For Etienne Lorthoy, accepting a developer job is to embark on an eternal quest for knowledge and optimization. Having experienced the position in many different development ecosystems, he’s found his home at Officevibe, supporting his entire team through custom-built enablement tools and processes.
Enabling your teams
In software development, today’s best practices are routinely dethroned by the hottest new theory spreading across the industry. It’s easy to say that innovation is key to success in the tech world, but how to go about translating those buzzwords into actionable, concrete results?
At Officevibe, it’s up to Etienne and his team to identify these market trends: what elements do the most successful companies have in common, and why are these organizational characteristics having the effect they’re having? It’s not enough to just know the theory – he needs to know how to integrate and implement it into his own team’s unique context and conditions.
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There are so many enticing promises being made on the internet. It’s the specifics, how to orchestrate these new tools and concepts that eludes most people. That’s why we need someone who’s just going to waste their days experimenting!
Full-Stack & Performance Developer at Officevibe, GSoft
Far from being a waste of time, however, these experiments are learning opportunities for the whole team, whether the final product is integrated into the production cycle or not. Be it an authentication system or a new back-end data manipulation paradigm, success and failure both speak to an organization’s existing procedures, and the team itself.
What’s keeping Etienne busy
“At the moment, we’re squarely focused on all things microservices. We’ve had great results, but also our share of clunkers: a lost week here, a year spent tinkering with another idea there… suffice to say that sometimes our proposals are met with a bit of a ‘cool story, bro’ attitude, so we just need to prove ourselves a bit.
But when we can produce results, all of a sudden we have an audience! Recently, we took a reporting service into the software and then rebuilt it with a microservice architecture. Rather than waiting an hour and forty-five minutes to deploy code, we can now do it in ten minutes; instead of having your screen freeze for five minutes while running a debug test, it’s a ten- second affair. Results like those interest people real fast!”
Technical solutions for human challenges
Though it has its role to play, the quality of a technology is rarely what determines a project’s success. One of Etienne’s pet peeves is enablement teams that believe they can find a technical answer to each and every problem. They’re forgetting the human element, which should be central to every discussion about development optimization.
Etienne jokes that on many days, he spends more time in PowerPoint than in Visual Studio. It’s not enough that he’s building new services; he has to also play the role of missionary to the rest of the team.
“You have to be particularly aware of what people are doing with your tech. That means having a dialogue with the end users. If you miss the real pain point for your developers, you risk wasting your enablement team’s time designing a solution that may just hinder your devs more than the initial problem.”
For Etienne, this involves days of user research, trying to understand their often vague problems (“the program is just slow!”) and targeting concrete solutions. It’s also educating teams about the chosen fix, explaining why a certain approach was chosen, why it succeeded or why it didn’t have the desired effect. The goal: equipping the other devs with the tools they need to confront similar problems in the future.
Maintaining performance with growth
When Etienne joined Officevibe five years ago, the team totalled six developers. Today, they’re a team of over twenty-five. That kind of growth requires a similar evolution in their ways of doing business. For Etienne, the challenge is to master bleeding-edge development tech while also keeping an honest, self-appraising eye on his team’s actual needs and capabilities. The ultimate goal: to reach the same speed and flexibility that allowed the original team to flourish, while also wrangling a few million lines of code as they scale (1,640,254, more exactly). At GSoft, that’s what we call development.
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