“Agile is the kind of game that suits our clients and us”

Mark ThijssenMark Thijssen on an Agile development path accompanied by certifications

Pink Elephant is a consultancy firm operating on the intersection of business and IT. One team of 14 Business Process consultants have engaged in an intensive Agile development program consisting of training, certification exams and a pilot project combined with coaching. Agile Consortium loves this kind of dynamic approach to implement Agile in an organization so we arranged a meeting with Mark Thijssen, manager of the team.

Mark explains how he became infected with the Agile virus: “Before I started as manager of the team, I worked at Pink Elephant as a project manager for a client in the insurance industry. We applied some Agile principles in the design and development of a portal for insurance damage experts. And that caused an almost automatic reflex to put the business requirements first. From that moment on I realized that this way of working is the kind of game that suits clients like the insurance company but also us, Pink Elephant as a company.”

In the early spring of 2013 someone within the Pink Elephant organization initiated an Agile development program. Mark was one of the first to join with his team of 14 Business Process Management consultants. Now they are all certified on the Agile Foundation level. Seven consultants additionally did an exam to become Professional Scrum Master. And the story continues as several consultants submitted a synopsis for the Agile Practitioner exam.

Mark explains how Agile principles guide the development of the individual consultants. “We took the ‘Snowman’ (an overview of roles in an Agile project) and plotted the individual ambitions on it. Some felt comfortable with roles as tester or developer, others in roles as scrum master or business analyst. After that, everyone was able to take care of their own development path within the shared goal of the team; to offer clients a complete Agile way of working and all the benefits it entails. ”

The BPMS consultants are using Mendix as process modelling tool. As a partner of Pink Elephant, Mendix is also enthusiastic about the Agile development path of its BPMS consultants. “It is clearly an added plus to the quality we deliver with their tool.” Also clients are willing to step forward and talk about the solution and the Agile development process to inform prospects.

“An Agile development process is rather straightforward. For example; there are 60 days of work in the box, and the client knows what he wants. The team and the client define sprints of 10 days, make choices together and after 60 days all the must have are in operation. The role of the business sponsor is crucial in this process. He or she must be able to trust the team and have confidence in the outcome.”

Interaction model
“And there interaction between the team and the business sponsor comes into play. Our BPMS team knows how the Agile techniques work so it’s fairly easy to take employees of the client side along in this way of working. This contributes to the velocity of the team and its predictability. The team gets enthusiastic and energy levels go up. The business sponsor regularly puts his head around the corner of the room and sees the Post Its on the Scrum wall moving faster and faster from the left to the right. Everyone gets in a positive flow and by the end of the project people are interacting like friends instead of colleagues. Agile truly is an interaction model. It builds new connections. “

Pink Agile Framework
The team of consultants managed by Mark Thijssen occupies a leading position within Pink Elephant on the Agile development path. As they continue their journey, other business units walk their own Agile paths during 2014. The goal is to develop one signature way of project management: the Pink Agile Framework. And thanks to the certification program of Agile Consortium, consultants provide the evidence in the market that they can meet the standards that are set by such a framework.

Note: Recently, the company Nobel rebranded itself to the much smaller and earlier acquired company Pink Elephant. The name and brand change is effective from 2 February 2014.  

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