Talented engineers are necessary but not sufficient for the success of a technology company, and no amount of technical brilliance will save an organization laden with process debt. Here are some process fixes that could save your company tens of thousands of dollars or more.
1. Choose your project management software carefully
A bad project management application will add friction to your planning and execution that is hard to overcome. Apply the same usability standards to which you hold your own product when evaluating candidate tools. Make sure your engineers and your managers enjoy and benefit from the project management software you select, or you will lose countless hours to miscommunication and lose your best engineers to low morale. If in doubt, use the good old whiteboard and Post-it notes instead.
2. Allow different tools for different jobs
An opinionated operations team is a huge asset for a web company, but can become an even larger liability if permitted to dictate technology choices in other departments. For example, Fedora might be the right choice in the datacenter, but that doesn’t mean developers should be discouraged from using Ubuntu for local applications. The idea is empowering your employees by allowing each one to select the best tool for his or her particular job.
3. Never compromise your technical values for an old-fashioned client
Cutting-edge technology companies can offer tremendous value even to technically-conservative customers. When taking on such clients, carefully protect them from aspects of your agile methodology that might frighten them. For instance, be sure to keep your continuous deployments internal and deliver only scheduled releases and critical hotfixes.
4. Filter your clients’ requested changes through your product team
Don’t depend on your engineers to distinguish between defects and enhancements. Instead, delegate a member of your product team to vet change requests before submitting them to engineering. This will keep control of the direction of the product in the proper hands and save your engineers from performing work beyond your obligation to the client.
5. Evolve your process as your organization grows
Be realistic. A company with 100 employees can’t behave like the cozy start-up it was last year. Foster an environment that promotes cross-team interaction without requiring company-wide meetings that stop the world.