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Managers – especially those with an entrepreneurial spirit – often encounter numerous issues when trying to get software projects off the ground. At Triggre, we regularly meet such managers, and we understand their frustration which stems from the fact that they want to accomplish their IT goals at a pace that their IT department can’t keep up with. But why is that? Why are IT projects a hassle?

A lack of understanding

Suppose you’re a forward-thinking manager with innovative ideas, and you ask your IT experts to adjust or develop something you consider to be minor. Their response? “That will take three weeks – at least.” You don’t get it. This should be simple, so why are they making it difficult? The long wait doesn’t help either; it only widens the gap between you and your IT people. The result: a mutual lack of understanding.

Other interests

If you’re depending on an external IT supplier, their interests differ strongly from yours. They don’t want to empower you to a level where you don’t need them anymore. Their business benefits from returning customers – which is why they want you to come back and ask them for solutions. At Triggre, this is not an issue, as you can realize your ideas independently. This means our success depends on our customers’ success – a very different approach than most software companies opt for!

New insights

As a manager, you gain new insights every day. Your IT experts, however, don’t offer room for these. They dive into an idea for six months, and once they present you with the result, your vision may already have changed fundamentally. At times, this can be very frustrating and cost-ineffective!

Insufficient involvement

IT people tend to respond to fresh requests in a very bureaucratic manner. A variety of forms need to be filled out and several meetings are organized, often restraining a manager’s innovative thinking process. As a manager, you can see the urgency or benefits of your idea, but you quickly find yourself bending over backwards to break through a bureaucratic, abstract wall.

Do you recognize these issues that make the realization of innovative software ideas a hassle? And are you tired of them? Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your opportunities. At Triggre, you can create your own software. It’s fun and hassle-free!

In my other blog, I told you about the need to acknowledge your boundaries before pushing them. Being new to the world of IT, I’ve experienced that it’s better to tell coworkers when you require more time or help.

A platform like Triggre is created to be used by everyone, so if you’re willing to learn, you’ll figure it out. In this blog, I’d like to elaborate on that.

Finding answers to questions: what’s the right approach?

Learning step by step is key. Admittedly, this is easier for some than others. But if you show your coworkers that you want to learn from them, they will understand and help you. Everyone has their own field of expertise.

Sit down with an IT expert to talk about the difficult technical things, ask a superior for feedback on your work or attend a meeting with a sales representative. If you do this from time to time, you will book progress quicker than you think. On the other hand, you should tread carefully to find the right balance when asking questions.

Let me tell you briefly about a company that I used to work for. In the customer service department, people were answering questions of customers all day long.

New employees didn’t have most answers right at hand, so the company had set up a large database containing common questions and answers. The database was easy to use and provided the right answers quickly.

However, some employees skipped the independent searching part and constantly interrupted their coworkers to ask for the right answers. Others couldn’t bring themselves to admit they didn’t know something, so they just guessed, which often resulted in the provision of dramatically wrong information.

My point is that if you have resources available that will help you and get you further without having to bother coworkers, always use them first. This way, you show everyone that you’re actively trying to learn and can work independently.

If you still don’t know the answer afterwards, don’t fret and ask your coworkers! If you show a good personal work ethic, no one will refuse to help you.

How about Triggre?

Triggre is made for people who don’t possess any technical knowledge. However, it is important to realize that no tool is a magical box that will work if you are not open to learning new things.

Triggre is a toolkit that you (and everyone else) can use if you are able to gain the right skills – which is by no means difficult. It only requires a healthy dose of inquisitiveness!

My first job in the IT-world started a few months ago. It is intense to start something completely new after just graduating, since finding your way in a new industry takes a lot of time and energy.

I learned more things in a few months at Triggre than I was used to from school. That can either be the best or the worst experience – depending on how you deal with it.

Recently, I had my first face-to-face meeting with a client looking for software solutions. He was an employee in his mid-fifties who told us that he was solely responsible for implementing automatization in the company.

