Every software company has the same fundamental business problem.
Using the right technology at the right times to create successful outcomes.
After all, our users journey across all aspects of the Technology Model before even arriving at the Business Model.
The Traditional Business Model
We would probably agree that a typical company structure is hierarchical. Executives lead VPs, directors lead managers and manager’s lead engineers.
Traditionally business goals drive technology. And executives love owning a group who make that vision happen. But a fundamental issue is that leaders have no idea how their software products work. And I don’t mean accounting or SaaS metrics. I mean technology.
The Business Model Canvas is a great breakdown of how this works.
If you are a business leader who sells a software product or service do you know the names of the open source frameworks and libraries that drive it?
If so, what version is in production vs what version is latest? Why?
Even further, what is on the horizon for that framework and how will its changes affect your features?
Let’s not stop there… How will your tech stack affect culture, hiring, career growth, team moral, efficiency… COST?
The attitude is all too often: “we have a working app, don’t touch anything!”
But having a working app is actually a very low bar, one step away from a broken app.
The New Technology Model
The “Technology Model” is a decision making framework to build, maintain and improve software that defines our business.
- The user experience flows across our technology
- The user experience flows across our processes
- DevOps tech supercharges our success (or problems)
- Everyone knows which technology drives main features
- Our technology choices create happy teams
- Technology choices cause employee turnover
- Technology choices attract talent
- Technology choices save money and helps control costs
- Technology helps compete within the industry
- Technology choices allow us to build best-in-class features
- We can pivot, maintain or move away from this tech anytime
I propose that business leaders become very close to the teams and even individuals who actually build the software that users pay to use.
The resourcefulness and knowledge that can be gained from sitting with a rock-star engineer for one hour a week will expose aspects of the business never otherwise seen.
Assure confidentiality and get them to speak their mind without repercussion.
A Word on Silos
The silos and cliques that appear as a business grows into enterprise becomes toxic. And it takes work, a lot of work from decision-makers to stop that.
Even at world renowned tech companies we see engineers leaking internal information in a desperate attempt to thwart toxicity or sometimes worse.
In my experience, and no doubt many other engineer’s, a small group of protected individuals become owners of core technology decisions.
As culture grows so does the distance between leadership and technology.
The business direction becomes far more important than the technology driving it and leadership is glad to offload the responsibility to eager and willing VPs, Directors and their teams.
These groups have a lot to lose. Innovation from others, perhaps new employees or architect-level engineers cause panic. Yes any recommended change must now come from within this group or their past decisions feel challenged, outdated, failed?
But when leadership operates from a Technology Model instead of a hardened business model they can avoid or override the above.
Employees can then be incentivized to innovate instead of being punished by the silo-runners and push for better experiences all around.