In its early days, Amazon, now the world’s biggest marketplace, was primarily a bookseller. Facebook, at one time, was a social network exclusively for attendees of Ivy league universities and didn’t offer the advertising, job board, or other features it does today. Netflix distributed physical DVDs when streaming was barely a concept.
But today, we see these and other huge corporations that started out selling certain niche products and services as tech giants. Amazon brought a number of industries to their knees with its aggressive — and innovative — tactics. Facebook is far more than a social network: it’s a purveyor of information, the single source — for better or worse — of news and information for many people. Netflix is a streaming entertainment giant.
How did they do it? One trick up their sleeve is that they thought and continue to think like software companies. Is there a way for you to do that? Of course, there is! In fact, here are some tips that will get you on your way to thinking like a software company.
Embrace Growth Mindset
Did Jeff Bezos imagine he would one day be the world’s richest person when he launched Amazon more than a quarter of a century ago? Probably not. But chances are good he had dreams for his company beyond that of an online bookstore.
Like Amazon, software development companies always think big. They might be a startup today, but they have to believe it’s just a matter of time before they secure that amazing investor or even are able to go public.
Regardless of your industry, you must embrace a growth mindset and think about how you’re going to expand and become an even greater business.
Break Down Barriers Between Departments
Some members of businesses that predominantly revolve around software complain that the developers are considered the stars. But in a successful software development company, leaders and employees alike understand and recognize how everyone contributes to the bottom line. A successful product or service doesn’t depend on anyone’s department or individual — everyone is critical to the business’ success.
Replicate these collaborative efforts at your organization. Make sure every member of the team across marketing, sales, human resources, finance, design, and operations feels valued and heard. Encourage frequent interactions, and ask everyone to contribute ideas, feedback, and perspectives.
Look to Agile
Many developers and development companies embrace Agile, a mindset that prioritizes collaboration and customer satisfaction. It follows 12 principles, as outlined in the Agile Manifesto. Ultimately, this methodology helps development firms deliver better products and work with their colleagues and clients more effectively.
There are some principles in the Manifesto that are software- or technology-specific — for example, the 7th principle says “Working software is the primary measure of progress” — but many of the principles can apply to practically any type of business across numerous industries. Organizations should always prioritize customer satisfaction, for one.
Take a look at the Manifesto to consider how the principles can apply to your organization. They could very well make a difference. And look elsewhere to find ways in which you can power up your operations through agile.
It’s natural to want to have things settled, but the nature of business is always uncertain. Software development companies understand this — there are always new innovations on the horizon and trends that come into vogue. That’s why they anticipate and account for change.
You, too, should accept that the status quo isn’t always going to be the status quo. It’s impossible to account for every obstacle or challenge you may encounter, but by building in systems that will help you navigate uncertainty, you’ll find that operations will run much more smoothly.
Focus on ROI
The intrinsic value of a project or product may be apparent to you, but it should also be clear to everyone else — especially your customers. Software development companies are always thinking about return on investment (ROI) when devising and creating new products, and you should be, too.
According to Gartner, you should ensure that all players agree on the “desired outcome” from the getgo and there are established, individual metrics for evaluating the project and its success. These objectives are critical in both determining the value of the project and measuring the outcomes from it.
Always Be Innovating
Technology depends on innovation — that’s obvious. But virtually all industries are also required to innovate to stay in the game and gain a competitive advantage among others in their niche.
Like software development companies, you should always be looking for new and different ways to improve your company, build your advantage, and put forth products and services that customers and clients will truly appreciate and value. This innovation should be the responsibility of all team members, no matter what their role or specialty.
Establish a Positive Company Culture
One thing that keeps software development companies moving forward is the company culture. Because these businesses tend to be newer, with less distance from their startup days than huge, long-established corporations, they often have a culture of camaraderie that embraces and values everyone’s contributions.
Plus, there’s the fact that these workplaces often have a number of perks: onsite gyms, free food, in-office happy hours, unlimited vacation time, and so on. These benefits, too, contribute to a positive environment. You don’t have to replicate all of this at your company, of course. But do consider how you can give your company culture a boost, especially during a time when there may well be a dip in morale.
Chances are, there are a number of things your company is already doing right. And we are by no means saying software development companies are perfect and doing everything perfectly.
But still, there are plenty of lessons to be learned from software development companies, too — ones that revitalize or bring your business into a new age of innovation and success.