Software Development Newsletter: Q1 2020

Director Message

Welcome to the first Mitrais Newsletter for 2020.

The new year has landed with a bang, with exciting challenges and opportunities both for Mitrais and the wider global software development community. We hope that you will find our selections of articles in this edition entertaining and informative.

Now that Mitrais is part of the CAC family, it’s time to investigate the value that synergies between us can add to Mitrais, CAC and the group’s global clients. In this issue, we take a look at Mitrais’ first technical engagement between us and our new partners, and how those synergies can yield huge benefits for everyone.

With Agile software development, and particularly Scrum, gaining more and more acceptance across the world, it can raise some questions about how it changes the roles of existing players. One of the questions that we often hear is “How is a Scrum Master different from a Project Manager, and how do they work together?”. In this issue, we drill down into what Scrum Masters and Project Managers are supposed to do, and how this will impact your next development project.

Remember just a few years ago when “Unicorns” – start-ups with a market capitalisation of more than US$1B – were a big deal? So do we. But now, just the booming global Ride-sharing market has given birth to a completely new phenomenon – a start-up with a capitalisation of more than US$10B. Read about the extraordinary growth of these new players in this issue.

Data security is certainly a hot topic around the world right now, with plenty of attention being focussed on this critical subject. As part of Mitrais’ Continuous Commitment strategy, our CTO, Hartoyo Barlian, and his team have been working hard with globally recognised accreditation services to further enhance Mitrais’ capabilities. We are proud to say that all of these efforts have resulted in us receiving certification in ISO 27001:2013 for Information Security Management Systems, and you can read more about this important achievement in the article.

Software engineers can be stuck with the reputation of being slightly nerdy introverted types (even though we all know that’s untrue). But some of our staff buck that trend, coming from wilder backgrounds and retaining their love for extreme sports. This time, we introduce you to Andy, and as well as being a top flight developer, his story might surprise you.

CAC and Mitrais – The Power of Synergy

In late 2019, when Mitrais joined the Global CAC Holdings Group, there was a clear plan in mind.

Mr. Akihiko Sako, the President and CEO of CAC Holdings, said at the time “Recently, we are seeing another shift in the IT industry with digital transformation, and the growth in Agile software development. Having Mitrais join forces with us is a momentous move for our group, by both creating a strong bridgehead in South-East Asia and strengthening our capabilities, notably in Agile development, where Mitrais has a strong track record. We are poised to capitalise on digital transformation as a key development opportunity.”

CAC was established 1966 and is one of the independent pioneers in the software industry in Japan. During its long history, the CAC Group has evolved and grown together with the rapidly changing IT industry, and today has 15 companies in its group – 8 locally and 7 overseas.

Now, CAC and Mitrais are poised to start the process of capitalising on these synergies by undertaking an exciting and ambitious Proof of Concept (PoC) project that will demonstrate how Mitrais’ track record in Agile Software Development will add value to the CAC Group and its clients.

According to the PoC brief, CAC plans to take the advantage of Mitrais’ Agile knowledge and engineer resources to provide distributed Agile software development & maintenance service to clients in Japan from 2020.

To achieve this, dedicated Mitrais Agile and Project Management experts will initially be hosted in CAC’s Tokyo headquarters to provide guidance to an evolving blended software development team comprising local Japanese CAC staff and remote developers working from Mitrais’ development centres in Indonesia.

The PoC is designed to prove the main business assumptions/concepts and to explore ways to identify and mitigate against any issues that may affect future service delivery. It will also provide important opportunities for both Japanese and Indonesian team members to experience the realities of distributed Agile software development and how it can be implemented to the advantage of the CAC Group and its Japanese and Global clients.

