The importance of balance, leadership, and communication in QA: A chat with Team Lead Ángeles Banda.

The importance of balance, leadership, and communication in QA: A chat with Team Lead Ángeles Banda.

Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

The software industry has never been the same since the advent of remote work. Before this, it was expected to be present in an office full of computers and development materials to get projects done, which meant that, for most teams, productivity and collaboration were limited by how far members could physically travel or commute. But at the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, the software industry had to adapt quickly to push work and collaboration online to keep business running beyond physical walls. And most developers had to learn new ways to stay productive from home – many being able to access their work applications remotely for the first time.


Of course, remote work was something that had already existed prior to the pandemic, but this crisis pushed a lot of Tech companies into developing innovative digital solutions almost overnight, bringing unprecedented dynamism to the software industry. Now, it’s normal for many software professionals to access their work from any corner of the world, and companies benefit from this by being able to look outside their neighborhood to find top talent, instead of confining themselves to a local workforce that is more sought after each passing day. 

However, this has not been an easy change. Working from home as a software developer can present unique challenges when it comes to maintaining a balance, which often means finding creative ways to integrate personal time into an already busy work schedule. Being able to work remotely, of course, gives plenty of flexibility when it comes to managing the daily tasks at hand, and stuff that used to require commuting or travel can easily be completed online, but this has created the side-effect of blurring the lines between work and personal life in a way that many people hadn’t experienced before. When work is at home, separation is difficult to preserve. 

So yeah, managing a healthy work-life balance as a software developer working from home can be tricky. The key is to figure out ways to use this flexibility in your favor, by making sure that you plan and allocate enough time for each activity throughout the day – be it coding, hanging out with family, having meals together, or taking some time out for yourself. For this reason, we had a chat with Ángeles Banda, QA Analyst and Team Lead at Scio, whose experience balancing work, leadership, and family life can shed a light on the challenges of remote work and software development in the remote age.

A sudden change

Nearshore development runs on culture: Ensuring collaboration is at the heart of every project.

For a parent trying to work from home, the challenge of software development on top of childcare can seem daunting. Working on complex developmental projects requires laser focus, whereas being available for kids calls for complete attention and availability too, which can be hard to find all in the same day, never mind during a complicated situation like a pandemic going on. How to achieve that?

The pandemic was a big game-changer in my life, not only because I started to work remotely back then, but because my child was born in 2020, barely a month before the lockdowns began. I was still on maternity leave when world came down that we would not be back to the office for a while”, says Ángeles about those days. “And that was good at first because all daycares had to close down, so I got the chance to be with my child during those first few months, but then I had to think of a way to take care of him while I worked. His dad is also on the same schedule, so it was a tricky thing to balance, and we had to figure it out as we went.

Of course, Ángeles wasn’t alone in that. According to a study by Rutgers University, “prior to the pandemic, the percent of men who provided at least five daily hours of active childcare was 15%, but increased to 29% during the pandemic. For women, this percentage was 23% prior to the pandemic and increased to 37% during the pandemic”, meaning that it had to be a meaningful change in how work and personal time dynamics had to be managed to keep productivity during the early stages of the pandemic and onward. And this often requires some creative thinking.

What I tried to do was change my schedule and work hours to suit what I was doing at home. For example, I worked from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, but I had to start earlier, at 7:00 am or so, when my child was asleep, so I could get some work done by the time he was awake”, continues Ángeles. “My husband and I also had to balance and schedule any call or meeting we needed to have carefully, trying to always have one of us free in case the baby needed something. It’s interesting to note how deeply your priorities change in this situation, so striking the correct balance was essential.

Leading from afar

Furthermore, remote teams come with their own unique set of challenges when it comes to keeping productivity, and the key to successful collaboration is strong leadership that understands how to direct team members, assign tasks, and manage expectations. Good leaders find ways to keep the team engaged even though they can’t be physically present in the same location, encouraging constant communication to ensure everyone stays focused on deadlines and deliverables. With clear direction and regular updates, remote teams can accomplish great feats of software development, but achieving that requires a kind of skill that gets tested during a lockdown.

This process had kind of a steep learning curve because, while I was trying to adapt my work at home with being a new mom, an opportunity for growth came along almost at the same time”, tells Ángeles. “I began as a Team Lead at the time, so trying to balance all of these new responsibilities was stressful, but it also comes down to the kind of team you have. I always try to keep things a little more personal, trying to know my teammates as people, which gives you certain flexibility to work more comfortably. Still, there were moments when communication didn’t work perfectly, so I had to iron out any bump in the team dynamics. I always try to solve these issues internally, talking directly to people and trying to keep our goals clear, and as time went on, we settle on something we all feel satisfied with.”

Remote teams that need to collaborate and lead from afar often have a more difficult time juggling expectations. So, to ensure successful projects, effective virtual leadership should focus on cultivating relationships as well as fostering an open communication platform between team members, which is what Ángeles learned to do. Leaders should strive to lay out clear goals, create consistent check-ins, maintain morale with recognition of individual team performance when needed, and openly invite both questions and feedback so everyone is on the same page. That way, developing a strong relationship among all members of the team can greatly increase the chances for success and make sure the development process remains efficient without compromising quality. When managed well, remote teams in software development can become a stabilizing force even during times of uncertainty. 

