Tech Radar Process
Step 1: Learning
In this step, we learned what a tech radar is and how to apply the concept to Open edX. We took an initial stab at what our quadrants and rings might be, and thought about what sort of blips belong on the radar, and what don’t. We also came up with a plan for how we could collaboratively build the radar with the community.
Step 2: Ideation (Workshop)
Each participant individually brainstormed blips based on their areas of expertise. The goal was to come up with a corpus of technologies that might become blips.
Step 3: Analysis (Workshop)
Participants gathered in breakout rooms by expertise area: Architecture, Backend, Frontend, and SRE / DevOps. We also had breakout rooms for Data and “Rebels”, but they were unused during the workshop for lack of participants.
Step 4: Retrospective (Workshop)
We paused after our analysis to reflect on the process so far. This included feedback on the workshop itself, the emerging shape of our radar, how we should categorize blips, and thoughts on how we should proceed for the next steps.
Step 5: Quadrants
In this step we looked at the output of Step 3 (Analysis) and categorized technologies into quadrants using our learnings and predictions from Step 1 (Learning) to guide us. We confirmed - based on the analysis in the workshop - that having quadrants of Techniques and Open edX Technologies made sense for our Tech Radar. The former is also present on Thoughtworks' Radar, and the latter makes sense given the number of Open edX-specific technologies in use in our platform.
We also decided that we had enough technologies in the frontend development ecosystem, and that they were distinct enough from our other technologies, to justify having a Frontend quadrant. Finally, all other technologies effectively went into the Technologies quadrant. The majority are backend oriented, but there are also a number of services and operational/process technologies in this space.
Step 6: Consolidation
In this step, we refined what potential blips should be included in the radar. We came up with a set of criteria by which we could combine some blips and remove others, with the goal of having roughly 25-50 blips in each quadrant.
We then populated a spreadsheet with all of our blips and set the quadrants appropriately, and the rings to “Hold” pending Step 8. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ntg2fy7EBR0TFGktyORyv3W-K1bOmhr5Z4EU6WzdSWE/edit#gid=0
Step 7: Descriptions
This is our current step. The goal of this process is to generate descriptions for all of the blips on the radar. We believe that we will more accurately categorize blips into rings equipped with descriptions of what each blip is, and what it means - qualitatively - to the Open edX platform. We intend to do this collaboratively in the Tech Radar spreadsheet. Participants can sign up to be an Author or Reviewer of a blip description.
Step 8: Rings
Once we have descriptions of our blips, it’s time to categorize them into rings by their level of adoption. We haven’t chosen a process for this step yet. One proposal is to use a set of Google Surveys to ask participants to assign a ring to each blip and optionally give a rationale.
Step 9: Publish!
We want to share our Technology Radar with the broader Open edX community to help onboard and educate everyone about our technology stack. As part of our broader information architecture goals, we expect to be prominently linking to the Tech Radar from our documentation. New engineers should be familiar with the technologies in the “Primary Radar” within their first 30 days.
Step 10: Iterate
Once we’ve published the radar, that’s not the end. As we all know, technology continues to change constantly, and our Tech Radar will be both the vehicle for how we adapt to changes in technology, as well as our outward expression of those decisions.