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TMC: always at the forefront of new methods

‘It started at the TMC Entrepreneurial Lab,’ says Employeneur and Process Development Engineer Patrick Verhoeven. ‘My software colleague in the team introduced me to Scrum - an agile framework for managing product development. I immediately saw the benefits of the method, especially if you’re working in a multidisciplinary team and contact is only once a week.’ Patrick started immersing himself in Scrum and asked TMC to help him develop his new skill set. Two years and a Scrum-for-Hardware course later, Patrick has successfully introduced Scrum at his current employer’s.

‘Once every two weeks, the entire team comes together for a sprint planning meeting: a meeting during which we discuss our goals for the next two weeks and define our plans and schedules. We also have daily shorter meetings in front of a Scrum board, called ‘daily scrum’. The idea is to collectively re-connect every morning, and quickly update each other about our specific tasks. We ask ourselves and each other a few simple questions: what did we do yesterday? What are we going to do today? Did we encounter any problems and, if so, how are we planning to solve them?’

'It’s very exciting to be at the forefront of processes like these.'

The daily scrums take no more ten minutes. ‘A very small investment, especially considering the consequences when the team members are not on the same page. Imagine if someone works an entire day, or even longer, on a task that doesn’t benefit the project - then we’d lose at least eight hours. By coming together for a few minutes every morning, we prevent such misunderstandings.’ 

To Patrick and his team members, Scrum is a simple way to give their complex project a firm structure and more clarity, and it leads to a more efficient and pleasurable way of working together. ‘It gives us all a lot more flexibility. Making adjustments, for instance by changing your schedule, is so much easier if everybody always has the bigger picture and the other schedules in mind.’

Patrick Verhoeven’s current Team Leader is enthusiastic about Patrick’s efforts too, and has been since the beginning. ‘During our first interview, Patrick already mentioned his interest in Scrum. It was one of the reasons we decided to work with him. I was looking forward to implementing new methods to align our plans within the team. Patrick seemed able to help us with exactly that - besides having a very promising general track record.’

It took a few months before the new method caught on, says Patrick’s Team Leader. ‘When we started using Scrum, we had a rather complicated software system to report our progress and to align the schedules. The system turned out to be more of a hindrance than a help. Once we decided to switch to a blackboard and post-it notes, everything became much more accessible. Since then, all of our team members see the benefits of the new method, and I look forward to using it in other parts of the company as well.’

Patrick himself is happy with the results, and with the support he’s had from both TMC and his Team Leader. ‘I fully expect Scrum to become much more widely used, and I’m happy to be working in an environment which fully recognizes these developments - for instance in the form of TMC Agile, a new TMC initiative exclusively aimed at promoting agile ways of working. It’s very exciting to be at the forefront of processes like these.’

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