"Mature in SAFe compared to other large companies"

12 August 2020

I'M ANNELIES. I CHOOSE ESSENT.

"You could call it a referral. I ended up at Essent through a former Rabobank colleague. She already worked here, also in IT, and was very enthusiastic about Essent as a company. And if someone keeps saying to you "you’d fit in so well here, we're really looking for people with your mindset at Essent", you’ll start believing that yourself! And I also had the advantage of already being a bit familiar with Essent because my former employer, Yourzine/Adeptiv, is housed in the same building. This gave me a bit of insight into the informal atmosphere because, for example, I spoke with Essenters in the company restaurant or at the coffee bar. When the ideal vacancy of Scrum Master was published, I applied immediately."

SCRUM MASTER AT ESSENT

"The team I work in consists of eight Developers, a Product Owner and a Scrum Master. Our scrum team builds software for two different products: the internal operating system for our customer advisors and 'Mijn' (My), a consumer login environment on Essent's website. We’re currently working on converting 'Mijn' into a new environment that is much more user-friendly and gives better information and advice to the customer, e.g. about his/her energy consumption, all based on data. As Scrum Master, I make sure that the team can optimally work and collaborate and is as self-organising as possible. We really run with this in IT. This means that the team members determine the composition of their team and how they want to build the products. And at the end of a sprint, they give their own live demos."

FROM COMPONENT TEAMS TO FEATURE TEAMS

"The fact that we have gone from component teams to feature teams certainly contributes to entrepreneurship within the IT department, which provides a lot more freedom. Our IT staff choose which team they want to be on as long as all the capabilities are present and each team can deliver end-to-end. That way, we spend less time figuring out which features fit a team and which do not. If it turns out that we lack an important capability in a team, then the teams train each other. This means that, for example, we’ve enabled an API that can carry out testing."

ESSENT LEADS THE WAY WITH AGILE WORKING

"When working for my previous employer, I got to see quite a few other large organisations. All of them are good companies but, when it comes to Agile working, IT within Essent is really much further along than other large companies in the Netherlands. I can really make a difference in my role as Scrum Master. It was decided to work Agile and SAFe within all levels of IT. We’re convinced that we achieve the best results when everyone supports this method, which seems logical but it's not the case in every company. In practice, it means that every quarter we have 200 employees who spend two days solely working on planning. That this is supported by the whole company is truly unique! The event has already proven itself several times. But it is significant that we were given the opportunity to do it. Essent IT is very mature and precise, only large companies can do this on such a scale and can invest in it."

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES IN TIMES OF COVID-19

"Our scrum teams faced an additional challenge when we all had to work from home because of COVID-19. We couldn’t get together with all 200 employees for our usual two-day planning event, but within just six weeks we had purchased a tool with a small team, provided internal training and did a dry-run. In the end, we can even say that the event has improved! I really appreciate that freedom to take advantage of the opportunities you see. See the possibilities, substantiate your point of view and go for it! The worst thing that can happen is that afterwards you have to say that you misjudged it."

WORKING IN INTERNATIONAL TEAMS

"The best thing about working in our IT department is that we have international teams with English as the working language. I currently work with Indian, Italian and Dutch colleagues. I think this really enriches the collaboration! These three different cultures create a combination of endless commitment, a lot of respect and directness. And it’s also nice to get acquainted with each other's habits outside of work. We regularly organise a 'Potluck Diner' where everyone brings some food to work to share with the rest of the staff. And I can say that the current composition of my team means that this is certainly no punishment! That's also how we started playing cricket and went bowling and I took them on a night out in Den Bosch. It’s not only fun and good for team building, you’re also gaining more respect for each other and the different cultures at the same time. If you ask me, having multicultural teams is beneficial in many different ways!"

Annelies (32 years old) has been working at Essent since 2019 and lives in Den Bosch, a 7-minute walk from Essent's headquarters. She likes to spend free time with her maltipoo puppy Pip, running and playing badminton.
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