Building a city like a developer

By 4 February, 2015Blog
Building a city like a developer

By Marcus Almgren

With the release of Access Pro, I once again received a lot of questions around how Cint can keep up with releasing new products and features this frequently on a platform (OpinionHUB) that has been evolving for more than a decade now. As always there is not a ‘secret sauce’ explanation, but after watching ‘The Matrix’ again I have just the metaphor that will give an idea of what we do to make this work.

The City

Building the OpinionHUB platform is like building a city; blocks and neighborhoods represent different products such as Access or Engage. Buildings embody the different features that define these products, while the citizens are those who use the software. Connecting all of this, there are some shared basics like electricity, plumbing and other essential functions that every city needs. These are the shared platform code that are used by all the different features and products, like feasibility, pricing and sampling for example. Then there is the land on which the city is built; that is the infrastructure that makes OpinionHUB work, like the Internet or a user’s computer. Things that we can’t really change too much, but that we need to use in the best possible way.

The Makers

Now let’s think of who is behind building the city. These are the urban planners, building architects, work site manager and other kind of specialist workers. Most software companies have the same specialists (architects, team leaders, senior developers etc.) and the same hierarchies (the architect talking to the team leader that then talks to his team, and so on).

The Difference

But here is where Cint is not like most companies. We do not have a single architect. Instead, all developers are equal as they take part in deciding what architecture to use to solve any specific problem. We don’t depend on one person and as we use the combined brain power of everyone involved, allowing each developer to create their own role based on interest and capability, instead of being put into a predefined box. It also creates a great deal of autonomy in the day-to-day work as everybody gets more involved in the overall goals of the product. As a result people are more motivated and they work better.

Of course, finding people that are capable of making this kind of environment possible isn’t easy. You need to have a multitude of different skills to bring to the table – but more importantly, you need to be able to constantly realize and develop those skills together with your colleagues, so that you are always looking at ways to increase the development team’s total contribution to the business goals.

This means that hiring is quite time consuming and only a few people are a good match for this environment. But it is worth the time, as those who make it play an important part in building some very capable and special software.

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