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Landing an Agile Transformation for TerraQuest

Terraquest Logo

The Stack of Problems

Meet Laurie. Chief Technical Officer for TerraQuest; providing data and technology solutions for the future of land and planning. 

Responsible for running the National Planning Portal for England and Wales, TerraQuest has revolutionised the planning process and is the go-to provider for land and property services. The portal manages 90% of the planning applications in England and Wales but, with a conventional software lifecycle development approach, TerraQuest had a vision for a more efficient way of working. And Laurie wanted to take the software engineering division of the business in a new direction. 

With ambitions to grow the team from 17 to 90 technology specialists from developers to application architects, and transition from a predominantly waterfall software development methodology to an agile scrum methodology, whilst also moving their hosting infrastructure to the cloud, TerraQuest was about to embark on a huge business transformation. A journey that was ambitious and necessary for business growth, but risky in terms of infrastructure and change since the system processes over 700,000 applications each year.

The team at TerraQuest had previous experience of outsourcing to traditional software development companies. But this time, they were looking for a partnership approach. 

Laurie knew he needed people he could trust. He was looking for longevity and developers who would embed themselves in the business to minimise cost and risk, and maximise speed to market. 

“Synetec have a deep insight into how we work; they embedded themselves in our business which really sets them apart.”

Laurie Cunningham, Chief Technical Officer, TerraQuest 

The Solution

In true partnership style, we began with our guarantee delivery process which is how we guarantee delivery. We immersed ourselves in the TerraQuest business, processes and principles so we had a deep insight into how the organisation works. We took time to understand Laurie and his team to maximise engagement from the team at TerraQuest. 

“Synetec understand what you want and then figure out how to make it work. Their engagement and willingness to conform to how we work has been refreshing.”

Laurie Cunningham, Chief Technical Officer, TerraQuest 

We provided a fulltime Solution Architect who was embedded with TerraQuest for just under 2 years. The SA contributed to mapping out a robust process for moving their entire infrastructure to the cloud, and also to the reshaping of several working processes. 

Previously, Business Analysts had worked with stakeholders to turn endless business requirements into lengthy specifications. Instead, we were embedded into the team that helped Laurie and TerraQuest design and adopt Agile principles and processes, to deliver customer value much more quickly. We played a part in implementing DevOps to shorten the development lifecycle whilst supporting the onboarding of new recruits.

We also provided additional Product Owners and Solution Architects at key project pinch points to further mobilise new Scrum teams in order to help them deliver when timescales were tight.    

The Transformation

Partnering with Synetec to assist with business transformation was a game changer for TerraQuest. 

Laurie and his team have been successful in completing a transformational piece of work and delivering the technology platform that truly represents the future of planning. Both of which would not have been possible in the timescales required, without Synetec’s support.

Their infrastructure is now in the cloud, they have DevOps in place and their engaged Scrum teams and Agile approach will facilitate future developments and innovation, at speed. 

Embedding a Solution Architect as an extension of Laurie’s team helped the team evolve, with a collaborative culture that has stood the test of remote working. So the team can always hit the ground (or Terra) running.     

“Working in tandem with Synetec is the definition of the word 'partner'. It's very collaborative and Synetec have exceeded our expectations.” 

Laurie Cunningham, Chief Technical Officer, TerraQuest

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