communication and code

Effective Communication

Early in developer careers, there’s a natural emphasis on writing clean code and becoming a technical expert. Great developers take that same passion for communicating in code, and strive to improve their communication with non-technical stakeholders as well. In consulting those soft skills become increasingly important to maintain efficiency across stakeholders and are as valuable as technical prowess.

Email communication is one of the easiest areas to improve and coach for developers, and coincidentally allows for the most efficient consumption of information when done properly.

The approach to improving written communication is fundamentally the same as creating clean and maintainable code – that is to say, code that is as easy to read as possible. When writing software, as a developer you first get all the corrected information and implementation, then you take that content and restructure it and remove the remnants left over from the discovery and your thought process. Email communication can be the same.

Here are a few recommendations that have worked well for refactoring emails into effective communication.

Example

Let’s look at an example. A project is underway for taking a monolith and splitting it out into microservices using agile. A group email is being sent out to the team leads of the new microservice to inform the users of the new features and enhancements that have just been released and covered in prior demos.

 

Original Draft

Subject: New Release

A new version of the software has been released. It contains all of the features from the sprint 6 and sprint 7 demos, notably the new bulk order management workflow, new report for case packing metrics, and the ability to deactivate inactive configuration values. This also includes the large bug fix regarding user account lockout that effected a handful of users but required technical intervention to resolve, as well as minor items such as spelling errors and some refinement for error messages. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Regards,
Justin

 

Refactored Email

Subject: New Release – Order Portal version 2.3 is now live

All of the features from sprint 6 and 7 have been deployed to production, please let me know if you have any questions.

Notable New Features:

  • New bulk order management workflow
  • New report for case packing metrics
  • Ability to deactivate inactive configuration values

Bug Fixes:

  • Major: Fix user account lockout for all users to now be self-service
  • Minor: Clearer error messages, and grammatical edits

Regards,
Justin

 

Conclusion

Spending a few extra minutes cleaning up your emails greatly increases overall team efficiency by decreasing the time others waste trying to understand the content in the email. Even worse, emails that are not quick and easy to read can unfortunately become neglected by recipients, resulting in future follow-up emails that take up even more time. It’s best to just get it right the first time.

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