Event Activities at ACE 2016

Event Activities at the 7th Annual ACE 2016

Are you ready to change the way the world works? Considering a 1% increase in employee engagement equates to an additional .6% growth in sales for companies, it’s not surprising that businesses are eager to find ways to improve in this area. Additionally, Gallup has found that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement see real measures of business success (compared to bottom-quartile organizations), including:

  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability
  • 41% higher quality
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 37% reduced absenteeism

As many forward-looking companies are finding, one of the top ways of increasing engagement is through the implementation of a company-wide recognition and rewards program. But with such a premium on boosting employee engagement, it is important to stay on top of the latest developments and connect with other practitioners who have achieved success in this area.

With that in mind, we’d like to invite you to come join us at our biggest event of the year, Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2016! This dynamic 2-day conference takes place September 13-14 in the heart of downtown Toronto. Join hundreds of HR executives, practitioners and thought leaders to focus on employee engagement and come away with practical advice and solutions for implementing, or improving, your own engagement program.

The event kicks off with the 6th Annual Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala, and features inspirational keynotes, educational sessions and real-world examples of program success. Don’t miss out on the fun! Join us to network with a Who’s Who of top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space.

Jump in on ACE’s 3 tracks

This year, our agenda is broken into 3 tracks all focused on how to build upon and improve employee engagement. Plan to enjoy a full lineup of sessions and keynotes aligned around the following tracks:

  1. Aspire to Greatness
    Take your engagement game to the next level! Learn from some of the most forward-thinking minds in HR and join industry leaders as they offer expert advice on employee engagement.
  2. Achieve Brilliance
    Listen in on success stories and strategies from some of our top customers, and learn how they elevated their employee engagement programs to achieve the desired results.
  3. Accelerate Your Program
    Whether you’re an expert on our software, or a complete beginner, take a deep dive into the Achievers platform and learn how it can boost your employee engagement.

Be inspired by this year’s keynote lineup

Leave ACE 2016 feeling inspired and motivated by our amazing lineup of keynote speakers. This year, save your seat and hear from renowned guest speakers and industry leaders, including:

Mel Robbins ACE 2016 Speaker

Mel Robbins
Motivational Speaker, CNN Commentator, and Coach

Mel Robbins started her career as a criminal defense attorney and went on to launch and sell a retail and internet technology company. She has led multi-year coaching programs, including one for Johnson & Johnson, and has hosted award-winning shows for FOX, A&E, Cox Media Group and now CNN. Her TEDx Talk, titled How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over, has over 3 million views and her book, titled Stop Saying You’re Fine, is a business bestseller.

Spencer West ACE 2016 Speaker

Spencer West
Social Activist and World Change Warrior

Spencer West shares his personal journey after losing both legs from the pelvis down at the age of five to last year, when he climbed and summited Mount Kilimanjaro using his hands and wheelchair. He is a bestselling author who wrote the book Standing Tall: My Journey and star of the documentary Redefine Possible: The Story of Spencer West, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.

Joan Lunden ACE 2016 Speaker

Joan Lunden
Journalist, Author, and Television Host

As the longest running host ever on early morning TV, for nearly 2 decades Lunden greeted viewers each morning on Good Morning America bringing insight to the day’s top stories. An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, women’s health & wellness advocate, and mom of seven – she continues to be one of America’s most recognized and trusted personalities.

In addition to our inspirational keynote speakers, we will also be featuring provocative and stimulating breakout sessions with HR thought leaders, including:

  • Andrew Sykes, Founder and President, Habits at Work: Join Andrew Sykes, President of Habits at Work, to understand the role of pivotal habits in creating thriving (healthy, happy and secure) employees and the “dose value” of these pivotal habits on performance at work.
  • Aimee Lucas, Customer Experience Transformist & Vice President, Temkin Group: Organizations that want to deliver a great customer experience (CX) won’t succeed without an engaged workforce. Aimee will explore the connection between CX and employee engagement (EE) and share proven EE tactics that have yielded positive CX results at other organizations—including how employees are incented, recognized, and celebrated.
  • Elaine Orler, CEO & Founder, Talent Board: If candidate experience isn’t a top priority for your organization, it should be. A great candidate experience – transparent and insightful – can have a significant impact on an organization. Elaine Orler will share her insights into emerging trends for 2016 through case studies that successfully implement superior candidate experience practices. Attendees will learn how to calculate the estimated costs of candidate resentment for your organization and explore the impact of generational differences on the candidate experience.

