by edifymumi posted Dec 01, 2022


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What silicon valley gets from software engineers that traditional companies don't I've worked for a variety of tech companies, from brick and mortar stores and consulting firms to investment banks and high-growth tech firms. I've also spoken to software engineers working in startups, banking, automotive, big science, and more "traditional" companies. This mixture included firms from silicon valley, as well as companies headquartered outside the region.
I saw that silicon valley firms inevitably go through a number of things that their traditional counterparts are not able to neither understand nor implement in their favor, especially in europe. These are options that could lead to more operational innovation at the company level, better career development for engineers, and simply better "utilization," so to speak. In turn, silicon valley companies can (and do!) Pay better salaries and take more value from the same person.
In this article, i will use the term “silicon valley ". "Such a company" to refer to modern firms that create huge leverage with every software engineer hire and that have traditionally been headquartered in silicon valley, although a lot of new companies no longer start there. These are the companies that, in terms of labor productivity per engineer, are comparable to facebook or google. They use similar technologies and can often bring in talent from alternative companies similar to silicon valley.
Here are the key things these organizations make more attractive than many others.
1. Autonomy for programmer-creators
In "traditional" companies, developers get work tasks assigned to them - in most cases jira tickets.These applications are reviewed by a product or project consultant and here is most of the key details to get the job done.And that's what they're expected to do.No need to, unless it's about updating the details on the ticket.
Join a company very similar to sv, and you won't see much. There are projects, there are application managers, and engineers. But usually engineers are expected and encouraged!) To understand how to work, including making larger decisions. In some parts, every project would be led by an engineer, which makes it easier to break down the work in n in other countries, this job could be done by manager engineers or senior engineers. Regardless of this, as well as how it is done, all engineers are interested in doing a look at the tape as a whole, open the view and solve whatever problem they have left.
Engineers, those who take the initiative are somewhat similar to the sv. Celebrate. Every now and then you can see services and features made at the suggestion of engineers, or teams spending special precious hours paying off the technical debt advocated by citizens in the organization. And managers do little to tell engineers what to do, to break their activities into small parts or manage them at the micro level. People govern themselves.
Developers in ordinary companies are required to do assigned work. In companies like sv, this choice of problems the business faces. It's a huge difference. It has an impact on our life as an engineer.
In traditional companies, the idea of ​​everything mod authors do exactly what they've been told for so long often ends up in a hierarchical structure. I spoke to clients at a banking institution that had six levels of project management. The developers found themselves in the last 2 places. Decisions were allowed to be made from the third level. Almost, the people who did the work did not have the right to vote - by design. Is it worth adding that a bank like this struggled with the fact that their program department didn't work?
Compare this with places where engineers are recognized as being able to solve problems on the ground better than anyone else. More. Executives understand that it is in the best interest of the business to send them all the relevant business context and provide ether for execution.
2. Unique nuances of hard work, not mindless resources
Traditional companies tend to think that an engineer's time span is 8 hours, which he spends on coding. Any moment that is not in front of a computer and not doing coding is often considered a waste of time. And justify it with a high cost. I heard a person describe it this way:
Companies like sv think that software engineers are the best fit for the battles facing the enterprise.They hire not only for technical skills, but also for communication skills and exercise challenges. Their mindset goes something like this:
In practice, a motivated engineer easily has far more influence than a "factory worker" who is simply told what to do. In the worst case, when the job specification is clear and correct, both people get the same result. However, engineers who are encouraged to solve problems often stop and think before they get to work, identifying opportunities for greater impact. They do x:
– “I did some digging, and although we could x, if we can reduce the amount of this feature without affecting the business, we can deliver it without any code changes, just changing a couple of porn configs."-"I'm concerned if we could submit the project and think we're forced to pause it. I checked out what our competitors were doing and one of them launched a similar assignment but canceled it after the toys were being investigated by the regulator. Team, can we ever release it?"-"I looked at our backlog service and project y is really similar. If we merged project x and project y, we would be able to release two activities with very little overhead."- "We could either build the new series on the legacy infrastructure now, but then we would have to branch out to the new infrastructure, which will be completed every 3-4 months. Can we postpone the project for a month while l new infra is ready to avoid double work? Unless there is a strong business reason to launch within 30 days, i really suggest making a purchase"in an environment that encourages problem solving and visualizing results as directed, better decisions are made.
3. Transparency of internal information, code and documentation
Transparency in sv-companies is great, although there are exceptions - apple or palantir allegedly try to provide as little information as possible to engineers as needed i've seen most sv-like customers share as much information as they can, and they do so in accordance with gdpr, pii, and other rules that apply to new landmarks.
Employees, but not only engineers, often leave a password to business metrics and data sources, in real time to write their requests - even create custom reports. At skyscanner, we constantly received an email with a summary of the daily breakdown of income. Weekly newsletter on similar growth, weekly.
As firms grow and go public. , This information is consolidated. After all, engineers still have access to the business data of their office, which allows them to make decisions.In traditional companies, much of this does not exist. The engineers get the spec and the boss will know why something is decided - at least that's the idea.
4. Familiarity with the business, and commercial-metrics
In sv companies, every team member is expected to understand what part of the business is affected by their action and how. The team's goal is rarely just a feature release: it's a 2% reduction in customer churn by launching feature1, or a projected $10m/year increase in revenue by releasing projectx.
