Rise of Engineering Dept 2020

Vijeta Hingorani
By Vijeta Hingorani On December 08 2020 On year in review, engineering, intern, day in the life, code
2020 has been a strange year for everyone and really highlighted the importance of community and connections in general. We wanted you to give you a peek of what Socialgist employees were up to and how amidst this tough year the teams thrived and emerged stronger every month!

We were a partial remote company so we had all the infrastructure for being a remote team.

Some of the changes we as team saw were:

Rise of two teams in terms of equal expertise and skills.

Earlier this year the department was divided into two main development teams with Al Itchon and Zak Fareed as software development managers of each. This was the perfect time to introduce Scrum framework in terms of number of team members and also as industry standard to develop/deliver software.

Introduction of Agile Methodology

This was a big change. Entire department got Scrum certified. Joe Niemiec (CTO) & Jon Oelman (COO) led the team by taking certification and setting an example for everyone. By taking this certification the team spoke common language and understood the reasoning behind implementing the framework.

The journey of implementing Scrum was not straightforward. As mentioned in the framework guidelines,at first it took us 3 to 5 sprints to achieve an ideal sprint cycle. Eventually the standups became shorter, retro/review meetings gave us an opportunity to reflect on tasks that did/didn't go well, task estimates became accurate.

The benefits were

  1. Sprint Review meetings helped Management to see all the great and hard work the team did every cycle. It made them aware of the tasks it took the engineers to implement the request. They were no longer just getting delivered a package at the end but also getting to listen to the problems along the way and understand first hand why things may delay or scope changes.
  2. Overall productivity of teams was increased
  3. Communication between team members improved.
  4. By giving achievable story point estimates team members got better at estimating effort and therefore continuously improving the sprint burndown charts.
  5. Standups give managers a chance for managers to check in with team members. This was helpful in case of building a remote culture.

Fun Hackthon led to Logging Standard

We always like to bring in a fun element at work and Engineering Management decided to host a hackathon on the topic Centralized Logging Solution. Multiple solutions were presented and we decided to pick Fluentd as a centralized logging solution for all our platforms. The logs for various platforms such as Hadoop, Hbase & individual applications were scattered across but by building this solution we now have access to logs aggregated at a single place (ElasticSearch in our case) and are being used to build dashboards/actionable alerts in Grafana/Apache Nifi. If you are interested in reading about the architecture of our in house custom solution please head to this https://blog.socialgist.com/adaptable-centralized-logging

Welcomed & Mentored Intern

We proudly welcomed and mentored an intern this summer. We believe that we are equally strong even when distributed. If you are interested in reading more about his experience please read this blog post :) https://blog.socialgist.com/what-was-your-summer-vacation-like-meet-jack-our-intern

Building Kubernetes cluster in house

We will be posting more articles on this topic because we are excited about building our own cluster and migration of applications from virtual machines to the Kubernetes platform. We are excited because the migration will free up a lot of resources and automate the deployment/scaling of applications.

There are a lot more exciting things that are happening in the company now.

The leadership team emphasizes work life balance now more than ever. They came up with a Slack etiquette policy when the company went fully remote. Some of the steps that helped team to disconnect were

  • Letting everyone set flexible work hours as long as they attend meetings during standard business hours
  • Letting the team know that they can ignore email and slack messages outside their chosen work hours, that if its a emergency a phone call happen instead
  • Keeping Slack status up to date with breaks in between.
  • Keeping Calendar/ Meetings in sync with holidays

The leadership team made sure that clear boundaries of work timings are set and employees can truly disconnect from work and enjoy time with their families! All of these changes made the transition from office to remote culture a lot easier :)

Thank you for stopping by!

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