Invest in investigation

jean-baptiste pringuey

VP of Engineering at Teads.tv



"My team was assigned a huge project: a global UI update for a 16-year old system. The team and I had never handled such a big project and we did not know where to start. The product and its features were quite well defined, but on the engineering side it was very unclear what should be done and how it should be done."

Actions taken

The first thing we did was splitting the work into different modules: UI, back-end, integration, and milestones. To do so, I worked with PMs and leadership to get a good sense of the scope of the project. This also gave me a sense of priorities, which was very important for future trade-offs.

Once this work was done, I came to my team to start estimating the tasks. It can be hard to grasp the stakes of this type of project at first, so we took some time finding the best person to evaluate each task. Each of these "experts" was given a between half a day to a day to investigate a task and to:

  1. Identify the main challenges and dependencies
  2. Break it down into smaller bits
  3. Estimate the time it required
  4. If needed, try out proofs of concept for validation.

When each module had been successfully estimated with this process, we had a much clearer idea of what was ahead, how to tackle it and when it would be done.

Lessons learned

"I believe the key here was seriously considering task estimation by finding the best people to estimate each task and by giving them time to do so. Invest in investigation so you know enough to move forward."

"In this type of situation, an Engineering Manager's job is all about facilitation - working with leadership and decision-makers to clearly understand the scope, allowing time for your engineers to investigate tasks, and communicating upwards and downwards about requirements and deadlines. However, the Engineering Manager's job is NOT about estimation or blindly committing on your team's behalf."

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jean-baptiste pringuey

VP of Engineering at Teads.tv

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementTechnical ExpertiseTechnical SkillsCareer GrowthCareer Progression

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