While Agile teams help to focus the work of software engineers productively, great engineers and engineering practices ensure that the work is done well. To put it another way, great Agile with bad engineering just produces bad software faster.
Talented engineers thrive in companies that create a culture of engineering excellence. Successful firms follow a few key guidelines to build a high-achievement culture.
- Encourage learning and collaboration. Top engineers can be a wellspring of innovation when encouraged to explore new technologies and contribute to open source projects and communities. Leading firms provide engineers with the time and budget to develop new skills and participate in conferences.
- Create an attractive career path. Talented engineers are a scarce resource. Provide them with a promising career path that values the engineering role as highly as a management role. Ensure that the leadership team values their input and shares appropriate decision rights with them. Offer competitive compensation and location options.
- Reward technical depth. Companies with an outstanding engineering culture have leaders with technical depth. These leaders proactively assess skill gaps within their organizations and fill those, either by growing the capabilities of existing staff or by recruiting new skills into the organization. They leverage their senior technical talent to contribute to decisions and protect their talent from distraction.
- Invest in quality, engineering operations and automation. It’s difficult for companies to avoid some level of technical debt—the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy solution now instead of using a better architectural approach that would take longer. But leading companies invest regularly to reduce technical debt. They focus on well-defined processes and automate wherever possible to increase engineering efficiency and communication.