Assuring quality at every step

The evolution of the employee

With that in mind, we don’t need to explain how software development is tricky enough as it is. But throw in remote QA and you have a whole additional challenge. Quality assurance is an indispensable part of ensuring the final product meets the predetermined standards, but doing this remotely presents its own unique set of hurdles, like the difficulty of gauging the effectiveness and accuracy of a test while also adhering to time constraints and deadlines. Fortunately, there are ways to make these remote QA scenarios run more smoothly such as adopting automated testing strategies, employing communication tools that bridge gaps between team members, and staying organized even when managing a widely dispersed team. With careful planning and the necessary support, software development teams can navigate through the challenge of doing distributed QA with efficiency.

I think the biggest help for the QA team was the openness of Scio to let us have all the equipment and everything we needed at home”, explains Ángeles. “It’s not like we could request absolutely anything we wanted, of course, but things like this iPhone or this Mac I have right here with me, even if I only use them to test applications and programs, made a big difference. I think it would have been easy to make us go to the office if we needed to make tests with these machines, but Scio made the effort of bringing all these resources to our home, which helped a lot.”  

However, beyond physical resources, QA isn’t something one person can do alone – it takes a village. From the Project Manager organizing everything to the developers creating solutions, software quality assurance involves so many different roles and responsibilities that without each one playing their part, success isn’t possible. This means that team members need to be creative while introducing new working processes and tools to adequately make sure that their end product meets customer satisfaction levels, yields high-quality results, and prevents any major surprises or hiccups along the way. To achieve this, Team Leaders need to keep close to this whole process, be it in person or far away, with continuous communication at the heart of it. As Ángeles explains:

With the majority of physical interactions conducted virtually, QA teams need to be creative while introducing new working processes and tools to adequately make sure that their end product meets customer satisfaction levels. Intuitive visual feedback programs, clear-cut standards, and reliable bug-tracking methods must now be considered in addition to manual testing when it comes to developing quality software. It’s certainly not an easy feat, but overcoming this challenge will lead to better products and improved user experiences, nonetheless.

Final words

The modern workforce is constantly evolving, and for businesses to remain competitive, they must remain ahead of the curve. Software companies like Scio that offer flexibility are doing just that – providing employees with increased job satisfaction and giving them the freedom to shape their own schedules. After all, flexibility is the cornerstone of a software developer’s well-being. Offering a predictable schedule and the freedom to work remotely empowers developers to manage their physical and mental energy more effectively by setting clear boundaries between home, work, and downtime. 

Additionally, shifts in working hours can provide an advantageous opportunity for developers to take preventive care of themselves while also enabling more collaboration when tackling complex tasks. As the case of Ángeles shows, flexible schedules supply both software developers and project teams with the ability to shift an environment focused on speed and execution into one that emphasizes thoughtful problem-solving. At its core, this kind of culture allows software developers to maintain a healthy focus on the task at hand while addressing their personal needs, which will always guarantee a positive outcome when it comes to software development.

The Key Takeaways

  • Although remote work was a game-changer in the software industry, keeping a balance between work and personal life is still a challenge.
  • At the onset of the pandemic, adjusting to these changes was difficult, and required support and skill from an organization to do it successfully.
  • The key is having a culture of growth and flexibility that offers access to the correct resources, and building teams with communication and collaboration at the heart of their dynamics.
Why is feedforward such an essential approach for any software development team?

Why is feedforward such an essential approach for any software development team?

Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

Good feedback is essential for any software development team as it allows them to recognize what areas need improvement and make necessary changes. Whether it’s a group of full-time developers working for a company or a group of volunteers attempting to build a version of software open to the public, having diverse opinions is paramount. And, in addition to providing reassurance that the development process is going well, feedback also gives everyone involved a clearer idea of how they can work together more efficiently going forward, even allowing other stakeholders outside of the software development team to get their input heard without slowing down progress or interfering with the process.

Why is feedforward such an essential approach for any software development team?

In that sense, good feedback should focus on the positive accomplishments of developers while also offering helpful suggestions for improvement, helping to keep morale high and enabling team members to grow professionally. Strong feedback also sets appropriate expectations, which further encourages developers to reach their goals while maintaining high standards of quality in their work. For these reasons, there’s no doubt that feedback is an invaluable tool that software development teams must embrace if they want to stay up-to-date on industry trends and maintain success in their projects. However, in modern software development, it may not be enough to guarantee that a team remains top-notch, and relying on hindsight is not the best course of action to ensure success in every project, so here is where the concept of “feedforward” comes in.

In software development, feedforward is a technique for improving the efficiency and performance of systems by making proactive adjustments before things go wrong. It is focused more on prevention than resolution, which means developers can be confident that issues will either be avoided or easily managed, keeping them focused on the tasks at hand. By creating feedback loops that measure performance and identify problems quickly, the feedforward approach tries to keep the entire development process running smoothly, offering real-time risk management so teams can respond quickly to any issues that arise during testing and deployment. 

