Gil Edelman

About Gil

Gil Edelman

CTO

San Francisco

+1 844 946 SVSG ex. 704

During two tenures as a startup CTO he contributed value in all stages of company building, from early stage development, through multiple investment rounds, and a successful exit. He has served as an architect of ecommerce, SaaS, crowdsourcing, and payments platforms. He also has a background in embedded systems and earned an MS degree after completing his graduate work at UC San Diego.

Interview

Can you describe the business challenge at JDPA and why you and the SVSG team were a good fit for the project?

JDPA’s enterprise customers had various needs that required highly specialized domain expertise – their product didn’t support mobile users, there were big data processing challenges, and a lack of analytics dashboards. In addition, JDPA needed support driving consensus on technology choices and implementation within the organization’s existing roadmap.

We were a great fit because we were able to understand the organization’s needs and spin up a bench of highly specialized CTOs and engineers with industry expertise to drive consensus on technology decisions, to fill internal gaps, and to advise and execute as high-level architecture consultants.

How did you structure the engagement?

We started by benchmarking JDPA’s internal engineering team. their current practices, and methodologies. Following this technology “audit” or “assessment” we dug deep into business requirements to outline a product roadmap and make recommendations on technology and product direction.

Based on JDPA’s business needs and goals, we put together a specialized team of engineers with the appropriate technology stack and skills. We then streamlined a process for scoping out features and integrating with the in-house engineering team. Our process made it possible for each team to work productively on different parts of the platform. We were able to achieve continuous delivery, integration, and testing.

What were the biggest challenges with the engagement and how did you overcome them?

Lack of internal resources presented a significant challenge. There was so much that needed to be accomplished in a short period of time and limited design and product resources became a bottleneck when trying to achieve good product definition or gathering requirements from customers. We were able to overcome this by assessing and identifying the right gaps and then bringing in SVSG resources to fill in.

There were also significant architecture challenges. Specifically, there was lots of legacy code and consequently process challenges. There was a lack of continuous integration, deployment, and automated testing. The consequent of this is that releases had a lot of brittleness with errors that would bubble up to customers. A really long release cycle meant that JDPA product team wasn’t able to deliver value as quickly as they could have (a 3-4 week regression cycle can be devastating for successful product development).

We were able to help by calling out low hanging opportunities for improvement and implementing them. We provided a migration path and strategy for the internal team to implement and develop products at Silicon Valley speed.

What were the key results and insights? What were the biggest benefits for the client?

The biggest challenge when refactoring is that you’re developing against a moving target. Achieving feature parity between different versions of the product by driving consensus was the most significant result.  We were a strong voice in the organization and were able to guide management in a direction that avoided double implementation.

Ultimately, we had helped JDPA achieve it’s goals by first benchmarking and then leading with Silicon Valley best-practices. We architected a completely new product while rolling out necessary updates to their old product, took an approach that allowed us to launch an iOS app at the same time as the Android app, and refactored their API. We solved strategic technical challenges, eliminated or worked around significant amounts of technical debt, and drove consensus on technical and product in partnership with management.

How did you measure the ROI?

Measuring ROI in an engagement like this comes down to benchmarking. It’s actually pretty simple: you need to understand the existing teams velocity, internal estimates for building features, and then demonstrate that you are able to build the same features faster and cheaper with the same scope vs. the internal team. And that’s what we did.

What are the most significant technology trends and challenges you are seeing for CEOs and CTOs today?

The answer to this varies by industry but one common challenge that we see everyday is managing technical debt. That is, having to deal with scale and large amount of data, scaling existing technologies and infrastructures, dealing with legacy applications, code, and infrastructure, and finding a way to move forward to new tech stacks, languages, and tools to drive business results.

If a legacy application is expensive to maintain and hard to extend and it doesn’t fulfill customers needs, it’s hard to be competitive against newer companies, startups and investors.

Bernard Frankel (SVSG CTO & Practice Lead) actually wrote a great white paper on this (linked to Bernard’s article).

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