VEA is a business critical system built by interns

VEA is a business critical system built by interns

Is it possible to hire consultants without formal education requirements? Through strong collaborations and the ability to quickly learn new technologies, Unicus consultants prove that it is possible. This is evident in the internal development project VEA, which today is a business critical system for the organisation.

A formal education is no requirement when applying for a job at Unicus, but proficiency in at least one programming language is a must. Most consultants have worked on multiple projects, often with independent projects.

Many consultants work on the application VEA to enhance their technical understanding and collaborative skills during their internship. VEA stands for “Vår Egen Applikation”, which translates to “Our Own Application”.

Malin Allard is operational manager at Unicus and responsible for the internal project that started in 2019:

– Our consultants have built VEA from scratch, she says. They did everything from choosing the system architecture to finding solutions that work. Our goal was never to include this many features, but for the past year VEA has become a crucial tool for our day-to-day operations.

VEA is a great tool for planning

Before VEA, a lot of internal information was scattered throughout the organization, and now it is an application used by both consultants and consulting managers. It helps everyone keep track of capacity, resources, and skills.

For consulting managers, the system makes it easy to identify when consultants with the right skills are available for new assignments. The tool also provides an overview of consultants’ capacity and a billing forecast. Likewise, the system is used by Unicus’ CEO to export information for monthly reports. Malin is impressed with how the project has evolved:

– What can our consultants do? she asks. On paper, they don’t have the right experience; some lack relevant education, and they haven’t worked for 20 years, but with their skills they manage to solve the problem.

The project requires both collaboration and technical understanding

The team consists of consultants from all Unicus’ offices. Most of them lack the documented competence and experience usually required for building this type of system. However, everyone who is working on the project is well aware of what needs to be done and why.

With Jira for the backlog and Teams for communication, consultants can work independently on the project. Malin holds SCRUM meetings three times a week and is available to consultants when needed:

– They say that great teams need to work together for a long time, but in VEA you’re naturally in the project only for a few months. There’s a prejudice that people with autism have difficulty coping with constant change, but in this case, everyone knows what to expect. Everyone takes part in introducing new people, and once we have become a really good team, someone will leave to work for a customer instead.

Good collaboration has been a success factor in the project. When a new feature is developed, consultants often need to learn how to do it from scratch. The project consists of multiple components and uses several programming languages, primarily various forms of JavaScript.

“You learn to work and code in a team”

Rosa is one of the consultants who has been highly involved in the VEA project. When she started at Unicus, she had no professional experience as a developer, but she had been programming independently for over 10 years. Today, she is working with data analysis for a global customer.

She describes several benefits of working on VEA:

– You learn to work and code in a team. Another important part is version control; when several people work on the same file. We use Git to handle it, a program used by almost all companies working in development.

The project has provided her with several important lessons; from technical development to prioritizing tasks. When asked about her best advice for new consultants, Rosa says:

– One important lesson I’ve learned is to not be in a hurry or get discouraged because other consultants do more advanced tasks. You are not alone, and the project will continue even if you’re not there. Take your time. I would say that’s the most important thing.

Karolina Örsta
Text: Karolina Örsta