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8 Feb
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29 Practical Methods To Optimize Engineering Organizational Structure

Navigate the world of engineering organizational structure with insights and strategies for effective team dynamics. Elevate engineering success!

Jack Dwyer

Platform Engineering + DevOps

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Organizational structure is the backbone of any successful company, and engineering organizational structure is no exception. It's the blueprint that determines how teams are formed, how decisions are made, and how work flows. In this blog, we'll explore the different types of engineering organizational structures and their impact on developer experience

From hierarchical structures to flat organizations, we'll dive into the pros and cons of each, and provide insights on how to design an effective engineering organizational structure that fosters innovation and collaboration. So whether you're a team lead, a manager, or a developer yourself, join us on this journey to discover the key to engineering organizational structure success.

What Is The Main Purpose of Optimizing Engineering Organization Structure?

team focusing on optimizing engineering organizational structure

Organizational structure plays a crucial role in engineering companies. It provides a framework that defines how tasks are organized, roles and responsibilities are assigned, and communication flows within the organization. With a well-designed organizational structure, engineering companies can effectively coordinate their efforts and maximize their productivity.

Establishing Authority and Accountability

One of the primary purposes of an organizational structure in engineering companies is to establish clear lines of authority and accountability. By defining roles and hierarchies, employees know who they report to and who they can turn to for guidance or decision-making. This clarity helps streamline decision-making processes, reduce confusion, and ensure that tasks are carried out efficiently.

Fostering Collaboration and Communication

Another important purpose is to facilitate effective communication and collaboration among team members. Engineering projects often involve multiple disciplines and teams working together. An organizational structure that promotes cross-functional collaboration enables engineers to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and work together towards a common goal. It ensures that information flows seamlessly, preventing bottlenecks and delays.

Optimizing Engineering Organizational Structure

Optimizing the engineering organizational structure is essential for companies to stay competitive and adapt to changing market demands. A well-optimized structure can enhance efficiency, agility, and innovation within the engineering teams. It allows companies to respond quickly to customer needs, improve product development cycles, and maintain a competitive edge.

Specialization and Expertise

One of the main purposes of optimizing the engineering organizational structure is to promote specialization and expertise. By grouping employees based on their skills and areas of expertise, companies can create specialized teams that excel in their respective domains. This enables engineers to focus on their core competencies, enhance their knowledge, and deliver high-quality work.

Cultivating Collaboration and Innovation

Another purpose is to foster a culture of collaboration and innovation. An optimized organizational structure encourages information sharing, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the exchange of ideas. It breaks down silos and promotes a sense of collective ownership. This collaborative environment enables engineers to learn from each other, explore new possibilities, and come up with innovative solutions.

Maximizing Engineering Team Potential with Zeet

With an optimized engineering organizational structure, companies can harness the full potential of their engineering teams. By aligning roles, responsibilities, and communication channels, companies can create an environment where engineers can thrive and be productive. 

Zeet helps you to get more from your cloud and Kubernetes investments and helps your engineering team become strong individual contributors through our CI/CD deployment platform. Contact Zeet to learn more about how Zeet can help you get seamless cloud deployments every time and helps your team to become a top-performing engineering team.

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Main Factors To Consider When Designing An Engineering Organizational Structure

employee working happily in new engineering organizational structure

Designing an effective engineering organizational structure is crucial for the success of any engineering company. The structure should promote collaboration, efficient communication, and effective decision-making processes. Here are the key factors to consider when designing an engineering organizational structure:

1. Departmentalization

One important factor is the departmentalization of tasks and responsibilities. Engineering companies often have different departments or divisions, such as research and development, design, production, and quality assurance. Each department should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, allowing employees to focus on their areas of expertise.

2. Reporting Relationships

Another important factor is establishing clear reporting relationships within the organization. This includes determining the hierarchical structure, identifying reporting lines, and specifying the levels of authority and responsibility. Clear reporting relationships help employees understand their roles, enhance accountability, and facilitate effective decision-making and communication.

