VeriConf is our annual offsite bringing the whole team together to work, chill and learn together! It’s especially important for us as we’re divided between two countries, Finland and Sweden. And we’ve also embraced a flexi approach to work-from-home or office based. So VeriConf gives the whole team a chance to bond, share and have fun together.
After being grounded for a couple of years, this year we returned to the awesome Quinta de Sao Pedro, a beautiful retreat just outside of Lisbon city centre, Portugal. We spent a few glorious days soaking up the sunshine, chilling by the pool, and playing giant chess and foosball. We also did some work! Here’s what we got up to.
State of the Union#
Jacob ‘officially’ kicked off VeriConf with our traditional State of the Union address. In the last 12 months we welcomed three new crew mates - Albert, Thierry and Laroy. We celebrated achieving a bunch of certifications, including becoming a Certified HashiCorp Implementation Partner. And we’ve also been through a rebrand - new logo, new website, and a renewed focus on what matters to our customers and to our crew.
For the past 12 months or so we’ve been experimenting with OKRs, that is Objectives and Key Results. The aim is to help focus everyone on common goals, and grow Verifa in a healthy and sustainable way. As with most new ways of working it’s been trial and error. During the session we agreed on the company level OKRs, clarifying what we should focus on until the end of the year. Next, everyone will decide on their own OKRs to help achieve the company goals.
Team building board games#
Games time! Albert is our in-house workshop facilitator extraordinaire, and rocked up with a suitcase full of team building activities. We played Team3 (Green and Pink), an ingenious game to build up team communication skills. Next, we moved on to a more industry specific game - Continuous Delivery: The Game. A cooperative board game about continuous delivery, created by Albert. We divided into two teams for a bit of healthy competition! It was fun to play not only for the techies, but also gave a really good insight for the non-techies on CD whilst being a really cool game. Continuous Delivery: The Game mark 2 is in the works. Watch this space!
Retrospective & blue sky thinking#
Time to reflect on the past 12 months and what we want to do going forward. We all wrote down things that we want to: start, continue, improve, stop. After sharing our thoughts and some discussion, we grouped them into themes and voted. We ended up with a prioritised list of things that are super important for us as a company. Our top four are:
- Improve financial visibility
- we’re working on including financials in our in-house metrics dashboard
- Hold more VeriMeets
- we’ll hold three smaller meetups per year in Helsinki, Gothenburg, and Lund, as well as VeriConf
- Improve upon our Continuous Delivery workshop
- part of our approach for helping teams improve their software delivery performance
- Stop working alone
- we believe that working together rather than as a lone consultant benefits our customers and our employee’s wellbeing
Team building pizza making#
Earlier in the day, we donned our aprons and straw hats, as we were guided in the art of pizza dough making. Great teamwork all round as we measured (by eye!), mixed and kneaded our way to some pretty perfect looking dough. Come the evening it had proofed, and we rolled out a couple of pizza bases each to create our delicious masterpieces, all cooked in the outdoor wood burning pizza oven.
Have you ever tried Powerpoint karaoke? An improv game where you give a presentation from a slide deck you’ve never seen before. To be fair, it prompted a mix of both dread and excitement from the crew, but was actually very entertaining. Organised by Lauri, everyone was invited to make a slide deck in advance, which were then chosen at random to present. If you want to have a go yourself, here are our slide decks that you can use, or create your own. It was a lot of fun!
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Continuous Delivery evaluation#
When we talk with prospective customers we always try to add value. This means finding out their current challenges and tailoring the discussion around them. A lot of this is about asking the right questions, so that we can better understand where the company is on their journey to continuous delivery.
During the session we workshopped questions that will help us get to the heart of a company’s challenges. The result is a new approach to our introductory sales call, one that leans more into education and aims to bring value by providing new ideas.
Configuration Management in DevOps#
Our newest crew member, Laroy, took to the stage and presented on his thesis, Configuration Management in DevOps. It sparked quite the discussion and concluded that while old school Software Configuration Management (SCM) is dead, its practices are still valid. Laroy’s presentation showed that DevOps and SCM are deeply connected. The question being - can we improve SCM in DevOps?
Most of the Verifa crew are, of course, technical consultants, and I, a non-techie, have gradually assimilated into their world. So now it’s time to turn the tables! I gave an overview of what marketing is and what makes up an effective marketing plan. We went over the three main stages of diagnosis, strategy and tactics, and how we apply this to Verifa to grow the company.
At last year’s VeriConf, we defined our values. There’s been quite a bit of change at Verifa over the last 12 months so we wanted to review these, to make sure they are still relevant. Jacob live coded the website changes whilst we discussed, and with some automation the changes were deployed within a few minutes. You can check out our revised values here.
Metrics is a project that has been evolving ever since Bosse joined us about 18 months ago. The aim is to have an at-a-glance dashboard to measure the well being of employees and the health of the company. In this session we talked about how to improve, and what other metrics will help to achieve this, including financial data, delta hours trend, OKRs and VeriFriday tracking.
Poolside, dinner on the beach and wine tasting#
On our final evening we said our farewells to the frogs down at the freshwater pool before heading off to a beachfront restaurant. We dined on typical Portugese dishes, washed down with caipirinhas whilst watching the sunset.
The next day, half the crew had time to kill whilst waiting for flights home, so we headed into the city for a spot of wine tasting! Cheers!
VeriConf is a lot of fun. The best part is getting to spend time with colleagues - sharing ideas and experiences over a beer, playing some foosball, and just getting to know each other better. We’re a small crew, split over two countries, with a flexi-working style. Slack donut chats are great but nothing beats hanging out in real life. All the better with some warm sunshine and a pool!
Though it didn’t feel like it, we got a huge amount of work done. We’re building on top of strong foundations to make Verifa even better for both employees and our customers.
Want to join us? Check out our open positions.