6kites | Why Enterprise Engineering Teams Love HipChat

The age of programming in solitude is over.

Iterative methodologies like Agile development rely heavily on collaboration and communication to produce serious results. Optimized performance, speedier development, and superior quality are the trademarks of well-executed Agile methods.

But it takes great communication to make it happen.

For our development efforts at 6kites, a lot of that connection is built and sustained thanks to HipChat. Because our team can collaborate and communicate more effectively, working with HipChat has a direct impact on the quality of service we provide our customers. Here’s why we rely heavily on HipChat, along with some real-life examples of how we use this tool:

HipChat Supports Group Messaging – But Smarter

A lot of development teams have already harnessed the power of chat to address issues quickly, remotely, and to convey information to groups of individuals in real time.

HipChat takes group messaging and orients it towards precise projects and topics. Furthermore, integrating chat with key business systems injects context into the chat – and that can make a big difference when it comes to distributed teams. Suddenly, chat isn’t just about people talking to people; it’s about enhancing awareness, shrinking response times, and improving collaboration.

Targeted messaging effectively functions hand-in-hand with Agile team distribution, enabling groups of engineers to remove blockers and accomplish their tasks more collaboratively. This function can drive productivity even further, allowing for connection and communication between teams and individuals who rarely meet (e.g., the friend who says they rarely ever see their boss – or even other colleagues).

HipChat and 6kites: Remote Teams, Multitasking, and Fun Features

One of the biggest hurdles for geographically-distant development is achieving remote communication that meets the capacity of face-to-face interaction.

At 6kites, here’s how we overcome some of these challenges by using HipChat, as well as take advantage of some fun functionality:

Remote check-ins with Standup Bot

We believe daily communication is vital, and Standup Bot enables us to stay connected with an incredibly simple, functional module. While HipChat is used for our routine video standups, Standup Bot is great to use if anyone misses the Stand-up meeting or if we have moved to daily stand-ups for projects on a critical timeline.

Access to video and screen sharing throughout the day is very important for us, as is simply being able to tell people when you’re offline, on break or out to lunch, or available for real-time chat.

Group multitasking

At 6kites, multitasking is everything. We have 20+ rooms that receive messages regularly, which means that relying on email would be excruciatingly slow and chaotic. We’ve also developed an internal triage system: anything tagged #RT needs to be completed in real time (i.e. stay present in the room until the issue is resolved). Organization is critical to multitasking, which is why we rely on HipChat rooms to accurately manage JIRA issues, Confluence pages, and more.

One of the most used features is mentioning a JIRA issue in the room, and HipChat automatically puts into the room a reference to that issue so others have context and can quickly jump to the JIRA issue itself.

Creative and useful HipChat rooms and features

Our all-hands room receives social media posts, we have specific rooms designed for direct customer communications, and we even have a “shoutout” room for giving kudos. We have a room called “Ring My Bell” which is dedicated to discussing sales opportunities. Another room is dedicated to our approach to software engineering where we cover all kinds of topics involved with building Exceptional Software. Customized notifications are also useful, enabling us to receive specific notifications for specific rooms.

Just for fun, we all have unique “ok” emoticons, like a cat that says “ack,” or an “ok” hand symbol, and there’s room for playful communication like funny responses or pictures. On Friday’s someone will eventually drop in a beer or margarita emoticon to signal it’s time to wrap up and roll into the weekend. So, while HipChat helps keep us connected and on-track, it also enables us to keep things upbeat and positive.

The Value of Making Sharing Easy

Put simply, easy sharing leads to improved efficiency. That goes for sharing between tools as well as sharing between engineers. HipChat integrations empower us to cross-reference, monitor, and manage work through software like JIRA, Bitbucket, and a variety of dev-ops tools. This level of sharing can seriously boost efficiency and productivity, all while minimizing frustration for our engineers.

HipChat doesn’t just make sharing easy; it also makes it safe. Security is just as important as facility when it comes to sharing, and depending on the particular task at hand, we can run HipChat on either private cloud or Atlassian’s own infrastructure in a private deployment. This capacity guarantees appropriate handling of sensitive subjects or projects.

In Conclusion

HipChat is a seriously powerful tool for Agile development thanks to its smart approach to team-based communication. Our team, from engineering to sales, rely on its tailored group communication to deliver the information they need when they need it in a filtered, organized fashion.

Stand-up functionality and customizable rooms mean everyone stays on the same page regardless of remote status. Key integrations and secure sharing help us reach out across multiple development tools to tighten up processes even more.

Finally, fun features keep things light and positive. This tool helps us build not only deliver responsive service and high-quality marketplace apps, but fosters enthusiasm and camaraderie amongst all our teams.

(images courtesy of HipChat.com)

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