He had to look like the go-to person for the job, but I quickly noticed that he had second-to-no experience regarding software creation – and I recognized his situation immediately.

He was dealing with a subject that he was supposed to know every little thing about. But learning software takes time and he just wasn’t ready yet, which made him super uncomfortable.

First steps in the world of IT

The meeting made me reflect on the issue of being new to the ‘software business.’ I have a marketing background, which I can apply to a variety of situations, but this is my first IT-related job. I’ve quickly come to understand that it’s a world with laws and rules of its own, and you need to familiarize yourself with it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a fresh graduate or a seasoned professional with decades of work experience. It’s important to accept the fact that there are certain things you are not capable of doing yet.

However, many people find it difficult to admit that. This can result in distressing predicaments, because they feel forced to accept projects they simply cannot handle. In the end, no one will benefit from a non-transparent attitude.

Ultimately, you’re creating a very non-pleasant work situation for yourself in which you are constantly frustrated and under pressure.

Solution: acknowledge and learn!

So what is a constructive solution? In my opinion, the key is to embrace your lack of knowledge as well as the drive to learn.

Platforms like Triggre are made to be used by everyone, so if you’re willing to learn, you will figure it out.

And if you need more help, just ask. I’ve experienced that it’s better to tell co-workers you require more time or help, since you show them you’re willing to learn and acquire the right skills. In my next blog, I will elaborate on this solution in more detail!

In 2008, I brought my car to the shop for a periodic check-up, because it had a problem. Sadly, the check-up showed my car was in desperate need of repairs. The mechanics told me that it was probably not worth the cost.

It was a very, very old car and I had seen this coming for a while. Still, a mechanic telling me I’d best buy a new car, wasn’t really what I had in mind when I brought it in.

Adhering to a strict schedule

My first car was an old second-hand one. To be honest, I hadn’t been too strict with the maintenance windows. So, when I had to suddenly replace it, I vowed that when I would buy a new car I’d always take it to the shop on time, to make sure it was always in perfect condition.

The upside of taking your car to the shop on a regular schedule is that it is indeed always in great condition. The downside however: you get told by mechanics that something needs to be changed and you basically don’t know whether it is strictly necessary.

So, you have them replace it. When it comes down to it, this means spending a lot of money on things that do not seem broken.

Maintenance on custom built software

Any application that is custom built, or has a custom built component, will require maintenance. The simple fact of the matter is that the world around that application or component changes, which may require the application or component to change in return.

This is actually quite similar to owning a car. You buy the car, and because you use it, it requires maintenance. Just like software requires maintenance, due to the world in which it is used changes.

You bring your car to the shop for a check-up, the same way your software requires some maintenance every once in a while too. All to keep things running smoothly. For custom-built software however, most companies do not perform maintenance as often as is required.

Instead, they prefer the method to use it for as long as humanly possible, after which the whole thing needs to be replaced. Much sooner, though perhaps at slightly lower cost, than performing periodic maintenance.

Knowledge gap

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. It seems like sound advice. But if you don’t, it means using everything until it is absolutely worn down and replacement becomes paramount.

There is a huge gap between following every advice from a car mechanic and only replacing parts when they’re totally worn out.

This gap is a knowledge gap. If you’re like me, you don’t know everything about the car you own. This puts me in a disadvantaged position whenever a mechanic tells me something needs maintenance or replacement, especially if it isn’t causing a noticeable problem.

If I trust the mechanic, I’ll let them replace it. If I don’t, it is usually about time to bring my car in to another shop.

Bringing your software to another shop

In the past, I have switched shops for car maintenance a few times. This is fairly simple, since cars are a common thing and there are many shops that can service my needs. If I am unsatisfied, I simply take my business to a competitor.

And for software it’s pretty much the same deal, right? Software is very common. There are many companies that can build software and maintain it. So if I am unsatisfied, I can just switch to a competitor, just like I did with the car. Or can I?

The problem is that software, especially when it’s custom built, requires an understanding of how it works. Most applications also communicate with other applications, and are implemented to support a business process.

