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Stay in Sync

When your team is distributed, it can be hard to keep in sync, feel a part of a team share knowledge, pass on learnings, and best practices. One thing I found helpful when I was part of a of partially co-located and part distributed. An async weekly software update, collecting announcements, important dates, and great links. My manager Doug Ramsay and my next manager Jessie Link both followed this practice in some form or another… The basic format was some announcements, team updates, and interesting links. I honestly can’t recall if the weekly update had a name, but in my mine I know I always called Jessie’s updates, “Jessie Link’s Links”. I believe originally the updates were sent to the whole team via email, then email / campfire, and eventually Slack.

This is different than team stand ups or more formal processes and can be looser sometimes sharing funny pics, posts, or birthdays. I always enjoyed reading Jessie & Doug’s links and it has been great to continue the practice.

Software Update Template

As I have been helping keep a fully distributed team working together and up to speed. I have found it helpful as well. I have slightly changed the format over time, but the basics are in the template below.

As another week starts, ...funny_or_motivating line...
	
:keyboard: Dev first-responder: <>
:todo: PM Release Coordinator: <>
:calendar: Holidays / Vacations
     * 
:speaker: Updates:
     * 
:newspaper: Articles:
     * 

What to Cover

Rotations: If there is any sort of rotation like a First Responder list who is on rotation that week. We have that concept both for the dev team and our PM team. So they are listed first.

Calendar: While all the specifics on the calendar should be on some sort of team shared calendars it is good to call out and place reminders for the team in this section. People that might be out of office or specifically calling out holidays that impact parts of the company.

Updates: In this section I note any big items occurring during the week, such as a large anticipated release. Internal or external talks by our team. It’s a great place to call out something awesome someone on the team recently did. New folks joining the team, hiring announcements, etc…

Articles: This is a collection of good and relevant links I have seen in the last week or so. Sometimes sent in by the team (share the link and credit who passed it along), sometimes if is one of teams blog posts, or something I picked up on twitter. This is a great way to help introduce new ideas that can be discussed by the team later.

Software Update Example

An example of a filled out example below, to help show what this translates into each week.

As another week starts, the sun still creates energy
    
:keyboard: Dev first-responder: John
:todo: PM Release Coordinator: Galt 
:calendar: Holidays / Vacations
     * Dan is working from Paris Monday / Tuesday
     * Annyce is at Google I/O on T - F
     * John is off on Friday
     * Tanzania folks are out of office for a Holiday Friday
:speaker: Updates:
     * Software Support is out this week so let’s try to pay extra care to #software-bugs
     * welcome Konrad, onboarding new dev on the 21st
     * We are looking for a good PM pass it around: https://medium.com/electric-africa/product-manager-service-logistics-41f5b404a8dd
:newspaper: Articles:
     * Sinatra hits 2.0, https://github.com/sinatra/sinatra/tree/v2.0.0
     * Best talks from Railsconf, http://confreaks.tv/events/railsconf2017
     * Switching to Kotlin, https://medium.com/@magnus.chatt/why-you-should-totally-switch-to-kotlin-c7bbde9e10d5

Which when rendered becomes.

As another week starts, the sun still creates energy

  • :keyboard: Dev first-responder: John
  • :todo: PM Release Coordinator: Galt
  • :calendar: Holidays / Vacations
    • Dan is working from Paris Monday / Tuesday
    • Annyce is at Google I/O on T - F
    • John is off on Friday
    • Tanzania folks are out of office for a Holiday Friday
  • :speaker: Updates:
    • Software Support is out this week so let’s try to pay extra care to #software-bugs
    • welcome Konrad, onboarding new dev on the 21st
    • We are looking for a good PM pass it around
  • :newspaper: Articles:


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Welcome to Dan Mayer's development blog. I primary write about Ruby development, distributed teams, and dev/PM process. The archives go back to my first CS classes during college when I was first learning programming. I contribute to a few OSS projects and often work on my own projects, You can find my code on github.

Twitter @danmayer

Github @danmayer