I joined OTRS Group as a Software Developer in 2012, having worked as a network and system administrator until then. A friend who was already working at OTRS Group called me at that time, told me that they were looking for developers and asked if I could imagine working here. Since I had been involved in programming for many years anyway and was looking for a change, this was the ideal opportunity to develop myself further. In addition, my interest was strengthened when I heard that the employees work mainly in the home office and consist of international teams, which I had not experienced before.
I love to solve complex problems as elegantly as possible, and thus simplify other people’s lives, while letting my own creativity flow into the product. Software development requires a lot of concentration and discipline but is extremely varied and allows me to create something useful. When it comes to creating functionality or solving problems, there are usually many roads that lead to Rome, so I’m often encouraged to look at the big picture and incorporate my creativity to achieve the optimal results (so I hope). This also includes making mistakes and sharing the knowledge gained from them with others, finding better ways to reach a goal. OTRS Group has a very open error and discussion culture in which everyone can contribute, which in my experience has often led to very good decisions.
There is, of course, the problem of communication with colleagues. You don’t get to overhear conversations taking place in the hallway or walk “just quickly” to another office to ask a question. To still be and feel connected to each other, we use various programs and rituals that I think are indispensable. For example, all colleagues are constantly connected with a text messenger. In addition, there are various options for video chats, which is also used – depending on the topic – in daily and weekly meetings. Since we started organizing agile development, smaller teams have formed which work with each other on a daily basis, hence strengthening the team feeling. Additionally, we have several team offsites in a year where we can meet each other in person, socialize and just have a good time together.
My day usually starts by reading emails and messages from the previous day. Afterwards, I sort and prepare important open tasks, if necessary, and prioritize them for the day until the daily team meeting starts. Here, the current tasks are discussed with colleagues and any questions or problems are handled and, if necessary, further meetings decided. It also happens that a colleague may need my help or vice versa, which we then usually handle in so-called pair programming. The progress of the day is then documented in the evening at the latest, so that it can be discussed with colleagues the next day.
The most exciting project so far was definitely the development for OTRS 8, which was also the biggest change realized in a single release so far. The combination of a completely new user interface, including a new framework and a revised server implementation, was very exciting. Besides very long planning and preparation, all developers had to work together continuously, exchange ideas, present changes and discussed them afterwards; it was tough, but a lot of fun. Very often groups of developers formed spontaneously to discuss progress or to solve problems together and clarify further procedures. It was impressive to see the team dynamics during that phase.