Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the partnership, their views on current Domino App modernization issues and best practices to minimize the risk of failed modernization and migration.
During a meeting with Thilo Volprich, CEO of Team Technology GmbH, and Franz Walder, Analytics Solutions Architect and Product Manager at panagenda, I learned how the idea came to be, what it looks like now and why it is so revolutionary.
I am happy to have both of you at this “virtual” table today. You seem to be quite busy as it was not so easy to find a date that fits into your calendar. And that brings me directly to my first question.
Why are you here together today?
Franz Walder We have actually been market companions for many years – Team Technology and panagenda. We know about each other, see each other at trade fairs, know our products and respect each other because of the solutions we offer. However, we haven’t had very intense contact beyond the usual small talk.
I think it was at RNUG 2019 (Russian Notes User Group 2019) when this changed.
Thilo Volprich Yes, exactly. That’s when we had our first real conversation with your CEO Florian Vogler. Let me give you a little bit of background: In 2016 we started to launch our product teamWorkr and we were present at almost every major Notes/Domino event in the USA, Europe and Russia. And no matter where we showed up, panagenda was already there – a bit like the hare and the hedgehog. (laughs)
For this reason, I got in touch with Florian some time ago. We exchanged information with great interest about the respective solutions and possible overlaps. In particular, the idea of partnership was further developed at RNUG 2019. It was the starting point for a series of exciting discussions about whether we could create something together that would be helpful for everyone – especially for customers.
Franz Walder And then I came into play.
So, obviously the exchange of ideas and information has been going on for about a year. And now you want to make it official?
Thilo Volprich Yes. The decisive meeting to put theory into practice took place this year with Franz at Engage 2020. At this time it was even still in person.
What would be a game changer in connection with the analysis and modernization of the HCL Notes/Domino apps?
— Franz Walder
Franz Walder The discussion at Engage triggered the first tangible answers. You remember our central question, Thilo? It was “What would be a game changer in connection with the analysis and modernization of the HCL Notes/Domino apps? Which offerings do customers appreciate from start to finish?”
My view on the topic is more from the analytical side. My questions are often about technical aspects, e.g. what can we measure, read, evaluate and present in dashboards? Back then, we left the technical aspects completely aside, consciously placing ourselves in the role of the customer to concentrate fully on the analysis.
The result is our jointly developed and already proven process for the successful and rapid modernization of Domino apps: Analyze > Deploy > Test > Optimize. And that is why I am here today.
Thilo Volprich Correct. That is why we(!) are here today. (smiles)
One team, two companies, who frankly speaking are also competitors. Have you fulfilled your initial challenge to find a “Game Changer”?
Thilo Volprich We did, definitely. We succeeded in perfectly bringing together different perspectives of the problem for the benefit of customers. In the field of analysis, it is currently difficult to find someone with whom one can exchange ideas, who has enough relevant experience and is familiar with various customer situations.
What do you mean? There are many analytics specialists out there.
Thilo Volprich Well, if you run your own analysis, you are usually also the customers’ consultant. Which means, the results are very much tied to your own analysis methods and interpretations.
panagenda, and more specifically Franz, is able to separate these two aspects from one another – the analysis process and data evaluation. He is a proven analytical expert in the Domino environment. His neutral point of view has given me some new ideas and we have given each other valuable insights into our ideas and concepts.
Based on these insights, we have completely redefined the app modernization cycle for customers with the Analyze > Deploy > Test > Optimize cycle. In my opinion, the two worlds of experience we brought together are quite unique in the market.
Franz Walder Wow. I’m starting to blush. (laughs)
You are right, of course. But I would add the following: For us, the analysis, i.e. providing the facts for the customer is in the foreground. That was the most important thing for us right from the start. There are situations in which companies offer analysis to their customers only as a means to an end, in order to sell more of their solutions. In such cases I do not see the great added value for the customer.
However, analysis always offers potential to break new ground. And this is exactly what we have achieved through our discussions – together we’ve discovered and were able to pave a new way.
Let’s be a little more specific now. What is the “Game Changer” for you?
Franz Walder For me it is the almost automated process. From the analysis, which extends across various analysis branches, to the immediate provision of a running, mobile app. Without a customer having to know much about the state of his existing apps so as to make the right decisions that lead to a quick result. Without detours and additional costs.
In my eyes this really is a “game-changer.”
Thilo Volprich At the end of the modernization process I want to offer something that one can use. No intermediate results in colored diagrams in an Excel spreadsheet or on a PowerPoint slide.
At the end of the modernization process I want to offer something that one can use.
— Thilo Volprich
Thanks to the trend-setting domino infrastructure analysis data from iDNA applications, coupled with the teamWorkr Automation Engine, we can now perform app modernization so efficiently that we have a working app(!) at the end of the modernization process. A customer can then view and use it on a smartphone – in their environment, with their data, without having to e.g. give the data to the outside world.
In my opinion, this is not only new, it’s awesome!
So, the detailed Domino infrastructure analysis makes the difference?
Thilo Volprich Exactly. Experience shows that this is a great challenge in almost all companies.
In a very short time, we now automatically get a complete overview of all(!) existing apps, how often they are used, by whom they are used and in detail even what parts of the apps are used. We also have insight into the expected effort to modernize individual apps based on the code available in the apps.
Until now, the determination has been time-consuming, labor-intensive, often inaccurate, or even impossible.
