April 10, 2019
One of the secrets to Techtonic’s success is our product-driven approach to software development. Whether we’re building and testing mobile apps, APIs, responsive Web apps or something else altogether, we take a sophisticated approach to product management that enables us to see the big picture throughout the process.
SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT PHILOSOPHIES
There are two common ways to tackle a software development project. The first is to think in terms of technology first and then fit a business strategy to the tech you’ve chosen. Though it may seem counterintuitive, this approach makes sense when you’ve invented or pioneered a new technology and being first-to-market is a strategic advantage. Innovations from the scientific community or academia often fall into this category: someone has created something completely novel, but you’ll need to see if it has practical applications in the real world.
The second approach is to start with the end user* of the software and work inward toward the technology stack. When you have a proven business case that you want to satisfy, using this style of project will ensure that your customers’ needs are met and the tech simply supports those needs. This is the product-driven approach.
In many cases, end users don’t care what’s going on under the hood of their applications–they just want tools that make their lives better. It’s important to resist the temptation to dive too deeply into the technology early in the project cycle; instead, we try to be patient and gain a deep understanding of the problems that users are facing so that we can design the optimal solution. As you’re fleshing out the requirements from a user-centric perspective, you often discover technical constraints (extracting data from a legacy system, integration with third-party platforms, etc.) that will help set context for the important technology decisions that will need to be made.
MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE
At the heart of our product-centric approach is our software development process. Beginning with a discovery phase where we work with our clients to understand the needs of their customers, we determine what we need to build and why we need to build it. Our product managers then distill that information into a mock “press release” that explains the business strategy behind the application. They then socialize the concept with our Development and Quality Assurance teams using that document. This provides the context necessary to make smart decisions about how we build and test the application. If technology is the trees, product strategy is the forest, and we need to be able to see both.
Following the distribution of our press release, we work with our customers to define roadmaps that outline important milestones and high-level deliverables throughout the foreseeable lifetime of the product. Roadmaps enable us to split our projects into logical chunks and monitor progress toward the end goal. Once we’ve defined enough work to keep the project team busy for 2-4 weeks (in the form of epics and user stories that represent features to be built), we’ll kick off development.
Development, for us, typically follows one of two common Agile methodologies–scrum or kanban–which are well-documented industry standards that we teach in our Academy. Discovery for us is an ongoing process, though: while development gets underway, we work with our clients to continue to define future features. Of course, markets shift and technology changes, so being agile allows us to pivot when necessary and keep shipping valuable software.
A consistent, scalable process is invaluable for an organization like ours. As a rapidly growing company with a focus on training and talent development, we need some level of formality to ensure that all of our projects are executed with consistency and diligence.
The members of Techtonic’s Product Team are the guides throughout the product-centric project. In addition to being experts with Agile methodologies, we also bring experience from a variety of fields, including insurance and financial services, education, sales and marketing, music and entertainment, graphic design, not-for-profit, advertising, healthcare and more. That breadth of experience enables us to be industry-agnostic and quickly shift our perspective to that of the consumers of the applications we build.
PUTTING THE USER FIRST
Above all else, Techtonic’s mission is to provide first-class software development, testing and talent. A well-built application that doesn’t solve real-world needs is no good to anyone, so by using the end users’ requirements to guide the development process, we’re able to deliver the best products possible.
*To be completely honest, “end user” is a term we try to avoid. It’s generally better to refer to the people using the software with more specific terms that better depict what they’re doing when they’re using the application. For instance, you might say “the shopper” in reference to an e-commerce app or “the student” when talking about an educational app. This subtle but important difference is another principle that enables us to stay focused on the product strategy.
AUTHOR – NED STANKUS
If you’re interested in learning more about Techtonic, please CONTACT US today! Techtonic is the premier partner for developing onshore, commercial-grade software. We’ve also developed a unique method to simultaneously close the talent gap that exists within technology, by tapping into a new and highly diverse workforce. Our model is pioneering the way clients develop and hire top talent, and we’d love to work with you!