Big Tech vs Little Tech: The problems are the same, but the process is better.

I spent the first three years of my career at a small agency/consulting firm. We did a combination of standard application development and technical management consulting work. We had problems with code quality decline in older projects, issues with pushing out solutions quickly, and we had very poor feedback loops into our software. 

We tried to write quality software and did plenty of testing. The biggest gap was that we sold cloud native architectures to our clients, but we never actually ran cloud native software ourselves. 

One the companies strengths was that our Project Managers would interface with your Product Owners and business analysts to make sure we were building the right software for clients. And because our clients were bureaucratic  cable companies we needed a lot of Project Managers to work with the clients’ bureaucracies. So we ran all the latest Scaled Agile frameworks and helped train our clients to use them. 

I moved to one of the biggest tech companies recently and here we also have problems with code quality in older projects, but this company has much better feedback loops and takes a little more time on developing and vetting solutions. 

Its funny that we spent a lot of time at my last job building continuous delivery pipelines for our clients, but I still never got to work with one. Here at BigTech we have full CD to production despite running one of the biggest websites in the world. 

On the process side, Project Managers don’t exist at all. And there is a lot less ‘Agile’ process on my team. Engineering design is handled with more formal design documents and design review meetings. Designs are written in documents instead of being hashed out on whiteboards during a meeting and only partially documented after that.