The home24 Platform Guild

At home24 tech, we’re moving towards a more agile structure. A key ingredient in this is how we make decisions. In January 2016, we first introduced the Platform Guild, to pass on the decision making responsibilities to the engineers. The guild, while slow to start, has now become one of the core elements of our tech structure.

What is a “guild”?

Before going into detail about the Platform Guild at home24, let me first explain what I mean by “guild”. As you may have already guessed, we’ve begun to implement Spotify’s approach of organising our IT department into tribes, squads, chapters and guilds. If you want to learn about this approach in detail, check out the original Spotify article.

So, what is a guild? According to the original paper by Spotify, a guild is an “… organic and wide-reaching “community of interest”, a group of people that want to share knowledge, tools, code, and practices”.

Our approach to the Platform Guild

At home24, the Platform Guild is more than just a place for sharing knowledge or an interest group though. The guild meetings are used to define the future of our platform. Decisions are made for the platform by the people most qualified to make that decision – our tech team. The mission of the Platform Guild is

“To be the custodians of the Home Twenty Four technology platform, agreeing which technologies should be used to deliver a world class solution”

Reserve capacity for tech topics

Each of our teams at home24 technology reserve 20-25% of their capacity for tech topics. This is our way of managing technical debt and introducing improvements into our apps without affecting the business backlog. Decisions taken by the Platform Guild which require implementation fall into this “tech topics budget”.

Discuss the proposed tech topics in platform guild meetings

Currently, the guild has meetings every week. Prior to each meeting, the guild coordinator compiles a list of topics to be discussed/presented. Before a topic can be included in the agenda, it must be prepared and reviewed by a guild member. Preparation does not necessarily mean that there should be some kind of huge presentation or speech prepared. It just means that before topic/proposal is announced to the guild it should at least have a clear description and a desired goal. All discussions are time-boxed.

Gather workgroups for implementation

During meetings, we go through the agenda and discuss the proposed topics. If a topic requires some investigation or work to be done before it can be adopted by the whole home24 IT department, we gather a workgroup from guild members who will drive the topic forward. This means the group must research the topic, prepare suggestions and proof-of-concept, and provide ideas for initial implementation. Then they will present the results to the guild in one of the next meetings. Once the topic is approved by the guild it goes live.

Share accomplishments and progress across the whole department

A Retrospective of the guild meeting is compiled after each meeting and shared across the home24 IT department, so every engineer can see what has been done or where work is still in progress.

Make the guild topics open to anyone

It is important to mention, that  topics for Platform Guild can be proposed by anyone at home24 . There is no “role” restriction. So any developer/QA/PM who has an idea on how something could be done/changed/improved can propose it.

Some examples of Platform Guild initiatives so far

  • standards on DoD for tasks and new services
  • our tech radar
  • the huge refactoring of one of our legacy apps
  • an approach to managing “secrets” (passwords, tokens, etc)
  • and many more WIP topics

The Future of the Platform Guild

The guild set-up is not static, and will continue to evolve as new member join, and as our technology evolves. We’re proud of the guild and so far it has been very successful. It provides an incredible opportunity for impact – if you have a vision for the platform, regardless of your position in the company, you can, potentially, change the entire thing.

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