If you were to rewind to late 2019, we predominantly used the PickMe app for two things – getting around town and having a hot meal delivered to our doorsteps. But over the past 18 months, the list of services on the app has expanded considerably. You can now use it to get medicines, deliver packages, or even hire a truck. The company has been quick to adapt to the pandemic by leveraging its technology to the evolving needs of the new normal.
Now, the company is being recognised for this feat at the World Agility Forum. This is an annual event to bring together companies and their leaders who have excelled in using agile thinking to reinvent themselves and take their business to greater heights. At this year’s World Agility Forum, PickMe has been nominated for the award of Best Agile Transformation – the only Sri Lankan entity on the list and is competing alongside the global giant FedEx Europe.
PickMe: A Nominee for the Best Agile Transformation
Nominees are selected based on a case study and video submitted to the Jury of the World Agility Forum. Highlighting their activities and achievements over the past year, PickMe validated their claim of being an agile enterprise through their comprehensive product definition covering several key aspects to define the value it generates to stakeholders by following agile principles.
Having gained the Jury’s appreciation, PickMe was nominated in the Best Agile Transformation Category due to their commitment to innovate and push boundaries using agile development practices. Alongside PickMe, only three nominees were selected for this award in the 2021 rendition – the other two being FedEx Express Europe and Holubuva from the Czech Republic.
Speaking to Arteculate, Chief Technology Officer at PickMe, Mithila Somasiri, said, “Over the past two years, we’ve actively worked towards improving our development processes at PickMe by incorporating agile practices. As a result, we are excited and proud to have this unique achievement as the first Sri Lankan company to be nominated for this award and recognised at the World Agility Forum.”
PickMe’s journey to embrace agile
From its inception, PickMe was following agile. In 2018, the company doubled down its efforts and focused on maturing its processes. Defining the concept, Mithila shared, “The idea of being agile refers to organising large groups of people into effective teams. In doing so, allowing them to operate in a dynamic environment, without losing productivity, and respond to changes rapidly.” On paper, it sounds simple with several benefits. But in practice, it’s a difficult thing to pull off because “It’s not something done overnight but an ongoing journey.”
Nevertheless, PickMe began embracing the concepts of agile development from top to bottom. Its development teams began adopting the methodology. At the same time, the company’s senior leadership also supported it, which Mithila cites as a crucial factor that enabled it to be truly agile. By the end of 2019, the company had spent a year redefining its processes, which was now strictly detailed to respond to rapid changes in the market.
“Let’s assume you have a sprint of seven days, and the team commits to deliver a particular scope based on the information available on Monday. But then, on Wednesday, there could be some idea that I might get which I feel is urgent. So I might be inclined to pressure the teams to shift priorities. But being agile means I have to trust the process, respect the delivery commitment and wait a few days to catch the next 7-day sprint. The business won’t break down in the remainder of the week,” said Mithila describing the company’s philosophy of agility. It is this discipline that enabled us to deliver more in an ever-changing environment.”
He admits the philosophy was significantly tested during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and the initial lockdowns. Ultimately, this strong trust in the agile process paid off immensely. As an organisation, PickMe found the methodology offered several tools for effectively respond to rapidly changing customer needs. All of us saw the results of this first-hand.
During the first few weeks, the company partnered with Litro Gas Lanka and Sathosa to deliver gas cylinders and groceries during the lockdown. This evolved into the Marketplace feature, hosting 300+ merchants and has served over 1 million households islandwide since its launch. Alongside this was PickMe Flash, the on-demand delivery service to transfer goods on the platform, which has become a pillar of support for small businesses. Other services like PickMe Trucks also quickly scaled up and hit record milestones as they evolved to meet the changing needs of their customers.
PickMe standing tall among global giants
Since the journey began in late 2018, the app has transformed tremendously. It’s a sentiment shared by the jury at the World Agility Forum. While nominated as the only Sri Lankan organisation on the global stage for the Best Agile Transformation award, it’s competing against giants like FedEx Europe and Holubuva CZ. The winner will be announced at the global event on the 25th of September 2021.
The nomination shows how far PickMe has come by leveraging its technology platform with agile development practices to push boundaries and adapt to a fast-changing world. Looking back at the past few months, Mithila states the experience helped the company mature its understanding of agile and embrace it. Yet, it’s not resting on its laurels as he humbly says, “Agile isn’t a destination but an ongoing journey. At PickMe, we’re constantly working towards improving our processes to better respond to the changing needs of our customers.”