This makes understanding ‘how it works’ a lot harder. So, unlike bringing your car to another shop, bringing your software to another ‘shop’ would cost a lot of time and money.

The new shop would first need to get a good understanding of your business process, the other applications that the software communicates with and then understand the code of the application itself.

No leverage

Inevitably, you are left with without any leverage. Because if you cannot bring your software to another company easily, you only really have 3 options:

1)      Don’t perform any maintenance at all
2)      Just accept anything that your supplier tells you should be done
3)      Insource maintenance of the application

We believe that this status-quo should change. Not performing maintenance means losing innovative strength, since adapting software to changing processes or markets is no longer an option.

Accepting anything that your supplier sells you will cost too much money for what you are getting in return. And lastly, insourcing maintenance is extremely costly, if not impossible, due to the shortage of IT professionals.

Freedom

Triggre strives to give companies back their freedom when it comes to implementing and maintaining software. Just having the option to make software yourself (without IT specialists) is a game changer, which makes you far less dependent on external companies – including us.

In many companies, organizational departments are separated. As a result, marketing employees, for example, never come anywhere near the ICT division, and vice versa. In such organizations, it is generally assumed that software development is too difficult to engage with, anyway.

However, this gap is unnecessary and it’s a shame that it still exists so widely. Because if companies manage to bridge it, they unlock a wealth of opportunities, making software creation easier, more accessible, and more fun.

Outside the box, into a broader realm

A little outside-the-box thinking can go a long way. First and foremost, companies should stop pigeonholing. Considering the inquisitive, exploratory mindset of millennials, restricting employees to a rigidly defined task list is outdated.

Most people possess a skillset that stretches beyond it, and although they don’t necessarily need to put it to use, it’s important to allow them to think and act broadly. In terms of software development, creating a company culture that encourages non-IT employees to delve into the subject makes it less scary and therefore more accessible.

Once you involve people in IT-related matters, they will have the courage to take subsequent steps. Don’t throw them into complex coding languages. Simply show them that there are more possibilities than they think – for those without a technical background as well.

Building bridges (and applications) with the right tool

Of course, bridging the gap between departments requires the right tool. Although creating software is often presented or referred to as an arduous endeavor, it doesn’t have to be.

Triggre, for example, gives you the opportunity to make software without the hassle: you can build your own application quickly and easily, experimenting with new ideas along the way – regardless of whether you’re a marketing employee or a business manager. If you want to make an adjustment later on, you don’t have to call the IT department, as you can conveniently do it yourself.

In other words, the right tool can work wonders: it makes the traditionally complex field of software development approachable and fun to virtually everyone!

A new movement is gaining ground in the business community, and it is based on one simple question: How can I make software without IT? People who understand processes should be able to roll up their sleeves and implement their ideas without having to walk the beaten IT path before getting tangible results. Their creativity should not be limited, so they will be more willing to innovate. In short, businesses want to be in control when it comes to software creation; and rightly so.

Today, virtually every company needs IT to provide a way to disclose core systems. For example, communicating with the ERP system used should be a breeze. To achieve this in a hassle-free way, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and managers alike should ask three key questions.

1. How can I take the hassle out of IT?

Cloud solutions ensure that you are completely unburdened, as they eliminate the well-known hardware and software hassles. If you want to be a part of the digital revolution, you need a solid cloud solution. Triggre will provide you with the entire cloud stack, which includes everything you require to run a web application in the cloud: from a server all the way down to the database software. This means that you can stop worrying about essential IT concerns such as security and data traffic, which are included. Instead, you can immediately start with the fun part: creating your own software, hassle free!

2. Which conditions should I set?

If you opt for a cloud solution, you should first assess what you need. In-house knowledge is not required – you can ‘outsource’ that part to your cloud solution provider – but it is important to have an ability to adjust where necessary. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try to learn from every initiative, so you can improve over time. This often requires a shift in your company culture, but it is definitely worth it.

