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Samuel Overton Jr.
Samuel Overton Jr.

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Dev Life (Effective Communication)

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Communication is key

As a developer, for 1.5 year(s) I have been hearing a lot of people say that excellent communication is what makes you a good or even great developer. I’m sure you have heard the saying “Communication is key.” This is my short story about how I lost the key to communicating effectively and how I plan on getting it back.

On July 9th, 2018 I was close to the end of a big project for the company I work for, and some issues arose.

  1. I realized that we weren’t going to be able to release our changes that day we planned.
  2. My team didn’t know what was going on and why the project wouldn’t be released on time.
  3. I had no plan to communicate effectively throughout the process.

I’m sure you all can imagine how I looked at this moment. Sweat is rolling down my head, and my heart is beating fast.

Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but I did have a feeling of disappointment. So instead of sulking, I decided that I would do something about the problem.

Address the issue head-on

Once I knew that I wouldn’t finish the product I owned up to my mistake and had a meeting with my team. I work on a three-person product team, and we have almost full control of our product. I explained that we wouldn’t release our update that day because I fell behind. Also without playing the blame game, I also revealed that adding some extra feature caused most of the delay. My team understood, and we figured out the future release date. Problem solved? No, because the same thing could come up in future product releases. I need a way to have effective continuous communication with the team.

One thing I was able to get set up was our own development environment. Instead of having all visual changes just on my local computer there is a setup now that shows the changes I made within minutes on what we call our dev environment. Now during the entire process, we are building a new feature my team can test and provide helpful feedback. Also, it speeds up the testing process because more eyes are able to see what is going on throughout the entire process. (Before all teams were sharing one dev environment because we were a lot smaller.)

Having a dev environment is a good start, but I’ve been thinking that there can still be an issue if we don’t have some daily and weekly communication. For now, since we are using Trello as our project management tool, I thought we should add a board for everyday issues, and we will have one weekly official meeting going forward to make sure we address the problems sooner and provide a better game plan. Even though I don’t like meetings if we have a clear objective and respect the 15–30 minute window it should be a good meeting.

I know that the more autonomy our team has from the company, the more care we have to have with our communication. Some things we work on may have a significant impact on all the teams in the company. If our own communication is faulty, then our communication with the rest of the company could possibly suffer. To prevent losing trust, buy-in, and help I will hold myself and team accountable to communicate effectively amongst ourselves and the rest of the company.

I hope this and future post helps someone looking to have insight on what happens day to day in the life of a front-end dev.

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