FemgineerTV: Episode 2 - How to Make Smart Tradeoffs When Developing Software Products

Interview with former Director of Engineering at Facebook

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Hunter
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poornima
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@poornima · Founder
As technologists we want to build software that is friendly, fast, beautiful, reliable, secure, and scalable. And we expect ourselves to deliver it on time and under budget, because our ultimate goal is to have lots of happy customers who can do what they want: cue Daft Punk’s Technologic! But time and energy are finite, and we simply cannot deliver it all at once. We need to choose our priorities, and this choice is one we should make consciously. Evaluating our software development priorities while dealing with constraints is known as the tradeoff space. How can you make wise tradeoffs for your product? The choice is based on a balance between your technology stack and business model type. “Move fast and break things!” While this has become a popular motto, it doesn’t apply to every company. For example, enterprise software companies that are building system-level software prioritize reliability because customers need to use them. Each change needs to be rigorously tested, and often approved before it can be released. Meanwhile, consumer internet companies spend time and money on making their UX delightful so that people want to use them. Reliability is something they’re willing to sacrifice. Since many are web-based applications, they can iterate quickly and release changes frequently. So yes, they can move fast and break things. The tradeoff space may seem insurmountable, but you too can become confident about your decisions by learning from a true pro! In the second episode of Femgineer TV, I’ve invited Jocelyn Goldfein, the Former Director of Engineering at Facebook, to talk about: - What the tradeoff space is - How to not get overwhelmed by the tradeoff space - How to make decisions that will help you ship product that your customers will love and help you meet business goals Jocelyn has led engineering teams at early to growth-stage startups like VMWare and enterprise companies like Trilogy, so she’s definitely had her fair share of dealing with constraints and having to make tradeoffs to ship product and meet business goals. We also dig into the cost of a mistake, how to take risks, the BIGGEST mistake Jocelyn sees technical folks making over and over again, and how to avoid making it!