We know that to build a Dev Team we need Developers and a Project Lead. At Thales Digital Factory, we even have Tech Leads! The Tech Lead finds the quickest way to produce value for the end-user with the right level of quality and security. What does producing value for the end-user mean? At the Factory, we aim to uncover the mysterious world and the odds of digital concepts. Let’s see how it works with one of our Tech Leads, Damien Cuenot:
As a Tech Lead, how do you work in an agile way as part of the development team?
Damien C.: As a Tech Lead, I am a Developer among the Developers’ team first. At the beginning of a project, my job mainly consists in designing the architecture of the product, and also defining efficient development practices with the team (peer reviews, merge requests, quality gates etc.). During the project, on top of delivering user stories, I’m the main point of contact to exchange with our experts (Security partners, Public Cloud experts, Craftman coaches..) helping the team to find the quickest way to meet the products’ quality and security expectations at Thales Digital Factory. Finally, to assess the quality of our product, I try to be as data-driven as possible by collecting feedback from our end-users and follow our Culture Manifesto: Data Over Opinions.
What is your typical day on a 12-week MVP project?
Damien C.: In my position, no two days are alike! It mostly depends on the project stage we are at: Scoping, building, or transfer.
- This is the first stage when the team meet stakeholders and end-users.
- Developers and I spend most of our time understanding the end-users' need, defining the architecture of our technical solution and our ways of working, especially regarding quality and security practices.
- We also work closely with the Product Owners to define our success criteria and how we will measure them.
- Every good day start with a daily meeting to share our work progress with the Product Owner, UX Designer and other Developers.
- If someone is facing an issue, I will try to help them or to point them the right contact to fix their issue.
- Depending on the feature, I am peer programming or reviewing code developed by others. During those sessions, it’s the perfect timing to share some knowledge with Developers about Security Risks or SOLID principles (mnemonic acronym for five design principles to make software designs more understandable and maintainable: Single responsibility, Open–closed, Liskov substitution, Interface segregation, Dependency inversion) and if it’s needed, we can organize training sessions with our coaches.
- If the MVP is a success (good users' feedback and market fit), we transfer our product and our ways of working to a new team inside a Thales group business line.
- During this period, we have a lot of exchanges and peer programming session with the new team in order to share our knowledge.
How do you turn your technical vision into product reality for the end-user?
As an example, the MVP Alexandrie we developed for the French National Navy, in order to make a product that will be useful to our end-users: I went to Brest and Toulon in France with our Product Owner and UX Designer so that we could better understand the tools they use and their working conditions (Internet access, web browser version, etc.).
Once the context had been identified, we defined (as a team) the features that we would develop during a cycle which will serve to differentiate ourselves from existing tools on the market.
Once we defined the list of ideal features, the Tech Lead role came in quite critical:
- Finding a technical solution that will bring maximum value to the user in the allotted time.
- Helping to break down user stories to find the right one between technical feasibility and the user value.
Sometimes, we come across areas where we don't have the expertise in at first. It was my case on the mapping, I had to get closer to an expert to quickly acquire the knowledge and also to do some “techno watch” on the topic to identify the right technical choices for our product.
As the product was being developed, we ran demonstrations to our users to pick their live feedback on our product use. Overall, during these user tests we discovered that small adjustments should be made to our product (ergonomics or the color of the background map which is more readable on a black background for our users etc.)
This MVP was a success and was demonstrated at Paris Airshow in 2019 and experienced in situ on the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier. Mission accomplished; the technical vision became a product reality for our users!