We speak to Egle Venclovaite, Product Manager at Nitro, about her talk at the Agile Lean Ireland conference and how she oversaw the implementation of Kanban to enable Nitro’s Engineering team to become a faster, better and stronger machine.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Egle?
I am currently a Product Manager for Nitro, and was previously involved in User Experience in Nitro. My passion is to build easy and straightforward products and services. Quite simply I love to make people’s lives more efficient, hence why Nitro is the perfect fit for me – I can do exactly that!
Tell me about Agile Lean Ireland Conference and how you got involved?
Agile Lean Ireland is a conference to help spread knowledge for Agile/Lean Coaches, Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Leaders and Developers. Mihai Todor, one of Nitro’s many Software Engineering gurus, mentioned that the conference organizers were looking for female speakers and suggested that I reach out to them. So I got in touch with them with my idea of what I wanted to talk about and the rest is history!
Egle speaking at the Agile Lean Ireland conference
What made you pick your topic?
As previously mentioned, I’m hugely passionate about making lives easier. Since joining the Product Management team at Nitro I noticed that there was some room for improvement with our engineering processes, so I was actively looking for and thinking of a more efficient way to work. I initiated the whole project myself, which I think had a positive impact as I had a fresh opinion on implementing a new working environment.
Why did you choose Kanban?
It just so happened that there was one team within the company who were already using this process. Kanban is a very visual method for managing knowledge work which balances demands for work with the available capacity for new work, giving you greater visibility into your priorities and allowing you to have better focus on your work. i.e. getting the important stuff done! After hearing lots of positive feedback from those users about Kanban’s endless benefits, it made it very hard for me to ignore. So we then made a decision to standardize the process throughout Nitro’s engineering organization.
I think this works exceptionally well, not only for our engineering team, but for everyone else within Nitro. For example, we would work very closely with our Customer Success, Support and Solutions Engineering teams, so by using our Kanban they too are able to have a clear and concise overview of what’s happening, when, how and what’s next in the pipeline. Essentially it means there’s always a continuous delivery of projects. There’s never nothing to be done!
Change Management is a bit of a buzzword nowadays. How would you describe your experience with the change you implemented?
Generally, people do not like change, we all tend to get stuck in our ways. There were quite a few challenges for me when implementing this new process to transform how we work. The stand out one for me being the initial resistance to change. Everyone’s used to working in their own certain way, simply because that’s second nature to them. People often have their own ideas on what should be prioritized and what is important to work on. I had to be very transparent to the team and explain to them what kind of benefits Kanban was going to give us and how it would eventually make all our lives so much easier. It was baby steps from the beginning. I went with the “let’s try it and if it doesn’t work we’ll change it” approach, as I think it’s important to be open minded in these sort of situations.
Another challenge I came across was having to implement a clean break in order to allow us to start using Kanban. For this clean break I had to gather all knowledge from from multiple stakeholders throughout the business (i.e.Sales, Customer Success, Solutions Engineering, Product etc.) who all had relevant, but different, information which was not centralized in one easy and accessible location. This proved the need for Kanban so we could have one single source of truth for us to work from.
Finally, to implement the change I scheduled a kick off meeting with the team, introduced the Kanban board to our engineers and explained how we were going to work going forward. From then on everyone had to learn to drop all the spreadsheets and drown out the noise. Even though a clean break was implemented to get this project off the ground, we made sure to continue getting feedback from the new users, iterating and experimenting.
Would you say your new process has enabled your team to work more efficiently?
Yes, without a doubt. Initially there’s always going to be pushback but once it’s implemented and working smoothly we can all recognize that our process is much more efficient. And the best part? no need for thousands of spreadsheets! It has essentially mitigated confusion and given us clearer priorities on our workflows. At the end of the day it all feeds back to one main thing – making our engineering process awesome!
Looking for different ways to improve your workflows? See how Nitro can enable your organisation to work smarter and be more productive by visiting our website.