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Top 8 Aspects of an Innovative Tech Environment

Name: Sanjeev K.
Job Title: Full Stack Senior Software Engineer

At Discover, we approach innovation as a mindset. Every team collaborates together to contribute to our overall business goals. My team improves card application submission and conversion rates with an easy user-interface. We also leverage modern technology for a fault-tolerant and reliable system. Below are some of the methodologies we deploy and projects we’re tackling to innovate together across the value stream.

Modernized front-end

I currently focus on two product areas— seamless customer experience during the Discover Card application, and affiliate reporting.  Working together, our team modernizes the Discover Card application experience for both consumer and business cards, direct mail campaigns and pre-qualification applications. We’re also modernizing our affiliate reporting system, which helps us bring referrals from external advertisement partners. The new system will enhance our ability to accurately and timely pay our affiliates and improve overall system reliability.

Soft skills

Across the value stream, our self-organized Engineering Practice Steward Program removes or minimizes technical challenges and standardizes our engineering practice. As a project leader, I struggled initially with leading large projects. However, with the help of the stewards, I not only grew my technical knowledge, but also built my soft skills. I learned problem solving and critical thinking strategies alongside leadership, communication and team-work coaching. With continuous support from value stream architects and managers, I’m much more confident in my ability to effectively lead.

Engineering playbook

Once of our goals in the Engineering Practice Steward Program was to create an engineering playbook. We focused on everything from on-boarding new engineers, to developing consistent practices across the value stream. While we were originally looking to affect our own area, since its inception, our work has been shared across the company.

Rapid feedback model

Unlike other companies, we leverage a rapid feedback model. Our sprints take 1 week, as opposed to 3 weeks. The shortened timeframe allows us to give rapid feedback to product managers about the backlog velocity and volatility. Using that feedback, our product managers can more accurately calculate our workload on the next sprint. A major part of our culture also surrounds providing feedback to peers, manager and even top level managers. We address and escalate problems to hone in quickly on solutions.

Shorter sprints

Shorter sprints also means smaller stories and features delivered quickly for testing. The sooner we receive feedback, the more time we have to react to that feedback. We find failures as soon as possible. This model then becomes conducive to asking questions and learning from the answers to understand what the business needs.

Extreme Programming (XP) environment

Our value stream follows XP software development methodology. The XP methodology is intended to improve software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. XP concentrates on frequent planning, designing, testing and communicating to achieve short development cycles and improve productivity.

Test-driven mentality

We follow a test-driven development approach. We write a test (and enough implementation code) to fulfill that test and the refactoring. This method avoids writing unnecessary or faulty code and works well with our documentation model. We follow Behavioral Driven Development (BDD) pattern to write tests. Our layers of testing minimize (if not fully remove) buggy code on production because we catch the bugs early in different environments.

People first

From my experience, Discover is an exciting, forward-thinking, fast-moving company with lots of opportunity to grow personally and professionally. We work with the latest technologies, methodologies, and with a “people first” mentality.

My authentic self

I love playing soccer, guitar and video games. I used to do professional kick boxing.