A year at SpotHero leading Engineering

I will talk about the year in five parts/posts:

May 2019 – The company had been without a VP of Engineering or Head of Engineering for about 6 months and it was also missing a VP of Product for a number of months. We are scaling..

May 2019 Governance

  1. The CTO/CoFounder was serving Engineering, Data Science, IT and Product
  2. We had a version of the Spotify (yes the music streaming company) model operating framework – i.e. Tribes, Chapters, Guilds
  3. We had three tribes (Departments) – Consumer (B2C), Operator (B2B) and Platform
  4. Incident management and support was solely focused on Consumer side of business (i.e. not on B2B Operator side)
  5. Most vendor management was done by the CTO
  6. Two Tribes felt they had little time to learn i.e. Consumer and Operator – Feature Factory
  7. We were very ‘Web First’ and ‘Mobile Second’ focused in terms of engineering, even though most customers used our Mobile Apps
  8. We had many SDLCs, with a mix of modern software practices (and not), depending on the squad, Jira was used very differently depending on the Tribe/Squad
  9. Whilst SpotHero Values were not integrated into the Engineering Team or Engineering Leadership Team – The phrases like Remember to signal and Don’t get stuck in traffic were being used in a meaningful way. It would also be fair to say that Ownership really did exist, and this could be seen in the dealing of Incidents.
  10. Promotion and merit increases were not on top of mind for Leaders
  11. Documentation was sporadic, and onboarding new humans was expensive

May 2020 Governance

My Approaches/Perspectives – Transparency. Lead before Manage. Experiment and have space for growth. Learn from success and failure. Have a process, system or principle if needed, version it and remove it if it’s not needed. Communicate and avoid surprises. Allow people to make decisions. Work like a scientist – stating problem and hypothetical solution through open living documents allowing people to comment, suggest, critique.

So where did we get to after 12 months?

  1. Defined Engineering strategy to meet the needs of our business with over $15 million budget
  2. Much stronger vendor management with thorough reviews and delegations of ownership to the Engineering Leadership. COVID-19 helped with this.
  3. Introduced Discovery Day – half a day at the end of every sprint where Engineers can work on any technical or people project – anything but sprint work
  4. Updated Incident Management to accommodate for both sides of our marketplace – Consumer (B2C) and Operator (B2B). Starting to align Defects, Incidents and Security Incidents to be consistent across Engineering.
  5. Organized our Native mobile teams, with Mobile leadership expertise, to respect native ecology and user needs
  6. Aimed to be good at supporting Remote working
  7. Introduced ‘Agile’ humans to support our Engineers and Product in shared understanding, prediction and delivery
  8. Embrace Confluence, encourage template, Documentation Awards, Archeology Squad
  9. Introduced much more transparency into Engineering, decisions and opportunities within our documentation
  10. Committed to having a learning plan and career plan for every human.
  11. Driving for easy observability into what is going on via Jira and Confluence for the whole of the organization.
  12. Introduced Tribe Change Logs for each Tribe, which includes people changes, and architectural Changes to allow us to keep up to date with what is happening with other Tribes
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