An efficient team and healthy team culture are the mostvaluable assets for every company. It assures that we will answer to all the needs and demands of our clients, that we can give them the best value for money and that we can adapt and expand our knowledge and expertise with every new project.
We carefully analyzed the best practices from over 10 years of software development experience and we created processes that will guarantee the most efficient results for every team. We named those processes The Efficient Team Culture (ETC).
ETC is an integral part of every project we do. It was inspired by our Mission and Vision.
Our Mission states that our teams help software-dependent companies through long-term partnerships to focus on their business and leave their software solutions to us.
Our Vision is to have continuous presence and growth in the market by creating new and reliable IT solutions that meet the needs of our clients.
We could not fulfill any of these promises without reliable and efficient teams. The New York Times emphasises that you need a set of cultural guardrails for an efficient team, which is why we've developed our Efficient Team Culture model.
Each of these pillars has precisely defined sub-pillars. It is thorough these sub-pillars that we make sure our people have adequate knowledge and skills and that they’re satisfied.
I Possession and continuous improvement of competencies for solution development
II Continuous improvement of good practices and know-how
III Continuous technological development
I Compensation and benefits
II Professional development
III Transparent and regular communication
Team Leaders are crucial in implementing our Efficient Team Culture because they monitor progress and have regular meetings to make sure that everything is not just a well written theory, but that it is implemented and lived by.
In this article, we talk to our Chief Knowledge Officer, Boris Šijan, and Brako Vukovac, Head of People Operations, about two important pillars of ETC - Knowledge and Skills and Satisfied people.
If we want to offer the best possible solutions that bring value to our clients, we need to have all the necessary knowledge and expertise. We are monitoring trends in the industry, the market, our goals and projects. Based on that, we define what developers’ profiles we need. We have clear standards about what different seniority levels need to know, and their career paths are tracked by Team Leaders and CKO.
How can we, as a company, make sure that our engineers will develop their potential to the maximum?
Our Chief Knowledge Officer, Boris Sijan, says that there are three kinds of skills we track and teach our employees: analytical, technical, and organizational.
For every individual in our team, we can say at which level they are currently, and what they need to learn to move to the next. Each training or education is personalized-we don’t have one solution for all, it is tailored to the wishes of our developers and needs of our clients.
To follow this, we have annual evaluations, together with semi-annual and 1 to 1 meetings with Team Leaders. We then take into account the needs of clients and projects we work on, always having in mind our strategic goals. The perfect scenario is that a person does what they want, on projects that are aligned with their best set of skills. Even though it is not always possible, we always aim for matching developers' needs and goals with the projects they work on.
How do we make sure that developers expand their knowledge?
Through internal and external projects that match their level of expertise and their needs, paired with education and training.
Boris reveals the ideal knowledge structure of our teams:
It is something we call a T-Shape structure. We want our people to have deep expertise in one area (technology), but at the same time to have a wider knowledge about software engineering and the industry they are working in.
When we form teams, we aim to have different experts, so that the team as a whole can have a few experts in different areas, while everyone has similar wide knowledge.
Ideally, with this wideness, they cover each other so if one of the experts is absent, the team is not dependent on them. Also, having different experts in a team assures that we would answer to the needs of clients in the best possible manner.
Since the beginning, we had defined processes for how to track and improve knowledge development. Every year we go the extra mile in this important field, having in mind the fast changes in the market and IT technology. The focus is both on our internal goals and the needs of our clients, and that proved as the best solution for our company.
Satisfaction of our people is directly related to our Mission and Vision. The main unit of our organization is a team, and the team is made of people, who work best when their needs are met. This is how we ensure high retention and team stability, which is the stepping stone to every successful cooperation with our clients.
To make sure we really have satisfied people, there are 4 segments we pay attention to:
Branko Vukovac, our Head of People Operations, says that these four segments always go together, but they can never be perfectly balanced and aligned since we deal with people, not robots.
Transparent and regular communication is key in determining the overall satisfaction of people in our company. The focus is on the results they have, but we also use 1 to 1 meetings, forms, and questionnaires where they can freely express their needs or concerns. This information is not a mere formality, we seriously analyze it and the results often become part of our HR and strategic goals.
One to one meetings with Team Leader once a month are a minimum requirement, and it is a standard for all seniority levels, from interns to executive management. This way we are always aware of minor or big complaints and can deal with them on time.
Some of the needs our employees express are easy to meet, such as bigger monitors, or transparent information about changes in management. Others are more complex and need additional time. Our employees are always informed about the status of their requests and they are aware of the limitations.
When it comes to personal development, we give our people freedom to choose which technology they want to learn (as long as it is aligned with our strategic plans) ) and whether they want to have more specialized or generalized knowledge. We also give them time, resources, and various opportunities to practice on internal projects.
“We had suggestions and requests for improving the benefits, and it is now a part of our HR strategic goals. In the first quartal we started doing a deep research of the market, to see what it looks like in other companies. Nowadays the number of vacation days is an important topic in nearshoring. For us, it is also crucial to ensure a psychologically safe environment.
Through different HR processes and regular 1 on 1 meetings that team members have with their Team Leader, we are listening to our employees and tracking how satisfied they are with their compensation and benefits package. We are always striving to improve this system , Branko adds.
Twice a year HR works on projections for salary increases for the next year. Before evaluation, the HR team gathers proposals from TLs for each team member, which is compared to the research that we always do when it comes to compensations. The question of fair compensation is not on the employee only-all teams proactively work on it.
“The structure and defined processes are important for our company, but it is not something that is rigid and purely bureaucratic. It feels natural and it is flexible, with clear and transparent communication channels that go from the top to the bottom, but also between Team Leaders and team members.
Working actively on this segments-knowledge of people and their overall satisfaction with the work for our company, together with constant monitoring and evaluation, proved as a good practice that ensures high retention of both our employees and clients,” Branko concludes.