The balance between business expectations and CTOs' software sustainability needs | Forte Group

The balance between business expectations and CTOs' software sustainability needs

We recently hosted a virtual panel session “The balance between business expectations and CTOs’ software sustainability needs”, moderated by Forte Group CTO CJ Montano.

Expert Panelists

The speakers discussed various challenges that CTOs face in ensuring software sustainability, such as balancing short-term and long-term goals, dealing with technical debt, and managing stakeholder expectations. They emphasized the importance of prioritizing sustainability and taking a proactive approach to managing technical debt, as well as the role of leadership in promoting a culture of sustainability and fostering collaboration between business and technical teams.

Panelists provided practical tips for CTOs to promote software sustainability, such as:

  • setting clear goals and metrics,
  • establishing a dedicated sustainability team,
  • and investing in continuous learning and improvement.

Untitled presentation

Key discussion points 

Understanding Mission Criticality and Planning for Downtime

CJ introduced the topic and discussed how non-functional requirements have taken a backseat while software engineering abilities have become organizations’ focus. Lee provided a definition of “software ility,” using ChatGPT, which includes reliability, availability, scalability, maintainability, extensibility, usability, portability, interoperability, security, and testability. The discussion then moved to the evolution of non-functional requirements into abilities, where Brian observed how, in his experience, 80% of the conversations about abilities happen internally, while 20% happen at the executive level. He also talked about the inverse relationship between system downtime and the cost of uptime and how it’s difficult to find the line between the two.

Here are more topics mentioned during the session: 

  • Mission criticality of the platform in building a high-availability system
  • The impact of downtime on customers’ ability to carry out their work or comply with legal requirements
  • Planning for critical scenarios and recognizing situations where downtime can be scheduled or reduced

Balancing Feature Delivery and Quality Engineering

The conversation revolved on quality and how it is measured and managed within an organization. The speakers have discussed various definitions of quality, such as functional correctness, performance, security, maintainability, and also the value of quality to the end users. They also discussed the importance of validating that the organization is moving in the right direction and solving the right customer problem. 

In terms of managing risk and exposure to poor quality, the speakers suggest thinking through the broad solution and its impact on users, performance, integration with the rest of the platform, user training, and operational impacts. It’s clear that quality is an important consideration that organizations should prioritize to ensure they are providing the best possible solution for their customers. The panelists shed light on more in-depth points as well:

  • The competition between delivering features and ensuring quality engineering practices
  • Empowering the QA team to press the “stop” button if a release is not ready for deployment
  • Understanding the importance of quality engineering practices for developers

Translating Business Goals into Technology Requirements

According to Sherry, the worst issue to have is when you have a perfect technical solution that doesn’t solve the customer’s problem. If you stick to it instead of focusing on what the client needs and their goals and expectations, you’re solving the wrong thing. In her opinion, quality is when both parties are moving in the same direction. She explains how the team needs to have accountability and the right level of understanding on decisions and that they should ideally make sure that there’s enough of “glue” around the communication house across the organization.

The panel wrapped up with a brief Q&A session with the audience. One of the takeaways can be put in the words of Vinay and Sherry: make sure you understand where your business is going, and keep your tech solution as loosely coupled as possible to leave room for small, but significant improvements along the way.


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