Debug Execution

The Engineering Visibility Stack (or lack thereof)

August 2023

Why is it that despite all the time and money spent to improve visibility, product and engineering leaders, managers, project owners, and ICs still struggle to answer the most frequently asked question of their team; “How’s it going?” The costly combination of tools, spreadsheets, TPMs, status meetings, ceremonies, and slack pings deployed to increase visibility and speed up teams, clearly isn’t working as intended. In fact, in a lot of cases their “visibility” stack is slowing them down with extra process, rework, and double (or triple) entry status “bookkeeping”.

So, what’s the issue? In >100 interactions with product, engineering, and operations leaders over the past 3 months we asked them what they needed to improve about how their org gets work done, makes decisions, and tracks progress toward goals.

I’ve pulled together some of the best responses here:

  • We get work done in every way possible on every continent. I need a sensible view of all of it.
  • We need a central place for teams to collaborate across departments.
  • We want to build and maintain internal context and knowledge in one place.
  • Give me a holistic view of all work in progress across teams and how it contributes towards company goals
  • Make it easier to have goals, status, progress etc. visible both laterally and vertically
  • We want all projects tracked in one place with updates pushed to those who should get them
  • Make it crystal-clear and simple to visualize progress without having to update multiple different data sources
  • Help engineering work with the rest of the company, and help the rest of the company understand what engineering is working on
  • Connect all the tools / work streams / docs / designs for easier access for all teams Provide a single dashboard for reporting that doesn't require viewers to have access to all systems to get detail
  • Easily display & communicate progress made within other tools without all stakeholders needing to access all tools
  • To be able to see where various teams and individuals are trending towards their goals without slowing them down through manual or meeting-driven status update requests
  • Provide visibility for product & engineering leadership into progress of projects while offering freedom, fluidity & flexibility for engineers to manage their tasks and focus on execution
  • Have more visibility on work in progress & allow me to send an electric shockwave everytime someone shifts priorities on short notice

From these comments above and other interactions, it’s clear these leaders don’t have the time, and in some cases the licenses or expertise, to Sherlock Holmes their way through all their existing tools in order to stay on top of the work happening in engineering and how it maps to projects and goals.

Similarly none of their IC wants to be constantly barraged with status pings, update meeting invites, or check-in protocols that pull them outside of their preferred tools. With KATA we aim to fill this hole for both leaders and ICs by building the visibility platform for product and engineering teams that helps them go faster. To make sure we get it right, we want to hear more about the challenges you face with your "visibility” stack and how we can deliver a product that gets you more of what you need (visibility) with less of what you don't (overhead). If this tradeoff appeals to you, we want to hear more.

Let's talk.

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