From theory to practice: Daniel’s path to his bachelor’s thesis at Helbako

A brief introduction:

My name is Daniel Holstein, and I have now successfully completed my bachelor’s degree in Technical Computer Science at the Velbert/Heiligenhaus campus of the Bochum University of Applied Sciences. Helbako GmbH made it possible for me to carry out my practical phase and my bachelor’s thesis within the company.

In short, during the practical phase, it was mainly about establishing the web application Jira for software development, while my bachelor’s thesis focused on a concept for improving time tracking and capacity planning using Jira.

How did it feel to write your bachelor’s thesis in a real corporate environment like Helbako, as opposed to purely theoretical work?

It was an extremely exciting experience, incomparable to term papers or university projects. I was able to get to know real processes that are applied in the real world. This made me realize the scope and complexity that exist in companies, or in development projects for the automotive industry. This can only be guessed at in university studies.

Another remarkable thing was that in the university, every problem is somehow led to a solution. Here in the company, however, I had to solve problems and develop ideas independently. This significantly strengthened my ability to solve problems independently and to approach tasks creatively.

What challenges and successes did you encounter in the development and implementation of JIRA for improving time tracking and capacity planning?

Jira was a new platform for both Helbako and myself, and there was no prior know-how about how the system works in detail. The challenge was to take the initiative and develop solution proposals, as well as to discuss them with the team. The challenge was to customize Jira for Helbako (especially for software development) in such a way that previous workflows and planning processes did not have to be completely redesigned. It was important to ensure that important aspects of capacity and milestone planning that already existed were properly represented in Jira. Jira offers a good basic framework and a lot of freedom in terms of configuration options, but for many aspects, a creative solution must be found, where one then encounters the limits of what is possible in Jira.

Personally, I am pleased that the first projects are now also being carried out in Jira, which shows that the first implementations were successful. Aspects of my bachelor’s thesis, in which I developed a completely new application area for Jira, are still in ongoing discourse. For me, it is a success that my concept and the application described in my bachelor’s thesis are being positively received and could be incorporated into the existing processes here in the future. However, much still needs to be clarified. The bachelor’s thesis, however, provides a good starting point.

How did you find the support and collaboration with the Helbako team during your internship and especially during your bachelor’s thesis?

The support and collaboration with the Helbako team were extremely positive. I needed input and information from various areas, and I also needed many different perspectives, whether from a project manager, a developer, or a software project manager. The team was always ready to help and answer questions promptly. This open communication and support were crucial for me and worked excellently.

Can you give us an insight into how the introduction of JIRA has influenced the development process at Helbako? Are there any particular successes or ‘aha’ moments you would like to share?

Particularly from the perspective of software development, the development process has been significantly influenced by Jira. There is now a unified area for planning and managing development activities for upcoming projects, which were previously conducted through a less intuitive process from many different areas and files. For the developers, Jira is now a daily part of their work, as development activities are planned and managed there.

What tips would you give to other students considering writing their final thesis at a company like Helbako?

In my opinion, the two most important points are communication and identifying possible risks that exist when writing a final thesis.

The time available for writing a thesis is limited. Therefore, it is crucial to develop an awareness of the timeframe from the beginning and to grasp the actual complexity of the task. It can easily happen that temptingly simple ideas arise, which, however, encounter unexpected difficulties in implementation. For example, missing licenses, blocked firewalls for the development environment, or lack of documentation on the Internet could present unforeseen obstacles. Such challenges can delay the work for days or even weeks. This must be recognized in advance and communicated openly with stakeholders. My tip is to dare to express concerns about the implementation of some ideas and to clarify expectations and goals precisely. Establish clear and open communication with your supervisor in the company and ask questions more often rather than too little.