Drupal Cross-Squad Knowledge Sharing

  • Daniel Lanz

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We do lots of Drupal projects @ Liip, mainly in the Zürich and Fribourg offices. Since Liip is organized in individual and independent squads, we do not have lots of touchpoints or projects which we do cross-office wise. But all the squads doing Drupal have one thing in common: A big interest in Drupal and the strong will to do projects successfully.

If I talk about a “squads doing Drupal”, then don't think of Developers only, but also of Project Owners, UXers, Business Developers, Designers, Analytics Specialists and so on. With such squads in Zürich and Fribourg, things are done differently. Different sitebuilding, different workflows, different opinions and finally also different projects. This is on the one hand very interesting but on the other hand… weird. Being in the same company, doing the same kind of work but not the same way while not using the same toolbox and processes.

Inter-office knowledge transfer

To give freedom to the different Drupal squads but also profit from the huge knowledge in both offices, we started to have quarterly Hackdays. During these Hackdays, we spend a whole day exchanging and discussing a wide variety of topics. Last Monday, October 10, we had another Drupal Hackday in our new office in Berne:

To have something to talk about (or not waste time), we usually gather possible topics beforehand and vote for them. As an example, this time the following topics were on our list:

  • Product owners: The wave model or how we do Jira in Fribourg
  • Front-End: Possibilities in Drupal 8, Scalable CSS for Drupal, Styleguide vs. Drupal, Motion design, Browsersync and gulp for Drupal
  • Site Building: To Display Suite or not?
  • Composer / Drupal Console / Drush / Git and CMI
  • Commerce: State of the thing …
  • BizDev: Streamline offering process
  • Development: Caching (BigPipe, Redis, Varnish etc.)
  • Bundrupal: Fixing current issues, working on content types, creating ckeditor styles etc.
  • Migrate in Drupal 8: Insights in Migrate 8 with JSON

For sure we could not cover everything in one day. But the next Drupal Hackday is just around the corner. But for this time, the “Pain Points” were quickly addressed. Let's look a bit deeper in my two favourite sessions:

Drupal 8: Share experiences and practices from a bigger project

The main focus was (once again) on Drupal 8 and how to use the “New kids on the Block” like Composer, Drupal Console, Configuration Management and all the other nice things finally available on the Drupal-Island. Furthermore, the experiences and thoughts from a bigger project are worth sharing, as they bring all of us forward. Since the squad in Fribourg did not do a lot of Drupal 8 projects yet, we could profit a lot from the Zürich developers. Uncertainties in terms of setup and workflow could be resolved and the people in Fribourg are (even more) eager to adapt this and maybe also improve on our future stack. The reason why we in Fribourg hesitated adopting those new tools was that we have a very well developed toolbox we use for earlier versions of Drupal. Quite a shift for us, but anyway worth to get our hands dirty with the new fancy stuff available in Drupal 8.

Business Development: Streamline estimations

In another session, the Fribourg squad could share their way of estimating Drupal projects. Since we had some differences in the past, we wanted to make sure we all estimate projects with the same parameters and the same understanding for an estimate. What's included and what's not? What base numbers and options do we have and so on. This session involved almost every role from the squad and was discussed very openly. We could find a way and defined actions to improve right away and to adapt and improve fastly if needed (depending on the needs in each office). A test-estimation round using this tool led us on a fictional project to almost exactly the same number. Surprise for everybody but also a success for the tool. Differences in estimations can be spotted and addressed easily. Together, we found a way to make project estimations easier and if needed even comparable across our offices.

And many more …

So on one side a very heavy developer session (with lots of buzzwords, code and console), on the other side also a “hot” discussion amongst almost all roles with a fair amount of knowledge transfer from Fribourg to Zürich and vice versa.

Besides that, we also talked a lot to each other between the Sessions. Projects, tools, modules, issues and so on. Backends where shown, ideas spread and solutions given. Other Sessions involved Front-End presentations and discussions about living Styleguides. Other people played around with the Drupal 8 Rest API possibilities or tried new possible base themes (like Zen for example).

Sharing is caring and how we improved

When I started at Liip 3 years back, we did not have a lot of communication between the squads doing Drupal. People in Fribourg for sure knew the people doing Drupal in Zürich. There was for sure some communication. But a real “Knowledge transfer” or something similar did not exist at this time.

The situation already improved by switching to Slack instead of mailing lists and Skype. The Slack channel we use to exchange in our Drupal-Guild makes collaboration and knowledge sharing easy and eased the inter-office discussion about problems. The Hackdays in addition are a very good possibility to visit other offices and to see each other in person. My impression is, that everybody really enjoys these days and many people are very passionate about Drupal and to show what has been done or can be done to improve even more.

The existence of those independent Drupal squads is from my point of view very valuable. Every squad can do their way of working and with the Drupal Hackday in place, we exchange our experiences like different companies would do. I think this is no disadvantage at all and helps us to adapt the good ideas and practices for each squad in whatever office individually.

I'm very much looking forward to the next Drupal Hackdays. Even if the Drupal Hackdays are mainly an “Internal” thing, we also welcome customers and other people interested in Drupal. So if you want to join a Hackday or if you're curious if Drupal is the right tool for you, drop us a line and we will show you how we do Drupal @ Liip!


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