How we Work part 1: A look behind the scenes at what makes Ting tick
Andrew Moore-Crispin • July 10, 2014if( has_post_thumbnail( $post_id ) ): ?>
How we Work is an ongoing series where we’ll be talking about the software and services we use every day to communicate, collaborate and generally get the job done. In this first instalment, we’ll lay the groundwork to give a bit of background into the culture at Ting.
Here at Ting, we’re a diverse, in some cases geographically dispersed team. We’re basically a start-up within an established Internet company. If there’s ever a problem, be it with communication, collaboration, meetings or whatever, our first instinct is to look to technology for a solution. As with any medium sized company, we have an array of teams and departments, each with their own needs, skills, goals and work styles. Obviously, it’s important to ensure that everyone is working toward the same larger goal. Development on Ting (both the service and the website) uses agile methodology. Development milestones come every two weeks. Everything the various teams have been working on for the prior couple of weeks is committed to the live site. We call these two week period “sprints.” True to its name, agile methodology allows us to be more responsive and to make changes and improvements quickly. It’s not uncommon for a customer-driven request to be brought up early in the week and show up on Ting later that same week.
Who doesn’t love a good meeting?
Every morning at 11am, we have a stand-up meeting in the development pod. Product management, the back and front end development teams, customer service, marketing and other teams all connect at these morning meetings. Teams talk about what they’ll be working on that day and bring any challenges they’re facing forward so the hive mind can try to solve them. These meetings typically take 10 minutes or less. We’re not big on meetings, you see. That said, every other Monday, we have a Ting backlog session where all the various departments get together to talk about the previous two week period and to set priorities for the upcoming sprint. These sessions lay out the plan for the next couple of weeks and typically run about an hour. Occasionally (far too occasionally I might add) someone will bring donuts. At Ting, we don’t really have much need for buzzword bingo or any other more ribald variations on the name. If someone said they’d “do some data mining then circle back with a robust but streamlined solution,” the collective meeting would examine if said someone was being ironic. If not, that someone would be called out for talking too much while saying too little. To keep us all going, Tucows has a pretty killer coffee setup (that tweets when a new pot is ready), fruit in the lunchrooms at 2pm, food trucks that roll in to the Tucows parking lot once a month and the usual array of social events, picnics and BBQs.
That’s just a little background to set the stage for subsequent instalments. We’ll be talking about the software and services that we use every day to collaborate, communicate and just generally get things done. We’ll outline what each service does, why it’s valuable and how we use it to keep the team on track. Following is a quick list of some of the services we use every day and what we’ll talk about in subsequent instalments of this series:
- Asana (asana.com)
- Slack (slack.com)
- Pentaho (pentaho.com)
- Zendesk (zendesk.com)
- Google Apps (apps.google.com)
- Sprout Social (sproutsocial.com)
If you’re interested, check back next week for more! Questions? Comments? Opinions? Ideas? Bouquets? Brickbats? Leanings to or fro? Let us know below!