From an idea to a working software.

Apart from the business model, the development of the software is crucial.

Posted on: 15.07.2021

Timo Schwarzkopf

Having an idea is one thing but developing software is equally if not more complex. As a start-up with nothing other than an idea, you are dealing daily with organizational, business and technological decisions that can decide if you are successful now and in the future.

Agile development, the organizational approach for start-ups

What does agile development for a start-up even mean? Theory gives us good guidance here, but when it comes to reacting to changes on the market and user-centric approaches, things are getting pretty hard. As a small company you must plan carefully when it comes to gathering, analyzing the data and giving the relevant feedback back to the development team. So on the one side, you have to address the feedback from customers but still, you do not lose the overall roadmap or goal.

So how to include your end customer in the process is an everyday business from day one. Here a brief overview of our approach:

  1. Personas – Who is your customer?
  2. Pathfinder – Survey with your customers, identifying pain points, etc.
  3. LaunchPad – Expert interviews with concepts and prototypes with your customers to gather more insights.
  4. Rising – Product development; establish a pilot group for real-life testing and continuously involve them in the development cycle.

Deliver business value to your customer before thinking about technology

At the moment you start thinking about the business value you want to deliver to your customer you try not to think too hard about the solution or even the tech stack. You discuss your desired value with your team, and together, you decide what the best solution is and which technology supports this best. We follow the approach technology follows the business value. And from there, you take it and decide about programming languages or frameworks you want to use. For us, it is Angular in the Frontend and various JavaScript frameworks in the Backend. As we just discussed only one feature and do not exactly know how the future will look like, we went with a microservice architecture approach to easily use new technology for new features if necessary to keep our flexibility. As small background information, our microservices are running within Kubernetes cluster.

Now you must plan where your software is running, and till this point, you have not spent any money, but this will change now. Hosting is a crucial topic. Although people tell you if you use microservices on AWS or Azure, you can easily deploy it on other infrastructure, so you are cloud-agnostic. But this is not the case. Just use an AWS-only feature and welcome, the lock-in to this vendor is perfect. Apart from the services they provide to keep you independent from eventually moving in the future, the cost structure from those cloud vendors is no fun. Multiple factors influence the costs. Every service has pricing behind it that is mainly bound to how many requests and storage you need. Sometimes you need multiple service-connected with differentiated pricing behind, so your software is running as expected. It is almost impossible to forecast your expenses on that due to a lack of knowledge of the needed scaling. You can imagine as a start-up with big visions, you want to deliver a product fast with minimal costs or cost explosions when it comes to scaling and not to fear a potential vendor lock-in already in the beginning.

In the end, continuous delivery and continuous deployment for us is a must to be scalable and flexible in the future. With one click and within seconds from the development machine to staging to production, all automated test cases are green, and management and customers are happy.

The thoughts and decisions you must deal with are tough that is why we needed knowledge and resources to tackle those topics and deliver the product fast. We found here our strategic partner, SQUER Solutions. They guided us through those questions and helped us shape our business value, and together, we were able to deliver our first feature within a few months. Of course, it is always a bit of a trade-off between feature development and tech-perfect solutions, but you must combine those worlds to deliver sustainable software.

Register now for our newsletter.