x 7 service level with a response goal of one hour. Phone, email, and remote access options are all provided with an unlimited number of incidents. The company also provides a robust supply of web-accessible documentation, including PDF manuals, a knowledge base, and a software archive. 

Since PostgreSQL is known for its developer community; don’t forget using it as a source for technical advice or to get any pressing questions answered.

If your organization hopes to replace its commercial proprietary database and is considering an open source solution, EnterpriseDB with its added security, performance, and support offers the best of both worlds. It is a product worthy of your consideration.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for future dispatches from the world of software development and QA.