IMQS’s product owners rely on their dynamic skill-sets to navigate the world of software development for the South African municipal sphere. For Clinton Thomas, two tools above all others ensure success – agility and communication.
CLINTON, TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AT IMQS?
I started at IMQS in 2017 working on our project management solution, Project Control System (PCS). During my time with PCS I got the opportunity to engage with major clients such as the City of Tshwane as well as the Municipality of Stellenbosch. This provided me with a good view on the domain of infrastructure asset management and also taught me a lot about the particular clients we service in this domain, namely municipalities.
Subsequently I moved to Maintenance Management where I am proud of our successes with both Rustenburg Local Municipality and the City of Tshwane. In both cases we were not only successful in our deployment, but were able to move ahead with training 60 users in the case of Rustenburg and 300 at City of Tshwane. This is no small feat and a great achievement for IMQS.
I am currently moving into the product owner role for our Asset Management Module. I am excited as this will bring new challenges, including ensuring that our clients are mSCOA compliant.
WHAT LEAD YOU TO IMQS AND HOW DID IT PREPARE YOU?
The product owner role is relatively new to me, but I feel that there has been a lot in my history that has prepared me for it. My background is quite eclectic, starting my career in the programming/development space and later spending most of my time in different IT companies lecturing, teaching and managing learnerships.
It was during my time at Sintrex when I first moved towards product development. While I maintained my lecturing / teaching focus, there was no space for learnerships. I thought this a shame because I really enjoyed being part of something that gives back to the community. My particular position at the time exposed me to the different moving parts of the company’s products. This exposure meant that I was soon placed in a Product Specialist role, a role that first introduced me to the Agile methodology.
When I started as Product Specialist there was no real methodological framework guiding us. Sintrex explored a few product development methods, including Agile, but they eventually abandoned all in favour of developing their own particular approach. For me the Agile bug had bitten and I heard about IMQS and the great work they were doing, so I applied and am glad to say I was successful!
WHAT TOOLS DO YOU BRING TO IMQS’S PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT TEAM?
Within the Agile methodology I would say that agility and communication are key attributes that I have been able to bring to the table.
With agility I refer to both product development and client management. On the product side, there are times in any project when circumstance necessitate the ability able to move away outside of your framework. Methodology can serve to simultaneously guide you as well as constrain you. At IMQS we have been agile in the sense that, when the situation called for it we reverted to peer programming and even extreme programming while not compromising our broader product development approach. The agility lies in stepping outside of the framework and knowing when and how to come back to it.
Then there is the agility of working with a client, both in terms of working with their requirements but also being able to communicate what you believe their actual requirements to be. Whether it comes to hardware or deadlines, the ability to guide a client in the best direction for them is what ensures success. Moreover, being clear on what is going to be delivered, how it is going to happen and in what timeframe leads to greater trust, understanding, and ultimately greater customer satisfaction.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WORKING AT IMQS?
As can be seen, my background has played a huge role in preparing me for working at IMQS. I am able to bring all my knowledge - business acumen, presentation sills, project management and IT specific knowledge – to the table to solve problems and contribute to building a better South Africa. This is an important aspect, the ability to feel that I am contributing to the greater good. Infrastructure is the backbone of our developing economy and I believe that IMQS can truly contribute to achieving more success in this sector.
Finally, working at IMQS has been a pleasure because of the people I am surrounded by. Across products, from PCS to Maintenance Management, I work with the knowledge that my team is filled by individuals who are always willing to step up as long as I step up. That is something golden that I can’t get enough of.