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Boost your tech ROI with Engineering Effectiveness

Amid economic headwinds and geopolitical uncertainties, organizations find themselves under increasing pressure. Does this mean all digital transformation initiatives launched during the pandemic are set to fail? Research shows that companies are holding steady on their IT investments. But, it is now more imperative than ever to deal with technology and software development more efficiently. Here's how you can make that happen.


Companies are becoming increasingly digital. Just a decade ago, an average enterprise IT infrastructure might have included 50 to 100 components. Today, that number has skyrocketed to a thousand. While software increases productivity and gives organizations a competitive edge, it often comes with increased maintenance and management costs. Cutting back on IT investments is not an option. After all, staying competitive and capitalizing on emerging opportunities, such as the advancements in AI, are paramount. 


The secret to success lies in leveraging your resources more efficiently. This calls for a critical review of your existing technology and a commitment to improving the productivity of your engineering teams. At Thoughtworks, we've designed a comprehensive approach to boost Engineering Effectiveness within organizations, helping engineering teams from companies like Spotify and Etsy reach new heights.


Critical assessment of your development portfolio: Is your strategy still relevant?


Being efficient means that your organization is capable of making thoughtful decisions, even when faced with adversity. Ask yourself if your current strategy is still relevant. Are you persistently investing in creating the perfect product or infrastructure, even though it no longer aligns with customer needs? Have the courage to recalibrate your strategy, even midway through your plans. This reduces long-term risks and keeps your strategy in tune with customer needs.


Customer engagement: How to increase customer centricity?


In a receding economy, the pie does not grow. Therefore, your only option is to gain a slice of the existing pie from your competitors. To do this, focus on creating unique and high-quality products and services. Measure not only your customer engagement but also its effect on revenue. As a modern organization, you should continuously experiment to decipher what works and what doesn't. Decide wisely on which services to develop in-house and which to outsource. What seemed like the right choice in the past may not hold true today.


Engineering productivity: How to improve your team’s output?


Learnings from numerous agile, DevOps, and platform transformation projects have shown that the productivity of engineering teams in most organizations is around 30 percent of their total potential. Therefore, a whopping 70 percent improvement is possible, even necessary if you want to keep up with digital-native competitors. You can achieve this by investing in both technology and the development teams themselves. Create an environment equipped with the right platforms, methodologies, and workplace culture that makes teams more productive and helps them collaborate more efficiently. It's also vital to give developers the opportunity and resources to keep their skills up to date.


Processes: How to optimize workflows for efficiency?


The path to modernization is not only about allocating more resources, but fundamentally about transforming business processes and culture. Talent is better utilized when outdated and inefficient workflows are revised. A critical look at the organization, involving senior management, is essential to uncover all bottlenecks.


Changing traditional work and thought patterns can be challenging. In such cases, external assistance coupled with tried-and-tested frameworks and tools can be of help. For example, Thoughtworks uses the Polaris system  – a method and tool that delivers clear diagnoses to refine businesses’ workflows and it prevents them from reverting to old, less effective methods. We also continuously track performance, using a variety of tools that place engineering data in a business context. This is a game-changer for product managers, making projects quantifiable with clear dashboards and actionable insights that can be directly linked to the business strategy.


Sustainable organizational change


Kickstarting the modernization of your engineering teams involves transitioning from a product-centric approach to focusing on the developer ecosystem. The former approach often leads to knowledge fragmentation and compartmentalization, with valuable information locked within separate teams or silos. By viewing the developer ecosystem as a whole and encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing, you can address this issue. This is done by developing developer portals like Backstage by Spotify. This not only reduces duplicate work, but also encourages consistent processes and creativity. Shifting to a developer ecosystem boosts engagement, efficiency, job satisfaction, and ultimately, organizational success.


However, as an employer, it's your responsibility to support this new way of working with appropriate methods and tools, making it a part of the company culture. Without consistent application, there's a risk of reverting to old habits.


The final piece of the puzzle is strong leadership. Capable leaders are needed to steer this change process. Such expertise can be nurtured internally or brought in from outside. Above all, transparency in decision-making is crucial. Only when employees understand the need for cultural and operational changes, will they be inclined to embrace new ways of working.


Interested in learning more about Engineering Effectiveness? Read about Thoughtworks' approach here.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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