RebelDot Agile Organisation

Agile Organization – a glimpse into our culture, as seen by a newly joined rebel.

I have recently onboarded RebelDot as a Marketing & Communications Specialist, without having any previous experience of working within an Agile organization.

In fact, prior to starting working here, I thought Agile only applies to software development teams.

It came as a surprise when I found out that here, Agile is the norm — a method universally available to both software development teams and other departments existent in the company. It fascinated me how every agile principle in the manifesto has, somehow, found its applicability outside the development scene, deep into the day to day ways of running a company, of now, 73 people.

In this article, I will refer to some of the Agile Manifesto principles, describing how I perceived them to transcend the software development scene and be reflected in the overall company culture.

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

In my situation, the customer was RebelDot, having to deliver constant marketing material that i’ll describe as content in various formats, for the sake of this argument.

What did I do exactly to ensure customer satisfaction in this scenario?

I have understood that crucial to delivering a valuable solution is to listen to the customer and strive to unravel every insight in the information he shares with you.

Collaborating with other departments such as Sales or People and Culture, I have also observed that questions were constantly addressed and that there was no room for superficiality in the way we listened as well as understood eachother. I was somewhat relieved to see that indeed, communication is key and that we were even encouraged to ask the dumbest questions if that was how we got the information right.

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

There’s no point in mentioning the dynamic aspect of the marketing team. It is common sense that marketers have to cultivate a sense of urgency and attention to detail and MOMENTUM, which is why I am no stranger to this principle.

However, perhaps a better example of how everyone has responded to change was adopting a remote/home-first policy after the first week of COVID-19.

You would say that onboarding a company remotely implies missing out the culture, but that was definitely not the case for me. Having numerous initiatives in place, like regular coffee meetings, online games, online cooking nights, or even that Slack channel full of memes made me feel part of an authentic organization, where everyone cares for each other.

Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

Working iteratively and with incremental releases proven to be a trait that is not only specific to the development teams. Often when writing an article or deciding upon a creative campaign, we test them internally by asking for feedback from various people while keeping track of the momentum.

We are not fans of the neverending feedback loop so we try to find a balance between acknowledging feedback from various parties while delivering to a fixed deadline. As for validation from the actual users, we test concepts by, for example, creating either short posts on social media or conversations to see how the public reacts and decide if those topics are worth being developed into more extensive materials.

As a company, we remain open to change, embracing the volatility for the world we live in.

Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

One of the first aspects I noticed in my first two weeks as part of RebelDot was the collective tendency towards transparency and inclusion of other departments in various tasks.

I was personally expecting to have a solid collaboration with the sales department, as marketing and sales have always been intertwined. Still, I was happy to see that I can benefit from the UX people’s skill-set, the People and Culture department’s insights and perspective, and even the software departments’ technical point of view.

As creative as people enjoyed getting to help me fulfil a bunch of marketing tasks, this kind of collaboration is recurrent in every department, no matter the nature of the task.

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Having close friends working in software development, I was familiar with the concept of Scrum Master. I even envied them for being under a close mentorship and having someone to report to on a daily basis, someone that paved their way towards progress, someone that set the box but also encouraged them to think outside of it.

Two weeks into my new role, I was now used to having daily stand-ups, discussing my progress, laying down the tasks for the day, as well as the blockers that hindered my work. I immediately felt the impact of this approach because someone was always there to provide me with feedback, and even more than that, I was trusted to get the job done.

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

Since I haven’t really been at the office due to the current regulations, face-to-face conversations are substituted by plenty of online meetings. I know there’s an entire debate around the topic of making your video available, but seeing the person on the other end of the conversation made me feel that touch of humanity, which I know that many of you are missing having been out of the office for so long.

Perhaps simply having an audio call would convey the information too. Still, there’s just something about seeing the person you talk to, something that strengthens the bond between the team members and makes the culture prevalent.

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Our CEO has a saying “Do not mistake activity for achievement”, and there’s not more to it than that. Each department has its own KPI’s and everyone is encouraged to work smart because, at the end of the day, progress it’s measured by the quality of work and not by the amount of effort.

Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Besides the daily stand-ups, once a week, we attend a company meeting where everyone is giving high-level updates on their work and asking for support where necessary.

These meetings aim to provide transparency between departments and ensure that everyone is up to the speed of business, delivering in line with the goals and expectations.

Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.

I have been guided towards keeping things simple ever since I wrote the first piece of content for RebelDot and failed to communicate the essential message.

Having been used to developing academic articles at the university, I have approached the same type of writing, thinking that I would impress both the audience and my team by utilizing industry-specific jargon. I was wrong but grateful to receive feedback early in the process.

