Company Type: Tech Consulting
About: An internationally recognized institute for technology, Techspecialist offers quality and affordable IT training and skills acquisition programs in Abuja, Nigeria. The Academy is a Microsoft Silver Learning Partner.
Alta Labs was approached by Techspecialist to provide consulting services across various tech areas including software engineering processes—specifically requirement analyses; process optimization; project management; technology platform recommendation and setup; HR audit and team architectural restructuring; as well as conduct training sessions for the Academy.
The scope of the work, though vast, was specifically aimed at improving the Academy’s performance and ensuring that students who enroll leave with a sound and practical knowledge of tech concepts, tools, and processes.
As we often do, our work with the Academy began with a series of conversations to that were geared towards its processes and informing our intervention strategies. Following a series of virtual and offline meetings, the Alta team created a list of recommendations and trainings which were then presented to the Academy and are discussed below.
Platform Recommendation and Setup: Our first intervention was to introduce the Techspecialist team to a series of tools and platforms that makes collaboration easy for software engineering projects. Alta Labs recommended both Slack and Trello both of which are useful for official communication and project collaboration respectively. We helped set up members of the team on both Slack and Trello and had them role play project documentation and delivery played so that beyond knowing about the platforms, they also had practical knowledge on how both tools work.
Additionally, team members were shown how to integrate Trello, GitLab and Bitbucket into Slack. Doing this has the advantage of keeping team members updated on when there are updates on projects including a change in codes or when a task is acted on or completed.
Other platform recommendations offered include Figma, a design and prototyping tool which was suggested for the team on the basis of minimal barrier to entry and the tool works on every operating system.
Process Optimization: Our recommendations for the Academy’s process optimization was mainly focused on the timeline for projects. One of the issues the engineering team grappled with had to do with insufficient time allotted to projects. Our recommendation was for the Business development team to engage with the technical team and get a better understanding of the length of time it would take to complete a project before signing off with clients.
Development Operations & Infrastructure Management: We introduced the team to the concept of building development environments using Vagrant and Virtual Box and also how to use a tool like Terraform for manipulating cloud environments like Azure. This intervention involved showing the team, practically, why it is important to have consistency between development, staging and production environments. To aid the process, the team was introduced to various tools, including Vagrant; Virtual Box; Infrastructure as code; and finally, Docker. Other productivity platforms we introduced include: Scrums, Sprints, Kanban and Retrospectives to enable the team have more transparency and see various project status reports. We also discussed how effective Sprint processes help in assessing the pace at which a project is being implemented.
Software Engineering Methodology: We also introduced the participants to software engineering methodology, specifically Agile and Waterfall model. The Agile model has the advantage of helping projects adapt to change requests quickly and thus allowing quick project completion. The Waterfall model on the other hand is useful for departmentalization and control and it also allows schedules to be set with deadlines for various stages of development.
We had an opportunity to get feedback from some members of the Techspecialist team and this is what they had to say:
“The process optimization training has been really insightful and eye-opening; also, the simplified approach you gave towards explaining terms and stating processes made the class something to look forward to.”—Amayindi