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How the DevOps team at SAP Fieldglass created shared project accountability.

Industry
Vendor management and procurement technology
Founded
1999
Website
fieldglass.com

As part of the SAP Cloud Business Group, Fieldglass is a longstanding leader in external talent management and services procurement. It's used by organizations around the world to find, engage and manage all types of flexible resources.

In early 2018, the Fieldglass DevOps team began analyzing their software delivery and project management processes with a goal to break down silos and scale tech operations. This began a migration away from individual management between development, security, operations, and QA.

Changing how an organization works is a daunting task at any scale. Adoption has been made easier by simplifying the tools and processes with the lens of lean systems thinking. Ryan Uttech, Automation Engineer

The beginnings of a modernized tech stack and way of working

A major catalyst of change for the DevOps team was replacing the Atlassian toolset as part of Project Everest. The team wanted to introduce a more innovative way of working that supported stronger automation. The first change was onboarding GitHub to manage their code, followed shortly after by Slack and ZenHub.

GitHub, ZenHub, and Slack have created the perfect bundle for the team at a toolset and automation level. But the team didn't stop there! They wanted to create a mindset shift for how they shared learnings and collaborated.

As developers and engineers we need lightweight, minimalistic toolsets to manage our workflows. ZenHub, GitHub and Slack are a powerful solution that direct our focus towards building what we need. We now spend the right amount of effort managing and auditing our process, communicating across One Team and automating our workflows through GitOps and ChatOps. Gary Mack Jr., Development Architect

Working towards common goals through a new Community of Practice

With modern tools to support their day-to-day, they began creating a shared value system. Drawing inspiration from systems thinking and Lean foundations, the team reshaped what it meant to have shared ownership over shipping software. As a result, the SAP No-Ops Community of Practice (CoP) was born. The No-Ops CoP now aids the team to rapidly break down silos. Their mission is to establish common ownership where everyone works towards common goals.

By empowering everyone in the team to join the conversation, the SAP No-Ops CoP has inspired a supportive and self-organizing learning culture. Conversations at the contributor level have shifted from, "here's what you're mandated to do” to “here's a shared understanding of where we are going".

Engineers want to build things, but instead of focusing just on what we’re building, we're investing in the team, helping everyone understand why and how to think strategically. Everyone is becoming empowered to own customer experience and impact. - Michael Basil, Enterprise Systems Engineer
SAP Fieldglass Summit, 2018
SAP Fieldglass Summit, 2018
Collaborative space within the SAP Fieldglass office
Collaborative space within the SAP Fieldglass office

A focus on continuous improvement and keeping the team motivated

Kaizen, the concept of continuous improvement, is a focus of the CoP. To help with adoption, the CoP borrows from martial arts to gamify learning. As individuals learn new concepts they receive colored belt accomplishment levels. This has created an accessible, layered approach to learning, making it sustainable to shape a new way of working together.

Michael recalls the team’s turning point, "one of the interesting takeaways for us was that we had to shift from a top-down engagement style to empowering engineers day-to-day to participate in the decision-making process." For Michael and the team, ZenHub has been pivotal in this transformation, creating shared ownership over project delivery.

The DevOps team in Fieldglass has not only modernized their development process, but they’ve changed the way they arrive at a decision. Thanks to their new shared culture of decision making, use of GitHub and ZenHub, and a shared goal, they understand what they’re going to go build, together.

Instead of doing dry training, we’re introducing materials in several ways that people understand. It's directly tied back to how it impacts their day-to-day. We create a commitment to taking the time and rigour to approach everything as a team. - Michael Basil, Enterprise Systems Engineer
I think it's really empowering at an engineering and management level, frankly—to just think completely differently on how to execute on a project. - Daniel Dycus, Director of Cloud Native Compute

Their Favorite Features

Boards

Plan and structure work in a way that’s best for you. Turn GitHub Issues intro Epics, add user stories, then get sprinting with Milestones.

Reporting

Know exactly how many story points you can meet in each sprint. Identify risks, eliminate bottlenecks, and better understand project complexity.

Roadmaps

Eliminate the disconnect between the work being done in GitHub and the roadmap that reflects the team's progress.

Workflow Automation

Bring workflow automation to your GitHub Issues. Avoid hand-off delays and ensure the status of work is always accurate.

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