How flawed motivations can derail Agile transformations flawed motivations can derail Agile transformations<p>​​​​​​​​​​Agile transformation has become a buzzword in the business world. Companies are eager to jump on the bandwagon and adopt Agile methodologies. The belief is that Agile transformation will increase productivity, efficiency, and speed, simplifying everything and making it faster. While this can be the case when done right, if the sole motivation for Agile transformation is focused on these outcomes and the company has a delusional idea about how difficult it will be to achieve them, things will go south. It's always a lot bumpier than anticipated.</p><p>​This post is part of a series about the most common Agile transformation pains, as I've witnessed them in the organizations around me. This series focuses on the top-down hindrances.</p><h3>Speed, efficiency, transparency</h3><p>What's incorrect about the motivation mentioned above? Don't efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, flexibility, and speed embody the characteristics that the Agile culture promises?</p><p>​In my view, the reason it falls short is that it lacks a crucial and integral aspect of Agile methodology, which is the concept of failing fast and promptly identifying and showcasing obstacles and challenges impeding progress. A true willingness to find problems sooner and improve collaboration must also be an integral and true part of the motivation.</p><p>The misconception I mentioned is problematic because it creates unrealistic expectations for what agile can achieve. Agile is not a quick fix for organizational problems. It's rather a fundamental shift in the way a company operates. It is a way of working that requires collaboration and a willingness to adapt. Everyone, including the senior management, must be willing to collaborate with teams to improve the environment for Agile work. The whole motivation stems from the belief that problems are caused by the disorganization of teams and wrong organizational structures.</p><h3>Transformation project - its end is just the beginning</h3><p>Regrettably, Agile transformation is often viewed by management teams as a silver bullet solution to a company's organizational issues. They mistakenly perceive it as a short, one-time investment that will provide immediate and long-lasting benefits. This misconception can lead to an overly simplified approach to Agile transformation, which does not consider the ongoing effort required to sustain it. Agile transformation requires continuous effort and commitment from both management and the teams involved.</p><p>​Many managers mistakenly believe that adopting Agile is as simple as calling it a transformation project, allocating a budget, giving the project a fancy name, hiring consultants, and conducting a bunch of trainings. They think that these actions alone will suffice to achieve the transformation and their job is done. People just pat themselves on the back for renaming project managers as scrum masters and officially closing the transformation project. And then they sit back while the teams self-organize and Scrum Masters magically remove all obstacles. But that's not how it works.</p><p>Organizations often face structural and systematic problems that impede their agility. Every company has some - just their depth varies. These issues can manifest in various ways, including overly complicated organizational and decision-making hierarchies, dependence on inflexible technologies, convoluted deployment procedures, and rigid approval processes, just to name a few typical ones.</p><p>For example, a company that releases software updates twice a year with numerous dependencies, code freezes, centralized testing, and lengthy development-testing-acceptance loops will likely encounter significant obstacles when adopting Agile methodologies. The legacy processes and technology stack may be quite incompatible with Agile workflows, making it a challenge to achieve the desired level of flexibility and speed.These inherent problems won't magically vanish during an Agile transformation - they'll just become painfully obvious and urgent. The good news is that teams will finally feel comfortable talking about them and trying to tackle them head-on. Problems will be found everywhere.</p><h3>​Beware of creating a Potemkin village</h3><p>The flipside is that if this is not expected to happen, the whole transformation won't work. One must be willing to hear the bad news and be ready to make proactive decisions.</p><p>After years of simply accepting the problems, teams will suddenly start shouting from the rooftops about these issues, and senior management needs to step up and work with them to make the workplace more agile-friendly. If they don't, teams will remain stuck in a rigid environment. Everyone will just call himself with a new title, such as product owner or Agile coach. This reorganization is likely to be seen as another waste of money and a failure, with many concluding that Agile doesn't work. A Potemkin village.</p><p>All levels of an organization need to be ready to face these challenges and work together to find solutions. A decision to adopt Agile is just the first step. Even the managers must be ready to roll up their sleeves and get involved in identifying and solving problems that arise during the transformation. It's a team effort, and everyone needs to play an active role. The more complex the business structure is, the longer the whole transformation will likely take. This is an ongoing process that is unlikely to ever come to a complete end. But the deciding factor is if there's actually a will to start and keep undergoing an uncomfortable change.