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The face behind Agile 2018

The Agile Conference is back for a second year and Carol Machaj from Cucumber is the passionate organiser behind this event.

Carol started with Agile before she knew it was Agile. When she first came to Cucumber, she recalls that 2 large enterprise website projects were coming to an end, and the manic pressure around the final UAT before go live was almost suffocating. Now the go-live of larger projects is more a celebration of the new solution than relief that a project is finished.

“The main part of being agile for me is the teamwork – people are not just doing ‘their’ job, everyone is working as a team, at the same pace to deliver the same goal. The ‘us’ and ‘them’ divide between technical and business people is removed” says Carol. And how has it progressed? At Cucumber, we have evolved from delivering projects that took upwards of 6 months to delivering enterprise websites in just 12 weeks. That’s the power of an agile methodology.

One of Carol’s pet peeves is when people brandish the word ‘agile’ around without adopting the methodology correctly – it isn’t a thing, it’s more about continuous improvement – continuous improvement in delivering to the client  through making the client happier with better and richer solutions and continuous improvement so that working on the project is more enjoyable through improved processes. So Carol is keen to help educate people in understanding what Agile really means. And she operates with this mentality in all her projects at Cucumber, where we not only provide agile consulting but also use it to steer client projects.

Carol’s background spans 20 years of development and she strives to develop effective solutions to help solve business problems. She’s committed to the implementation of user-centric methods and agile principles to develop value-based thinking that create awesome experiences that enable and empower users.

Using agile methodology ensures we can pivot where needed based on client and customer's changing priorities. The benefits of this include:

  • Seeing the project taking shape at an early stage; enabling the team to test features and functionality early in the project meaning no suprises at the end.
  • Enabling collaboration and engagement between stakeholders, reducing misunderstandings and providing an open forum for timely feedback.
  • Increasing motivation throughout the duration of the overall project as everyone sees tangible results in a short time span.
  • Providing a framework to reprioritise and the opportunity to respond to change quickly. This is important in large projects and/or where there is a wide range of business stakeholders.

Carol has extensive experience of product ownership and became the first ICAgile Certified Expert in Product Ownership (ICE-PO) in February 2018 which was a rigorous, competency-based evaluation process.

To obtain the ICAgile Certified Expert in Product Ownership (ICE-PO), a candidate must demonstrate competency in the discipline of value management to a review committee of three industry-recognized experts. The candidate will be evaluated via an interactive virtual session with the review committee, and passing demonstrates that they have expert-level proficiency in the discipline of Product Ownership.

Last year the Agile Alliance NZ who Carol is a member of made the decision that as an organisation they wanted to educate more about Agile, and provide practical help outside of Auckland and Wellington. Creating a conference in Tauranga with access to experts and coaches provided an opportunity to increase the knowledge and implementation of agile practices and mind-sets within the bay. Carol organised the first Agile Tauranga last year and had a huge response with great feedback – so she was more than happy to organise it again this year.

At this year’s conference scheduled for Friday 26 October, there’s a stellar line-up of 4 speakers and open-space sessions where real organisational challenges are worked through. So have we convinced you on the agile way of thinking yet? To get more information and tickets click here.