I'm skilled and experienced in a variety of disciplines regarding software development and the web. To highlight my varied areas of expertise, I've created this skill tree:
- Agile Product Management
I’ve always had a knack for seeing the bigger picture, delivering what users need and being pragmatic. This first led to my interest in Agile and Scrum. I’ve helped many teams in growing and delivering higher value while having more fun. I am a PSM II certified Scrum Master. Currently, I feel ~66% agile-product-management-person, ~33% software developer. At MediaCT, I was the driving force in moving from year long projects to releasing in 10 days.
When I started at MediaCT, new projects would take from 6 months to over a year to launch. In that time, risk increases and nothing is validated. By coaching and advocating for change, applying lessons from Lean Startup, Scrum and Agile, a project can now be launched in 10 days. An MVP that delivers value from the beginning and gets the feedback loop started. Software can be shipped at nearly any time. Probably my greatest professional accomplishment.
As a Scrum Master and Agile coach I’ve trained numeours internal and external product owners in managing product development. Setting priorities, stakeholder management, roadmaps, impact mapping, scope negotiation, Lean startup, feedback loops and validating assumptions, moving fast without accumulating technical debt, you name it. At Cleafs, I was end-responsible for managing the technical side of the platform. I funneled stakeholder priorities and technical requirements into an ordered backlog.
Once you have a reliable delivery process and infrastructure, and you drive business by value and impact, Kanban becomes an interesting tool. Sprints become more of a nuisance than helpful. Value can be delivered continuously, instead of each sprint. The focus shifts towards removing bottlenecks that block ‘the work’. Agility of the business improves, pressure is reduced. Advanced stuff for sure, but I can help you out.
As a seasoned Scrum Master and Agile Coach, I’ve coached teams, management and clients in Agile and Scrum principles. Self-organization, empirical process control, Lean product development, et cetera. I’ve facilitated workshops and retrospectives using a multitude of related principles, such as Liberating Structures and Impact Mapping.
I am a big believer in Teal organizations. By this I mean, no traditional hierarchy and positions. Instead, a flat organization with roles. Management is baked into each role, no-one is a traditional manager just for the sake of it. Minimal tooling is in place for everyone to resolve the impediments that block them from getting work done. Holacracy is one way of doing this.
- Software development
Testing is essential. It's one of the best weapons against technical debt and uncertainty creep. I’ve written unit tests for Symfony applications and Magento. I’ve created and worked with functional testing scripts, used in Selenium test runs. I’ve contributed to the automated testing pipeline that’s part of MediaCT’s continuous integration flow.
For data storage and application persistence I’ve worked with a number of technologies. Relational databases such as MySQL and Postgresql, key value NoSQL storage such as MongoDB and Redis. I’ve had days filled to the brim with JSON, XML and YAML.
I started my career as a frontend developer and UX designer. Though focus slowly shifted to other areas, I’m still keeping up with modern standards in frontend. I’m competent in using HTML5, CSS, SASS and Less. I have built several interfaces both from scratch and with Twitter Bootstrap. I can work with vanilla JS, jQuery and have built several ReactJS components. Semantic web, accessibility and modern standards are important to me, I like to keep things simple and RESTful.
At Cleafs I was in charge of managing the RedHat virtual data center. Configuring and maintaining clustered web- and database servers, load balancers, staging environments and other services. These were running on CentOS or Debian. Here I’ve learned a huge deal about maintaining production high availability web servers, prone to receive spikes in traffic. Regarding CI, I’ve contributed to setting up continuous integration and deployment to staging and production using Bitbucket Pipelines at MediaCT. This included automated testing (unit tests and static code analysis) as part of the deployment process.
- UX & Design
As said, I started out as a front-end developer and UX designer. I focused on quickly iterating design versions, using hallway testing and usability test with eye trackers to validate assumptions before releasing designs. This ties in well with Agile related concepts as measuring impact and evidence based management.
A challenge in agile development are big designs (BDUF), both in architecture and interfaces. Atomic design offers a way to iteratively build designs in continuously higher fidelity. Consistency and core values of the design are granularly built up. The design emerges with the rest of the application.
For validating assumptions in UX design, the first step is hallway testing. Once released to production, CRO tracking with Google Analytics and A/B testing with Visual Website Optimizer or custom created tools are my preferred methods of evaluating the assumptions made earlier. Qualitative and quantative can't live without eachother.
As one of my specializations at university I completed a minor in Brand Design. To this day, I regularly apply what I learned during those courses. The bigger ‘why’ behind things, the translation of identity to image, how a corporate vision and mission should trickle down into all the small details of nearly everything a company does. This is where I learned much of applying a holistic view to challenges.
You can’t have a design background and not know the tools. I’ve used Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign in the past. Nowadays, it’s mostly Inkscape and Gimp (Ubuntu and all that) when necessary, and more often designing briefly on paper and then straight on to CSS. Much more nimble than picture perfect Photoshop designs that will never translate to the reality of millions of different devices.
I'm quite the decent copywriter in both Dutch and English. I really enjoy writing and the many nuances one can express using language. My talent lies in wrangling language to say precisely the right thing. Experience in brand design and always thinking about the larger 'why' and purpose of a text, enables me to write what best suits the goal.
Being the lead developer for the Cleafs affiliate network platform, I needed to know the ins and outs of the business. I still do. I know why and how banners are chasing you, even after you bought the fridge. I also know smart marketing people can do a call upon order confirmation to stop it. Even smarter ones know repeated exposure to the store brand pays off more, so they don't bother.
As a side effect of being in the affiliate marketing and e-commerce business for a long time, I know the basics of running Adwords and Facebook campaigns. Nothing fancy, just the 20% that fulfills 80% of the needs.
As mentioned under ‘Design’, my specialization in college was Brand Design. I still regularly apply the principles learned there. Specifically: being coherent in all communication and translating the broader company vision and mission into every day marketing.
In short: i’m a generalist, an agile coach with active software development skills. I’ve successfully worked in the following roles:
- Ux design, front-end webdev, inbound marketing - Company’s own product, Belsimpel;
- Back-end dev, server management, high availability & load, technical lead - SaaS, Cleafs;
- Full-stack dev, Scrum implementation, team coaching and Agile product management - Software built for clients, MediaCT.
The sum of these roles gives me a broad perspective on challenges in software product development. My purpose is finding the ideal route for delivering high quality value, while respecting the needs and safety of all involved. Having fun is important. When developers are happy, often everyone else is happy as well.
- A personal rundown of 2018
- LEGO SERIOUS PLAY materials
- I love the word 'concise'
- The big knife potato fallacy
- Reading fiction is important (to me)
- Panic mode - early detection is key
- Small steps and making decisions
- Story estimation: discuss why you agree!
- You cannot hire a DevOps
- Static websites are dynamic enough
- Fail early, fail wisely - gracefully handle your errors
- Commit to committing
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