Critical Software at Agile Portugal 2018

June 28, 2018

Délio Almeida, Critical's Quality Director, recently delivered an interesting talk on Kanban at Portugal’s leading Agile conference.

Critical Software employee presentation at Agile Portugal 2018

Earlier this quarter, the leading Agile conference in Portugal opened its doors for the ninth year running.

The event, which was held in Porto and sponsored by Critical Software, brought the Agile community together to discuss and learn, encouraging the continual improvement of software practices.

Délio Almeida, our Quality Director, delivered an interesting talk on how we’ve used Kanban to improve our quality operations. In this article, we find out more about the event from Délio…

For those that are wondering, ‘Agile’ refers to a software development approach based on delivering requirements iteratively and incrementally throughout the project life cycle. As you might expect, the Agile Portugal conference is the perfect place to learn more about it.

This specialist conference brings together international keynote speakers, as well as national business leaders and practitioners. It’s great for both beginners and those experienced in Agile practices, methodologies and principles.

The event is organised by a non-profit association – AGILEDEVSOFT – and naturally has non-profit intentions. This means that ticket prices are affordable and are accessible to everyone. They usually range from €35 to €60 – very reasonable for this kind of event!

I recommend the conference to everyone who wants to understand what Agile software development entails. It’s also great for discovering more about the experience and practice of other industry players.

The conference is made up of talks and workshops spread over two days. Since the event draws an international audience, all talks and workshops are in English. Speakers come from all over the world to share their knowledge of a variety of aspects. These include Agile software development, transformational change, methodologies, how to practice Agile values and principles, as well as other related themes associated with Management 3.0 or Sociocracy.

Those attending can take advantage of the valuable opportunity to hear from business leaders who have adopted non-traditional Agile management and organisational methods. I find hearing about others’ experiences encourages me to challenge our ways of working and question the way organisations are typically structured.

For example, one thought-provoking talk I watched was from the VP of Product from GitLab, Job van der Voort, who discussed how they run and manage their company. They employ over 250 employees with no physical offices and no physical meetings, where everyone is working remotely and spread all over the world… yet they produce and deliver a successful product.

At the 2017 conference, I saw two more great talks that also discussed different ways of working: “A Workplace with No Managers”, by Pawel Brodzinski, and “Continuous Delivery Level 11”, by Nuno Marques.

My talk at this year’s conference focused on something similar: how we changed our quality operations through improving our working methods by employing ‘Kanban’.

Kanban is a visual system for managing work as it moves through a process. It was initially developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, to improve manufacturing efficiency. Now it is used as a technique for managing software development processes in a highly efficient way.

After a testing phase that lasted for nearly one-and-a-half years, we saw Kanban transform the way we operate, the way we prioritise work and the way we look at team performance. Now we are using Kanban, our global quality operations have seen enormous efficiency and productivity improvements.

Our teams are able to see all the activities going on and everyone knows their priorities. It’s easy to check team performance and we can see the size of the inflow and outflow of work, the size of the backlog, plus watch the cycle and lead times for the work types. On top of this extended capability, we continue to improve on previous targets every month too. This new approach is so well-liked by everyone that returning to the old way of doing things is simply out of the question!

Critical operates in a highly-regulated and specialised environment and from several different geographical locations. Since we’ve had such success with Kanban, and as the Agile Portugal conference is all about new ideas and better ways of doing things, I wanted to share our experience with the Agile community so that others could benefit too.