GAC Business Solutions has seen tremendous growth in its innovation and product development after partnering with coMakeIT. This has even helped in the transition from traditional product development methodologies to incorporating Agile and Scrum. We spoke with Arjan Daniels, Team lead and Product Manager Wholesale at GAC Business Solutions to get deeper insights into how the partnership had been integral to crossing major milestones in the journey so far.
Q: Tell us about your partnership with coMakeIT in realizing your vision for developing products using latest technologies.
A: Our partnership with coMakeIT started ten years ago. Earlier, we had an experience with Eastern Europe in offshoring. Later, we got in contact with coMakeIT and visited the office in India. Our business model was also emerging well and it aligned with the solutions offered by coMakeIT, particularly the distributed team that constantly deliver added value.
coMakeIT brings in, among other things, expertise on Scrum, technical knowledge and HR services. We focus more on the domain and business side of our products and customer services. This combination gives us a strong market proposition.
GAC Business Solutions is a Microsoft partner. We groom the teams on the new Microsoft technologies. That way we can balance the delivery and innovation side of the products and services.
Q: How did you get the idea to expand your team with talent from India and how has it helped in the growth story of GAC?
A: Ten years ago, getting technical people was not easy in The Netherlands. We saw that India had technical talent in abundance and dynamic young developers were highly motivated to learn and work hard. Indian developers are service-oriented, willing to help and knowledgeable. They have a flexible and service-oriented mindset. So, we started to train them for our products. coMakeIT has a good HR department that has access to this talent. That connects perfectly to the GAC motto of "Growing Together".
The Dutch developers collaborated with the Indian team and mostly looked into customers services. coMakeIT has a perfectly balanced way that connects product development and customer service. That aspect helped in the consistent and autonomous growth of GAC Business Solutions.
Q: How did you make a transition to Agile and Scrum? What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
A: This year, we are celebrating our 10-year partnership with coMakeIT. This is a significant period in the growth of GAC and how implemented Agile and Scrum. Our journey with Scrum has gone through different phases of Agility and till reach the desired maturity level.
We faced many challenges during the transition. In the beginning, GAC Business Solutions had a team of two persons. During that period, we went through difficulties in doing projects. We had a project assignment in India and managing the work was intense, so, we needed a different methodology. Then, we implemented Scrum. Although it helped us, you could say that we just managed sub-optimizations. Then three years later, our team had approximately 20 people.
It’s only in the last few years that we saw all the levels in our organizations realised the need for Scrum and Agility. We can say that today we have reached a maturity level that comes close to full Scrum.
Let me explain how we went about it. We made a list of points that needed improvement. We saw that making the next step in scrum could solve a lot of these points. It was a big change and it was not always easy. But due to persistence and focus, we could do it. We had to make a bigger change to be well-organized.
We decided to make 3 Scrum teams work on a product or two. We needed 3 Scrum Masters and 3 Product Owners. It was not easy and there was a lot of change. Teams on both sides were uncertain, coMakeIT has always been a reliable partner and guided us in that process. It was a big change but we did it with good collaboration and teamwork in training as well.
During a team exercise at the beginning of this year, we checked a two-year-old list and we were delighted to see 90% of these points were solved; everybody was like ‘wow’ it was a really incredible moment. Everybody was surprised that we could improve so much and solve many problems! The new way of working was comfortable and we didn’t think of the problems we had anymore.
Scrum is also about continuous improvement. It doesn’t stop because we have reached a mature level of Scrum, we will continue to keep improving.
Q: How has the partnership with coMakeIT helped you in product innovation and reaching out to new markets?
A: So far, it has been a good collaborative effort in innovating the products. We are a Microsoft partner, following the innovation strength of Microsoft. We followed the SaaS strategy and with coMakeIT, we’ve been able to engage the right talent to build the team. Innovation, sometimes it is initiated by us, sometimes, it is initiated by coMakeIT.
Microsoft innovates at a fast pace and in many areas. Keeping pace with this is a challenge. To synchronize our efforts in updating the team we do regular updates like town hall meetings, knowledge sharing sessions and investigation tasks in sprints. That keeps us as much as possible up to date. Sometimes, we invite the experts from coMakeIT.
Q: Do you wish to say anything to our audience?
A: The collaboration with coMakeIT has been an incredible journey and the team has made work, a fun ride.