Meetic, like most tech-first companies, needs to keep its code base clean and scalable. It is our biggest asset, and we need to take care of it. Most companies are either good at shipping fast or maintaining high code quality. Doing both is hard and we've been working on this topic for a while.
While there is still room for improvement, I considered we have found the right balance between long-term tech projects and product development. I'd like to share the receipt. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to organizations, roles, and processes. However, the organization I describe below and the design principles on which it relies are pretty common. Especially for companies that work with both web apps and native apps.
In this post, I'll deep dive into 3 key factors that have helped us achieve great product development success and high-quality standards :
- The way we run our teams and our tech communities
- The hard skills we expect from the Engineering Managers and the role the Tech Leads play in the tech communities
- The hard and soft skills we expect from the Software Engineers
Let's face it, your company is not a Big Tech company. You, the reader, are probably not working for Google, Microsoft or Facebook and it's ok. A lot of companies not so big have a huge impact and very high tech challenges.
But not being a big tech company also means you probably won't be good at what you're doing if you act the same way Facebook or Amazon does. This is true for tech choices and system architecture. This is also true for recruiting software engineers.
In my journey looking for the best way to manage my to-do list, I recently tried to create a Trello board where to put all the new tasks added to my personal backlog. My choice of using Trello was based on several needs:
- Being able to follow up all the in progress tasks
- Being able to order tasks by priorities
Since Trello is very flexible, I thought that I could create one card by item and three columns: to-do, work in progress, and done. But then, I started to have lots of cards in my to-do column and thought I needed to re-order all the cards to be able to quickly see which have a high priority and which can wait.
I first tried to create an intermediate to-do column called “today” where to put the item I needed to be done by the end of the day. I quickly found out I still had to deal with all the other cards in the “to-do” column which needed review each morning. Thus, I moved once again and created three to-do column :
- Priority #3
- Priority #2
- Priority #1
For a while, this system seems perfect. Each time I had completed a task, I was able to see which one will be the next to focus on by looking at the priority #1 column. I had a clear view of what I really needed to do at any time. Every week or so, I reviewed my to-do lists in order to move cards from lower priority to higher. Or, at the contrary, I lowered the priority of some tasks considering they were supposed to be priority #1 but I hadn't time to work on it and the world didn't stop.
The more I talk with engineering managers around me - in my own company, during interviews or around a beer - the more I see tow patterns, two different ways to talk about their team: those who say “they” about people they manage and those who included themselves in a global “we”.
The performance review is a common way to regularly give or get feedback about the work that has been done. Some company performs those once a year, other twice a year. Agile teams may do it more frequently. In my previous experiences, the retrospective we were doing after each sprint was a way to give personal feedback, and once a year we were doing a yearly retrospective to summarize the whole past year, as a team.