Trying something new: videos of and quizzes about development guidelines
Several years ago, I triggered a lively discussion with the question “How to get contracted developers to read, accept and adhere to development guidelines?” and unfortunately I’m not really much closer to a good answer now than I was “way back when”. So, it was time to try something new, especially as we are currently putting together a new onboarding process for new consultants and developers.
During the last couple of months, I’ve spent 1 1/2 to 2 hours with each new recruit to walk her or him individually through our development guidelines with a focus on our specific setup and rules. In order to make this less dependent on my availability, we briefly had the idea to record one of these sessions and then make it available for others to watch. That however begged the question of who would actually sit down for about 90 minutes to watch this in one go? So, instead of offering just one long recording, I set down and recorded myself while talking about most chapters in our guidelines. As of this writing, a dozen videos with a length between 3 and 15 minutes have been made available for watching.
Update Aug 26 (triggered by comments): The purpose of our guidelines, which live online in a Confluence space and which developers have easy access to, goes further than what the name implies. Yes, we do have naming conventions included but the most important of these are how development objects should be properly named (and in some cases why this is important). We don’t really sweat the small stuff like how variables, structures and the like should be named in programs.
Another and arguably more important use of the guidelines space is as an “information hub” for anything related to development. There are for example pages with tips & tricks, FAQs for how our ATC is set up and works, a calendar showing the days when imports into production happens, upcoming support package releases when systems might be unavailable and about objects which due to their sheer size and regularly needed changes require some special treatment (and how that works). Items like these are the ones I specifically mention and point to in several of the videos to make sure that people have at least heard about them once!
In addition to creating the videos, I kept mulling about a means to have new recruits – but also “old hands” – check their knowledge about our guidelines. To not run afoul of any privacy rules, I decided to simply create a few quizzes with the help of Google forms which wouldn’t collect any personal information but which could still serve their purpose as a voluntary knowledge check. To hopefully make this a bit more interesting, each correctly answered question will “earn” the quiz-taker 5 points. Time will tell if this will prove to be incentive enough for people to actually do the quizzes!
In order to – hopefully – get more interaction between developers, I’m contemplating a regular, once or twice a month, “open space” kind of meeting to talk shop about ABAP development, our guidelines and processes. Right now and until mid-September I’m collecting feedback on the idea, if there’s interest and for which days of the week to schedule such a meeting. Given that some external consultants are available just for some days of the week, I’m for example trying to find out which day(s) of the week will work best for most of those interested in the calls. What I might end up with is two sets of meetings on alternating weekdays every other week so that everybody interested can join at least one call per month. Depending on how that goes, it might provide material for another blog post down the line.
So, what do you think about this somewhat creative – some might think “over the top” – approach to get better uptake of our guidelines and processes? Have any of you tried something comparable and if you did, was there a noticeable effect?
Thanks for reading and I’m looking forward to your feedback!