We value employees’ ideas here in the Tenable Engineering group. There is no better example of this than Innovation Day. One day each sprint, we hold Innovation Day (iDay), where engineers have dedicated and focused time to work on things that are important to them. Whether it is an experiment, innovative project idea, or learning something new. Innovation Day is the time and place for engineers to have outsized impact on their teams, their products, and the organization at large. Some of the most useful product enhancements come from giving engineers the time to be creative and discover new and cool ways of doing things!
The guidelines are loose: Use the time to improve Tenable’s product portfolio, improve engineers’ day to day lives, or improve your own knowledge. Has something been stuck at the back of your mind all week? Spend a day figuring it out. Have you been wanting to learn Go or Rust or an exciting new Python library? Take the day to read more on specific topics that interest you and then write some code. Is your team’s workflow out of whack? iDay is a popular time to create code generation or clean up automation.
Innovation Day is an engineer-driven event, and Innovation is our priority. One day each sprint or two days per month is roughly 10% of our available time. This is a huge engineering investment. The benefits are many:
- Employee satisfaction - Many engineers are happy to be given time to scratch that itch to solve a particular problem or dedicate time to a project.
- Many small product improvements - Not everything is earth-shattering. Lots of small features make our products more polished and enjoyable to use.
- Some large product improvements - Occasionally an idea will warrant deeper investigation and deserve further prioritization.
Collaboration - Self-organized teams across various products are able to come together to share knowledge and co-create.
- Team productivity - Individual teams often benefit from tech debt cleanup, automation improvement, code generation, and other in-house projects.
- Career growth - The loose, collaborative atmosphere lends itself to both new and experienced engineers working together and sharing in an even level playing field.
- Exposure - working on and presenting your ideas to a large audience is a great chance to get noticed by folks at all levels and from all different areas.
The payoff is well worth the investment. It’s just one of the many things that makes Tenable Engineering a great place to work.
What kinds of things have we discovered on iDay? Here are a few things that we’ve built on iDay and shipped (or use internally):
- Feed-based Notifications in Nessus
- Tenable.io loading message
- Tenable.sc Speed and Feed Improvements
- Scala FP based Kafka Library
- Layer 2 packet decoding in Nessus Network Monitor
- On-Prem Version of ConSec Product
- DeltaV protocol decoding in Nessus Network Monitor
- Nessus Code Coverage
- Catium Tests for Nessus UI
- SQLite pragma changes to reduce CS tickets for Nessus Network Monitor
- Internal Docker-based Sensor test & development environment
Watch out for more new features that may have come from iDay!
Each Innovation Day is capped with iDay Demos. The demos are a time to pitch product ideas, share lessons learned, and show status updates. We don’t timebox them, but keeping them quick maintains interest and allows us to see a lot of cool work. We make sure that it’s OK to fail on iDay. We hope that engineers fail early and often and then showcase their lessons learned at our iDay Demos. And, of course, we love successes and see plenty of those, too!
We’re always looking for ways to improve the iDay experience. From new projects to better ways to collaborate to interesting ideas, we want to keep Tenable Engineering an exciting place to work. We’re planning to implement brainstorming sessions, incentives, and product buy-in, but we don’t have all the answers. We’re looking for innovators to join Tenable Engineering and work with us to build awesome products, teams, and culture.
View Our Engineering Opportunities
Written By: Senior Software Engineer, Ben S.