"I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

Mark Twain

The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Each team is self-organizing and cross-functional. Their leaders’ most important responsibility does not rely on delegating tasks and overseeing (progress) but cultivating a deep sense of trust between the members. This empowers them to coordinate themselves and ensure that goals are achieved without having to be guided on each part of the journey.

Taking their own decisions, members are provided with constructive feedback along the way so as not to be blocked, but to continue benefiting from working at their own pace and in their own style, while conforming to the specific deadlines and targets set.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Lastly, as everyone’s work-load is divided into sprints, perhaps the one weekly meeting we are all excited to have is the Sprint Review meeting. This allows us to glance at the progress we made, map out the obstacles that hindered our efficiency and establish the next goals, and the strategy to act upon them. Being fully transparent with each other makes it easy to acknowledge early in the process the aspects we could have done better.

This benefits the project that we are working on as well as our professional development, establishing a steep route towards growth. Ultimately, what boosts our ambition even harder is the act of tracking and celebrating our progress. We use various Project Management platforms depending on the department, but each of them implies having clear evidence of the weekly tasks and moving them into the “done” column at the sprint review meeting. This might seem like a simple act, but it bears an immense effect in its simplicity.

Conclusion

In the end, after two months of working as part of an Agile organization I’ve got to realize that this methodology transcends well beyond the software development department, yielding a value in all parts of the business.

I have understood that it is not just about working more efficiently, but about ensuring growth and cultivating an ability to self organize. I started to be excited about receiving feedback and eventually realized that there ain’t such a thing as bad or good feedback.

More than that, understanding and practicing each of the previously listed 12 principles, I started to gradually implement them in my day to day life.

Digital agile experience

Building digital experiences following the Agile Methodology.

Alright, so technology took over the world. It is at the core of every great big company out there. Microsoft, Apple, IBM, you name it, and as far as I know, this isn’t going to change. At least not soon.

Companies that started as offline businesses a decade ago are now relying on technology to generate revenue and bring more business to the table. Take a quick look at eCommerce, and numerous times it proved the value software brings to the retail scene.

Today, technology helps businesses generate more, bringing exposure and making them more accessible to people like you and me. But to achieve this, software needs to be more than just a few lines of code well kept into a repository. For users to make their lives and jobs depend on it, it needs to be more than just functional. It needs to create emotion, blend into the everyday environment, solve real-deal problems, and tell you a little story while it does all that.

So how do you build digital products that have the power to blend in everyday life?

Some might tell you it’s all in the process, and we are not here to cancel this out. Processes are essential, as they can give you tested ways of doing good work. At RebelDot, we are huge advocates of the agile methodology for building software that is efficient and relevant.

In reality, every digital product is different, and there are times when being wedded to a specific process won’t do any good. Over the years we found out the importance of being able to first understand the particularities of the project you’re working on then try to apply a methodology for developing it.

In this article, I am going to shed light on the agile software development methodology and the way in which we, at RebelDot, build digital experiences by following a few important principles.

What does it mean to follow an agile software development methodology?

Although we have tackled this topic before, for the sake of context, we’ll go ahead and give the entire agile concept another look.

AGILE = the ability to create and respond to change. A way of dealing and succeeding in a fairly turbulent environment; the ability to adapt.

Translating this entire concept of being agile into the product development world, we see how being Agile means adopting an iterative approach to product management and software development, helping teams deliver value for customers at a fast pace.

Instead of big reveals and big bang launches, an agile team develops in small iterations.

We love the concept of agile for the transparency and stakeholder involvement that it preaches. Building web and mobile apps in an agile manner provides a unique opportunity for clients to be involved throughout the project.

From prioritizing features to iteration planning and review sessions to frequent software builds containing new features, working agile allows full transparency over the entire software development process.

This might be our favorite – working agile allows for changes to appear throughout the process. In the ever-changing business environment, we live in today, your users’ needs and wants change as days pass by. Being open to understanding and responding to the evolving behavior of your audience is key to running a successful business.

Last but not least, following an agile methodology helps you focus on your users. We tell you this because we know how easy it is to fall into the trap of building on assumptions, overlooking the expectations of your user base. To fully understand this, you can read the article we wrote, tackling the importance of the Minimum Viable Product for startups.

Is agile methodology the absolute?

At RebelDot, we like to take things one step at a time, and we use the agile methodology as a framework, making sure to adapt every time the product we build does not benefit from the exact process structure we have on paper.

We have lived and breathed agile for so long that we have now made it part of our culture, going beyond software development. 

