We’ve been developing software for 8 years now at Engine Lab Software. In that time we’ve developed some pretty amazing SaaS products for our clients but it wasn’t always easy and we’ve learned a lot along the way.
A little bit of history about how we started off and what we’ve learned along the way.
8 years ago, I started out with a grand plan. I was to build a great SaaS product that everybody would love to use and would make me millions. I had a strong development background and had led a number of large development projects at this stage. I was a good developer and that was the hard part, or so I thought.
I knew I couldn’t do it alone and so I built a very strong development team in India with the help of Jay, an Indian guy who worked with me on a previous job. Together, we found a core set of 5 developers who would help us build our product and launch. The day to day workings in India were managed by Jay and all of the technical delivery was managed by myself from Ireland.
What did this prove to me? Well, I knew that with a really good team and the right structures in place, development projects can be delivered from almost anywhere as long as you have a strong technical and business presence in the regions you are operating in. In my case that was Ireland.
We found that with my presence in Ireland & the core team in India, we could deliver high calibre software for almost anyone.
Unfortunately, the reality of the startup world was very differrent from what I perceived and we quickly realised that we had little or know experience in defining what the customer problem was and if what we built would fix it. That was tough to take on board but we quick got over that and learned from our experience. We dusted ourselves off and started Engine Lab Software.
We quickly built up an impressive set of clients who saw what we could do & wanted us to build software solutions for them. We are lucky enough to have a great UX team in place so we could bulid scalable products with a very rich UX. We used our product experience to advise our clients on what to do and what not to do.
Things went pretty smoothly with a lot of bumps along the way but that’s natural.
That was 8 years ago and things have moved on at lightspeed since then. We have grown our core development team to 15 and now work more in the enterprise space delivering softwarwe for SME and large companies. We have .Net, Java, PHP, Angular, SharePoint & Dynamics consultants on board & that means that we can offer real solutions that work for clients.
Enough of what we’ve done, what have we learned?
- Good software can be created regardless of where the heavy lifting is done. We learned how to put the right structures in place which allowed us to build a core team of great developers offshore in India. We have refined this process and now a lot of our clients are managing our development teams directly.
- There are massive benefits to having a technical & business presence in Ireland. All of us here have a technical background and so we can architect solutions on-site with our client. We sit with them and give them the advice that they need. A lot of the development is still completed by our team in India but it is closely managed from here & that is the key.
- Embed your developers with the client team – We have learned that, if a client is going to be working with our developers long term, they should get to know them. We bring our developers on-site to work with our clients for up to 3 months per year. The guys really get to know each other and a huge trust is built up between the parties. When our developers return off-site, they know the client team, know what is expected of them and know what to deliver. That model works really well and is tried and trusted.
That is how we build great software and that is how it should be done. There is no real need to have developers working on client site all of the time. Things have moved on. As long as the client has a good structure in place and trusts your methods, everything can be done in this way.