Franz Walder Now the data comes directly from the system, provides clear information about the profitability of the modernization for each app, is up-to-date, absolutely reliable and can be processed immediately by teamWorkr.
Why do you think this is important? Which mistakes should be avoided?
Thilo Volprich In my opinion, many companies stumble over deficits in inventory and planning during modernization and migration projects. These are often based on insufficient or incorrect assumptions. The effects usually only become apparent during the project.
- The project takes much longer than expected (the project duration is incorrectly estimated)
- The budget frame is clearly exceeded (the project costs are incorrectly estimated)
- There are many more apps in use than expected (the use of Domino in your own company is misjudged)
This is not new. But it is astonishing that the learning curve in many companies remains flat over the years.
Migrations in particular, are always decided quickly. What is completely overlooked, in my opinion, is the added value, the experience that is contained in the existing system. It is important to examine the value of earlier, proven developments, processes, and data as well as to compare the effort and added value of migration with that of modernization.
Inventory data, some of which has been collected for 15-20 years, is ignored because it cannot be transferred.
Franz Walder Or they are transformed at great expense.
Thilo Volprich True. And if companies have very specific solutions, this can lead to the development of many new apps in a new platform. That’s a special feature of the Domino platform. I can display completely different topics in one app. These are already two examples that speak for a modernization if necessary.
Franz Walder From our analysis point of view, we always come across your first three points in discussions: Underestimated project duration, budget constraints and app diversity.
This is exactly where our approach comes into play. We want to help project managers to understand in detail what project efforts lie ahead. How they can create fully reliable project plans and better assess the risk and consequences. Both the financial risk and the risk to their own career.
Thorough and carefully thought-out planning is worth its weight in gold. And not only in the medium and long term, but also in the short term. Here is the potential for a much more efficient approach. Especially for precise estimates of effort, resources and costs. The available infrastructure data are decisive for this.
Thorough and carefully thought-out planning is worth its weight in gold. Here is the potential for a much more efficient approach.
— Franz Walder
By knowing the exact usage of the infrastructure, helps to identify and exploit savings potential right from the start. For example, unused apps can be shut down before modernization or migration, servers with low utilization can be merged, and license costs can be saved. The Notes/Domino infrastructure becomes leaner and generally more efficient. These initial rationalization steps alone can remove a lot of complexity from a project.
Then the question arises what happens to the remaining apps? Which paths are open for the different apps? Modernization, migration, or hybrid operation and which platform?
Thilo Volprich The simplest formula, I hear for Domino apps, is to migrate everything to SharePoint. Without knowing that the platforms have different methodologies and are not comparable at all. This means, for example, that some apps may have to do without functionality because it is simply not supported in the new system. Do the apps then have to be changed and adapted accordingly? Do processes need to be changed and adapted? What additional effort is required?
Many companies are not even aware of this when they decide to migrate to SharePoint. As you can see from my previously mentioned, unsatisfactory results.
That’s why a migration decision must not be based on a sense of trend or interest, but on sound facts.
Franz Walder And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? This is where the key to increasing efficiency lies – in addition to usage analysis, also in content analysis. Based on the information about what, how, by whom, to what extent is used and how complex the individual code is, it is essential to understand which option is recommended from an operational point of view and which is not. Which platform comes into question and which doesn’t.
The topic seems to be very close to your hearts. But with so much harmony, one has to ask, aren’t you actually competitors?
Franz Walder Market companions(!) (smiles)
Yes, of course we are in a competitive situation to a certain extent. Nevertheless – or perhaps precisely because of this – the added value and benefit for our customers is and remains our highest priority.
Thilo Volprich I agree with that. The partnership shows how important a joint result for the customer is to us. As is well known, healthy competition boosts the market and, in our case, we simply changed the rules and started on a new path.
The result for the customer is that they get running apps instead of graphics.
This brings us to my last question for you: Where will this path lead you next? What can we expect?
Franz Walder First of all we will start with joint webinars on October 15 and 22. They are absolutely real world-oriented and we will demonstrate the process from analysis to the finished app hands-on. (Links to the webinars at the end of the text, editor’s note)
Thilo Volprich Absolutely. No Death by PowerPoint. Promised! (laughs)
Thank you for your time and I am looking forward to the next joint activities and of course exciting customer reports!
Thilo Volprich has been working in large companies, consulting firms and in direct customer contact in the Notes/Domino environment since 2003. In 2013 he founded Team Technology together with his partner Alexander Romppel. Decisive for both was the desire to realize modern, contemporary user interfaces for mobile and desktop applications based on Domino and the resulting noticeably better user experience.
Team Technology’s goal is to make the collaboration of people easier and more efficient. To effectively simplify migration processes or modernizations with the highest possible level of automation, to use mobile resources, to manage content in such a way that it is securely accessible from anywhere and to use the IT investments of the past in a future-oriented way. Just the perfect combination on the way to agile working methods.
Franz Walder is also a well-known voice in the Notes/Domino world. He started in 2000 as a Domino administrator and developer and later worked at panagenda to develop his own infrastructure analysis products such as ConnectionsExpert, ApplicationInsights and iDNA Applications.
The latest evolution of iDNA Applications is one of the most powerful solutions in the field of Domino infrastructure analysis, as it provides multi-layered content analysis reports in addition to usage, design and code complexity analysis.