We would like to welcome you to Inca Digital. This guide is an abbreviated encapsulation of how we work. Think of it as your launchpad. You are the rocket and the sky’s the limit. Thanks for being with us.
Take the initiative It will be difficult to understand how everything works by sitting quietly. There are no marching orders delivered to you on a daily basis, so the only sure way to figure things out is to take the initiative and to talk to people. Ask questions during calls, send messages in our Inca Water Cooler channels, reach out to people outside of your project for advice. Your colleagues have open calendars. See what they are working on and ask them to join their calls so you can learn.
Ask for help There is no excuse for failing quietly or assuming something doesn’t work because you couldn’t figure it out! If something isn’t clear or you just want a second opinion, ask for help. Everyone is extremely friendly and willing to help. Please post your questions in GitLab or public channels in Inca Water Cooler. You’ll not only have a better chance of getting a quick reply, but other people can also learn along with you.
Destroy the box Don’t be afraid to screw up. We worked really hard to make sure our systems can’t be broken - even from the inside. Try new things and push all buttons. We encourage you to do more than just think outside the box on the projects you work on. We will always want to hear if you have a new idea or a business lead that you want to follow, even if it doesn’t necessarily fit within our current strategy or goals.
Focus It can be great to play with shiny toys every day, but the truth is you need to focus on something for quite a while before you become good at it. Always focus on the bigger picture set out in an epic or a milestone to make sure you are in sync with your colleagues' vision. Talk to others about your goals and the framework within which you are trying to achieve them.
Baby steps Small iterations are the way to develop within big distributed teams. Break down your tasks in small pieces and achieve something every day, however insignificant it might seem. It’ll show everyone your progress and make you feel better every time to click that checkbox or change the issue label to
status::done. Avoid keeping issues open for too long or bouncing them from one assignee to another.
Speak up We want your opinion! We believe that the best way to come to a decision is through constructive debates. Stop agreeing with each other and start taking the devil’s advocate position to challenge the team’s assumptions and common wisdom. Is there something we can do better? Is there something we aren’t doing that we should be? Let us know.
Where to start?
Regardless of your role, we all use GitLab, and if you come from a non-technical background, this might be new to you. In addition to reading the summary below, you have an onboarding issue with everything that you have to accomplish to be a part of the team. It might feel overwhelming, please feel free to reach out to your onboarding buddy or ask other Incas in Inca Water Cooler public chats. There are no stupid questions, only not enough documentation.
Office, Work Hours, and Meetings
We don’t expect our team members to sit in an office filling out timesheets. You can work from wherever you want, whenever you want. As you’ll find out, we have set tasks and milestones with due dates for all of our projects. We need you to accomplish those tasks and milestones on time. Where you do it from and how much time you spend on it doesn’t matter. We have team members around the world. Most of our team, though, is either in Washington DC, Paris, or St. Petersburg. You are always welcome to link up with team members in that location and work together if you are around. Other than that feel free to spend a month working on the beach sipping a Mai Thai.
- Read more on Our remote work philosophy for tips and tricks on how not to go crazy working remote.
Committing to GitLab is the only way to show everyone what you are working on. It is important to write updates every time you do something, however small it is. It allows others not only appreciate all the work you are doing, but also helps them keep you on the right track. If they see no updates from you in the past 24hr, people will assume you took a day off.
- Read through our Best Practices to learn from years of our iterative wisdom.
We use corporate GMail, Calendar, Meet, Docs, and Drive. Your @inca.digital account is the key to all this ecosystem.
We use Google Calendar to share our schedules so we can easily plan and organize meetings, conference calls, and other events. You can subscribe to other team members' calendars to always be up-to date on their work schedule.
For those rare occasions when GitLab isn’t enough, we use Google Meet for video calls. You can find a link to join Meet call in almost all Google Calendar event descriptions. Always use a headset with a microphone and remember to mute yourself when not talking. Don’t forget to record any important decisions and do-outs in the corresponding GitLab issues after the call.
Keep in mind that all work meetings/calls are optional and in most cases should be used only when GitLab communication fails. The regular team calls we organize are mostly for team building purposes. Any meaningful decisions taken during those calls should be copied over to GitLab. We also make meeting recordings, notes, transcripts, and slides available in our Google Drive.
Weekly Team Call
For any company documents and files, please use your team’s dedicated Google Team Drives and Google Docs attached to your @inca.digital account. And make sure they are properly linked in GitLab to make them accessible to other team members.
- Take the conversation to GitLab when possible.
- Always use the Reply all option to be sure you do not exclude anyone from the conversation.
- Search for keywords in your Google Drive before asking others to help you locate something.
- Non-work calls. We encourage you to build personal relationships and talk about personal stuff.
- Use Sign-in with Google feature when creating 3rd party website accounts to stay safe and to not having to remember another password.
