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Agile testing

Lessons learned from Prologis’ business-leading agile approach

Adopting an agile approach at any organization requires all teams involved to enable one another to remove delays and frustrations.  When Prologis transitioned from waterfall to agile, their IT department went from being a bottleneck to operating so quickly that the business had trouble keeping up. This phenomenal shift sparked a truly cohesive partnership between IT and executive leadership.

Julio Da Silva, VP of Business Engineering at Prologis, recently shared an honest retrospective on their transformative agile approach at the Tricentis Virtual Summit. Today Prologis boasts a rapidly reduced testing time, greater product quality, and happier teams, all by stripping the linear straight jacket of waterfall methodology.

Many tried-and-successful tricks applied by this real estate investment organization can be adopted by companies irrespective of industry, so we feel it’s only right to put them on paper. All digital transformation journeys are a step-change, and following these steps will kickstart yours with the strategic approach it demands.

#1 Get ignition from the top

Julio shares that what lit the agile kindle at Prologis in early 2019 was that leadership grasped the importance of technology and innovation. Crucially, they actioned this by hiring a new Chief Technology Officer to drive this change.

If you’re not part of the executive team at your company but see the need to adopt a DevOps approach, evidence this at any given opportunity – c-staff open hours, feedback meetings, and so on.  Look to other industry-leading businesses who have achieved amazing business results by going “all-in” on Agile with top-down initiatives such as ANZ and Extreme Networks.

#2 Be crystal clear on the value-adds of going agile

From day one, when Prologis’ new CTO brought in the concept of agile. According to Julio, “He got everybody to understand that this was a conduit to drive innovation and improve execution, from both the speed and quality perspective.”

This is not an easy concept to communicate in hypothetical terms. But, in Prologis’ case, their new CTO was seen as a partner in enablement. Fortunately, it didn’t take long until this value was demonstrated, where team effectiveness and speed to delivery rapidly showed results.

#3 Adopt test automation to drive speed and satisfaction

Julio shares it was clear from the offset that they had to reduce the time and effort that went into manual testing – enter automated testing. Without speeding up Prologis’ testing, such great results were simply not possible.

The onboarding of QA engineers at Prologis to drive test automation not only accelerated speed-to-market and product quality, but also team morale – testing became rewarding rather than monotonous.

#4 Ensure that everyone is on board

Getting the green light from those involved will set you up for success. Luckily, Julio acknowledges that team productivity and speed of delivery are value propositions that all business stakeholders can grasp, and should buy into.

Julio also brings to our attention that digital transformation really is an all-teams-on-deck undertaking: “The journey of being agile is not just an IT journey, it’s a company journey, both business and IT.”

#5 Collaboration between development and operations is key

IT Operations at Prologis learned that adopting a DevOps mindset was a very different experience from the safety net of the waterfall era, where before they would simply hand over requirements to devs and let them take it from there.

Agile demands a different way of working, with a lot more two-way involvement and time investment from both sides. Do it right, and you’ll achieve aligned expectations and industry-leading outcomes.

#6 Don’t shy away from teething troubles

Julio recalls that in the first couple of months of agile adoption at Prologis, one of their key stakeholders got cold feet when issues started to arise. Rather than be negatively influenced by his skepticism, Julio’s team asked for patience, and after 3 months they were able to look back and celebrate their accomplishments. 

Another challenge that Julio acknowledges going into agile is the constant deployment and amount of regression testing. Rather than back away at this realization, Prologis found a way to reduce that time and effort with testing automation.

Issues don’t mean tissues – embrace them as an inevitability of change and stay solution-oriented.

Reap the agile rewards across product and people

As the fruits of Prologis’ labor began to show, the increased satisfaction across their deliverables and workforce was quite remarkable. A huge player in the increased quality of their products was the introduction of automated testing with Tricentis Tosca, ensuring that their testing is more thorough and covers a broader range. Complimented by better test management with Tricentis qTest, Prologis is equipped to tackle any project within a timeframe that was insurmountable before.

Today, Prologis has a truly cohesive partnership between their IT team and executive leadership, and these tight-knit relationships can be seen across the business:

“My automated testers are working side-by-side with the developers and feel way more engaged with the project team, and in developing new skills, they feel way more valued. The morale of the team is in a much better situation now than it was when we were doing manual testing.”

Sound appealing? Take heed of these tips above, and if you can pull these off, you’re absolutely on the right transformation track.

Hear more about Prologis’ transformation journey in our new podcast

You can find out what’s next on Prologis’ agile agenda in the new Tricentis podcast Transformation in 10. Listen in for more expert Agile transformation insights, and discover how Julio’s colorful career has set him up for success in today’s Dev Ops world.