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Agoria Solar Team
22/08/2019

How delaware helps the Agoria Solar Team improve its project management

Earlier this summer, we got the chance to catch up with the Agoria Solar Team’s newly appointed pilots. Meet Nelis Geurts and Inge Habets in the video below! However, they won’t race alone, as the complete Agoria Solar Team will be traveling down under and support them through every step of the race. Find out how the Agoria Solar Team is formed and how delaware supports the team with improving its project management.
After a series of tests, Nelis and Inge were selected as the two race pilots for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which takes place in Australia in October. Fun fact: it’s been six years since the Belgian solar car had a female pilot! During the 5-day race, they will be accompanied by professional pilot Bert Longin and the entire Agoria Solar Team. The team members will be divided between different cars, each having its own unique task. We explained which other team cars will accompany the BluePoint en route from Darwin to Adelaide in our previous blog

Building a high-performing team

The Agoria Solar Team is the eighth Belgian team participating in the biggest solar race worldwide. The team consists of 19 engineering students, who strive to inspire young minds to a green future and build a solar car that can win the race. 

The students are chosen by a jury composed of former team members, a coach from KU Leuven and a consultant from a human resources agency. Students can submit a candidacy for multiple functions, explaining why they are the perfect fit for the team and what kind of experience and technical skills they have. The judges received over 70 submissions to join this year’s team. After screening the students’ motivation letters, the judges invited them over for several sessions during which their candidacy was discussed and which role would be suitable for them.

It’s up to the jury to create the best-performing team, consisting of students with complementary skill sets and a good team spirit. After all, they will be working together closely for almost two years! Most of the students have either just graduated and are now doing a postgraduate or are completing the final year of their studies. 

The members’ roles often change (slightly) when the design and development of the car is completed. Other tasks, such as logistics, race strategies, etc., become increasingly important in the weeks leading up to the race, so they demand more focus. This requires a certain flexibility from the students and the ability to adjust to different positions and tasks. Despite these different functions, critical technical decisions about the car are always discussed with the team as a whole. 

Boosting project management skills

As an Innovation Partner, delaware supports the team in boosting performance through artificial intelligence and improved project management. Let’s dive into the upgraded project management and discover how the team is currently operating!

The students work in different teams, often on different locations, each having their own task list (backlog) per project. Only a few team members used to have weekly meetings to keep track of the plan as a whole. This caused a lack of insight for the entire team, as only a few people had a view on the complete plan and the workload of the other teams. Now that the design phase has been concluded, several functions have shifted, offering more time for general tasks. These tasks can be executed by different people, so it is crucial that everyone has a good overview of all the tasks that are still on the backlog.

Meeting about the upcoming sprint

delaware analyzed the current way of working and offered advice on how to improve collaboration between all team members. First, they visualized all the work with Post-it notes on the wall. Every Post-it represented a certain deliverable. In agile terms, this is called a “Product Backlog”. Second, the team had to prioritize the backlog. As time is often limited, a choice should be made between need-to-have and nice-to-have features.

From then on, the Agoria Solar Team scheduled weekly meetings every Monday morning. The complete team gathers at its headquarters for a “Sprint Planning Meeting”. During these weekly meetings, the deliverables that have the highest priority are discussed and put on the “Sprint Backlog”. The “Sprint Backlog” is a separate area on the wall, to visualize the priorities for the upcoming week. Every time a task is executed, a team member moves the Post-it from “Sprint” to “Done”, to keep a good overview of the current tasks. 

This new way of working has already shown its value, after only two weeks:

  • More collaboration and interaction, which results in a better mutual understanding;
  • It requires the team to review and evaluate its priorities every week;
  • Physically moving the Post-it note from the “Sprint Backlog” to the “Done” state resulted in an adrenaline shot and the motivation to keep working tirelessly on the project.

During their time down under, the team will keep using this methodology to work as efficiently as possible.

You can meet all of the faces behind the Agoria Solar Team in their #TeamTuesday series. Make sure to follow the delaware Instagram account too, as we’ll share regular updates about the lead-up to the race and, of course, the race itself!