As exciting as this PoC is for all involved, it will not be without challenges. Although both CAC and Mitrais teams are proficient in English language communications, there is obviously some potential for difficulties where the majority of team members are not native English speakers. The Mitrais staff visiting Japan for this project are keen to develop Japanese language skills during their stay, but to mitigate any risk from the outset, nominated multilingual team members are being built into the team structure from Day One. The team will experiment with a variety of language proficiencies within the team, and some of the Scrum Events which involved the Product Owner (a native Japanese speaker) e.g. Sprint Review and Backlog Refinement meetings will be deliberately undertaken using Japanese as the primary language. The idea is that the best communication blend will come out of these experiments in the PoC.

As the PoC progresses, it will steadily evolve. In Phase One, scheduled for February and March of 2020, the majority of the team, including Mitrais experts, will be Tokyo-based. In subsequent phases, the development team will become a blended unit comprising experts from both Indonesia and Japan, aiming to realise the full benefits that the distributed Agile model offers.

All members of the PoC team recognise the importance of formally demonstrating the benefits of this model and are energised and excited by the prospect of working together toward a successful outcome. Once complete, the opportunities to seed these 21st century software development techniques into the dynamic global application development market are obvious, and all are excited to be a part of this.

Everyone is behind this project, and we wish the team the maximum success in its execution. We look forward to this new era of cooperation within our group.

Project Manager vs Scrum Master – Unscrambling the Egg

Having decided to build a piece of software to either improve the productivity of your business or to sell into your target market (or both), you will be assembling your development team. Whether that team will be built within your organisation or in conjunction with your Software Development Partner, you have some decisions ahead of you regarding its composition.

Some of these decisions are more straightforward – how many developers with what skillsets will be needed to produce your solution in the timeframe necessary? You will also probably have decided that newer Agile development methodologies like Scrum are the way to go, and to a large extent that will likely be true. But considering the effective management of your Scrum team, you will probably find that there is something of a “holy war” being waged in Software Development circles right now between proponents of “traditional” Project Managers and others committed to the newer role of Scrum Master.

This is essentially a philosophical argument that can quickly become very technical in nature, but is often based on ideal implementations of methodologies (that rarely exist). The aim of this paper is to take a step back from the theoretical, to try to define the Project Manager and Scrum Master roles in the real world, and contrast their aims in your project.

Project Managers

The Project Manager (PM) role existed well before Software Development was even a job, and the responsibilities and knowledge areas required by a qualified PM are very well defined within internationally accepted frameworks such as the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), overseen by the Project Management Institute and recognised as standards by the American National Standards Institute and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

PMs are generally responsible for applying their knowledge and skills to leading a project all the way from its earliest inception to a successful conclusion. To do this, they apply skills in 10 specific knowledge areas:

  1. Integration Management
  2. Scope Management
  3. Schedule Management
  4. Costs Management
  5. Quality Management
  6. Resource Management
  7. Communication Management
  8. Risk Management
  9. Procurement Management
  10. Stakeholder Management

A PM’s sphere of responsibility obviously overlaps considerably with that of general management but is constant regardless of the particular development methodology/tools employed in a certain development project. PM’s can also have technical software development backgrounds and skillsets, and may even have experience and certification in particular roles associated with one or more methodologies, but in essence, their overriding goals are to maintain the momentum and management (and, therefore, success) of one or more projects and act as a proxy for and conduit to the key project stakeholders.

Scrum Masters

In contrast to the PM role, that of Scrum Master (SM) is a very specific to the development framework known as “Scrum”. Like Project Managers, Scrum Masters have a prescribed training and certification process administered by recognised bodies such as the Scrum Alliance.

Rather than specify knowledge areas, Scrum concentrates on defining the role of an SM within a Scrum team. It is clear, though, that the architects of Scrum did envisage SMs operating with knowledge of project scope, quality (and, perhaps, HR) that would be in common with PMs. According to ScrumGuides.com, a Scrum Master has the following roles within the Scrum team:

  • Leading and coaching the organisation in its Scrum adoption
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organisation
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team and,
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organisation.

Strictly interpreted, the Scrum framework has the team operating as an entirely independent unit. The SM is defined as a team member responsible for guiding the team through the processes, but without any level of authority within the team beyond that of the other team members, and certainly none outside of the team. There is no Project Management role for the SM, and no specific responsibilities for cost, risk, schedule etc. The only interaction between an SM and a PM discussed within the Scrum framework is at Sprint Reviews.

