Facilitated leadership discussions are a unique aspect of Construx’s Software Leadership Summit. Participants are assigned to small groups with other leaders who have similar leadership profiles. Expert facilitators guide discussions that focus on nuts-and-bolts issues of leading software teams at the organizational level. Summit participants have the opportunity to learn from true executive peers, some of whom are facing leadership challenges similar to yours, and some of whom have already overcome them. This unique opportunity is unmatched by any other event.
Discussion topics focus on a mix of current challenges and advance views of emerging issues. Past Summits have provided attendees with their first in-depth discussions on topics including Technical Debt, Cloud Development, Software Security, Multi-Site Global Development, and other subjects that are now commonplace.
The discussion points below provide a general idea of the intended discussions. Actual discussions at the Summit will go into areas of depth defined by individual participants.
Software Development At Scale: Developing Large Agile and Non-Agile Systems
Organizations that succeed routinely on small projects often still struggle with large projects. In some organizations, no large project is ever really successful. And now you’re tasked with leading large, multi-site, Agile projects in the Cloud. Who is succeeding with large projects, and how are they doing it? What is really different about large projects? How do you structure the teams? Do you use a framework like SAFe? What skills do your teams need to succeed on large projects? What practices should your teams be emphasizing? How do you scale Agile projects without turning them into Waterfall? Who’s been successful at breaking a large project into smaller projects? What should you personally be doing to lead large projects to success?
Tuning The Dev Organization’s Organizational Structure, Especially for Agile And DevOps
Organizational structure is a topic that is rarely discussed but that is absolutely critical to effective software development. Do you organize teams as full stack, cross functional, or some other kind? How do other companies organize their development groups? What organizational changes need to be made to support Agile development and DevOps? What’s the relationship between your software architecture and your human org structure? Does a functional organization, business-line organization, or matrix work best? How do you overcome silos? How do you do all that with teams spread out around the globe? What do you do with shared resources? And do you aim for a stable solution, or is constant change the new norm? This is one of the meatiest topics of the Summit.
Cloud Development Strategies
Over the past few years The Cloud has moved from amorphous buzzword to a pervasive IT and business strategy. How do you realize the full benefits of the Cloud? What is different in how you approach software development for the Cloud, and what are its other implications? How has the Cloud affected companies’ architectures, including use of SaaS, need for integration, security, and microservices? How does the Cloud affect your approach to data and databases? How has it affected your teams, including team structure, project roles, specializations, and globalization? Are large projects more or less challenging in the cloud? How does it change how you manage risk, and how do you decide what not to move into the Cloud? This discussion focuses on the major challenges — and the major opportunities — your software teams face in moving to the cloud.
Lessons Learned In Multi-Site, Distributed, and Global Development
Whether a result of a global growth strategy, a cost-savings initiative, or acquisition, most organizations today have project teams that span time zones and cultures. Leading distributed teams requires a different approach than leading co-located teams. What are the keys to leading them successfully? What are the best ways to allocate roles and responsibilities across sites? What are the most sustainable ways to handle time zone differences, communication, and travel? What role does software architecture play? What accommodations need to be made to support Agile development and DevOps? What new locations are becoming available? And does Cloud development make all this more difficult or easier?
Advances In Software Testing and Quality
Despite years of testing on Agile projects, different companies’ approaches to quality assurance still vary as much as any other category of software development practices. Companies use vastly different approaches to test automation, quality planning, developer testing, and independent testing. They vary in who is responsible for testing (developers testers, or SDETs), and, more fundamentally, who is responsible for quality. They also vary tremendously in their approaches to taking on technical debt and paying it off. This discussion provides an opportunity to compare notes and learn from an incredible diversity of approaches.
Creating The Ideal Software Environment
As competition for technical talent heats up, companies are focusing increasingly on the role their environment plays in attracting and retaining staff — and increasing the productivity of the staff you already have. Approaches to retaining staff range from providing lavish amenities (catered meals, concierge service, massages, and so on), to extreme benefits (unlimited PTO, work from home), to hyper creative work spaces (tree houses as meeting rooms). Approaches to productivity environments include aspects of the physical workspace (open work bays vs. private offices), tool support (large monitors, high-end tool sets), and focusing on metrics to drive the organization. Which of these factors matter the most? What steps are leading companies taking, and what steps are most companies taking? What do you need to be competitive in today’s market?
What’s Ahead? Data!
Big data, data lakes, data science, data analytics, unstructured data, data quality, data lineage, data governance, AI, data access control and security. Everyone is offering data solutions, including Microsoft, Amazon, DellEMC, and numerous smaller players. How do you leverage these assets in software systems? What skills should you be hiring or growing to work with data? What should you be doing to level up data skills of all of your staff? Data today is where the cloud was five years ago, i.e., it appears to be the Next Big Thing. Although many companies are not yet actively exploring these questions, this discussion will provide an advance look at a topic that is becoming increasingly important.
Keys To Excelling as a Software Leader — And What Not to Do
Every person at this conference has achieved a leadership position. General leadership skills are important, of course, but leading technical staff requires special skills. What do the most effective leaders focus on? How do they spend their time? How do they prioritize? How do they improve? What are the latest trends in technical leadership? What do you think makes a successful technical leader?