Behind the W: Meet our CTO, Jeff Trom
I sat down with Jeff Trom, the Chief Technology Officer for Workiva, to find out how our Development team works, and what he likes to do for fun.
How did you get your start in developing software?
In college, I got interested in software through the Mechanical Engineering department. This was more than a couple of years ago. Fun fact—I started coding using a punch card reader.
Later in grad school, our team wrote software simulating the behavior of cars and trucks under different conditions. After simulating, we'd animate the results so that people could understand what had happened. After college, we started a consulting company doing this type of analysis. That turned into writing professional software that we started to sell.
What attracted you to Workiva?
The food and the promise of a squash court.
How does Workiva develop the Wdesk platform?
Product Development teams at Workiva use Agile methodology to develop Wdesk. There are very quick iterations on the work that we do. We communicate constantly with our internal stakeholders, our Customer Success and Professional Services teams, as well as our external stakeholders, our customers.
We've worked hard to get close to a \"continuous development\" model, meaning we work on a bunch of features at the same time, and we're constantly releasing whatever gets done.
What type of positions make up product development?
We have dozens of Product Development teams. Those teams are made up of product managers, engineers, quality assurance, user experience, and delivery managers. These individuals live and breathe the Agile methodology. They talk to our customers and internal stakeholders every day to decide what they're going to work on next. Our stakeholders help us decide by telling us what's most important to them.
How often do you release the product?
We release updates to Wdesk three to five times a week. Some of these updates are behind the scenes and something our users won't notice. Our goal is to release an update each time one of our developers creates something. The whole industry is moving in this direction.
What is the focus of the Workiva Development teams?
Everyone wants to access data quickly and reliably, and to share it with team members. Our big themes are performance, collaboration, and reliability.
- Performance—We want to make our solution even faster.
- Collaboration—We want to share data within our team, but add best-in-class security for anyone outside the team.
- Reliability—This involves linking data, rather than making copies of data. This, in turn, enables our customers to link data faster.
We take these themes and apply them to all of our solution areas. All the while, we're improving our development environment and investing in our data platform to handle larger and larger documents. We have some cool stuff that's being developed for our next-generation data platform and HTML 5 areas.
What do you like to do for fun?
You mean besides working at Workiva? I guess family hikes, skiing, and squash. I live in Bozeman, so when in Rome...