The Quest for an Agile Company: Seven Years tangly llc

2023 02 02 head

We are an agile software coaching and digital product development boutique.

Since our inception, we have created digital products using agile approaches. Our preferred tools are Scrum, Lean Software Development, DevOps, LeSS.

The created digital products are successful in the market.

They exhibit good quality. Sound engineering approaches were used to design and construct them in a timely and economical way.

Our customers learnt how to deploy updates and new functionalities in a matter of days.

What is the meaning of being agile and being digital for our company?

Being Agile

2023 02 02 being agile

Agile organizations combine the efficiencies of scale with the speed, flexibility and resilience to compete and win in today’s world.

Practices are the structural framework to cement your principles. We live DevOps, Scrum and LeSS.

Principles guide your daily decisions. We believe in the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Agile Manifesto Principles.

The difficult parts are values and mindset.

Empower your collaborators. Informed people make better trade-offs.

All collaborators have access to all internal information. A company shares all possible data with its employees. Collaborators can comment on even strategic topics before the decisions are finalized.

Salaries, contracts, and financial results are visible to all. The sole exception is personal information about an employee.

Any collaborator can take over a process and improve it.

Increasing agility is a path.

Progressing on that path requires vision, belief, persistence and hard work.

— Gunther Verheyen

Social Equality

We aggressively pursue social equality.

The company achieved gender equality and ethnic equality.

Social Responsibility

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Our collaborators are active as part-time lecturers at technical universities. We teach digital and software engineering courses at bachelor level. The training material is often released under Creative Commons license.

Find our Agile Software Architecture and Techniques and Programming Concepts and Paradigms under Lectures.

We support Swiss initiatives such as Future Day to nurture STEM interests of kids and young adults [1].

An article about last year’s future day can be found under HSLU Future Day.

Our collaborators systematically use climate-friendly transportation. Most of our travels use the domestic rail. Home office work is encouraged to reduce commute traffic.

Office emissions are minimal. We acquire notebooks to minimise power consumption. Our company does not possess any printers, faxes, or phone landlines.

All our documents and correspondence materials are digital. Our technical library is solely composed of ebooks.

Being Digital

All our internal processes are digital.

When people tell me they have learned from experience, I tell them the trick is to learn from other people’s experience.

— Warren Buffett

The trend towards digital documents, QR Code and digital exchange standards for invoices helps us to extend our digital approaches to our partners and customers.

We have almost no manual or paper interactions with government platforms and insurance companies. Swiss government departments provide web portal access to their services. At least we do not need to send paper documents.

But none of the governments provided solutions for social insurance, VAT declarations or salary documents have a published API. Swiss government solutions are still stuck in the last millennium and have missed the API integration approach.

The Swiss federal government deployed a new Swiss Federal Tax Administration Portal last year. The various services are now located under one portal. The solution is still missing a public API to enable the digital transformation of company’s processes [2].

Big insurance companies are worse than the federal government. Pension fund and accident insurances still ask for paper correspondence for standardized processes such as mutation or yearly salary structure information. Improvements are visible but incredibly slow [3].

We used Google as our main provider of digital applications for daily work. We have a company account and associated contract since the inception of our company.

We had to painfully acknowledge that Google has slow innovation and outdated solutions. Try to publish Internet sites with their Sites application. It is cumbersome, and no support for Asciidoc or Markdown is available.

Static website concepts and infrastructure as version managed artifacts are sorely missing. We initiated a slow withdrawal from their digital offerings.

Lessons Learnt


You want a quality and lively website. Collaborators should be empowered to modify content in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Use a static website. Version each release in a git repository. Deploy in minutes.

Our main website with this blog is a static website based on Hugo and the Docsy theme [7][8].

We use tools to generate new content and deploy the result. Simple scripts create a new version of the site and publish it to the Internet.

All texts and the configuration are stored in a git repository. All collaborators have the rights to enhance the content of our site [4].

BitBucket Platform

The BitBucket offered functionalities are archaic. Their wiki-based approach with Confluence and Jira is the wrong approach for modern digital product development. The platform does not support Asciidoc, CI offerings and CNAME support for our static website. The community requests such improvements for years.

Use GitHub or GitLab.

We decided to phase out the usage of BitBucket and use more modern platforms. We currently use GitHub as our primary platform and GitLab as a fallback solution.

GitHub supports Asciidoc, has a reasonable CI offering, and their CNAME support is awesome [6].

Internet Platforms

Take ownership of the URL for all the sites you own. Your blogs and documentation often link to articles or pages on various organization websites [5].

Publish under your domain name.

The domain name is your identity on the Internet. Prospects and interested parties will find you through your name.

Use your organization domain for all internal links to simplify migration of your sites to another provider [6].

1. The percentage of MINT female students in Switzerland is around 11% (statistics from ICT Switzerland, Position Paper, 2020-02-25). This is a cultural and gender equality catastrophe. Neither the Swiss federal nor state governments have a MINT program with goals and budgets. Volunteer initiatives try to improve this shameful situation for decades.
2. Having collaborator inputting data on a Web form is certainly not the definition of a digital process.
3. In 2022, we could handle most of our communication with insurance companies electronically. Pension funds still regularly require printed communication. They finally accept that we scan their forms and send them per email. Their own collaborators are very helpful and are not proud of their company’s approach.
4. Take it easy. Git easily supports fast rollback if a change was catastrophic.
5. The hosting company can disappear or change their business model. Avoid location dependency. Nothing is more unpleasant than a dead link or a link to outdated information.
6. We decided to move our static websites from BitBucket to GitHub. We were surprised how many links we had to change.