Case Elisa: Long-term Partnership in Continuous Development

Case Elisa: Long-term Partnership in Continuous Development

They say nothing stays the same but change. This is also true for Finland’s leading mobile operator Elisa’s Consumer Connectivity Business. As the leading telecommunications operator in Finland and pioneer in 5G technology, Elisa paves the way for further digitalization and the Internet of Things to take place, providing endless opportunities for developers.

Houston Inc. and Elisa’s partnership goes back to 2008. Ever since Houston talents have been involved in developing and maintaining Elisa Consumer Connectivity Business’ continuous end-to-end development.

“When starting to build Team Elisa, we wanted to have a diverse working environment to bring different perspectives to the development work. Houston Inc. was a fresh agile house that added senior-level knowhow and agile ways of working to the team”, says Elisa’s technical product owner Mika Löytänen.

Experimental mentality as a catalyst for development

Elisa has achieved what they initially sought from Houston: the desire to innovate, an experimental mentality, and support for their agile process. “With Houston, it’s been easy to try out new things with the fail-fast, learn-faster mentality. Along the way, we have made many improvements through experimental culture”, Löytänen says.

At Elisa Consumer Connectivity Business the development team works in two-week sprints with Scrum, according to the agile philosophy. “The main principle is to work according to agile practices. However, we trust that teams and people can decide the best practices for themselves. Not one model fits all”, comments Löytänen.

”For a big company, Elisa is incredibly agile and flexible. Our team works in very agile ways, and we can freely decide on which technologies and tools we use and how we want to organize our work as a team. Work is always done well at once and never rushed”, says Houston’s developer Mikko Vestola.

When there’s trust, there’s innovation

At Elisa, Houstonians are known for efficient quality work but also accredited for their self-sufficiency.

“Houstonians are self-reliant and can work independently. It makes our job at Elisa easier to have people with strong agile backgrounds, who are confident to bring ideas, make decisions and apply and improve them without continuous instructions”, compliments Löytänen.

Houstonians give credit to Elisa’s culture: “The atmosphere and working environment at Elisa is really good and trusting. Elisa treats us like their own and they trust that we know what we are doing.”

“We are taken care of the same way as in-house developers. Our opinions are heard and respected, even if they differ from Elisa’s”, Jani Ihalainen from Houston adds.

Business results are achieved through agile practices

End-to-end system development aims to get new products to the markets as fast and seamlessly as possible. 

“The operating business is highly competitive, and the environment changes all the time. We must react fast, make decisions and act on a tight schedule. With Houston’s help, we have managed to streamline processes, improve quality, and get things done efficiently.”

Houstonians agree, ”We have developed team operating models and created several new features and services for the end-users.”

“In my role, the results were very concrete. Driving product changes and developing new products had a clear impact on Elisa’s revenue,“ Houston’s developer Teemu Sillantaus reveals.

Customer experience creates purpose

Houstonians find a lot of purpose in working at Elisa, “There’s a clear link between what we do and how the product quality affects millions of Elisa’s customers”.

Sometimes no news means good news in back-end development. Although many code reviews and automation tests take place before launch, there are always risks when dealing with such a large customer basis.

“Fixing mistakes afterward takes a lot of work and time and burdens the customer service”, Löytänen says and continues, “having a thorough partner who can be trusted is critical when hiring talents”.

“Elisa is extremely customer-centered and demanding, which adds a lot of expectations and pressure on development. However, since its quality over the schedule for Elisa, it gives developers the time to finish a job without rush” says Houston’s Ville Niskala.

The partnership has been fruitful for both Elisa and Houston Inc, so this story isn’t finished just yet.

Mika Löytänen, Technical Product Owner, Elisa

"With Houston’s help, we have managed to streamline processes, improve quality, and get things done efficiently.”

Mika Löytänen

Technical Product Owner, Elisa
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