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Some big changes at Labs put IT at the core

April 25, 2017

Some big changes at Labs put IT at the core

For many businesses, IT departments are responsible for maintaining the current business functions, and kept hidden away from any sexy innovation, design or developments going on. But, with Octopus increasingly becoming a digitally-led business, Labs realised it needed to change all that.

Andy Dobson, Head of DevOps at Octopus, explained one of the big advantages of putting IT at the centre of product development:

“The old IT team had testers but no UX designers, and the Labs team had designers but no testers. Bringing them together fills some obvious resource gaps. Both teams also have a great mix of experience and cultures. Combining the two just adds to that.”

This transition process is more than simply rearranging desks. It allows profound changes in technology and workflow, having a big effect on office culture.

Product Manager Emma Burt has overseen these changes by implementing Agile Development. Agile is a flexible, responsive work approach that emerged in reaction to the heavily regulated and micro-managed software development methods of the 1990s. It allows solutions to evolve through a collaborative, cross-functional effort.

“What it means for customers,” Emma explains, “is that they should see regular changes to the product in response to their ongoing feedback. This means there are consistent updates in line with the user’s requests, rather than them having to wait for months or years for something completely out of step with what they need.”

What it means for Labs is learning to trust the Agile process, allowing products to continually evolve, instead of demanding the finished package on day one of release.

For IT, there is another cultural shift to adapt to as well: discovering “personal time.” Andy explains: “One thing IT have taken from Labs is to allow more time for the important stuff outside of work. It’s made people realise that Octopus really values its employees and wants them to be happy.”