Behind every successful business lies a great team. This strategy plan applies to any companies ranging from small to international giants. A team exists to allow the effort to grow, expand and thrive in a way that can’t be done by one person.
As such, a successful team starts with hiring the right people–those who dedicate wholeheartedly to their work with a common goal as the company, have an oversize impact on the end product.
We spoke to Slavko, Chief Product Officer, and Chief Technology Officer at SHARE NOW, about his career journey, ways to build up a strong team, and how he successfully moved from a monolith into a microservices architecture.
- Slavko Bevanda’s Career Journey
- Why Microservices Relies on Strong Development Team
- Five Challenges Behind Leading a Team
- Moving From Monolith to a Microservices Architecture
- Lesson Learned
- Who is Slavko Bevanda?
Slavko Bevanda’s Career Journey
Slavko Bevanda is currently the Chief Product and Technology Officer (CPTO) at SHARE NOW, a car-sharing joint venture between car2go and DriveNow. He is overseeing product, software engineers, and IT infrastructure divisions. His expertise lies in building teams and ensuring product and technology merge within brands, contributing to an increase in the number of employees to more than double from 50 employees within the product creation department.
I consider myself an entrepreneur who wants to figure out what is best for the business. After serving 9 years at Daimler, one of the biggest producers of premium cars and the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Slavko decided to step away from the big, structured, and process-driven business in 2011 to join the car2go Group.
I remember the first big roles I took was in leadership and technology. Since I was new, I made mistakes but I learned a lot very quickly.
In 2014 Slavko joined the digital team at smart, a German automotive brand and division of Daimler AG before becoming the CPTO at SHARE NOW.
Why Microservices Relies on a Strong Development Team
SHARE NOW, a car-sharing app that offers thousands of cool cars for shared rental at your fingertips, is one the many companies where microservices took major role in transforming the whole business.
From a technical perspective, over 250 microservices are needed to ensure a smooth customer experience. Moreover, in the background the car needs to be fuelled, cleaned, maintained, and available in high-traffic areas where people will want to rent them. This happens in the background, while the customer isn’t exposed to complexity and logistics behind.
Within the product creation department, I am responsible for 150 team members from 40 different countries. We all have diverse approaches and cultures – so I am always learning every single day and it’s incredible to see how fast the team has adapted amid the remote working challenges during the pandemic.
From a product perspective, it’s easy to use a solution like this: you simply open the app, select the desired vehicle and everything happens in seconds.
Our mission is personal freedom: To enable you to drive in or outside the city without breaking the bank – or the environment. We take our cue from a long line of pioneers in the automotive industry and are still on the move to reinvent mobility.
Five Challenges Behind Leading a Team
The biggest challenges for building and training a team are misunderstandings, missing skills, and lack of coaching. My approach to tackle these issues is the following:
1. Get in Touch
Take the time to get in touch with your team. When we started the SHARE NOW journey, I travelled every week to the offices to ensure that the team understood our goals, asked questions, identified the gaps, potential risks, etc. It’s important to set time in your calendar for these types of conversations.
2. Setup Leadership
Encourage company leaders to be approachable and follow the same process in their areas. Create checklists with specific leadership responsibilities to make sure things won’t fall through the cracks.
Encourage debate, talk through the challenges, approaches, risks, etc. For some people, solutions seem obvious so they don’t talk about it, but it’s a mistake. Be open about your weaknesses and ask people to explain their solutions to you “as a dummy”.
The magic happens when there is a solid collaboration between engineers, product owners, and stakeholders.
4. Empower Teams
Don’t forget that they are the experts. Allow your team to assess the risks, discuss the consequences, and what to do in case specific scenarios happen.
5. Accept the consequences
Some people hesitate to take risks because they are afraid of making mistakes and facing consequences. Always accept the results of your actions and consider them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Moving From Monolith to a Microservices Architecture
Our main challenge was the product merge of car2go and DriveNow, and building a new product. From a monolith, we managed to break up our architecture into microservices. The short story is that we wanted more resilience and to align the technology to new business models.
There was a technical debt, unstructured code, insufficient documentation, lack of expert help, etc. We wanted to be more flexible on the architecture, with fewer dependencies between teams and increased development velocity.
This is how we managed to transition from a monolith to a microservices architecture:
How to tackle the challenge? How much time do we need? What technology should we use? Should we go for new technology? These were some of our main questions.
In the beginning, there was a strong desire to move to new technology, but in the end, we realised that the process would have been too long and complex. So we divided the problem and applied new technologies only in specific areas.
Define Target Dates
Once we accepted the challenges, we scheduled 18 months for this transformation. The pressure we faced helped us prioritise and make decisions. At the same time, it kept the team focused, gave them stability and time to get things done.
Put the Team Together
Just like you need to hold yourself accountable for your actions to assure you maximise results, you must take the time to get to know your team and encourage camaraderie.
We used the Spotify model as a guideline to structure the team. To do this, we needed to understand the types of people we had and how to organise them.
Agile coaches helped us define the types of developers personalities we wanted in our team:
i. Juniors: Open, happy to learn, test, make mistakes.
ii. Architects: Accurate, strict people who organize and enforce the changes and directions.
iii. Seniors: Older engineers who have been through a lot of different types of challenges.
iv. Decision-makers: Strong enough to cut through the discussion and make a decision. These are the hardest to find.
When you successfully complete step 3, you can then be more effective and clearly define the responsibilities of those on your team. Once you have the right team in place, discuss, encourage, revise, and give them the stage to share their experience. Re-organise the teams to optimise the information flow, and make decisions by getting buy-in from your teams.
An important component of these types of projects is cross-collaboration across departments because everyone is impacted by the changes.
To develop a strong team, communicate regularly, encourage company leaders to be approachable, stimulate debate, talk through challenges, empower risk assessment, and accept the consequences of your actions.
The main types of personalities you want in your development team are juniors, architects, seniors, decision-makers. Everyone matters.
Be transparent about your mistakes. It’s not about blaming, but about learning from them.
With the right team, you can get things done. Mistakes will be part of the process – what matters is how you handle it. Nobody wants to make mistakes on purpose, but you can use them to learn, change, adapt and grow.Slavko Bevanda
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