The night before ACE 2016 kicks off with its three powerful session tracks and thought-provoking and inspiring keynote speakers, you can get in the spirit at the 6th Annual Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala. The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards recognizes top employers in North America that display leadership and innovation in engaging their workplaces. Past winners have included top brands, such as KPMG, Zappos.com, Netsuite, Smart & Final, and Ericsson.

Stay tuned for more updates and details on ACE 2016, as well as a series of guest blogs from featured customers and speakers at this year’s event. Also, don’t forget to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #AACE16 and by following @Achievers on Twitter.

Register now so you don’t miss out on the fun at ACE 2016. See you in Toronto!

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and
The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.


Getting on Track Towards Continuous Deployment

Getting on Track Towards Continuous Deployment

In November of 2015, my three-person team was given a rather high-level, “make-our-development-process-better” mission and we were struggling to figure out how to start. The CTO decided to stop by and share his vision of how we would develop software going forward. His goal was to get to Continuous Deployment; to be deploying to our production servers every 30 minutes. To put this into perspective, at that point we deployed hotfixes weekly and major feature releases twice a year — and we were supposed to get to Continuous Deployment; pushing code every 30 minutes every day. While we haven’t gotten to Continuous Deployment yet (it’s in the works!), we have managed to get to Continuous Integration, as well as deploying every day. There is no shortage of articles online about the pros and cons of Continuous Integration/Delivery/Deployment, so instead of reiterating those, I want to go over how we moved from our former, manual testing heavy process to Continuous Integration. There were two major things we had to do: change the process and change the culture.

Switching Gears

We provided a straightforward path for getting code from a developer’s machine into production. Rather than our former process which required a formal review meeting with a gatekeeper, we introduced a Pre-Merge Pipeline. While this started with just unit tests and linting, it’s been easier to add more tests with the infrastructure in place. The idea is that any tests that can be run in under five minutes can be added to the Pre-Merge. Now anyone could merge their changes to master, as long as it passed the tests.

Unfortunately, not all of our tests can run in under five minutes, so we needed another step. We added the (unoriginally named) Post-Merge Pipeline. This deploys our code to a server and runs our longer running tests, and on success, tags the revision as stable. This started just running web automation, but since then we’ve added API tests as well as environment checks. Since this currently takes somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour, it usually picks up more than one changeset, but that’s good enough for us right now. First thing every morning, a job runs that grabs the most recent stable tag, and saves it as the deploy tag for that day. With those jobs configured and running, there was a clear path for any developer to get their code from their machine to production. Similar to the Pre-Merge, it’s been much easier to introduce more tests with the infrastructure in place.


Getting everyone to buy in is huge

Getting everyone to buy in is huge

Getting Buy-In

Introducing the new process without changing the culture and how we write code would have led to a higher bug count, as we had become reliant on our Software Test team to catch any issues during our extended manual testing periods. With those integration times being eliminated, and incomplete automation test coverage, developers needed to understand the full impact of their changes, as we couldn’t rely on blanket test coverage. We took our Development team into a room and told them they had the power to merge their changes, they had the responsibility to make sure they had been tested before they did and that they would be responsible for any bugs they created.

Although we encourage our developers to work with the test team to test their changes, we also made sure they knew that the preferred solution would always be automated tests. The only way we would be able to add more functionality to our platform while lowering the amount of manual testing required would be to add more automated tests. We got buy-in from our Product team that before changing any code that didn’t have unit tests, the unit tests would need to be added, even if that meant a significant refactoring period. Adding automated tests for your changes, whether they were unit tests, API tests, etc. would be the best way to get your changes out quickly.

The most important step we took was eliminating the old processes. This was to make sure that if something happened to our pipeline, or any of the tools that were a part of it, that we wouldn’t slide back into our old habits. Due to our refusal to move backwards, even though we’ve had issues with Jenkins and some of our other tools, we’ve deployed almost every day since February 2016. Our processes continue to evolve, tests are being added to the pipeline, monitoring is being added both to the pipeline and to production, but the culture changing has had the biggest impact. Our team has embraced Continuous Integration and daily deployment and has adapted their workflow to reflect that.

The Journey Ahead

Our journey towards Continuous Deployment is far from over, but we have come a long way. Back in November, I couldn’t imagine how far we would come since then. We’ve revolutionized both how we develop software and how we deploy it. I learned two main lessons from this adventure: the first being that changing the culture was much more important than changing the process. Developers are problem solvers at heart and will find ways around processes that they don’t find necessary or worthwhile, so having the team buy-in was huge. The second lesson is don’t be afraid of big problems. When we first discussed moving to Continuous Deployment, I started off trying to think of how we could get there all at once. But, after breaking the problems down to smaller and smaller problems, then solving those, getting to the end goal became much less intimidating.

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