FNB codeFest Day 1: Successful Team Set Up

It was all about collaboration, ideas taking shape, latest technology and techies talking shop; a perfect day out of the office in other words.

One of the ways we made this codeFest bigger than the previous one was a full day set aside for setting up technical environments. This time we made sure that all the domain access, connectivity, networks, servers etc are in place well ahead of the 24 hour coding marathon. Teams were also getting their workspaces set up, going through user stories and thinking through their game plan for the next few days – they will need to showcase and market their solutions. [paragraph 1 of 5]

I was reminded (again) how easy it is to generate ideas, but the funnel of real progress narrows very quickly when you need to convert these into solutions; often the blue sky just doesn’t make it down to earth. It’s crucial to stay innovative but you also want to delay design decisions until the last feasible moment. Mapping out a relational database or making rough UI sketches on a flip chart brings the concept right down to the keyboard. [2/5]

Another change we made to this codeFest was to properly mix ‘n match people from across organisational IT departments. Previously we let teams self register but this time there was only individual registration and the teams self-organised around skill requirements and cross-functional collaboration. Team self-organisation is one of the principles of Agile and it was a success factor in today’s first part of the codefest sprint. [3/5]

We also had our 3rd party IT partners on hand to set up solutions; cloud, virtual machines, mail and SQL servers as well as APIs to big data offerings. Oracle, HP, Obsidian, RedHat, Microsoft, DiData and others got to show off their solutions; our techies got to use the latest technology available. We even had the bank’s furniture suppliers kit out the venue with the latest in modern collaboration workspaces; a vast improvement on the previous event’s round conference trestle tables. [4/5]

As I spent time with a number of teams during today’s codeFest set up day, there were recurring themes in the conversations. Techies love getting time away from office meetings and their cubicles to really focus on solutions, learn from each other and try out the latest technology. Day 2 tomorrow requires each team to present to everyone else exactly what they are doing; hopefully they have been set up for success. [5/5]

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