Jul 20, 2022 | 3 min read

How to Use Engineering Enablement to Create Successful Software Teams

By: DragonSpears Team

How to Use Engineering Enablement to Create Successful Software Teams

Organizations with functional silos around software engineering teams with high-level skill sets (i.e., infrastructure, security, and DevOps) inadvertently create bottlenecks that prevent them from getting work done. Teaching them the skills required for engineering enablement helps identify ineffective labor divisions, reduce risk and uncertainty, eliminate project delays, prevent resources from becoming overwhelmed, and keep teams in the loop.

Here's how to get started using engineering enablement practices to empower your development teams to provide consistent value to clients and stakeholders, even when they lack experience in certain areas.

What Is Engineering Enablement?

Engineering enablement refers to teams that provide self-service engineering solutions, standards, and best practices. This approach reduces the complexities and dependencies associated with engineering by enabling developers to focus on business logic and emphasize product quality and developer experience. The role of engineering enablement is to provide tools that facilitate complete autonomy for all teams. It multiplies expertise instead of consolidating it. Without these tools, functional silos and bottlenecks persist.

The Framework for Engineering Enablement Implementation

1. Foster Team Autonomy

Autonomy refers to the independence engineering teams have when working on projects. It can take many forms, from teams setting their schedules to groups making on-the-job decisions without the leader's intervention. It requires collective skills for developing, delivering, monitoring, and maintaining solutions. Autonomous teams are more likely to:

  • Freely share ideas
  • Get more involved in decision-making processes
  • Remove bottlenecks that block their progress
  • Foster innovation in your organization.

An autonomous team shares information quickly and has the freedom to do its job while working as a cohesive unit, producing reliable and high-quality output that benefits your entire organization.

2. Identify Issues That Come from External Dependencies

Internal or external dependencies in engineering workflows can soon become bottlenecks for your organization. Think about the times your engineering team couldn't do its job because it depended on a manual test or deployment. How much time did that issue add to a project lifecycle? How much money was lost when a team couldn't complete its work because it had to wait on an external resource? The dependency might have delayed a project or caused customers to take their business elsewhere.

3. Encourage Enablers

Engineering enablers are fully autonomous. They successfully work as a team instead of separately from one another, fostering communication, cooperation, and cross-collaboration. When your team members become enablers and no longer operate in functional silos, you can optimize business processes and open the door for successful innovation.

Implementing engineering enablement doesn't mean you need to change the composition of a team or the work it does. Instead, teach the skills required for autonomy and enable a team to become fully self-sufficient.

4. Start With the Team That Has the Most Product Knowledge

If you have multiple development teams, start with the team that best understands your product and the problems associated with silos and bottlenecks. They will be the first to become fully autonomous and inspire other teams in your organization.

How you implement enablement depends on the specific needs of your organization. Some examples include:

  • Building a self-service portal
  • Automated testing
  • Using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) or Security as Code (SaC)
  • Allow each team member to make their own pull requests
  • Creating build pipeline templates.

5. Empower 'Doers' to be Leaders

Engineering enablement is a process that requires time to get everyone on board. Sometimes, you might find that the teams you hired to be engineering enablers (DevOps, SRE, and InfoSec teams) behave like engineering 'doers.' Rather than taking on all the work, teach them to focus on empowering other development team members to be autonomous and effective enablers themselves.

Engineering enablement allows teams to become fully autonomous, reducing your organization's bottlenecks, dependencies, and silos. By encouraging enablement, teams will become proficient at self-service, successfully improving your development objectives. Not sure how to get started?

Contact DragonSpears to learn more.

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