This article is dedicated to the great team of guys, located in room 306 at Rzgowska and is targeted for the whole Makolab family members and friends who are sitting now in the office or having holidays somewhere else and do not put it to “Not important” folder in Outlook.

What is Helios project?

Project Helios Vision

This vision for Project Helios is to create a global digital customer engagement platform to ultimately be rolled out to all regions, markets and brands across the Renault-Nissan Alliance.” – this is the official description you can find on Helios project main Confluence page. Not quite clear – don’t worry, I’ll try to guide you through in quite a similar way.

Generally Helios – is a big family of several teams from DLBI central office in London and 4 teams from all over the world: DLBi Paris, Evozon, Prodigious and Makolab! All of these teams are doing their best to deliver a global digital platform for Renault-Nissan Alliance built-up from dozens of different markets.

So yeah, next time you are going to book a test drive or brochure for your Renault car – be sure, it was done by guys from room 306 at Rzgowska. Well, if it works fine, sure thing. If not – someone else did it! J

Some technical points

So what do we actually do here? Makolab represents one of integration teams in Helios project – that basically means we are an intermediate layer between a huge variety of Renault systems and that what every customer sees on his/her screen.

All integration process is based on just a few “working horses”:

  • Apigee – that orange tool with a lot of different colourful icons. Ok, serious now – it’s a main tool to develop and deliver beautiful API proxies which then can be used by other teams;
  • Tomcat – I do believe I have nothing to say here, just a pure Java development;
  • Mule – you guys better never work with Mule, but generally it is another integration platform. Ask Jacek from our team – he is the best person to contact for that point;
  • and some tools for our QA specialist like SoapUI, Postman and other staff. (It’s just between us, but I am even not sure if they are using them – for me it looks like they are watching YouTube all the time here).

Yes, this is quite a raw list – I’m sure our Technical Architect and Project Manager can add some more, but who even cares? J

So let’s imagine now that you, my dear reader, are now a part of our integration team.

First of all – forget about that feeling when you create “eye’s candies”.

Basically saying, if front-end teams convert something strange like that: (//here goes some html code) to something beautiful like that: (//screen of succesia), the integration team manages to convert something more or less clear (//­screen of apigee) to something ugly, something really ugly… (//response from target system).

Second – prepare to dive into a real whirlwind of work. Tasks, tasks, tasks…. Break for a coffee and FoodMarket (I am not paid for advertising, but their food is really good) and back to tasks again.

Emmm… Pawel is staring at my screen and it seems he will not pay me bonuses if I continue that way… so, even though it is sometimes difficult to understand, what is actually going on – outcome for Makolab is always the same – perfectly working integrated points.

In all modesty, I do believe we are the best team in the whole project – at least product owner’s satisfaction and story points delivered say that 😉

Deeper look into the team

Helios team is currently consists of 11 boys and 2 girls leaded by big boss boy Pawel Cebula. Some rotations happen as project is really intense and it’s sometimes difficult to bear it, but generally team is close and strong. By the way, we are international team having two guys from Ukraine: Taras (remember I told you about QA specialists watching YouTube? – that’s actually he) and me – Anton J Moreover, previously we had guys from another part of the world – I believe everyone here at Makolab remembers Nedal from Israel. Plus we also had Mahmoude from Tunisia as a trainee.

We are actually very happy to have trainees here in Helios – they are the great opportunity to find new “IT diamonds” and occasionally learn something more about other countries, cultures and traditions. Our team hosts up to 5 trainees every year.

Makolab is always in close cooperation with other teams from Helios project. Guys here are real experts in knowledge sharing and transfer – no doubts, especially when we have 2 or 3 such sessions per week with teams from Costa-Rica, Colombia, Romania, Vietnam and many others. So trust me, Makolab is represented at highest ranks in every part of the world.

As I already mentioned, work is always in full swing here at room 306 – there is no other way to deliver all the tasks in sprint assuming you have to spend A PLENTY of time having discussions with Renault and DLBi, daily stand-ups, grooming sessions (nothing related to horses, just a kind of business analytic), plannings and sprint demos.

So trust me, even if you see guys playing darts, watching some fun “gags” or me playing HearthStone – be sure, all our thoughts are at Helios. Come on guys, everybody needs a rest sometimes – especially working in such a demanding project.

Traditions and habits

Those of you who stay close to our team and visit our room sometimes might notice a tendency to have different sweets or bakery at Fridays. We call it “Happy Friday” – every week one of us cooks or bakes something tasty for the whole team. Or buys (if he/she is a lazy ass) – it can be some doughnuts from “Jas I Malgosia”, sweets and grapes from “Biedronka” or even carrots from local store (yeah, we had such experience as well).

Another tradition here at Helios is FIFOS party. In my native language it means something bad, but in English it stands for “First Friday Of Sprint” – Pawel really likes to create such abbreviations J

So every first Friday of sprint we usually go out somewhere. Bowling, Laser Tag, “saneczki” at Rudzka Gora or just a glass of beer – it doesn’t matter. It’s not hard to guess that the main thing is a company of good people, who are not just colleagues but friends (tears are brought to my eyes here… but NOT out of them. It would be a violation of Bro Code Article 41: A Bro never cries).

What else? Sometimes we have grills at Tomek Skoneczny’s place – did you know that Tuszyn is actually a good place for a private house? Such a family atmosphere is perfect to relax after another busy week at Helios J

But life is not made up of pleasures alone… Such quite a crazy team sometimes can get a real courage and so needs to be controlled somehow. Here at Helios we created a “Piggy Penalties” system – have you ever seen that pink piggy in our room? It is our internal money bank – all the penalties (equals to 5 zloty) go there. Penalties apply mostly during daily stand-ups and can be charged for:

  • being late for stand-up;
  • eating/drinking during on meetings;
  • guff during stand-ups;
  • other inappropriate behaviour.

However, we are not really sad to give that money to piggy as all savings are then used for our FIFOS parties J

Other things, like FoodMarket every day, Chinese food and “Top 5 Fails” on Fridays, internal darts tournaments when there is a spare minute or two. They are really minor ones, but still very important part of Helios. Very important part of us.

Instead of conclusion

Helios is a team of open-hearted and friendly people. We are constantly working hard but always ready to help. So if you, my dear friends, are tired of work, have problems IRL or just feel sad for a moment – don’t hesitate to come for a hug and some sweets!


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