To make a great software business, you must find that “special happy place” when the engineering and sales teams are in sync.
“You want your developers on a product cycle, not solving business critical issues,” said Anand Natrajan, a head of engineering for Videology, the McHenry Row-based adtech company that is among Baltimore’s vaunted Ad.com diaspora.
Cultivating that kind of team environment becomes self-fulfilling: great dev teams celebrate high quality, which they do at greater velocity when it becomes a point of proactive pride, not a response to broken systems, said Natrajan, a personable four-year veteran of the company. He was among a dozen highlighted speakers at the Baltimore Innovation Week Presented by 14 West Dev Talks, an afternoon of case studies from prominent Baltimore engineers. Held at Motor House on North Avenue, the event was presented by Natrajan’s firm Videology and cybersecurity powerhouse Tenable Network Security.
To track success in building out that product cycle, Videology follows a host of key metrics. From 2015 to projections through the end of 2016, their team has cut the number of high-urgency incidents they’ve had to handle by half and so their product releases have jumped by 74 percent, he said.
It’s easy to see why. In July 2015, the Videology team spent 3,200 hours on fixes, the equivalent of 20 full-time people. This July, that total was 1,400 hours, or fewer than nine people, he said.
The question of how is trickier, of course. Natrajan noted it’s largely a question of culture: the dev team has to understand that its role is to support the overall business.
“How much pain does your engineering team cause?” he said.
That culture comes with keeping a dev team happy (more about work-life balance than keg parties, he said), expecting excellence and, yes, tracking thoroughly what your team is working on.