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F.C. Barcelona and Agile Software Development: The Parallels

on June 20, 2011

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After the last Champions League there is no doubt anymore: Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world, perhaps even of all time. His demonstration of excellence in football is unparalleled. One of the cornerstones of his greatness is his recognition that the whole club of Barcelona is invaluable for his individual stardom: He knows it’s the organization that enables him to shine. Think about it, he was not (yet) able to make Argentina world champion. A team, which exists of individual stars. It’s not the number of stars that make the superstar excel. It is the strength of the club.

There is no team in the world that even comes close to Barcelona where collaboration is concerned. One of the reasons why: Because style, experience and skills have been embedded in the organization. With that the organization automates all basic skills to be in control of a soccer match: the ability to act as a group, control the pace, easily change the plan during the game, and learn as a group before, during and after the match. The parallel with software development is striking. The best developer in the world is unable to make the best software in the world if the software organization does not provide an environment that allows focusing on improvement, rewards collaboration and stimulates learning. So, like Messi is unable to show his brilliance when the other players don’t know how to support him, the best developers will not co-create a winning product if basic skills have not been automated.

And that is where platforms help. That is what Mendix contributes to software creation. Like years of training and playing together provided the Barcelona team the required structure and stability, The Mendix platform automates all the things you don’t want to be thinking of when you are developing. The things that always need to happen, that you just want to work. Like Barcelona reacts instantaneously to absorb individual errors in no time, Mendix automatically solves errors in your app or makes them extremely easy to solve. Like a new player is easily fit into Barcelona because the team provides the structure a new player needs, Mendix makes it easy to involve new business engineers and integrate new and improved components. And lastly, like the entire Barcelona organization has been able to gradually improve and make success repetitive, Mendix succeeds in improving its platform and steadily abstracts more and more complexity under the hood. Therewith continuously accelerating control and pace of the game (faster platform evolution), increasing quality of the play (the actual apps) and making customers shout for more (the business). Therewith allowing agility.

Mendix partner FraternIT leverages Mendix to deliver the same platform approach. The FraternIT Project Framework (FPF) supports project savvy organizations. How: by stabilizing the organizational common-denominator under projects. By automating integration between the project front-end and the ERP, HR backend. By making direct application of lessons learned possible. FPF provides insight into the project portfolio, allows project knowledge to spread, decreases dependency on individuals and increases reliability towards customers. Leveraging Mendix, FPF allows for fully tailored implementation within weeks and continuous evolution with your evolving business needs.

Now if only Lionel started using FPF to manage Argentina’s next mission, we bet they’ll win the next World Cup.

Bjorn de Visser (Mendix)
Frans Verschoor (FraternIT)

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