Today’s lucky person in the hot seat is probably the main reason that our developers look so happy and relaxed. Hanne makes sure the heads are always on the chickens and keeps everyone in line. In a nice way.
Motivational song: Last book I read: Ice cream or custard:
Hanne Kosinowski, Software Development Manager, deltaDNA
Toccata in F Major – Widor
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Can’t eat either. This question persecutes me.
Last book I read:
Ice cream or custard:
If you could cut a deal with the developers of one game for some personal cheat codes, which one would you choose?
Merge Dragons. It’s been the bane of my bloody life. I can’t remember how long ago I started playing but it’s an absolute time-sink. I start playing when I get on the train in the morning and, 50 minutes later, I nearly miss my stop. Help me.
What role do you take in the product development process?
I am responsible for the co-ordination of the various development teams and their communications outwards – to each other and to other parts of the business. That involves matching up project ambitions with capacity. That means making sure that no-one overcommits during any particular sprint and making sure that they have processes in place to ensure that things are done in the most efficient way possible. A big focus of mine is introducing agile practices.
What I do could essentially be boiled down to ‘people management.’ That covers the day-to-day stuff – managing communications, roadblocks and dependencies etc. – but also career development and other larger, personal matters. My alternative title would be Happiness Officer.
If there is such a thing, what is a typical day in your role?
Mostly: spending every available moment in meetings.
- The day always starts with standups – discussing what we did the day before, what we’ll all be working on today, who needs what help from whom…
- Dealing with the fallout from standup.
- Any extra-ordinary meetings: sprint-planning, retrospectives, demos, backlog-grooming
- Interviews – as a company in constant growth, I spend a lot of time interviewing people and getting more excellent people on board. JOIN US.
- Line management – talking to my munchkins.
How does your experience as a software developer inform your work now?
Obviously, a certain degree of technical understanding is helpful (and essential) but it’s been a very long time since I was actually a developer! Most importantly, you never forget the struggle. Having been part of a development team, I remember saying “I can do all these things!” and being vastly overworked. I know what questions to ask when people are stuck, I know what processes and methods to enact to make the team more successful. Because I’ve had so much exposure to lots of different teams, I have a good understanding of team dynamics and how to work around the little shifts in the composition of a team can have massive impact.
Does working in games analytics require any unique skills or approaches?
Knowledge, yes, but I don’t think the skills are entirely unique. You’re obviously solving problems specific to the gaming industry on some level, but in the grand scheme of things we’re adapting and innovating around data. Like anywhere, you need technical prowess and human skills. What’s very interesting about our developers is that they don’t all boast previous experience working in games, but they are almost all avid gamers and they understand the industry from another perspective. We always talk about how everything we do is ‘player-first,’ and I think that we manage to achieve that so consistently because the dev team is full of the same people that we’re trying to help.
What challenges do you run into most often?
For me, deltaDNA is at an extremely interesting and important point in time. We’ve been around since 2010 and, while that period has been one of constant growth, the last seven months in particular have been remarkable. That means that we’re now seeing scenarios and potential issues arise way ahead of projected schedule. I believe that all the challenges and issues that we currently face are around process. We’re changing things to fit the new scale of our business. For example, we used to have one development team which didn’t really have any autonomy at a personal level. We’ve now broken things down into various product teams that are much more self-governing and well-equipped to succeed.
What are you most proud of at deltaDNA?
Definitely improving how the dev team works. Giving our developers collective ownership of our direction, process, and product has been a massive target of mine for a long time. We weren’t in the right place to do that 18 months ago but, after a lot of preparation, everything fell into place at the beginning of the year. Now, the various teams are well-established and firing on all cylinders.
Bonus answer: introducing slack to the company. Having a robust central communication system for everyone in the company – not just the developers – has worked wonders in just about every way imaginable.