Case study: Groovenauts

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Groovenauts, an IT company from Fukuoka, prioritizes individual work styles for their engineers. They have been adopting task management tools such as Backlog to encourage employees to develop personal preferences. We asked about their unique working style and how they collaborate with Backlog.

Backlog Case Study Groovenauts

Tell us a little about Groovenauts’ services.

We have three main services. Magellan Blocks enables anyone to easily use cloud platforms such as BigQuery, Google-managed big data warehouses, and Machine Learning, which is an artificial intelligence service. Magellan is a cloud platform for IoT and online gaming that allows you to handle large data and a large number of accesses. The other service, a little different from these two, is the management of Tech Park. One component of Tech Park is Tech Park Makers, a coworking space for ‘makers,’ fully equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools. The other component is Tech Park Kids, an afterschool program where children can learn about technology outside of school.

Tell us more about Tech Park Kids.

Tech Park Kids was created to help alleviate any guilt on the part of our employees who were also parents and therefore need to leave their children at daycare after school in order to work. I’m a working mother, and I had trouble finding a place to leave my child after school. In fact, most of our employees are from the Kanto area and have little connection with local communities. We designed this after-school IT club to give children living in dual-income families a productive place to be after school. The company opened Tech Park Kids in April 2016 after realising how important it was to take care of employees needs both in and out of the office.

Backlog Case Study Groovenauts

Our strengths obviously lie in IT, so IT is the main subject of our lessons. Our engineers act as teachers and manage everything from making curriculum to conducting lessons. We teach students a variety of skills from how to use iMovie to become a Youtuber to Scratch, a visual programming style. Right now, there’s a fifth grader who is writing C# scripts in Unity. Others are making robots with LEGO’s Education Mindstorms.

People from outside of the company can also use Tech Park Kids. The standard opening hours are from 10 am to 9 pm, but we are flexible to the needs of each family.

Engineers working as kids teachers is a unique work style, isn’t it?

While teaching, I noticed that engineers aren’t so different from kids: they pursue new technologies in the same ways, and you see the same sparkles in their eyes when they apply a new piece of knowledge.

How do you approach projects?

Task management is important in our company. But the ultimate purpose of task management is not to manage tasks, but to increase the productivity of individuals. Managers help figure out how each employee can achieve this. 

We believe engineers exhibit their highest productivity when they think and act of their own accord. Thus, if we don’t decide formats, the team will achieve higher productivity out of each individual. In line with this point, Groovenauts does not set working hours but instead evaluates employees for their commitments. This does not mean we leave everything up to engineers. We let them work freely because there is trust and progress is being tracked transparently. This is the philosophy at Groovenauts.

We haven’t unified daily reports and task management into a single tool, yet. But I think managers need to be able to see where we are and what we are doing. For very important matters such as release dates, each project manager has to report in a certain format, but for other task management and reports, we let each person use their preferred tools.

Backlog-Case-Study-Groovenauts

What kind of projects do you use Backlog for?

We used Backlog for task management when we set up Tech Park Makers and Tech Park Kids. The project included general and personnel affairs, so we needed a tool that non-engineers are able to use. We tried a few project management tools and decided to adopt Backlog, which had the simplest and easiest operation.

We also use Backlog at the annual Fukuoka IT Summit (FITS). Many non-engineers are involved in the project, so again, we need a tool with easy operation.

How were you actually using Backlog?

In both cases we had members from a variety of groups participating, so we all used Backlog in a similar manner. While we were preparing for Tech Park Makers and Tech Park Kids, we were also moving the office. Things did not go as we had planned, and we often experienced unforeseen changes. We divided each project into specific issues in Backlog, so we could flexibly react to those changes. 

For FITS, we divided the project into different channels, such as setting up of the event venue, arrangement of guest speakers, content production, and so on. We received a lot of external support, so when there was information to be shared or when somebody needed to understand the current situation, we asked them to go through Backlog.

backlog-case-study-groovenauts

How was your experience of Backlog?

Among project management tools, Backlog’s easy and simple operation is very attractive. Backlog is also the most appropriate tool for projects where you need to move people, like events and office moves. Conventional project management tools are often oriented towards engineering and personal task management. Backlog proves handy for more applications in addition to engineering needs.

How do you want to use Backlog in the future?

I’m curious to see if the kids at Tech Park Kids can use Backlog to manage their homework. At the moment, they write everything down in a notebook, but I want them to learn how to manage schedules and move things forward using this kind of tool. It’s my wish that when they grow up and become adults, people will want to work with them. By introducing Backlog, I want children to learn the attitude of a hacker —to take in new things constantly and keep improving themselves.

backlog-case-study-groovenauts

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