We don't just sell consultants, we sell the accumulated expertise of the whole company. But how do we maintain communication when we have a team scattered across the globe in small groups? Well, you can't beat spending almost a whole working week together at a resort reserved exclusively for you!
At this year's VeriConf we flew the entire team out to Quinta de São Pedro, Portugal; an incredible resort not far from Lisbon. There we received updates from our pan-global team, introduced new people and countries to Verifa, ventured out for extreme-sea kayaking, enjoyed Fado evenings, and partook of the occasional glass of port.
Alongside some well-earned time enjoying sun and local cuisine, we had a full agenda of discussions, talks and trainings.
Tuesday 10th September
A wide shot of the Quinta grounds, with the Verifa team having dinner and talking Enjoying freshly-baked pizza at the Quinta. 19:30 Conference begins with pizza from the Quinta's stone oven
Wednesday 11th September
09:00-10:30 State of the Verifa Union In this session we received updates from each team as to current work, contracts and growth.
10:45-11:15 Annual Retrospective Here we collected feedback from the team about what has gone well and what not so well this year. The points from this feedback were used to guide discussions throughout the rest of the week
11:15-12:00 Verifa's Continuous (OSS) Compliance Kalle Soranko (Verifa Finland) Kalle gave us an in-depth run-through of the systems and processes he's been implementing at our clients, around ensuring the appropriate use of open source software components.
12:15-13:00 The Business of Architecture Neeraj Sangal (Lattix) Verifa makes great use of the architectural tool Lattix at many of our clients. Who better than one of the founders of Lattix to explain to us which ways of working with the tool bring the quickest immediate amount of business value?
13:00-15:45 Break for lunch, open discussion and some client meetings
15:45-16:30 Stage your validated Vault cluster and Jenkins team in less than 10 minutes while you grab a coffee Martin Halder (Verifa Swiss) Martin gave us an amazing explanation and live demo of the system he has set up at a large Swiss medical company to quickly and automatically provision, configure and test their Jenkins and Vault set-up.
16:30 - Table tennis, table football, pool time, and a trip out to a wonderful beach-side restaurant The Verifa team waving while sat in a minibus Excited for beach and local food!
Thursday 12th September
09:00-13:00 TDD Training Gavin Gray (Verifa USA) As well as providing some hands-on training for TDD with Java, Gavin shared with us some of the things he's learnt from his long experience in the software industry. Including thoughts on Agile, testing and implementing organisational change.
13:45-17:00 Sea kayaking Very hard work but totally worth it to experience the beautiful Portuguese coast from two-person kayaks. Also a good exercise in team work.
17:00 - Recovery from kayaking, and dinner at local restaurant Texugo
Friday 13th September
09:00-09:45 "Something Cool" Sakari Laitinen (Verifa Finland) Sakari updated us on some cool new(-ish) things in the cloud-native CI space, including Jenkins X and Tekton.
09:45-10:30 Discussion Over the course of the week a number of common themes had arisen, we took the time here to discuss them explicitly.
10:45-11:30 Closing the Loop James Elderfield (Verifa Finland) James presented some ideas and guided discussion around how to make better use of data to close feedback loops. Both for improving client systems and for bettering internal Verifa processes.
11:30-12:15 Parsing Architecture Neeraj Sangal (Lattix) Neeraj gave us a great demo of how to go from an unknown codebase to having parsed out an architectural model using Lattix. He provided a number of useful tips and tricks for using the tool as he went.
12:30-13:00 GitOps Ben Marsden (Verifa Finland) Ben gave a great talk and demo of GitOps, in particular its application to managing Kubernetes clusters. A strong contender for most impressive demo of the conference; including Google Assistant voice-controlled pod scaling and banter.
14:00-14:45 Make Testing Great Again Andreas Lärfors (Verifa Sweden) Andreas has been working on testing with clients for years now, and shared some of his insights from this with us. In particular he talked about the importance of looking beyond code coverage to evaluate test suite quality, and how mutation testing can help.
19:00 - Fado evening After a few hours of R&R by the biological pool at the Quinta, the team headed out to Lisbon proper for a final meal together and to listen to some traditional Portuguese music live.
As well as being a lot of fun, VeriConf is an important part of the Verifa culture. It's so much easier to share knowledge, when you've already shared a few beers with the person on the other end of the Slack conversation. By better understanding the strengths, weakness and experiences of our colleagues we become a much more effective team. It's also a key check-in point for those of us working entirely remotely.
With how valuable these yearly meetings have proved to be, we are now aiming to introduce more frequent meet-ups for teams located on the same continent. The more time we spend together, the more value we can deliver for our customers, and the more fun our work becomes.