In an environment of rapidly-changing technology and approaches, an internal tech conference can be a powerful and effective way of spreading new ideas and practices and sharing learning & experience. Having organised and run several internal tech conferences (at different organisations), Victoria Morgan-Smith and I decided to write about our experiences in an article for InfoQ: Internal Tech Conferences – How and Why. We also interviewed several other people from various organisations who have also run internal tech conferences in order to give a broader perspective.
Our aim was to inspire and enable other people to develop and run internal tech conferences in their own organisations, building on the experiences of the teams and organisations in the article.
In this article we draw on our personal experience of running internal tech events at companies we’ve worked with, along with reflections and advice from people at Paddy Power Betfair, Callcredit Information Group, ING and others. You’ll find further reading & listening material at the end of the article – there is so much inspirational work happening in so many organisations.
Key points from the article are:
- Software engineering today is as much about people as the technology itself: an internal tech conference can give a huge boost to your organisation’s social capital – that currency by which relationships flourish.
- The format you choose for your internal tech conference depends on what you want to achieve from it: it can be “by the people for the people”, or a showcase to celebrate achievement. You can keep the audience or speakers to just a single department, or invite other divisions, or even invite external speakers and/or audience.
- Making the event a success takes effort: choose your speakers well, and mentor themas they prepare their talks. Work on the logistics – it’s the little things that count.
- Remember to have fun: ‘death by PowerPoint’ will mean people remember the event for the wrong reasons!
- Follow through: for a lasting impact, keep sight of the outcomes you seek and be ready to work with others to keep the momentum going.
We hope that the article is useful for people thinking of running or improving their own internal tech conferences!
Thanks to everyone involved: people we interviewed, the amazing InfoQ team, and to my co-author Victoria Morgan-Smith.
Back in 2010 when Jez Humble and Dave Farley wrote their ground-breaking book Continuous Delivery, the Windows and .NET platforms lagged behind the Linux/Mac world in terms of automation capability. That is no longer the case – every core feature in Windows and .NET now has a PowerShell API and all the core tooling needed for Continuous Delivery – package management, artifact repositories, build servers, deployment pipelines tools, infrastructure automation, monitoring,and logging – are all now available natively on Windows/.NET.
Chris O’Dell (@ChrisAnnODell) and I decided we should explain how to make Continuous Delivery work with Windows and .NET, and thanks to the great editorial team at O’Reilly, we’ve published a short eBook:
The dedicated book website is at CDwithWindows.net and O’Reilly have published the first chapter of the book online as an article: Introduction to Continuous Delivery with Windows. We’d love your feedback: email@example.com
UPDATE: we’ll be at both PIPELINE Conference (March 23 2016) and WinOps Conference (May 24 2016) with printed copies of the book.
Note: we began writing the book in August 2015, and it’s astonishing (and exciting!) how much has changed in the 8 months since then, with Windows Nano, Azure and Windows support for Docker and containers, .NET Core, SQL Server on Linux, and even SSH for Windows. These and more recent developments do not feature in the book – perhaps we’ll do an updated version soon.