Building software + growing moustaches in the face of Brexit

By Paul Lawrence, CEO, Salpo Technologies 11 Nov 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, Christmas is taking a backseat to two inseparable topics – Brexit and the General Election.

But while Brexit divides us like no issue before, it shouldn't paralyse us. There are positives we should focus on. There is work to be done. Life and business must go on.

As CEO of a tech company, I see how this long-standing stalemate continues to impact and stall business decisions, while uncertainty prevails. We are in danger of talking ourselves into slowdown and recession.

We need to look beyond Brexit, highlight the positives of British business and continue to move forward, regardless of whether we leave or remain. Naturally, but truthfully, I believe technology holds the key to the UK’s future business success.

The UK is ranked among the world leaders in developing technology and we are at the heart of the tech revolution. This is big. Like the industrial revolution and dot com boom before it, but bigger, stronger and with a more profound impact on us all. We need to fully embrace the tech industry and globally unite to develop the solutions of the future.

This is essential for the UK to thrive and develop, but the spectre of Brexit is making people nervous – according to a survey conducted by Opinion Matters, 59% of CIOs felt Brexit would hinder their organisation’s success.

Conversely, I believe this is the time to be creative, bold and ambitious. The UK has a fantastic track record, creating more unicorns (tech companies valued $1bn+) than any other country outside the US and China.

Around 70 unicorns have started here, bringing together the best global talent and utilising technology to create the next big things and make the world a better place. Investment in technology companies has in fact increased since 2016, with Tech Nation showing VC investment in the first half of 2019 at around $5bn versus just over $3bn in 2016. 

We are in unprecedented times and in this global economy opportunities for growth surround us. In my view, businesses should continue to innovate and develop during this period, moving away from unproductive and inefficient systems and continually pushing the boundaries.

The question is, how do we do that? If you’re hoping for a silver bullet, I don’t have one, but I do know we need to work together. We all need to adapt, embrace change and utilise technological advances to enhance our offerings and grow together.

I often hear people saying Brexit will create a shortage of developers  – a Pivotal Labs survey says two-thirds of IT decision-makers in the UK fear losing vital software development talent. But I would argue that we already have a shortage, not caused by Brexit.

In fact, we’ve faced this talent shortfall for years, so we know the landscape and the available options. It’s a question of comfort factor, control and cost, whether you choose a team of in-house developers, freelancers, off-shore or near-shore developers; all present unique challenges. But whatever route you choose, the key to success is collaboration.

If you develop in-house, you must maintain that talent, investing in training, tools, hardware and recruitment, to ensure your team keeps pace with the latest technology advances. With freelancers, the talent pool is wide and easily accessible via a plethora of online platforms.

But while finding people is easy, assembling a cohesive team is not, so project management becomes crucial.

Outsourcing, whether off-shore or near-shore, takes care of talent sourcing and management, but you need to ensure that alignment is correct, otherwise you will have a solution that is not cohesive. A scrum master is needed to ensure all elements are pulled together correctly.

Another option is finding a development company to take your idea from concept to delivery but again this can bring challenges. I’ve heard many stories of projects which fail to meet expectations; the final output doesn’t quite match up, the budget has spiralled out of control, or the result just isn’t what they wanted.

In this scenario, clarity is key. From the outset, you must agree precise objectives and have clearly defined documentation, with specific highlighted milestones. That way, everyone is on the same page and you don’t reach the end of a project and say ‘that’s not what I ordered’.

The final alternative is to appoint a trusted technology partner; a company who wants to engage in a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. This partner provides a dedicated service, beyond the scope of a single project, collaborating with your teams to achieve your long-term goals, while continually innovating, developing and recommending the best technology solutions.

This is how we like to work at Salpo, and how we deliver the best value for our clients. 

As a software development company, we see all types of customers, with a huge spectrum of wonderful (and not so wonderful) ideas, most with expectations to match. When we build software solutions, we see them as living and breathing organisms, so naturally we want them to grow and flourish. Becoming our clients’ trusted partner is the best way to achieve this, allowing us to provide ongoing guidance and support, to ensure that what we’ve built remains the best it can possibly be. 

Before I sign-off, I must address the elephant in the room...or rather the moustache – and you thought that was just a catchy headline. Partly true, but moustaches, much like Brexit, are of the MOment (pardon the pun).

Also like Brexit, they’re extremely divisive, as I’ve recently discovered. I’m supporting the fantastic charity that is Movember by attempting to grow a moustache for the first time.

A few days in, I was attracting comments and quizzical looks, not least from my own son, who asked worriedly, ‘how long is it staying for, daddy?’ And while I dream of sporting a Tom Selleck-esque moustache, the reality is more Ed Sheeran ginger with a dash of salt & pepper.

In all seriousness, I hope that when my colleagues and I attend meetings that our moustaches do not divide the room but we are embraced for supporting this great cause.

I’d be extremely grateful if you could support us too, by donating at moteam.co/goldentache.

And look out for us at MAD/Fest 13-14 November with some amazing moustache-based giveaways.

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