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InfoQ Homepage News State of DevOps Report Finds Platform Teams Lacking Product Management Support

State of DevOps Report Finds Platform Teams Lacking Product Management Support

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Puppet released the 2023 State of DevOps Report with a focus on Platform Engineering. The report found that organizations with platform engineering teams report increased developer velocity, improvements in system reliability, greater productivity, and better workflow standards. Organizations still need to work on adopting a product mindset with the platform teams, especially as it relates to product management support.

Nigel Kersten, Field CTO at Puppet, summarized the key conclusions of the report:

The findings show that platform engineering can produce meaningful benefits across an entire organization and unlock DevOps success for the enterprise. As firms beef up hiring for platform teams, they must prioritize product management skills, not just core engineering.

This focus on product management is a core tenant of effective platform engineering. Product management helps ensure the team is focused on the right problems and that feedback from users is being collected and leveraged. In a recent article, Ben Voss, senior product manager for Developer Experience at Twilio, wrote about the importance of good product management:

As Platform organizations scale, a level of autonomy and independence is often still given to the teams. However, without effective product management, many platform teams optimize specifically for their problems, resulting in disjointed platform-level product experiences for the users.

This lack of investment in product management for platforms is not new. Daniel Bryant, head of developer relations at Ambassador Labs, predicted that "a lot of folks will not appreciate the benefits of a good PM and will instead power ahead with simply building things". The report found platforms teams investing more in project management, which Kersten, in an interview with InfoQ, cautioned against:

I very strongly believe that the reason most enterprises fail at these sorts of initiatives is that they try to implement them via project management rather than product management.

The report summarized the value of a product manager and described it as "crucial to cultivating a product mindset, evangelizing the platform, and effectively disseminating information". The report concluded that organizations that "explicitly focus on team interactions, developer experience, feedback loops, and product management will leapfrog those who do not."

However, the report found that the top priorities for the platform team over the next 12 months aligned very closely with the skillset of product management. This includes increasing the awareness of the platform's capabilities, setting realistic expectations for the team's role, and better aligning to industry trends. The lack of awareness is reflected in 48% of respondents indicating that senior management does not understand the value that platform engineering can bring.

Reported priorities for platform teams over the next 12 months

Reported priorities for platform teams over the next 12 months (credit: Puppet)

 

The report also found a trend toward respondents wanting more centralization in their platform, with 52% reporting a trend toward increased centralization. For those respondents who already have a centralized platform, 36% reported believing greater centralization would deliver better results. Interestingly, there was no difference in opinion between users of the platform and those who build and operate it.

Respondents strongly indicated that platforms improve developer velocity, with 68% indicating a direct impact from the platform team. Ronan Keenan, research director at Puppet, elaborated that "[o]ver the last few years of our DevOps research, a clear pattern emerged: enterprises with more mature DevOps practices tend to use platform teams".

For more details from the 2023 State of DevOps Report, readers are directed to the Puppet website.

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