I don't often take time to talk about the successes I've had. I love what I do and for me the experience and time spent is reward enough. Building great software that makes my users happy and lets them do what they need is absolutely rewarding. Being able to use new technologies and platforms is the icing on the proverbial cake.
With that said, I'm going to take a short aside and talk about something I'm very proud of: I've managed to build a great reputation with my customers, leaders, and teammates by building great solutions to my customer's problems, completing my work ahead of deadlines, and making sure that what I deliver is exactly what my customer expects. My reputation allows me to take on a decent number of stories in every sprint, to the tune of approximately 50-60% of our total sprint velocity across both of my product owners and all products and platforms represented.
Before I get to the meat of this post, I want to provide some context around my team as I believe it's important. My team consists of:
- A single manager
- Two product owners
- Product Owner #1 supports a single platform consisting of our employee intranet and portal
- Product Owner #2 supports approximately 20-25 applications with four to five major platforms used by both internal and external customers
- Four engineers
- One scrum master
- Two analysts
I split between both product owners and am responsible for development activities across all products and platforms. Product Owner #2 is my most frequent source of work and over the last year, she and I have achieved the reputation mentioned above - no nonsense, no BS, just great delivery. The rest of our teammates are dedicated to PO#1. PO#1 has incredibly high-touch customers and a broad platform to support which often can and does complicate the entire platform direction and roadmap. I enjoy being able to help in any way I can for either PO.
Based on all the above, my contribution to the team's velocity is absolutely sustainable, but it's been an expectation for almost a year now. And over the course of this year:
- Funding for work has been harder and harder to come by
- Demand intake has grown in volume and rate of intake
- Operational overhead has increased
- Dev-to-production release timelines have lengthened
- Expectations of users keep climbing
Given the changes, there's been a lot of talk around hiring new people, pursuing extra funding and budget, and working to streamline the delivery pipeline to make us even more efficient. But no matter what happens, the situation doesn't seem to change. The employee intranet and portal continues consuming resources and money, developer time and effort, but output never increases and the situation never changes.
I believe my leaders have the best of intentions; I understand that focus goes to teams, products, and platforms that need the attention the most. It takes time and invested effort. But no matter how much success PO#2 and I are able to generate and how high our customer satisfaction is, we can't seem to get the time, space, freedom, and people we need to turn our burst capacity into a sustainable pace. Because of the reputation PO#2 and I have gained and all the success we've had, we need support and focus now more than ever. And we can't seem to find it.
There are only two things I need to succeed in my role - the freedom (within reason) to make the best technical decision for the problems I'm solving or the support of my team and organization to help smooth out the constraints I have to work within. At this time, I have neither. Focus and support (when it's needed) is hard to come by. It's nigh impossible to get the tools I need to succeed or the freedom to get them on my own. I've only been able to utilize my drive to get done what is needed in spite of all obstacles.
I don't believe that the support in question can fix all of the problems I work through, but people to help with the work, consistent support when requested, and a focus on enabling my team to succeed as capably as possible is a great start.