Software Technology, Infrastructure as a code, Agile and Scrum
With just shy of 50 people, homeQgo is on a quest to improve home sustainability through its online platform. HomeQgo's services are primarily aimed at Dutch homeowners. To reach them more effectively, the company collaborates with institutions supporting its mission, like banks and insurers. HomeQgo offers a curated network of high-quality solar panel installers, insulation experts, and other cutting-edge solution providers and, through smart use of data, enables homeowners to make informed decisions in their pursuit of a greener future.
Out With the Old and in With the New
HomeQgo’s dot on the horizon was to shift from a project-oriented organization to a product-oriented one. But that wasn’t the initial question they approached Xebia with! “Very specifically, they asked us to help them replace their legacy CRM system with Zoho and update their security,” says Martijn Tieland, Coding Architect at Xebia. Quint adds: “Years ago, we built the CRM system ourselves. Replacing it with an out-of-the-box solution to drive growth and improve scalability looked like a great idea on paper but was way more challenging in practice! The old system was so interwoven with everything we did that simply ‘replacing the old with the new’ was not an option. We lacked the resources and skills to fit Zoho into our existing landscape. So, following the advice of our former CTO, we approached Xebia.”
The Bigger Picture
Xebia enjoys looking at the bigger picture, but this time - and this is not always the case - doing so was highly encouraged by homeQgo. "We told the team, 'You are here now. You have a lot of experience that we are happy to draw on. So, what have you noticed? What can we do better? Please share, and we'll make a plan together”, says Quint. Tieland adds: "Instead of just integrating the new CRM, we looked at overall value. For example, seeing teams working in relative isolation without a shared goal inspired us to scale up and work on agile practices." He continues: "One of homeQgo's ambitions was to introduce Event-Driven Architecture as a new way to link all systems independently and create more flexibility — which sounds simple but if you want to get it right, you're looking at a long list of PoCs, demos, and workshops. We were happy to help them turn that ambition into a reality! Over time, we also introduced value streams, boosted platform security, modernized support, and even temporarily filled the CTO role."
In just six months, we realized a company-wide transformation together. We changed how people work, modernized the technology they use to do so, and made sure that homeQgo is more sustainable than ever! — Martijn Tieland, Coding Architect at Xebia
A Company-Wide Transformation
How Xebia helped homeQgo become a product-oriented organization in 5 steps
Step 1: App modernization
With Xebia, homeQgo replaced its legacy custom-built CRM with a new, out-of-the-box solution. This pivotal move prompted a complete overhaul of the architecture. “Zoho offers more functionality, which calls for a more flexible and scalable Event-Based Architecture,” Claire Oosterholt, COO at homeQgo, adds.
Step 2: Introducing an Event-Driven Architecture
With the implementation of Event-Driven Architecture and Infrastructure as Code (IaC), developers can now build quickly, securely, and transparently and introduce new solutions to the environment with minimal effort.
Step 3: Improving Agile practices
Getting Agile right is crucial for a successful transformation. Xebia provided workshops, awareness sessions, and the Agile Practice Model to help homeQgo identify areas of improvement. In addition, homeQgo appointed an Agile Coach to guide its team toward the right approach.
Step 4: Building value streams
“To accelerate the release of new features, we needed to reduce team dependency,” says Quint. Xebia helped homeQgo adopt a value stream approach, where cross-functional teams, with Scrum Masters backed by an Agile Coach, are responsible for one value stream (like homeowners) instead of all values.
Step 5: Bring engineering to all teams
Thijs Limmen, Consultant at Xebia, focused on boosting team-level engineering. “We improved monitoring and efficiency, intentionally selected tools and discarded others, revised infrastructure security, and altered processes. Finally, we gave teams a huge amount of autonomy.”
Becoming A Customer-Driven Company
With a fully integrated new CRM system, homeQgo can now enjoy the many benefits of marketing automation, like automatic retargeting and scalability. The latter is necessary to support their steep growth ambitions, which would’ve been challenging without a new CRM.
Oosterholt adds: "With Xebia's help, we changed from a B2B organization focused on software development, customization, and hourly billing to a customer-driven company with a future-proof customer journey. She continues: "You can't be both. You can't customize your application and try to scale at the same time. You have to make a choice. As an organization, we had already decided on a direction. By extending this to IT, the change has come full circle."
"At some point, five people from Xebia joined our team of 40, which is pretty intense. However, it was never overwhelming because their focus was always on helping us do better. They were a great addition to our team!” — Claire Oosterholt, COO at homeQgo.
… and an Epic Workplace?
According to Oosterholt, modernizing the CRM system alone has made a real impact on employee satisfaction. “The developers responsible for our legacy system found little challenge maintaining it, which makes sense. It’s much more fun to spend time on exciting new projects. So, we alternated the teams maintaining the legacy. It’s nice that we don’t have to worry about that anymore, and we all get to work on the fun stuff.”
From a high-over perspective, Oosterholt adds that, without a CTO, the company would still have focused on business as usual. “When Tieland took on the role of interim CTO, we were able to embark on new ventures, which our teams were really excited about.” Quint adds: “We have opened things up, given people more responsibility, and asked them to be more transparent. Getting used to this takes time. Some do so faster than others. But overall, I believe our people are much more satisfied with the current circumstances.”