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166 dont let tech debt sink your roadmap (beth linker)

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ProductCamp Boston May 12 2018

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166 dont let tech debt sink your roadmap (beth linker)

  1. 1. Don’t LetTech Debt SinkYour Roadmap! Beth Linker ProductCamp Boston May 12, 2018
  2. 2. Beth Linker * Sr. Dir. of Prod Mgmt @ Acquia (we’re hiring!) * Former software engineer/architect
  3. 3. Who IsThisTalk For? × Product managers working on complex software products × Product managers who want to better understand their technical teams’ challenges × Product managers who feel a sense of despair when they ask their technical teams for estimates
  4. 4. Tech Debt Defined × Previous technical decisions (or non- decisions) that are no longer working for you × //TODO: Clean this up later!!!
  5. 5. Symptoms ofTech Debt × Time to roll out new releases goes up × Changes break in production because they’re harder to test × Onboarding new engineers takes a really long time × Experienced engineers are frustrated and unhappy × New features seem impossible
  6. 6. Origins ofTech Debt × Sometimes you take on tech debt in order to hit a critical business target × Most of the time it’s not that calculated Source: https://martinfowler.com/bliki/TechnicalDebtQuadrant.html
  7. 7. Everybody’s GotTech Debt × Commercial success leaves tech debt in its wake × Fast growth × Demanding customers × Nobody gets to the Magic Quadrant without tech debt Tech Debt Tech Debt Tech Debt Tech Debt
  8. 8. How Engineers Feel AboutTech Debt × “It still works, but I don’t know why” × ”We need to fix this” × “It’s so ugly!” × ”Give us some time to get this right"
  9. 9. How The Business Thinks About Tech Debt
  10. 10. Product Management is uniquely positioned to navigate through this mess
  11. 11. Three Easy WaysTo Fail Your Approach How It Goes Horribly Wrong • “We need to keep building features, we don’t have time to fix that stuff” • Trust breaks down • Nothing gets shipped • “The engineers say we need to take a year to fix the old stuff” • The business gets impatient halfway through • “We’ll be able to do really great things after we get to this new architecture, just bear with us for a year” • Customers get impatient • The market moves on and you’re building an outdated solution
  12. 12. WhatTo Do Instead × “Project Portfolio” approach × Diversification is your friend × QuickWins × Big Bets × Low+Slow Projects
  13. 13. Quick Wins × Top customer problems × Velocity accelerators × Customer success pain points × Almost-finished projects that need a little more work
  14. 14. Big Bets × What are the key things that would radically improve your customers’ experience? × What changes need to happen to make those things possible? × How are you going to get your current customers there? × How can you break it down so it’s actionable and show progress every quarter?
  15. 15. Low+Slow Projects × These take patience but can give you a great payoff when you finish them × Put a small team on something and don’t interrupt them OR × Have a larger team reserve a few story points per sprint to chip away at a well-defined goal × Do a low-key rollout and demonstrate some results
  16. 16. Putting It AllTogether × Use your roadmap to sell the whole portfolio to your stakeholders: × Quick wins build confidence and buy you more time for the big bets × Big bets justify the investment and motivate the teams × Low and slow projects get important things done without a lot of fuss
  17. 17. Three KeyTake-Aways × Tech debt challenges are really hard and also really common - you’re not alone! × Empathize with your engineers, your customers, and your business stakeholders × Use a project portfolio to balance competing needs and get everyone aligned to move forward
  18. 18. Thanks for listening! Any questions? You can find me at @blinker blinker@gmail.com

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