Building Quality: Agile Development from the Ground Up
In our 20+ years of developing investment technology for our customers from the ground up, we've noticed a strange phenomenon: as customer needs become more sophisticated, the challenge increasingly becomes keeping technology development efficient, straightforward and adaptable.
We are forever in a race to simplify our clients' workflows, and that means, in part, that we’re adapted internally to be able to tackle quickly evolving challenges to achieve the ultimate goals: speed to market and quality.
That’s harder than it sounds – development these days revolves around buzzword-laden management philosophies. Ready for a few? Let's go chronologically:
Kaizen. We start with kaizen, a Japanese word meaning “improvement" that in business circles has come to mean “measures for implementing continuous improvement." Influenced partly by American management specialists visiting Japan, the philosophy was first implemented in Japan after World War II – most famously in the 1950s through the Toyota Production System. It has since spread throughout the world and has found ready application in software development.
Lean enterprise. This derives from Lean manufacturing, a management philosophy that again derives from the Toyota Production System. It's basically a set of tools for eliminating waste in a system. Some see the origins of Lean as harking all the way back to common-sense publications like Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. Franklin's 1737 maxim "A penny saved is two pence clear" holds that eliminating costs can be more profitable than increasing sales. The way we at Eze look at this maxim is that by setting up our processes to deliver quickly and efficiently, we can reinvest the resources in innovation.
Agile. In February 2001, several leading programmers met at the Snowbird ski resort in Utah and – under the influence of kaizen and Lean and probably no small amount of beer – wrote up what they called a “Manifesto for Agile Software Development." We at Eze structure much of what we do around Agile's 12 principles.
Eze Software has followed these principles since inception. Today, we focus on pushing out smaller, more frequent updates to clients across Investment Suite, in an effort to simplify adoption and reduce waste in the process. The ultimate goal is to take this development philosophy into the cloud, which will enable even faster, less complicated deployment. Stay tuned.
So, is all this a bunch of complex terms to explain concepts that are rather simple?
Here's the thing. For me, no matter how much we tinker with our internal processes, one thing has stood out for Eze since the beginning remains the same: a strong community feel combined with a sense of entrepreneurial problem solving. It's about continually improving our offerings based on customer needs and feedback, testing out solutions and iterating in close concert with our partners on the buy- and sell-side.
For Agile and Lean Enterprise to work, we still need to literally sit down with the traders, the portfolio managers, and others at their desks, listen to their stories, quickly grasp what they need, and then incorporate that into the overall feedback loop.
I'd like to think this sense of community is the reason so many of our clients have stuck with us over the years. A big part of making technology simple for us has been to do so in close partnership with our clients, offering support during all stages of implementation.
In the next post, I'll write more about what “client support" means to us and how we’re optimizing our model. Don't forget to subscribe below.