Where is going software development maturity?

August 4, 2011

In a domain where many keep their kid heart, what can we say about the industry maturity? Even if software development is a young discipline, we have seen a lot of practice changes and improvements in the last 10 years. One of the big steps in my opinion is that we now acknowledged that change is part of our daily job. It has made the industry search for better managing and processing ways. Other discipline paradigms have been observed, duplicated and adapted to our context. That has made our body of knowledge growth and new ways of doing things emerge.

I personally think that we are a people business, our industry require motivated people willing to work as a team to get results. That’s the reason why it’s more and more important to consider the human aspects more than the technical aspects. It’s also a society tendency: people desire more human jobs. Team that will succeed will be those who understand that fact and act in this way by caring about employee, team synergy and ensuring it’s an applied value by everyone.

What are the software development hot topics?

Agile Architecture - conference resume

Agile Architecture - conference resume

What I liked about that conference is that it presented a good summary of the hole DevTeach event, by presenting a little of every main concerns and ideas raised in the other conferences. You can follow Mario on his talk show (French).

In your opinion, what are the other emerging concerns and ideas in software engineering?


Raise your employee retention and motivation NOW

June 23, 2011

Employee retention and motivation is one of the biggest challenges of the industry at the moment. I have worked in the recognition industry for 2 years and got my CRP certification. Recognition is one of my passions and I strongly believe that this is the way to achieve innovative projects in a successful way with the current generation’s mentality. More and more people start their own company or go free lance because their employers weren’t able to give them what they need.

I consider that there are 3 pillars to be happy in your job:

  • Remuneration: Base salary, holidays, incentive bonus, sick days, …
  • Environment: Relation with your boss and colleagues, ambiance, …
  • Opportunities: Chance to learn and grow, challenges, career, …

Today, we no more heard “Your boss hires you” but “You hire your boss”. Good managers need to recognize properly their employees. A work needs to be a winning situation for everyone in the equation and today’s generation strive for a more human way of working which is why we see more and more company willing to accommodate employees. Working from home, flexible schedules and milestone celebration become more and more common in many industries.

How do you motivate your employees the right way?

As we do with many things in live when we want to succeed, we need a plan. Here my summary of what are the main elements of a good recognition strategy. This is influenced by the CRP certification I did in April 2011 given by the RPI.

Recognition Strategy

Recognition Strategy

Questions:

  • What element of this strategy is the most relevant?
  • In the last week, did you recognize someone? If yes, how?

Will software projects be done in Kanban or Scrum?

June 18, 2011

I recently went to dev teach Montréal 2011 and read a lot about agility and what came out recently as more and more emergent is discussions regarding Scrum VS Kanban and other software engineering best practices and toolboxes. Scrum is being seen as a revolution that is not always suitable in all context (strong hierarchy company, maintenance project, …) while Kanban is seen as a continuous flow methodology seen more as an evolutionary approach more easy to implement and best suited for maintenance. We also see emerge combinations of both methods.

What experts say?

Here’s a mind map of the notes I took at Joel Semeniuk’s conference at devteach Montréal 2011. He his a Microsoft Regional President, MVP, CSM and CSP.

A Dash of Kanban - Conference resume

A Dash of Kanban - Conference resume

On my side, I had the chance to work in a real Scrum process and some of the nice benefits of it rely on the fact that you obtain a motivated and united team that have clear goals and liberty to achieve them in the most efficient way they found for their context. Scrum have clear and simple artifacts and ceremonies to follow to continuously improve the process, ensure everyone is in sync, obtain feedback from the client and understand what need to be done. Although I have seen Scrum struggle with maintenance project and bug fixing, since issues often need to be solved right away and can’t wait the next iteration even if it will disturb the team it’s most of the time really urgent. This presentation talks about an interesting way to combine both of them and I would like to test it and see it work for real to see the challenges and outcomes of that method.

Questions:

  • What do you think is coming in software engineering best practices?
  • How could we combine Scrum and Kanban successfully?

Improve your developer skills today!

April 12, 2011

Being able to develop software today is more applying best-practices than being knowledgeable in a specific technology. Why? Maybe because technology evolve so fast that it’s better to understand principles than technicality. Obviously a minimum of technical skills and experiences are required to perform best.

This makes university degree workers and autodidact people more interesting employees, since they are open to change and apply best practices. Many call it Software Development Maturity or Software Engineering Culture which is link to a way of thinking and a continuous desire to improve and be aware of new ideas in the industry.

Here’s a list of what I consider be essential knowledge for today’s developers.

6 Fundamental Knowledges

  1. SOLID (Code magazine articleWikipedia)
  2. Object Oriented Programming (OO)
  3. Design Patterns (Do Factory)
  4. Domain Driven Design (DDD)
  5. Agile / Scrum (Agile ManifestoScrum orgAgile Scout)
  6. Test Driven Development (TDD ) (Arrange Act AssertEric Mignot, TDD trainer)

Is software maturity enough?

We are all humans… Yes we are! As such we have needs and abilities we should respect. Software development was often considered as a nebulous science where people are resources that can be interchanged. Well we learned, sometime the hard way, which it’s not the case, some people achieve better with specific “people skills” that support and healthy team and we should encourage more these behaviours.

Here’s a list of  developer people skills:

  • Business Awareness – Understand expected behaviors and value
  • ROI thinking – Consider efforts VS added value
  • Tolerence to changes – It will occurs, be ready for it and embrace it
  • Recognize – Take time to acknowledge other’s accomplishment
  • Team spirit – Ability to be efficient in a team
  • Communication – Active listening and clear explications, don’t hesitate to interact!
  • Open minded – Accept comments and try to improve overtime
  • Organisation – Work on top priority first

How could I improve?

As anything in life, you will have to work to get results. First you can participate in communities of your area (ex: Communauté .NET MontréalAgile Montréal), you can listen to podcasts (ex: Visual Studio Talk ShowVox Agile) or event read about emergent architectures (ex: CQRS => Greg Young Blog postAnother Greg Young Blog postJulien Letrouit’s Blog). Try to become a better team player, ask yourself what you can do to be more efficient in your context.

Questions

  • Any other ideas to  improve that article?
  • What do you think is the most difficult to achieve?

How GREAT companies recognize their employees?

March 11, 2011

Here’s an interesting article about Motivation best practices that I read and resumed. I thought it would be nice to share it and try to start a discussion to get your opinion.

How can we start to motivate employees?

  • Use communication, transparence and trust
    • It requires self-awareness and get over industry paradigms
  • Focus on employee engagement, interactions and happiness
  • See engagement as an investment instead of an expense
  • Focus on the company culture in the hiring process
  • Let employees drive company culture and regularly review it
  • Reach innovation and creativity through open roles and responsibilities over control and rigid processes
  • Implicate and invite employees in decisions
  • Bring value and quality to the clients over short term gains

What do you think?

  • What would be the impacts of allocating more time and resource to continuous improvement and employee’s implication?
    • Example: Google allocate one day a week (20%) of employee’s time to innovation and it’s clearly integrated to their culture and products.
  • What are the chances that self-management employees do their best for the company success versus do minimal work when not supervised?
    • Hard one since every individual is unique, although people with the same culture and values tend to act the same way.
    • Individual objectives recognition and engagement surely influence that behaviour.

In the article, I disagree with one company idea that HR department is not required. I think it’s important to have people dedicated to improve company’s best practices, cultures and employee engagement. Without time and resources allocated, these company’s attribute won’t improve alone. Although I like the idea of all employees being able to provide their input on these subjects or anything related to the company.

These best practices also align with software development agile processes: agile manifesto