In September, the Development Department took some time out of its schedule to carry out the second Dev Summit of 2022. The team is looking to make this a regular event — at least every quarter — to sync up the various teams within the department and allow for some good ideas to flow for greater productivity in the months to come.
Development Team Lead, Evelien Smeenk explained the idea behind this now-regular gathering. “We are a growing department. If you look at the number of people within the teams a year or two years ago and where we are right now, a lot has changed. It’s very important to keep people aligned and this is not something that the management of development wants to do top-down, definitely not. This is something that we want the teams to be involved in.”
The various dev teams do engage with one another in regular meetings to catch up on work being done on other projects, but the dev summit allows for specific focus on this through two days of collaborative workshops. “The workshops help generate improvements for the entire development process. It’s very important to discuss our struggles as a group and see if we can find a solution to them. It’s also very important to get the vision of the Development Department across to everyone and get the business objective across to the teams. So that’s also a reason why we organized this for the second time, after the first edition in June,” stated Evelien.
Our dev teams are hard at work throughout the year, consistently making improvements to existing products while working on exciting new and upcoming projects alongside. The summit is an opportunity to step away from the day-to-day work to allow for a little reset. The marketing team sat down with some of the developers after the summit, to get an understanding of what they experienced in the preceding two days.
According to one of the devs, Alexander Botero, “It was good to see everyone in person, off the screen. Getting face-to-face input and having the ability to meet everyone makes the team understand each other better.”
Javeed Dutia, working remotely from the UK, agreed with this wholeheartedly. “I am still relatively new to i3D.net so it’s good for me. We normally only communicate through different (online) channels. Each team also has different priorities. When we are together like this, there’s more room for discussion, and we are codependent as teams so it’s good to have this interaction.”
But naturally, two days of exchanging ideas and interactive workshops also bring about lots of healthy debates and passionate discussions. “I learned that things are not always what they seem. I thought the solutions to all our problems were easy and perhaps we were approaching them the wrong way. But over this summit, I realized that simple solutions are not always the easy fixes they seem. Solutions and ideas need to be thought through and this is exactly what the workshops helped us understand,” says Rafi Taleb about the exchange of ideas and problem-solving at the summit.
“(The discussions were) smooth. We had lots of opinions, but we always managed to agree on goals and objectives,” adds Alexander.
There was a lot learned during the two days, but the key phrase that most developers agreed on as the main outcome of the summit was release management. With rapidly expanding teams, it becomes more and more important to organize the workflow in the smoothest possible way going forward.
With each team increasing in numbers, it was important to position the department in a way where each developer can work most productively, with the blockers to output being removed by the team leads and management.
Kamran Butt, one of the older members of the Dev Team adds, “We already know we have challenges. We mainly discussed release management at this summit. So that should help (improve workflow). There were ideas we got for both the local environment and beyond and we are excited to try them moving forward.”
The last Dev Summit took place in June, and the developers were happy to see how far they had come in only two months. Florian Vetu, one of the team members stated, “It has been only two and half months since the last (summit). And it was two and a half months of summer by the way. So, I think we can even be proud of our progress in this period. If you had asked me about where we would be two months ago, I would not have thought we would have come this far in terms of achieving our goals.”
But beyond the work and intense decision-making, time was also set aside for fun activities that inculcate real lessons to allow the team the opportunity to bond over non-work-related themes, while engaging in crucial concepts at the same time. For Kamran, winning at a paper-plane-making activity, designed to learn about different perspectives in the Agile development process and increase cooperation, was the most rewarding. “My favorite moment was when we made airplanes. We competed in teams and mine won. I won a set of lego as a prize; I gave it to my kids, so it was very fun.”
Other people found the dinners that came after most enjoyable. According to Rafi, “Moments spent in restaurants eating with friends and colleagues and making jokes (was most fun).”
Javeed agreed jokingly, “I will say the same because my team did not win at the airplanes. It was nice to just get out of work with the colleagues and not talk about work for a bit. We come from so many different backgrounds and there is so much to learn about other perspectives and people. It was really nice.”
“My most memorable takeaway was funnily enough from the first day when Stefan (Stefan Ideler, our CTO) was talking about changes that must be made. This shows that the commitment to achieve these goals runs all the way from top to bottom, and is really positive to see,” stated Alexander.
“For me, it was kind of the same,” explained Florian. “Where we were (originally) versus what has been done, and what is going to happen, the plans seem concrete, and to see us already heading down the right path is really nice to see.”
Development Team Lead Danny Nieuwenhuis spoke about the value of resolving issues through the set of workshops, but to not forget one of the core reasons for the two days to be set aside. He explained, “The most important element of the Dev summit is that everyone comes together. There’s collaboration and sharing of knowledge. Devs can volunteer to present anything they think will be valuable for the teams to learn about. I think we can sometimes underestimate the power of coming together and spending a couple of fun days around topics. It should of course be focused on some sort of a theme, but I consider the bonding to be the most important thing.”