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7 Key Benefits of Adopting Agile

German retailer engelhorn discusses the business value of implementing Agile

Founded in 1890 as a shop for men’s and boys’ clothing, engelhorn is a fourth-generation family-run fashion retailer headquartered in Mannheim, Germany. Today, the company has expanded offerings through an online store and eight physical locations. Its one-stop in-person shopping destinations boast associated upscale restaurants and bars and are complemented by a robust online presence. Via the engelhorn partner program, the company allows 60 of its brand partners to sell through its ecommerce platform alongside its proprietary line of products.

Engelhorn’s innovative business model entailed a shift toward a more-agile approach. However, the retailer became unsatisfied with its previous systems integrator. With the dynamic Salesforce Commerce Cloud as its established ecommerce platform, the B2C company needed a new knowledgeable, flexible, and trusted partner that could scale with its growing business. A credit to our Agile expertise, engelhorn engaged Astound Commerce in March 2022 to begin its Agile transformation using the Scrum framework. 

Astound DACH Client Success Manager Stefan Strothmann spoke with André Montag, Head of Ecommerce at engelhorn, to discuss engelhorn’s way of working before using Agile, the impact Agile has had on how the development team works now, and how Astound compares to a certain seven-ton land mammal.

Renata Akers
Writer at Astound Commerce

Astound: What problems did engelhorn have before Astound came in as a partner?

André: We didn’t have a specific framework for working in an Agile way before Astound, neither Scrum nor Kanban. We had our own “agile” setup, which has consequences if you don’t work in a specific framework with defined roles. We had much less transparency in the processes and less collaboration between the business and development teams. There simply wasn’t this close collaboration. That was due to the fact that the role of product owner did not yet exist. We had very large tasks in some cases, which meant that we sometimes had longer processing times, longer waiting times in various statuses. The stakeholders had less responsibility and were less involved in the development process.

Astound: Where do you see Astound making the biggest impact? 

André: The moment we started working in the Scrum framework, it was clear that many things became more transparent. Scrum is simply a more transparent, agile working method. Stakeholders are much more involved and now have a review meeting, where they can see and provide feedback on the Sprint deliverables. They have to write their requirements more responsibly, and acceptance criteria has to be included. There is simply a very clear structure. That is the biggest impact we’ve had to our project: transparent, standardized, Agile processes, and as a result, structure. Productivity has increased. The Sprint gives developers an absolute focus—the Sprint goal. And these are just things that the Scrum framework brings with it that automatically leads to an improvement in results. 

In addition, the quality assurance by Krishna [Roy, QA Engineer] is very valuable. We didn’t have this role before in this form. And the product owner role now has a completely different meaning. In Scrum, it’s a very fixed role and is a very fixed part of the team—the entire team, not the development team. The role didn’t have this standing before because we didn’t have a Scrum framework. For me, that is the strongest impact. 

Astound: What was the biggest problem that engelhorn and Astound solved together using the Agile approach? 

André: I find that a big step was that the focus is really on the Sprint. The developers are focused. The stakeholders are taking responsibility. The requirement that the stakeholder writes now looks different than before. Thorsten [Michaelis, Product Owner for Wingman] and our Product Owner also wrote a handout on how to write a good user story and formulate acceptance criteria. That makes it easier to continue working with the requirements, thereby optimizing the throughput. We have simply become more productive. That was also the goal. 

Astound: What do you see as the key to our successful collaboration? 

André: The communication. You always understand where our challenges are, and you respond to them. It’s also good that we have fixed contacts who support us outside of pure technology or development experience. We have Scrum Master Iren Topalova who helps us to design our process well and stay within the structure. And the developers are experienced—they help us make progress on the development side.

Astound: Do you believe that you will be able to react quickly and flexibly to future changes in the market?

André: Absolutely. We see ourselves well-positioned for the future and the opportunity we have to bring in experts on specific topics, such as performance. For example, you also suggest experts who can accompany us or supplement our team. It’s absolutely important to be fit for the future. Even when we had technical issues that our team couldn’t solve, we’ve always been able to get a contact person from you. And now we also have the option of adding a solution architect. That is important for the future. 

Astound: OK, last question. When describing Astound as an animal, what comes to mind? 

André: The elephant spontaneously came to mind. The elephant is big, not in a ponderous sense, but big enough in the sense of Astound supporting us in all tasks. An elephant is extremely intelligent, hardworking, and thoughtful. It is organized. It’s a herd animal, so it’s a team player. It is agile because it walks 15 to 20 kilometers every day, always very purposeful, and lives in complex networks. So that’s what makes the elephant quite a good fit.

With Astound’s ongoing support, engelhorn continues to adapt to constantly changing customer needs and has seen immediate value across the business from its new way of working, including:

  • Increased transparency
  • Closer collaboration among teams
  • Enhanced work structure and processes
  • Increased productivity
  • Clearly defined roles
  • Improved stakeholder engagement
  • The flexibility and adaptability to be future-proof

Astound’s Agile experts can help you experience increased transparency, productivity, and more using our best-in-class Agile implementation methodology. Realize value from your solution faster—get in touch with us today to start your Agile transformation.

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