A methodology to organise an engineering organisation


As an engineering organisation grows in terms of head-count to tackle an increase in the amount of stuff to work on, it needs to find and apply a methodology to make sure the collective effort of the organisation is canalised toward a (set of) clear objective(s), so that all the forces within the organisation go the same direction.

In practice

As more and more topics are added to the list of things to do, a typical reaction is to grow the head count to be able to work on more stuff.
This comes at the risk of having multiple teams with different leads each with different objectives and priorities, sometimes in conflict one with another.
When this happens, the capability of the organisation to move fast and deliver significant value diminishes, because it gets harder to execute complex projects that spans across functional boundaries.
My opinion is that head count growth should be carefully considered and accompanied with a flexible engineering structure, a sound methodology and constant effort to make sure that the methodology is well applied and producing the expected results.

What I propose is:

  • Routinely define and review priority topics to work on. Frequency might be by quarter.
  • For each priority
    • define clear, measurable short-term goals
    • provide the long-term high-level roadmap (if needed)
    • Assign people and resources
  • Clearly communicate priorities, short term expected results and assignments to the whole organisation
  • Focus: let teams work distraction free
  • Provide periodical updates to the whole organisations

By routinely taking the time to review topics actively being worked on and those which should be started, organisations can organically adapt to priority changes. In this context, it is also fine to have short lived teams being together just the time needed to reach expected results or until the result is deemed no longer useful. The other key take away is clearly setting expectations by defining measurable short-term goals for each topic, and communicate those expectations to the people involved and to the whole organisation.

Written on January 11, 2019