3. What kind of talent do I need?

 Business creatives who have a firm grasp of processes are indispensable. They are the ones who will take initiative, experiment, and come up with fresh ideas without having a fear of failure. In doing so, they will bring your employees closer together and provide what you need to survive as a business. It is important to realize that tomorrow’s team does not consist of all the people you work with today. If you want to innovate through software creation, you need to sketch a picture of what your business should look like in the (near) future and attract the right talent!

The world is moving at a faster pace than it used to. Okay, technically the velocity with which the earth revolves around its own axis hasn’t changed much. However, life on that moving spheroid keeps speeding up. It was normal to wait weeks or months before your mail arrived by horse and carriage. Now, we get annoyed if there is a delay of one hour when we expect a package.

Remember how long it used to take to fully download a picture with a dial-up connection? Maybe you know from experience how much longer a journey took after one wrong turn without a navigation system. Or just imagine the hassle of filling out your taxes manually, with pen and paper. Yes, humankind spends a significant amount of time on innovations that make things simpler, faster, and more convenient.

Programming scarcity

This increase in the speed of everyday things is directly reflected in the demand for programmers. We want things automated and this requires software. Nowadays, in the mind of most managers, only programmers are able to create software.

These programmers convert all the manual processes that we want to automate, and the demand is much higher than the supply. Programmers just can’t keep up. To put this in numbers: The demand for custom-made software has increased by 25% each year, in the past five years.

Luckily, there are more programmers in the making. In 2020, it is expected that in the US alone, there will be 400.000 newly graduated software engineers. Quite a number, right? When we look at the expected job openings in the programming field however, this number is quickly put in perspective. Why? Because in 2020 it is expected that the US alone has about 1.4 million job openings for software engineers.

These numbers are daunting. It means that the ever increasing pace of progression that we have become accustomed to, comes to a halt. Simply put: We don’t have enough programmers to further automate our lives.

High velocity coding

We are not the first ones to signal this. To tackle the problem, IT strategists came up with several ways to be more effective. They thought up so-called agile methods like Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, Crystal, Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Lean Development, and Feature-Driven Development. But let’s be honest, it was and is just not effective enough to fulfill the demand.

Then came code accelerating platforms. They claim to be the solution for the IT shortage because by using them, you code faster. So now you have a programmer, using a difficult program, to speed up programming.

Same as the iterative and incremental software development methodologies, code accelerating is a drop in the ocean. It will never be sufficient and therefore a complete waste of time.

So what?

What is the harm in needing to wait a bit before a new project is finished? Think of a world where there are plenty of disruptive initiatives. Ones that have already proven themselves to the point of scaling up. Those cool companies will be limited in their growth by the number of programmers they can afford or even find.

This means stagnation in innovations and growth of companies or programs like WhatsApp, Facebook or even Angry Birds. And these are just for fun. There are countless initiatives that contribute to a better environment or education that can only grow because creating software is affordable.

So needing to wait is a disaster for progress. Cool and disrupting innovations will stop rapidly succeeding one another. The only companies that can afford qualified programmers, will use this to keep their market share, rather than starting fresh.

Now what?

I stated that we should stop increasing programming speed because it’s a waste of time. This does not mean that we should stop finding new ways to increase the production of software. It just requires a different mindset. When you look at the problem, it’s easy to put one and one together: There are not enough programmers so we need to make these programmers more effective. The thing is that just speeding up coding, will never meet the before-mentioned, enormous, demand.

The answer to this shortage, however, is not within the field of the developers. There is another, better and more sustainable solution: we need to make not only software, but also the creation of software a true commodity. Ensure that programmers are not necessary for every step of every software project. When you allow the business to create their necessary applications themselves, they can innovate fast.

Start with smaller automation projects that save both time and money and quickly prove their value. This way, making applications becomes fun and for everyone. Then, programmers can innovate with more in-depth and time consuming projects.

As with many solutions, while the result might be simple, the road to this solution is difficult, long and in the end, completely worth it.

