Do you know what’s common between a fitness-tracking smartwatch, full-electric sports sedans, smart locks at home, and other such devices? They all are well-engineered software. The need for digital acceleration can be traced back at least a decade, if not more, and leaders continue to upping up their game to build world-class software engineering organizations.
According to the Gartner 2023 Board of Directors Survey, 89% of the board members agree that they are in the post-digital world and digital is an implicit part of growth strategies.
Why do you need to reconsider your software engineering imperatives?
With tech layoffs and budget cuts becoming commonplace in businesses, today’s economic outlook is blurred more than ever. Recent advances in AI are altering the way organizations engage with customers, introducing a new solution to the age-old challenge of attracting and keeping customers. Also, the need for more and better cybersecurity is sharpening the focus on the software supply chain and building a deeper interest in outsourcing.
However, Gartner’s Software Engineering Leaders Survey highlights that software engineering leaders continue to face some challenges today, which is restricting their growth. Prominent challenges being: resource hiring, talent development and retention, software security, and the agility to meet urgent/critical requests which otherwise can disrupt their ability to deliver.
Your key to success: Top priorities for software engineering organizations
To succeed as a software engineering leader, you need to shift your focus to building technical excellence, nurturing the right talent, building compelling software and digital products, ensuring resilience, designing high-quality experiences, and much more.
While organizations take steps to transform their business and operational processes, we have compiled a few key imperatives for IT leaders to establish world-class software engineering organizations that deliver digital products, services, and experiences that customers love and that the business can’t do without. Let’s explore.
1. Build and retain high-performing teams.
One of the most important steps is to build effective, diverse, and multicultural team of software engineers who have experience in IT, business, and Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). They must adopt an agile methodology and product-centric principles, be capable of switching between products & across the product life cycle and work towards building a solid foundation in new disciplines when the needs of the business change.
For example, we follow the ‘Thinking Breakthroughs’ approach to encourage teams to dive deep into the client’s business and come up with breakthrough ideas that resolve their challenge uniquely. We recently implemented this approach for one of the largest carmakers in India to improve core business activities. We envisioned and prototyped a machine-vision and machine-learning-based solution to drastically improve the turnaround time for human visual car inspections in the used-car assessment process. Instead of manually inspecting, the inspectors can use a camera to record the car’s exterior. The software generates an inspection report with greater than 90 percent accuracy, which the human can validate.
2. Focus on building digital immunity.
A digital immunity strategy helps build reliable and resilient systems that surpass customer expectations and help mitigate operational and security risks. A robust digital immune system protects applications and services from anomalies, such as the effects of software bugs or security issues. It makes applications resilient and easy to recover from failures. It can reduce business continuity risks created when critical applications and services are severely compromised or stop working.
According to Gartner’s research, organizations investing in building digital immunity by 2025 will increase customer satisfaction by decreasing downtime by 80%.
There are six elements of building a digital immune system:
- Site reliability engineering: It is a set of engineering principles and practices focused on improving customer experience and retention by leveraging Service Level Objectives (SLOs) to govern service management.
- Chaos engineering: The practice that helps uncover vulnerabilities and weaknesses within a system by injecting flaws in a controlled environment.
- Observability: It provides all the required information to mitigate issues with reliability and resilience by observing user behavior and improving it.
- Autonomous testing: Remove unnecessary human intervention and leverages technologies like AI/ML to test software. It helps reduce human error while enabling autonomy for engineers.
- Software supply chain security: It helps address the risk of any software supply chain attacks. Organizations can implement version-control policies, use artifact repositories for trusted content and manage vendor risk throughout the delivery life cycle to protect the integrity of internal and external code.
- Auto remediation: This enables systems to monitor themselves and remediate issues automatically without engaging the operations team.
As an example, we partnered with one of our clients, a leading provider of HR, payroll, and workforce management solution, to help them orchestrate chaos engineering by leveraging APIs from tools like Gremlin and LitmusChaos to carry out chaos tests / experiments at the infrastructure, network, and application/service layers. This helped them proactively identify faults before they could lead to any production incident and improve critical metrics such as Mean-Time-To-Detect (MTTD) and Mean-Time-To-Recover (MTTR).
3. Focus on engineering excellence.
People, delivery, resources, and architecture are the four key pillars of engineering excellence.
What is engineering excellence?
It is a framework that provides the project teams a platform to visualize and drive excellence in the engineering work done (and beyond). It aims to achieve engineering excellence and rewards the team by ensuring project-identified goals are met and improved and the project is on the path of continuous improvement.
These are the components of an engineering excellence framework:
- Continuous improvement - Goals & Metrics: These goals align with the organization and customer’s business objectives and are traceable over EE cadence.
- Quality Management System: A robust quality measurement framework to ensure high-quality deliverables.
- Project-defined software process and compliance (Audits): Quality process for each project, meeting the respective clients’ KPIs.
- Governance & advisory: CIRA (Customer-centric Independent Risk Assessment): Independent team with senior management representatives stepping into clients’ shoes to proactively identify risks and mitigation plan.
- Process performance baselines: Process Performance Baselines (PPBs) are published for each metric which is updated quarterly.
4. Deliver exceptional design and experience.
Software organizations must move from developing applications according to a business analyst's requirements to delivering a compelling user experience. This includes moving from the traditional technology-centric quality model to focusing on instilling quality into every step, from the inception of an idea to operations.
According to a study by Gartner, to deliver strong design and quality, the organization must:
- Expand the definition of quality to be continuous.
- Instill design-led delivery with DesignOps practices, and,
- Build a digital immune system using autonomous testing, chaos engineering, and observability.
For one of our clients, RMS – one of the world’s leading risk management companies, Nagarro worked to create a scalable, modern design system to streamline its design process and promote consistency across products and apps. Our team created a robust design system of visual styles, components, and code values that enable the client to prototype and experiment with ideas in high fidelity faster and at a lower cost.
5. Build a scalable and secure digital platform.
According to Gartner, software engineering leaders must move from legacy monolithic systems to a composable digital platform that meets the ever-evolving business demands and customer needs. This also enables organizations to create and switch building blocks in & out as teams assemble or reassemble business processes and CX/UX experiences.
For one of our clients, a global cloud computing solutions provider, we helped transform legacy applications built on outdated technology stack using modern architectures to boost user adoption and user engagement while supporting the existing applications. Our team designed and implemented a unified microservices-based platform leveraging Microsoft Azure, helping them achieve almost 30% usability.
Utilizing digital technology to build effective, dependable, and scalable systems that satisfy the requirements of organizations and consumers is the aim of software engineering. As a leader, you must focus on creating software and digital products that accelerate digital transformation and enable businesses to improve productivity and customer experience. The listed imperatives are some unavoidable transformations of the business and its methods; ignoring these now could endanger the viability of the business.
Where are you on your journey to becoming world-class?
Get in touch with us here to understand more about our proprietary Nagarro Engineering Excellence framework.