Even with the majority of NetMotion’s employees working from home over the past few months, the company is a hive of activity. Each of the teams is focused on one goal – making the world’s best remote access solutions for organizations everywhere. That’s true of the development team, and it’s just as true for the other teams, including customer support, HR, sales, marketing, channel, finance, IT, cloud, and international.
So, what’s it like to work in one of these teams at NetMotion? What exactly does the team do, and how do the team members collaborate with each other – especially while working from home? We answer that, and more, in this new spotlight series.
The Product Team
NetMotion has a distributed workforce, with offices in Chicago, London and Tokyo to name a few. Although the company is based in Seattle, many of NetMotion’s developers work in Canada’s tech hub, Victoria, B.C., just a short ferry or plane ride away. This team is made up of six developers, four quality assurance (QA) engineers, and a tech writer. At present, the team also includes two interns (known as co-op students in Canada), who are in the process of completing their studies at the University of Victoria.
This team, which is led by Product Group Director, Paul Wierenga, is currently developing the next generation of Mobile IQ, a module that uses all of the data generated by NetMotion-enabled devices to provide IT administrators real-time analytics about the connectivity, security and performance of those devices.
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Deciding exactly what features to add to each new generation of a product like Mobile IQ is the important first step in development. A large part of the decision-making process is achieved by listening to NetMotion’s Customer Advisory Board (CAB). This group, made up of customers from both public and private sector organizations, has a vested interest in seeing that NetMotion’s products are as robust and feature rich as possible.
With that information at hand, the product managers work with the development team to set ambitious goals for each new version of the software. Not everything from a wish-list can be implemented immediately, so the team also sets targets for upcoming versions of the product, sometimes stretching two or even three years into the future.
Although most of the development team’s members haven’t met in person for weeks, they have been able to maintain their development timetable. They do this by following the agile scrum framework for software development that allows them to build up a backlog of work that can be tackled strategically and methodically in order. Using this process, the team runs through back-to-back two-week ‘sprints’ to complete each individual task, after which they demonstrate the new features or the progress that has been made to the product stakeholders for review.
Going through this process multiple times helps the team make consistent, measurable progress, and ultimately makes difficult tasks less challenging by breaking them up into more manageable pieces. Another advantage is that everyone has a clear understanding of what they and the others in the team are responsible for, and they are able to quickly assign tasks and upcoming goals.
Each two-week sprint is organized by the scrum master and product owner. The scrum master facilitates daily standup meetings with the team, and helps to ensure everyone is focused on the task. The product owner sets priorities and makes sure what gets worked on is reviewed by internal stakeholders.
Communication among team members is without a doubt one of the most critical and challenging aspects of project management, particularly with so many people working remote. In addition to the typical communication tools used by many companies, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Asana, the development team stays on track by using JIRA and Confluence, two platforms from Atlassian. These help to track and document any bugs that are discovered in the software builds.
Another tool allows the team to review the software’s code, offering some degree of peer review during each sprint. There are also automated processes in place to test new builds of the code nightly, running a battery of tests to find bugs or security vulnerabilities, which in turn get triaged and addressed.
Socially distant celebrations
With deadlines looming, the development team still makes time to socialize and cultivate a sense of camaraderie. They’ve made it a habit of meeting up for online games and social events on a regular basis, and make it a point to celebrate product milestones whenever they can.
These past few months have been trying, but they have also highlighted the kind of qualities that NetMotion looks for and values in its people. Talent, experience, ambition and a good work ethic go hand in hand with humility, diplomacy and team spirit. Fortunately, NetMotion’s development team has all of those qualities in spades.
NetMotion has been voted one of the best companies to work for. If you’re interested in working at NetMotion, check out the careers page, or sign up to receive notifications whenever a new role becomes available.