Healthgrades, Josh Schwalm, featured in Built In Colorado
Josh Schwalm is the lead software engineer for Denver-based healthtech company Healthgrades. There, the engineering teams are broken into smaller, more focused groups — but that’s not to say they’re siloed. Schwalm shared how this unconventional dev team shares new findings and ideas.
“As part of our methodology, we are leveraging many of the best practices of agile: user stories, backlog grooming, sprint iterations, daily standups, constant demos and frequent deployments of code into production.”
“At Healthgrades, we practice a Lean Agile methodology and focus as a team on a particular functional experience (Search) for our website. Given that we are a large organization with many engineers working on our primary product, breaking the teams into smaller focus areas helps us to innovate quickly and offer an environment that feels more like a startup mentality.
As part of our methodology, we are leveraging many of the best practices of agile: user stories, backlog grooming, sprint iterations, daily standups, constant demos and frequent deployments of code into production. We also spend a lot of time as a team discussing our “definition of done,” which helps to set expectations in keeping up with automation test coverage, alerting and monitoring, performance thresholds, and other functions that help to deliver great product results.
Because we are structured into smaller delivery teams, we have organized larger “chapter” discussions (for like skill sets) to help evaluate and share tech ideas across all engineering teams. The chapter will meet weekly, bring in drinks and snacks to keep it light hearted, and use the forum to discuss prioritized topics
The advice I’d give to other engineers is move fast, but make your iterations small. Don’t overthink the use of heavy explorations into tech and features, but rather, get your hands on live prototypes and test them in a way that you can easily manage your risk of pushing code into production — things like feature flags, solid rollback plans, good regression test practices, etc. Moving with speed will help you vet your ideas faster, determining what is and what is not working, and adjusting as needed.”