- Working in offline Word or Excel file and uploading/attaching them to Emails and Gitlab issues later. Those are difficult to find and collaborate on.
- Working on documents privately and sharing them from your Google Drive space. Instead, place them into relevant Google Team Drives. This will allow you to share your documents with appropriate team members and maintain control over the access. Use versioning feature of Google Drive to update documents without changing the sharing link and don’t forget to double-check the recipients' access permissions.
- One-on-one work calls. Use them only when everything else fails and document the main outtakes in GitLab afterwards.
- Creating or using new communication/documentation tools to accomplish tasks which can be completed with existing ones.
Inca Water Cooler
Inca Water Cooler is our company chat, you will find all of the team members there. When added to the Inca team, check out available channels and subscribe to the ones that interest you. If you get lost, send your onboarding buddy a message and he’ll add you to all relevant teams and channels.
At Inca, we have multiple base products that represent a common interface between underlying tech modules and customer-facing solutions. Many of these base products are highly complex and span across multiple tech teams. However, there’s always at least one person who is familiar with the current state of the product, keeps the documentation portals up to date, and pushes for improvements in the underlying components.
You are here not only because you are useful to us now, but also because we believe in your potential.
Working at Inca provides an opportunity for extremely efficient and, in many cases, very accelerated, career growth. In particular, it provides an opportunity to broaden your skill set well outside of the narrow constraints that careers can have at most other companies. So the “growth ladder” is tailored to you. It operates exactly as fast as you can manage to grow. You’re in charge of your track, and you can elicit help with it anytime from those around you.
To help you with this process, we’ve put together a number of issues and boards in your personal HR project. Those can give you a general guidance on the way forward, but you are free to set up your own personal goals in that project. This is less about tracking you and more about being able to help you with needed resources and to show you shortcuts that worked for the rest of the team. Those issues can be as small as figuring out how to set up alerts in Splunk or as big as learning a new language. We do not have any strict rules about moving up the career ladder, but acquiring skills in at least one of the skill tracks is essential to your growth within Inca.
Engineers: code is only the beginning If you were hired as a software engineer, you’re now surrounded by a multidisciplinary group of experts in all kinds of fields — creative, legal, financial, even aviation. Take advantage of this fact whenever possible: the more you can learn about other disciplines, the more valuable you become.
Non-Engineers: program or be programmed Our core competency is building software. Obviously, different disciplines are part of making our products, but we’re still an engineering-centric company. If your expertise is not in writing code, then every bit of energy you put into understanding the technical aspects of making software is to your (and Inca’s) benefit. You don’t need to become an engineer, and there’s nothing that says an engineer is more valuable than you, but broadening your awareness in a technical direction is never a bad thing. To get started, try completing GitLab Repository Basics issue in your HR project.
Responsibilities and Functional Teams
We are still young and growing and our titles don’t mean much beyond our public image. Most of the team members wear multiple hats and can rotate from one set of tasks to another as needed. The best way to find out who does what is to click on their GitLab profile and look through their activity (keep in mind that you can see their activity only in the projects you have access to). You can judge their place in Inca society by the responsibilities they assume on the day-to-day basis.
Inca Responsibility Pyramid
This diagram is made to reflect our values and guiding principles, rather than rules set in stone. Corporate legal and finance tracks are examples that don’t fit into the pyramid above as they require a different approach and division of responsibilities. We encourage everyone to show initiative and take responsibilities beyond assigned to them issues. However, some tasks require more skills than others. Setting clear goals for yourself from the start and assuming officer and general responsibilities is the key to climbing up the Inca Pyramid.
Company Growth and Hiring
We do not have a growth goal. We intend to continue hiring the best people as fast as we can, and to continue scaling up our business as fast as we can, given our existing staff. Fortunately, we don’t have to make growth decisions based on any external pressures - only our own business goals. And we’re always free to temper those goals with the long-term vision for our success as a company. Ultimately, we win by keeping the hiring bar very high.
Bring your friends The only way we succeed is if we have great people. One of the most valuable things you can do as a new employee is tell us who else you think we should hire. We have a list of the folks we are looking for, but are willing to talk to anyone who wants to work with us.
Change the rules
Nothing is set in stone. Our rules and guidelines change as we learn more about new technologies and working together. Take the initiative and suggest a change by creating your repository branch and making a merge request into the master branch. It’ll give everyone an opportunity to debate it before we push the changes onto everyone.
What if I still have questions?
Talk to us! Seriously, we’re here to help and want to have an open and honest relationship with everyone on our team. Prioritize public Inca Water Cooler channels, but also feel free to message anyone directly if you have a personal issue.
Online Documentation Portal offers a good overview of our customer-facing systems.
Old Valve Handbook heavily influenced our guiding principles. Valve is a great example of a company that has been pumping out cutting-edge products for decades without becoming a cancerous evil corp.