3. Communication Channels

Effective communication is a cornerstone of a successful engineering organization. When designing the organizational structure, it is essential to establish clear and efficient communication channels. This includes both formal channels, such as regular meetings and reports, and informal channels, such as open-door policies and team collaboration platforms. By ensuring effective communication, information can flow smoothly, enhancing productivity and problem-solving capabilities.

4. Coordination and Integration

Engineering projects often involve multiple teams or departments working together. To ensure coordination and integration, it is essential to design the organizational structure in a way that facilitates collaboration and teamwork. This can be accomplished by creating cross-functional teams, implementing project management methodologies, and fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing.

5. Flexibility and Adaptability

In today's rapidly changing business environment, engineering companies must be flexible and adaptable. The organizational structure should be designed in a way that allows for easy adjustment and adaptation to changing market conditions or technological advancements. This may involve implementing flat hierarchies, encouraging innovation and creativity, and promoting a learning culture within the organization.

Impact of Company Size on Organizational Structure

The size of an engineering company can significantly influence its organizational structure. Here are some ways in which the size of the company affects its organizational structure:

1. Span of Control

The size of the company determines the span of control, which refers to the number of subordinates that a manager can effectively supervise. In small engineering companies, managers often have a wide span of control, directly supervising a small number of employees. In contrast, larger companies may have a more narrow span of control, with multiple management layers and a hierarchical structure.

2. Specialization and Division of Labor

As engineering companies grow in size, they often experience a greater degree of specialization and division of labor. This means that different departments or teams focus on specific tasks or areas of expertise. Smaller companies may have a more generalist approach, with employees responsible for multiple functions, while larger companies can afford to have specialized teams dedicated to specific tasks.

3. Formalization and Standardization

Larger engineering companies typically have more formalized and standardized processes and procedures. This is necessary to ensure consistency and quality across the organization. In contrast, smaller companies may have more informal processes and rely on individual expertise and judgment. Formalization and standardization become more critical as the company grows to maintain consistency and efficiency.

4. Centralization and Decentralization

The size of the company also affects the level of centralization or decentralization in decision-making. Small engineering companies often have a more centralized decision-making structure, with key decisions made by top management. As the company grows, it may adopt a more decentralized approach, empowering lower-level managers and teams to make decisions within their areas of responsibility.

5. Communication and Coordination Challenges

With the growth of an engineering company, communication and coordination challenges may arise. Larger companies may need to implement additional communication channels, such as regular departmental meetings or cross-functional collaboration platforms, to ensure effective communication and coordination among teams and departments.

Designing an effective engineering organizational structure requires careful consideration of various factors, including departmentalization, reporting relationships, communication channels, coordination and integration, and flexibility and adaptability. The size of the company also plays a significant role in determining the organizational structure, affecting aspects such as span of control, specialization, formalization, decision-making, and communication. By considering these factors and adapting the structure to the company's specific needs, engineering companies can create a structure that promotes productivity, collaboration, and innovation.

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Different Types of Engineering Organizations Structures

type of structures - engineering organizational structure

Hierarchical Structure: A Pyramid of Power

The hierarchical structure is the most traditional and widely used type of engineering organizational structure. Engineers are organized into a pyramid-like hierarchy, with each level having a different level of authority and responsibility. 

The top of the pyramid is occupied by upper-level management, such as the CEO or VP of Engineering, who make strategic decisions and set the overall direction of the engineering department. The levels below consist of middle managers, team leaders, and individual engineers.

Matrix Structure: Cross-Functional Collaboration 

The matrix structure is a hybrid organizational structure that combines elements of both functional and project-based structures. Engineers are organized into teams based on their area of expertise, such as mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. These teams also work on projects that cut across functional boundaries.

This structure encourages cross-functional collaboration and allows engineers to draw on the expertise of colleagues from different disciplines. Project managers play a crucial role in this structure, as they oversee the coordination of resources across different teams.

Flat Structure: Collaboration and Autonomy 

In a flat structure, the traditional hierarchy is minimized or eliminated, and decision-making authority is distributed among a broader group of engineers. Engineers have more autonomy and are encouraged to collaborate directly with each other, regardless of their position or level of experience. 