A Mix

It is clear that PMs have a much higher-level management role within a specific project (or group of projects) than a SM, but that the SM’s purpose is much more finely targeted at ensuring the operation of the Scrum team and the evolution of the associated processes.

While “pure” Scrum has the SM interacting with the team and Product Owners without the support and authority of a PM, such team structures are still relatively rare in the real world. Scrum teams do not exist in a vacuum, separated from the organisations involved, or business in general.

What is more customary at the current stage of software development is the concept of Agile Project Management. In this mode, the PM still works with key stakeholders to select the correct tools, processes and techniques at the outset of the project, and retains the roles and responsibilities inherent in a PM role. Once Scrum has been selected as the right option, the PM facilitates the creation of a Scrum team, encompassing all of the roles mandated by such a methodology. In this configuration, the PM might select a suitably qualified SM to undertake the roles prescribed under Scrum. They may alternatively elect to directly ensure that the project deliverables are implemented using an incremental, iterative method (like Scrum). This would be perfect in a situation where the PM was also a qualified SM, for example, where they could also assume the role of SM.

For larger undertakings, there is also the option for a single PM to work in a co-ordination role, with a number of Scrum teams working on individual parts of the project. Each team would have its own SM, and, sometimes, even its own Product Owner.


All of this can be a source of significant controversy amongst proponents of differing development philosophies, and some will argue that Scrum is a self-sufficient framework that should not be mixed with other project management approaches without risking its efficiency.

However, others will argue that Scrum is just one of the techniques available to software development organisations and is therefore, a subset of the tools that a PM has available. If the latter is true, then Scrum does not rule out the possibility of integration with other processes and can be implemented in as “pure” or customised way as needed for a particular project.

Mitrais believes that the ideas behind Scrum are powerful. It is a potent framework for getting a team onboard, focussed and creating software. We very much support teams that aim to create Scrum environments for themselves. However, Scrum cannot be learned effectively on a 2 day Scrum Master course! There are a lot of books on Scrum and how to follow Scrum practises, and they all describe how to do it. But they don’t necessarily say how to know if you are doing it right, how to change it to make it right for you and how to evolve it into your environment.

It’s a bit like learning to parachute out of an aeroplane. You don’t care about the theory of aerodynamics, you want to know what to pull and when! Many novice Scrum Masters do just this. They follow the prescribed practises but don’t really know why they are doing it.

Remember “No Rules are Universal (except this one!).”

Every rule requires a context.

For example, it is generally a rule that you don’t go round sticking knives into people’s throats.

Unless you happen to be a doctor performing a tracheotomy to save someone’s life!

All rules are contextual.

Any book (or expert!) that tells you “This is how you develop software” is probably wrong! Because unless that book was written for your team, in your company, doing your project at this particular moment in time, it doesn’t know how you should develop software!

So, given the above, how do you know what to do? You can’t buy in a poundsworth of Scrum!

Well try this :

  • Take a small step forward
  • See where that got you
  • Revise your plan
  • Rinse and Repeat


The concept of Scrum is excellent, but in our experience, many implementations of Scrum fall very, very far short of that.

Mitrais is often called in to Unscramble the Egg! (hence the title of this article).

It takes courage to implement Scrum. It takes courage to say “I know I’m going to make mistakes.”

But that’s the only way you are going to find out what needs to be done. You are going to have to work hard to make sure that those mistakes are small and correctable.

It takes courage at the individual level, at the team level and probably most importantly at the organisational level.

Agile is not what you do. Agility is how you do it.

When selecting a Software Development Partner, look for one with a practical background in both PMBOK and Scrum, and who is consistently delivering projects using successful blends of these valuable approaches.

Organisations such as Mitrais feature a significant team of experienced Project Managers, another of certified Scrum Masters, and several who are both. This provides the maximum flexibility in creating a team that will provide a successful outcome for your needs.