It’s no surprise that the term “feedforward” comes from control theory, which includes strategies like health checks to fix problems before they occur and track metrics to identify potential issues in advance. This proactive approach allows software teams to remain ahead of their targets without getting overwhelmed by unexpected problems, which is particularly useful when developing complex products with lots of moving parts since it creates a built-in safeguard against downtime. Effective use of this approach is crucial for the positive outcomes of any development environment.

Two sides of the same feed

Good feedforward is a cultural success

Feedback and feedforward are two similar concepts in the sense that both are methods to provide guidance, but they serve very different functions. Feedback is offered after an activity has taken place, typically giving a reflection on performance that can be educational if corrective measures are shared. Feedforward, on the other hand, is offered before or during an activity, like giving counsel or advice on how best to complete a task. Both can be helpful when used correctly, but they should be employed strategically to ensure their intended outcomes are achieved.

The main difference between feedback and feedforward, to be exact, lies in the complexity of their content. Feedback is all about evaluating what has already happened, reflecting on mistakes that have taken place, and suggestions for improvement. It centers around what was or wasn’t done correctly, usually coming from a superior. Feedforward, on the other hand, is more focused on the future — it offers insights and guidance for a specific situation or task; it’s all about taking action before something happens, as well as understanding the process more deeply before diving in.

 In consequence, the goal of feedforward is to transform employees into better problem-solvers by providing them with helpful advice and direction rather than simply identifying failure after the fact. After all, anticipating potential issues in software development is paramount for any project’s success; from scanning networks and individual hardware to predicting how users may take advantage of coding, foreseeing problems is the cornerstone of a successful launch. In other words, a software developer must understand their audience’s needs, identify critical points of failure, and be able to quickly craft solutions to prevent a delay or system meltdown at launch. 

Software development projects require lots of planning and organization and both feedback and feedforward should be balanced to ensure success”, says Adolfo Cruz, Partner and Project Management Officer at Scio. “Feedback helps the team keep track of their progress and identify any patterns, while feedforward provides context to better guide the team in their endeavors. It’s not just about finding faults or discovering areas in need of improvement; having a good grasp of what lies ahead empowers developers with clarity so they can define objectives and direct their focus appropriately. So, by thoroughly planning out their product’s performance before it goes live and having a balance between feedback and feedforward, development teams give themselves an edge against potential hiccups that could come up post-launch.

Good feedforward is a cultural success

As many software developers have experienced, anticipating problems ahead of time can make for smoother sailing once the product goes out into the world, even when challenges arise throughout the development process. And rather than waiting for trouble to strike, adopting a feedforward approach can be a great way to anticipate these issues and be proactive about dealing with them, but this doesn’t happen by itself. A good organization takes the steps to let this kind of environment where both feedback and feedforward can thrive.

Implementing a successful feedforward approach is essential to ensure progress and continued success, and not only involves the team taking proactive steps such as proactively anticipating and mitigating any potential risks, developing detailed plans ahead of time, and making continual review & improvement cycles, but also requires a culture of communication, collaboration, and open-mindedness than can only come from a company culture that values these skills. So, to ensure this approach succeeds within a team, clear leadership is key. 

Whoever heads up the development project should be knowledgeable in setting up project timelines, have an in-depth understanding of their team’s skills and capabilities, and be experienced at leading reviews and providing valuable feedback. Additionally, fostering an environment of openness and collaboration will help everyone feel comfortable contributing feedback, suggestions, and ideas on projects. With these elements addressed and supported, teams can look forward to successful software development through a well-run feedforward process.

By establishing a good feedforward approach for the software development team, you can ensure quality product delivery”, concludes Adolfo Cruz. “Before any work starts, a detailed game plan should be thought of and communicated to all members of the team. Encouraging open communication through frequent check-ins and status updates also help teams identify bottlenecks, set more realistic deadlines, and catch issues before they become bigger problems later down the line. Memorializing lessons learned from previous projects can help improve operations in future development cycles as well.”

Why is feedforward such an essential approach for any software development team?

The Key Takeaways

  • Feedback is an important tool for any software development team but is by no means the only approach a good organization should employ.
  • Feedforward, an approach where a team tries to anticipate any issue and correct it before any damage can happen, is as important as feedback.
  • However, effective feedforward cannot happen by itself, and an appropriate corporate culture that encourages communication and collaboration to let any team member offer input can ensure its success.

Scio is a Nearshore software development company based in Mexico where we believe that everyone deserves everyone should have the opportunity to work in an environment where they feel like a part of something. A place to excel and unlock their full potential which is the best approach to create a better world. We have been collaborating with US-based clients since 2003, solving challenging programming puzzles, and in the process showcasing the skills of Latin American Engineers. Want to be part of Scio? Get in contact today!. Get in contact today!

The art of anticipating a client’s needs in software development: Is culture the critical element?

The art of anticipating a client’s needs in software development: Is culture the critical element?

Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

It’s well-known within the software industry that taking the initiative to anticipate and meet a client’s needs during development can mean the difference between an average project and a fantastic one. Usually, when trying to quickly crunch code and push features, it can be tempting to take care of issues as they come up, but the effectiveness of this strategy can lead to a variety of outcomes, not all of them positive, so it’s essential that developers know how to anticipate potential issues ahead of time and build out processes, systems, and approaches to address them before they had the chance to do damage.

