On April 18-19, the Dealertrack and Dealer.com engineering teams participated in a nationwide engineering event. This year, each location came up with their own unique project to enhance their skills and experiment with new ideas. Participating locations included Burlington, VT, Dallas, TX, Manhattan Beach, CA, Groton, CT, Sacramento, CA, Lake Success, NY and Salt Lake City, UT.
By Katharine Bodan, Engineering Manager – Burlington, VT
Burlington’s engineering team held a two-day tech conference that tapped into the diverse capabilities of our team. It was a chance to learn from each other, see each other differently, and kick start Q2!
Session topics included:
- Terraforming Infrastructure
- Agile Scavenger Hunt Team Simulations
- Ansible 101
- Automate Your Life!
- Engineering Leadership Panel
- Intro to Arduino
- Car Shopper Personas
- Microservices – Myth vs. Practice
We learned so much from each other, and we even took the time to cut loose in the evening with some pizza and the Talking Heads “Stop Making Sense” movie.
Manhattan Beach – Map My Dealers
By Stephanie Shami, Senior Digital Advisor – Manhattan Beach, CA
Manhattan Beach hosted a “Spring Engineering Event” where our software engineering team had the option to design a location-specific event, not limited to hacking. What made this one special is that they opened up the dialog with team members outside of engineering in the spirit of doing something to help the Manhattan Beach teams.
Talk about a startup feel with a billion dollar backing. Within the given two days, our digital advising team watched an idea that was simply thrown around between other digital advisor’s, come to life. Our Manhattan Beach engineering team met with a few of us for maybe 5 minutes, to review an e-mail and a few screenshots, and then they went straight to work.
The idea: Create a better way to schedule appointments between our clients all the way over in Hawaii, and campaign coordinators in Burlington, VT. Too many times meetings have been scheduled, rescheduled, and missed due to a miscalculation or misunderstanding of who is in which time zone, and which 2:00pm was being talking about. After seeing the sales team work in MapAnything, a Salesforce integration that shows all their clients, plotted on a map view, based on their territory, jealousy set in and the cogs began turning.
The result: Mapster. A tool that gives digital advisors a map view of all their clients, a time-zone calculator to properly schedule meetings, and a 20 mile radius view of all their other clients in a designated area! Since retail digital advisors are not territory based, there’s never been a huge focus on ‘where’ our clients are. Now digital advisors can look up one client, and suggest 4-5 more client visits! Digital advisors can properly schedule meetings with a client, SEM analysts, campaign coordinators and the digital sales consultant.
A huge shout out to our entire Manhattan Beach engineering team, and especially our Senior Manager of Software Engineering, Joanne Succari for connecting the teams. Thank you so much for taking one small idea and turning into a real, amazing tool to make the digital advisor lives just a little bit easier. You guys are the reason we love this company, and the reason why our solution is ‘Partnership by Design’.
Until next year, a very grateful digital advisor.
Groton Bug Hunt
By Philip Pannenko, Senior Software Engineer – Groton, CT
The engineering department at Dealertracks’ Registration & Titling Service (RTS) offices (NY, CT, and NH) participated in their first ever engineering event! The event was about taking a few days to do what they like to do best: being engineers! What they chose to do was to go on a Bug Hunt. No, they weren’t sneaking around the office, Elmer Fudd style, saying, ‘shhh, be vewy quiet, we’re hunting bugs’, instead every engineer did get the chance to choose a ‘bug’ impacting their product and fix it. The whole department was involved and thrilled: bug hunt paraphernalia was taped to laptops, cubicle windows and doors and peers talked amongst each other, planning for the two day event.
Twenty individuals ranging from all sorts of roles (QA, business owners, IT, developers, leads, new-comers, senior-level, architects and even management), ended up taking the opportunity to find and fix ‘bugs’ in the products they work on every day. They were encouraged to choose ‘bugs’ that were more complex than just changing the padding of HTML inputs or reformatting tabs to spaces (spaces ftw btw, just saying) but it didn’t take much convincing.
The ‘bugs’ engineers chose ranged from process improvements, complex code refactorings, and evaluations of new innovative solutions. Of course none of this could happen on empty stomachs. There were grill outs, happy hours, snacks, and even time for some tech show-and-tell. A number of engineers participated in tech talks to present interesting tech/processes to their fellow peers.
In the end, there were a number of completed projects: configuring a new Jenkins server, decoupling front-end code by adding event-driven actions, enhancing in-house emulation software, defining product mind maps for QA test analysis, improving front-end framework unit test capabilities, categorizing JUnit tests to decrease build time, and tweaking build scripts to enhance build / IDE / continuous integration deployment processes.
Overall, the first Groton engineering event was such a hit that there’s already talk anticipating the next one to come. Thanks to all the participants and volunteers that helped make this event a success.
By Carl Vergara, Manager of Quality Assurance and Mark Ainsley, Manager of Software Engineering – Sacramento, CA
The Collateral Management Services (CMS) Engineering team in Sacramento, CA participated in the 2016 company-wide engineering event with two separate activities. Day one was an innovation & free-play challenge, in which the team was provided the opportunity to innovate and engage with each other. The field was wide open and we had many creative ideas which spanned mobile application prototypes, to process improvements, to colorful artwork.
Day two involved an opportunity to give back to the community, engaging in something bigger than ourselves. For three hours in the morning we met as a team at the Sacramento Family Food Bank.
At the food bank, we were greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer coordinator who ran us through a quick overview of the programs and instructions for the morning. We were then split up into a handful of groups performing different activities, including:
- Bagging produce (fruits and veggies)
- Sorting and boxing non-perishable items
- Wrapping ‘donation’ barrels in preparation for community food drives
- Organizing office space
Following the morning’s activities, we returned to the office for a hearty team lunch, with a new sense of appreciation for the work done at the food bank and a renewed sense of gratitude.
In the second half of day two, the teams were given the opportunity to present their ideas to our distinguished panel of CMS Leadership. The presentations were creative, interesting, and demonstrated a great deal of innovation!
All together, we shared a great time sharing ideas, collaborating, innovating, being creative, and giving back to the community. Many fantastic ideas were presented, several of which we will continue and move forward with. Everyone involved is excited for next year’s event!
By Mark Lusby, Engineering Manager – Dallas, TX
For the Dallas engineering event we hosted a hackathon, but implemented a few changes from our previous hackathons.
- We increased the time given to each team in the final presentation to 10 minutes
- We held a “Pitch-Off” presentation about a week prior to the event to allow teams to present their ideas in advance to gain interest and volunteers
- We held a potluck dinner on the first night that included voting and prizes for the best dishes
- We had prizes for the winning teams
- Winning teams were chosen by popular vote as well as a judging panel.
The three awards went to:
- Judges’ Favorite: Next Gen CMS
- People’s Favorite: Site Switcher (browser tool)
- Best Hack (combination judge and people’s vote): Next Gen CMS
We had some great presentations, and received a lot of useful feedback indicating what the teams would like to see in the future.