A flat structure fosters a more egalitarian work environment, where ideas can flow freely and innovation is encouraged. It can also lead to challenges in coordination and decision-making, as there may be a lack of clear lines of authority.

Network Structure: Leveraging External Expertise 

The network structure is an organizational structure that leverages external expertise and partnerships. Engineering work is outsourced to external contractors or specialized engineering firms. These external partners are integrated into the organization's processes and work closely with internal engineers to complete projects.

The network structure allows organizations to tap into specialized knowledge and skills, increase flexibility, and manage costs more effectively. It also requires effective management of the relationships with external partners and coordination between internal and external teams.

Team-Based Structure: Agile and Cross-Functional Teams 

The team-based structure is a flexible and agile organizational structure that emphasizes cross-functional teams. Engineers are organized into small, self-managed teams that are responsible for end-to-end project delivery. Each team consists of engineers with different skills and expertise, allowing for effective collaboration and problem-solving. 

Team-based structures are commonly used in agile development methodologies, where rapid iteration and frequent communication are essential. This structure promotes innovation, accountability, and adaptability but also requires strong teamwork and communication skills.

Different engineering organizations employ various organizational structures to suit their specific needs and goals. The choice of structure depends on factors such as the size of the organization, the complexity of engineering projects, the desired level of collaboration and autonomy, and the availability of external expertise. Each structure has its advantages and challenges, and organizations need to carefully consider their unique circumstances to determine the most suitable organizational structure for their engineering department.

Matrix Vs Functional Engineering Organizational Structure

man researching about engineering organizational structure

The choice of organizational structure plays a vital role in determining the efficiency and effectiveness of operations. Two commonly employed structures are the matrix and functional organizational structures. While both have their merits, they also possess distinct characteristics that set them apart. We will explore the differences between these structures and delve into their implications for engineering companies.

Matrix Organizational Structure

In a matrix organizational structure, employees are grouped based on both their functional expertise and the projects they are working on. This structure emphasizes a dual reporting system, where employees report to both a functional manager and a project manager. This allows for a multidimensional approach to decision-making and resource allocation.

Advantages of Matrix Structure in Engineering Companies

1. Improved Communication

The matrix structure promotes open lines of communication between different departments and project teams. This facilitates collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation, which are crucial in engineering companies where cross-functional cooperation is often required.

2. Flexibility and Adaptability

The matrix structure allows for flexibility in resource allocation. As projects evolve or new ones emerge, individuals with the necessary expertise can be easily allocated to different teams, maximizing efficiency and adaptability.

Functional Organizational Structure

In a functional organizational structure, employees are grouped by their specific job functions, such as engineering, research and development, or manufacturing. This structure is characterized by clear reporting lines, with employees reporting to a single functional manager who oversees their work within the specialized department.

Advantages of Functional Structure in Engineering Companies

1. Specialized Expertise

The functional structure allows employees to develop deep expertise in their specific fields, fostering a culture of specialization. This can lead to higher quality work output and increased efficiency as employees become highly proficient in their respective areas.

2. Clear Hierarchy and Accountability

With a clear reporting structure, employees in a functional organizational structure have a direct line of communication to their functional manager. This promotes clear accountability, ensuring that tasks are assigned, monitored, and completed within a structured framework.

Contrasting Characteristics

While both matrix and functional structures have their benefits, they differ in several key aspects:

1. Reporting Structure

In a matrix structure, employees report to both functional and project managers, resulting in dual reporting lines. In contrast, a functional structure involves a single reporting line to a functional manager.

2. Decision-Making

Matrix structures encourage collaborative decision-making, involving input from various functional and project teams. In a functional structure, decision-making is typically centralized within the functional department, with limited cross-departmental involvement.

3. Resource Allocation

Matrix structures allow for flexible resource allocation across projects, maximizing the utilization of expertise. Functional structures allocate resources based on specialized job functions, with limited flexibility to move resources between projects.

4. Communication Channels

Matrix structures promote multidirectional communication between different teams and departments, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing. Functional structures often rely on vertical communication channels, with limited cross-functional interaction.

