“IFS.alpha is an adventure: one that proves that it possible to create new products in only 6 months while testing a new approach to work. “
So, how have we done?
#Squads and working environment
We started with building Squads: multidisciplinary product teams that bring together Business and Tech expertise:
- The Product Owner carries the product vision;
- The Swiss Knife is a specific to BNP Paribas. He ensures the relationship with the Group’s operational entities, as they are the first clients of the products developed;
- The Growth Hacker is in charge of recruiting beta testers and users;
- The UX/UI Designer creates the smoothest and enjoyable user journey possible by applying ergonomics, modelling and design concepts;
- The Tech Lead bridges the Product Owner’s vision with the product’s technical conception;
- The Developers write the code for the product and have varied expertise: front-end (websites’ and apps’ visible interfaces), back-end (the “hidden part of the iceberg” that makes everything work) or full-stack (both front and back);
- The Tester guarantees product quality, by performing technical tests;
- The Scrum Master supports the Squad in the Agile-Scrum methodology and facilitates the rituals.
There is no hierarchy within a Squad: each member is responsible for his or her own field of expertise. In this context, it is crucial for teams to be physically gathered in the same place, to ensure smooth interaction and avoid silo mentality.
This is why we have a unique space at the BivwAk!: IFS’ offices dedicated to accelerating transforming and innovative projects.
#Methodologies and rituals
At IFS.alpha, we use the Agile-Scrum and Lean Startup methodologies.
Agile is a user-oriented, iterative development method. These iterations – we call them ‘Sprints’ – last two weeks. This means that just 15 days after kick-off, Squads are expected to deliver their first screens, that they can test with their first users: beta testers.
In other words, Agile is designing, developing, testing and deploying while focusing on user feedback, which is integrated on the agenda for the following sprint, and so on for 6 months. This new way of working offers incredible flexibility because teams prioritise the most important features to develop quickly, and because they are able to adapt their product to user needs and accelerating market evolutions.
Agile is also made of a series of rituals:
- The Sprint Backlog: the Product Owner presents the features (s)he thinks are priority developments for the upcoming sprint. The squad then assesses whether the workload is adapted, too heavy or, on the contrary, too light for the sprint. Together, they find consensus on the most salient features to develop.
- The daily stand-up meeting: every day, squad members answer three questions: “what did I do yesterday?” “Which problems did I encounter?” and “What will I do today?”. This ensures good communication within the Squad and allows them to solve some issues using their group genius.
- The demo: at the end of each sprint, the Squad demonstrates what has been developed. If some features need improvement, adjustments are scheduled for the upcoming sprint.
- The retrospective: to ensure continuous improvement within the squad, it is important to collectively identify what’s been working well and what needs alteration. This is the point of the retrospective ritual!
In the end, Agile-Scrum and Squad organisation are efficient ways to adopt the “IFS.alpha mindset”: test and learn (‘fail fast, fail often’), collective work and communication.
At IFS.alpha, we are particularly attached to audacity: our motto is ‘Let’s Dare.’ Dare to be wrong, dare to express, dare to be ourselves… This last point is crucial because we are convinced that richness lies within our differences: different perspectives, complementarity of expertise, the will to challenge the status quo…
So, if IFS.alpha is an adventure, it is an adventure that transforms the mindsets of BNP Paribas’ incubated employees!