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Collaborative Engineering at Movio

Collaboration is essential in succeeding and growing in engineering. At Movio we’ve been developing the way we work to increase collaboration between our fellow engineers and across engineering teams. It has made us more communicative, broadened our understanding of each others’ work, improved the work we produce, and made it all more enjoyable. Here’s some of the key ways we’ve made collaboration core to our work.

A Collaborative Delivery Framework

Over a year ago, Movio introduced a new delivery framework that has been working excellently. Rather than having each team work in isolation and then pass their work to the next team to go forward with, we’ve aimed to break that pattern and really enhance the collaboration between all the engineers and all of our squads.

Whenever we create a new project brief, we take members from different squads that are working on the project, and we create new teams with those members; small teams composed across squads. And these teams have their own standups and keep the communication growing between them to enhance that collaborative aspect. They’re talking to each other every day about what progress they’ve made and what problems and blockers there are, which really opens the communication.

So take, for example, the classic API/Front End problem. Front end cannot really do anything without an API built, and if an API that’s built doesn’t work for the front end, you go back to the drawing board. But with this delivery framework, the moment something gets done on the API level, you have a dedicated moment to inform the other parts of the team outside your usual engineering squad, so Front End can try it out immediately rather than waiting and coming back after everything’s done.

I think keeping this communication is absolutely key to projects’ success. The moment something is done, we get this tight feedback timeline to react and respond to potential problems right away. Keeping everyone aware of the bigger picture while they work can be difficult, but by communicating and working together continuously, there are many ways we can connect the granular details and the larger project shape.

Workshopping The Problem

A particular part of this process that I especially appreciate is the workshops that we’ve implemented. Once we have created and discussed a project brief and decided what we want to achieve, we tackle the question of how we want to approach things together. It’s a little bit of an adventure for everybody to—rather than have a prescribed solution—come together to find one. We get everybody sitting around the table and say, “This is the problem we have. How are we going to solve it?”

On the surface the benefit is obvious: two brains are better than one, so the more brains in the room the better. The main purpose is to give everyone a chance to talk, ask questions, and offer suggestions.

And since everyone is involved in these discussions, it gives the chance to raise little flags if something’s not going to work sooner, rather than weeks into development.

I think it’s really useful for us to have that space, especially for our younger team members so they can build the confidence to participate more. I wouldn’t expect a junior person to declare definitive choices in their first workshop. But over time they’ll absorb information, listen, maybe ask a couple of questions, and by their third or fourth time they’ll be much more confident to make suggestions.

There’s a historical gap between design and implementation. If you shield people from these design processes, they spend their entire time on one side of that gap instead of crossing the bridge—which can be scary. But if you’re thrown in the pit early and without the weight of expectation, you can gain confidence, contextual knowledge, and the skills to suggest solutions.

Finding Flexibility And A Broad Knowledge Base

Movio has an excellent approach to our new graduates—they get an experience I’m actually jealous of. Every year, two or three graduates join our team from the Vista Group Grads Programme, and from the start we rotate them through different squads in order to give them a variety of experiences. A graduate might spend three months with one squad working on automation, three months with another, and rotate their way through three or four different squads.

It means they get a chance to try out a bit of everything; a bit of core, a bit of campaign automation, some DevOps… I find it an extremely high-quality concept. It’s something I didn’t have when I started my career.

There’s multiple aspects to why it’s so beneficial. First, you gain a better understanding of how Movio works by seeing all the individual parts; you learn how a campaign is executed, how we do hosting, and all manner of things. You also gain a better understanding of various technologies.

When I talk about Big Data, for instance, if you don’t have that specialised knowledge it can be challenging to follow all the details. But if you’ve had three months to work with it, it’s much easier to understand. So it lets them grow a little bit in every area.

The second part is that over the course of the rotation it allows them to find their passion and preferences. So they get to choose what their first and second preferences are of squads to join, and Movio has always been accommodating with that preference as long as we can.

Every time we have someone new joining I’ll tell them I think they’re so lucky to have that opportunity, and to not only explore what they like, but really explore what they don’t like as well—because it gives you a bit of knowledge and helps shape your mind about whether you really don’t like it, or perhaps it was just difficult or scary before you tried it.

Building Synergy In Our Work

As a squad lead, I really enjoy hearing from my team. Whenever there’s a problem, I like to take an open forum approach where we can bounce ideas off one another to find a solution instead of just dictating one. Hearing different propositions for solutions always helps us create something more robust by examining all different perspectives and combining ideas.

That’s the core payoff of collaborating throughout our work. Our results are better rounded, our process is more responsive, and our voices are heard when we need to be adaptive.
As Movio continues to lead and innovate in our industry, we’re continuously looking for ways to improve, and collaborative work lifts our game constantly.

Interested in pursuing a career at Movio? Come work with Paul!

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