The art of anticipating a client’s needs in software development: Is culture the critical element?

Understanding your client

In most cases, however, I’ve been involved in projects where this doesn’t happen; a client often arrives with an idea they want to achieve as it is”, says Ángeles about his experience working with clients to refine the project’s best outcome. “It helps when the client comes from the same Tech background as us because they have a better understanding of the process, but if they are not very knowledgeable about development, it can be complicated because of what they picture and the following requirements, unfortunately, cannot be realistically done.

There are clients who are not dedicated to software that expect professional guidance, and our job is to translate expectations into requirements, and all the technical details are up to us”, says Martín. “But other clients have more experience with development, and they can even have input in the tools and frameworks they want, which can change the way we work together. But I think our client approach at Scio helps us bring the project to a good outcome.

After all, software development projects have many moving parts, so having an equal partnership between clients and developers is key to success. Having clear communication and a cohesive team can help align priorities and ensure everyone has the same understanding of what needs to be achieved. Not only that but working in an equal partnership can also add to the efficiency of the process as clients can provide necessary feedback on time, which can help avoid costly re-work at later stages. Ultimately, achieving success comes down to working together in an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust, and understanding. With an effective working collaboration, both parties can benefit from mutually rewarding outcomes.

In those cases, what I do is to dig a little, understand the client, see what products or services they have offered in the past (tech-related or not), and move on from there”, continues Ángeles. “I try to find the middle ground or similar situations to discuss the idea and maybe rework it, without telling the clients ‘no’ directly, and rather trying to make any requirement changes come from them. That way, the project goes a lot smoother with a lot of common ground between us.

The challenge of not saying “no”

The art of anticipating a client’s needs in software development: Is culture the critical element?

When it comes to software development, understanding and accommodating your client’s needs is essential for success. Saying “no” to a client can signal a lack of knowledge, experience, or attentiveness to their individual requests. So, instead of saying no, a good team tries to think about options for solving problems. Oftentimes there are several ways that a project can be achieved, so listening closely to the client and taking the time to propose alternative solutions can actually be more beneficial in the long run. Making an effort to assess what’s important to your client and creating a plan of action together builds trust and encourages collaboration, unlike any other approach, as the people of Scio are well aware.

Saying “no” politely is an art, but it’s not that difficult when you can clearly justify your answer”, explains Martín as his own approach. “We do a lot of research to establish clear reasons why something might not be feasible and try to be as transparent as possible when communicating these findings with the client. That brings everyone to the same page, but as a team, we need to be very meticulous to explain what’s possible and what isn’t in development.

And this speaks of the way Scio has “anticipate” as one of the main pillars of our culture, where working alongside the client is the main priority”, says Adolfo. “You need to anticipate what the client expects of you and your team when it comes to status updates and collaboration during the project. Even your language and how you communicate count, and that is part of our daily routine. Not everything is coding and programming, there are a lot of soft skills involved in software development.

It also depends on the trust you build with the client”, continues Ángeles. Maybe a brand-new client questions a lot more things at the beginning, trying to get a feel of the team and the project, and saying “no” is a more delicate process. But after two or three years, they know we have their best interests in mind, so when we say “no”, they understand that is being said with good reasons, and we can explore better options. This kind of trust also means that they wouldn’t want to work with anyone else in the future.”

The importance of strong leadership

Of course, it’s important to understand the importance of anticipating client needs to be a successful software development team leader. Knowing what the client wants goes a long way toward developing quality software and forging a stronger professional relationship with clients because a proactive approach like this showcases your ability to read between the lines and create solutions even when faced with limited direction. 

It also shows that your team is proactively engaged in the process instead of just providing a rudimentary service. In addition, anticipating client needs often include setting realistic expectations and understanding potential difficulties which can eliminate project roadblocks in advance. Ultimately, teaching your team members how to anticipate their client’s needs shows them early on that you are invested in their success as well as finding smart solutions for every project, which is something the leads at Scio are well aware of.

What I try to do is bring everyone on the team together, and let them know that nobody works in isolation, the pronoun we use is “we”. If something goes right it’s because the team did a good job, and if something goes wrong it’s because we, as a team, made a mistake and we can correct it. All that matters is the common goal”, explains Ángeles about her approach to being a team lead.

I try to be very involved with them. Not to the point of micromanaging the team, of course, but by letting them know that I’m available for everything they might need to ask and offering support”, explains Martín. The idea is to build a cordial relationship, where I’m not just their boss, but that we are a team, we are inclusive and involved, and Yamila [Solari, Partner, General Manager, and Coaching Leader at Scio] helps us with that with team building activities to make the development process as smooth as possible.

Final words

The art of anticipating a client’s needs in software development: Is culture the critical element?

When it comes to software development, it’s not enough to simply wait for things to go wrong and then try and fix them. Issues can strike at any time, so a more proactive approach is needed. Anticipating problems is essential in software development, as being unprepared can result in costly mistakes. It’s much better to take preventative action and locate vulnerabilities before they cause issues down the line. 

