Geographically and culturally diverse teams are common in the technology world. It’s no surprise then that we have some fantastic options to choose from in order to facilitate super smooth and sophisticated collaboration among geographically and culturally diverse teams. Better technology often leads to better collaboration, as when the Apache OFBiz Community recently began using Atlassian HipChat. HipChat is a new team collaboration software that helps people connect real-time, opening up a whole new collaboration channel.
Brick and mortar co-working locations are important, because they allow like-minded people to connect and collaborate with each other in person. While this works well for more generic concepts, when it comes to verticals such as OFBiz, a more sophisticated solution is needed. HipChat provides a virtual collaboration space for a community that is spread across several continents and time zones.
Some may imagine that open source software developers are socially awkward nerds. In my experience, however, members of the OFBiz community are friendly, engaging, and eager to accept help and to help others. This is key, because good collaboration is at the center of all our strategies to resolve issues and to reach goals.
In order to accomplish goals, real-time collaboration is essential. Not so long ago, developer and user mailing lists were the primary means of communication for developer collaboration. They were better than nothing, but did not provide real-time collaboration capabilities. With HipChat, the Apache OFBiz community now enjoys a synchronous method of communication. Developers with common interests can now communicate in real time to explain their offerings and share their needs and perspectives. It also helps them to quickly understand the objectives and requests of others. This removes significant communication barriers and creates an environment where smart people can simultaneously work together efficiently and have fun.
“Atlassian HipChat helps us work more effectively while also feeling more connected as a community.”
–Anil Patel, Apache OFBiz Committer
HipChat gives community members an opportunity to form triads, work together on tasks, and play to their strengths. It also creates opportunities for experienced community members to mentor early-stage contributors regarding complexities of the ERP system. We find that improved communication now helps to grow new contributors, ultimately infusing a new stream of ideas into the OFBiz community.
Real-time peer review
No matter how skillful we are as software developers, peer review is the ultimate key to high quality software. With HipChat conversations, code changes are so much easier. Learning is fun and easy instead of tedious and complicated. It truly feels almost almost as if we are working in the same office. OFBiz business analysts communicate business ideas and requirements to developers and the requirement details and solution design then happen in real time. The resulting enhancements are likely to increase future adoption and/or to solidify the role of OFBiz with existing users.
Another important shift that happens with HipChat is that community members connect on a human level. People greet each other socially and share emojis in their conversations. When team members compliment each other, it feels immediate and sincere. Team members feel supported and recognized in a whole new way. This newfound emotional connection helps increase bonding between community members. The communication on HipChat is easy and transparent. It’s so easy, in fact, that community members are more likely to over-communicate (a much better problem to have than under-communication).
The OFBiz community is professional, represents a wealth of experience, and is dedicated to building better software. Members work together productively to optimize enterprise resources management and to keep cost of the software platform manageable. With HipChat, along with other tools, the Apache OFBiz developers work with the user community instead of working for the users.
Anil Patel is COO at HotWax Systems as well as an OFBiz project committer, PMC member, and active community contributor. He also studies yoga. Anil will join other HotWax Systems team members and advisors in periodically posting thoughts here related to OFBiz, eCommerce, ERP, and other related topics.