Business

Stop dismissing great ideas because of no software product team! That no longer has to be the case.

| 8 min read

Employing programming in organizations

Computer science is a relatively new discipline, having been established at Purdue University in 1962. It covered programming theory, numerical analysis, data processing and computer system design - all in one subject at a time. The majority of computers were large mainframe computers and programming languages were developed primarily in universities. They were expected to solve academic issues.

Over the years, businesses have learned over time that programming (or the applications that result from programming) is beneficial to them. It enables significant scale that was previously not possible by codifying decisions and automating work. Businesses began to use software not only as a tool, but also to centralize core processes around it. Bespoke platforms started to assist businesses in how they produce goods, communicate with customers, communicate internally, conduct sales and process payroll. Ideas on how to improve daily work are all over the place and they tend to die when we lack expertise. How do you effectively assist your managers in introducing innovations, fostering intrapreneurship and launching startups within corporations?

Puzzle pieces that deliver projects on time

Have you ever thought about how code is created and deployed into production? Making the right choices about system architecture, coding language, or UI is only the beginning of a project. There are aspects of software development that cause traditional management practices to fail, such as using the appropriate open source libraries to speed up development and make it more error-prone, using tools like DDD to understand the domain, or managing the growth of codebase and technical debt. Bad software is frequently the result of poor project management rather than poor engineering choices. Not because of managers, but because of how engineers collaborate with business to understand the problem they are attempting to solve.

Building high-performing teams is one of the requirements to get quality software solutions. However, it is complex and time-consuming. Building teams is more than just hiring people with specific technical skills. It takes some time to get the team formed through various stages before they can deliver. Non-technical managers overlook this aspect while taking on the challenge of developing expertise inside the company. They don't acknowledge that programming or creating a solution isn't an individual task anymore, but a team effort, so you need the right team to tackle a problem.

Until 2010, programming was a highly specialized academic and craftsman occupation. A lot has changed in the last decade. As computer power has increased, programmers have become less concerned with optimizing memory or speed of execution. Several market standards have emerged, altering the landscape. We have 2-3 standard frameworks for creating frontend (React, Vue, Angular frameworks), rails standardized the way we test the software automatically, and there are common architectures like MVVM, MVP for building backend. These standards ensure that programmers can create long-lasting solutions. More importantly, it is easier to ensure development continuity when companies do not have to replace a team member or the entire team.

Let's put the puzzles together

You don't start by hiring an HR department to look for architects, constructors, bricklayers, carpenters, or installers, when you want to build a house or a factory. You hire a specialized company that understands how to complete construction on time by adhering to industry standards and incorporating investor vision. They arrive at a construction site with previous project experience and teams ready to begin work. This method can also be used now to create software solutions.

I heard something a few years ago that I kept thinking about. If you have a brilliant idea, seven people all over the world have probably noticed the same problem and are thinking about it at the same time. It is much easier to copy things in today's interconnected world. Examples include Uber, Lyft, and Bolt. Companies must be quick to validate their ideas and avoid devoting resources to non-essentials.

We believe companies will specialize in their core competencies on a root problem they want to solve. They will cooperate with other companies to build up competencies they don't need to have, but they are crucial for project success. Companies will develop interfaces allowing them to start work and deliver value quickly. It will work the same way you build a picture using puzzles. If you need marketing, you will hire a company that knows how to discover your domain and make the right campaign to promote your product. If you need customer support, you will hire a company that knows how to understand your customers and the problems they face, and distribute knowledge to increase CX. If you need product development, you will hire a software prime contractor who knows what architecture drivers will be necessary for your venture and what approach to take to build the solution on time.

Our – AppUnite – big mission is to deliver high-performing teams to effectively support your ventures by acting as a tech prime contractor.

How can your company benefit?

If you want to assist your managers in introducing innovation that requires software to scale, technology or engineering should not be a barrier. If you see an opportunity to solve a larger market problem, it can be a great way to build a startup within your corporate environment. In a VUCA world, such experiments can lead to your company entering new markets and gaining a competitive advantage. That could be the next big thing for your company and you'll be in charge of it. Don't be limited by tech-savvy things that are difficult to understand. Confirm that the company follows standards. When looking for a partner in your venture, there are certain characteristics you should look for.

Retaining knowledge

It is more about ensuring that the company uses standards for knowledge collection and management. Ask for information about how they retain domain knowledge and the decisions they make during software development. The context in which the code was created is usually what new developers don't understand. Are there any architecture drivers that were considered and incorporated into architecture to explain why a given database was considered the best pick at the time? How quickly can a new member set up a project? What are DevOps practices that automate the setup, development, the CI pipeline and tools for software quality assurance, such as static code analysis? It is critical to ask the potential partner, if they already have the necessary procedures in place.

We, at AppUnite, are actively thinking about old and new practices that make retaining knowledge a part of the building solutions, thanks to the efforts of many teams. We must be prepared to onboard our partners' teams to code at any time. Tools for development are emerging on a daily basis, and because we have multiple teams working on different ventures, we can easily test the right ones and incorporate them into other projects when we verify them quickly in one place. Such knowledge exchange is not possible in in-house teams.

Not having the right outcomes

Creating software is an expensive endeavor. Are you afraid of investing a lot of money and not getting the expected results? You're not alone. We believe it comes down to alignment and tailoring the approach to the stage of the venture. Companies acting as prime contractors should be aware that it is their responsibility to understand the expected outcome. It's not about estimates; estimates are merely tools. Building a startup in a new or unknown market requires a different approach than building a platform that automates corporate core processes. To make these two different ventures successful, you must consider different competencies in your team. AppUnite relieves our clients of this responsibility by actively gathering context and speaking with customers about various options.

Communication and Transparency

We adhere to the principles of getting naked. We try to be vulnerable in our communication by embracing humility, selflessness and transparency for the benefit of the client. It's not easy to be naked in front of our client, but honest conversations help us build trust. We've learned over the years that the sooner we go to our client with a problem we see in various areas, the sooner we'll find a solution. It is critical not only to inform your partner of the situation, but also to speak up, if we notice inconsistency or something wrong with your client's behavior.

Before signing a contract with a company, inquire about how they share problems with you. What was their worst-case scenario and how did they handle it? I understand that asking such questions may appear unprofessional, but if you try it, you will see how many benefits it can bring to cooperation.

Closing cooperation

Before beginning a collaboration with a prime contractor, it's a good idea to discuss the exit strategy openly. There are several reasons why the road may fork for both companies at some point. We believe it is simply a part of the process. We want to ensure that we never create a vendor lock for our client. We are prepared to suspend work, scale down our team and be replaced by any other agency or client's in-house team at any time. We call it an agile exit because we together develop an exit strategy with our client. It enables a smooth transition and easy management of expectations.

What you can do with

In-house teams may overlook having the necessary procedures in place and verifying the tools based on experience. Expected outcomes come from crafting the solutions by the team tailored to a particular stakeholder and awareness of their needs. All of this is possible when cooperation is founded on open communication and trust. I hope the article helps you better understand our approach to taking responsibility for your venture. Please let us know if you need assistance with your innovation. We are delighted to help.