Getting to Innovation Faster

📌 UPDATE: Tech Maturity is now available on GitHub

Original post below:

Dealing with growing pains is a good problem to have! Over the years, Ticketmaster has evolved from a closed ticketing website to a technology company with an open platform powering products offered by major brands like Facebook and Costco. It has been an enormous challenge to remain agile while scaling, and we are excited to share how we have met the demands of fast growth.

Soon, we will be releasing an open source portal that measures “Tech Maturity” so companies of any size can also realize the benefits, e.g.:

  • Spend more time innovating, and less time being “busy” with repetitive, manual tasks
  • Use a common set of standards to drive business results
  • Increase visibility for better decision making
  • Gravitate towards consistency across teams and products
  • Use standard components over custom-built solutions
  • Invest in fixing root causes and not just the symptoms

View / Download Tech Maturity Model

With the goal to drive innovation, we aim to free ourselves from repetitive busy work by removing friction so that we can focus more on what we really want to do: build awesome products. I’m sure that most developers, whether working at a small startup or large enterprise, can relate to the lightning speed of product development and the pressures that come with it. At Ticketmaster we have hundreds of products in our portfolio, and at times our SDLC has had developers chasing their tails to meet product and quality specifications by a deadline. There is rarely a moment to reflect and clean up shop before the next project comes along.

To improve efficiencies across the board, we took a giant step back to see how to remove friction and help teams work smarter. We found that the existing maturity models didn’t address the pain points felt by most of our teams on a tangible, practical level, so we created our own! We started with a punch list of barriers preventing teams from achieving continuous delivery and that evolved into the model we use today.

Our Tech Maturity model values automation, repeatability, and visibility over manual, repetitive tasks.  It minimizes the risk of paying “tax” later in the form of fighting fires, longer release cycles, and limited visibility into the health and performance of a product. After applying the model to just a few products, a pattern quickly emerged highlighting a trend in low maturity in repeatable deploys, test suite coverage, and monitoring & alerting. We began quantifying the results into a “product quality score” and correlated the data with outages. This resonated with our product leadership, and teams found it much easier to prioritize non-feature work.

Example of how we visualize product quality at the application level

How the Tech Maturity Model Drives Competitive Growth and Continuous Delivery

Tech Maturity helps us identify growth opportunities to eliminate waste, set clearly defined targets, and measure progress all while we work toward the ultimate goal of continuous delivery.

The model charts a clear path that can be completed in stages and allows flexibility for progressing through five key dimensions of software development: Code, Build & Test, Release, Operate, and Optimize.

For Ticketmaster’s move to the public cloud, the model served as a “cloud readiness” gauge that quantifies how close a product is to being ready for migration. This was achieved by establishing targets for a subset of capabilities that we believe define the minimum requirements for any product or service in the public cloud. This gives teams who own legacy products a clear goal to work toward that they can easily track. It also allows the company to operate in a decentralized, self-service way so that teams can run with their migrations without delay.

You can’t tell if you’re winning without a scoreboard, so we created a portal to gather, aggregate, and display patterns from the data assembled and made it visible to everyone in the company. Strategically, Tech Maturity provides a key indicator of our performance so that we can continually make value-driven improvements.

Example of how data is aggregated across capabilities to spot trends across products
We make these improvements at all levels within the company. Teams use their “product quality score” to prioritize work while leadership studies the aggregated data to identify patterns that reveal where the company can make strategic investments. These investments are geared towards reducing product development cycle time and leveling up all products across the board to increase our technological edge.

Open Source Tech Maturity Portal Available Soon!

The open sourced version of the Tech Maturity Portal will be released to GitHub.

With our Tech Maturity Portal, you can:

  • Quantify the maturity of your products
  • Visually compare individual product maturity to company-wide trends
  • Identify patterns for removing friction within your SDLC
  • Track and measure improvements over time

The best thing about our model is that it does not prescribe solutions. Rather, it offers standards with an aim to give teams a clear path towards efficient product development at scale. The model can be easily tailored to meet your specific needs. Ticketmaster has technology ranging from the 1970’s to today, and we have been able to successfully apply this model to products ranging from VAX code to JavaScript libraries. It’s a great vehicle for sharing and rallying around a common vision.

We’re excited to see the response from the community, and are thrilled to announce that we are collaborating with the Cloud Native Compute Foundation to demonstrate how technologies like Kubernetes provide a boost in Tech Maturity when used effectively.

To receive updates on Tech Maturity and the release date for the portal, sign up here.

Have feedback or ideas on removing friction in the SDLC? Let’s discuss!

Sherry Taylor | @seakitteh