Secrets to success: 3 LA tech leaders share how their teams take on challenging projects

by Michael Hines
May 9, 2019

Excitement is something everyone wants out of their work — and there’s nothing more exciting than a good challenge. Difficult projects give technologists the chance to flex their muscles as they work to overcome obstacles with their team and others across the company.

Through a combination of creative thinking, tech innovation and — of course —  teamwork, the following local tech leaders were able to guide their teams across the finish line and complete mission-critical projects for their companies. Here’s what led to their success.

 

Boingo Los Angeles tech jobs
PHOTO VIA MCKENZIE SMITH

Boingo designs, builds and operates Wi-Fi and cellular networks that keep people connected to each other and their devices. The company powers wireless connectivity everywhere from airports to stadiums and military bases. Boingo recently completed a groundbreaking and challenging project at a Southern California airport, which Director of RF Engineering Mike Jordan said wouldn’t have been possible without a large and cross-functional team working together.

 

Discuss a project your team worked on recently that was particularly challenging.

Our team recently hit a major milestone for the 5G era. We launched the first-known Wi-Fi 6 network at a major airport: John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. Wi-Fi 6 technology elevates wireless performance at airports and other large venues like stadiums, office buildings and convention centers. Think of it as Wi-Fi in high gear — fast and awesome for a better and more seamless experience. Moving a complex technology from labs to real-world deployment was a huge win for our team and I was proud to be part of it.

Moving a complex technology from labs to real-world deployment was a huge win for our team and I was proud to be part of it.

 

What were the major factors that led to the success of the project and the team overall?

This launch wouldn’t have been possible without a full-court press across our cross-functional team of RF (radio frequency) engineers, QA engineers, network engineers, field operations and R&D. Everyone made their voice heard to get us across the finish line. We managed the project with an agile management approach, so goals and roles were clearly laid out, from the design of the network — which I took the lead on — to testing in the field and the commercial launch. It was no easy feat, but I find the most challenging projects are the most rewarding.

 

SimplePractice Los Angeles tech jobs
PHOTO VIA SIMPLEPRACTICE

SimplePractice’s software is used by health and wellness professionals to more easily and efficiently manage their practices. The company’s tech team recently gave the front end of its platform an overhaul, which involved multiple teams working together over the course of a year to complete. CTO Ralph Zimmermann said support from across the company, and some engineering ingenuity, were the key factors to success.

 

Discuss a project your team worked on recently that was particularly challenging.

One challenging project our team recently completed was the rewrite of our front end into a modern stack. The goal of this project was to make our web application highly interactive and to clean up visual inconsistencies that had accumulated over many years of continuous design iterations.

The project had to combine visual and technological updates and still allow us to make incremental releases on other features. We chose EmberJS as our front-end technology, which has proven in previous projects to perfectly fit our needs. The new stack increases engineering productivity and also allows for improved testability of the software system.

One of the most important factors in the success of this project was getting the full support from senior leadership, the product team, the design team and the engineering team.

 

What were the major factors that led to the success of the project and the team overall?

One of the most important factors in the success of this project was getting the full support from senior leadership, the product team, the design team and the engineering team. The most critical challenge was managing the duration of the project. Knowing that the project would take at least a year to complete, we wanted to ensure that we could incrementally roll it out while still working on feature development and releases at the same time. This required us to run the new front-end stack parallel to the old stack, which also created a technical challenge.

Fortunately, our engineering team was able to find a solution after a few weeks of highly focused work. Having a supportive, driven team committed to doing excellent work has been the biggest factor in the success of not only this project, but of every project we’ve completed at SimplePractice.

 

Laserfiche Los Angeles tech jobs
PHOTO VIA LASERFICHE

Laserfiche’s enterprise content management system helps companies around the world streamline their document, records and business process management. The company recently launched a new automated data capture tool, called “capture profiles,” for its cloud-based platform. According to Technical Product Manager for Capture, Tessa Adair, a renewed commitment to knowledge-sharing — within and across teams — was key to the success of the project.

 

Discuss a project your team worked on recently that was particularly challenging.

Earlier this year, our team celebrated the initial release of “capture profiles,” a new tool in our Laserfiche Cloud platform, which our customers can use to easily automate data capture from scanned or PDF documents. This project presented a number of challenges.

First, we are dedicated to creating a uniquely awesome user experience. For this project, this meant plenty of trial and error, user testing and passionate debates. Another challenge: Previously, most of our team’s work had been for our on-premises offering, so we had to learn a lot about AWS and how to efficiently develop for the cloud.

A renewed dedication to knowledge-sharing — both within the team and between teams — has been critical to our recent success.

 

What were the major factors that led to the success of the project and the team overall?

A renewed dedication to knowledge-sharing — both within the team and between teams — has been critical to our recent success. Laserfiche is a well-established company, but we’re growing fast, and our team has a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. Curating a company culture defined by radical candor and shared ownership helps us ensure that every team member feels empowered to make meaningful contributions. By breaking down pre-existing knowledge silos and increasing collaboration with new practices, such as mob programming, we’ve been able to accelerate development while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

 

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