There is strength in numbers. For us at STRV, this means that while one person’s knowledge can be impressive, sharing that knowledge and accumulating insights from other astute minds results in something irreplaceable: A culture with no walls.
What does this mean for our clients? Well, say you hire a team of two engineers. Working with any of our experts gets you access to the collective knowledge of the entire team. That’s more than 16 years of experience, countless points of view that cover every angle and the analysis of all possible outcomes.
The STRV culture is built on helping each other out. This has always been the case, and it is among the values which have a profound meaning to all of us. Even during hiring, this sense of collaboration is a must-have. Should a candidate show signs of individualistic tendencies, it’s a no-go.
STRV’s emphasis on teamwork fuels every single project, without fail.
If, for example, a designer feels unsure about whether an advanced visual aspect can be properly translated into code by a frontend engineer, he/she simply reaches out to the Frontend team and the answer is readily available. If a QA (Quality Assurance) tester works with a product in a field to which he/she is new, there is undoubtedly a person on the team with the necessary experience. There’s no need to spend time searching for who that is. We know each other, our histories, our talents. So, most often, we know who to turn to straight away.
In terms of organized sharing, our documented knowledge is open to any team member who needs it; we provide clear guides on how to access it, and where. Every piece of newly attained expertise (from a project, a workshop, etc.) is distributed via numerous communication channels. And just as we hold talks and workshops for the community outside of STRV, we do the same for our own team.
There are many sides to knowledge sharing. In simple terms, the way we share what we know can be separated into three categories:
- Department-wide (The regular, often daily knowledge sharing within each team.)
- Company-wide (The knowledge sharing of departments with other teams.)
- Community-wide (The events and open-source resources for non-STRV professionals.)
We go more into specifics with department-wide sharing, but have included a summary of our company-wide sharing practices and community-wide endeavors at the end of the article.
As always, we want the information here to be as transparent and accurate as possible—which is why we’ve decided to describe the knowledge sharing processes of Engineering, Design and Product Management separately. All information outlined below was provided by the Head of Design & Engineering, Marian Fusek; Design Team Lead, Ales Nesetril; and Head of Product, Katerina Douskova.
ENGINEERING KNOWLEDGE SHARING
Engineering includes iOS, Android, Backend, Frontend and QA.
Department-wide Knowledge Sharing
- Weekly or Bi-weekly Team Meetings: A thorough overview of the past week(s), these meetings include learnings from recent projects, discussions about notable challenges and how they were (or will be) handled, as well as presentations about the newest industry updates.
- Quick Update Sessions: Often going hand-in-hand with the meetings above, these sessions are tailored to be an ideal space for sharing coding tips, ideas, common bugs, experiments, etc.
- Cross-project Reviews: To get feedback about their code from a fresh pair of eyes, engineers often have their code reviewed by an engineer who is not a part of the given project. This allows for ideas that may not have been considered by people working on the project long-term. These reviews are an especially welcome addition for engineers who are alone on a project.
- Pair Coding: The perfect setup for active feedback, pair coding allows engineers to learn from one another by coding together and discussing their approaches live. It is also a great way of mentoring more junior colleagues (although it is absolutely useful for engineers of any level).
- Mentorship: Engineers with an exceptional grasp of certain technologies mentor those who are looking to advance their skills, or who are newer to the team and may need guidance in terms of the STRV approach.
- General Knowledge Base: Followed by everyone in their respective departments, this is a compilation of all information and guides. It also includes an extensive list of coding best practices, which helps keep code clean—allowing for easy orientation, product scaling and a flat learning curve for new people joining a project; once they're familiar with the principles, it's much easier to get acquainted with the codebase.
- Example Projects: Helping engineers put best practices to use without sifting through guidelines, project templates are a great way to kickstart a project and allow engineers to switch between projects easily. Following a template doesn’t mean the code is ever the same (that would hinder innovation); it means there are certain patterns that, when used, make code feel familiar.
- Event/Conference Wrap-ups: These summaries are written and discussed team-wide following every external meetup or conference any engineer attended. It ensures that everyone is up-to-date on all new trends, tips and tricks of the trade.
- Internal Research: When engineers have some time between projects, they pursue new knowledge by experimenting with the latest technologies and share their learnings via repositories on GitHub, presentations and/or articles.
- Slack Channels: Each department has its channel for quick sharing/discussing of industry news. Communication here takes place daily and is highly interactive.
DESIGN KNOWLEDGE SHARING
Department-wide Knowledge Sharing
- The Buddy System: Every designer working on a project is designated a fellow designer to talk to at all times. They review their work together, supervise one-another and can talk about the process on the go every day.
- Show & Tell Sessions: Basically design critiques and feedback, a group of designers talks about a specific task that someone is currently working on. These sessions happen rather organically, whenever needed. They are great for getting more context, seeing challenges from different angles and coming to a decision in case of uncertainties.
- Team Updates: Here, all designers are present. Every two weeks, the team discusses updates not just within the design sphere but across the tech industry. This is a time to address whether anything regarding STRV’s design principles needs to be updated and how it may affect projects going forward.
