All Posts By Neal Elward

Neal Elward is a director of software development at Extreme Reach, a leading provider of enterprise video advertising technology solutions. With 15 years of experience building and supporting software for customers of all sizes and needs, he looks forward to learning something new every day.

Managing

Technical Leadership: Finding Balance

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As leader of a team of six software developers, I get to see a wide variety of experience levels, coding styles, and effectiveness. I also have a multi-year backlog of work for my team to do. My constant challenge is balancing quality, maintainability, and productivity. These are hard enough to juggle as an individual, and they’re incredibly difficult to manage well across a diverse team. The goal of my development team is to deliver value to our customers. This is a superbly straightforward goal, but it’s not hard to lose sight of it as we work through a miles-long list of feature requests and bug reports. We’re under constant pressure to deliver features on tight schedules, and it would be easy to give into the temptation to do the bare minimum to get the work done. There’s a popular term in the startup world for this: minimum viable product (MVP). We actually do practice this to a certain extent, but we’re careful to keep an eye on where the project is headed; if it looks like it’s going to be around for a while, we need to shift gears and start building a higher quality, more maintainable product. We are […]

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Managing

Growing Pains: Transitioning from Developer to Technical Lead

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Of all the hats I have worn in my technical career (developer, technician, accountant, therapist…), “leader” is the most uncomfortable one. It is a word that is loaded with a responsibility that I do not always want, but it has also proven to be the most rewarding. I just looked up and realized that over the last few years, I have transitioned from being a solo coder to managing a team of six full-time developers. Learning how to juggle all of the responsibilities, increase productivity, and maintain sanity have been an interesting journey of growth. I started as a software developer right out of college. I was a passable developer when I started, but I was lacking in discipline. Working with experienced and patient colleagues and mentors throughout my early career helped me gain that basic discipline and learn how to communicate effectively with customers and team members. I was given the freedom to make mistakes, and I learned from those mistakes and got better. I didn’t see it at the time, but I was also learning how to lead a team by being a member of several highly productive teams. Prioritize Team Goals My team grew organically, along with […]

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