Team spirit, fun and initiative are writ large in Helvetia Austria’s SAT (Systems Analysis and Test Management, or “Super Awesome Testers”) team, comprising Daniela Brunner, Kathrin Kren, Anita Liebhart, Daniel Weissl and Robert Szymanski.
The Systems Analysis and Test Management team has two main tasks. The first is cross-testing the systems that process non-life contracts to ensure that all applications are working properly. The second is developing and enhancing the existing systems and supporting IT with technical input and advice on prototyping and various test procedures.
This is a field that requires a fast response to changes. Everyday agility in the workplace is key. “The technology is evolving at a very fast pace, and customers are becoming ever more demanding. Meeting these challenges means having the flexibility to act and react quickly,” says Daniela Brunner, Team Leader SAT. The challenges she faces include systems that suddenly grind to a halt, serious faults that need to be fixed and the continually changing requirements of customers and legislators alike. “We very often start the day with a clear plan, only to find that everything’s been turned on its head after an hour.”
The five-strong team was awarded the title “Austria’s Most Agile Team” this year in a hard-fought competition between teams from large corporations with an emphasis on team spirit, fun and agile methods. To make things even more difficult, the teams were given less and less time to complete a task from one round to the next. The object of the game was to increase a product owner’s customer value. This involved building a house of cards, blowing up balloons and completing jigsaw puzzles, all with the aim of improving cooperation within the team by making effective use of agile methods. It was also an exercise in learning how to turn mistakes into opportunities. The judges praised the SAT team for its creativity, motivation and positive attitude.
The members of the young team saw the competition as an opportunity to challenge themselves. They played to win right from the outset. Daniela Brunner had another thought at the back of her mind as well: “For me personally, taking part in the competition was also about raising awareness of agility within the company and encouraging colleagues to think about it. We’ve been practising everyday agility in our team for some time now because we very quickly got hooked on Design Thinking methods. It was really important to me to show the sceptics what’s behind the buzzwords.” The leader of the “Super Awesome Testers” stresses that agility can often bring decisive benefits. No kind of planning, she says, is too good to rethink or reject – “But that’s exactly what makes the agile approach special: acting and reacting quickly as the situation demands.”
The Austrian team had to be particularly agile in the run-up to the finals, when two of its members dropped out due to illness. Stand-ins had to be found within just a few hours. “That’s proof that we don’t just talk about being agile, we genuinely are,” notes Daniela Brunner, adding, “Unforeseen situations will always happen, both at work and in our private lives, that demand a fast response.” Plans can change in an instant when you are trying to balance work, family, friends, hobbies and studies. The Team Leader SAT knows what it means to set priorities and then be forced to reschedule. Outside work, however, she prefers the notes app on her phone to the many Post-It notes that decorate her office wall.