We are Customer Focussed
At Adepto, we focus on helping our customers succeed, and our engineering team are no exception. Our principles, processes and practices are designed to support and enable this customer focus.
Like many places, our engineering team is a mixed bag of different working backgrounds and varying personalities. At one end, some come from high-pressure, quantity-delivery experience through to people who have just finished university/college.
Our engineering team’s focus is always on delivering high-quality solution-focused software for our customers. That way, what is deployed into production is the highest standard we can muster. We do this through research, testing and constantly reviewing and iterating on how our customers use our product.
Sounds hard, right? But in practice, it’s not.
By keeping these principles in mind, we work to bring our diverse team together.
Following the Kanban methodology
We follow the Kanban methodology and have daily stand-ups to keep track of our progress via a Kanban board. So, as an engineer, this might mean taking a week or longer (even a month) to finish a feature. Alternatively, it might take a couple of hours… we don’t really know until we start the next story. Of course, this doesn’t equate to people taking advantage of the process where a 1-hour story is stretched over a week-long period. We have strong accountability built into the team culture – and we also help each other out wherever possible.
During our regular stand-ups, we run right to left as we walk the board and check the progress of the cards. If someone questions why a task is taking too long, we’re not trying to hint that our colleagues are working too slow. It’s more of a checkpoint for those who are relatively new to this process. An opportunity for them to request help to get the ticket done. We understand everyone is different and some people aren’t natural speakers, so this opens the floor for anyone to have their say. It might be because they didn’t realise they could get help. Or it might mean that during testing by QA more issues were found. As we transitioned to Kanban, the leaders of each squad, themselves, were queried. We were using scrum in the earlier days.
This process is the wheelhouse of our innovation and is key to ensuring we deliver the right thing at the right time. As we deliver new features and capabilities, we closely monitor their impact and get feedback from our customers. Enhancements are managed via the Kanban process, allowing us to adapt and evolve as quickly as possible.
Time to adapt
All new engineers aren’t expected to know everything about the codebase from the get-go. Every new teammate is given time to understand it. We don’t believe in the concept of “hitting the ground running” (it sounds painful for everyone!). It’s always good to stretch first.
There are so many things to learn in a new company, particularly one as varied and global as Adepto. Ultimately, Adepto wants you to be at your best when you work with us. So, if you’re strict with your time and don’t work extra hours, but your working hours prove extremely fruitful, then we’re more than happy with that. Our priority is on outcomes. Not bums in seats. And if you have any doubts, your squad lead is always there to help.
It is also important that our engineering team understand our customers, their needs and challenges to ensure that we can deliver the solutions that help them to succeed. It’s not uncommon to see our customers in the Adepto office or on a video call with our product and engineering teams, working collaboratively towards a common goal.
Quality over quantity
The only caveat we have with our high-quality software delivery is we’re constrained by the resources we currently have (whether that’s staff numbers and/or software limitations) and the business needs. This caveat will dictate how difficult the story that’s about to be worked on. We may need to deliver a very basic version of a feature then iterate later with more features. We compromise on features – not the quality of code, and we also consider the target of effect (for example, if 100 people are going to use the feature, or 10,000).
Not blaming the individual
Adepto is very big on having a blameless culture. If you, for instance, delete the production database, we won’t see it as your fault. We’ve all made such mistakes in our lives! Other organisations would typically blame you or even your manager. We flip that view on its head and figure out what steps weren’t put in place by the team that allowed the mistake to occur. We’re a growing company and it’s not easy having everything in place from the very beginning whilst delivering features. We see it as a learning experience on how to prevent that as a team rather than blaming an individual.
A safe environment
It’s very important for us to have a psychologically safe environment. This is because we want to achieve a high level of transparency among team members. Do you find the execs are being a bit harsh? Feel free to have a private chat with them and let them know that what they said or how it was delivered wasn’t appropriate. We encourage each other to hold colleagues accountable if they feel something was unjust. However, we understand that sometimes, it may not feel comfortable to have such discussions. On those occasions, your squad lead is happy to take up your mantle. Over time we hope you’ll see we practice what we preach.
Feeling sick? Stay home
Likewise, if you catch the flu or feel sick, we’re not going to demand that you come into the office. After all, we don’t want to catch what you’ve got! Doing work when sick is never fun – nor productive. We’d rather you take the time to get back to your best, instead of compromising the quality of your work. Don’t worry about holding your teammates up, the squad lead will make decisions on how to progress and you won’t be penalised for something that happens to all of us.
We hope this gives you a flavour of what it’s like to work within the engineering team at Adepto. If I could leave you with one takeaway about our culture, it’s this: Adepto places its people first. By making sure you can work to the best of your ability, the rest of our deliverables (like high-quality software) will fall into place.
By: Adrian Diente, Squad Lead and Senior Frontend Developer