Since the middle of 2021, our consultant Jochen has been working on a project at the government. What started out as an assignment to optimise certain web environments was quickly expanded to include analyses and technical support. Talk about the right person at the right time. Curious about what knowledge and skills our consultants can help you with? Read all about it in the following interview with Jochen Stals, our Senior Business Analyst.
Can you tell us a bit more about the project?
Jochen Stalls (Senior Business Analyst at Agile Architects): “We provide a web platform onto which governments can connect their sites. There are different ways to do that. Some choose to transfer their entire website, others choose to only transfer the parts that they need. It is my job to help facilitate those connections. My estimation is that some fifty local governments join every year.”
“I started working on the web platform and right now I am the core analyst. There’s a platform where different requests arrive and it’s my job to analyse them so the main goal there is to establish whether we provide a generic fits–all solution – which we prefer – or if we need to offer the client a custom solution.”
What does your job consists of mostly?
Jochen: “My time is divided roughly between analysing incoming requests and facilitating connections. It’s not an easy feat because a lot of time is spent negotiating and fine-tuning. Of course, I understand that change happens gradually, but what people should try and understand is that developers spend years and years on a product. It must be scalable and be a generic solution that can help multiple organisations instead of just one.”
“For example, sometimes we need to help clients understand why they used to be able to do things a certain way that isn’t the case anymore or why things aren’t as complex as they fear in the beginning. The most important thing though is explaining why some features are preferably must-have, and why some are nice-to-have. The Project Manager and I facilitate those kinds of questions and we prioritise bugs and feature requests according to the MOSCOW–principle.”
What is it like to work on this project?
Jochen: “Seriously: I love it. I work with different teams, I get to analyse both functionally and technically, which I enjoy thoroughly. I have a background in Drupal and since this is a Drupal environment, I’m really happy to be working at the core. I get to play the expert. The fact that the users and their experiences come first, is something I think is great.”
“On the other hand, the facilitating aspect of my job is really fun as well. I have given trainings and workshops so far which I like to do. Actually, I’ve done quite a lot of different things, come to think of it.”
Was that expected of you?
Jochen: “No, I don’t think so. The idea was of course that I’d be working as an expert in analysis, but they didn’t expect me to know more about Drupal, for instance. It’s just incredibly useful that I do. The functional and the technical parts are very different, but to me that’s the fun in it. It makes my job incredibly varied.”
“I have to say, it is a first for me to work in a multiteam where I sense true agile cooperation. It’s a scaled agile format that organically grew over the years. There are many teams and inevitably that means that there are dependencies when a team needs to wait on another to be able to move forward. That cascading system is top notch here.”
Do you feel like you’re given freedom and a level of trust?
Jochen: “Absolutely. I was free to choose to be the expert analyst in the core team and I love that. It gives me the feeling that I can be a kind of guard to guarantee certain functionalities. To make sure it doesn’t become a complex Rubik’s Cube that no one manages to work with. The fact that I could choose this path, means they have faith in me which I appreciate a lot.”
“Same goes for the teams at my project, incidentally. I am clearly not just some external guy to help them out, but they trust my expertise and offer me ways to grow and still learn there too. Of course, I’m not the only external party there. There are loads of others, from Cronos too, by the way, so it’s not as if I’m the odd one out. And I always have Frederik, another Agile Architect, who is the architect in the platform team. Nice to have a team member from Agile Architects with me!”
What does the future hold for you at this project?
Jochen: ““Right now, we’re dealing with a lot of loose analyses. I’m evolving into a new role within the core team to evaluate the analyses of other analysts to check core functionality and to establish a generic approach. I do that by consulting with the other analysts who receive raw requests from clients and together we look at possible solutions. Changes in the organigram occur quite often but it always happens gradually.”