How award-winning Dutch companies build champion software development teams

By Jonathan Francis

With one of the hottest tech scenes in the world, the Netherlands is gaining international traction as a perfect springboard for many tech start-ups.

In fact, Amsterdam is now the 5th most popular destination in Europe for techfounders to turn their ideas into full-blown commercial operations. Living up to its nickname “Silicon Canals”, the city’s emerging tech scene received a record of €322 million in collective funding last year.

 

The Dark side

This spectacular growth also has a darker side. With money flowing in and the digital economy growing, technology companies are looking to scale-up their operations faster and leaner than ever before. However, these companies are left strangled with the lack of great tech talent to execute their ongoing expansion.

With 60% of all Forbes 2000 companies active in the IT industry already establishing operations in the Netherlands, the war for talent is intense. This only means, early stage or even mid-market companies must compete against these larger organizations with deeper pockets to attract and hire great talent.

 

Answering tough questions

Every successful technology company has a strong tech team behind it. If leaders of scaling businesses want to move fast, disrupt and add value to their clients, their tech team needs to be able to work in that same pace.

For Instance, what if you need an army of 5 or 10 mobile developers in the next three months to make sure you hit your roadmap milestones? While it may seem straight forward, CXOs often are left to resolve questions such as:

  • What’s the optimal way to organize the necessary roles and responsibilities?
  • How do we get everyone working together?
  • How long will it take to launch an MVP?
  • What is right number of people required in the team and experience required to launch it within a certain time frame?

However, not all is lost. With some smart strategies and a clear set of priorities, building tech teams can be a lot easier than you thought.

Here are 5 core practices that are powering award-winning Dutch companies build champion software development teams.

 

Define the scope & key milestones

It’s easy for energetic and passionate business leaders to get carried away with their scale-up projects.

By focusing only on a list of “must have” tech skills, most leaders often exhaust a lot of time and energy in trying to build teams with all the required competencies. Resulting in larger teams, assumed to be more productive, and able to achieve better results faster.

In our experience, larger teams don’t always fit the bill. It is better to organize teams around building the product and have initial estimates made. With clearly defined project scopes, end goals, and critical milestones, tech teams could be a lot more focused and better equipped.

 

An Introduction to Agile Development

 

Work in an agile way

With the scope and milestones defined, the next step would be to simplify decision making within the team. Here at Gapstars, the agile approach has helped us to build a tight knit and transparent team of people who share different tasks and responsibilities related to the delivery of the product.

When it comes to agile software development, continuous delivery revolves around 4 key elements: Build, Deploy, Test and Release. In fact, Scrum is one of the most popular Agile development methods out there now. If this sounds too techy – Don’t worry! We’ve created a Gapstars Scrum Cheat Sheet for Beginners. It’s sure to get you started!

Rather than just a way to build software, Scrum is an overall approach to solving problems. This way your team members are aligned to have the same understanding and expectations when developing a product.

 

Share your purpose and define culture

Most often at the beginning culture  is ignored. You are so busy building your product, team and go-to market, that culture is the last thing on your mind.

But as you start forming your team, you expect new employees to automatically know, and “fit into” a way of thinking and working. Defining and explaining culture could be complex.

We believe in defining your companies’ higher purpose. It could be a great way to introduce culture to your team.

Provide your team with a sense of purpose by sharing “why you do? what you do”. This relates to how your product is going to shape your industry, improve lifestyles or provide a solution to tough questions. These answers could strengthen people’s pride, engagement, and emotional connection to your business.

Use the purpose as your share your communication structures, processes, mission and the vision. These elements will get your team to understand your culture, revolve around your core purpose and fuel your existence.

 

Invest in senior talent

Let’s face it. Attracting top talent is particularly tough, that’s why you don’t want people leaving your projects half way down the line. As the saying goes, people don’t quit a job — they quit a boss. Invest in hiring a Tech Lead or several senior developers who can lead your team.

Hire senior developers who can be counted on and looked up to by the rest of the team. Most developers want to be surrounded by other smart developers. They want to learn, share ideas and improve on their skills.

Even though their experience and advanced knowledge will mean higher costs, they will pay back. In the end, their leadership, experience and strategic thinking will help drive your team, avoid pitfalls and accomplish your product development.

 

 

Focus on recruitment

One bad apple, the saying goes, can ruin the bunch. So, it is with your team and even your entire scale-up project. One bad employee can corrupt a whole team and disrupt your entire project.

Recruitment plays a critical part in launching a successful scale-up project. Why? Cause it’s critical to hire the most suitable experts and have them on-boarded on your team. But IT recruitment is not that easy for tech startups, which are often unable to compete with larger established companies for top developers or can’t afford quality talent because of budget constraints.

In our experience, we have created a short list of developer hiring practices for our clients, that could fit into your next scale-up recruitment plans.

 

  • Follow an agile interview process – Think of an order that you want to follow when interviewing. Note down who is interviewing and how decisions are communicated. Be ready to adjust. If an interview doesn’t go as planned don’t’ stress out.

 

  • Be ready to make quick hiring decisions. – The IT sector is so dynamic that decisions and people change every day. Don’t dilly-dally with a hiring decision. You can loose good candidates just by delaying.

 

  • Provide recruitment agencies with in-depth details about the skillsets you require and the projects you’re hiring developers for – Help recruitment agencies help you. This helps filter candidates early and not waste time at your end.

 

  • Even if your team is remote. The best move is to invest in some real face time at the start of your cooperation. Consider interviewing short listed candidates face-to-face. This will help you get to know your new developers better.

 

Think these practices are helpful or want to share any different methods? Get in touch.

Interested in developing your own dedicated remote development team? Schedule a one-on-one discovery call here.