</p><p>One surprising fact about Agile transformation is that it might lead to more bureaucracy if not implemented correctly. For example, suppose a company adopts Agile without addressing underlying issues such as convoluted decision-making processes or rigid approval procedures. In that case, it may inadvertently create more bureaucracy by adding more layers to the process. This is because Agile requires constant communication and collaboration, and if these processes are not streamlined, it can result in even more delays and inefficiencies.</p><h3>​​True motivation: A sense of security</h3><p>In my experience, failed attempts at agile transformation often stem from a common underlying issue: a lack of trust. This can manifest in various ways, such as a tendency to monitor and control teams closely. After one such transformation I've seen teams being required to share their sprint commitments, burn-down charts, and velocities, and then having to explain themselves when they don't meet those metrics. This happened at the senior management level.</p><p>Such reporting activity created a false sense of security by prioritizing the appearance of stunning charts and numbers on paper rather than the actual value of the work being done. The focus was on keeping commitments rather than questioning the sense of those commitments and the overall plans. Needless to say, what was missing was a critical examination of the actual business value of the effort invested and the value of the things developed. So it was quite obvious what the true initial motivation for Agile adoption had been.</p><h3>Do you really want to go Agile?</h3><p>​In conclusion, Agile transformation can be a powerful tool for organizations looking to improve their productivity, efficiency, and speed. However, it is essential to approach it with realistic expectations and a willingness to address underlying structural and cultural issues. Agile transformation is not a quick fix or a one-time investment but requires continuous effort and commitment from all levels of the organization. Managers must be ready to roll up their sleeves and work with their teams to identify and solve problems that arise during the transformation.</p><p>​​Furthermore, it is crucial to approach the transformation focusing on business value and not just metrics and appearance. So, before embarking on the journey of Agile transformation, think twice and ensure you are willing to fully commit to the process. Going Agile is about being able to react more fluidly to changing business circumstances, isn't it? If there's little willingness to address the underlying issues that hinder progress, what's the point of identifying them in the first place? That by definition hinders the fluidity from happening.</p><p>If fundamentally changing an organization, including its core cultural, technical, and process aspects for the better, isn't the honest motivation, then maybe it will be more comfortable to maintain the status quo and save the embarrassment that an attempt to perform an Agile transition would inevitably bring.​​<br></p><br>



SAZKAmobil<p>​​​<a href="">​​SAZKAmobil​</a> is the second largest virtual operator in the Czech Republic and even though it has been operating only since 2014, it already has over two hundred thousand clients and counting. Cleverlance supplies complete systems for customer care and billing to SAZKAmobil. This include the mobile app for clients (Mobile Selfcare).<br></p><h2>Selfcare<br></h2><p>The SAZKAmobil application provides its clients with an easy-to-navigate overview of all important information about their account. The client can easily see their credit balance as well as learn about new offers and advantageous bundles of services. Thanks to the system of widgets, they can configure which information is the most important for them. Of course, they can top up their credit or pay their bill directly through the application and it also includes other functions, such as a child lock. <strong>Customization and the effort to meet the wishes of the clients constitutes an important part of the development and design of the app.</strong><br></p><p><strong><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/sazkamobil.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" /><br></strong></p><h2>Feedback</h2><p>​If a client decides to rate the app and leave a comment on its functionality, the message is immediately forwarded to our team of experts. They then not only directly contact the client, but most importantly start to actively try to resolve the issue and remove any defects and design imperfections mentioned by the client. Smooth and efficient provision of feedback from the clients is also reflected in other functions of the app, such as measuring the signal strength and internet speed. This information is then sent directly to SAZKAmobil to avoid having to waste time taking screenshots. Removing barriers between the users and the development team is one of the main reasons why this app has the highest rating among clients of mobile operators.​<br></p>



