Project:

Tax & Accounting Cloud Scrum

In March 2017, I was invited to take a secondment from leading the ONESOURCE Statutory Reporting DevOps Team to lead a brand-new team.

I was invited to lead the team due to my success in my previous lead role, my reputation for cultivating motivated and productive teams, and my experience in leading international teams.

We would work for Thomon Reuters’ Tax & Accounting business. We would build solutions for the cloud. We would follow the Agile Scrum model. We called ourselves the Thomson Reiuters Tax & Accounting Cloud Scrum Team.

Find solutions to cross-team requirements

Many projects like ONESOURCE Statutory Reporting existed across Thomson Reuters, and each of them was building very similar but subtly different solutions to the same problems.

For example, you could pick three teams at random and see three different ways of deploying databases. Some scripted the deployment, some used CloudFormation, some preferred a more hands-on and human-refined strategy. Some used tags as unique keys, and some used endpoint identifiers as unique keys. Some used domain records as endpoint discovery, while others used explicit service configuration.

None of these solutions were wrong. They were all strong and secure deployments. But due to the difficulties of getting all these teams together to plan common solutions in advance, everyone had to build their own rather than take an off-the-shelf solution from someone else wihtin the organisation.

The Cloud Scrum was formed to solve this difficulty. We were given the time, resources and leadership backing to gather stakeholders from around the world, figure out their requirements, and build common solutions once for everyone else to take.

We were a geographically wide team, with folks spread across the east cost-to-west USA, UK and India.

My contributions

As the Scrum Master, my main role was promoting collaboration and communication between my team and our stakeholders. It was important to me that we demonstrated our work often so that our stakeholders could correct our course as early as possible.

And since we were spread across so many timezones, real-time chatting was rare. Any time we had together was precious and had to be used effectively.

To that end, I brought together team members and stakeholders from around the world into carefully-scheduled video conferences to:

  • Host a daily scrum with the team to share their progress and work on their blockers.
  • Host an end-of-sprint demo experience between the team and our stakeholders to identify problems as early as possible.
  • Host an end-of-sprint retrospective for the team to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and try to improve sprint-on-sprint.

I also:

  • Ensured our kanban was accurate and effective at allowing the team to focus on their work.
  • Promoted a culture of high-quality, tested and documented solutions which were shared by default and easily consumable by other teams.

As an experienced DevOps engineer, I was also able to contribute my skills in:

  • AWS-native architecture
  • Designing, building and deploying infrastructure-as-code
  • Analytical and educational documentation

Examples of our work

Some examples of the problems we worked on are:

  • AWS KMS key lifecycle management, including deployment via infrastructure-as-code and deletion alerts
  • Resource protection in multi-tenant AWS accounts
  • Disaster recovery
  • Versioned and audited configuration management

Endorsements

She was initially the team's Scrum Master and servant-leader, and set the tone for how the team would operate for years to come.

She was a mindful, rallying presence at all times who inspired us all to give our best. She worked with the team to flesh out our operating model and culture, as well as occupying a lead engineer role where she was a significant contributor. She lead by example with her fastidious attention to high quality documentation and excellent internal and external communications.

The Cloud Scrum team would not be what it is now without her original imprint at the time of formation."

Ben Clark, Manager at Thomson Reuters


"Cariad partnered on a cross organizational effort to implement cloud engineering systems on an accelerated time scale, for which I sat as a governing stakeholder.

On this project, she moved seamlessly between lead engineering roles to project management roles, and back again. Her passion for technology and agile collaboration frameworks made her both an excellent leader and inspiration for others.

Jonathan Lupa, Tax Software Lead at Thomson Reuters