How to Hold a Dev Day at Your Software Company

What could your business accomplish when developers exchange ideas, learn and encourage each other to innovate?

You may have attended a Developer Day or “Dev Day” at an industry event, but have you considered the benefits of holding a similar event for your team?  Maarten Wensveen, CTO of Cimpress, explains how his company takes advantage of this opportunity to foster collaboration and innovation.

What is Dev Day at Cimpress?

Wensveen: Developer Day is an event that celebrates our developers and Cimpress’ commitment to technology innovation. The primary goal of each gathering is to bring developers together to share, learn and exchange ideas with one another. This not only builds individual growth and confidence but empowers employees to contribute in new ways to their teams.

What was the agenda and objective of your most recent Dev Day?

Wensveen: Our most recent Dev Day consisted of 23 presentations ranging from talks on coding to labs on UX. Some of the most popular events were, “What makes a good rest API?” “Intro to Machine Learning Part I” and “Design Thinking for Developers.” One participant from the “Design Thinking” session said, “This was my favorite presentation of the day… it provided real examples of how the practice affected my work… it was very easy to digest and the lab component at the end allowed me to practice what we learned.”

Why do you choose to host events like this and other trainings?

Wensveen: At Cimpress, we prioritize and celebrate innovative thinking. We realize that new, creative ideas not only inspire our talented development teams, but are a critical linchpin for our advancement and success. Creating a Dev Day is an easy way for us to encourage innovation among our teams. A day like this is low in budget, but rich in learning, and is a day for developers, by developers, on topics that matter most to them. We’ve also held other knowledge-sharing events, such as our internal emerging technologies conference hosted by our Women in Technology group, which allowed teams to learn and get exposure to the newest trends in technology.

What benefits has Cimpress seen since holding these days of learning/training?

Wensveen: The main benefit is to take a day to invest in yourself. To spend time growing or sharing in a space that is interesting to you or relevant to your work. I think the applications of these learnings are less important than the personal development and growth mindset this enables.

What are the benefits to developers?

Wensveen: Developers walked away with new skill sets, expanded knowledge and stronger relationships with their peers.

Who in your organization is responsible for organizing events and how do they accomplish it?

Wensveen: For each event, we have a volunteer organizing committee who orchestrates the event. They hold an open call to all of the technologists across our company to submit their proposals for presentations, activities, info session and more. From there, the committee selects the most interesting ones based on surveys and direct input from engineers.

What advice would you give other organizations interested in holding a similar event?

Wensveen: Our advice would be to let the people participating in the event help drive and shape it, as they know best their own interests and what they would like out of the day. Another important aspect is ensuring the organizing committee is comprised of individuals who have some event coordination experience, and that they receive the proper level of support both from the organization and executive team, and from a logistic standpoint (ordering food, booking rooms, handling A/V equipment, etc.). After every event, be sure to collect feedback that will help you create successful events in the future. 


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Mike Monocello
The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.