Did You Know? Ride-sharing Decacorns . . .

While you have probably seen lots of press regarding challenges for some high-profile companies in the current economic climate, there is a less publicised global corporate revolution going on just below the horizon. 2018 was, to some, the year of the “Unicorn” – start-ups with a market capitalisation of greater than US$1 billion. In fact, in 2018 no less than 38 Unicorns went public, and as of January 2019 there were more than 300 Unicorn organisations world-wide.

As astounding as that seems, there is an even more influential group of companies emerging. Dubbed “Decacorns”, these are a group of start-ups who have achieved previously staggering market capitalisation of greater than US$10 billion. There are around 20 Decacorns in 2019, and while it is to be expected that a large number are US-based, what might be surprising is the diversity of the nationalities and industries represented.

Some of the Decacorns are household names globally – Airbnb, SpaceX, Epic Games, Wish and DJI Innovations are recognised by most as tech giants.

But the emerging ride-sharing culture looks to be a sector generating a lot of heat in this group. Some are expected players – Uber (with a capitalisation of around US$70B) and it’s major international competitor, Lyft (around US$12B), make the list of course, but so does Didi Chuxing (around US$55B) from China, and one of the latest, Indonesia’s Go-Jek (at around US$10B).

Already one of four Indonesian start-ups values at over US$1B last year (along with Tokopedia, Traveloka and Bukalapak), the Chairman of the Indonesian E-Commerce Association (idEA), Mr Ignatius Untung, recently announced that Go-Jek had become a Decacorn after receiving capital injections from a number of companies, including giants Google and Tencent Holdings, and the latest from diversified business group PT Astra International.

Go-Jek is typical of players in this space, experiencing massive growth in the transportation network and logistics spaces, and quickly diversifying. It now encompasses Indonesia’s 4th largest e-wallet service, transacting 30% of Indonesia’s e-money transactions by 2017, as well as food delivery, courier services, event ticketing and more. As well as this vertical diversification, Go-Jek has expanded geographically, announcing in 2018 that it will be investing $500 million in its international expansion strategy to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, starting with ride-hailing, then further replicating the multiple-service business model in Indonesia.

These are not just computer-driven tech companies either. Go-Jek employs over 3000 staff in its three Jakarta-based headquarters, and boasts over 1 million drivers, merchants and professionals across its range of services.

It seems that the ride-sharing economy is here to stay, and is making significant waves in the global business world. With over 140 players already in this space globally (from Aber all the way to Zum) and more ramping up every day, nothing seems to suggest that this is going to change anytime soon.

Mitrais Achieves Global Security Certification of ISO 27001:2013

When you are in the business of providing the highest quality services to your partners, as Mitrais has been for more than 20 years, it is vital that you go the extra mile to keep yourself at the cutting edge.

With Mitrais’ well-known mantras of “long-term high-trust relationships” and “Continuous Commitment”, we recognised that information security has become more and more important in the last few years. Many of our partners are being required to demonstrate leadership in this area, so it made good sense for us to have our systems and processes, developed over decades, examined by independent experts to validate our confidence in them.

Mitrais engaged Certification Europe, an internationally accredited certification body based in Dublin (with offices in London, Italy and Japan), to conduct the audit necessary to achieve certification in ISO 27001:2013 for Information Security Management Systems. We are pleased to announce that this audit process is now complete, and that Mitrais is accredited in this field.

ISO 27001 is the international standard which is recognised globally for managing risks to the security of information we hold. Certification to ISO 27001 allows us to prove to our clients and other stakeholders that Mitrais are managing the security of their information to the highest standards. ISO 27001:2013 (the current version of ISO 27001) provides a set of standardised requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS). The standard adopts a process-based approach for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, maintaining, and improving Mitrais’ ISMS.

The accreditation process included detailed audits of how Mitrais protects client and employee information, manages risks to information security effectively, and achieves compliance with international regulations such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR).

