How our Rock Star program helped our client develop learning and growth capability for in-house Agile teams
Our client is a chemical information company that electronically ingests chemistry-related information worldwide, including scientific journals and major global patent offices. As a big data organization, they needed the ability to rapidly test their process from ingestion of chemistry data through curation, enrichment, packaging and delivery to their clients. In short, they needed to automate the testing of the process.
The company had sourced six local contracting firms and had 11 embedded contract automation resources to complete this work. Despite the large number of resources, the team couldn’t maintain or scale their work quality. It violated behavior-driven development principles, failed to follow sound engineering practices and frequently produced flakey tests. In the end, the business couldn’t read the tests nor enforce the code standards.
Complicating matters, our client needed to scale up a dedicated automation team to support a large Agile program that had more than 50 development resources split into eight teams. However, both the teams’ capacity and the project budget were limited. They required a way to perform their work more quickly with their available resources at a higher level of quality.
Enter Centric: Our Rock Star Program Enhances the Capabilities of Our Client’s Automation Resources
We introduced our client to our Rock Star program. It takes straight-from-college new hires. Ideally, with a CIS-type degree and several programming classes under their belts, we train them on the fundamentals and practical application of test automation, using a combination of lecture-style and hands-on training with client-specific examples.
After hiring and training, we deploy our Rock Stars on the client site. To maximize initial effectiveness, we only include the skills needed for the client-specific situation in our training. Our tiered approach to bill rate and training dependency allows our clients to achieve value beyond costs while minimizing risks.
In our Rock Star program, we follow the well-documented premise of the Ringelmann effect, which demonstrates that the productivity and efficacy of a group decline once a team is bigger than six people. Our maximum pod size for Rock Star teams is 1 architect to 4 Rock Stars, providing the best combination of on-the-job experience and manageable team size. We maintain the number of Rock Stars at an even number so members can pair with each other – an important part of training and development.
The long-term benefit is the client maintains full control of the engagement. This is important because our clients are often embarking on strategic automation initiatives for the first time. If the effort is not achieving the desired value, the client can end it without orphaning newly hired individuals. Additionally, the client can see how well a potential Rock Star is performing and integrating culturally before committing to hiring them full time.
Our client agreed to pursue our Rock Star approach to improve their test automation processes. Through our engagement, the four Rock Stars completed an intensive two-week, hands-on training class to learn engineering and automation practices, such as:
- Architectural design patterns
- Static code analysis
- Best practices for designing automated tests.
After three months, our Rock Stars were as productive as the other 11 existing contract resources, enabling them to deliver measurable results for our client.
The Results: 900 Percent Better Productivity, 40 Percent Cost Savings
Six months after they started, our four Rock Stars were outproducing the other resources by an average of 900 percent, taking the number of tests they write from about 40 to more than 1,500 in just eight months, with zero flaky tests.
In addition, the client realized a savings of about 40 percent through the first six months compared to the cost of hiring contractors from the market. In terms of quality, the Rock Stars improved test quality, readability, maintainability and scalability.
Rock Star is just one of the innovative programs we offer our clients. We also offer FastForge, a full Infrastructure as Code, DevOps platform for modern software solutions that allows your delivery teams to become productive in minutes. We also help with experiential learning and collaboration through our Phoenix Project Workshop: an interactive, one-day workshop based on the book “The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win.”
It requires business and technology teams to work together to deploy a fictional IT-enabled business digital transformation project. Programs like these help you automate your software development and delivery pipeline as you build a DevOps culture within your company.
Our Latest Insights
Trending Business and Technology Topics