Henry Ford specifically set out to revolutionize how automobiles were manufactured. Since then, his “assembly line” process has been widely adopted to build everything from computers to hamburgers. Even if your business may not depend on coding or provide Software as a Service (SaaS), there are eye-opening lessons in process, methodology, and team management to learn from a coding team in fintech.
Critical review at the right time
Verifi Software Engineer Taylor Caswell has a keen understanding of the importance of timely review when producing a complex software product. “Providing feedback early in the development process helps us avoid wasted work and wasted time,” Caswell says. Whether building a pizza or a video game, there are critical reviews to ensure you have the foundation to move forward and your build is on the right track. It’s not just getting the team together that matters, it’s the awareness of the individual mindset of each team member, their understanding of what their part is in product development, and the critical thinking they bring to the whole enterprise that determine successful process.
“Every developer has their own strengths and weaknesses. If you are a domain expert, pay careful attention to the domain. If you have a knack for clean code practice, keep your eyes out for that in particular. We work in teams for a reason. Do what you do best,” Caswell suggests. That’s not to say a fix, workaround, or epiphany can’t come from someone with peripheral knowledge of a subject. In these situations the person with the idea or comment should table it as a suggestion and not an answer.
What if there are differences of opinion?
When you have a room full of people, you also have a room full of opinions. Mix this with individual accountability and pride of work, and there is every opportunity for the raising of hackles and the ruffling of feathers. Caswell speaks from experience when he says, “People (including myself) are more likely to be more comfortable having their initial code or proposal overruled if it comes from an inclusive team rather than a single opposing developer or manager.”
Differences of opinion are normal, healthy, and expected. Staying loose and open-minded is key according to Caswell. “As a team, we discuss the problem and weigh the solutions. Sometimes we’ll pick one of the two options in contention. Other times, we’ll come up with an entirely new solution that exceeds the initial disagreement entirely.”
How to foster a positive review culture
Extroverts and alpha personalities aside, it takes time and concentrated effort to build an atmosphere of trust. When it comes to individual work and pride of ownership, coupled with a complicated product and an approaching go-to-market date, it can create a tense environment. Caswell has some suggestions to keep things productive while keeping the peace. “Avoid comments that feel like personal attacks with a simple trick: leave them in the form of inclusive questions. Instead of writing, ‘This method is too long,’ try, ‘Can we shorten this method?’ By changing the language to be inclusive, we show that we are on the same team,” he concluded.
Inevitably, either in meetings or instant messaging threads, situations can go sideways with the potential to blow up. In these instances, Caswell has a personal rule: “I take the conversation out of the code review and right to the developer’s desk.” Sometimes there’s no substitute for a one-on-one conversation.
Read the entire interview with Verifi Software Engineer, Taylor Caswell, here.
See why Verifi is a great place to work. Check out our profile on Built In LA here.