Apps for Operating Cars and their Testing for Operating Cars and their Testing<p>​​​Modern cars are equipped with more and more functions, and these can also be controlled using a smartphone app. This digital connection is often useful, but has been known to also occasionally run on users’ nerves.​</p><p>Recently, new functions for MyŠkoda were primarily associated with electric mobility; developers were secretly working on the implementation of functions that were primarily related to charging the Enyaq iV electric car basically all of last year. “Although the app is simple from a user’s perspective, the hidden side of it is actually very complicated. It’s not just about the app itself, i.e., the user interface, but the whole ecosystem,” explained Milan Mitošinka, the head of mobile development in the Prague-based company.<br></p><p>“You need to deal with connectivity, servers, databases on the servers, integration, encryption and so forth,” he added; it’s a long road before the first car reaches the customer, and on that road all the functions that must be available to users need to be meticulously tested. “In this case, the aim is to implement the essential functions, while non-essential ones can be added later,” noted Mitošinka in the context of priorities.<br></p><p>And he said that it’s actually the test application that was a very demanding matter. “Our task is to simulate all possible situations that could occur in practice, even if they are highly unlikely or unintended,” he continued.<br></p><p>Testing needs to really consider everything, including the app’s pairing with the given vehicle (which can be done with several possible procedures, depending on the type of vehicle and its equipment), the sending of basic information such as the kilometer counter or whether the car is locked or not, as well as testing active functions which allow, e.g., users to control the charging or air conditioning of their Enyaq iV or to activate its lights and horn. “Basically it’s about meticulously processing data; we compare what the car does with what the app shows,” said Viktoria, a tester whose main task consists of debugging and testing.<br></p><p>Testing can take place in several ways, but in practice it often includes “juggling” a large number of mobile phones and cars. “Of course, we have multiple vehicles at our company where we can directly test the functionality. But if needed, we can have a specific car with concrete functions delivered from Mladá Boleslav. And, we can also simulate some of the functions,” explained Viktoria. Testing covers diverse configurations of cars, equipment sets as well as on-board systems, which could each have different functions and support diverse means of communication.<br></p><p>Most functions are tested statically, but many also need to be tested while driving. And when one needs to find a root cause for a problem in such a situation, it can be a really big headache. “While working, the girls look like traveling hackers,” said a laughing Mitošinka, describing how the two Cleverlance testers search for bugs on the road. “One drives, the other has a laptop on her lap and operates several smartphones,” he said.<br></p><p>And we really need a lot of phones. “We try to test various versions of the system, we test the app on phones with different screen sizes and in the case of Android we also try to cover the diverse user interfaces offered by individual manufacturers,” said Viktoria, who clarified that they use dozens of phones during their work. And it is precisely in the phone where users could encounter the first problem: communication with some older types of vehicles is done exclusively by cable and the MirrorLink interface, however far from all Android phones support that. If theirs doesn’t, the user is out of luck. “We’re searching for other solutions, but for now this is the only way to go,” explained Mitošinka.<br></p><p>Another issue could lie in the communication between the vehicle and the car manufacturer. That’s because it is necessary to ensure that the apps can also deal with short-term communication outages caused by signal loss or planned infrastructure maintenance. “When receiving our company Enyaq, this in fact gave us quite a scare,” explained Viktoria. Switching from the so-called anonymous mode, in which the car doesn’t send some data based on the driver’s instruction, was not reflected in the app. “Both I and my colleague were worried that there’s a bug in the app. But it was in fact just caused by a minor connection error – the command simply did not reach the app from the car, and repeating the process after a while resolved the issue,” explained the tester.<br></p><p>It is her job to make sure that, aside from such technical outages, the app really works the way it should. “On the internet there are dozens of jokes about how programmers perceive testers, but at our company we’re a really good and friendly team. Our programmers know that it’s our job to search for problems, and we try to make it as easy as possible to fix these by examining and describing the situation in as much detail as possible,” said Viktoria. The set of mandatory test is then rerun for each new version of the app that is ready for release.<br></p><p>You might be wondering – where do bugs occur most often? “The most common cause of problems is that we’re dealing with a situation that the app did not consider before. At that point the app receives some data that it doesn’t know what to do with,” described Viktoria, adding that these cases are usually fairly easy to fix. The number of really “difficult” problems is rather low. “When testing we of course also need to test that the app does what it should, but also that it doesn’t do anything it shouldn’t”, she added.<br></p><p>That’s why, aside from the development version of the app where some security measures can be circumvented for instance due to simulation (testing that the kilometer counter values are being sent correctly is easier to simulate than to find cars with different values), the production version of the app that users get also undergoes testing. That one has all the security measures, for instance making sure that nobody can interfere with the communication between the car and the app in a way which would cause further problems.​<br></p><p>“Our goal is thus to get a completely problem-free app, one which would ideally do what it should in all possible situations. It’s a difficult task, but I believe that with our latest versions we’re really close to that goal,” said Viktoria, concluding our look under the hood.<br></p><p>Source: <a href="">iDnes​</a><br></p>



