Platform teams have emerged as a significant shift in how we approach technology management. They are responsible for creating the infrastructure that other teams build upon. But transitioning to platform teams is not as simple as rebranding current IT operations teams; it requires a fresh approach to IT management, based in product-centric thinking. Here are five keys to success in your organization’s transformation.

Find Or Develop An IT Platform Manager

The role of the IT platform manager is crucial. In the past, product management was often seen as a business function, separate from the technical aspects of IT. Product centricity is about understanding the needs of the business and translating them into technical solutions. IT platform managers must be more than just technical experts; they must also be business-savvy. They must understand the business’s strategic goals and how technology can support them. This requires a shift in mindset from technology to business outcomes and a new set of skills that many IT professionals may not have had to develop in the past. If you need help hiring an IT platform manager, start with the Forrester role profile.

Strike The Right Balance Between Autonomy And Control

Platform teams need the freedom to innovate and develop solutions that meet their needs, but they must also operate within the broader context of the organization’s technology strategy. Striking this balance requires a deep understanding of the organization’s technical and business aspects. Platform teams must establish an open and effective communication channel between different groups and management. Leadership must empower the platform teams to make decisions to increase agility and responsiveness. Additionally, establishing OKRs will help hold the platform team accountable for the outcomes without needing leadership involvement. With regular reviews, leadership can ensure that the platform teams work effectively within the established guidelines and make adjustments to ensure optimal balance.

Invest In Product Training

Executives must invest in product management training and development for their IT staff. By equipping their IT staff with these skills, organizations can ensure that their platform teams understand the different personas that rely on the platform’s capabilities in their work performance, effectively support the business’s strategic goals, and deliver upon the promised outcomes. Traditional product management training can help newly formed platform teams set their strategy, manage their portfolio, achieve high performance, manage scalability, and understand their platform’s economics and financial modeling.

Don’t Forget Organizational Change Management

Another challenge that organizations face when transforming their IT operating model is the need for organizational change management. Implementing a new way of working is never easy, and it’s even more challenging when it involves a fundamental shift in how the IT department operates. This requires a clear vision, strong leadership, and a commitment to supporting staff through the change.

One approach to managing this change is to adopt a customer-centric mindset. This means viewing the platform users — whether internal teams or external customers — as customers. This shift in perspective can help align the platform team’s goals with those of the organization and ensure that the platform is meeting the needs of its users.

Consider Enterprise Architecture

Finally, organizations need to consider the role of enterprise architecture in managing platform teams. Enterprise architecture provides a strategic framework that can guide the development and management of the platform. It can help to ensure that the platform aligns with the organization’s overall technology strategy and supports its business goals. Conversely, platform teams and platform engineering are of great benefit to enterprise architecture, as the platforms can embed core standards and reduce the need for time-consuming, checklist-based architecture reviews.

The rise of platform teams represents a significant shift in IT management. It presents new challenges but also new opportunities. Organizations can leverage platform teams to drive innovation and support their strategic goals by understanding these challenges and embracing the possibilities.

For more information, see the recently released report, Navigating The New Terrain Of IT Platform Teams.

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