This can save developers from unneeded frustration and help ensure that products are released on-time with minimal fuss. Skilled software developers will plan out every step of their process carefully, making sure to build safeguards into their code that will alert them should potential problems arise.

As a company, we have asked ourselves about the types of relationships we want to build, and the kind of clients we want to work with. And our culture plays a big part in that; Scio is an organization that wants to build great software with experienced partners with a cultural match that keeps everyone’s expectations in line”, finishes Adolfo. “And there’s been some occasions in the past that, at the end of a contract, we parted ways with a client because the match wasn’t there, and thus we couldn’t deliver the quality we look for in every project. Having a cultural affinity and similar values goes a long way into the kinds of partnerships that generate great products and anticipating what a client might need becomes par on the course if our dynamic hits that spot.

The Key Takeaways

  • Anticipating a client’s needs is one of the best skills any development team can have, helping side-step issues and keeping a project on track with ease.
  • However, this skill is not an easy one to acquire, as it requires expertise, experience, and strong leadership to shine.
  • Furthermore, having a company culture that matches the client’s, and carefully selecting projects and people to work with, is one of the critical elements to ensure a positive outcome in development.

Scio is a Nearshore software development company based in Mexico where we believe that everyone deserves everyone should have the opportunity to work in an environment where they feel like a part of something. A place to excel and unlock their full potential which is the best approach to create a better world. We have been collaborating with US-based clients since 2003, solving challenging programming puzzles, and in the process showcasing the skills of Latin American Engineers. Want to be part of Scio? Get in contact today!. Get in contact today!

What should you expect when changing jobs in Tech at the beginning of the year?

What should you expect when changing jobs in Tech at the beginning of the year?

Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

If you are part of the software industry, January is the perfect time to seek new opportunities. As the year gets going, many companies start new projects that need new talent and expertise, which could be the perfect way to make the next step in your career. Additionally, changing jobs can bring a more dynamic work environment and greater satisfaction by breaking up tedium and routine that often come with staying too long in one job. It’s never too early to start fresh, so why not make January 2023 your time for a change?

Changing Jobs 2023

After all, the start of the year is a natural time to resolve to better your career. Pursuing new opportunities has become easier than ever with remote working options that the best software companies offer. Around January, most Tech organizations usually start their recruitment process and are likely to hire from outside of their immediate network, widening the field of potential candidates. And it’s also worth mentioning the fewer distractions one tends to find around this time of the year can allow you more freedom to put your best foot forward with any application. All in all, January presents itself as the perfect time for any software engineer looking for a job change.

Consequently, software developers looking for a new job in the New Year need to identify what they want out of their next role and target organizations that offer the whole package. Of course, you should brush up on your skill sets by taking any relevant courses or obtaining certifications if needed, as well as making sure to network with other professionals across the tech industry to increase your chances of learning about job openings, but when it comes to deciding which company to work with, there are a ton of factors to consider, but the most important one is the corporate culture they offer.

Companies that invest in creating an enjoyable atmosphere don’t just have more well-adjusted employees, they tend to be incredibly successful, too. This is no accident — amazing things start to happen when people are in a positive environment that supports growth and creativity. Plus, you’re bound to appreciate your job a lot more when your coworkers become friends and your manager is someone you can learn from. Once you’ve identified organizations that match what you’re looking for, tailor each application according to their specifications. It may seem daunting at first, but the work will pay off when you land your dream job.

Finding a company with a great culture

SCIO Fintech 4

Your company is growing. You’re reaching revenue goals and increasing the company’s market share. But how are your people behind that success?”, explains this Forbes article about good company culture. “How’s the culture? You can have a fully functioning business with poor company culture, but I’ve found that a company’s longevity and enduring success will depend on the people. Business success comes in many forms, but bad culture isn’t sustainable for the long haul.

When it comes to looking for companies that value their employees and have cultivated a welcoming culture, there are a few key things to look out for when you are doing some research on the company’s website or social media presence. The best advice here is to look for the following to make sure the company you are eyeing is the best choice for you: 

  • Check out what kind of activities and programs they offer employees, and see how they reward achievements. The more a company invests in the growth of its collaborators, it’s more likely that you will find an environment where you can thrive and learn more.
  • Also, make sure to read any reviews from current or former employees that discuss job satisfaction and if they feel respected in the workplace. Having a peek into the “trenches”, so to speak, will always yield better insight than almost anything else.
  • Nothing beats first-hand personal experience though, so make sure you take advantage of any information sessions being offered to learn more about the company culture. 
  • It’s also worth reaching out for an informational interview with someone who works at the company or attends networking events where past/current members of staff may be attending — this is a great way to gain insight into the culture from individuals close to its source. 

So, if you’re on the hunt for a great software development job, look for “green flags” to help you make an informed decision. A good software development company should clearly demonstrate its expertise and keep up with industry trends. In addition to recruiting seasoned professionals, they should also provide the training mentioned above and education opportunities that allow staff members to build new skills. The workplace should be professional yet inviting, encouraging collaboration between team members while respecting each individual’s expertise. Always ask around — do other developers have good experiences working there? If you hear nothing but glowing reviews, set up an interview and take the plunge.

