During my career as a senior developer, and as the head of a team of engineers and product managers, I’ve had to make only a few new hires. Fewer than one may think, in fact. Since 2007, I’ve been in charge of hiring perhaps 6-8 new staff members, which is unheard of, given I’ve only ever worked with fast-growing young tech companies. This small hiring pool got me thinking about the core need for why one needs to hire new engineers and subsequently the cultural reason why my team at WooThemes grows differently to other non-engineering teams within the same ecosystem. Here’s why I reckon this is the case.
This is what engineers do every day. A lazy engineer is a sustainable engineer. While this sounds derogatory, it’s actually the greatest compliment one can give to an engineer. When an engineer finds themselves coding the same logic more than twice, it becomes a snippet, readily available for the next 100,000 times they’ll need to code the same type of logic.
The lazy engineer also thinks of tomorrow and how they can save themselves time later when they are required to debug and dissect that same code to fix something.
Investing in efficiency
Pattern recognition yields some really exciting consequences. One of these such consequences is automating or easing up repetitive tasks. Whether this be using a system like If This Then That or Zapier, or developing a quick web app or shell script to complete a common task, this efficiency yields amazing returns, as the engineer now has even more time to a) create, b) innovate and c) succeed further.
How to do this, today
Here’s a quick real-world example, before we get to the “how”. Whenever we launch a new product at WooThemes, everyone needs to know about it. Certain teams need to know before the fact as well. Therefore, we use our Trello board workflow, coupled with a few simple Zapier zaps, to notify everyone at the appropriate time.
When a product is awaiting final audit, we inform our pre-sales and documentation department, so they are aware and can look at the documentation and fix issues or suggest areas for improvement. We also inform our marketing team by making a new card on their Marketing Trello board, so they can prepare the product for launch to the most appropriate audience in the most appropriate manner.
Once a product has launched, an email is sent out to our entire team, informing them of the product launch and who to speak to if they have any questions.
These are 3 simple zaps, with no coding required.
How to accomplish this is really easy:
- Write down a list of all the tasks you do in a single day. Do this for 3-5 days.
- Identify the tasks you repeated at least twice.
- Use a system such as Zapier to automate this task.
These three simple steps are a great way to foster automative thinking and pattern recognition habits, while also saving yourself time in the long run and being more effective with the team you have on hand today.
Imagine if your entire engineering staff thought this way. That’s what I’m so fortunate to have on my side. Each of our engineers at WooThemes, given the way they think about and approach tasks, is able to handle as many tasks as two engineers in an average company, as they think for tomorrow, consider each other’s needs and anticipate pain points for our customers, one another and for themselves.