A peek behind the scenes of the Factry Historian team
Jolan De Cock
on , updated
Our H-team surely loves it when a plan comes together. Meet the people and workflow behind Factry Historian, find out what’s in the development pipeline, and why being part of the Historian team is a unique working experience.
Factry’s Historian crew of four, led by our CEO Jeroen Coussement, is an invaluable human asset to our company. While one is enjoying a well-deserved vacation, the three remaining musketeers gladly lift the curtain on how they roll and what’s up next.
Tell us, which features are coming up for Factry Historian?
David: “The historian’s recently added event detection & analysis module allows people in any company department to get access to data and add context to it. This requires fine-grained user management, and integrations with authentication systems. Both will be added to the upcoming version of the historian.”
Wannes: “Another exciting feature in the historian’s development pipeline is a demo environment, which will allow potential clients with a technical mindset to see how it works, try things out on their own, and get a nice feel of the user experience. We believe this will further lower the entry barrier for people.”
David: “A third big feature we are currently developing is a brand new user portal, enabling clients to e.g. add or upgrade a collector or manually set custom production alerts, and take the monitoring process even more in their own hands. Through a more advanced self-management interface, they will be able to save time.”
Sibe: “I’m still quite new to the team, but to get things underway I am currently working on a special project: an OPC-UA browser for the historian that will enable our customers to visually explore the data structure on the server, find the location of the data a lot quicker, and smoothly integrate it with the historian platform.”
How do new ideas make it to the development pipeline?
Sibe: “It depends on how those ideas are generated. If it was a client request, e.g. writing a new data collector, it will often be a smaller project with limited project management, and very client-specific. Yet, in most cases, new developments are conceptualised by us and implemented in each historian, not in just one.”
David: “Ideas for new product features such as the client portal are mostly developed internally. Many clients are happy to act as the bleeding edge during the development. The reason why they’re glad to give their feedback is because they know we will take it into account. And to us, it is of huge value along the way.”
Wannes: “The internal ideation process is fueled by frequent brainstorming sessions, in which new ideas are tossed around, some of them retained and then prioritised. There is definitely no lack of inspiration for new features, but we take things one at a time. The roadmap for the next 1 to 2 years is completely set.”
How do you see the product evolve in an Industry 4.0 context?
David: “We believe there is no single solution to digitally transform an industrial business. Therefore we see it as part of a larger ecosystem. In the future, interconnectivity will continue to be a crucial aspect of our software, alongside its ability to interface with external systems, e.g. from vendors.”
Wannes: “Having an open standard to share industrial data, and communicate with other systems in a bidirectional way, will definitely add lots of value to the product. Beacause there is no single solution, clients will be able to mix-and-match the most adequate technology and reporting solutions through click-and-play.”
What is one thing you’d never change within the team?
Wannes: “We are organised as a self-managing team, which is very different from only getting tasks assigned top-down. However, there is always someone that takes the lead, depending on the project and that person’s expertise. This is something we really should preserve, even when our team gets bigger in the future.”
Sibe: “Each morning, we hold a scrum meeting with the entire historian team. Every two weeks, we schedule a sprint planning review. Each new development is a divided team effort, and everyone knows what their tasks are. And since we communicate a lot, everyone’s in the loop of other people’s tasks as well.”
David: “With short feedback loops, both internally and with clients, we are able to get things moving really fast. On top of that, a lot of product development is fueled by the integration team. It’s a good thing these both roles are very close, as it benefits the future development of our IIoT platform.”
To conclude: what’s the most fun part of being in the team?
David: “The working atmosphere was the main reason why I started working here, and not once have I regretted my choice since. The company’s vibe and way of thinking is quite contrasting to previous working experiences. On top of that, I have a great deal of affinity with IIoT and open source technologies.”
Sibe: “At the beginning of my career, I was looking for a job that allows me to explore a lot of new things. I noticed early on that Factry works for a lot of clients in different industries. Therefore, I assumed working in this team would imply a lot of variation and different challenges. Turns out I was right.”
Wannes: “What I especially like about working in the Historian team is the autonomy you get to find solutions on your own. That’s a whole other game than being told exactly what to do. Our team culture is absolutely great. It comes natural to have a drink on Fridays with colleagues, which was a first for me.”
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