The life of an engineering manager at Swimm
Join me on a tour of my engineering manager role at Swimm. I’m in charge of one of the engineering teams building Swimm, helping developers create continuous documentation that includes live snippets and tokens from the codebase that auto-sync every time code changes.
Sharing a bit about my team’s daily and weekly routine, how our developers are building Swimm’s product, handling tickets, and what we do for fun.
You’ll see what I mean in a sec - so let’s dive straight in.
At Swimm, our teams work in squads.
This is our workflow using squads in Swimm to keep ourselves organized.
- After our users hear about Swimm from our Hooks Squad (marketing team), new users typically start playing around and using Swimm.
- Swimm’s Engagement Squad (engineering team) assists these new users, especially during the first few days. They are responsible for giving Swimm’s first day value to the clients.
- As an engineering manager, I head a group that’s called ‘The Adoption Squad.’ It’s the team in charge of helping our users adopt Swimm into their daily development routine and culture. Swimm’s Adoption Squad is an 8-person team made up of one product manager, a UX/UI designer, and developers.
The adoption squad
Once a company brings Swimm into their organization - that’s where we come in.
We’re an 8-person team, including myself, a product manager, a UX/UI designer, and 6 developers. From assisting with CI integrations, through building features to make content consumption from the IDE easier and all the way to developing tools for team collaboration, we’re in charge of everything that has to do with ongoing usage and expansion.
The Swimm cycle
Like many development teams, we have a lot of work to do - pretty much all the time. We work in short weekly sprints, called ‘heats’ (like heats - when a swimming event has more swimmers than available lanes….)
Every week we release a minor version update and work a week ahead of schedule to plan for our next release. To ensure we are all aligned with Swimm’s strategic direction, the squad meets together to define KPIs and discuss goals and priorities.
- Sundays at Swimm - We stress-test new versions about to be released; this now includes expanding coverage of automated tests.
- Mondays at Swimm - We plan the week and start the sprint (Heat): developers work on aspects of the code needing attention, write documentation, and research new technologies.
- Tuesdays at Swimm - We move on to development according to our product roadmap. We start with a daily sync, and then each developer dives into research and development through the rest of the week.
- Wednesdays and Thursdays at Swimm - These days you can find us getting our hands dirty developing new features and fixing bugs.
Every two months, we release a major version update that focuses on several larger additional features in Swimm’s product.
Between the majors
Between two major releases, we have “between the majors” - an R&D-focused development week. We call it “Dire Straights” even though it’s actually an enjoyable week. We use the time to make improvements and optimizations, do large refactors of the code base, and introduce new technologies, upgrades, and resolve technical debts.
Every two weeks, a Swimm team member gives a Swimminar (Swimm seminars) about something (pretty much really anything) related to our Swimm product - but which is not part of our daily work.
Check out our blog for some examples of our recent Swimminars.
Pesky bugs and small cool tweaks.
Similar to most companies, bugs get created into tickets. When we triage the tickets, we put a “t-shirt” on them. Every bug gets a t-shirt size. If the t-shirt size is marked ‘small’ (small t-shirt), it means it’s a bug that we assume will take under two hours to fix. Medium t-shirts - even more time, and larger t-shirts the most.
You get the idea.
Small t-shirts are easy and quick wins, and by Monday, each developer completes two small t-shirts or one medium one. We are committed to starting every week with a bang, as user fixes are our top priority.
I love that my team embraces tickets and t-shirts; it’s just one of the things that is very motivating and personally satisfying in working with such a talented group of colleagues.
All work and no play make us dull, and stressed developers. And I can tell you that Swimm is anything but that.
- First off, Swimm is obsessed with coffee, and that is a major understatement. But feel free to check out our Latte art in Swimm’s Google reviews.
- Next up - weekly R&Drinks and friendly “Brews and Tunes” evenings which are R&Drinks with random and judgment-free singing. Meaning anything goes. Last time we had a great time singing and jamming together on the piano, guitar, and even the oud.
- Swimm switched up our pandemic quarantining with videos, online games, and even an escape room.
And now we’re back F2F - which we all agree is just definitely more fun.
What makes Swimm unique
At Swimm, we know our target audience the best since we are developers ourselves.
Plus our R&D department makes impossible stuff happen, with lots of room for our initiatives and ideas. Swimm’s company culture is something everyone acknowledges as really special.
I’ll say that having an impact on Swimm’s product is what motivates all of us. If something is missing, we add it. If it’s annoying, we delete it. And if it’s fun, we keep it.
I love that Swimm is constantly improving and researching new ideas that help us grow as a company and as individuals.
We are looking for other people to join our Swimm band. So if you are a fullstack developer that wants to join the jam session - reach out to us!