As IT teams in growing companies face an ever-increasing volume of incoming requests for architecture support, it becomes critical to implement more structure in their processes. However, it is equally important to remain pragmatic and adaptive to avoid stifling innovation and flexibility. This article discusses when and why a more structured approach should be applied, and how to maintain pragmatism while addressing the challenges associated with rapid growth.
The Need for Structure
Companies experiencing rapid growth often find themselves grappling with the following challenges:
Scalability: To effectively manage the increasing volume of incoming requests and maintain responsiveness and quality, it is essential to adopt a more structured approach. This enables better resource allocation and prioritization of requests.
Efficiency: A structured request process minimizes miscommunications and delays by providing a clear framework for submitting and processing requests. This facilitates quicker decision-making and prevents bottlenecks.
Resource management: As more projects and requests come in, judicious resource allocation becomes crucial. A structured approach ensures that the complexity and requirements of each request are properly assessed, avoiding overcommitment or underutilization of team members.
Accountability: Establishing a clear structure for incoming requests creates a chain of responsibility, making it easier to track progress and hold team members accountable for their tasks. This leads to improved overall performance and faster issue resolution.
Continuous improvement: Structured processes for incoming requests enable the analysis of trends and identification of improvement areas. Tracking key metrics such as response times, resolution rates, and customer satisfaction allows for continuous process refinement and adaptation to changing client needs and market demands.
Implementing a Pragmatic Approach to Request Support
It's important to underscore that this is merely an initial phase in a broader process (depending on the company's size), and numerous subsequent steps will be covered in upcoming articles.
To pragmatically scale the process for requesting architectural support, stakeholders should create a concise, one-page document that succinctly captures the essential information about the problem they need help with. This document should clearly state the level of urgency, as well as the specific conditions that influence the request, such as cross-departmental involvement, the entrepreneur's or product requestor's intuition, the relevance of the feature to the end user, and the potential impact on scalability and revenue generation.
By providing a one-page overview that includes contact details and the necessary background information, stakeholders can facilitate the architect's decision-making process and enable them to better allocate their attention across multiple requests. This streamlined approach helps reduce the overhead associated with handling incoming requests, allowing architects to focus on delivering valuable insights and guidance to support the growth and success of the organization.
In certain situations, it may not be necessary to involve the architecture department, especially when the issue at hand does not require scalable solutions or the automation is highly isolated from the core business. In such cases, bypassing time-consuming processes and moving forward with the project can be beneficial. However, it is advisable to implement a "duty to report" mechanism to ensure that operations managers or monitoring teams can easily trace any potential strain or problems on the infrastructure or application level. This approach balances the need for efficiency and autonomy while maintaining oversight and accountability.
Growing companies must balance the need for more structure with the importance of remaining pragmatic. Implementing a structured approach to technical software architecture and incoming requests is essential for scalability, efficiency, resource management, accountability, and continuous improvement. By adopting a simple, user-friendly system for requesting architectural support, your IT team can maintain innovation and adaptability in the face of rapid growth while minimizing overhead and ensuring fair prioritization of requests.