After over a decade of building web and mobile apps, we have created a development process that helps us make sure that whatever the niche, the products we work on benefit from successful launches. Here’s what it looks like:

The RebelDot way of building web and mobile apps

1. Meet and greet

Not going to lie; this might be our favorite step of the journey. We get to meet a lot of people who come to us with some of their craziest of ideas, business goals, and wishes. We sit to talk and ask a lot of questions. It’s because we want to make sure we know all that is about the product and the people we are about to work with.

We write down all the critical bits and bringing up questions like What business goals and objectives are you trying to solve? What challenges do we need to overcome? Who are the target users? We then put it all together in something we call a creative brief or product documentation. Often, we found out that answering these questions brings up misalignments. And when we do find misalignments, we suggest getting into a Product Discovery Workshop with you thick of it like a little intervention.

What is the Product Discovery Workshop? It’s a one to three days workshop in which we take clients through every step of the digital product discovery process: industry and market, competition, user personas, user flow and challenges. It is a mind-melting process between our clients and our team. At the end of it, they have all the documentation ready, together with wireframes and a product timeline that will give a rough idea of all the creative effort involved in building the product.

2. User Experience & User Interface Design

We know our users, and most importantly, we have identified their needs, wants, and frustrations.

Before moving any further, I’ll go ahead and place a little more emphasis on the need factor. From a market perspective, for a digital product to thrive, it has first to find a need and come up with a way to supply it.

At RebelDot, the UX process starts with the same need or problem we mentioned above. Taking a look at the case of Google Maps, they identified a potential problem and came up with a solution. Today, they make navigating from point A to B faster and easier.

In short, the UX process comes with the purpose of asking one question “How do we get the user to perform an action in the most human-centered possible way?”

What looks good tastes good, so we combine practicality with a little bit of art and a pinch of psychology to add some color and spark to the wireframes of your digital product.

3. App Development

RebelDot has 60 developers in-house, and we do both web and mobile development. We worked on several web and mobile apps from a wide array of industries, and when we get our hands on a project, we deal with it inhouse from strategy, all the way to launching it on the market. 

We make sure that the people working on the project don’t have to deal with big handoffs. Instead, we encourage collaboration and the so-called ping-pongs across teams.

Clients get to meet the entire team that works on the project, and since we’re not fans of great reveals after immersing ourselves in months of work, we’d want them as involved as possible.

4. App Launch

The first development phase is over. By now, clients should have a Minimum Viable Product waiting to be launched and find its way into the hands of users. It’s the perfect time to observe the way users interact with the product and write down the feedback so that we can iterate on it afterward.

We’ll look at how users interact with the app, the time it takes for them to familiarise themselves with it, and if there’s a way to make the entire experience more humane and intuitive, we’ll do it.

Final words

As linear as it might seem, the software development process we follow can become pretty much like a zig-zag or a circular process of builds and tests. It’s because, at times, we have to experiment with building something that has never been built before, or we want to improve what’s already on the market. Hence, in reality, the process we just went through seldom stops with launching a web or a mobile application but carries on with improving the new product.

You made it till here! We took you through our software development process and told you that one crucial ingredient when building a digital experience is building with your user in mind. We do that by extensively researching your users and by adding a little bit of empathy in everything we do.

rebelDot - leading the line.

RebelDot and Upheaval announce strategic partnership.

RebelDot and Upheaval LLC, innovators of patent-pending blockchain technology the Weave, announced a strategic partnership, to develop, integrate, and bring to market the Weave blockchain, with global reach and scale.

As a result of this strategic partnership, healthcare and other organizations across the world can soon get subscriptions to the Weave, and in doing, integrate their existing digital systems with a robust blockchain technology that scales, protects, cures over time, and regenerates. The Weave’s unique shared-block, multiple-blockchain technology creates a holistic online environment that allows any organization with an Internet connection get a subscription. Access for individuals, including a secure mobile app to track personal health records, is free. The Weave brings the power of network effects, and in-place blockchain integrations to healthcare participants such as insurers, providers, pharmacies, drug makers, and devices.

“We believe the Weave can deliver on the promise of blockchain for healthcare, with a solution that’s secure yet accessible, immensely scalable, and high performing,” said David Iseminger, Upheaval’s CEO. “With RebelDot’s development experience, blockchain expertise and systems integration knowledge, this partnership amplifies the offerings of each of our companies. It’s a win for our future customers.”

