Highly consumed platforms are at the foundation of any organization that has navigated modern digital transformation. These platforms are treated as product that both IT and business leaders continually support and invest in. For most of today’s IT leaders, this idea isn’t new, and most of the companies BreakFree has worked with have attempted to operationalize platforms of some kind. However, the success of these efforts always comes down to leadership understanding how to treat platforms as products.
If you compare organizations that are treating platforms as products versus organizations that are not at a high level, you will observe the following:
When we encounter clients that are actually treating platforms as products, our focus is on providing high-impact resources (IT product owners, senior platform engineers, etc.) that can assist with building even better platforms.
However, based on the table above, if you are finding your organization has more in common with organizations that are not treating platforms as products, here is what we recommend:
- Find a willing IT business partner who has aggressive digital transformation goals that are ideally tied to the generation of new revenue.
- Form a cross-functional platform product team and find someone who is not afraid of learning how to be an IT product owner.
- Find a way to co-fund the cross-functional platform product team for multiple years. If you have found a business partner with aggressive digital transformation goals, and you provide a portion of the funding, this may be easier than you think.
- Remove barriers to cloud for the platform product team. Cloud is critical to the team’s success.
- Work with that cross-functional IT platform product team and their product owner to establish highly measurable targets for near term success that’s based on platform consumption and impact. OKRs are a great tool here, but there are lots of ways to accomplish this.
- Set the following ground rules for the team to help drive the right outcomes:
- The team needs to be in charge of their own quality, architecture, operations, and security.
- Treat all input as error. This is a Tesla design paradigm, and we think this is profound in IT platforms. If the consumers of your platform need to input information to get access, then we should build software that no longer requires that input. The latest Tesla can sense if you want to go forward or backwards and doesn’t require input. Just push on the gas and it will decide if you want to go backwards or forward.
- The team needs to be eating their own dog food and using Agile and DevOps (how you accomplish ground rule #1).
- Focus on the concept of minimally viable. Cloud lets you build great minimally viable features.
- Find the team a partner like BreakFree to help coach and pair. We’ll show them the way.
If you go down the path towards treating IT platforms as products, then your platform product team will be viewed as rockstars because of their impact on digital transformation. IT leaders should be prepared to rinse and repeat this process, and more importantly, advocate for increased funding. Once you have a viable product, you want more impact and return, and that’s going to require additional investments in today’s digital landscape.