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Improving Code Review Culture

A WiFi lantern to increase the speed of software delivery

One BI-Beacon customer was trying to get higher software quality by introducing code-reviews in the development team. However, they struggled in this process change, even though developers agreed it was a good practice to do code reviews. A couple of observations stood out when identifying the business issues at hand:

  • Code reviews were lagging behind schedule, causing delays in delivery for the rest of the organization and customers
  • Code reviewing was seen as something dull and boring, and less productive than “actual coding”

How BI-Beacon was used to embrace code reviews

By positioning a BI-Beacon by the coffee machine, just outside the developer room, everyone that went for a coffee got a clear indication of the state of code reviews.

This is what the colors indicated:

BI-Beacon yellow

Yellow meant there is some code to review.

BI-Beacon purple

Purple pulsing slowly meant some code had been waiting for review for more than four days. Get on with it already!

BI-Beacon green

Green color meant all code reviews are done – hurray!

Results

By showing clearly the value of code reviews – no one missed the glowing light indicator by the coffee machine! – it was suddenly a lot easier to get code reviews happening. Developers also expressed that it was more fun to do code reviews, as it turned into a kind of game at the office, but also that it was clear that the whole organization valued code reviews and the increased quality it brings to software development.

The integration was done by regularly running a Python script that checked the state of issues being worked on by the development team.

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More efficient operations

A WiFi lantern to reduce disturbances and increase support ticket throughput

One BI-Beacon customer had an innovative idea on how to increase throughput in internal support and operations. The issues were two-fold.

  • Low awareness of new tickets coming into internal support ticket system
  • A lot of human related disturbances, stressful and inefficient for everyone involved and often reducing operations efficiency unnecessarily

How they use BI-Beacon

By integrating a BI-Beacon physically at the office, close to operations, both problems were reduced. This is how they did it:

BI-Beacon screaming pink

Purple color means there are unassigned high priority (system is down, or other critical issues) tickets in the support system, who will be the first to respond?

BI-Beacon green

Green color means all tickets in the support system is assigned to a co-worker, and none of them are high priority . Things are under control and no immediate action is required!

BI-Beacon warning red

Red pulsing color means there is a priority one ticket being worked on (or unassigned), so please do not disturb us, we are working as hard as we can!

Results

By showing the support system state in this accessible way, they reduced the human disturbances of support, and engaged support personnel in assigning tickets as soon as they are in. In this way they sort of gamified the daily experience of working in support and operations, making business more efficient for everyone.

From a technical standpoint, the integration/coding effort was minimal, and done using a database query and a script polling the support system database every minute.

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Announcement: Open source API server coming in June!

We will open source the backend API server!

BI-Beacon loves open source software. The API has been intentionally open all the time, and open sourcing the server that controls Beacons has been part of the plan for at least a year – it’s just not been made official.

Having the API V1 server open source means you will be able to host the state server on your own premises, which may be necessary to satisfy the IT policy at your company or your clients. This also means you will not be locked-in to BI-Beacons state server “api.cilamp.se”.

The date of availability is 1st of June 2019. The backend server will be made available in BI-Beacons github server repository.

Beacons with firmware version 0.84 and upwards are reconfigurable to alternate state servers; units with prior versions use api.cilamp.se implicitly. Version 0.84 was released January 2018.

/Olof @ BI-Beacon