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How to share information with other tech teams in an efficient way

Meetings
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Productivity

6 December, 2017

Bruno relates how a 50 person engineering team tried to increase their sharing of technical knowledge while holding as few meetings as possible.

Problem

How do you ensure a 50 person R&D team split between 10 sub-teams share enough technical details with each other to prevent reinventing the wheel, overbuilding, and stepping on each other's toes. This was the problem at hand. We needed to find an effective way, yet a way with low overheads, to communicate the work being done.

Actions taken

I established a person to be the tech lead of each sub-team. They were responsible for putting together a 15-minute presentation at the end of each quarter. The presentations' covered the technical aspects of the work the team had done, as well as planned work ahead. This worked really well. As the VPE I reviewed every presentation with the presenter to ensure the topics were being succinctly covered. These were presented to about 50 people and it was, therefore, an expensive meeting. The message each presentation needed to quickly convey was:

  • The functionality their team had built that was reusable by other teams
  • Changes they had made or were about to make which would be potentially sharable across different teams and applications
  • Any gotchas they encountered during the last quarter regarding solutions they tried and problems they stumbled upon. It is very important to keep these presentations concise.

Lessons learned

Start sharing knowledge as early as possible. Pay attention to technical silos, and ensure each team has a technical lead responsible for communicating when what the team is building has a shared impact across teams. I wish we'd done this earlier, when we had three teams and about five engineers per team. However, it's never too late to start.


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