Finding the Needle in the Tech Stack: What to Look for in a Platform Engineering Services Partner
Nov 15, 2023
To stay ahead of digital transformation in today's competitive market, most forward-thinking companies are adding platform engineering solutions to their toolbelt––a set of emerging tech tools that help you build complex systems with reliability and consistency. Because creating a platform engineering team from scratch can be challenging, time-consuming, and a significant financial investment, joining forces with a platform engineering services partner is the best way to keep your digital transformation and modernization on track.
The Risks of Approaching Digital Transformation Incorrectly
Successful digital transformation hinges on thorough early planning, which starts with defining clear goals; initiating the process without doing so can have dire consequences. Without a clear direction and understanding of how you want to apply technology to existing processes, you risk inefficiency and frustration for all parties.
Business operations isn't the only vulnerable area during digital transformation; a company's finances can take a severe blow if not done right. Support for business-critical functions needs to be accounted for and built in early. For example, a mistake caught in manufacturing might cost you a dollar per unit to respec. However, if that product is already on store shelves, you're looking at hundreds of dollars a unit to get the project back on track.
Digital transformation done incorrectly or without expertise to help guide you around these pitfalls is possible, but leaders risk much by doing so. Finding the right platform engineering solutions partner can reduce that risk, save money, and get efficient processes up and running ASAP.
What to Look For When Choosing the Ideal Partner
Before shaking any hands and sealing any deals, it's essential to ask the right questions and determine whether a potential platform engineering services partner can offer what your company needs. Remember, you aren’t just looking for smarts and expertise––you’re looking for a partner that will strategize to help you solve your toughest problems. The following questions will serve as a guide for companies navigating the search for the right platform engineering solutions partner.
Digital transformation is a complex endeavor with countless fields and niche areas. It is essential to choose an expert in one's specific industry, someone with the qualifications and experience to understand industry-specific trends and challenges.
It's not enough to want to move into the cloud because everyone else is doing it. In a semi-automated warehouse, for example, an impulsive move to the cloud without guidance could mean a lag in control of safety-critical equipment that needs to be operated in real time. Whether that lag is 200 milliseconds or 2 seconds, the impacts could be costly or (worse) dangerous. Understanding your company's needs and what technology and timelines will support your goals is where an expert partner can help you succeed. To gauge this expertise, start by asking a few simple questions:
• How have they worked with other companies in the industry? • Do they have custom or industry-specific applications in their environment? • How do they stay current and reactive to industry trends and market pressures? • Do they consistently get new features to market before their competition?
A valued platform engineering services partner should be able to apply expert solutions to industry-specific problems without hand-holding.
The best strategic partner will have a lot of experience—not just in your industry but with platform engineering team structure as a whole. Of course, foundational questions about a partner's years of experience and what skills they have to offer are important, but companies should seek further to truly determine what is right for them. A few outside-the-box questions to gauge experience might be:
• What does the company already know about platform engineering services? • How have they used their platform engineering team’s framework to solve customer issues? • How have they handled technical failures in the past? • What happens after the first phase of the implementation? • Can they provide an example of a completed project of the same scale as your desired project where their framework has been utilized successfully?
If a platform engineering solutions partner cannot explain confidently and clearly how their solution works and how they have handled hiccups in the past, then it might be a sign that their service roadmap is immature.
Digital transformation does not end after a couple of months; it is an ongoing process that must change and adapt as one's business grows. A strong long-term partner can scale their services along with your company's growth and continue to offer the necessary expertise, resources, and technology. To best learn if a platform engineering services partner has the right longevity and scalability, start by asking these questions:
• What kind of support can their clients expect? • How is their platform engineering team structure set up, or do they outsource to third parties? • How often will they send reports or communication? • How do they guarantee quality as a client's business grows and evolves?
Scalability is where companies make or break their competitive edge in the market and keep up with the velocity of innovation. Without it, business stagnates. Look for a platform engineering team that is able and committed to growing with their clients.
When selecting a platform engineering solutions partner, one of the paramount considerations is the comprehensiveness of their product. If your financial services company wants to modernize its online systems, for example, a potential partner's tech stack can mean the difference between automated, reliable, and multi-wall security or manual security checks and sporadic code updates. If you needed to protect business-critical financial information, you'd want to use a comprehensive security system––not a padlock.
Potential partners that cannot offer a thorough and complete DevSecOps pipeline as part of their Platform Engineering Framework should not be considered viable. A complete DevSecOps pipeline that's able to tailor to your company's needs should include:
• Ways of enhancing developer productivity (such as SDK or generation wizards) • Automated testing • A complete software bill of materials for all open-source items • Static Application Security Testing (SAST) for all software created • The ability to run all the above systems on every bit of developer code
With these tips in hand, you can start moving toward a rich and valuable partnership that will launch you forward in modernization.
Why CTG is the Right Partner
CTG offers unique benefits that set it apart from other platform engineering-experienced companies. One of the biggest differentiators is that the CTG team is made up of not only software engineers but also product development experts with a vision and years of experience.
CTG brings value with an architectural framework that can develop and push out new features to clients faster, making businesses more resilient. Its platform services also have immense scalability and can span across multiple cloud and on-premise environments.
FoundationOne, a proprietary platform engineering framework and strategy methodology, is the core of CTG's service. CTG teams use FoundationOne to help enterprises achieve a consolidated, data-rich view of their entire business, even if they have several locations across the globe. The FoundationOne methodology allows business owners to sync their systems and provide valuable insights that can help propel them past their competition.
Don't wait to accelerate your digital transformation journey; partner with CTG today and see the benefits of effective platform engineering first-hand.
Ben Park, Ph.D., is a software engineering and development leader with more than 30 years’ experience developing and deploying custom-built software solutions. As CTG’s Director of Software Development, he leads a team of software development professionals that build flexible solutions to meet the needs of enterprise clients across industries. Dr. Park is a proven, motivated, and enthusiastic leader that understands how to apply a strategic vision to practice, seeks and forms collaborative teams, and transforms groups into teams aligned to a common vision. Dr. Park is an award-winning technical leader with the knowledge to design large systems of systems as well as small, embedded devices. With a Ph.D. focus in globally distributed teams using agile software development, he has a clear understanding of what is needed to operate in multiple time zones, locations, and cultures.