The Role of the Engineering Team Lead

The Role of the Engineering Team Lead

The Role of the Engineering Team Lead

Caravel Labs’ approach to software consulting is very different from much of the industry. A critical component of our approach is a lean Engineering organization, composed of many small and self-organizing teams of engineers. We believe that if we place the focus on our customers’ desired business outcomes and high quality, rather than lists of features and accounting of hours of labor, we don’t need a dedicated business analyst or project manager to translate requirements for our engineers.

At the heart of our small and self-organizing teams of engineers is the Engineering Team Lead. The Engineering Team Lead is not a job position but a team role that we expect any of our engineers to master at some point in their careers. Our Engineering Team Leads shine in three key areas: they empower their team through collaboration instead of oversight, they eliminate risks and remove barriers for the team and they relentlessly pursue the desired business outcomes of our customers. Our career development strategies involve helping our engineers grow in each of these areas through mentoring and coaching. We want to create a fulfilling work environment where our engineers see a clear connection between the code they write and the impact towards a just, equitable and sustainable world.

One of the biggest fears of many engineers moving up the corporate ladder is that as they grow their influence they will lose touch with the technology, sometimes to the point where they don’t get a chance to code anymore. The Caravel Labs Engineering Team Lead codes, almost every day, but with the distinct goal of empowering their team by looking for reusable, easy to follow patterns to share with the team, not trying to be the hero coder. The Engineering Team Lead also builds strong mentoring and coaching relationships with their team members, but they do so through collaborative pair programming sessions and thoughtful code reviews. Here are some examples of how our Engineering Team Leads empower their teams:

  • Build representative examples of helpful coding patterns to help accelerate development

  • Implement robust infrastructure-as-code automation patterns for reliable, hands-free deployment and configuration of cloud-based solutions

  • Build scaffolding for automated testing to reduce friction to test automation and reduce the need for manual testing

At Caravel Labs we see project management as a skill rather than a dedicated profession. We invest in tools and technology to help the development teams communicate in a consistent and efficient way and keep team size to a very small level, greatly reducing the need for a person solely dedicated to managing team/customer communications. Instead, we prepare our engineers to relentlessly pursue the elimination of risks and impediments using the key metrics and capabilities exhibited by high performing software engineering teams (1 & 2). Here are some examples of how our Engineering Team Leads use their project management skills:

  • Leveraging technical Spikes (short, time-boxed experiments) to reduce technical risk to almost zero

  • Use of release burn-up charts to forecast and plan for feature releases, no guesswork involved in planning

  • Lean, consistent and automated project meeting schedules, helps everyone involved spend more time building cool stuff instead of spending time in long, ad-hoc meetings.

Another concern of experienced engineers in large companies is that they often feel like they lose a connection with their customers or struggle to see the connection of their work to a tangible impact on the business. At Caravel Labs we foster strong product management skills combined with our outcome-driven approach which keeps our engineers tuned to our customers’ desired business outcomes. Our engineers work directly with our customers, effectively learning their business in order to innovate together. As a Caravel Labs customer, you can expect our Engineering Team Leads to help you:

  • Reach a clear incremental and iterative implementation plan so your product can reach your users sooner

  • Prepare for release to market with helpful checklists for your production release, are your marketing, customer support, system operations and long term system maintenance capabilities in place?

  • Adapt to unexpected changes in the market or unforeseen opportunities by updating and reprioritizing your product roadmap.

If you are reading this article, you may be an innovator looking to learn more about Caravel Labs. I hope this article has given you a better understanding for how our team of engineers can help you bring your innovative ideas to market. If you are a software engineer and are looking for something more than being handed down system specifications and requirements documents and want to get involved in exciting projects that have tangible positive impact towards a just, equitable and sustainable world, I hope this article encourages you to join our growing team. Please contact us at for more information about our services and career opportunities!

  1. DORA Announcing DORA 2021 Accelerate State of DevOps reportGoogle Cloud Blog

  2. McKinsey