Organization & Culture

How to Know When Your (SaaS) Systems are Broken

The developer wants to get on with her work but the scrum master says that she needs to join a refinement session.

The product manager wants to prioritise something for the customer but the CTO has decided that technical debt has priority for the next few sprints.

The support engineer wants to be able to fix the broken email problem that he has for a bunch of his clients. It’s now a software change. The infrastructure pipeline is codified and the CI/CD setup doesn’t have enough of the right tests in place to ensure that changes can be rolled out safely and automatically.

The business owner is on the phone with her clients the whole day apologising for performance problems and never seeming to make any headway in the cycle of releases.

Despite doing all the “right things” i.e. doing “Agile” and doing “CI/CD” and doing “DevOps“, a SaaS business, or indeed any business, can be a battleground when there is a lack of clarity and a mess of systems getting in the way.

Priorities

Sometimes there is a divide between product (i.e. what the customer wants) and the technology (i.e providing that thing for the customer). Occasionally there are processes in place which are only really there to provide busy work for those who feel disenfranchised from the creative process. Couple these with a lack of leadership intent and you have a recipe for nothing – for stagnation – for arguments – for embarrassment.

Do you recognise any of these symptoms?

Do you wish you could make all the systems just go away and actually make things happen?

When you lead an organisation where these things are happening you need to ask yourself a few hard questions. Like:

  • Who are we doing this for?
  • Despite our problems now, what do I want to see in the future for our product?
  • How do I want this company to be remembered?

Remind yourself that any company, any enterprise, should benefit the customer and benefit the shareholder (or owner) while also making the employee happy.

Leadership is required to make decisions that will bring about clarity. Decisions that will enable your company to start delivering on your promises – to yourself, to your customer, to your people.

Fewer Systems, Fewer Processes

Systems and processes are merely tools to help us achieve our goals. Increasingly the lines blur between processes, systems and tools. We lose clarity.

Has a look at this short shopping list:

Agile, DevOps, CI/CD, Jira, Azure DevOps, GitHub, QuickBooks, HubSpot, Salesforce, SAP, PeopleSoft, Scrum, SaFE, AWS, Kubernetes.

You shouldn’t need to worry about them. They are the distraction.

Worry about your customer, your staff and your bottom line.

Don’t worry about the systems.

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