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Engineering Management

How Engineering VPs are Leveraging Flexible Staffing for Strategic Projects

Written by 
Brenda Jin

Borderless engineering builds a more flexible engineering workforce, and here’s how you can implement it.

Many of our customers have been talking to us about how they leverage “borderless engineering” for large strategic initiatives, where contributors float from project to project. Leaders often turn to flexible staffing to hit delivery milestones while increasing shared business understanding across projects. Because this organizational structure has its own challenges, here are the processes and tools that engineering VPs and Directors use to ensure success: 

Standard work processes

One of the biggest things we hear from VPs and Directors of engineering is that they’re using standard work processes to enable engineers to quickly ramp up on strategic initiatives. Products, services, and code can be dramatically different, but having a uniform high level process makes it easier to jump from project to project. 

Of course, each team will have a nuanced version of this depending on what they need to accomplish, how they prefer to collaborate, and what’s required to ship code. That said, when folks can quickly understand common expectations for projects and how to plug in, the time to onboard is dramatically decreased. 

Enable visibility back to reporting manager

When individuals move from one project to another, they often continue to report to the same manager, even if the new project has a different engineering manager. We’ve heard from our customers that, in these situations, it’s more challenging to keep the reporting manager updated on how things are going. 

That’s why we heard from VPs who are leveraging flexible staffing strategies that increasing visibility across a management peer group is extremely important—ideally with the help of automation. This reduces miscommunication and misunderstanding, and leads to better coordination across multiple teams. 

Increasing visibility across a management peer group leads to better coordination across multiple teams.


Documentation

Written documentation, especially in a remote world, has never been more important. Documentation allows both new team members, and downstream project teams, to quickly understand context asynchronously. That way, synchronous meeting time is better spent on alignment and clarification. We’re seeing customers use a combination of contextual and quantified data to describe the state of projects, where managers provide both an automated summary of how a project is progressing as well as their opinions on blockers and opportunities. 

Another benefit of documentation is that VPs and team leads have a record to refer back to when they’re analyzing the team health. This helps VPs get a better sense of team health, where systemic problems are happening, and informs strategic decisions and process changes across teams. Team leads also use this information to make recommendations for staffing changes. 

Engineering teams are using tools that provide automatic project summaries while also enabling managers to surface blockers and opportunities.


Flexible staffing can be a great tool to accomplish large strategic initiatives, but without standard processes, visibility, and documentation, projects can get misprioritized, engineers can be misallocated, and strategic decisions can be made on incomplete information.

Leveraging organizational data, both from integrations and manager assessments, in order to make better strategic decisions, is one of the top concerns that customers solve with Bennu. If you’re interested in getting data-driven visibility that helps you make better strategic decisions, come talk to us!

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