A week in the life of a tech lead : Zeb
Updated: Feb 7
In this blog, Zeb Sadiq one of our technical leads and developers will go through a week in his work life allowing us to gain some valuable insights and tips from someone who has over 15 years of experience and knowledge working on countless projects.
In my role as a technical lead, every day starts with a routine daily stand up meeting for each of the projects that I am working on. We use this time to discuss what tasks need to be carried out that day and identify any blockers the team might have so we can remove them. This is a short meeting where all members of the team are made aware of the overall progress of the project and they can raise any ideas they have.
At the moment I am a Tech Lead on an Umbraco project. As technical lead I spend a lot of my time (including today) coming up with our technical approach that addresses client’s requirements. I find the Pareto Principle (80/20) applies to many development projects I’m on, that 20% of the development components can end up needing 80% of the effort. Therefore, I think it is best that the technical lead addresses the difficult, uncertain and challenging 20% directly. Which is why I usually find myself focusing on these aspects of a project and coming up with a feasible technical plan for our developers to follow. Doing this is key to delivering projects on time and on budget.
I started the day as I usually do with our daily stand up meeting. Then I discussed the project technical approach with the developers as their feedback often helps to improve our approach. Once the technical approach is agreed, we break it down into smaller tasks to be completed and added to our project tracking tool. Furthermore, each task is assigned to someone and the time it will take is estimated. This approach is then factored into the overall project plan in order to keep organised and manage client expectations.
As usual I started the day with our daily stand up meeting.
I spent the rest of the morning working with the sales team to look through requirements of a different potential client. I assisted the team to form an understanding of the technical approach for the proposed project. I helped compile some clarification questions we needed to send to the potential client. It is important we ask lots of questions when we get a brief, so that we avoid any misunderstanding and we know what the end goal of the requirements are. This way we are able to get creative with how we exceed the requirements to meet business goals!
At this point I will also start pulling together some high-level estimates against the requirements. I find it useful to create estimates in a spreadsheet rather than come up with them purely in the head. There are many benefits for this. Often after the estimate is given, I work on many different tasks for different projects. Sometime later, I could be asked ‘Why/How did you estimate this? Did you consider X Y and Z? If the requirements change to A,Y and Z, what would be the difference?’. At this point, having a spreadsheet makes a world of difference.
Every Wednesday everyone in the company attends a staff lunch where food is ordered in for us, while one of our colleagues presents to us about what they have been working on. It helps us to be aware of what else is going on in the company and it’s always nice to see everyone especially while eating delicious food.
After lunch it is back to the client work at hand and I spend the afternoon providing some technical knowledge to the support team and the development team on an issue that they are facing.
After our routine meeting, I helped a developer to resolve a technical issue that they had discovered. I often find that the shortest route to a solution for a complex problem is to try and isolate the root cause through trial and error, rather than to work through the logic of the system. This is how we were able to work out the problem was caused by a source control merge mishap.
Finally, for the rest of the day I picked a task from the project board to complete myself. As I mentioned before, I usually pick the task with the biggest uncertainty unless there is a better suited specialist for that task, in which case I would leave it for them.
The final daily stand of the week! Friday is usually the day where I get my head down and get through tasks. This day was no different as I continued with the task I had picked up earlier. With the occasional communication with team members, I was able to complete this task as well as a couple others. I credit this to the productivity technique called the ‘Pomodoro technique’ which I use routinely where you break down work into short 25-minute intervals with short breaks in the middle. I would highly recommend looking into this technique if you want to boost your productivity.
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