At Synspective, with its hardware and software development teams, each team has its own unique culture. Today, we talked with Maruf, Manager of Platform Backend, about the Platform team’s development culture. The team is made up of a rich diversity of members, and tries to maximize team performance by clarifying the common understanding that the team is focused on achieving team goals and that team results are more valuable than individual results.
Abdullah Al Maruf, Manager of Platform Backend Unit
Experienced software engineer with big data and machine learning platform and service development. After graduating university where he studied computer science , he worked in AI development, AI platform development and product management. His areas of expertise are Python, Go, Reactjs, AWS, GCP, Microservice architecture. He joined as the first Software engineer at Synspective in October 2018 and has been involved in both product discovery and development.
What is the role of Synspective’s Platform team?
Our main role is to develop web solutions that provide customers with the analysis results performed by Applied Scientists using machine learning models in combination with satellite data and big data. Customer requests that come in via the sales team are also reflected in the development. Although we are called the Platform team, we are a software development team for Synspective, developing both SaaS and PaaS solutions.We have a team of frontend engineers, backend engineers, product designers and UX researchers.
The challenge is in handling a huge amount of data, using GCP’s resources efficiently, and delivering the data on time. On the other hand, I believe that there is much to learn and the work is worthwhile. Unlike existing GIS analysis, the Web-GIS solution (or SaaS) developed by Synspective does not require downloading data and importing the data into the analysis software. All you have to do is select the AOI (Area of interest) and the visualized analysis results will automatically be generated.
Tell us about your team culture.
The team consists of 12 members from 7 different countries. The team is highly diverse, not only in terms of language and country of origin, but also in skills and thinking. We have members with different skill sets who bring their own expertise to the team in order to achieve our team goals. Teamwork is very important to us because no two members have the same skill set. If even one member is missing, we are not a team. We can achieve greater results working as a team than working individually. And I believe that there is more value in achieving team goals with all team members than in individual achievements.
As a highly diverse team, I am sure there are times when there are differences of opinion. How do you manage those situations?
During discussions, we always try to be objective, not subjective. It is important to focus on the team’s goals. When there is a conflict of opinion, we always ask, “What is the goal the team wants to achieve and what should we do to achieve this?” We will think carefully about this and come up with an answer collectively. By clearly stating that “team results are more important than individual results,” team members can discuss and naturally cooperate with each other to achieve team goals without wavering.
Many members of your team work remotely. How do you communicate with them when working remotely?
We believe it is important to understand each other through intra-team communication in order to achieve team goals. Platform teams have multiple meetings with different objectives.
■Daily morning meeting
A short 15-minute meeting each morning to update the task board and to discuss development issues. Blocking tasks, schedule updates, support needs, and other announcements will be shared.
■Scrum planning and review meeting
Bi-weekly 1 hour meeting every month.The meeting is held with team members, the GM, and external members. There is discussion about the product roadmap and milestones.
Monthly review meeting using the KPT (Keep Problem Try) method, with post-its on the white board to show K (what you want to keep), P (problem), and T (solution to the problem). The participants visualize the actions to be taken and freely share their ideas.
Meetings to solve technical issues and achieve sprint (2-week) goals. Weekly backend and frontend development meetings. The purpose of these meetings is also to share knowledge and synchronize technologies, since each member is involved in different projects but uses the same technologies.
Project meetings with the participation of members of the Applied Scientist, Customer Solutions Engineer and related platforms, are held as needed.
Design meetings are conducted in a workshop format. Business members, engineers, applied scientists, and designers participate to generate product ideas and design concepts, and each person writes their ideas on post-its.
■Meeting without agenda
There are also opportunities for casual socializing outside of work, such as monthly team lunches and weekly 30-minute afternoon coffee chats.
– The meeting lineup is very organized and eye-opening, but are there any members who say that there are too many meetings?
I think some people think so. However, as mentioned earlier, we place emphasis on team achievements, not individual achievements, so we encourage people to understand that there is something to be gained by participating rather than forcing them to participate. In addition to task management meetings and reporting meetings, we also arrange casual and relaxed meetings such as team lunches and idea generation meetings to encourage participation. Even if someone is unable to attend, we leave text-based information on Slack and task management tools, so I don’t think there should be a problem.
What do you like most about Synspective?
The fact that I’m able to be involved in work that can contribute to society by utilizing satellite data analysis. For example, there are things that only SAR satellite data analysis technology, such as FDA (Flood Damage Assessment) and LDA (Land Displacement Monitoring), can provide. It is very rewarding when I realize that these solutions are connected to solving social issues.
I also like the fact that Synspecitve is an open and flat organization and it is easy to reach out directly to anyone, including management members. I feel that there isn’t a hierarchy within the team because each member has their own responsibilities and expertise.
What do you think is the benefit of joining the Synspective Platform team?
You will be able to work with the latest technologies, deepening your skills and acquiring new knowledge through this experience. For development, we use microservice architecture to keep the technology updated. If there are other, better alternatives in terms of technology, we may make the transition after careful consideration.
Each member of the team strives to learn every day in order to implement the latest technology. The company has a study support system to help us learn new technologies and increase our knowledge. Since we are an agile development company, we try to spend sufficient time on solving problems. If you are unable to solve a problem by yourself, you can ask other members for support. The important thing is to overcome challenges as a team. It is a very open environment that fosters learning together.
■Technology used in Platform team (as of Apil 2022)
Infrastructure: GCP, Kubernetes, Docker, Redis, Postgres
Programming language: Go, Python, TypeScript, React
GIS technology: Postgis, Mapbox, GDAL,BigQueryGis
Tools: GitHub, Asana, Docbase, Slack
UI/UX: Figma, AdobeXD
What kind of people would you like to work with?
(1) People who have a positive attitude towards understanding the team and communicating with other team members, and enjoy solving problems as a team.
(2) People who want to work in a challenging environment and innovate.
(3) People who want to work in a trial & error process since we don’t always know the exact solutions.
(4) People who want to think and solve problems in different situations using technology.
Why don’t you join the journey at Synspective?
You can find open positions here.