Mitrais’ Chief Technology Officer, Mr Hartoyo Barlian, explained that this certification is a very significant step. “The audit and investigation associated with this certification has thrown our structures and processes open to examination by internationally recognised experts, and at the same time given us the opportunity to revisit how we do things with fresh eyes” he said. “We have learned a lot throughout the journey” he continued, “and it is great to know that our framework of policies and procedures, including intensive reviews of all the legal, physical, and technical controls involved in Mitrais’ information risk management processes, stands up to the most rigorous and demanding scrutiny.

For Mitrais partners and clients, this newest certification brings a number of very tangible benefits. For those that are required to demonstrate ISO 27001 compliance in their systems development and maintenance processes (often a critical regulatory requirement, particularly in Medical and Finance Technology verticals), having an accredited software development partner like Mitrais reinforces their credentials. For others who deal with sensitive or confidential information, Mitrais’ accreditation is just one more demonstration of our commitment to providing world’s best services that add value to their businesses.

“Wild Child” to Programmer – A Journey

When Mitrais Software Developer, Giang Nguyen Hoang (known as Andy) was born in 1984 Hanoi, Vietnam was still rebuilding from years of terrible war. Although the country was still suffering economically from the aftermath, Andy’s parents provided a great environment for Andy and his brother to grow up. His father, a veteran and talented mechanical engineer, and his mother, a qualified accountant, worked hard to provide for their family. Andy and his brother spent more time playing in the local rice fields than concentrating on school, and really pushed the limits in their play.

Andy clearly remembers almost drowning in a local lake during one adventure, and was stung by bees and insects countless times. Andy says his brother was always a good student and gifted in mathematics, but Andy was usually more interested in playing outside, climbing trees and hiding in the corn fields than staying inside studying.

That all changed when their family moved from the countryside to the suburbs, though. With no more rice fields or lake to take up his time, Andy became fascinated with the Windows 95 PC that his parents bought. Seeing his brother learn Pascal programming, Andy joined in as well. His focus changed to study, and he was soon involved in a gifted class in Physics – but he still loved the IT classes just as much.

All the while his parents worked hard to save money for the boys’ education, and after completing Year 11, Andy was sent to New Zealand to complete his high school certificate.

After returning to Vietnam and studying, Andy found himself working in a medium-sized software company in Hanoi, but he had greater plans. Andy’s ambition was to work overseas, so although he had been promoted to a team-lead in Hanoi, he left for Singapore to undertake his Masters Degree at the National University of Singapore. Singapore was a tough environment. Andy was told that one third of his classmates would drop out before completion or postpone their studies, and he admits that there were times that he considered this. But despite the hardships, Andy succeeded in gaining his Masters in 2015.

Eventually, Andy decided that his family would be better off in Vietnam, particularly since his two children were approaching school age. So, the family relocated back to Hanoi, where Andy discovered an advertisement from Mitrais. As he learnt more about Mitrais, he realised that the company’s focus was not only on making a profit, but also on developing staff. “That’s how I see Mitrais as being different from other companies around here” he says.

Now Andy is enjoying life as a Software Engineer working for a large Australian client, is a member of our prestigious Evangelist Team, and often conduct interviews for new hires in Hanoi. The work satisfies his desire to work with international clients, but also allows him to enjoy the benefits of his hometown for his entire family.

What about his “wild” childhood, though? All that running and swimming as a child means that Andy can still outperform many of his peers, and he enjoys training for and competing in triathlons with a local club. He often competes, including in a recent event in Halong Bay. In fact, he is now training for the prestigious 2020 Da Nang Ironman to be held in May this year.

Andy sees it this way. He loved his wild and adventurous childhood and feels it has contributed to who he is today. But as he has progressed through life, he has come to also understand and appreciate the benefits of self-discipline. As he says, “I believe discipline is key to success, and without it achieving goals is difficult”. As Theodore Roosevelt said in one of Andy’s favourite quotes, “With self-discipline most anything is possible”. Thanks, Andy! Mitrais is proud to have you as one of our family.

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