by Isabelle Berner, Director of Product

I was recently a speaker on a Product Stack webinar on collaboration with my former colleague, Jay Badenhope. The organizer, Ronan Dunlop, sent around some questions to registrants ahead of time, one of which was “What is your biggest challenge vis-a-vis team collaboration?”. I was surprised to learn that 39% of respondents, nearly all of them product professionals, selected “misalignment around goals and expectations” as their main challenge. …


by Jeff Jia, Principal Engineer

It happens to us all at some point. You start excitedly explaining something to a colleague. You have just reached some sort of groundbreaking epiphany, or hit some immovable roadblock in your work.

You need to share this unprecedented illumination!

You need someone to help you break through this frustrating barrier!

But as you fervently and passionately explain your predicament, or your genius, you can see a light go out behind your colleague’s eyes. Why can’t they lend empathy or aid to your frustration or see the obvious beacon of your genius?

This happens all too often in the technical world when we attempt to use the insular, and to be honest rather poorly constructed, language of tech to communicate with the outside world. When attempting to communicate the importance of particular ramifications of a decision to a project manager, a UX designer, or a business analysts, we become stymied by the pitfall of what a former colleague of mine dubbed Dolphin Speak.People can tell what you are saying has intelligence behind it, but have no idea what ideas you are trying to convey. …


by Mark Simpson, Senior Software Engineer

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My company, Def Method, has started an Apprenticeship program. This program involves bringing on people who are brand new to programming and pair them with a Senior developer to train them in good practices. About a month ago I ‘acquired’ an Apprentice: Paige.

I’ve never done this sort of thing before and I quickly came to realize that the relationship wasn’t just Master & Apprentice but really Apprentice-Master & Apprentice. I am not only learning as I go what it means to have an Apprentice but also learning from my Apprentice.

Even more than normally during pair-programming I feel I need to explain myself. Not only explaining how to do something in the programming language, but how to do it with our tools, and how we’ll do something in the context of our team. Add to that explaining the why of it all as well. This exercise helps me remember and reconsider why I do things the way I do, why they are important. …


by Matt Nunemacher, Software Engineer

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This is a guide for preparing to take the Heroku Certified Architecture Designer exam. Yep, it’s a mouthful! If you’re unfamiliar with this certification, you can learn more about it here. To cover the basics, it’s for individuals who are familiar with Heroku, in particular Heroku Enterprise, and its architectural options. There are 60 multiple-choice questions, and you must get 72% or more of them correct to pass. You have 105 minutes to take the test. The exam cost $400 (USD), and there is a $200 retake fee. The exam is also offered online or in-person. …


by Merziyah Poonawala, Senior Product Manager

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What do you do when your team is working their socks off and yet they are getting little credit for the work being done, mainly because the team isn’t able to set clear expectations with the stakeholder? Read on to learn how, through collecting and analyzing operational data, I was able to quantify and improve the team’s processes and subsequently set realistic expectations with the product owner.

The Challenge

When I joined them, a startup development team consisting of a product manager and two offshore engineers was facing major challenges in meeting client deliverable deadlines — repeatedly. Each major release deadline created a high pressure environment with engineers working overtime in the weeks prior in order to meet delivery dates. Deployments to production happened just hours before client demos. The resulting post deployment issues and incomplete setup of new features left the stakeholder conducting a walk through on the concept of the app but not actually able to demo the app to their audience. …


by Jeff Jia, Principal Engineer

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If you ask ten people what they think about Continuous Integration, you will get eleven different opinions. Between various tools, rules and values, every developer/organization has a different opinion about what Continuous Integration (CI) is, what it means to the company, and how to implement it. However, stripped to its core, CI is quite basic. Simply put, CI is the act of making sure that the entire development team integrates code with the core branch as often as possible. This definition of “often” is incredibly subjective, depending on the team, but on average, this means each developer should merge their code multiple times a day. CI becomes important as one transitions from working as individual to working as a part of team. …


by Merziyah Poonawala, Senior Product Manager

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Standups and Iteration Planning Meetings (IPMs) are standard activities for every agile team, but on some occasions we will get push back from client teams who challenge us on why these meetings are important. We know these meetings are essential to realize the core beauty of Agile development through collaboration and iteration. We love to help organizations advocate for and get the most out of these touch points. Read below to learn more about implementing these agile practices and reach out to us if you think we can help your team improve their Agile processes.

Standups

The What

Standups are short (general rule: less than fifteen minutes) daily meetings where all attendees stand for the duration of the meeting. …


by Isabelle Berner, Director of Product

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Here are some tips from our Director of Product, Isabelle Berner, on running remote retros.

Isabelle’s favorite tool for remote retros:

Post Facto, free software from Pivotal (good for structured column based retros)

Other recommended tools:

Trello, Whimsical, Miro (the latter two are whiteboarding apps). The nice thing about Whimsical and Miro is that you can do affinity mapping, which is great for large groups so you can tie themes together

A remote retro using Miro

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Features to look for in a remote retro tool:

  1. Ability to vote on things
  2. Ability for silent generation of ideas (people don’t see what others are writing, until they bulk publish everything at once)
  3. Ability to affinity map or group ideas by themes
  4. A place to capture…


by Mark Simpson, Senior Software Engineer

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At Def Method, we work with many non-technical business leaders as well as technical team members and understand that it can be difficult when the two groups don’t “speak the same language”. If you’ve found it challenging communicating with your engineers, you are not alone, and we’d like to help. Here are some tips on how to improve communication with your engineering team and streamline your development process.‍

Tip #1: Listen to each other

Just like you have skills that help you shape product strategy, the engineers have skills that help them build the product. …


by Paul Ort, Principal Engineer

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Software is made for business reasons. The decisions driving the work of software engineering tend to be business decisions, not technical decisions. We see this constantly in software consulting, and observe that time and cost constraints intrinsic to business decisions have implications for the way in which we go about our software engineering work from a technical standpoint.

Business reasons ultimately involve value creation. When existing software delivers the value desired, it is unnecessary to create new software. There is a vast market for new software because the value to be created can be highly situational. …

About

Def Method

At Def Method, we offer a strategic assessment to bring new products to life and a software consulting service focused on excellence in code.

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