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Splice: Enabling artists to act on inspiration

Industry

Technology

Company Size

120

Location(s)

New York, NY

Equal parts music and technology company, Splice is a creative hub for modern musicians.

The company has a suite of products covering the whole creative process, from the spark inspiration to the nitty gritty of backup and version control. In the words of Splice’s VP of Engineering Juan Pablo Buriticá: We want musicians to be able to act on inspiration, wherever they are.

As a team, they have to deal with not only an international user base, but an international team, and projects (and users) scattered across multiple platforms. Their workflows can get complicated and their projects have a lot of moving parts. The company is also growing quickly, so staying organized and in sync is the only way to keep all of these factors in check while also improving the quality of the products and the support.

When Juan joined the company last year, he started the process of finding a tool and creating a supporting process to keep his geographically-distributed team on the same page. With offices in Los Angeles, New York City, and Medellin, it was obvious they needed an asynchronous way to track ongoing work.

The tools he’d used in the past didn’t seem up to the task. Especially important to Juan was the need to let separate project teams work against scoped-down views, rather than being forced to look at the big picture and overwhelmed by everything that was in progress.

“I want to protect the org from noise, help people focus just on things they want to see, and protect technical details,” says Juan. To that end, he uses Clubhouse’s Workspaces feature to track people and their role. “Across different roles, there are Workspaces that I’ve created. That’s my favorite feature.”

I want to protect the org from noise, help people focus just on things they want to see, and protect technical details. Across different roles, there are Workspaces that I’ve created. That’s my favorite feature.Juan Pablo Buriticá, Splice's VP of Engineering

The engineering team works in three distinct “streams”:

  • Product/Feature (developing the product)
  • Support (reactive assistance for customers and the rest of the company)
  • Maintenance (proactive upkeep of the infrastructure)

The first “stream,” feature work, takes up the lion’s share of developer time. Using Clubhouse, it’s easy for Juan to determine and define weekly and monthly goals for the team. Epics and Milestones are used to do roadmapping and track high-level features and feature progress, against a quarterly timeframe and set of goals.

On the leadership level, they’ve started doing quarterly reviews — asking themselves if they’re on track with the things they wanted to achieve in any given quarter. Clubhouse helps them keep track of priorities and timeframes.

They also use labels to associate Stories with particular themes. In order to prevent chaos, Juan has asked the team to only use the labels he already has put in the system.

When communicating around a story, Juan encourages everyone to use Clubhouse’s @-mentions. The team @-mention each other on every workflow state change, and Slack use is discouraged to help keep all team communication in one spot.

Unlike many other software teams of their size, project manager responsibilities don’t belong to any one person at Splice. Product Managers are responsible for writing their feature stories against an established template and Juan will give engineers high-level direction about what they should be focused on, but it’s their responsibility to pick up Stories and move them across the board.

Splice also values transparency, so they chose to give everyone in the company access to Clubhouse. “Everyone in company has access to Clubhouse, whether they use it or not. It’s an internal visibility tool. From a product engineering standpoint, information is power. I want to make sure everyone has anything they need to do their job.”

Before Juan started and switched the teams over to Clubhouse, there was no central place to track projects, tasks, and objectives in one spot. There was a tracker — but no vision or objective behind the process. Creating a unifying, transparent process and putting that process in Clubhouse has been vital to everyone staying organized and meeting product goals.

To other engineering managers, Juan suggests:

  1. Measure the amount of time you’re spending in ad-hoc activities (supporting the company), it may be indicative of quality issues (too many bugs) or unrealistic expectations (too many features).
  2. Be patient. It can sometimes 3 to 6 months or more to see the results of our work. There’s no debugging console for management so let time do it’s thing.
  3. Don’t take management advice from random people on the internet. :) Build a support group of 4–5 eng managers from different companies, it will change how you see your role entirely.