From CSTO Sachin Castelino of In-Solutions Global
This week on the API Intersection podcast, we spoke with Sachin Castelino, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer (CSTO) at In-Solutions Global Ltd. This company provides real-time payment services to financial institutions and is now expanding that to merchants, government entities, and education institutions. And–they are also a Stoplight customer! Sachin has been at In-Solutions Global for over a decade, participating in everything from Hr, project management, tech, and product.
As CSTO, his role revolves around keeping up with the constant technological change, understanding the underlying pain point for customers behind specific products, and creatively developing solutions that keep customer-centricity in mind. Coming from a product background and applying that to a transformational role in fundamentally changing the way In-Solutions Global does business has been a journey of lessons learned.
Here are Sachin’s four tips and lessons learned from his time as a CSTO that other program leaders, transformation experts, and technology experts can apply to their own technology transformations across their organizations.
1. Platform Thinking and Reusability
Previously, their team focused on building various single-use case features at the requests of particular customers, which provided a lot of sustainability in terms of extended longevity. But now, they've experienced a fundamental shift when it comes to the challenge of scalability and long-term platform-level thinking.
"Our ability to scale across the nation and then across the globe without a platform thought process required a mindset shift, moving to more of a design thinking approach," said Sachin. "With that thinking, I've started getting all stakeholders involved with it, from sales to product to even developers and operations. It's a common language that we now start to speak."
This fundamental shift has helped their internal teams be more open to understanding why technology transformations are needed, but transformations are not the end goal. As the CSTO, Sachin works to ensure everyone understands that transformation is an ongoing process and that, despite changes in the market, there's no need to be overwhelmed by it. Instead, get excited by the thought of transformation and putting structure behind it.
2. If You Don't Have Communication, You're Doomed to Fail
"Three years ago, we decided we needed to consciously look at how we're doing these communications and how we're approaching technology so that we didn't have pockets where folks were working on the same technology in different silos," shares Sachin. "Before three years ago, we were reactive, and the goal now is to be more proactive about what we're investing in and how this technology change will take place."
To explain what it takes for successful transformation across your organization, Sachin likes to use none other than an API analogy.
"So APIs are consistent ways of communicating between systems, right? So, similarly now, if we take that into the real world of having consistent communication methods, we know that is extremely important (especially in Transformation work). For that to work well, we need consistency and discipline to be designed properly, or communication gets lost. That transformation process relies on the communication between groups working effectively," shares Sachin.
Without communication, transformation is doomed to fail, no matter how small. Sachin's potentially controversial take is that silos aren't the problem when it comes to transformations failing. Now, I would argue silos definitely can contribute to failed transformation efforts; however, Sachin argues that as long as communication is there and is consistent and stable, transformation can still blossom despite silos.
"I don't actually view silos as necessarily bad. Pitfalls, risks, and challenges come with them, but if they operate extremely efficiently, it's not the worst thing. With our transformation work, our goal is not necessarily to cut down on silos because those are only really dangerous when there's no communication between them," shares Sachin.
3. The Right Tools for Transformation
"Our idea is to figure out how to communicate as quickly as possible from that one little silo to the next using the right technology and tools. That's one of the main reasons why we bought into something like Stoplight from a structural perspective. It helps when I'm working on equipping entire teams to be able to communicate as soon as possible rather than focusing on just breaking down the silos themselves," shares Sachin.
Sachin emphasizes that true transformation only happens when the right tools are in place to even allow for communication across teams and potential silos to occur in the first place. As long as those silos don't become a power center that creates friction with other silos via a vital communication channel, then all silos can operate seamlessly.
That means maximizing the right tools in your technology stack that allow for constant collaboration and communication across teams. Find tools that make the developer experience a breeze and offer a variety of ways for in-platform collaboration and integrations across the tools that your organization already utilizes (such as Slack, Teams, etc.). For his API team, that meant a tool like Stoplight that includes features where teams can easily collaborate asynchronously. (Side note–if collaboration is one of your team's goals, check out our new Teams feature or Proposals feature in Stoplight.)
4. Accept the Imperfect
"A mistake I made as a transformational leader, in the beginning, was always thinking that everything should be perfect. Once a system is live, it should just work smoothly, right? There should be no challenges. If we have the right team, it should all work out," shares Sachin. "BUT–we all know in reality, that's not how life works and, for me, accepting that was one of a big transformation for myself."
What Sachin learned that is so critical for other leaders undergoing a technology transformation across their organization is that it's an ongoing and imperfect process. There are going to be mistakes along the way. It's okay to have some technical debt to figure out. It's alright if a new product or feature doesn't land quite how you hoped it would. As long as you learn from it and move onward and upward as a team, it's all a part of the transformation process. Transformation is not complete without failure, just as much as it is not complete without success.
For Sachin, transformation is an ongoing process. We're looking forward to seeing the In-Solutions Global team reap the benefits of that transformation process towards better scalability as they move to be a more global platform. For more insights, subscribe to the API Intersection podcast.