Meet the Team: Q&A with Janice Archer, Head of Agile Practice

14 April 2020

It’s time for our ‘Meet the Team’ special where we take a deep dive and get to know our team members a little bit better.   We have interviewed Janice Archer, our Head of Agile Practice, who has been with Condatis (Sitekit) for almost 3 years and is our champion of Agile and SCRUM!  

Thank you for joining us Janice, can you tell us about yourself and your role at Condatis?

Photo of Janice Archer - Head of Agile Practice
Janice Archer, Head of Agile Practice

I studied Electronics with Medical Electronics at the University of Kent. The first part of my life I spent designing ECG monitors, but I realised I enjoyed programming more, so I went on to become an assembler programmer and later focused my programming on C and C++.  During the time I was a programmer, I would have loved to have worked in an Agile team, as it’s a far more natural way to work. It acknowledges that in general, we should empower people to do the things that they do best.

Condatis is committed to supporting the use of Agile, because as a company we recognise the benefits both from the perspective of improved productivity and for generating a creative working environment to support and enhance the ongoing development of our staff.   I am very proud to be a part of that in my role as Head of Agile Practice.

Having been with Condatis for almost 3 years, how have you enjoyed watching the business grow? 

When I joined Condatis (then Sitekit) as a senior project manager, the Edinburgh office was in a loft and had about 15 people in it.  We now have our own custom-designed office with breakout areas and meeting rooms and have around 40 staff members based in our Edinburgh office.

It has been great to be part of that journey, even if at times it wasn’t easy. I think if you work for a small business you have to be prepared to be adaptable and to be committed to the success of the organisation.

As Certified Scrum Master, Scrum @ Scale Practitioner and Agile Coach, tell us how your approaches and ideas impact the work that is being done at Condatis? 

My job is really to check in on all the active projects and make sure that as a company we are fulfilling our commitment to Agile practice. On larger projects, I am the Scrum Master.

I’m also interested in helping the non-technical areas of the company benefit from Agile. Software development isn’t the only area that can benefit from a lean Agile approach.

My role is mainly to coach. We employ a team of highly talented and experienced people. It’s not my job to lecture them, but rather to provide a safe and inclusive environment that enables them to share that experience and give the team the best chance of achieving their best. 

From having your fair share of experiences within your career – what has been your proudest achievement so far? 

That’s a really difficult question. Mainly because as human beings we very quickly forget our triumphs and yet continue to dwell on our disappointments.  However, a couple of ‘high five’ moments in my recent experience:

  1. We ran a project retrospective at the end of what had been quite a traumatic project for most of the team. It was a hard retrospective to facilitate because of the strong feelings in the room. At the end of the retrospective, we had the group agree on the top three things they were going to improve. I’m pleased to say that, with support from everyone in the company – right to the top – the team now massively improved those three things. It was a learning experience for the whole company.
  2. We found that releasing software was not as frictionless as it should be and that this was affecting our ability to deliver. I facilitated a brainstorming session with the team who agreed on a number of improvements and then ranked them in order of importance. The team were empowered to implement those improvements and we saw, quite quickly, a massive improvement in our release process.

Do you have any advice for women who want to get into the tech industry? 

Try not to be put off by the fact that the tech industry is still predominantly male orientated. Attitudes have come a long way since I started out; in my early career I would have to walk into a technical drawing department which was covered wall-to-wall with topless calendars!  To women in tech now, I’d urge you to go out of your way to support the women coming into the field now. I worry when I see an increasing amount of competitive behaviour, for all sorts of reasons, between women in the field. We can’t afford to sabotage each other.