The 60i Technical Blog

Your source for Technical Ramblings in the world of Software Delivery and Digital Transformation

Startup vs Scaleup

If you have been enticed into reading this by our scary pumpkin then congrats for getting this far, and we will assume nothing about who you may be and start right back from the beginning briefly by defining what the differences between a Startup and Scaleup are. Best done in a handy table;

Find out why Milestones are the most important metric...

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, a phrase originated by Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields, President at Ford.

With a great culture, you and your team can achieve things you can only imagine right now. Importantly every organisation has its own unique culture that is as unique as the people that make up the organisation. Do not fall into the common trap of copying a set of processes and culture from an organisation you admire. Simply put organisations that try to copy other organisations in terms of culture, usually do a rubbish job of it, and leave their own culture in tatters and their team disenfranchised from the whole effort. Defining your own culture takes investment of both time & money, but the returns are spectacular. An organisation with a great culture is constantly ready to be agile and deliver fast-paced change needed in the digital economy. Have... Why Culture is Vital, it's here

Your organisation is made up of people, probably lots of them. Hopefully, they are happy and fulfilled in their work, they feel secure in their jobs and look to you as a leader they trust and respect. Do you really know those people though? When was the last time you ran an employee engagement survey, an anonymous one, and then took the time to go through the survey and respond to the comments and questions raised by your team? Your team can be your biggest asset or your greatest area of risk in a digital transformation. To achieve a successful transformation you must understand and engage regularly with your team.

Why people matter in DT here

Sep 16

After a year out, Scala World is back with a bang and the 60 team were as keen as mustard to go to our favourtie and local conference.

For those who don't know, the conference is set in the beautiful Lake district, green rolling country side, lakes, fells and some of the best views in the world, check out Scala.World

Explore the scala world conference here

Digital Futures Ambassador

At 60innovations, we’ve committed to being a responsible member of Manchester’s tech community, one that is committed to actively developing the region’s talent pipeline.

That’s why we’ve registered to become a Digital Futures Ambassador here – so we can join the 250 businesses that are committing to bridging the digital skills gap.

Why is Digital Futures so important?

Because, by 2035, Greater Manchester’s digital and creative sector will require an additional 22,000 roles in order to sustain itself.

This figure is staggering, especially when you consider that right here, in 2019, we are already experiencing a skills shortage so severe that one-third of our region’s digital businesses have reported turning away work due to a lack of talent.

That’s why we’ve decided to join the collection of progressive businesses that have decided to become Digital Futures Ambassadors.

How will we get involved?

Becoming a Digital Futures... A new role for us to play here

GraphQL is a query language for APIs and a runtime for fulfilling those queries with your existing data. GraphQL provides a complete and understandable description of the data in your API, gives clients the power to ask for exactly what they need and nothing more, makes it easier to evolve APIs over time, and enables powerful developer tools. To understand GraphQl you need to understand the following terms.

Find out about a nice GraphQL API hack here

Here is a write-up of the GRPC lightning talk I gave at Scala Manchester Meetup, remember to sign up to the group if you are in the Manchester area and pop along to our next meetup. If you would prefer to listen to the talk you can check it out on Youtube below.

Find out what GRPC is all about here

Friday 11th January 2019 saw the UK’s first Digital Motorsport Summit, the event was established by @MotorsportBB (aka Blackbook Motorsport). It was a fabulous event and some of the great brands in motorsport were in attendance. The big topics discussed in the majority based around OTT, very interesting for @60innovations as a team formed from ex @DisneyStreaming UK Head of Engineering & Head of Delivery for the new Disney OTT offering.

Explore this conference here

Alex Lashford and I were discussing who does what in a development team recently. Every organisation is different in how they operate, but if you are an SME and are growing quickly it may not be obvious who is doing what. Also, it may not be obvious if you have any skill gaps in your organisation as you grow, it may not even be obvious to you who enjoys doing what part of their role that makes your organisation tick.

We came up with a really simple approach for this in terms of assessing this stuff quickly. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so here they are!

Figure your team out here

I may or may not be the first person to of looked at this, this way, so forgive me if it’s written somewhere else and I have not noticed! Recently I have been working with a clients department, there was not a consistent use of estimating techniques, nor was there a consistent way to present progress outside of the usual sprint demo way. So I tried this as an alternative, instead of looking at points delivered per sprint, I chose points planned versus points delivered as a measure of accuracy, we chose to label this ‘planning accuracy’. I thought about this for a while, and over the years it seems to me that velocity may well of just become a way to beat a development team with a velocity stick, one team delivers more points than another, thus they are more productive it would seem… is certainly all too easy... Quick or Accurate? find out here

Know where you are, calling all digital transformers CIO,COO,CEO,CTO,CFO

Having worked on a few digital transformations now in various industry verticals, and seen lots and lots of shiny adverts promoting seamless customer digital experiences with ever-increasing ease. Just a few clicks and a bit of data transfer, a few team meetings, and a rebrand, and that’s it you have cracked digital transformation, using the latest shiny tech and a few meetings! If you have managed to do this then, please feel free to share it with the rest of the world!