Understanding the differences between matrix and functional organizational structures is crucial for engineering companies. The choice between the two depends on the specific needs and goals of the organization. While the matrix structure emphasizes flexibility and collaboration, the functional structure prioritizes specialized expertise and clear accountability. By carefully considering these differences, engineering companies can design their organizational structure to optimize efficiency, innovation, and overall success.

29 Practical Methods To Optimize Engineering Organizational Structure

team finalizing engineering organizational structure

When a CTO enters an organization, one of its top priorities is often to optimize the engineering team's structure. A well-designed organizational structure can enhance communication, collaboration, and overall productivity within the team. We will explore 29 practical methods to help CTOs optimize their engineering organizational structure and set their team up for success.

1. Define Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly defining roles and responsibilities within the engineering team ensures that everyone understands their specific tasks and areas of expertise.

2. Implement Agile Methodologies

Agile methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, can improve team productivity by promoting collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement.

3. Foster Cross-Functional Teams

Encouraging collaboration between members from different engineering disciplines promotes knowledge sharing, innovation, and a holistic approach to problem-solving.

4. Adopt a Flat Organizational Structure

A flat organizational structure reduces bureaucracy and empowers employees to take ownership of their work, leading to faster decision-making and increased autonomy.

5. Establish Effective Communication Channels

Implementing communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams enables efficient and transparent communication among team members, regardless of their physical location.

6. Promote Knowledge Sharing

Encourage knowledge sharing through regular team meetings, workshops, and mentorship programs to foster a culture of continuous learning and professional growth.

7. Balance Autonomy and Collaboration

Strive for a balance between individual autonomy and collaborative efforts to ensure that employees have the freedom to work independently while also leveraging the collective intelligence of the team.

8. Build a Diverse Team

A diverse engineering team brings together different perspectives, experiences, and skill sets, leading to more innovative solutions and better problem-solving capabilities.

9. Create Career Development Opportunities

Provide clear career paths, training programs, and opportunities for professional growth to attract and retain top engineering talent.

10. Emphasize User-Centric Design

Incorporate user-centric design principles into the engineering team's structure to ensure that customer needs and experiences are at the forefront of product development.

11. Utilize Performance Metrics

Define and track performance metrics to identify areas for improvement, measure team productivity, and recognize individual contributions.

12. Enable Flexible Work Arrangements

Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, can attract top talent and increase employee satisfaction.

13. Foster a Culture of Experimentation

Encourage experimentation and risk-taking within the engineering team to foster innovation and drive continuous improvement.

14. Promote Continuous Integration and Deployment

Implementing continuous integration and deployment practices streamlines the software development process, reduces errors, and increases productivity.

15. Implement Effective Project Management Practices

Utilize project management methodologies, such as Agile or Lean, to plan, execute, and monitor engineering projects effectively.

16. Encourage Feedback and Collaboration

Foster a culture of open feedback and collaboration, where team members feel comfortable providing constructive criticism and working together towards common goals.

17. Align Engineering Goals with Business Objectives

Ensure that the engineering team's goals and objectives align with the broader business strategy to drive organizational success.

18. Provide Clear Communication Channels with Leadership

Establish clear communication channels between the engineering team and leadership to ensure alignment, transparency, and support.

19. Foster a Culture of Psychological Safety

Create an environment where team members feel safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and learn from failures without fear of negative consequences.

20. Automate Repetitive Tasks

Automating repetitive tasks frees up engineering resources to focus on more complex and value-added activities, improving overall team productivity.

21. Encourage Continuous Learning

Support ongoing professional development by providing access to training resources, industry conferences, and educational opportunities.

22. Foster a Collaborative Relationship with Product Management

Collaborate closely with product management to ensure that engineering efforts align with product goals and customer needs.

23. Embrace Cloud Technologies

Leveraging cloud technologies enables scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency, allowing engineering teams to focus on core competencies.

24. Implement Code Review Processes

Code reviews promote code quality, knowledge sharing, and the identification of potential issues or improvements.

25. Foster a Culture of Innovation

Encourage engineers to explore new technologies, experiment with novel ideas, and contribute to innovation within the organization.

