Who would have thought that mentioning a "virus" and "software development" in a sentence would change its meaning in 2020? The covid-19 crisis has upset the economy with unforeseeable power and we don’t know yet how it will end. The uncertainty and economic countermeasures in various industries also affects software business, including us. Our software development however remains the same - this post explains why.
Wapice followed the Finnish authorities’ recommendation for remote work in the beginning of March. The VPN user statistics skyrocketed, physical meetings were moved online, and our video based people flow detection system at office doors had a lot less work to do. Oh, and the chat channels for lunch restaurant voting went silent. Except a few glitches in remote system access and learning the pros/cons of different conferencing tools under heavy use, our productivity remained the same. Our ability for remote work originates from our typical way of working – geographically distributed teams composed by expertise rather than location.
However, the typical remote work tools such as video conference and VPN are not the main ingredients in the recipe to software development success in these conditions - part of the solution is far deeper. The DevOps culture emphasizes shared responsibilities, collaboration, automation and constant information sharing within a developer team. The whole software creation process is strongly coupled with tools and services, allowing everything between daily planning, code review, testing, deployment and monitoring to happen online. The investment in DevOps truly pays off now, as quick moves are needed to mitigate a crisis. It has been particularly gratifying to see that even embedded software development has continued in virtual environments, thanks to a clever DevOps architecture. These solutions are not problem-free but they only require individual persons to visit offices or sites once in a while. Observing how well the distributed and remote development can actually work in practice is an eye-opener for many organizations.
With all this technology helping the development processes survive, we must not forget the human aspect: self-leadership, problem solving, caring for the team, proposing improvements, active learning and knowledge sharing. Wapice believes in people - developers with these skills are the most important resource that helps us adapt to this situation and succeed together with our clients. The software industry is alive, kicking, and ready to respond to new emerging needs now and after the dust has settled!
Once back to the office, we will be happy to meet some newly joined colleagues physically first time. Regarding physical meetings I would not be so sure; will people voluntarily let go of those cool webcam background effects?