Digital transformation (DTx) is for most a bit more complex than that at 60 Innovations we believe that DTx has a number of facets, or pillars if you like, namely;

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology
  • Strategy & Vision
  • Culture

Get them right and you really will have cracked a DTx, get them wrong to any significant degree and you... Get started in evolution here

As new consultancy 60 Innovations launches to clients in the UK looking for external expertise in the digital transformation & software development arena, co-founders Alex Lashford and Ian Walker sat with to set out the firm’s proverbial stall. The duo highlighted the Manchester-based firm’s entrepreneurial culture and digital-first approach as the consultancy’s major differentiating forces in a competitive market.

Read our interview

In this blog I thought it would be worth talking about an often neglected but vital part of any delivery - how do you really - practically, kick off an Agile Scrum based project. Below is an insight into how we kick off our software development projects for client’s, or what we can train your teams in how to carry out inceptions, and equally importantly how to create the outputs from an inception

At 60 Innovations kick offs are known as inceptions, they cover pre-kick off and kick off activities under one banner, and get you to sprint zero in an organised, easily repeatable manner. They provide an excellent level of clarity for the development team, they are an essential period for the team to form a working relationship with the primary project stakeholders, and they give the stakeholders confidence that the goals of the project are understood, and the... Inception info here

One of the most recent, and best things, I have come across in getting a group of technical and non-technical people on the same page and so all have a good level of understanding is Heist Planning. I first saw trialled with a small team in a well known car financing platform based in the North West of the UK. I took that back and made a couple of subtle changes to it, and scaled it to a much larger group in a more complex system, and it worked.

The premise is pretty simple to get everyone on the same level of understanding about something, I think this could work for lots of other applications than just IT by the way.

At the highest level this is how it works;

  1. A team works up some use cases.
  2. The team then draws out what the architecture should... Go here for heist planning

I am a big advocate of continuous integration and delivery, however there are times when you don't want an automatic release of an artifact to a given environment, for example; perhaps you are doing a specific long running performance test, or you need to manually ensure a specific new feature is ready in the sales or demo environment. Can these parameters be loaded dynamically, let's find out...

I came across this very problem and decided to improve the teams existing implementation of manually copying the Docker Image Tag into an input box and to allow this input to be dynamically populated with an external call to Artifactory (The Docker Repo used for this project).

Investigate Jenkins pipeline blog

In today’s widely connected world and where the most sought after skill sets, key to project success, are often distributed across the globe, it is often necessary to operate with distributed development teams. As well as the increased opportunity of a team comprising of handpicked highly skilled engineers, there are also many challenges to both manage and overcome. I have personal first hand experience of teams working in a distributed model across several continents and have learnt many effective ways of helping such teams thrive.

Time zones

Working across multiple time zones means that the window's of opportunity for real time collaboration are often limited. It is not uncommon to have project teams operating in several time zones that span a 24 hour clock! The issues that result from working across time zones are many. However, the most impactful are often the limited time windows in which teams can... Find out more about this subject

Oct 04

Over the past couple of years I have been working in an organisation that had a pretty healthy culture, I hadn’t realised how important it was until I saw it in action, and did a like for like against previous places I had worked. The more I delved into this subject the more interested I became, the human and business benefits are obvious, just look at Spotify and how their change in culture made their team x% more productive. It’s no longer enough to have your People, Process & Technology lined up and expect your company to perform at its best, the vital 4th element and one that can give dramatic gains for sometimes a little investment is Culture.

As an experiment I want you to try and write down what you think your company's culture is today, and what you think it needs to be to achieve your... Browse the culture stack here

I received an invite to a project kick off meeting again today, whoopy do, nothing unusual about that in anyone's working day, it was however the invite that got me thinking. It got me thinking back across the past 15 years or so about how I have seen projects of all types, and shapes and sizes kicked off.

Let’s look briefly at the invite I received today, it was an hour long, it had 70+ people on the invite list from SVP’s to Junior engineers, it included lofty aspirations about defining or confirming scope, creating a milestone plan, and looking at user stories! It’s one way of going about it, I attended the meeting, and honestly it wouldn’t be useful to blog about the outcome, you can probably predict it, so we will move on.

Then there is the opposite end of the scale are efforts where I have seen... Explore project kick offs here

A couple of recent engagements and experiments have confirmed a pretty long held thought by many I have worked with in software development, quality starts way further back in the SDLC than most give it credit for. Certainly those who are business focused, and maybe not familiar with developing a software solution may underestimate the hugely important role they play in helping the development team to deliver quality, at pace.

Definition of Done vs. Definition of Ready

So what’s the difference, simply put the DoD is an upfront agreement between the development team the PO, and the Stakeholders about when something is considered done, in a lot of cases this can be the point something adds business value, or is in a production environment, or is handed to QA. Before we lose focus by arguing the rights and wrongs of the options listed! Let’s move on. DoR, is... How do you define ready? Find out here

Over the last few years I have come to recognise an anti-pattern. That being that new and often more complex requirements are requested by stakeholders with the perception that these are indeed less complex. There is often an assumption that these can be immediately ingested, broken into user stories, placed in the Product Backlog, and estimated in an upcoming backlog refinement ceremony.

Very often for less complex and partitioned requirements the simple user story definition process can indeed be understood by the team and follow the normal pattern of tasks in a backlog refinement meeting. Those typical tasks being, adding additional details, creating subtasks and providing estimates. However, the key here is to determine early the level of complexity of the new requirements and act accordingly.

Where the requirements have been captured by stakeholders and identified by the team as being more complex (integration considerations, need to sync with external... Read more on managing complexity ...

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