Knowledge bounces all over the place within ServiceNow’s mobile engineering team in Tel Aviv—a diverse and talented group of developers that now numbers over 100. It’s a dynamic team that shares wisdom and celebrates success as well as burns the midnight oil when needed.
Some of the knowledge-sharing comes from newcomers like Shimrit Or, an Android developer who joined ServiceNow late last year and is already coaching newcomers on the fine art of writing shorter, cleaner code. Some flies back and forth between the Tel Aviv group and global teams, who give feedback on new product and feature launches.
Critical know-how also gets shared freely in meetings, where Android development team leader Dennis Shar is known to say things like, “It’s better to have seven different points of view than just one—so we can choose which one best fits our needs.” And customers also get in the mix, thanks to their feedback in the ServiceNow App Store. Developers use customers’ comments—the good, the bad and the ugly—to beef up every product.
This giant feedback loop in Tel Aviv isn’t just business as usual. It’s fun and energizing, according to Dennis and Shimrit, and fits well with the mindset of developers who want to keep sharpening their skills. It’s also an ideal match for the nonstop pace of mobile product development.
An always-learning environment
When Shimrit arrived at ServiceNow, she caught on quickly to the call for developer creativity. “If you’re a developer, you want to always be developing new stuff,” she says. “We always want to make code better—shorter and cleaner.” The team spirit centers around continual experimentation, Shimrit says. Feedback is happily welcomed from everyone, even newbies.
“There’s nothing strict about who can contribute or how we work,” says Dennis. “Everything is open for change. To me, that’s the benefit of having a big team—you have more ideas. I’m constantly listening to people, whether it’s in our regular team meetings or on Slack.”
That’s a big difference from Dennis’s previous experience at another company, where approaching team leaders was pretty much frowned upon. “Here, people are open-minded and they’re willing to share ideas,” he says. “Not only that, we believe feedback is a gift, and we take it seriously in order to learn.”
The ultra-collaborative work environment in Tel Aviv is also a great match for developing mobile products. “We get to figure out new designs, patterns and frameworks, integrate them into the product, and see outcomes instantly,” Dennis says. “Mobile is becoming increasingly important to customers, which means they’ll be using every feature that we develop.”
For Shimrit, mobile development lets her focus on her passion—coding challenges. “It’s an area that’s always getting updated, always changing, and the code is pretty new—everything is written using the best architecture,” she says. “That’s why we pay extra attention to structure and flexibility when we build mobile features, because we need that foundation.”
Because ServiceNow customers use mobile tools from the office, on the road, and just about all day, Dennis feels a special responsibility to learn from their feedback. He’s a regular visitor to the mobile products comments section in the ServiceNow Store. “I love to read the negative comments as much as the good ones,” Dennis says. “They inspire me to try something new. Sometimes, the most negative feedback can turn into the best product features.”
The lively culture of learning and sharing is one that Dennis wants to keep growing like crazy, right along with the size of the team. He loves the fact that colleagues like Shimrit are eager to share what they know with new employees so they can keep the knowledge rolling over to new teams and projects.
“We had a developer arrive from India a few weeks ago,” Shimrit says. “Since I’ve made progress in learning myself while I've been here, it feels good to pass it along. The sharing is really satisfying.”
It’s also how great leaders can pop up at the company. “A good developer isn’t just a person who knows how to write code,” Dennis says. “It’s a person everyone approaches with their questions. We want people who share what they love to do—not keep it all to themselves.”
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