The people make the company

Changing Jobs 2023

Valuing people is crucial to success in software development, especially when dealing with complex technical tasks. On a day-to-day basis, everybody on the team should feel respected and valued for their contributions, no one should ever feel like their ideas are unimportant, and encouraging collaboration rather than competition is a must. A good corporate culture understands that working together with the same respect and empathy shared across the entire team allows ideas to be shared openly, letting all members develop innovative solutions. A unified team operating as a collective engine all working towards a common goal will inevitably be more successful than individual developers vying for recognition, thus explaining why valuing the people you work with is so important for software development success: it’s all about creating an environment for collaboration and collective innovation.

So, if you’re looking to have a long and successful career in software development, prioritize working for companies that value their people. At these organizations, you’ll have the opportunity to work with the best and brightest in the industry, receive mentorship and support when needed, and be rewarded for your accomplishments. Do your research before applying to make sure you’re targeting places that will help you grow as a professional – it’s worth it in the long run!

The Key Takeaways

  • The beginning of the year is always the perfect time to look for a new position in the software industry, for many reasons.
  • However, if you are looking for a new company to join, there are many “green flags” you should look for to ensure it’s a positive change for you.
  • The best software companies are those that value their people, offer chances to learn and grow, and encourage communication and collaboration among every team member.
  • Always ask around and see what a company has to offer before applying for a job. A good company would make this information easy to access.

Scio is a Nearshore software development company based in Mexico where we believe that everyone deserves everyone should have the opportunity to work in an environment where they feel like a part of something. A place to excel and unlock their full potential which is the best approach to create a better world. We have been collaborating with US-based clients since 2003, solving challenging programming puzzles, and in the process showcasing the skills of Latin American Engineers. Want to be part of Scio? Get in contact today!. Get in contact today!

The impact of empathy in software design: Is a single perspective always enough?

The impact of empathy in software design: Is a single perspective always enough?

Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

Imagine you’re trying to use a new piece of software, but it’s just not working the way you want it to. The buttons are in the wrong place, the interface is confusing, and you can’t figure out how to do what you need to do. Now imagine that the person who designed that software is sitting right next to you, watching you struggle. How would that make you feel? Most likely, it would be pretty frustrating and uncomfortable.


Now, imagine that same scenario, but instead of the software designer being a detached observer, they’re genuinely empathizing with your experience. They understand how frustrating it is to try to use something that isn’t well-designed, and they’re committed to making it better. They care about your success, and they want to help you achieve your goals. That’s the power of empathy in software design.

When designers take the time to understand the needs and goals of their users, they can create products that are truly helpful and easy to use. Empathy leads to better design decisions and ultimately results in a better user experience because good software design is about more than just writing code that meets the requirements of a project. It’s also about creating an experience that meets the needs of users, through empathy with their expectations. Empathy allows designers to put themselves in the shoes of users and understand their perspective to create products that offer a solution instead of making a problem worse. Without empathy, designers are more likely to create software that is confusing and difficult to use. Simply put, empathy is a crucial element of good software design.

However, how can a designer use the element of empathy properly? And what goes into understanding the perspective of a hypothetical user to create the best product a designer possibly can?

What is empathy?

Empathy Design Disorder 1

In today’s world, we are increasingly reliant on software to get through our daily lives. From ordering a coffee to communicating with our loved ones, there are few aspects of our lives that don’t involve some form of software, and thus, require a level of technology literacy that can overwhelm the average user if they are not used to it. With this level of dependence, software must be designed with a few things in mind. 

This is where empathy comes in. When we talk about empathy in software development, we are talking about the ability to see things from a perspective outside of the product itself. It’s not just about understanding what they want, but also why they want it. And it’s not just about users, but also stakeholders, project managers, and clients; they all have different roles to play and different perspectives to bring to the table, so empathy is essential for bringing everyone together and getting everyone on the same page. Only with this level of understanding can they create truly user-friendly products.  

Poor outcomes are more likely because the developers are out of touch with the users of their solutions. Like many who claim to be software “engineers”, they are not engaging in deep user empathy which ultimately leads to unappealing solutions. These engineers are implementers who are insensitive and largely oblivious to the people who use these tools and most important – why they need solutions. […] In my view, these “implementers” cannot work alone; they must be led and fed every element of the business and technical requirements with precision and detail.

This holistic view of development is what enables the creation of truly great applications. And in an age where we rely on software for everything, this empathy is a crucial element to reach the most successful outcome possible. Furthermore, anyone who has ever tried to use a piece of software that was clearly not designed with the user in mind, or when unclear communication throws a wrench that can derail a whole project, knows how frustrating it can be. 

These disconnects between the designer and the final user and everyone involved in a software development project, have been called Empathy Design Disorder (EDD) by Bill French, Chief Analytics Officer at Stream It Inc. In short, EDD stipulates that “user empathy is a fundamental part of building meaningful user interfaces. For some engineers, though, developing a highly sensitized capacity to inject the feelings and state-of-mind of a user can be challenging.

Getting into a different headspace

Empathy Design Disorder 1

But what does it mean to design software with the user in mind? Because it’s not just about making sure the software is easy to use; it’s about understanding how people think and what they need, getting into their headspace to discover which pain points are more likely to occur during the development and use of a software applications. This means constantly testing and iterating on the design, and when done right, user-centered design can make a big difference in the success of a software product.