We meet with a lot of CIO’s and IT managers when companies are interested in using Triggre. Usually, a business unit will be interested to make software themselves. This can be caused by understaffing on the IT department (a huge issue these days), the need to hire external IT consultants (which can have a major negative impact) or simply because of budgeting issues.

IT departments and CIOs however, can be scared of letting business units make software themselves. This fear has led to such phrasing as ‘shadow IT’. And I fully understand this issue. IT departments have a hard time doing things right in the eyes of others. Because if they do things right, everything works and hardly anyone thinks to thank them for everything working. Only when things go awry, people tend to talk to the IT department. Complaining that ‘nothing is working’…

Therefore, it is nothing less than completely understandable that the department that is responsible to keep everything up and running, is not very happy when business units want to make software without their support. So why then, should IT departments be happy with platforms such as Triggre, that allow business units to make their own software?

A brief history of programming

In my previous post I discussed the evolution of programming. From the 1950s, when computers and programming were introduced, to today, there is a clear trend. Using computers has become ever easier, allowing more and more people to use them. The same is true for making software. Where the first programming languages were hard to understand and use, the languages we use today have become more accessible. While still hard, at least it doesn’t take a genius mathematician anymore to program a computer.

But what is more interesting is what happens if we connect those dots forward. It would mean that making software becomes accessible to more people, because it will be easier. This simply means that it is inevitable that more people will be able to make software. There is no stopping it. And while IT departments can frantically try to keep things the way they are, the visionary IT managers and CIOs actually see this evolution as a huge chance.

Problems IT departments face

All CIOs and IT departments must find solutions to some major problems they are facing. And if they don’t face them today, certainly in the next 3 years. These problems are, first and foremost, the huge shortage of qualified IT staff, leading to an increase in cost. Either because hiring externally becomes more expensive or simply because the salaries in the IT market have been increasing dramatically and will continue to do so. Second, there is an increasing need for software that automates and supports business processes. This software must also be quickly adapted to change, if the market circumstances so demand.

These problems obviously influence each other. The increasing need for software, combined with the decreased availability of qualified professionals, leads to a grinding halt. Big multinational companies can likely still afford to hire expensive IT consultants, but most companies will face a deadlock.

The IT department of tomorrow

Visionary IT departments recognize this problem and act accordingly. The solution lies in letting business units make their own software. While the challenge is to do so in a safe manner, taking into account data integrity and core processes. What this means is that the IT department must take on a support role, in which it offers services instead of complete solutions. The IT department guards the core data and its integrity, as well as the core processes, and offers simple APIs and other services to allow business units to make software themselves on top of that.

In one of my previous posts on this topic, I explained how this is very similar to how we currently work with email, file access and communication for example. Companies used to provide employees with completely configured machines, where everything was controlled by the IT department. There was no choice in how to access email, files or how to communicate. You just used the company issued machine.

These days however, employees want to use their own phone to access email and corporate communications and they want access to files from their home PC. Thus, IT departments have started offering this access as services. You can now install any email client you want, use any brand of smartphone you like and you can still access your email and use the corporate communications software (e.g. Skype, Hangouts, Slack). File access can be provided over VPN, which in some cases even allows employees to access files from their phones.

This service-oriented way of working can also be adopted on the software inside the company. In this case, the core systems are all maintained by the IT department, as well as a layer that supplies access to those systems (e.g. an Enterprise Service Bus like Bizztalk, WebMethods or Mule). In the core systems, the company can keep track of the most important information such as customer names and contact information and product information. It can offer a way to invoice a customer, making sure that the invoicing is done correctly at all time. But apart from that, departments can make their own software applications to support customers. When these applications need customer or product data, it can be gotten from the core systems. Any additional information and processes can be kept in the department specific systems, which they can develop themselves, using the right tools.

How Triggre helps the IT department

In my next post I will talk about how Triggre helps IT departments get the much needed ease of mind that is required when business units develop their own software.