Andy Van Slaars

Andy Van Slaars

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Getting up to speed quickly

I’ve recently had a large and complex project added to my responsibilities at work. This is the continuation of something that’s in place already and I’m not going to get a handoff from the person who was previously in the role I’ll be taking on.

I’m not going to be sharing the details of the project here, but this feels like a good opportunity to capture and share the steps I take to get up to speed quickly on complex topics. This one has it all, many teams, many systems, concerns that span all areas of the business and of course, many personalities and human relationships.

It’s going to be challenging, but I’m up for it, and along the way, I’m going to do my best to be conscious of all the things I do to get fully immersed in the project and get up to speed and contributing ASAP.

30,000 Foot view

I spent a couple hours with someone who’s fairly well versed in the project and he ran through it with me at a high level. It was a very dense meeting. In two hours, we ran through the high level goals of the project, user flows through the system from multiple perspectives (different types of users). We talked about many of the systems that are involved (there are so many) and the back office processes and systems involved.

I took notes as we went, but I’m sure I missed some things. That ended my week heading into a holiday week, so I have plenty of time for things to sink in and/or slip away from memory.

Preliminary documentation

My next step, when I return from some time off, is going to be:

  • Review my notes and capture my current understanding and any obvious questions I still have
  • Review any artifacts that already exist. I’m sure there are things scattered about.
  • Start writing up my notes and filling in blanks as if I were writing documentation
  • Start creating visualizations for data flows, user flows, and the interplay between systems

At this point, I fully expect the documentation I create to be inaccurate and full of holes. I also expect it to be a bit redundant, as there is some existing documentation.

That’s ok!

This first pass on the docs is largely for my own purposes. It’s basically a mix of a brain dump and a place to capture the results of my fact finding mission.

Over time, I’ll be able to build on and refine the brain dump notes to break out artifacts that are useful for others.