Think about how the user is going to interact with it. What are their needs and how can your design meet those needs? It’s not enough to just create something that looks good on ‘paper’; you need to get into the headspace of the user and think about what they’re going to want to do with your software. This means considering things like usability, functionality, and even the emotional response that your design is likely to evoke. After all, they’ll be the ones using your product day in and day out, and you want them to have a positive experience. To that end, here are some starting points to use empathy in a software development environment: 

  1. Put yourself in your users’ shoes. Designing software with your user in mind can be challenging, as you may not share the same perspective, so thinking from the end user’s point of view is the only way to go. Ask yourself these questions: What do they need? What are their expectations? Do your best to answer these questions, so that your design meets their needs. You should also look for ways to add a personal touch to the design and make it easier for them to interact with your product or service. Overall, by taking the time to think from your user’s perspective, you will create something that will help build a strong bond between you and them.
  2. Pay attention to the details. Attention to detail is so important when it comes to the user experience of an application. Small details can make or break the usability of an application – after all, a great user experience needs to feel effortless and intuitive. An application that pays attention to even the smaller elements of design, such as how easily navigable its menu is or how visually pleasing it appears on different devices adds immense value for users. When designers are considerate enough to pay attention to these types of details during the development process, they end up creating applications that have the potential to become part of a user’s daily routine. Simply put, with great attention to detail comes greater success.
  3. Be responsive to feedback. If users are having trouble with your product, listen to their feedback and make changes accordingly. As a software designer, it’s essential to prioritize attending to the users, and taking time to consider the opinions of those who are using it, which is key in creating something that fits within their parameters. Listening to feedback also helps designers gain insights into how users approach solving problems and can help inform future design decisions. At times, it can be difficult to stay open-minded, but being proactive in addressing suggestions and concerns provides an excellent opportunity for creating even better applications. Ultimately, the success of any application depends on its users, so hearing them out is critical in making sure their expectations are met.

Empathy as an outcome

When developing any software, it’s easy to lose sight of the people who will be using the product, which is why empathy should be a core part of any software development project. After all, software developers create programs that are meant to be used by people and it’s important that these people feel genuinely understood. By baking-in empathy into the development process, developers can access a greater level of insight into what users want and need out of their experience with the software. This helps to ensure the product does not just solve problems, but also can be integrated into the lives of the users, making individuals feel appreciated and respected. Empathy in combination with skillful development leads to robust, user-friendly software that a wide range of users can enjoy and benefit from.

In other words, technology is meant to improve our lives, so by taking the time to understand what users need and how they may interact with the product, developers can design something with real impact, offering an experience that feels natural and intuitive, helping to boost satisfaction and creating a powerful sense of connection between users and software. In short, building empathy into every development project isn’t just good for users–it’s essential if you want to truly develop something impactful.

The Key Takeaways

Empathy Design Disorder 2
  • Software development is a delicate process where a lot of elements have to come together to ensure a positive outcome.
  • This makes it easy for a team to create an application that, theoretically, solves a problem, but in practice, nobody can use it effectively.
  • This can probably be due to a failure of empathy in the development process, which is failing to thoroughly consider the needs, expectations, and pain points of the average user.
  • By allowing empathy to be part of the development process, the result can only be stronger applications that not only solve a problem but also integrate with the experience of the user, the mark of a successful product.

Scio is an established Nearshore software development company based in Mexico that specializes in providing high-quality, cost-effective technologies for pioneering tech companies. We have been building and mentoring teams of engineers since 2003 and our experience gives us access not only to the knowledge but also the expertise needed when tackling any project. Get started today by contacting us about your project needs – We have teams available to help you achieve your business goals. Get in contact today!

Productivity Ratio: Understanding the “invisible work” of software development

Productivity Ratio: Understanding the “invisible work” of software development

Curated by: Sergio A. Martínez

We know that software development is not all just coding. As with any big project, there are plenty of tasks that must be fulfilled to create an effective end product, such as stakeholder supervision, decision-making, problem-solving, communication, and time management. Which is why it is  essential to have a clear understanding of the business goals of the software being developed, while also analyzing and interpreting the user requirements that must be worked into the development phase.


That’s part of the reason why productivity in this context is a tricky thing to track. Sure, you can see how long it takes to reach the end goal and measure it against timelines and expectations, but that doesn’t take into account all the nuances of software creation, as well as the challenges of debugging, refactoring, tweaking, editing and other tedious but crucial elements of every successful project. And this is further complicated by progress not always being linear — as soon as you start working on a project, it’s almost certain things will follow their own kaleidoscope-like paths that don’t always make sense from the outside. 

With all that, it might seem that tracking productivity is like nailing jelly to a wall: not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, and sadly without a one-size-fits-all solution. Doing the required following isn’t impossible, though, but it requires finesse and forethought to obtain meaningful results. It also requires being aware of the “invisible work” going into the development of an application, and it requires having a complete understanding of how that many pieces fit together. Unfortunately, for some teams, ignoring the tediousness of tracking productivity can be seen as more desirable than going through the hassle. However, with the correct approach, any team can achieve such a goal.

