93digital is exceptionally proud of our development and engineering team, and the enterprise-grade development processes they have developed and continue to evolve. Our development team deserve a lot of credit towards the progress and success of 93digital, and not solely through client work, but also through our company culture and internal innovation.
For those uninitiated with the term, ‘DevOps’ is a software development methodology that combines software development with IT service level of operations. The goal of DevOps is to shorten development lifecycles while also delivering fixes, features, and updates as frequently and as close to the alignment of business needs, as possible.
In this particular article, our Lead Developer Alessandro discusses how regular development team meetings once a month help to steer and evolve 93digital’s wider DevOps processes whilst promoting a culture of innovation and growth.
Monthly development meetings were one of the first things I implemented when becoming Lead Developer at 93digital. This is because having a culture of individualism in a team setting is counterproductive for the high quality work we strive to produce, and how we want to grow as an agency.
Sharing is Caring
Our philosophy is about sharing personal knowledge and experience. I’m proud of our development team in that we have people of all levels of experience, all coming to 93digital from different countries, different walks of life, to make websites for the leading WordPress agency in the UK! Every single developer on the team undertook a different journey to get to where they are, meaning that experience and opinions will also be different.
Our meetings normally take place during the last week of the month, and as a rule always outside the office. The reason for this is to deliberately take the developers out of their day-to-day environment, as a change in environment can also bring about a different way of thinking.
This is a mental shift, as being out of the office enables us all to be free from the current issues we’re facing and allows us to take a step back and be free with our DevOps thoughts!
The rules and format of our meetings are usually as such:
– Everybody is welcome
– Recap from last DevOp meeting and progress
– New topics
– Next month’s plan/actions
Everybody is welcome to speak
For me individual skills don’t matter for this meeting, and during this phase, everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas, struggles and successes they’ve had during the last month.
No subject is ever off the table.
This phase has been a big success and a lot, if not all, the improvements we’ve developed, discussed and successfully applied came from our initial discussions in the dev team meetings.
This is a short process and usually only takes a few minutes. We mainly go through the list of actions/improvements for clients that have been previously decided and check their status or discuss any problem/improvements we can make.
After spending some time warming up with the previous points it’s time to talk about what’s new out there, are there any updates which we might have missed, which useful tools we might have tested that might help us with our workflow? Or any other useful resource we think is worth discussing.
At first, it was me as Lead Dev as the person in charge of deciding the meeting agenda, and the topics were mostly about which internal tools we were working on, or a 3rd party tool that we had decided to integrate with WordPress for a client.
However, over the last few months, other members of the Dev team have become more confident and over time, we now have a Trello board that anyone, up until the day of the meeting, can add a task with the information that they would like to discuss with the entire team, and we discuss.
So, after opening the Trello board we start to go through each task and the dev who has suggested the issue gives all of us an overview of it, and afterwards, we talk about the issue.
Next month plan/actions
At this point, the tasks/issues that we have agreed might be useful, are moved to an ACTION trello board, where it gets assigned to a developer for further discovery or implementation. I would be lying to you if I said that the board was not full of tasks!
The task is also moved to the next month so that we can evaluate it in the ‘recap’ part of our DevOps meetings.
The review document
By the end of the meeting, we have produced a Google Doc that recaps everything discussed during the meeting, and can also contain notes we need to pass on to a different team in the agency.
The document is catalogued by year and month, saved in a shared Google drive folder and shared with the team on our slack channel for our own records, so that we can refer back and track our train of thought at that particular moment in time.