Nederlands Loodswezen (Dutch Pilots) was the first customer for whom Schuberg Philis took responsibility for both their business critical infrastructure and software development. The maritime pilots navigate inbound and outbound ships on their most critical miles in coastal waters and sea ports.
Since the cooperation started in 2013 we have been on a real journey, starting with a transition and followed by an agile transformation to create the conditions for the current phase of innovation. It has been a process of ongoing learning, based on intense cooperation, clear governance and mutual trust. During that period information technology has grown into a strategic asset for Loodswezen.
When we started working for Loodswezen the main concern was to improve the availability of the applications that serve their primary processes. If these fail, as it frequently did back then, it directly impacts the operational processes in for instance mainport Rotterdam. So the first priority for us was to ensure 100% availability and predictability to the IT-landscape as well as
peace of mind for all users. This improvement freed up a lot of time, which was previously wasted on escalations and problem fixing.
The next major step forward had to come from software development. The existing code of the core application had become an operational risk due to a culmination of technical debt for ten years of modifications by numerous software developers. To help Loodswezen with their operations, the partnership team of Schuberg Philis and CGI designed a cloud native Software-as-a-Service.
CREATING A DEVOPS CULTURE
To make this happen and create the necessary speed, we had to start working together in an agile governance structure. In 2014, all partners integrated in one team, taking end-to-end responsibility for the Plan, Build and Run. Every two weeks we involved product owners, representing Dutch Pilots, to get clear priorities. Based on the operational and business goals, we
determined together the focus for the next sprint. Because of this constant feedback loop with the Product Owners, our work has become more rewarding and relevant. And the integrated way of working is much more fun than working in solitude. It took about three years until we all felt: “This is it! This is the new practice of doing IT.”
TEST DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT
The team members from Loodswezen fuel software development efforts by providing practical use- and test cases. By automating these use cases ‘push button’, it has become possible to develop and validate each feature in an iterative way. As a result, team velocity has gone up significantly. In addition, time is created which can be used to innovate Loodswezen and explore new opportunities in Dutch sea ports.
GOVERNANCE IS KEY
The key for the success at Loodswezen has been good governance. Much effort has been spent to create a way of aligning all people involved at a strategic, operational and tactical level. Bottom up innovation is a great way to speed up innovation. But without consent and understanding from the rest of the organization it will not work on a permanent and larger scale. Management and the board of Loodswezen enabled the DevOps-team to learn from failures and improve along the way: learning by doing.