Even software developers can use a hand. That\u2019s the intent of Thoughtworks\u2019 homegrown Network Enabled Organization (NEO) toolbox, a development portal that has sped up application development from idea to deliverable on average 30% faster by automating much of the grunt work \u2014 and advanced tasks, too \u2014 out of the development process.\n\n\u201cMaking developers more productive and getting them to deliver things faster is obviously a good thing,\u201d says David Whalley, CIO of Thoughtworks. \u201cBut actually, it\u2019s about delivering value to the customer, and in our case, that\u2019s our internal business leaders.\u201d\n\nThoughtworks, an IT consultancy founded 20 years ago in Chicago, competes with the likes of Cognizant and Wipro in 17 nations and has grown from 30 employees to more than 12,000 globally today \u2014 55% of whom are developers. Projects like NEO aimed at making those developers more efficient has a significant impact on Thoughtworks\u2019 ability to compete in a hot market.\n\nWhalley teamed up with Thoughtworks Chief Digital Officer Swapnil Deshpande to develop the NEO Developer Experience Portal, which earned the company a CIO 100 Award for IT leadership and innovation.\n\nThe NEO toolbox includes APIs, predefined code, and SaaS plug-ins to free up Thoughtworks\u2019 developers to innovate rather than focus on common tasks. NEO also abstracts myriad common and complex development tasks such as machine language models into a single platform that improves the speed and quality of sophisticated business applications.\n\nThoughtworks\u2019 platforms team leans on NEO to deliver applications for the company\u2019s C-suite and chief marketing officer, who interact with major customers such as Lenovo, John Deere, BP, Credit Suisse, Bosch, PayPal, and Standard Chartered, as well as major public sector entities such as the US Department of Veterans Affairs.\n\n\u201cThe whole concept is about building a platform that allows developers to innovate,\u201d Whalley says, noting that he leads the internal IT organization that provides services to the internal business. \u201cWhat we\u2019re doing essentially is abstracting a lot of the noise away from them, so they don\u2019t have to worry about cloud services or security, because the platform provides those built in so they can focus on the business value that is needed.\u201d\n\nManjunath Bhat, a vice president and analyst at Gartner, says tools like NEO streamline and organize the development process just as SaaS and apps simplify business processes.\n\n\u201cDeveloper portals are to developers what trails are to hikers in a jungle,\u201d Bhat says. \u201cThey provide a well-trodden path from concept to customer value amid a chaotic mix of tools and practices.\u201d\n\nFacilitating innovation\n\nThoughtworks has not productized this in-house platform. But it has partnered with enterprise customer Spotify to create a like-minded open-source developer portal called Backstage. And in September 2021, Thoughtworks also partnered with customer Telus on the development of a Backstage-based portal for that company\u2019s 8,000 developers.\n\nAs for NEO, the platform generates reports on key metrics such as the performance of fragmented teams, legacy technology that needs to be updated, applications that are duplicated, and any ill-defined business processes or other issue that could affect delivery cycles, Whalley says.\n\nThrough NEO, Thoughtworks has modernized its development process by replacing older components, such as event streaming and hosting, replacing it with Kafka and Google Cloud Platform. It has also consolidated features from API platforms, Heroku, and GitHub, for example, to ensure developers have all they need without redundancy.\n\nIn-house developers who use NEO like it.\n\n\u201cWith NEO, the processes that used to be demanding and considerable effort were greatly streamlined. Being able to manage our projects, in addition to having access to infrastructure information and the resources available within the same platform, has considerably increased our productivity and organization,\u201d says Rodrigo Denubilla, tech lead at Thoughtworks in Brazil. \u201cNEO has had an extraordinary impact on our daily lives.\u201d \n\nIn addition to helping jumpstart the development process, NEO also enables developers to experiment more. For example, with NEO, Deshpande can run a series of hackathons to push the limits on innovation. \u201cWe can spin those up in a matter of hours using the platform so people can come up with an idea and build it because all the basic building blocks are there for them,\u201d the CDO says. \n\nThe developer edge\n\nFor a company that is growing \u201cnorth of 20% annually,\u201d NEO\u2019s ability to track fragmented teams globally is another significant benefit, Whalley says. The platform, for instance, integrates data from SaaS systems such as Workday to give project leaders up-to-date employment information about the company\u2019s developers, as well as their availability.\n\n\u201cIf you want some financial data and headcount, it\u2019s there,\u201d Whalley says. \u201cObviously, all this is done through permissioning. Not everybody has access to confidential information, so it\u2019s all authorized.\u201d\n\nPawan Shah, a San Francisco-based Thoughtworks developer, also lauded NEO\u2019s many benefits. \u201cNEO has provided the perfect platform to assist developers to publish, discover, and consume these core assets through events and API, thus making the internal system integrations more seamless,\u201d Shah says. \u201cAs a consumer of NEO, I see this as a huge benefit which has helped us move faster with our integrations so that we can focus on providing the right value for the business.\u201d\n\nGartner\u2019s Bhat says such portals help declutter developers\u2019 desktops and workflows.\n\n\u201cMost organizations use a complex collection of platforms, tools, and frameworks across different layers of the technology stack. This internal maze of technologies creates unnecessary overhead, duplicates effort, and hurts developer productivity,\u201d Bhat says. \u201cDeveloper portals help solve the problem of too many unknowns, poor asset discoverability, and tool fragmentation.\u201d\n\nBy abstracting away the underlying complexity across multiple technology layers, from the data layer, to programming language and scaffolding frameworks, to infrastructure and APIs, developer portals like NEO can help make development work streamlined and consistent, Bhat says \u2014 a recipe for better business outcomes.