Rowing Team

Questions to Robert Lukas, Head of Software Engineering

Name

Robert Lukas

Position at COPS

Partner Software Engineering

At the company since

April 2001 (in words twothousendone!)

Age

42

Hobbys

Tinkering with the smart home, riding motorcycles, hiking, cooking for the family and being a dad 😉

My favorite phrase at work

  Unfortunately, I don’t have one. Not a saying, but a fact! 😊

What connects me to corima is …

… the fulfillment of the vision to have created a standardized platform and a technical as well as functional framework after years of developing various customer-specific individual solutions. It allows us to stay technologically up to date and there are no limits to future developments.

In 10 years…

… I am hopefully healthy and can look forward with satisfaction to the further development of corima in the context of numerous challenging projects and the successive optimization of internal development processes.

The future will certainly bring exciting technical challenges and interesting innovations that cannot be foreseen at the moment.

corimamagazin: Hi Robert, you recently had your 20th anniversary of service with COPS. Wow, that’s a long time. Then you can certainly tell us something about the beginnings of corima. What was it like back then? How did the idea to develop a TMS solution come about?

Robert Lukas (rlu): Really hard to believe how fast time flies! The idea for corima was quite different at the beginning. From years of developing heterogeneous customer-specific solutions, more and more synergies crystallized that called for standardization. An internal initiative to uniform all our developments and especially the UIs resulted in a framework. The fast-growing number of applications within the framework increasingly focused on the corporate treasury domain and finally formed a product. For me, corima is the result of the evolution of all COPS software developments over the last 20 years.

corimamagazin: Today you lead our development team and are a partner at COPS. What made you join the company in 2001?

rlu: I started as a junior developer and joined a team of just 3-4 developers at the time. To think back and consider the contrast to today’s professional setup always makes me smile.

The team’s opinion counts more for me than my own.“

corimamagazin:  If a young person wants to start as a developer, can he apply to us? How should he imagine working on existing software? What should he bring with him? What should he already be able to do?

rlu: In my interviews, the focus is generally on social skills. People have to show commitment and interest, be willing to learn, and fit into the team. Depending on the position to be filled (whether junior or senior in development or testing), technical skills are of course important as well. I value competent answers, even improvised, if the candidate cannot recall the theory. Whether the acquired skills come from practice, self-study or a school career has no relevance for me. Finally, every candidate must face the team in a session and convince them. The team’s opinion counts more for me than my own.

„In the software development process, all teams must interact in a well-rehearsed and precisely timed manner.“

corimamagazin: Your area does not only include the developer team. You are also responsible for the colleagues from Release Management, Testing and Administration. What is it about these areas in a software company? What tasks do the colleagues have around corima?

rlu: In the software development process, all these teams must interact in a well-rehearsed and precisely timed manner. Testers and developers are one unit within the framework of Scrum and are in constant exchange. (editor’s note: Scrum is a process model of project and product management, especially for agile software development. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrum_(software_development)) Release Management ensures that all necessary deployments are available for development and testing and supports our customers with installation and maintenance directly on their environments. System Administration ensures the maintenance and further development of the internal technical infrastructure and is increasingly involved in the development of our customers‘ Azure outsourcing solutions.

 

„We are focusing on improving the architecture, performance and framework. Currently, technical optimization comes before business features.“

corimamagazin: In terms of development, we are currently in the „corima – StabilizationPhase“.  What do you mean by this?

rlu: In the development of software, there are numerous procedures and best practices resulting in a significant positive impact on quality. To name a few: the early consideration of tests (keyword: TDD – Test Driven Development) or the extension of the framework instead of individual developments (island solutions). External influences, especially deadline pressure, can lead the development team to deliberately take suboptimal paths or to forego automated tests, for example, in order to reach the goal more quickly. This, however, inevitably brings a higher risk of errors or the need for subsequent refactoring.

A regular stabilization phase deliberately focuses on working these debts off and, in the course of this, on optimizing quality and performance. The processing of non-critical bugs (e.g. small visual deficiencies in the UI, errors in the area of absolute edge cases, etc.) is also part of such a phase. We focus on improving the architecture, performance and framework. Currently, technical optimization comes before business features.

Our customers will be able to experience the results of all measures in the major release planned for the end of 2021.“

corimamagazin: When do you and your team expect to have completed the stabilization phase?

rlu: The list of potential ideas and suggestions to improve the software never stops and the topics that could theoretically be tackled come from practically all areas (architecture, frontend, backend, security, database, tools, framework(s), etc.). We therefore set priorities for each phase, for which we groom a backlog (editor’s note: a dynamic list of work orders) with a scope of about 6 sprints of 2 weeks each. In these sprints we reserve a predominant part of the resources for these tasks. Optimizations are of course successively incorporated outside the stabilization phase as well, but the focus is on concrete technical requirements then.

We are currently concentrating on optimizing performance. Our customers will be able to experience the results of all measures in the major release planned for the end of 2021.

corimamagazin: What will corima be able to serve when this phase is over? And what will be the next development steps from your point of view? In our questionnaire you do not want to give a prognosis for 10 years in terms of further development. What about the next two years?

rlu: The next corima major release will feature significant improvements in numerous applications (e.g. CashManagement, CreditFacilityMonitor, CollateralizationMonitor, Front, RequestForQuote). In parallel to the stabilization and the continuous incorporation of customer requirements, we are currently working on several internal strategic initiatives. corima-web and the web framework will receive an upgrade from AngularJS to Angular. (Editor’s note: Angular (Angular 2+) is a TypeScript-based front-end web application framework and offers numerous improvements compared to AngularJS, e.g. in terms of modularity and architecture, but above all significantly better performance) We are increasingly modularizing the architecture in order to be able to respond to changes and new requirements even more quickly and with lower risk. Our code management is being reformed to enable fast and continuous releases in the future. At the same time, we are working on an test-automation initiative that will relieve our testing resources in the medium term, enable us to shorten our feedback loops and significantly increase quality through high coverage.

My forecast is that in the foreseeable future we will have a much more comprehensive corima web client available, which will be superior to our desktop client in terms of features and performance on a technical level. We will be able to release in much shorter cycles with a noticeably better quality and reduce maintenance.

„… paper calendar vs. electronic calendar – an eternal dilemma.“

corimamagazin: Finally, a private question: You became father of twins two years ago. Does it help to be experienced in projects and structured work, or is your wife the manager at home?

rlu: In any case, balancing my life between my twins, my ten-year-old son, house, garden, hobbies and job requires consistent and sensitive prioritization. To keep the balance in all areas, certain practices from agile software development definitely help. A sensible backlog in the form of tasks, cyclical planning, and a meticulously maintained calendar with applied timeboxing for all activities certainly make life easier for me. Management at home is divided quite well between my wife and me – I know the contents of the fridge and always conjure up something on the table, but the clean clothes always materialize in the right place for everyone. (laughs) However, organizational conflict potential always lurks in the synchronization of my wife’s analog world and my digital world – paper calendar vs. electronic calendar – an eternal dilemma.

corimamagazin: Robert, thank you very much for this extremely exciting insight into the development world of corima and into a few private impressions of you.

rlu: My pleasure!

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