Builder ethos: the DNA of digital factories (platform and experiences teams) - Digital Platforms and MACH Architecture with Andrew Kumar

Illustrated image of hands putting a box on a conveyor belt, representing a digital factory
Published
August 24, 2021
Category

Strategy

The builder ethos is a philosophy that recognizes that outstanding digital experiences start with the teams who build them: cross-functional, autonomous digital teams that are empowered to build and deliver digital experiences, faster. In my last post, we talked about the specific roles and skills digital leaders need to assemble to create the right DNA for digital teams. In this post, I’ll show you how to adjust the mix of roles and skills on your digital teams to create purpose-built teams that build faster together.

Organizing the roles and skills of your builders will determine the success of your digital teams. While the builder ethos is a shared philosophy, how a company applies it must be unique to its needs.

This post is part of a Builder Ethos Series, see them all:

A mix of skills and perspectives enables teams to build better digital products and experiences, faster

As I mentioned in my first post, the modern digital team is made up of more than just developers. Gartner predicts that 80% of technology products will be built by people who are not technology professionals by 2024. To build faster, digital leaders are bringing together technical and marketing functions around a shared platform to foster collaboration. These cross-functional digital teams work as one unit, coming together, then working independently and then coming together again as needed. This back and forth enables the technical and marketing sides to converge and create much more rapidly.

Illustrated graphic of a venn diagram showing customer experience to be the intersection poit between the techincal side and the marketing side of building digital experiences

Learn more about the roles and skills you need to assemble agile digital teams.

Build and operate no-code/low-code tools with purpose-built teams

Identifying the skills you need on your digital teams is a great first step toward building digital experiences faster. The next step is assembling purpose-built teams in a way that compounds the skills of each individual team member. 

The two teams that are part of effective digital organizations are:

  • Platform teams that build the core tools and accelerators: shared components, templates, design systems, starter kits and data models.  

  • Experience teams that can focus on content and creative work, using the core components to build, measure, test and iterate digital experiences faster. These customer-facing teams support better outcomes for the end user in a no-code/low-code operating model.  

A platform team can support one or many experience teams. This enables companies to deliver more digital experiences faster using the shared no-code tooling and components developed by the platform team. 

These teams work best when they are small — 5-10 people in total. Having large and cumbersome teams is unnecessary when working with modern digital platforms like Contentful. Go to a search engine and search for two pizza teams, or tribes and squads, to see how other companies organize people into smaller, cross-functional units with shared goals and common measures. This may require some change management as your organization sheds the legacy platform and legacy ways of working. 

The following digital team templates will give you an idea of what different digital teams can look like when you customize the mix of roles and skills for specific goals. In smaller organizations, platform teams might transition into experience teams as the product matures and requires less active feature and template needs. In larger organizations, platform teams are tasked with supporting and onboarding many experience teams to scale best practices across an organization.

Platform team composition

The platform team objective is to build software, apps, features, templates and other components that the experience team can run with to deliver customer-ready digital experiences. Platform teams tend to index heavier on APIs, backend, data and developer talent with fewer product and content-designer roles. Often platform teams are measured by their ability to deliver reusable components that improve efficiency of experience teams. 

See the flexibility and extensibility enabled by platform teams:

Illustrated graphic depicting how platform teams are composed

Experience team composition

An experience team’s objective is to build, compose and launch amazing content and experiences to customers. Experience teams tend to index heavier on strategy, content, design, creative and insights roles. They have low to no developer dependency and the level of strategy, analytics and project management needed will depend on their goals. 

Experience teams focus on delivering digital experiences, fast. Often experience teams are measured by their ability to reuse content and other components to create engaging experiences that support customer outcomes and business outcomes equally. There can be many experience teams working autonomously to deliver different outcomes for different brands, capabilities or departments, connected by a shared platform and components that provide guardrails for brand consistency.

Contentful, with its partners, is here to support you in your digital platform, digital factory and digital transformation journey 

You don’t need to go on a hiring spree to build a digital team. We want to help you build better software, faster, with Contentful. Contentful empowers businesses at any stage of digital sophistication to get started quickly. With guidance from our in-house team of experts and our experienced network of partners, you can get started with best practices now while building your internal digital factory for the future.

Learn best practices for supporting each team. Watch the webinar: Fireside Chat: People and Process for Leading Digital Teams.

Next-step resources to build your platform and experience teams:

Find talent

Upskill your builders with educational resources

Pair up with one of our partners for your next project

Let’s talk. Find out how Contentful can help your company. We’re ready to help. Contact us to start a conversation.

This post is part of a Builder Ethos Series, see them all:

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