At SadaPay, we’re just starting the journey towards our engineering vision. Here’s what we’ve already achieved and what we’re still working on.
We’ve just updated this post to reflect our progress over the last few months. I’m so proud of our team!
Integrity is one of SadaPay’s values and we also apply it to our software. Sometimes we have to work fast, but we never work lazy. We don’t take shortcuts because we know maintaining the integrity of our software is good for everybody.
Every line of code we commit is test-driven, so we know what to write and that it works as documented. Working this way means we can change our code with confidence and develop software quickly. Front-loading testing front-loads our understanding of requirements, so we don’t waste time building the wrong things.
We test everything thoroughly across multiple layers, but most engineers are not practicing TDD yet. We’d love to have more experienced TDD practitioners join and share their skills. Every developer at SadaPay practices TDD consistently and our testing practices continue to improve – we’re nailing it!
Everybody would love to have comprehensive end-to-end tests running in a production-like environment, but this approach is almost impossible to execute and often becomes a white whale. We prefer to verify the correctness of integrations at compile-time using asynchronous techniques like code generation from shared API specifications and per-service functional testing against mocks.
At SadaPay, empathy helps us serve our customers better. We also use it to improve our teamwork, skills and engineering outcomes. We work together closely and try to understand each other deeply, instead of just looking at each others’ code.
We front-load collaboration using requests for comment, kick-offs, mobbing, walkthroughs and tech huddles to share context and solve problems together. These practices provide great learning opportunities – we get to learn each others’ ways of thinking and solving problems instead of just seeing the code at the end.
Current status: We collaborate closely before and during implementation, so code review is usually fast and routine.
With minimal traditional code review, we are serious about using pair rotation to get input from others and socialise code changes. We rotate pairs in the middle of our work and take the input of our new pairs seriously. The harder the work, the more pair rotations naturally take place – teamwork scales automatically with complexity.
Right now, we do not pair frequently – partly due to timezone challenges. We’ll work hard to improve this in the next few months. If you’re a skilled pair programmer, we could use your help normalising this practice. We pair and mob every day, but we’d like to spend even more time pairing. The biggest challenge is still time zones.
We keep it Sada. Many teams employ complex development and release workflows to solve problems that have simpler, more efficient solutions. For example, many teams maintain a complex Git workflow so that they can release hot-fixes, but this is only necessary because the cycle time in their normal workflow is too long.
Instead of checking out a branch, taking everything apart and then struggling to put it back together again, we make a series of small, production-ready changes using the Red Green Refactor cycle. Small change-sets are faster, safer, easier to reason about and easier to review.
Current status: Most back-end changes are executed in task branches that live for less than 24 hours.
Front-end changes are typically made on longer-lived feature branches. We’d love to see branch lifetimes get even shorter and eventually practice trunk development across all platforms. Mobile changes are also made on short-lives task branches and we practice trunk-based development when working on our NextJS apps.
Deploying code and releasing software are different things. We wrap changes to the behaviour of our software in feature flags so that each change can be released or unreleased safely at runtime. This also allows us to test new behaviour in production before releasing it to the public. Crucially, it helps us keep our main branch in a releasable state without using a complex Git workflow.
Many behaviour changes are now taking place behind feature flags, but back-end flag positions cannot be changed in real time or used for testing in production. All behaviour changes in our mobile app are now made behind feature flags and we’ve discovered that proper API versioning eliminates the need for feature flags in our back-end.
We collaborate closely with each other, have confidence in our testing, have runtime control over the release of our software and know how to work in small, production-ready steps. It is safe for us to push every commit directly to our main branch, integrating continuously to minimize merge conflicts, integration failures and Git mistakes. It is an incredibly efficient way to work.
We’re just starting on this journey, having introduced feature flags and reduced the lifetime of task and feature branches. If you are an advocate of trunk-based development, we’d love to have your help. We’re already working on trunk for our NextJS apps – up next will be back-end and then mobile!
We work on vertical slices that cut through multiple layers to deliver user value. Designing and implementing solutions that span multiple layers is much easier when you understand how each layer works. As product engineers, we care about every system that impacts our users.
Current status: Engineers working on different platforms collaborate regularly and effectively, but almost nobody is working across multiple platforms. We’ll extend this opportunity to our engineers and encourage them to try it out via cross-role pairing. If you’re interested in being a Full Stack Engineer, we’d love to hear from you.
We recognise the value of full-stack engineers and encourage cross-role pairing, so that people can teach each other different technologies. It’s a great learning opportunity.
Right now we only cross-role pair for kick-offs, desk-checking and ad-hoc meetings. We don’t implement the solution together. This is mostly for timezone reasons and as the structure of our team changes, we’ll be able to improve it. Some of our mobile engineers have begun their full stack journey, working with other engineers across all layers to deliver stories end-to-end. We’re reorganising our squads around smaller groups of more flexible developers.
At SadaPay we believe in being transparent – with our customers and each other. Being honest about what’s working well and what isn’t helps us continuously improve ourselves, professionally and personally.
Complex systems work better with feedback. An air conditioner works better with a thermostat, an accelerator works better with a speedometer and an engineer works better with input from peers.
We seek 1:1 feedback regularly, reflect together on the effectiveness of our processes and review our experiences solving problems together.
Current status: We have great discussions during retrospectives and are quick to identify problems and solutions with our team processes. However, we don’t have much 1:1 feedback. We recently implemented an optional 1:1 feedback process and will explore ways to help engineers participate more.
Working quickly requires that we get fast feedback on our work. Imagine trying to drive a car where the speedometer lags 30 minutes behind your actual speed! We use continuous delivery to get fast feedback from our users and continuous integration to get fast feedback on our code changes.
Current status: Our test suite is fast and thorough, but our delivery is not as continuous as we’d like. There is also room to improve how we measure the impact of our work so that we can learn more from each release.
As you can see, we still have a long way to go on our journey. If you believe in our vision, we’d love for you to come join us at SadaPay so we can make it a reality together. We have multiple open Engineering positions on our Careers page at www.sadapay.pk/careers
SadaPay is bringing modern financial services to Pakistan in partnership with MasterCard. By removing the high costs of managing the physical infrastructure of traditional banks from the equation, we can pass those savings onto the customer to provide free financial services. Our mission is to eliminate the complexity of banking and make money so simple that any other way would become unthinkable. SadaPay is now operational and in its pilot phase under supervision of the regulator. The public rollout will begin once the pilot is completed.
SadaPay is registered in Pakistan as SadaTech Pakistan Pvt Ltd with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (No. 0136598), and is a wholly owned subsidiary of SadaPay Technologies Ltd., registered in Dubai International Financial Center under commercial fintech license #3263
SadaPay Mastercard debit cards issued pursuant to a license by Mastercard Asia/Pacific Pte. Ltd.