Friday, 15 May 2015

The Evolution of Development

I've seen a lot of change in my time working in IT. It's been a constant state of of evolution and improvement for as long as I can remember. Changes to coding practices, estimation techniques, methodologies, and many other things along the way.

The people that work in IT have also changed. They are no longer the stereotypical brains who have no people skills, but are in fact a group of highly intellectual people. They can solve almost any problem you can put in front of them, and they can also get up and speak in front of a room full of people.

These changes bring with them a culture of continual improvement, and it this culture which can ultimately drive a business to be successful. Embracing a culture of learning and improving is exactly what any eCommerce business should be doing, so to have a workforce that applies these same rules to themselves can only be a good thing.

Unfortunately, this culture needs to be business wide. You need everyone to be bought in. If this doesn't happen, then you will be limited what you can achieve as a business, and ultimately hindering your own success.

As a result of the changes in culture and working practice, IT has moved on from simply being a service to the rest of the business, now forming a core part of what any business wants to achieve. The current pinnacle of this evolution is the rise of the Product Team.

A true Product Team should have full ownership of the product(s) for which they are responsible. They should work collaboratively across the business, engaging with all of the people who have an interest or an idea for a products evolution. The team would ideally be built of people with a full range of cross cutting skills, enabling them to perform with autonomy. As I mentioned before, this requires change at the business level. If this approach is only partially adopted, the result is most likely going to be frustrating for all involved.

So - how do we tackle this problem? The obvious answer is to adopt a culture as a business. But what if this just isn't happening?

Historically, businesses saw IT as a service. People would come to them and tell them what they wanted and when they wanted it by. This has been proven to not work, and is a large catalyst to all of the changes I have talked about so far. So, with the advent of the product team and working towards realistic targets using data - maybe the shoe should now be on the other foot?

Obviously it would be much better if a company could all have the same culture and values throughout its departments. Even better if people stop siloing themselves off in to "departments" and just get involved as a single team. However, if this isn't the case - and experience tells me that in most cases it isn't - then we need to have another option.

How would the other areas of a business like to be treated as a service? The product teams are closest to the products. They have the understanding, the experience, and the data to back up all of the decisions that they make. If other departments don't want to be progressive and improve and work as a part a team, maybe it is time that they be a service to the product teams instead?



  1. Change the system not the culture? I've often heard the adage that we must change the culture, but the more I look at businesses the more I realise that the culture is usually imposed top down and through the systems that govern people.

    I found this article quite enlightening: