What we do

We work with early-stage startups and mid-size companies to deliver cultural outcomes that drive business benefits.

We do that by teaching, hiring, and leading by example.

Teaching

Customised apprenticeship program

Many companies employ a sink or swim approach to educating less experienced employees, relying on on-the-job learning. This leaves critical gaps in knowledge. Business As Usual (BAU) assignments are vital for your product(s) but do not reliably offer opportunities to pick up new skills, or to keep up with the changing nature of our industry.

Hooroo recognises this and engaged Blackmill to deliver the six month pilot of their engineering academy.

The result will be engineers who understand more of the full stack, are able to make more informed decisions, and exhibit more autonomy. Code designs will become cleaner, better architected, and the testing regimen will improve. They will be less often inclined to take shortcuts in face of difficulties. Consistency between “generations” of employees will increase as everyone gets on the same level over time. In short, a decreased 'Time to Value' for new employees and increased skills for veterans.

The program is focused on:

  • up-skilling less experienced developers;
  • allowing intermediate developers to build upon their already strong foundation;
  • reducing cost of acquisition and churn;
  • covering technical skills such as Ruby, Rails, clean code, design patterns, Git, test driven development, databases; and
  • developing interpersonal topics such as effective communication and how to do code reviews.

Culture workshops

We offer workshops on team communication, workplace culture, and hiring practices.

Blackmill worked with Web Directions to run a workshop on engineering hiring at their first Code Leaders conference. The success of the cultural sessions that day directly led to the creation of Web Directions Culture, a full day of cultural workshops for engineering and technology leaders at the annual Web Directions Summit conference in 2017. Blackmill delivered workshops on workplace culture and hiring.

We can deliver workshops to your team on these and similar topics.

Skills workshops

We offer technical training on topics such as Test-Driven Development in Ruby on Rails, using Git and GitHub for better workflows, and refactoring techniques.

Hiring

We work with you to add rigour, consistency, and predictability to your hiring and interview process. Use of structured interviews with rubrics, better job descriptions with open and inclusive language, and skills assessments that look like actual work greatly improve your predictability for hiring people who will do well.

Grow effective development teams

We assist with hiring processes and hiring for diversity. We coach tech leads in effective management practices, and we improve overall engineering processes.

Technology companies survive by their ability to hire and retain fantastic employees. With software engineers that means delivering an environment that offers autonomy, opportunities for learning, and values craft.

Organising targeted training and on-boarding lets employees contribute to the business fast, without sacrificing quality. Every new software engineer needs to understand your technology platform, your culture and your shared vocabulary more swiftly so they can meaningfully contribute earlier. We include veteran employees as much as the new ones. This leads to increased retention and higher skill levels across the board. In many companies, deadlines edge out professional development but this approach improves total outcomes for everyone involved.

We will partner with you to develop and maintain a lasting culture of learning that can:

  • recruit great candidates;
  • do a better job interviewing those candidates, with better results, in less time;
  • keep top performing employees interested and productive;
  • raise the bar for current employees; and
  • fill the long-standing knowledge gaps that hold employees back.

Leading by example

Hire Blackmill to work directly with your engineering and product teams on refactoring. We can role model and mentor while improving code maintainability and delivering features.

Code reviews

We analyse and review your codebase to identify its key practices and conventions. We report back on code quality, for example percentage code coverage, suggestions for Ruby and Rails best practices and conventions that have not been followed, object-oriented design flaws, and Rails anti-patterns.

We then detail recommendations for improvements as needed and can work with your team to put practices into place to ensure the improvements in regards to better architecture, scaling, and performance are adopted.

Want to work with us? Get in touch: gday@blackmill.co.