Tiko Schep Unravels Business Processes for Better Development Results
In today’s maker profile, we’re featuring Tiko Schep, Consultant at Magnus. Hear why he likes to focus on understanding the business problem and dissecting the relevant processes before digging into development.
1. What is your education and professional background? Did you have any experience in development prior to working in Mendix?
I received my bachelor’s degree in artificial intelligence from the University of Amsterdam, thinking it would be interesting to analyze and find ways to make computer programs intelligent. While I was in university, I also worked for a ticketing software company, running reports in SQL, which came in handy when I eventually moved to working in the Mendix platform.
After university, I realized that I was more interested in the process behind the program rather than in the technical components that make the process work. So I changed focus and decided to do a master’s in Human centered multimedia. Here, I learned about multimedia systems and how they interact with users. In my master thesis, I combined my two studies by optimizing the content delivered in a mobile app based on the user history.
After my studies, I started working at Magnus, who already had a rapid development practice with Mendix. At first, I worked on Android development projects, using my knowledge of Java from my studies. But I quickly moved to join the team of developers who worked in the Mendix platform.
2. How did you ramp up?
In my first Mendix project, I worked on an automotive repair POS application for Kwik Fit. The project was very large and slightly overwhelming at first. I started by looking at all of the entry points and Microflows to get a sense of how the program worked.
While there were senior members on the team, they were busy so it was up to me to dive into the application and figure it out. I quickly learned how the application functioned and ended up working on the project for half a year.
3. Can you describe one of the applications you created?
I created an application that encompasses the entire loan application process for a Scandinavian credit card company, including integration points that enable customer-facing interactions and back-end data processing. The application retrieves all information associated with the loan process; it pulls information from the client’s financial systems, partner systems, data warehouse and makes use of business rules configured in an external rules engine. The process automates approvals and routes back through the system.
Before building the application, though, my colleague and I spent a week with the business. I liked learning about their processes and how our application could support their needs. We held a three-day workshop, talking to the business (our end users) to get an idea of how major processes would work and how we could translate those processes into user stories and sprints.
As we dug into the development, a lot of items started to change. People who originally weren’t involved brought forward important requirements. We had to adjust our approach quickly to accommodate legal compliance, which was very easy to do in the Mendix platform. We spent a lot of time showing demonstrations and then making adjustments based on our end users’ reactions. With Mendix, we were able to easily communicate updates and accommodate changes. And this communication is what led us to our success on the project.
4. What advice do you have for other Mendix developers?
Make time to understand the processes behind what you’re trying to do. Start with the big picture and then cut into that picture to get a true understanding of the full scope and situation. Do this before starting any development. Once you understand the overall situation, you can define the first step, and the second step, etc. Be ready to learn. It might take a bit longer up front, but you’ll lead the way to more innovative results.
5. How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
Mendix takes the tedious work out of development so that I can focus on analyzing and designing processes and creating solutions that are useful for people.
6. How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
Mendix is good at reducing the gap, or finding common ground, between business groups and developers. If you don’t have a technical background, you can still learn how to work in the Mendix platform; you just need an eye for processes. But it’s still detailed enough for those with a strong development background.
7. What are you interested in/passionate about outside of work?
I’ve been playing basketball for twenty years. This past year, my team won the championship from our league. We’re not too serious, but we do train every week and have a match every weekend. I also like to spend time with friends.
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