Getting ratio’d

Productivity Ratio

Working with other professionals like designers, business analysts, or testers, is part of every software development project, so good collaboration skills are necessary to reach any goal. Furthermore, making sure that the tools you are using are appropriate for the task ahead can have a dramatic impact on how successful the project would turn out to be in the long run. All these requirements mean that a positive outcome demands a spectrum of skills, which makes the whole process more challenging, and not all of them are obvious at a first glance. In the words of this Crossing the Equator article:

This invisible work increases the communications gap between the hidden, almost abstract world of coding on the one side and that of marketers, purchasers, and investors on the other. It’s a gap that can cause frustration and misunderstanding and can lead to employee turnover and a slowdown of business growth. It is usually the responsibility of engineering leaders to close this gap.

In other words, measuring “invisible work” can be difficult due to the complexity of any project. While time and effort can obviously be used to gauge progress, many intangible elements must be factored into the equation, but it’s hard to quantify the value of research, problem-solving strategies, code refactoring, and investigating emerging technologies that all help to improve software quality. In addition, developers must often adjust their efforts on the fly if stakeholders change their expectations or new information comes in. As a result, measuring invisible work requires an experienced team who understands what needs to be tracked and how to factor it into the overall process. And one of the more interesting approaches to this comes from a very simple formula: productivity ratios.

Productivity ratios in software development are the gauge by which you measure whether or not a process is successful, indicating the amount of work completed versus the amount of time and effort expended. In other words, it looks at how much time and resources have been invested in a project, such as coding and bug fixes, against the end result. The productivity ratio, consequently, it’s an important metric for gauging how effective a development team is at producing quality work. And understanding how to calculate it can be an invaluable tool for ensuring a project’s success. The formula to do so can be expressed as the following:

productivity ratio

The tricky part, however, is how to define what the input and the output mean in the context of development. The most common approach is looking at the basic resources that go into the project (work hours, number of developers, cost per hour, among others), against a specified result, like development milestones reached, user stories, pull requests, and many others, with the general idea that something is being produced continuously. 

The result of the equation is then compared to a baseline (industry standards, or past development story, for example) to obtain an estimate of the total productivity of a given team. But how does this tie back to the invisible work involved in software development? Coming back to the Crossing the Equator article:

It’s a human-focused thing. It also applies to collaboration, knowledge sharing, and team-building activities. Successful organizations build products that customers love, which can only happen when the right people are involved and treated correctly. Teams cannot afford to hire people who merely hit the keyboard to write code without any profound understanding of or connection to the end user. Understanding the business means understanding its processes and goals and ensuring full team alignment.

A different way to look at development

Productivity Ratio

In short, without a holistic view of development, a productivity ratio cannot work as is because a lot of the effort is not directly apparent in the final product (like planning, writing documentation, ensuring clear communication between stakeholders, managers, and developers, implementing and maintaining the adequate tools, observing security, refactoring the code, etc.), but it’s required to guarantee the timely delivery of a product, its quality, and the overall success of it. 

After all, putting all the focus on coding is not enough and in fact can lead to disaster if other aspects of the project such as design, testing, debugging, and the actual use case are not taken into consideration. Without properly assessing these elements a lot of issues can arise while rolling out the software to customers resulting in wasted effort and resources. That last part is key: developers should take an all-encompassing approach by focusing on the final users as the overall destination of the whole process, and what they are getting from the whole ordeal is, perhaps, the most important point of all. Consequently, an effective productivity ratio should be defined less in terms of input/output, and more like:

productivity work

The core of this approach is to stop seeing the development process as an isolated black box where effort goes in and results come out, and instead get into a mindset of the “total work” output by a team against what the client and final user will be receiving. This should not just be an abstract idea but rather a value that’s central to all efforts during production, helping align everyone with a clear goal. Additionally, when strong ties exist between a software development team and its users, trust is established allowing for up-front feedback before any changes or upgrades would be made, all but ensuring that technical implementations fit with user expectations. Bottom line – all software development projects should prioritize the user experience, helping teams align their efforts from day one. Making sure everyone understands and is deeply invested in this user focus allows for more meaningful and consistent collaborations internally, bridging the gap between the visible and invisible work. Ensuring there is a clear baseline for the productivity ratio, will end up manifesting into an ideal, successful product that satisfies users completely.

The Key Takeaways

  • Productivity is always an important concern for any software development project because it can give a clear picture of the effort and resources put into development.
  • One of the biggest challenges of tracking productivity is the “invisible work” involved in creating a successful application, which is never obvious in the final product.
  • A successful approach might be the “productivity ratio” that measures the input against the output of any project, but it needs to be used carefully to consider invisible work.
  • To that end, keeping the focus on the final product that the user will be receiving can give a better idea of the productivity of a team, comparing the ratio of effort put in versus what the user will be getting.

Scio is an established Nearshore software development company based in Mexico that specializes in providing high-quality, cost-effective technologies for pioneering tech companies. We have been building and mentoring teams of engineers since 2003 and our experience gives us access not only to the knowledge but also the expertise needed when tackling any project. Get started today by contacting us about your project needs – We have teams available to help you achieve your business goals. Get in contact today!