Now is the time to invest in making technology teams more effective. The COVID-19 pandemic made remote work the rule, bringing significant changes to how they communicate, not only through a screen but changing rituals, daily routines, and dynamics of teams. In our experience advising Tech organisations in M&A and modernisation projects, we see how these changes impact results, and how much can be gained or lost. Leaders can use the moment to adapt and improve how their teams work.
“Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure”, Melvin Conway.
How a company communicates always leaves its marks on artifacts (e.g. documentation, system architecture, source code, tests), processes, and metrics. We find this in every project by leveraging the treasure troves of data held in software development tools, such as git, Jira, and TFS. Moving entire teams to remote working will cause a significant impact on the systems they build, their effectiveness, and ultimately their return on investment.
Such change can lead to problems such as becoming slower at delivery, with delayed revenues and missed opportunities. While almost any corporate issue can be attributed to poor communication, fixing them requires a more specific understanding. Take the following examples from some of the software due diligence work we have done:
- In one case we found poor developer onboarding and fast growth caused teams to be unable to fully complete their work until a senior developer could come to help;
- In another, a best-effort approach to modernizing the legacy system made the code so complex that anyone changing it would end-up breaking something else;
While we call attention to these risks, some could say that most developers already work from home frequently and that this is more of the same. Gitlab, self-proclaimed the world’s largest all-remote company, lists the following drawbacks in their blog:
- Working remote can feel lonely
- Onboarding remote workers can be difficult
- It can cause a breakdown in communication skills
While these are some of the actions they have taken:
- Having an intentional structure to informal communications
- Building self-directed and self-guided onboarding process
- Implement a Results value, where results (as opposed to hours) are measured
Our team of independent experts, interpret development data within its context to provide insights and recommendations so our clients can achieve better results. Such transparency sometimes hits hard on the parties involved, but never as hard as the consequences of not reflecting and acting.