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Building our community at the DWP Software Engineering Conference

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: communities of practice, Digital transformation, Software Engineering

Hi, I'm Diane, I joined DWP Digital as a trainee software engineer in July 2016.

Diane Reddell, DWP
Diane Reddell, DWP

It’s great being part of the growing software engineer community in DWP, so I was really looking forward to the first DWP software engineering conference in Leeds.

The software engineering team is spread out across a number of DWP locations, so it was fantastic to have everyone in the same room for the first time.

It was good to put faces to names of people who I often speak to on the phone but had never met before.

But the day was more than just a chance to get to know others in the community - it was an opportunity to learn and do some practical things that will help us in our day-to-day work.

 A chance to link up and learn

We kicked off with a team quiz on software engineering knowledge, using an app to answer the questions in real time. It was a good, fun way to start the day and get to know colleagues face to face.

Delegates at DWP's Software Engineer Community event
Delegates at DWP's Software Engineer Community event

Our head of software engineering gave an inspiring summary of the stuff we’ve been doing to build our community in the last year, before guest speaker Simon Stewart took the stage. Simon is currently technical lead at Selenium. He gave a presentation on Test Driven Design (TDD), demonstrating why TDD is important, what the best practices are including using small, medium and large tests.

I am new to TDD but Simon’s talk showed how it can be used for uncomplicated functionality and even more complicated functions such as generation of audit files and batch process, for example. The talk gave me the incentive to research TDD more fully and it was good to gain knowledge and get the perspective of an experienced software engineer from outside government.

Using Amazon Web Services

In the afternoon, we got an introduction to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Serverless Computing presentations from our colleague, Andy McKinnon. Prior to the conference I did not know these existed and it was interesting to learn about them and could see how they can be useful.

Andy Ling, DWP's Head of Software Engineering chats to attendees
Andy Ling, DWP's Head of Software Engineering chats to attendees

Later on, we spent a really enjoyable hour or so practising using the AWS system to make an Email and Review feature - this was my favourite part of the day. It was great to see our group of software engineers collaborating to build something on the day and I really enjoyed experimenting with some new technology!

Collaborating and sharing knowledge

The day really showed why I feel it’s important we build a Software Engineering community in DWP – collaborating effectively is vital so we can share knowledge, learning and experience.

It helps colleagues feel part of a group, build a more cohesive team and boosts engagement. This has benefits for DWP because better digital products will be developed to help our customers and our reputation as a talented software engineering community will continue to grow. Roll on the next get-together!

Watch a short video about the DWP Software Engineering Community event below: 

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