Part 4

"Prioritize, focus, and deliver" is the mantra of success for platform teams.

In the bustling landscape of platform engineering, success hinges on three pivotal actions:

  • Prioritizing effort with an eye on impactful outcomes.
  • Maintaining a razor-sharp focus on creating the thinnest viable platform.
  • Delivering not just top-tier software but a comprehensive and user-friendly experience.

We'll dive into each of these points with insight and guidance to help platform teams understand that it's not just about building but building right.

In essence, navigating the intricate world of platform engineering can feel like a balancing act. However, by adhering to the mantra of "prioritize, focus, and deliver," platform teams can channel their energies efficiently and carve out a trajectory that spells innovation and success.

Prioritize: Embracing boundaries

Picture the task of painting a blank canvas with no specific theme or subject in mind. The possibilities are endless, and the creative freedom is exciting but also daunting.

This is the challenge platform teams face with no constraints or direction. While flexibility is essential, a team without priorities might spread itself too thin, diverting time and resources on less impactful tasks.

Measuring success and progress and aligning with business goals is difficult without clear priorities for the platform.

The sky might be the limit, but having some stars to navigate by is crucial!

Horizontal vs. vertical: The thinnest viable platform

Let's unpack this with a simple analogy.

Imagine a café where the barista pre-prepares every drink based on assumptions of what all the regular customers usually order. By the time they arrive, their drinks are already waiting but have gone cold, and perhaps they wanted something different that day.

This method wastes resources and delivers a subpar experience. Conversely, preparing each drink to order ensures freshness and satisfaction. In the same vein, our platform aims to deliver features in thin vertical slices, ensuring every development is relevant and fresh, meeting the immediate needs of our users.

For platform teams, the choice is between implementing sweeping horizontal layers of the platform versus creating thin, viable vertical layers. The latter, termed the “thinnest viable platform,” is often the favorable approach.

Why? Because it ensures that every platform component is functional and valuable on its own. It’s like building a tower; ensure the foundation is solid, then keep stacking it up, level by level.

This approach minimizes the risk of building on assumptions, allows for immediate feedback, and ensures that you're always building something with intrinsic value.

Delivering beyond software

For a platform team, delivering isn’t just about rolling out top-notch software. Sure, that’s a significant part of it, but there’s more to the story. Imagine having a state-of-the-art device with no user manual. Tricky, right?

Documentation acts as a manual. It ensures that all the hard work put into developing the software is easily accessible, understandable, and usable by others. Most developer teams have experienced frustration caused by a lack of documentation, which requires as much effort as the software.

But it doesn’t stop there. A good Developer Experience (DevX) is the icing on the cake. It ensures developers can seamlessly interact with the platform, integrate their tools, and optimize their workflows. In essence, a successful delivery is a trifecta of excellent software, clear documentation, and an impeccable DevX.

Let's move on to part five of our blog series on navigating the product mindset.

Published: September 28, 2023

Software developmentDevOps