Skip to content

Software Development Engineer: Knowledge Sharing

2 min

An essential skill of an effective Software Development Engineer (SDE) is the ability to make their work stand on its own. In other words, this is about ensuring that the work you are delivering can be picked up by someone else (now or later) or even your future self - without having to spend an inordinate amount of time ramping up or having to constantly come directly to you for questions and guidance. Why is this important? This enables you to take on other, perhaps more exciting or challenging opportunities; reduces disruptions and interruptions from the team asking you about your older work; provides you with valuable inputs as others inspect your work; as well as provides continuity for the team/organization.

Here are 3 tips to help you make your work stand on its own:

1️⃣ Document Inputs: While documentation is essential to communicate understanding, an element that is often missed are the inputs. For instance, in the design document, the design itself is documented, but the considerations and inputs into that may be missing (e.g. requirements, constraints). This makes it difficult for someone looking to evolve the design to do so in a way that is coherent with what exists.

2️⃣ Mechanisms: Ensure that your team has the right mechanisms that engages others in the work as it happens (vs. at the end or just offline), this includes reviews of the design, code, operational readiness and support related artifacts. This gives the team a number of opportunities to both learn and ask clarifying questions that would both help you improve the artifacts themselves and the outcome of the team being more familiar with what has been delivered.

3️⃣ Rotation: While continuously working on the same system/code base may be convenient for both the individual and the manager, over time this eliminates the opportunity for the team to ramp-up (and identify gaps in the work delivered standing on its own), as well as dilutes commitment of the individual to make their work stand on their own knowing they will be the only one working on it. Encourage your team-mates and managers to rotate into the work that you have been doing.

This post is part of a four-part mini-series I am collaborating with Essam Fahmi on, covering essential soft skills of effective SDEs. This series is inspired by the book 14 Habits of Highly Productive Developers by Zeno Rocha. Stay tuned for the finale (part 4)!

P.S: If you missed our first post (on Active Listening), here is the link: If you missed our second post (on Teaching), here is the link: