In November our colleague Alain Veuve published the article “6 things you need to know if you work with developers” on the German digital industry portal T3n.de.
At AOE we are acutely aware of these “things”, as we are regularly confronted by them. Our actively practiced Agile corporate culture, which include the respectful interaction with each other and the high esteem we have for our colleagues as well as the involvement of employees in company decisions, lay the foundation for this (self) understanding.
For example, Veuve questions the myth of the “16-hour developer” – in his words, “8 hours aren’t the same as 8 hours.” At AOE we have been living by this premise for years: Developing longer than eight hours can’t be productive. We therefore attach great importance to ensuring that no one works overtime.
The solutions we develop and implement for our clients are the result of team-oriented mental work and communications, which are also supported by our Agile processes as well as the design and facilities of our offices. Most AOE employees, for instance, work in open spaces, where they have the necessary quiet to work in a living room-like atmosphere – despite the large, open areas (e. g. through plants, structural separation elements and sound-reducing measures). To further increase efficiency, teams are located in areas dedicated to the respective project – communication is as fast and compact as possible. To take a break now and then we offer our employees the opportunity to play a round of pool, table tennis or -football. Thai massages are also very popular and actively used for relaxation.
All client projects are carried out using Agile processes, mostly Scrum. The Scrum teams work as entirely independent units, AOE management sees itself as a “servant leader” – and offers assistance when needed.
The Product Owner (PO) is responsible for communicating with the stakeholders and for qualifying the business requirements. He is in the midst of the development process and thus knows which challenges the dev team faces on a daily basis. This collaboration and the daily standups help the PO and the entire dev team to create, describe, plan and prioritize the user stories.
In the Scrum process the PO covers the dev team’s back, so that the developers aren’t distracted and have the best-possible conditions to concentrate on their work.
Scrum, with its iterative approach in two-week sprints (incl. reviews at the end of each sprint), and the continuous dialog with the client, removes much of the pressure on the dev team – pressure that is quite common in more traditional software development processes. At the same time this approach helps us to consistently ensure our high quality standards.
One of the many means of improvement at AOE is our Open Friday. We hold an Open Friday every six months, where the entire company discusses things such as the utilization of technology, new processes, office improvements, charitable causes or launches new communities of interest, to name but a few. Everyone can raise issues or present ideas. And each employee can decide, which topics he or she would like to become involved in. At the end of Open Friday everyone gathers at our Plaza and discusses the results.
Open Friday is just one example of the many ideas and concepts that are implemented at AOE in order to create the optimal working environment for our employees. Other elements of our Agile corporate culture include, among others, slack time, dev weeklies and meetups as well as user groups, where external industry professionals are also invited.
Every employee has an annual budget of 2,000 Euros for continuing education and training – to be used for personal development. Colleagues also benefit from this by continuous transfer of knowledge.
Needless to say, we also have Club-Mate – only one of many collaborative decisions of the entire company based on an Open Friday suggestion!