Change management: doing what you preach

September 10, 2018

Transformation is always hard. We know, we work on it every day. Maybe this can help you to guide your organisation through it.

To sustain the cutting-edge performance any organisation needs to embrace changes and align them to the overall strategy. This is the short version of how we set up the change management culture inside Global Mediator and what were the drivers behind this decision.

Our journey with a change management has started in 2013. That moment we realised – even for a sizable development team like ours – it is hard to keep up with everything that is happening in the technology world. Somewhere along the way, we had to change our approach to the learning process – ‘less talk, do more’.

The shift in mentality

In 2013 we decided not to invest in new servers instead and to move our development environment to the Azure platform. Since then, we have moved all task management to a suite of Atlassian Jira, Tempo, Bitbucket and Confluence and built a connector for exchanging data with our NAV-2017 (hosted on Azure). Then connected this with our Microsoft provisioned CRM (now a suite of Apps) and Office 365. Microsoft Dynamics NAV is the only app we use to run our business that is not provisioned by the original developing organization today. It is ironic considering that Dynamics NAV was the starting point for Global Mediator.

This is no small change for a development organization where people took some pride in its hardware and liked to ‘play around’ with servers that also hosted MS Project and TFS. After much resistance, today, being in the cloud is the second nature. Like many other organisations we are still struggling to use its full potential, but the commitment is clear and we are confident that benefits will overcome any temporary inconveniences.

The change in how we work

We started building extensions with our partners early and developed test automation solutions aimed at supporting more product development. At the same time, we built and incorporated a suite of scripts and tools that enable us to do things faster when needed. Currently, we are even pushing a couple our own apps through AppSource. Since the beginning of 2016, the entire NAV development group has been drilled in Architecture and Design Patterns by NAVSkills. At the beginning of summer 2017, the same group was drilled in VS Code and Extension 2.0 (and will be repeatedly moving forward).

Through the years, we have had to expand our technical skills in CRM, the .NET framework and Azure. Flow and PowerApps have pushed us to look closer at Office 365. It seems increasingly clear that future development of functionality will somehow have to take the interaction among Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure into consideration.

At the same time, many of our interactions with partners have moved from purely technical people to purely functional people. Our team is getting involved into technical design and not a support function. We assist our partners with Dynamics 365 and connect it to the ecosystem. And as a result we are now ‘enjoying’ being presented with functionality using many other programming languages.

In short, we need not only to strengthen skills in one application but at least have some understanding of the other applications in the ecosystem. So, working with Dynamics NAV may have become ‘easier’ in some ways, whereas working in the ecosystem has become more multi-faceted which is not always easier.

“We have found a balance between building new skills while building strong solutions based on established best practices. It is the ‘new normal’ now”
– Nicolai Krarup, COO at Global Mediator

Given our location and business focus, at Global Mediator we may have a little more freedom to experiment than many others. Furthermore, we may have an easier time as a development organization because we have a limited amount of legacy IP. Sure, we continue to build tools and processes to effectively build new functionality, refractor and build extensions/apps for our partners when needed. But in our view the new Dynamics ecosystem gives us opportunities that we can pursue relatively free of any past initiatives.

We use the above freedom to move forward and try things out. We reinvent our business when needed and we do it without big strategy plans or reviews. We have simply accepted that for our organisation we need to grow, add new skills and change constantly – it has become so much of who we are that the team is starting to not really notice it.

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