26. Establish Strong Team Leadership

Effective team leadership sets the tone for the engineering team, providing guidance, support, and mentorship to foster individual and collective success.

27. Implement Agile Performance Management

Agile performance management practices, such as OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), enable continuous feedback, goal alignment, and performance tracking.

28. Nurture Strong Relationships with Stakeholders

Develop strong relationships with stakeholders, including other departments, customers, and external partners, to ensure alignment and collaboration.

29. Continuously Evaluate and Adapt

Regularly assess the effectiveness of the engineering organizational structure, gather feedback from team members, and make necessary adjustments to optimize performance and productivity.

Contact Zeet to Learn More and Achieve Seamless Cloud Deployments

Zeet helps you get more from your cloud and Kubernetes investments and helps your engineering team become strong individual contributors through our CI/CD deployment platform. Contact Zeet today to learn more about how we can help you achieve seamless cloud deployments every time and enable your team to become a top-performing engineering team.

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Common Organizational Structures Used By Startups

small startup employees working together - engineering organizational structure

Startups and established companies often adopt different engineering team organizational structures based on their unique needs and goals. Here, we will explore some common structures for both types of organizations.

1. Startups

Startups typically have a smaller engineering team and a more flexible organizational structure. The following are some common structures adopted by startups:

a. Flat Structure

In a flat structure, there are minimal hierarchical levels, and team members have direct access to decision-makers. This promotes open communication, collaboration, and quick decision-making. It allows startups to be agile and adapt to changing requirements rapidly.

b. Cross-Functional Teams

Startups often organize their engineering teams into cross-functional units. These teams consist of individuals with diverse skill sets working together on specific projects or features. Cross-functional teams enable startups to iterate quickly and deliver products or features faster.

c. Matrix Structure

In a matrix structure, employees report to both functional managers and project managers. This structure allows startups to leverage the expertise of different functional teams while ensuring project-specific coordination. It enables startups to optimize resource allocation and prioritize projects based on their strategic importance.

Zeet helps you get seamless cloud deployments and empowers your engineering team to become top performers. Contact Zeet to learn more about how our CI/CD deployment platform can elevate your team's capabilities.

2. Established Companies

Established companies often have larger engineering teams and more complex organizational structures. The following are some common structures found in established companies:

a. Functional Structure

In a functional structure, engineering teams are organized based on their areas of expertise, such as software development, quality assurance, or infrastructure. This structure allows for specialization and deep domain knowledge within each functional team. It may result in silos and slower decision-making due to multiple layers of management.

b. Project-Based Structure

In a project-based structure, teams are formed around specific projects or products. Each project team is typically cross-functional, consisting of members from different engineering disciplines. This structure enables focused collaboration and efficient resource allocation for each project.

c. Divisional Structure

In a divisional structure, engineering teams are organized by business units or product lines. Each division operates as a semi-autonomous unit, responsible for its own engineering projects and goals. This structure promotes accountability and allows for customization based on the unique needs of each division.

Zeet helps you get more from your cloud and Kubernetes investments and helps your engineering team become strong individual contributors through our CI/CD deployment platform. Contact Zeet to learn more about how Zeet can help you get seamless cloud deployments every time and transform your team into top-performing engineers.

By understanding the different organizational structures used by startups and established companies, engineering leaders can make informed decisions about structuring their teams to optimize productivity, collaboration, and success.

Best Practices for Constantly Evolving Your Engineering Organizational Structure To Meet Market Demands

start up owner working alone on engineering organizational structure

In order to meet changing business needs and market demands, it is crucial for engineering organizations to have a flexible organizational structure that can adapt and evolve. Here are some best practices to achieve this:

1. Cross-Functional Teams

Implementing cross-functional teams can greatly improve the agility and responsiveness of an engineering organization. By bringing together individuals with different skill sets and expertise, teams can work collaboratively to solve complex problems and deliver innovative solutions. This structure promotes effective communication and knowledge sharing, leading to better decision-making and faster product development.

