Software Engineering

Pivotal: Partner for good reasons

Lately I had the chance of attending Pivotal’s Platform Acceleration Lab (PAL) in London. It’s a three-weeks training which enables developers to build and modernize applications with Spring Boot and deploy them on Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Not just the technical insights but the way of developing modern software in such an inspiring environment like Pivotal is providing for their employees, customers and partners was impressive. I’ll try to point out their values, culture and why esentri & Pivotal are such a good fit.

„Do the right thing. Do what works. Be kind.“

„Do the right thing. Do what works. Be kind.“ – these are in general the three core values of Pivotal. According to these values, Pivots work together as a team, interact with customers, face problems and make decisions. What I really like about it is that you can even transfer these behavior-related values to their software solutions. Well, I’m not sure how software can be kind but from a developer perspective I tent to say: software is kind when it does the right thing and does what works.

Now, almost nothing will happen from simply writing three simple phrases on a company’s homepage. You need to bring it into action. In this case, Pivotal is definitely doing the right thing and starts with their employees. In every office they provide daily breakfast, collaborative workspaces, ping-pong, relaxing areas and silent rooms just to name a few services. If your environment does the right thing, is kind and does what works for you, you will be more able to bring the same into your daily work.

I guess, something simple like the provided ping-pong tables is pointing out what makes Pivotal special. You might have seen several companies providing table football or some other games for their employees. But how often have you seen them in action? Especially during working time and not just rarely by the end of work or maybe not at all? The thing is, you won’t get any impact just by investing in fancy things and simply put them in your office. What you have to do instead is to create a working culture in which employees feel free to do the right thing whichever works for them. Over the day I have seen many many Pivots playing ping-pong to clear their minds and be a bit active. Maybe, some of the best ideas for their software solutions have grown there.

#NewWork, #OKR, #BizDevOps, …

The fact that the biggest challenge of creating state of the art software is not technology but people, culture and methods seems to be consensus. You can get lost by trying to catch up with just some of the latest trends in agile methods. I’m quite sure, if you try to adopt all or most of them it will not work fine for you. What Pivotal does is to stick with mainly two things: Pairing and Test-Driven-Development (TDD). And indeed, these two methods are lived throughout the day. Two engineers working on one machine is the common picture when walking around Pivotal’s office. Working on code in a group leads to better quality, cleaner and more readable code and the best solutions, they say. All as a result from just discussing about the code, how it works and if it does the thing it should do. And there is a lot to discuss about: „putting two Pivots together ends up in three opinions at least“ is a common phrase at Pivotal.

It’s interesting how Pivotal’s core values are even great pre-conditions for the usage of Pairing and TDD. Tests should definitely test the right thing – otherwise they’re useless. And for Pairing being kind is a must in order to work very focused on code closely together for a long period of time and feel comfortable at the same time.

esentri-fit: check!

All in all, working at Pivotal for three weeks was an intense experience with a lot of interesting outcomes for my daily life at esentri. The nicest thing might have been that we at esentri are used to an employee orientated culture and modern methods of developing software. So, I was not overwhelmed by the environment in total but had a good view for some single details. The most remarkable for me could have been that Pivotal seems to achieve something special: to stay with agile, lean and employees-first processes even as a large, globally acting company.

I’m more than convinced: great solutions will arise from our partnership with Pivotal and give our customers lead through innovation. Stay tuned!