How can VR training work in a bank? can VR training work in a bank?<p>​​​​Virtual reality is predominantly associated with the gaming industry, but nowadays interesting VR projects can be found even in t​he business segment. Following this trend can be worthwhile for several reasons. In addition to the substantial marketing potential, innovations in this area might save money, make processes more efficient and add a whole new dimension to how tasks, projects and the company as such is perceived.<span style="color:#696158;font-size:14px;">​</span></p><div><p>We experienced this first hand in Česká spořitelna, a bank from the Erste Group​ – after a virtual branch, their “tribe Assisted channels” decided to use this 3D model in action and asked us at Cleverlance to help create training for operating the cash registers in VR. This is a historically first virtual reality training in the Česká spořitelna.​<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/VR_CS.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />What are the advantages of this new method? The training combines gaming elements (just like Johann Amos Comenius used to say: Learning through play) and the immersion principle, when the students can fully immerse into the subject, it feels like they are trying it out themselves, even though it’s just in virtual reality. Trainers at Česká spořitelna chose this new training format for sections of the course that are historically the most challenging for the students, are hard to explain on a piece of paper, and where passive observing (e.g., on a video) is not enough to automate the process. This part is very important, though. Operating the cash register in a bank is subject to strict ČNB regulations, which is why individual training modules also have higher requirements. Students can for example practice deposits, withdrawals, checking notes, closing or balancing the cash register. The fact that the training takes place in an environment that is identical to the actual environment of Česká spořitelna helps to ingrain individual processes and reduces the error rate of cashiers in real work situations.</p><p>Česká spořitena uses the app within courses taught by a lecturer, when the students can experience most of the tasks first hand using VR and then repeat these processes until they become ingrained. This can also be done for less frequent scenarios using the “tutorial” module.  The testing module then verifies how much the student has learned – the test meets the parameters required by the internal regulations of Česká spořitelna and ČNB. Another great benefit is the remote training function which is planned to be added in the future. Thanks to this, students won’t need to travel to the headquarters in Prague or Brno; all they will need is a pair of VR glasses with updated software. This saves not only money but also time. Lecturers become guides that help students understand the subject and provide a professional framework for the training, but they don’t need to be present during each routine trial, which bring additional significant savings.<br></p><p>The first training sessions took place in June 2020. The interest among ČSAS employee was enormous and the training sessions were booked out almost immediately. And the program is still continuously being developed.<br></p></div>



How we did a bank we did a bank<p>​​​​​​​​You need to choose your thugs, buy ski masks, some guns, have a meeting and then you’re good to go. When you’re smart, there doesn’t even have to be any blood and you can have a feeling of a job well done (while contemplating behind bars).<br></p><p>At least, that’s one way to do it.</p><p>We at Cleverlance had a slightly different approach to “doing a bank”. We helped build it up and became a part of its transformation from a savings bank to Creditas Bank – we are creating a substantial part of its new IT. And since we always look at the bigger picture (we are “doing a bank”, after all ☺) and the benefits to the client’s business rather than just “delivering a system”, we are better attuned to the needs and priorities of the client. Our delivery speed is much higher than that of other big players on the Czech banking market. This is partially due to the simplicity (structure of the bank, IT as well as services and products for the client), but mostly thanks to the unique IT product that we use.​<br></p><p>I work as a project manager at Cleverlance and in this article I will show you a few situations to illustrate what such a cooperation looks like.<br></p><h2>Scope of the solution​<br></h2><p>We are glad that our company provides a variety of services for Creditas – from the initial scope of the project (Internet Banking and Mobile Banking), the project grew to include also the development of the branch application. Along with the app, our colleagues also prepared a public web on the Liferay platform available at <strong></strong> and we’re providing services in the field of infrastructure, safety and digital signage.