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patterns, practices and pontification

Your guided tour of the Microsoft Solutions Development Centre

Your guided tour of the Microsoft Solutions Development Centre

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When I decided to leave the patterns & practices team to move back to Australia, one of my big concerns was whether I would be able to work on teams with the quality and dedication I experienced on projects such as Enterprise Library. It turned out that my fears were unfounded, as I’ve found myself working in the most high-performing team I’ve ever experienced, Microsoft Australia’s Solutions Development Centre (SDC). The SDC is basically a software engineering team available for hire, building complex solutions for external customers. We pride ourselves on excellence in process, technology and outcomes, using the latest Microsoft technologies and agile development practices to drive the best possible outcomes for customers.

About a month ago, the SDC opened its doors to a wider audience in an event we called the SDC Open Day. This consisted of a series of presentations describing all aspects of how we manage our projects, followed by a tour of our facilities with drinks, nibblies and networking. I had originally planned on blogging about this before the event so more of you could attend, but it turned out that we reached our maximum capacity through direct invitations and word of mouth.

The event went off without a hitch, and the feedback from the 150-odd attendees was overwhelmingly positive. However right from the start we wanted to find a way that this event would continue to provide value long after the projectors went dark. So we decided to video the entire event (over two hours of it!) for you to enjoy no matter where you are. The videos have just been posted live on microsoft.com.

If you’re in Australia (or are happy to move here :-), we’d obviously like you to consider how the SDC could help your team become more effective and your organisation to deliver critical solutions. However no matter where you are, I’m hoping you’ll find the videos interesting. Whether you’re a developer, tester, project manager or architect, the videos will show you some techniques that our team has found very successful, which you may want to apply to your own projects.

The event was divided up into 20 minute sessions presented by people playing different roles in the SDC team (including both Microsoft staff and the partners that work with us), which you can view individually in any order. There are also some introductory interviews and “vox pops” to add a bit of spice. The main sessions are:

  1. An Introduction to the SDC, presented by Rob Mawston (SDC Lead at Microsoft). Rob provides some background into why the SDC exists and how we approach software development.
  2. A Day In the Life of the SDC, presented by me (Solution Architect at Microsoft). I take the audience through a typical day, describing the key activities performed by the team and each individual role.
  3. How we do: Project Management, presented by Prasadi de Silva (Senior Project Manager at Microsoft). Prasadi discusses how we use agile requirements management and metrics to ensure we successfully deliver what the customer actually needs.
  4. How we do: Development, presented by Corneliu Tusnea (Senior Consultant at Readify). Corneliu describes some of the techniques our developers use to ensure ongoing quality and agility, including unit testing and refactoring.
  5. How we do: Testing, presented by Sarah Richey and Bruce McLeod (Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Devtest). Sarah and Bruce describe why testing is critical to success, and how we use metrics and automation to give us great coverage throughout the project.
  6. How we do: Build and Deployment, presented by Emma Hanna and Simon Waight (Senior Consultant and Lead Consultant at Avanade). Emma and Simon describe how we use daily builds, CI builds and automatic deployments to ensure the solution is always in a known state for use and testing.
  7. A Customer’s Journey, presented by Fiona Boyd (COO at Ticketek Australia). Fiona describes Ticketek’s experience as a customer working with the SDC.

I hope you find the videos interesting. Please feel free to post any questions on anything you see in the videos to the blog and I’ll try to get them answered (if not by me, then by someone!).

  • Any plans to have another Open Day possibly in the Brisbane area?

  • Tim - No plans for now, but you never know what the future holds. As you probably now, we do have an SDC running in Brisbane as well.

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