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Mob programming – a method for collective coding

An entire team works on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and at the same computer. These are the principles of mob programming, a work form for agile IT development that aims for greater collaboration, better code quality and lower dependence on single individuals. Last week some 70 developers at SEB spent an afternoon testing the mob programming approach.

“Mob programming is a natural part of a learning culture and agile work approach. It is also a vital tool for competence-sharing and our ability to quickly onboard new employees,” says Lena Beijer Granström, Digital Channels in IT Solution Delivery (ISD). “We are already using mob programming in several of our development teams, but now that there are more of us who are familiar with this method we can continue developing our agile work approach.”

The mob programming session was begun in Stora Hörsalen in Arenastaden, where Åsa Liljegren, developer at the consulting firm Aptitud, talked about her experiences. During the last four years she has worked exclusively with mob programming, including a year and a half with SEB@Home.

The basic idea is thus that the team works together the entire time, gathered around a computer, where one person codes and is flanked by the others who together discuss the best solution. The team members then rotate their seat at the keyboard, where a signal is sounded – say, after five minutes – and a new member takes the place at the keyboard.

“The result is better and more thought-out quality of code, since the team members can analyse, design and test the code all at the same time. There is more focus on creating simple solutions that can last a long time,” Åsa relates.

There is also better competence-sharing, where the team’s collective competence increases the entire time. This reduces dependence on individual programmers and contributes to better continuity.

“Fewer meetings are needed – questions can be addressed immediately by the mob team. There is less downtime, and the team rarely gets stuck,” she adds.

Following an introduction, the participants were grouped into teams of six to eight persons, who spent the afternoon coding intensively. The day was concluded with the teams showing their solutions to each other.

ISD will be holding a similar event shortly in Vilnius, and before the year is over the plan is to carry out an additional two mob programming events.

“I have never tested this way of working before, although I have tried pair programming, where two people team up. It was interesting to work together and try to find solutions. It was also valuable to meet developers in other areas,” says Kristina Saudargaite, mainframe developer in Stockholm.

This was also the first exposure to mob programming for Tomas Stasiūnas, who works with Master Data Management in Vilnius.

“I think we can benefit from this in our daily work as a way of coaching new team members,” he says. “It’s a very good way of learning and getting immersed in the work directly from day one, and of spreading knowledge within a team.”


Want to be part of the SEB team? Open positions for Java developers at SEB Global Services Customers & Insights department at SEB in Vilnius.

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