Sv engineers are encouraged to work together with the rest of the activity and construct relationships beyond just fellow engineers. In practice, this is usually done by more senior engineers, from their meetings with product consultants to participation in customer analysis sessions. But i've seen new joinery engineers work online with business stakeholders and not a single russian has blinked an eye.
In contrast, traditional companies oftensometimes prevent developers from interacting with the rest of the business. However, the process is not as it is presented. They will say, “we are ready to shield our employees from distractions.” But i have heard stories about how the technical manager wanted to invite part members to a product presentation, and the product specialist refused this venture. "Any person needs them for work and a person cannot wear distractions." Is a common excuse.
When an engineer in a traditional company builds relationships outside of his team, he is sometimes told that he is “not focusing enough”, “wasting time”, or doing something that is not their work." Such "unusual" activities were often flagged as negative in their performance review.
It seems crazy to me that firms take some of their own best caregivers and force the "you feel free to code,” but it happens.And the same firms that try to measure the performance of engineers with metrics driven by pin strings or commits wonder why their engineers are not product-focused and product-aware.
5. Engineer-to-engineer communication via triangular communication
When you are an engineer and it has a question about how the other team is doing something, you do it differently on traditional, even on "sv- as companies.
Traditional companies encourage hierarchical communication, as if to "enclose" engineers, because managers in these places prefer to be information hubs, but not deny access to this part, here's how often a question or a question to another team would be:
Companies like sv encourage interaction between engineers, eliminating intermediaries.It's always faster.And when an engineer from another team can't help, the process described can fall back to the "traditional" model when the manager helps in the analysis:
6 investing in a less frustrating developer experience
Development this year is possibly frustrating, not because of writing code - these catacombs are the easiest th part! - But surrounding things. Setting dependencies. Deployment to a production or test environment. Ci/cd. Control and warning. It's not really that big of a deal as long as anyone in our friendly team of 2-4 people. However, they will occasionally resurface.
However, as the company grows, the developer experience becomes more and more frustrating. Everything evolves from smaller things, including slowing down build times, adding dependencies, or changes that need to be made to services. It continues with figuring out which team owns which service, small migrations affecting different teams, almost to the point of redefining the architecture in absolutely every engineering department. Companies that make sure that engineers focus on solving issues are quickly kicking out very different groups of infrastructure, web property and sre, which reduce the churn of developers.
Although it seems counterintuitive to hire software engineers that just focus on making other software engineers work faster: in many places, such a step is not correct. It's an excellent payoff that helps these companies grow faster and keep developers happier.
(This is also an area i really need and where i test some starter ideas. - If you have any thoughts for this reason, write to me).
7. Higher leverage --> most optimal autonomy, pay
Any company like sv that wants to compete in the salaries of engineers should create good leverage when the value these engineers bring exceeds theirs salary. This leverage can be both in scale and in promoting the business. Reducing the time spent on these things, as unnecessary communications are also a means, complements this effect. Giving engineers enough autonomy to (excessively) contribute to the business is how you save that leverage at the highest level. Scale lever. An engineer at one of these companies often creates features that are used by many millions of customers. This kind of leverage and added value pays off.
What startups like sv do is use software engineers to push the business. Here's how a software engineer at fog creek software implemented the million dollar idea for ad class fields. This is how several engineers and designers have moved forward to form the facebook "like" button. The business impact of this button is in the billions: facebook allows you to (re-)target interstitials and track "users outside of the facebook site."
Was there any of the people mentioned above? Would work in a traditional environment, their ideas would remain ideas. Startups like sv encourage engineers to come up with programs and execute them while cartoons do it. Everyone will benefit from this: people with an idea and business.
Companies that reliably use engineers will have no difficulty in paying close to the top of the market or beyond. Basecamp is a good example of a non-big tech firm that makes great use of engineers, which suggests that images too have a chance of paying the highest base salary in the science fiction trade globally while sitting profitable.
Technology is a profit center, not a cost center
Another way to look at the differences between how companies like sv operate is to in this way, just as they treat technology as a profit center, but not as a cost center. Looking at the 12 mostmost valuable companies in the world as of july 2022, you can see the trends that are visible:
Learn more about the rules whether i think correlation or connection between attitudes towards technology as well as a profit center. And a bigger than likely increase in my article profit centers and cost centers in technology companies.
The biggest overall difference
There are many aspects of features in that how different types of companies approach their own relationships with engineers. But the most optimal of them. Companies like sv think of engineers as value generators and creative problem solvers. They are seen as factory workers by traditional companies.
This division of mind means that far-sighted companies can both pay engineers properly and give them more autonomy. The factory worker has an eminently well-defined added value, something you can plan for. On the other hand, creative problem solving can bring 10 times more value when used correctly. It makes sense to pay them more, give them more independence, and that's how you allow them to make more valuable contributions to the business.
After a student has worked in an environment like sv, it's hard for you to return to “ "traditional" work area, where everyone has a well-defined situation and surprise rises if you get out of the given one.
If you are a software engineer, it is comfortable to be partners where you solve problems, but not you work in a factory. Which one are you today?
Translations of this article: chinese to csdn
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