The content of this article was updated on February 17, 2017, originally published September of 2015
At Mendix, we make it easier for our customers to drive digital innovation. And in our experience, successful digital enterprises start small and celebrate success. In addition to picking the right initial project, you also need to find the right people for your initial team to get your innovation initiatives off the ground.
In a previous post, I shared how enterprises can structure their Mendix team for optimal results. This post provides a high-level overview of the ideal size and scope of an experienced Mendix team for the average project, and how others have created them. In today’s post, I’ll focus on building your first Mendix team to tackle your first project. Use these tips to make sure that your team is set up for success.
Start with a small team of no more than three people
For your first project, it’s important to limit your dependencies and keep your team small, no more than three people. Ultimately, we’ve found that it’s easier for a few people to learn a lot in a short period of time, than for a large group to achieve the same results.
A small team ensures that you can deliver your new application quickly and avoids much of the miscommunication and delay associated with larger development teams. There is plenty of research promoting smaller teams as a means to encourage productivity and creativity. Amazon’s CEO Je Bezos has come up with a rule of thumb called the “two pizza rule”: Never have a meeting where two pizzas couldn’t t the entire group. Ultimately, the smaller the team, the more brainstorming and peer review, which drives the group to further improvement.
One pitfall to avoid is thinking you need a different team member for each project role. Each member can be responsible for multiple roles. Instead of a formal structure, team members take on work based on their areas of expertise. You don’t need a dedicated Scrum Master for your first project, as the lead developer can fill these roles on top of his or her existing development tasks.
Focus on the process and collaboration, not technology
In your initial project, you need to show results quickly and justify the continued use of a new approach (and platform). With this in mind, you need to find a balance between hands-on learning and speed to market. We recommend that you start by working with an experienced Mendix business engineer.
Most often, customers want to start by focusing on the new technology. But in reality, it’s best to start by focusing on how your team can collaborate effectively using an agile development approach. Learning the Mendix Platform is easy once you understand the foundation of how it works. And by observing an experienced Mendix developer in action, your team will learn how to effectively engage business stakeholders and deliver better solutions.
Work together onsite with the business
The most effective Mendix teams are onsite together, ideally located with the business, working through frequent iterations based on user feedback. Your development resources need daily access to business stakeholders so that they can discuss progress, review changes, and ensure everyone is on the same page. It’s all about enabling interaction and creativity to solve business challenges faster. Moreover, by keeping your team close together, you can keep the group excited and motivated to keep showing results.
Find people who want to solve business problems
In addition to keeping your team small, you also want to find team members who care about solving business problems (rather than people who prefer to build solutions based on detailed requirements).
Look for people who want to test their limits, have some technical acumen, but also understand business challenges. These people exist across your organization, not just within the IT department. A host of individuals are able to successfully make the transition, coming from business analyst, UX, front-end web design, and business intelligence backgrounds.
Mendix Developers come with all types of skill-sets
It is key to have developers who are able to collaborate closely with end users, bridging the gap between business needs and technical possibilities.
Tips for finding experienced Mendix developers:
To access our developer community, you can search the job board on our Developer Site, work with one of our partners, or work with Mendix’s expert services team. These individuals can work with you to build your first application.
For example, Springer Healthcare is working with Mendix partner, AuraQ, to build a new system. The development team consists of one AuraQ developer and one customer developer.
In the end, it’s the people who make your project successful. Selecting the right initial team is the cornerstone of success, not just for your first project but for your entire bimodal IT program.
What we’ve seen with customers is that the initial team members end up forming their Mendix Center of Excellence, providing the foundation to scale innovation throughout the entire enterprise.