Alex Chiri's Blog

They are platform engineering's products too!

In large product companies that have platform teams it is quite easy for the people in the platform teams to not know much about the products they are supporting. Sure, if the products are a popular car or a popular music streaming service, then chances are that everyone knows the products. But there is quite a lot of specialised software that most people don't normally interact with. Think of payroll solutions or CRM or enterprise content management systems.

Additionally, I would say even for those popular products, encouraging everyone in the company to eat their dog food is mandatory, rather than leaving it to chance.

But even for the platform engineering teams? πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘

Permalink to β€œBut even for the platform engineering teams? πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘β€

Yes, it might sound weird for teams who build internal products that support the company's main products to be knowledgeable in the main products' ins and outs. What do they care? Their code is not part of the main products, right?

Well, yes, but how can one build supporting platforms if they are not aware of how the main products work? Treating the main product as a black box that the platform touches in certain points is a losing game.

It is very disempowering to not know how the main product is working when engineers need help to debug different use-cases on the platform.

The weirdest situation is when there is a practical need to use the main products internally, but you cannot find anyone in the teams or departments nearby that know how.

It's part of supporting our users in the best way possible πŸ’ͺ

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It seems obvious that teams building the main products need to know them quite well. Since they are literally building it.

But learning about the main product in the platform teams doesn't happen naturally in some companies. In these cases, extra efforts and investment have to be made, even though it seems unnecessary.

Why? Because it is the only way platform engineers can effectively support their users.

They don't have to be experts in using the main products, but everyone should at least be aware of how the main features work and how things come together.

Everyone's goal in the company is to ship the best main products they can. Building internal platforms does not represent a goal on its own. Building internal platforms makes sense only if it brings (indirect) value to the end users of the main products. And in order to do that, we need to know these products.