A "platform team" in a tech company is akin to the architect and builder of a versatile foundation upon which various structures can be constructed. Just as a building's foundation provides stability and allows for different types of rooms and functionalities within a structure, a platform team's role is to create foundational layers and core building blocks for a company's products.
This team is responsible for designing, developing, and maintaining critical components that power the company's offerings. This can encompass a range of elements, including the underlying infrastructure, development tools, system architecture, security measures, key technology choices, and core abstractions like data models and business logic. Essentially, anything that serves as the fundamental groundwork for building software products falls under the umbrella of the platform.
In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology-driven startups and established companies, platforms have gained immense significance. They facilitate the efficient development of new features and products for a diverse array of users. A platform team must understand the requirements and needs of internal customers (other teams within the organization) and support them in leveraging the features and capabilities provided by the platform.
Furthermore, a platform can be of varying granularity, ranging from infrastructure that runs applications to higher-level building blocks such as frontend components, design systems, payment processing, messaging systems, personalization features, event tracking, and more. The platform team's focus is to develop these capabilities and ensure they are easily reusable and extendable, serving multiple use cases within the organization.
The platform is regarded as a business-critical aspect, as the quality of platform investments directly impacts the overall health of the company's product offerings and the performance of teams. By investing in a well-designed platform, companies can achieve scalability, speed, quality, and flexibility, ultimately reducing technical and architectural debts and promoting innovation and motivation among teams.
The platform team can significantly improve efficiency and reduce redundancy by providing standardized tools and templates for common features. Here are two examples:
Boilerplate Templates for New Projects:
The platform team can create standardized project templates or boilerplates that come pre-configured with common features and technologies. These templates could include configurations for:
User authentication using popular platforms (e.g., Facebook, Google, etc.).
Basic UI components.
Error handling mechanisms.
Logging and monitoring setups.
When starting a new project, development teams can utilize these boilerplate templates, saving time on initial setup and configuration. The teams can then customize and extend the project based on specific requirements.
CLI Tool for Feature Integration:
Additionally, the platform team can develop a command-line interface (CLI) tool that automates the integration of specific features, such as Facebook login, into an application. The CLI tool can:
Prompt the user for necessary configuration details (e.g., API keys, secrets, etc.).
Generate the required code snippets or configurations for seamless integration.
Update environment variables or constants in the project codebase.
By leveraging this CLI tool, development teams can effortlessly integrate features like Facebook login by running a few simple commands. This streamlines the integration process, ensures consistency across projects, and significantly reduces the manual setup time.
By offering standardized tools like boilerplate templates and CLI integrations, the platform team enables development teams to quickly and efficiently incorporate common features into their projects. This not only saves time but also promotes consistency and best practices. Teams can customize these tools to suit their specific needs and, when appropriate, contribute enhancements back to the platform, fostering a collaborative and efficient development ecosystem.
In summary, a platform team crafts the bedrock upon which a tech company's product ecosystem thrives, constantly evolving and adapting to meet the needs of the organization and its diverse user base. They operate as both architects and product creators, aligning with the company's vision and the requirements of internal stakeholders to build a solid foundation for sustainable growth and innovation.