04 February 2020

The shipping industry is complex and the environment of many shipmanagement services so dynamic that traditional project management processes and methodologies are no longer adequate. This landscape is not set to change, except in the sense that developments will happen even faster in the future, especially those driven by new business models and digitalisation.

This dynamic environment is one of the key reasons why the relevance of the Project Management Office of MariApps Marine Solutions, the Schulte Group’s software development company, has consistently grown, with dozens of projects being added to the portfolio, from both BSM and external clients every year.

Moving forward into 2020, MariApps plans to focus even more strenuously on effective project execution and timely deliveries.

The core pillars of MariApps’ optimised focus on project management are threefold: communication among team members, collaboration and adaptability to changing conditions based on customer feedback. This is called ‘being agile’. And it is a philosophy for managing software projects and teams.

Similar to how lean manufacturing principles help to eliminate waste and increase production, agile methods help improve focus on customers, product quality, development efficiency, and more in the project lifecycle.

Achieving quality excellence through agile processes

In 2019 alone, MariApps hired ten new project managers with experience in Agile/Scrum methodologies. With a focus on implementing agile methods across the organisation, MariApps has formed a core team to train and guide other project teams on how to implement processes that allow continuous iterations of development and testing for better collaboration and faster feedback from users.

By consistently focusing on key people, processes and strategies, MariApps is on the path to streamlining overall quality orientation. Beginning at the project planning stage, strategies are initiated to meet quality standards, and conscious efforts are made to ensure that the testing team is involved from the project kick off for all products.

With time to market as one of the critical testing parameters, quality control must be planned and executed with a high level of diligence. As a result, requirements are tracked with the help of a requirement traceability matrix and are dealt with experts, to ensure total coverage.

Supporting agile transformation with technology

Reducing costs and improving efficiency while ensuring optimum quality and meeting ever-expanding testing needs is not practically possible. That is why MariApps is investing in building a Test Automation Centre of Excellence for developing and maintaining a test automation framework, a program written within the test automation tool, designed to cater to specific testing needs. Automation helps the Quality team to execute a specific set of feasible manual test cases with minimum manual intervention. This helps the management save up time for the testers to perform much value-added functional validation and reduce overall costs.

Bringing agility to customer care

Developing a product that is valued by customers is the cornerstone of agile project management and MariApps recognises the importance of customer feedback in continuous improvement.

In line with this focus, the organisation’s Quality Control and Assurance team is collaborating with the support service team at PAL, MariApps’ marine Enterprise Resource Planning app and web-based suite. The goal of this collaboration is to collect customer feedback data from the product. This data will be analysed and applied back to quality control measures to address customer issues and improve the product released to the market in the future.

MariApps has also invested in market leading tools like Jira and Zoho, to enable support service teams to register and resolve customer issues. All customer feedback is logged as a digital ticket in the software. These tickets are then analysed to derive trends and determine where quality needs to be improved. These insights are then shared with the Product and Quality Control and Assurance teams, helping drive quality orientation across the whole organisation.

Positive results have already been observed while using these support service tools on various projects. Among the benefits recorded, were zero customer feedback tickets left unanswered, faster acknowledgement of tickets and better turnaround time, improved SLA tracking and compliance, effective tracking of tickets’ implementation in product development and better collaboration between different departments for ticket resolution.

The bottom line

By using agile processes and tools, MariApps is now more than ever, better equipped to quickly adapt in changing conditions. Moving forward, MariApps expects to see its focus on agile transformation increase productivity and improve quality for customers, further cementing the organisation as a market leader in its industry.