2. Agile Methodologies

Adopting agile methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, can help engineering organizations become more adaptable and responsive to changing business needs. Agile methodologies emphasize iterative development, frequent feedback, and continuous improvement. By breaking down projects into smaller, manageable tasks, teams can quickly adapt to changing priorities and deliver value to customers in a timely manner.

3. Empowering Engineering Managers

Engineering managers play a critical role in shaping the organizational structure and culture. It is essential to empower them with the necessary authority and resources to make strategic decisions. These managers should have a clear understanding of the business objectives and market trends, enabling them to align the engineering organization accordingly. Empowered managers can effectively delegate responsibilities, foster innovation, and provide guidance to their teams.

4. Flexible Reporting Lines

In a rapidly changing environment, rigid reporting lines can hinder communication and decision-making. Instead, engineering organizations should consider adopting a more flexible reporting structure, such as matrix or project-based reporting. This allows employees to collaborate with multiple teams and managers, fostering cross-pollination of ideas and expertise. It encourages a culture of collaboration and enables individuals to work across different projects and initiatives based on their skills and interests.

5. Continuous Learning and Development

To meet evolving market demands, engineering organizations must prioritize continuous learning and development. This includes providing opportunities for employees to enhance their technical skills, stay updated with industry trends, and explore emerging technologies. Investing in employee development not only boosts their confidence and productivity but also helps the organization adapt to new challenges and seize opportunities.

Adapting and evolving an engineering organizational structure requires a proactive approach. By implementing cross-functional teams, embracing agile methodologies, empowering engineering managers, establishing flexible reporting lines, and prioritizing continuous learning, organizations can ensure they are well-equipped to meet changing business needs and market demands.

Optimizing Cloud and Kubernetes Investments

Get more from your cloud and Kubernetes investments with Zeet. Zeet helps your engineering team become strong individual contributors through our CI/CD deployment platform. Contact Zeet to learn more about how we can help you get seamless cloud deployments every time, and enable your team to become a top-performing engineering team.

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Become A Top Performing Engineering Team With Zeet's CI/CD Deployment Platform for Kubernetes

Are you tired of struggling with complex cloud deployments and inefficient engineering teams? Look no further than Zeet, the solution that will transform your organization's engineering structure and maximize your cloud and Kubernetes investments.

Harness the Power of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)

Zeet's CI/CD deployment platform empowers your engineering team to deliver code changes to production quickly and safely. By automating the entire deployment process, Zeet eliminates the need for manual intervention, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring seamless deployments every time. With Zeet, your team can focus on what they do best – writing code and solving complex problems – rather than wasting time on repetitive and error-prone deployment tasks.

Unleash the Potential of Your Engineering Team

Zeet's platform not only streamlines your deployment process but also helps your engineering team become strong individual contributors. By automating repetitive tasks, Zeet frees up valuable time for your engineers to focus on innovative projects and higher-value work. This not only boosts their productivity but also enhances their job satisfaction, leading to a more motivated and engaged team.

Transform Your Organization into a Top-Performing Engineering Team

With Zeet, your organization can achieve top-tier performance in terms of product quality, time to market, and customer satisfaction. By enabling faster and more frequent deployments, Zeet accelerates your development cycle, allowing you to iterate and release new features at a rapid pace. This agility gives you a competitive edge in the market and ensures that you can respond quickly to customer demands and market changes.

Unlock the Full Potential of Your Cloud and Kubernetes Investments

Zeet's CI/CD deployment platform works seamlessly with your cloud and Kubernetes infrastructure, maximizing the value of your investments. Whether you are using AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, or any other cloud provider, Zeet integrates effortlessly, providing you with a unified and standardized deployment process across all your environments. This consistency not only improves efficiency but also reduces the risk of configuration drift and ensures a stable and reliable deployment pipeline.

Contact Zeet Today and Revolutionize Your Engineering Structure

Don't let complex cloud deployments and inefficient engineering teams hold you back. Contact Zeet today to learn more about how our CI/CD deployment platform can transform your organization into a top-performing engineering team. Experience the power of seamless cloud deployments and unleash the full potential of your engineering talent with Zeet.

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