Why is business context so important for technical decision-making?

Business context is important for technical decision-making because it helps to ensure that the technical solutions being implemented are aligned with the overall goals and objectives of the organization.

Think of it like this: if you're coaching a basketball team and your goal is to win the championship, you can't just focus on improving your players' technical skills (e.g. shooting, ball handling).
improving techincal skills

Consider the Big Picture

You also need to consider the broader context of the game, such as the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents, the strategy and tactics that will give you the best chance of winning, and the resources (e.g. players, budget) that you have available.

In the same way, technical decision-making in a business context should consider the broader goals and objectives of the organization, as well as the resources and constraints that are in place.

Don't suggest an amazing idea that requires money you know the company doesn't have. Be smarter.

This helps to ensure that the technical solutions being implemented are aligned with the overall strategy of the business and are likely to be successful. 🏀

Key Aspects

Some key aspects of business context that should be considered in technical decision-making include:

  • 💰 Financial considerations: What is the budget available for implementing the technical solution? What is the expected return on investment?
  • 🏆 Organizational goals: What are the overall goals and objectives of the organization? How does the technical solution align with these goals?
  • 📈 Market dynamics: What are the competitive forces in the market and how will the technical solution position the organization relative to its competitors?
  • 📊 Resource constraints: What resources (e.g. time, people, technology) are available to implement the technical solution? How will these resources be allocated and managed?
  • 📅 Time constraints: What is the timeline for implementing the technical solution? Are there any critical deadlines that need to be considered?

Quick Story Time

I use to work with this great architect. She always had good ideas and was thinking long term. However, she didn't last long because most of her ideas got shut down.

It was unfortunate but you could tell, she didn't grasp the type of business we were at that time.

For example, my company is trying to reduce costs, a technical decision that aligns with this goal might be to implement a more efficient testing process. On the other hand, if the company was trying to differentiate itself in the market, a technical decision that aligns with this goal might be to invest in more QA people and better tooling.

For the architect I worked with, she would present these amazing ideas, like we had Apple, Google or Amazon money. We were more like a startup with little money and resources.

For context, unlimited PTO(before everyone was doing it) was a huge selling point to get talent.  

If if don't make $$$ It don't make sense

The business context is driving the technical decision. Without considering the broader business context, technical decisions may not be as effective in achieving the desired outcomes for the organization.

As an engineering leader, you can't rely solely on the technical aspects of a project - successful projects are more than just meeting the requirements.

You must consider how your decisions affect not only that system but also its environment and impact to achieve optimal results for all involved.

Being aware of this "bigger picture" will help ensure success in any endeavor!

How Can I work Around This?

To achieve top notch results, the key is to start with questioning. Understand what other departments expect from engineering and decide success criteria accordingly.

Seek guidance from your leaders about their vision for the team's work and assess any assumptions you make about engineering practices that may not be universal truths but applicable in some instances only.

Engineers who embody curiosity and adaptability excel in their industry.

They recognize that what works for one team may not apply to the next, so they take initiative to get up-to-date on best practices specific to a new context. In doing this, their willingness to learn and adjust allows them greater success wherever they go.

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