Students Learn Agile Applications in Hanover Challenge Workshop

On Friday, October 18th, Hanover Insurance and OPIM Innovate co-sponsored a guest lecture on Agile Data Analytics. Run by alumni Matias Niño, an agility and project management professional from REI Systems, students were introduced to agile and its applications regarding software development.

As explained by Niño throughout the lecture, “Software was the first knowledge work that came about” and could not be sustained by previous project management methods. The waterfall model, for example, was too rigid to handle the rapid advancement of technology; projects often reached obsolescence before they were even completed, and only one end product could be produced to provide feedback. With agile, however, multiple work packages are completed in an iterative process responsive to change. This allows project teams to change their trajectory if the business or supporting systems call for it.

Other than the convenience of flexibility, Niño also praised agile’s ability to decentralize project processes. “When you put decision making as close to the work as possible, you get better results,” he said. To demonstrate this, he had the attending students participate in an activity. Inspired by the human knot icebreaker, students were asked to split into teams and tangle themselves together. The difference between this activity and the regular exercise, however, was the source of direction in the first round. During the first round, a “project manager” from each team gave orders; both were unsuccessful at untangling their teams before time was up. Yet, when the teams were left to their own devices, both completed their objective in seconds. “It was better to have people working from the inside,” said Rose Zimmerman (MIS ’20). “Since they were in it, they knew what was going on.”

Niño, being a Management Information Systems alum based out of Virginia, traveled back to Connecticut to volunteer his time and guest lecture. When asked why he pursued this opportunity, he stated the following: “I really did this because, thinking back to when I was here at UConn, the professionals that came back to give their guidance and share their experiences were really inspiring to me. They helped me with life-changing decisions. After I graduated, I wanted to do the same.”

We thank Matias Niño for guest-lecturing and everyone for attending the Agile Data Analytics workshop. 

Interested in attending one of our upcoming Hanover Challenge workshops? Here’s the schedule.