“The Weave has unique technical structure, especially as an enterprise blockchain,” said Tudor Ciuleanu, CEO of RebelDot. “In healthcare, the Weave will bring new life and advanced capabilities to dated systems.” About growth potential, Tudor added, “Our customers are from many industries. The Weave can create significant value beyond healthcare – real estate, manufacturing, IoT, finance, government, and others. We see the Weave quickly gaining market traction upon release, and we see RebelDot growing at scale alongside it.”

With the partnership, healthcare and other industries will finally have a blockchain solution that integrates with their existing systems, streamlines their processes, and delivers big data analytics. Subscribers will realize a better healthcare experience, for their organization and for their patients.

About Upheaval

Upheaval creates innovative software solutions, including the patent-pending Weave blockchain environment, that elevate and transform industries. With the Weave, organizations connect real-time, real-world interactions and create network effects that empower every participant.

To learn more about Upheaval and the Weave, visit: http://theweave.io

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Tudor Ciuleanu company meeting

RebelDot CEO, Tudor Ciuleanu, is the only Romanian investor present at Crypto Invest Summit in Los Angeles.

Cluj-Napoca, 17 0ctober 2018- After acquiring Imprezzio Global’s Services Division, now known as RebelDot, at the beginning of the year, CEO Tudor Ciuleanu makes a new step on the investors’ market with his participation at Crypto Invest Summit in L.A., as the only Romanian investor present at the event.

“I’m very excited that I was invited to be part of Crypto Summit together with investors and leaders across the world. As far as I know, I’m the only Romanian investor present there so it’s also a good opportunity to showcase the potential of Romanian software companies in this vertical. Looking forward to meeting as many brilliant minds as possible.’’, said Tudor Ciuleanu.

Crypto Invest Summit is the ‘’West Coast’s Largest Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Event’’ that will take place during October 22nd – 24th. The summit brings together under one roof investors from all around the Globe, as Josef Holm, co-founder of Crypto Invest Summit and CEO of Krowdster explains: “We all want to invest, but we don’t know where to begin. We’re bringing the best investors, successful entrepreneurs, smartest lawyers and accountants under one roof to show us how it’s done.”

Speakers like Steve Wozniak will be taking the stage at the event as well, to showcase the potential of the industry and talk about what to expect from blockchain in the future.

Tudor Ciuleanu is planning to invest in startups that will bring innovative ideas and scaling capabilities to the table: ‘’Cryptocurrency and blockchain are emerging trends that are gaining more and more attention from the investors. I’m looking for a startup that can surprise me with their innovative idea, scaling capabilities and passion for what they do. Passion, although not quantifiable is a key ingredient weighing in my decision process.”’  

 

Apart from his presence at the Crypto Summit, Tudor Ciuleanu will also be joining another blockchain event in Malta at the beginning of November.

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rebeldotoffice

Tudor Ciuleanu acquires services division of Imprezzio Global.

Cluj-Napoca, 3 July 2018 – Imprezzio Global announced today that its Services Division has been acquired by co-founder Tudor Ciuleanu and will now operate under a new name, RebelDot (www.rebeldot.com), as an independent business.

Under the agreement, Imprezzio Global will remain part of the Imprezzio Group and will continue to focus on the group’s core business. As a result, Imprezzio Global is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Imprezzio INC.

Imprezzio Global was founded in 2008 by Dave Talarico, Kelly Birr and Tudor Ciuleanu, as the offshore development arm of Imprezzio Inc. Soon after, the company created the Services department that began offering custom software development and consultancy to external clients. As Imprezzio’s focus is Marketing Automation for the Insurance and Financial verticals, this split comes after a refocus decision was taken by the board of Imprezzio Group.

 “We’ve now got two new businesses that we can grow at an accelerated rate,” Tudor Ciuleanu, RebelDot CEO, said. “My 10th anniversary in Imprezzio Global, which is today, comes with a new chapter, a chapter called RebelDot. We believe that being technical partners and not simple service providers for our customers is key to reshaping the software industry in Cluj. As such, we will continue to lead the line and build true value through innovation. Our reinvention and expansion wouldn’t be possible without our great team. With this in mind and our wish to continuously improve our way of doing business, we are also announcing one of the first nonstandard benefits introduced by RebelDot: Unlimited PTO plan, for all RebelDot employees, as a first on the Cluj IT market.”

“For nearly 10 years, the Services Team, now RebelDot, has provided both our internal companies and our clients with exceptional quality and speed to market.  We’re excited to see Tudor and his team start this new chapter of growth and excellence.” said Kelly Birr – Chief Innovation Officer, Imprezzio Group

With exciting partnerships and new locations already set in motion, RebelDot is looking to expand worldwide as a leader in software development, helping to turn technology into an asset for every business.

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