- Nonstop Ad-hoc Sharing: Because the design team is smaller than engineering—and is rooted in a highly collaborative spirit—ad-hoc advice and input from one designer (or designers) to another happens constantly.
- Figma: A collaborative design tool used by every STRV designer, Figma includes every past and current design and allows the team to easily review each other’s work, provide feedback and therefore ensure that every design output is up to STRV standards.
- Utilizing Confluence: A team workspace acting as a bountiful source of knowledge, Confluence is a great tool for organizing all documentation and guides. A compilation of the design team’s knowhow, tips, processes and more—all in one place. Crucial especially for onboarding new designers and starting new projects.
- Slack Channel: Designated channel for the sharing of industry news and any pertinent information. Communication here takes place daily and is highly interactive.
- Event/Conference Wrap-ups: These summaries are written and discussed team-wide following every external meetup or conference any designer attended. It ensures that everyone is up-to-date on all new trends, tips and tricks of the trade.
PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE SHARING
Department-wide Knowledge Sharing
- Sharing Retrospectives: Once a project is finished, PMs are responsible for having an end-of-project retrospective where they discuss what went well and what could have gone better. These are then shared within the product team so others can learn from past mistakes and accomplishments.
- Product Learning: Every two weeks, an expert from outside of the product team meets with all product managers (PMs) to discuss the biggest recent news, thereby ensuring that our PMs remain up-to-date about every other team’s changes, updates and successes.
- Onboarding with All Teams: Before any new PMs start their first STRV projects, they have one-on-ones with all engineering and design team leads and are required to go over every team’s guidelines to understand how they work.
- 30-day Buddy: Another onboarding must-have, every new PM is assigned a buddy to observe and from whom to learn. This guarantees that projects are run according to STRV standards, and clients are guaranteed to get the STRV experience even with newer additions to the team.
- Utilizing Confluence: A team workspace acting as a bountiful source of knowledge, Confluence is a great tool for organizing all documentation, such as team KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), full project life cycles that give form to STRV’s experience, onboarding information and more.
- Slack Channel: Designated channel for the sharing of industry news and any pertinent information. Communication here takes place daily.
- Nonstop Ad-hoc Sharing: The delivery team is extremely active in working together, as everyone on the team is a “guru” in terms of specific skills—be it spreadsheets, communication or tech savvy—and is open to helping out behind the scenes when needed.
- Event/Conference Wrap-ups: These summaries are written and discussed team-wide following every external meetup or conference any PM attended. It ensures that everyone is up-to-date on all new trends, tips and tricks of the trade.
COMPANY-WIDE KNOWLEDGE SHARING
Examples used are those that generally apply to all departments.
- Open-source: Deemed the “STRV Tech Playground,” this is our space to open up questions, learn something new, contribute and make our knowledge accessible to all (including the external community, of course!).
- Internal Workshops & Presentations: The sharing of department-specific know-how, open to everyone at STRV. Most often, at least one person from each department joins in order to then share learnings with his/her respective team.
- Slack Channels: Every department has at least one Slack channel open for everyone at STRV, with the purpose of sharing the most interesting and important updates. It is highly interactive and open for any and all suggestions.
- Utilizing Confluence: The team workspace has many uses. For example, product managers have full access to the design team’s workspace, something highly beneficial during projects. The workspace is also applied on projects, as it allows us to connect everyone on the project (including the client) and have all documentation and every update in one place—allowing for easy, clear collaboration.
- In-depth Articles: While this primarily applies to community-wide knowledge sharing, our blog is also a great source of information for the people within STRV. See engineering content here and design content here.
WHAT STRV DOES FOR & WITH THE COMMUNITY
Community-wide Knowledge Sharing
- The STRV Academy: In just a few weeks, STRV’s practical engineering courses teach what would otherwise take months of self-study to learn, all via tailor-made lessons, code reviews, homework and the support of STRV seniors as lectors and mentors.
- Workshops, Talks, Networking: Our events tackle the hottest topics in engineering, design and product management discuss recent STRV projects and what we’ve learned, have in-depth Q&A sessions, etc. All in our own offices. Find our events here.
- Design Portfolio Reviews: Non-STRV professional designers take part in this open discussion and dynamic feedback session, led by our senior designers.
- University Lectures: Many of our engineers and designers are repeatedly invited to give lectures at top universities (as well as other events).
- Guidelines & Best Practices: Not just for our own people; we also gradually share this information with the community via numerous channels (such as InsideSTRV on our blog).
- Open-source: As already mentioned, this is our space to open up questions, learn something new, contribute and make our knowledge accessible to everyone.
- In-depth Articles: STRV publishes articles every month, and the majority of them are written by our experts. For instance, our iOS team shares highlights, hidden gems and personal experiences with the newest tech via a monthly article.
WHAT KNOWLEDGE SHARING MEANS TO US
Sharing everything we know makes us all better. You can’t grow on your own. We will never, ever stop looking for new ways to learn from each other.
We’re a team of enthusiasts who want to be up-to-date on everything, at all times. The projects that land on our doorstep often take on the newest tech, and our clients look to propel straight to the top. We are the partner who helps them do so—and the only way we can continue to deliver on that promise is to always be one step ahead of the competition. Our dedication to knowledge sharing allows us to do just that.