It seemed like the day would never arrive. As we prepared to board the plane under the “soothing” voice of “Last call for Flight VY2115 to Málaga..”, we knew it was the beginning of the end...
A couple of months back Helena, our Head of Marketing and Communications in Spain and Fran our interim Regional Director for the Barcelona area had a brilliant idea. As part of Codurance’s expansion in Spain, we would put an end to the streak of virtual-only events the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into, and for the first time in a year and a half, venture to do an in person event.
The ideal location in this case was Málaga, a city that has been in the news recently with headlines like Google’s decision to open a cybersecurity center in Málaga and one that people are starting to call “The silicon valley of the South”. The city itself is becoming a technology hub, thanks to its quality of life and in no small part to Parque Tecnológico de Andalucía (PTA for short) responsible for the influx of local and other globally well-known companies like Oracle and Ericsson.
With such a great setup, we put all our energy and expertise to the task and partnered with the PTA and TheWorkshop, to create one of those events we would love to attend ourselves. Shouts out to Álvaro and Clara for all the help in making this happen. Without their support and passion this event would not have been possible.
The plan was as follows: a talk, an open panel discussion and some great networking.
We would have Sandro Mancuso, well known author, speaker and co-founder of Codurance, give a talk on one of those topics that are very relevant in today’s context: software modernisation.
Sandro’s talk would focus on providing insights on how to make modernisation a strategic item for the organisation and ensure its success. Like all his talks there was something in it for everyone: developer, product manager, CXOs and everything in between.
It was a talk full of anecdotes, great insights and battle-hardened advice. If you missed it, you are in luck, here is a different version of his talk on taking a strategic approach to software modernisation, in our youtube channel.
Then, after a short break, he and others would participate in a panel open to the participants where they could ask and answer questions on these and other topics. In particular we had planned to have with us in addition to Sandro, Mashooq Badar, also a co-founder at Codurance, Jesús Gonzáles Martí, business angel and mentor, and Jose Lopez, VP of Engineering at TheWorkshop.
Last minute changes
To paraphrase the great philosopher, Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”, and this event was no different. Due to some last minute personal issues two of our panelists, Mash and Jesús, had to drop out.
However, adapting to change is one of our core skills, both in software engineering and how we operate in all areas of our organisation, so in less than a couple of minutes, we managed to come up with a backup plan that was up to the level.
Taking their places would be, yours truly, and Tatiana Morillas, director of software development at TheWorkshop.
I have to say that for something that we were both not prepared for, it was a very enjoyable and thought provoking experience. The audience was very engaged and asked all sorts of questions, from tactical to more strategic ones.
Sandro’s talk touched on many different aspects of software modernisation that are very relevant and I think it served to spark the conversation. These are some of the main topics discussed and their takeaways.
How to show the business value of adopting new technologies as part of the modernisation process?
For this point I have to say you are in luck because we have an article written, precisely on putting together a case for the change and it includes plenty of materials that you can use.
In this instance, we talked about how adopting new technologies has two very clear upsides.
First, the attraction and retention of talent. People don't like working with antiquated technologies, especially if there is no plan in modernizing it. Adopting new technologies will make it possible for you to find talent and keep the engineers that you already have happy.
However it is not the only reason for it. Other aspects, like the benefits in cost saving and scalability that adopting cloud native architectures and components provide also rank high in the corporate agenda. Do you want to be ready for black Friday and not over dimension your systems? This is where new technology and a different approach can help you and is exactly how we have helped Cazoo deal with its growth challenges.
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Where do I start?
This was another very popular topic. We talked about areas of influence and how alignment, empathy and creating quick wins can get you very far. In particular we discussed what you can do to start influencing others in the organization and how to slice value so that you can get those quick wins. Sandro has a very good section of his talk dedicated to some of the strategies that can be used from different perspectives, team process, product, etc.
What are the main pitfalls to avoid?
We talked about the role of transformation in initiatives like this and how knowing where you are more likely to fail would help you in mitigating the risks. In particular we talked about John P. Kotter’s article on why transformation efforts fail: an oldie but goodie.
How can we make sure there is pragmatism at all levels when we launch one of these initiatives?
This was a great question as well, where we discussed the role of leadership at all levels in order to create alignment and to make that product and technical vision for modernisation, something that everyone understands.
To misquote some of the panelists, “what you want is that no matter who you are talking to in the organisation, they can tell you what is the most important thing that we are working to achieve and how they contribute to it.” That can only happen through constant communication and getting leaders (not only people with authority) to resonate with your vision.
Last, but not least, it was time to mingle and make new friends. After a very interesting chat, there is nothing like sharing ideas and meeting interesting people.
We had a total of about 57 sign ups, with a big variety of profiles attending. From CTOs to Developers to Product Managers there were all sorts of industry professionals interested in the topic and willing to share their experiences and thoughts over a nice glass of wine and some “pica-pica”. Im taking away some great chats and people who I would definitely would like to see again in the future.
Overall I can only say that the warm hospitality of Málaga and the insightful conversations made this event something to remember and repeat in the future. As I mentioned in the beginning, Codurance wants to increase its presence in the south and Málaga is a great place to start. Keep tuned for other community and private events in the near future.
So, when we heard the last call for our flight, as we prepared to board the plane, we were exhausted after waking up at 4:30am, but happy that the day had finally come. I knew it was the beginning of the end. The end of a year and a half streak of not being able to meet in person or host events, and the beginning of a new age of growth and adventures, and it was worth it.