Getting into a new project is challenging. Daunting even.
It’s not enough to know your way around the tech stack. But something that will probably be entirely new for you will be the project’s domain language.
This is what I went through when I transitioned from healthcare to the travel industry.
The year I joined my new project I had done the longest travel ever in my life at the time, so I was kind of optimistic about the start of my new endeavor. I was a seasoned traveler.
Oh, sweet summer child.
Working in the Travel Industry
So, I did have some insight on what a given traveler looks for when booking for a trip. I was familiar with the concepts of booking a flight, a room, and renting a car. Still, I wasn’t seeing the complete picture.
For example, I wasn’t aware that your confirmation number (aka., the Record Locator) is part of a Passenger Number Record that also contains your name, contact information, and travel itinerary. This is saved in a reservation system.
Starting from Scratch
My first days pretty much consisted of googling most of those definitions.
I learned about the evolution of flight reservations. From manually calling one agency to another, checking a box in a flight card, passing to American Airline’s Reservisor, and from there to the vernerable SABRE. I even learned about another user type in the travel industry: agents!
Do as the Users Do
Just like learning a new language helps you discover cultures and how people think, knowing the domain language of your users enables you to see the problem you are trying to solve. It exposes the perspective of your users: travelers, agents, and agencies.
Once I had a decent amount of domain knowledge in my head, things started to flow easier. I started to see the benefits of implementing a certain number of User Stories. I also understood the value of what we were trying to achieve. And gradually I started finding bugs too!
I was finally able to question things and give feedback.
Three Ways to Prepare
Getting to this point wasn’t exactly easy, in the same way you can’t easily get to the best restaurant in a new city without a map.
However, there are ways to get there,
- Know Your Context
- When you travel to another country, you certainly look up the most important phrases, right? It’s the same for your project, get to know the most important words and look for their meaning. Learn how to use them correctly.
- Ask the Locals
- Ask your teammates for any available documentation to get started. Take notes of your questions. Ask around. Do Pair Programming.
- The best way to get to know a place’s language and culture is to interact with the locals. The same is true for a software development team.
- Don’t be Afraid of Getting Lost
- Follow your curiosity and question everything. Why are we using this pattern? What’s the reasoning behind implementing this solution? What value are we delivering?
Today, I feel more confident about my level of domain knowledge in the travel industry. Of course, there is always something new to learn. But I can say that I know enough to give some “guided tours” here and there to newcomers.
I can even read the agent’s mind when I am doing check-in at the airport.