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How to Balance Engineering Investments and Not Go Overboard with KTLO

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Software engineering has its hurdles. One of the main ones is definitely striking that sweet spot that spells out “scaled growth”. Really, how does one balance engineering investments with a successful outcome?

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We all want to have intersectional team collaboration that’s autonomous enough, yet aligned. We strive to dominate the market and our industries while trying to give our product managers space to tackle difficult deadlines.

So one could say software engineering is a balancing act of sorts. Play it right without getting thrown to the side, and you’ll find that your investment caused your product to soar, risks to dip, and your production process to streamline.

The stakes are high and we are all neck-deep in different issues in the product development industry. That is why we will introduce an outline of a successful engineering investment strategy in this blog post.

Strap in and enjoy!

The Art of Keeping the Lights on (KTLO) versus Elective Investment

You’re probably wondering why we are suddenly and seemingly randomly talking about lights. Well, KTLO is an often utilized investment method. It expands upon mandated investment – a route businesses prefer to take since they’re all interested in preserving their current book of business while going through investments.

Think about it in a literal sense – keeping the lights on gives the image of things that are in place and controlled. That’s why KTLO is used by IT decision-makers to describe the approach of keeping the business running without focusing on product experimentation.

[Source: Pixabay]

Therefore, if you can specify the work required for just keeping the lights on, you can usually limit the discussion of investment levels to just how much of the overall investment goes to that category without getting lost in the specifics of how to achieve it.

But not everything is necessarily fine and dandy in this. Overdo it and lose sight of being rigorously minimal, and you might just end up gaming the framework, so to say. That leaves you with eroded value.

So, we’re proposing another KTLO definition, referring to it as the minimum you need to do to sustain the current service level from the viewpoint of the target audience.

That means you shouldn’t erode your current products and customer care, but still not pour your investments into building something new. How do you achieve this, exactly?

You do so by:

  • Performing regular audits in the name of cybersecurity
  • Installing the latest security patches
  • Maintaining service uptime performance
  • Troubleshooting effectively
  • Dealing with hurdles and issues customers point out
  • Performing regular internal procedures
  • Staying aware of external factors you depend on to an extent
  • Employing the help of expert product development consultancy.

So, now that we’ve established why it’s essential to master the act of KTLO and just continue to successfully keep a product operational, here are some other things to keep in mind when aiming for both growth and investment.

Don’t Completely Abandon Elective Investments!

Elective investment belongs in three categories:

  • New things: Utilize new features, products, or integrations to further your business goals.
  • Improving existing things – Things can always be improved in performance, reliability, and security
  • Productivity — Mostly developer productivity improvements, but engineering companies too can scale manufacturing operations deemed too numerous.

All of this shows that elective investment is important but should be given conscious priority sporadically. In other words, KTLO shouldn’t exist on its own, or it could negatively affect your ongoing business.

How to Recognize If You’re in a Rut?

It’s crucial to recognize whether your team is at a dead-end. Understanding this helps when you need to be creating new features but feel like you’re not improving.

The following signs will notify you that this is taking place:

  • A lot of customer service.
  • Numerous context switches.
  • Feeling it’s challenging to launch the next big thing.
  • Making big starts but not completing any.

Now that we’ve established what a rut looks like, how do you scramble your way out of it?

[Source: Pixabay]

How Do You Get Out of a Rut?

Let’s look at several strategies you can implement to stop producing feature after feature and regain your focus.

Zoom Out by Deprioritizing

There are times when teams simply have too much work to finish in a reasonable time.

When you have several time- and energy-intensive huge projects competing for your attention, and it would take months to complete them all, something must be dropped to make room for more manageable successes that build momentum.

Clarity about priorities becomes important because the team must comprehend the objectives to choose which tasks to abandon. As a result, the team’s emphasis has an impact.

Strong communication is also necessary when dropping tasks. You must understand exactly what is deprioritized and for what reasons.

Final Word

While it is clear that KTLO is important IT professionals are constantly under pressure to save costs so they are obliged to strike a balance between keeping the status quo and allowing for innovation and development that will boost the value that IT provides. Even though it can be challenging to achieve, this balance can have a significant short- and long-term impact on the company.

 For us, this framework proved to be a fairly straightforward, relatively lightweight, and largely successful solution to help control some of the issues we see as we scale.

IT teams can focus on innovation and new systems to offer value to their firm by finding ways to cut back on the resources devoted to KTLO.

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