Chow # 179 – Finding a Balance

Kiran is a technical excellence leader and Priya a program manager for a marketing analytics platform of a large multinational marketing and brand awareness company. 4 engineering teams are building software and analytical models to deliver insights via this platform. Their product manager is in North America which has been identified as a launch market for the new platform. The team first delivered a closed beta version of the platform and feedback from customers was encouraging. Since then they have delivered 3 more releases that have brought more customers to their platform.

The product manager now wants the team to step up pace of delivering business critical functions to ramp up platform adoption and expand customer base. Kiran and Priya have noticed piling tech debt which could potentially block platform deployment and scalability. They are surfacing these concerns regularly during review and planning meetings. The product manager acknowledges them but tends to continuously prioritize client requirements over tech debt. Both Kiran and Priya are worried and don’t know what else they can do. What would you suggest to enable an equitable outcome that balances business needs while addressing tech debt?

Suggested Solution:

  1. Kiran and Priya can continue to raise the importance and criticality of including at least 20% of iteration bandwidth to address tech debt alongside user stories.
  2. The team needs to articulate the business value and impact of tech debt. They can ask the PM to examine tradeoffs with client requirements, so that both delivery teams and product manager have a shared perspective and the situation does not become a delivery .vs. product manager’s priority.
  3. Define a process for an integrated backlog along with an agreed prioritization technique that can ease tensions and downstream problems.
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