COVID-19 has radically disrupted work environments and lead to complete lockdown. It has fundamentally changed people’s lives, work habits, and it has also rewritten the road map of some projects to face the new situation.
Inspired by our processes for business continuity, we decided to ensure supporting our customer during these challenging times assuring our employees well-being and carrying out complex product engineering tasks such as software development, testing, maintenance and support across PDLC, relying on our resilient leaders and collaborators.
II. Shifting our in-office working to remote working
Despite all the fears and frustration, we were challenged to switch to work from home and keep the company going supporting our customers during this crisis.
Contingency measures and new ways of working have ensured that operations have quickly and flexibly adapted to changing circumstances.
Some working habits have been shifted to remote mode; others are already in use a while ago which makes it easier to adapt.
A lot of factors helped us to succeed this new working experience such as:
· Over a decade working on a multinational context: Thanks to our experience dealing with offshore projects on automotive testing with multinational partners, we realized that we have the habit of working remotely and running business as usual from home wasn’t really difficult.
· Working materials: IT, management, and procurement teams of the company worked hard to provide stable VPN connection, necessary laptops along with lab and hardware access for everyone to work from home.
· Remote management: Moving our practices from agile to remote agile, we established an effective process to manage and track different tasks, issues at hands, and potential blockers, which our project managers regularly checked and provided quick resolutions.
Focusing on incremental changes and proactive communication with the different tools we are using, scrum events such as daily meetings through MS Teams were conducted to keep everyone on the same page.
Also, our colleagues in Germany worked tirelessly by providing two-way communications with the customer and conveyed any technical issues we faced during this time.
Indeed, our collaborators took the appropriate steps to ensure maintaining the continuity of projects’ performance and customers’ requests.
· Remote coaching: Training, workshops and demonstrations of our employees did not stop, in fact, the commitment of our mentors helped moving Primatec Academy to remote mode as well.
· Remote access: CI/CD pipelines and testing tools
Remote access to specifications using IBM DOORS was the bridge between testers and other involved stakeholders to exchange different artifacts
Also, Having technical remote tools really helped our teams: distributed source-code management (git), continuous integration, continuous delivery (Jenkins) with direct access to different racks available in our offices which make the execution of automated tests smooth as usual. In fact, Primatec is working on a high level of test automation (95% of our tests are running automatically) which contributed to accelerate continuous integration and continuous delivery pipeline.
It was also easy to synchronize between involved team members using those hardware materials remotely with the reservation process that we have been using.
All these factors guaranteed the regular project progress and deliveries between distributed teams. It was lauded as a truly commendable feat considering the circumstances, we were working in.
This would not have been possible without the dedicated participation, the level of commitment, the continued hard work, flexibility and resilience of every single employee.
Limit: only acceptance tests and manual testing experienced limit performance
Although most of our tasks can be established remotely, we faced little restrictions for some tasks that could not be done remotely:
· Acceptance test on vehicles: Since March 2020, all our business trips have been cancelled, which curb the ability of performing acceptance tests on real environment or vehicle on customer side.
· Manual test on test benches: Certain tasks like manual test require mandatory onsite presence to perform test that requires physical hardware material, such as testing on high level manually on TSP.
These special tasks were also maintained, but not on a regular basis, since we require moving authorization, which is not every time possible
III. Surprising results: Increase of productivity and ensured Zero Loss in performance during the execution of projects
At the beginning some considered that working from comfort home during this imposed situation could dip performance of teams. Yet the opposite is true, our teams-maintained working from home during this whole period and it was extremely successful.
Even more, we noticed that their productivity increased by achieving fixed goals even faster that made us consider to think about new working rules.
IV. Post covid-19:“The future of work after the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the same!”
With the increase of productivity, environmental consideration, comfort of employees, etc, Remote work is such an incredible invitation to really think about new working habits in order to get good at building inclusive cultures where everyone feels included and everyone is experiencing ongoing growth and development on a regular basis.
For us, we consider thinking about new remote strategies even after this pandemic:
a. Adding flexibility to employees whenever possible, creating a work-from-home policy
b. Enabling exception for a few employees who have some health problems
c. Adding new rules regarding the application of quality norms essentially those related to ISO27001.
Despite the initial setback, the ICT sector’s response, facing the lockdown, was really positive all over the world. The sector was said to be in better shape than it was after the crisis.
Benefits go beyond the new work habits that will adhere companies and employees, to get prepared, flexible and resilient to meet and answer favorably to some constraints that businesses can face in the future.
The challenge now is to look after the recovery plans of OEM’s and Tier’s that could be a bit harmful to the automotive software development and testing projects, due to budget restriction caused by the decrease of car selling.
Author : Emna Ayadi