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  • Writer's picturegeoffrey andrade

Engineering plans in 2020: Covid and Economic implications

Weeks before the corona virus reached its height in the headlines, a memo was sent out cautioning CEOs to brace for what was to come. In their note, VC firm Sequoia Capital provided suggestions on navigating the upcoming storm. It was also a reminder that during times of disruption the resilient succeed.

So how are engineering leaders addressing the challenge? The consensus here in Silicon Valley and Bay Area has been: 'Don't panic, preserve cash and optimize resources.' Adapting to change quickly is critical. As habits change in the near-term, it's the perfect time to reassess.

Finding areas to cut cost as soon as possible will put the organization in the best of positions. Negotiating with vendors or asking for more favorable terms might be a reasonable request. At the same time, looking at internal tools and subscriptions can provide opportunities to consolidate. Solutions are becoming more robust. What once required 3-7 tools to accomplish a task may now be done with just 1 or 2. All too often do non-essential features creep into teams who consider a functionality a requirement but don't actually use it. (Kind of like those 187 dashboards that are all "crucial").

Consumers are cutting their spending and markets are shifting. Forecasting the next 6-18 months may suggest a pivot in priorities. Developers and engineers are in high demand because of their skill to build revenue generating services. In times of slowdown, new customers are important but its also a chance to step back, harden the current offering and prioritize existing customers.

Hiring and retaining engineering talent has been a struggle among 96%+ of tech companies. Current conditions can be a chance to invest in recruitment efforts for some. For others, exploring alternatives like outsourcing or simply doing more with less is optimal.

This can also be the case for planned investments in infrastructure or new technology adoption. Postponing certain investments, advancing others or reallocating budgets to automate can prove to be an effective strategy. It's easy to overlook where teams spend their time. A common oversight is the opportunity cost and TCO of managing something that a dedicated service provider can offer. This can free up valuable resources and shift the focus to the company's core competitive value.

This current climate puts leaders in a position to steer the ship and lead their teams in uncharted waters. However, if history has taught us anything, it's that disruption breeds innovation.

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