Confident software engineering: avoid problems and achieve best results with this key ingredient

Digital is sexy

We live in times when digital technology and software are the most precious assets, enablers of business growth, market dominance, and differentiators between success and failure.

Software enables new business models that are vastly more effective than whatever approaches of the yesteryear, and disrupt entire industries – making laggards and those who failed to develop the right digital products quickly enough share the fate of the dinosaurs.

Digital technology is the modern equivalent of a steam engine, electric motor and oil (combined). It drives our lives, workplaces and economies and is responsible for an unmatched improvement to the quality of life, ease and speed of communication, convenience and democratised access to information and new opportunities.

Everyone knows and understands that. And so everyone wants to develop software and digital products of their own. From budding tech entrepreneurs to multi-billion dollar multinational corporations, we all are placing our faith and betting future prospects on the ability of our teams to develop the technology we need to ensure our survival and prosperity.

But also dangerous

Yet, there are few things that are more difficult than developing software.

This is equally true for small businesses and large corporations, who are working at vastly different scales, but facing similar challenges driven by the inherent complexity, uncertainty and unpredictability. These characteristics pertain to the software development process, and the overall market with the ever growing competitive pressures, and constantly changing demands, social and technological trends.

Few fully appreciate the scale of complexity and the challenges involved with developing software, as well as the intricate dynamics of the multi-faceted, entangled and layered underlying issues and mechanisms involved in the process.

Fewer still have proven methods for overcoming those challenges, and reliably driving consistent results their business success so desperately depends on.

Does this mean they should stop and give in to despair? Not at all.

But they should do everything in their power, acting in a skillful and realistic way, to increase their likelihood of success, and to maximise the outcomes of their investments and efforts in developing digital technology products, services and software.

And the best method to do that is to invest in the best possible level of leadership on their technology projects.

Strong leadership is the key

To succeed in this game you need leadership that brings to the table:

  • Deep understanding of the process & risks
  • Best practices and methodologies for dealing with uncertainty
  • Higher-level strategic direction and foresight

Those leadership capabilities are hard won and grounded in knowledge and practical experience of dealing with diverse factors of success on multiple projects, and working with many different teams across the years.

Too many executives and start-up entrepreneurs begin this journey without the proper support of a sufficiently experienced leader. They need a C-level technology manager who can advise them, chart a path that leads safely around pitfalls and obstacles, and help them execute the process to develop great outcomes predictably, within budget and schedule. All this is needed to maximise their chance of success, return on investment, and minimise the pain involved.

It comes in different forms

Whether you can (and prefer to) find this expert internally, recruit a great CTO or Head of Software Engineering, or hire an external consultant to act as an interim or fractional CTO, starting a journey of high stakes without proper preparation and planning with help of an experienced guide is unwise. Going solo greatly diminishes your chances of getting safely to the destination while avoiding unpleasant (and potentially deadly) missteps and surprises along the way.

If you are wondering how to start a project to develop a new digital technology-based service, product or internal software, and care about the quality and attainability of the desired results, I strongly recommend that you start with ensuring that you have a suitably strong technical leader. Preferably at a CTO level, available to support, advise, organise and manage the process for you.

I’ve worked with dozens of start up founders and entrepreneurs who started without the right preparation and without sufficient framework of support, and as a result lost years of effort, millions in funding, and sometimes suffered irreparable losses to their unique market opportunity and businesses.

There is nothing worse than spending years before realising that you’ve been getting deeper into a rabbit hole, while your competitors have been making steady and vigorous progress, leaving you far behind and unable to catch up.

In 9 out of 10 cases, the costly (or even fatal) mistakes they made could have been easily avoided, should they have involved a CTO-level leader early in the process.

Don’t be one of them.

In the following articles I will be getting deeper into the reasons and specifics of developing software, as well as the practical ways of addressing the difficulties, and organising the process to maximise the chance of success and the scale of payout.

So if you are not convinced, or can’t hire a CTO yet, stay tuned and I will try to help you by sharing my knowledge and experience. But it is hard to do without knowing your specific circumstances and plans, and by necessity such read-only advice can only be so effective, compared to a more focused and personalised approach.

If you’d like to chat about your specific idea, project, needs or difficulties, I am open to that, and will do my best to help you (no strings attached). Just contact me using a contact form, DM my social profile or leave a comment below. Or check out my Fractional CTO and technology leadership services.

If you are not sure what is the role of a CTO and what she or he can do for you, check out my article here. I also wrote another one specifically about Fractional CTO services, and you can read it and see if this flexible and affordable option may be good for you here.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article and it’s been helpful. If so, consider sharing it with your contacts, so they too can benefit.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your endeavours!


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Rafal Bergman
Rafal Bergman
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