<br></p><p>Did you know that you can log into our online banking and confirm transactions also on your phone by receiving so-called push notifications to the mobile app? This means no more annoying re-typing of an SMS code from your phone to access online banking.<br></p><p style="text-align:center;"><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/creditas1.png" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" /><em>Another handy feature – you can log into the app using your fingerprint. And, in your phone you can also confirm a transaction created by your accountant and awaiting your approval. Isn't that great?</em><br></p><p style="text-align:center;"><em><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/creditas2.png" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />Everyone can make a website. This one, though, has pretty calculators and is fully responsive (i.e., it adjusts to your devices, be it a mobile phone or a large 4k screen).</em></p><h2>Cleverlance Multicha​nnel<br></h2><p>Probably the most impressive and technologically interesting feature is Cleverlance Multichannel – a system providing functionalities for users in individual linked applications, which allows the sharing of a business logic and interconnects customer care with various sales channels. Our project is unique in that it is developed using visual modelling. 95% of work on the development is not classic programming but rather consists of the definition of objects and actions in a graphical tool, where a model of the app's logic resembling a flow chart is created. Thanks to this method the development is fast and independent of ever-changing front-end technologies (for example, the modeller has never heard of the React library used to display the app to the user, and still they are capable of creating a complete solution).<br></p><p>If you liked playing with models (of anything, really) as a kid, you’d feel right at home in this project. The biggest team is the modeling team, who come to work to “play” with their models. They probably wouldn’t call it that after a long, hard day at work, but what really is modelling other than playing? In this specific project, they work on the above-mentioned visual model of the application: you can imagine a flow chart that graphically depicts individual actions in the app and the forms that the user sees.<br></p><p style="text-align:center;"><em><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/creditas3.png" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />Example of a model for making withdrawals at a branch office</em><br></p><p>You might have guesses that Cleverlance Multichannel offers a wide range of functions and supports the interconnection and orchestration of back-end and front-end systems. It is also highly flexible in terms of future development, which is appreciated by our clients. The picture below illustrates what it is made of and what online channels we provided to Creditas.<br></p><p style="text-align:center;"><em><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/creditas4.png" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />Cleverlance Multichannel – diagram of individual solution layers</em></p><h2>Project team</h2><p>As I already mentioned earlier, the core of the delivery lies in the customization of the Cleverlance Multichannel product, which we are developing with our team working predominantly from an office in the European Business Center (EBC) in Prague. A part of the team is shown in the picture below, other colleagues are in Brno and Bratislava.<br></p><p style="text-align:center;"><em><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/creditas5.jpeg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />This is us – some of us, anyway.​</em></p><p>In addition to modellers, the project also includes other typical roles – analysts, architects, testers... I, as the project manager, am in charge of making sure everything works as a whole. There’s always work to be done and we are continuously looking for new colleagues. If you’re interested, contact us at<br></p><h2>Comments on the project</h2><p><strong>Kamil Rataj</strong>, CIO Creditas and project sponsor: “Cleverlance became a key supplier and co-creator of the bank’s IT transformation. Even though we decided to implement the systems on 31 December late at night when most people are celebrating the New Year, we assembled an implementation team that made sure everything went through without complications.”<br></p><p><strong>Ondřej Brom</strong>, ​executive director for banking v Cleverlace said (with a smile): “On one hand we feel the high expectations of our clients and sure, it is a lot of work, but on the other hand, it’s a great feeling to see things work as they should.”<br></p><p><strong>Jakub D</strong>., Cleverlance, architect: “Creditas is a unique opportunity for me to design and implement the distribution channels of a bank from scratch with only a minimum number of compromises in the architecture. I believe that further development of Cleverlance Multichannel with also benefit Creditas as a bank thanks to the innovative and efficient information system.”<br></p><p><strong>Jakub Ď</strong>. (not to be confused with Jakub D.), Cleverlance, analyst: “The cooperation with Creditas on the project is interesting and new in that we are creating a large portion of the IT environment while defining processes and procedures in the bank itself. This opens up a lot of space for creativity in many different areas.”​<br></p><p><strong>Jan M.</strong>, Cleverlance, modeller: “A huge responsibility for a secure and functional application that is trusted by thousands of people.”​<br></p>