Freedom for Developers
When ideas become collaborative projects
New technologies are influencing the everyday work of developers and are changing it with amazing speed. At the same time, they provide the basis for creativity in software development. Alongside day-to-day business, however, there’s hardly ever any time left to have a good look at what’s new. How can developers make innovative use of new possibilities? Developer Days – DevDays for short – are an opportunity for them to do just that.
The fun of experimenting with new technologies
Originally conceived by Google for marketing new products, DevDays are now held as creative coding events and are enjoying growing popularity across many sectors. Corporate Planning regularly holds DevDays too, which serve as a space for employees to try out new technologies as well as to optimize existing processes. The emphasis here is on having fun experimenting in a relaxed atmosphere.
Exploring their own topics
“We come up with project ideas together and then we choose what we want to work on,” explains Frederik Buschka, a degree apprentice in Applied Computer Science at Corporate Planning. The developers take an investigative approach. How might critical processes be improved? What new features would make work easier for customers? Ideas for DevDays often come during everyday activities and are being gathered all the time. In the run-up to the event, the developers discuss all the ideas together, usually forming teams automatically on the basis of what interests them rather than who they normally work with.
New environment, new ideas
To encourage creative processes, employees from diverse teams collaborate across departments. In this way, everyone can demonstrate their skills outside their immediate environment and use them either to improve internal processes or to enhance Corporate Planner directly. This also strengthens the team spirit, gives a sense of the big picture and, not least, boosts motivation. Johannes Boppre, Chief Technology Officer at Corporate Planning, says: “Most developers are intrinsically motivated to do a job very well. Many like to automate things and try out new technologies.”
An opportunity for grassroots innovation
Especially during the DevDays, contributing and elaborating on suggestions for improvements is what really matters. This is where experienced employees and degree apprentices complement one another particularly well. “While long-standing employees have many years of experience to draw on, degree apprentices will not shy away from projects with an uncertain outcome,” says Johannes Boppre. One of the goals of the DevDays is to promote innovative thinking, completely free from the pressure to perform. When different teams share their thoughts, not only does this lead to a better working atmosphere, but it also provides scope for fresh ideas. Developers need not give a precise estimate of the consequences of their actions straight away. It’s not a problem if, as the DevDays progress, they find that a project is not as interesting or as relevant as they had thought at the start. “You have to realize that even an idea that failed at the implementation stage is a gain. It lets us know the direction towards which we should not be working in the future. If we were to specify a performance target from the outset, we’d be nipping the desired grassroots innovation in the bud,” Johannes Boppre explains.
A successful conclusion
After the DevDays, the individual teams meet up again away from the office. Degree apprentice Frederik Buschka recalls vividly: “In the time before corona, we had terrific team-building events in the evening as well, like when we all used to go and play laser tag together.” Following the DevDays, the developers present their findings to their colleagues, and together they assess which projects should be taken further. It’s a great feeling when ideas are met with general acclaim and colleagues applaud at the end.
Flat hierarchies, steep development
Thanks to the flat hierarchies at Corporate Planning, decision-making channels are agreeably short and bright ideas reach the executive management quickly. The executive managers are happy to receive concepts for new features and enhancements and to allow the initiators of particularly promising projects a fair amount of time to implement them. DevDays in previous years have turned out to be a resounding success for employees and management alike, showing how creativity and profitability can be combined.
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