Itzy Sabo

👋 I'm Itzy Sabo, an Engineering Management Expert & Fractional CTO.

What if your engineers could deliver more business value, faster?

February 15, 2024

5 best practices to survive going viral (and DDoS attacks)

People are more concerned with scalability than resilience, yet distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are more common than going viral. Either way, if you're unprepared, going viral is almost equivalent to suffering a DDoS attack. It will totally paralyse your infrastructure, costing you a lot of money and missed opportunities. ...
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January 9, 2024

How much uptime can I afford?

Software engineers love working on nice juicy problems, especially ones that are rich in CV-worthy buzzwords. It is a rare engineer that will admit: 💡 Engineering for 99.5% uptime is more cost-effective than 99.99% for most startups! "But why shouldn’t my engineers strive for excellence?" Of course they should, but 99.99% guaranteed up...
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November 1, 2023

Agile software development — 5 essential facts for startup CEOs

The 5 essentials that startup CEOs should know about Agile software development: (Test your CTO 😉) 1. Real users are unpredictable and full of surprises. This is the why of Agile — the reason it exists. You (CEO) are an expert in your industry. You have used your unique insights to build a product. But something unexpected happens when...
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July 25, 2023

85% of New Features FAIL & Feature Cost Inflation

85% of new features fail — in the best companies. Most of us are wrong, most of the time. It's just the nature of the beast. This makes what I have to say next much worse. Another rule, which I discovered when managing a feature factory: 💡 Each feature you add to a product increases the cost of every subsequent feature. Yes, each newer...
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July 12, 2023

Just Throw it Over the Wall

"Just throw it over the wall" Is that how hand-offs happen in your company? When your engineers start work, do they find: 😡 Product questions that need to be resolved? 😤 Requirements that are not fully cooked? The good news is: 😎 Once you've batted the issue back over to the other side, you'll get a few days' quiet until it comes back....
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July 5, 2023

Escape the Feature Factory trap to unleash exponential value!

Problem Imagine that your product planning and software development priorities are tactical and feature-driven, rather than strategic. You have clever, capable and diligent product managers and software developers. They are sweating away with picks and shovels, steadily chipping away at your mountainous product backlog. Your department...
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July 4, 2023

Are you trapped in a Feature Factory?

🚩 Red-flag brag by a successful software engineering director*: “"My software developers and product managers are clever, capable and diligent. They are sweating away with picks and shovels, steadily chipping away at our mountainous product backlog. My department is a well-oiled machine, processing tickets and delivering new features b...
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June 28, 2023

Tech decisions can bury companies — 3 examples

CEOs, CXOs, VPs: be nosy about tech decisions — they are your business! Engineering managers: consider non-technical business factors in all of your decisions! Here are 3 examples of what are commonly considered to be purely tech decisions, but have serious implications for the company as a whole. Which framework should we use, Angular...
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June 21, 2023

How to deliver business value predictably

In Why do Features Take So Long to Ship? I analysed my favourite complaint that I hear from CEOs, CTOs, and VPs of Product and Engineering: their pipeline that delivers business value to the customer works much too slowly. I listed 3 common indicators that you'll see if your organisation is taking too long to deliver: • Bumped Stories ...
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June 14, 2023

Why do features take so long to ship?

“Features are taking far too long to ship — how can I fix it?“ This is one of the most common problems I have encountered. It is actually one of my favourites, because there is typically plenty that can be done. Although it can take months to solve, the first results can show up within a few short weeks. It is rare that the problem is ...
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May 10, 2023

A Story about Points, with a Happy Ending

At least two of these statements are controversial: 🤔 Story points are inaccurate when used correctly. 👌 Use story points for sprint planning. * Story points are often misused. There is no contradiction — I will explain. Little-known fact: story points are not officially part of Agile Scrum. The Scrum Guide mentions only "backlog items...
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May 9, 2023

Does your Company have a Think-first Culture?

7 reasons to prioritise writing in your company culture: • Deeper work • Fewer meetings • Fewer interruptions • Increased productivity • Self-sufficient employees • High quality decision-making These are achieved through: • Clear, written communications. Is your time valuable? So is everyone else's. 💡 Writing-centric organisations cult...
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May 8, 2023

Mircroservices — it's not about size!

The "micro-" prefix ruins everything. It's not about size. Microservices are widely misunderstood, misused, and lately, maligned. 💡 Microservices are more a management solution, than a technological one. 💡 Correctly done, each service represents a complete business domain or functional area. "Macro" fits better than "micro," though som...
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March 29, 2023

Uptime Guarantees — A Pragmatic Perspective

Engineers won't tell you this. It's not how they think. They love working on nice juicy problems, and being able to put them on their CVs. 💡 Engineering for 99.5% uptime is more cost-effective than 99.99% for most startups! "But why shouldn’t my engineers strive for excellence?" They should, but 99.99% guaranteed uptime cannot be achie...
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March 1, 2023

Technical Debt = Duct Tape + Rust

Two things I bet you didn't know about Technical Debt: • It can make you bankrupt. • At least one type of technical debt is good. Technical Debt is a software engineering concept, and is defined as follows: Technical debt is is a measure of the amount of duct tape holding your system together, plus the amount of rust¹ that it has accum...
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January 18, 2023

The Inversion of Control

C-suite people: Your CTO is probably lying to you. OK, she's not actually lying, but she does need to represent the truth in a way you can handle. Otherwise it would be too difficult for you to trust the development process. Most companies today are managed in command-and-control style. Corporate Officers (CEO, CFO, VP, etc.) are perso...
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