Growth Stage Companies Have Questions, SenecaGlobal Has Answers

1871 AMA with Mike O’Malley

Thanks to 1871 – Chicago’s innovation hub – for hosting an AMA with Mike O’Malley, SenecaGlobal’s SVP of Strategy. The questions Mike fielded are a revealing snapshot of the issues that growth stage tech companies face as they navigate balancing the product development process and market influences.

Product Development

Q. How long does the software development process that from idea/mockups to prototype?

A. The time span depends on the idea. For example, we are currently working with an entrepreneur to quickly prototype their idea in 5 weeks to use to get market feedback. Then we anticipate spending 3 or 4 months to incorporate that feedback and create an MVP to create an MVP (minimum viable product).The process would take much longer if they relied only on internal resources.

Q. Related to the speed of the development process, what are some best practices – keeping in mind speed and quality – when implementing continuous delivery? I want to go quickly to production but maintain quality at all times.

We use the phrase “first time right” in our quality processes to make sure we are delivery with high quality. In fact our metrics are 17X better than industry averages for software quality. For example, we do full front-end architecture reviews before any code is written, we conduct code reviews, track SW bugs found and fixed per sprint, and then automate as much of the QA process as possible to catch issues before they go to the customer. It isn’t a silver bullet as much as it is discipline and best in class process.

Q. What do I need to know about security for a SaaS model? Where does a cloud hosting partner’s responsibility end and mine begin?

A. The SaaS model is very attractive for growth stage companies. What they need to understand is they still have responsibility for proactively managing their cloud security postures. Cloud providers are focused on protecting the network infrastructure, but responsibility for securing the hosted data, IP, and applications falls on the organization.

Q. On your website, it is mentioned that “30% of cloud spend is wasted cost”. Why is that, and how does SenecaGlobal fix that?

A. In general we see that many cloud workloads are still monolithic. They haven’t been refactored to efficiently use the resources available in AWS or Azure, which are both usage based. Independent industry estimates find that monthly cloud usage bills would drop by 30% if all these workloads were refactored. That number is consistent with the savings we see as well with the clients we work with to refactor their solutions for the cloud.

Market Influences

Q. What do I need to know about the upcoming American Data Privacy Protection Act (ADPPA) that likely to pass soon? What is it and how will it affect a company’s product or solution?

A. The ADPPA is currently being discussed in this legislative session. It creates an Office of Data Privacy within the FTC.  As such, companies need to prepare that they will need to have an outside audit prepared and submitted to verify the safety, efficacy and privacy of the AI algorithms used and data collected as part of business operations.

Q. How do I balance the expectations of my investors with the realities of the software dev cycle?

A. There is much research on the cost of quality and the age old idea that you only get one chance to make a first impression. We believe in fast prototyping, using the voice of the customer and defining ideas quickly. Then we work with startups to communicate realistic schedules based on MVP features to get the right feature set to market quickly.

Q. As a growth stage company, what else should I be focused on to manage business operations, beyond managing the software development process?

A. An area where we find growth stage companies need help is moving away from QuickBooks and homegrown spreadsheets to manage financials/operations. So, in addition to SW development services, SenecaGlobal is an Oracle Solution Provider for NetSuite. We work with clients to figure out from all the modules and associated apps, which one are right for them. Then we implement the solution and can even manage it for them with our NetSuite Constant Care program. The benefit for growing companies is access to real-time financial data, etc. to inform strategic decision making and to provide up-to-date info to investors.

Q. What does everyone in tech need to know based on your experience in this industry?

A. I think one of the most important things to know is that the tech industry is changing and there is a realization that successful companies can outsource some of their innovation to accelerate their success.  There simply isn’t enough talent available to hire and it’s increasing difficult to retain specialized resources.

I’ve worked for very large companies (Ericsson, Tellabs, Radware) and consulted for VC/PE firms that are trying to find the next unicorn. What I’ve learned is truly innovative ideas tend to germinate at start-ups and small to mid-sized companies. There’s that constant itch that there’s got to be a better way to do things that entrepreneurial types discover while running their businesses or observing what’s going on in a market.

The challenge for this group is how and where to find the resources needed to figure out technical requirements, develop the product or service, create sound security practices and speed up time to market.

People with tech skills are in demand and hard to find. Outsourcing is a proven strategy to find resources with specific skills. It can be difficult to for entrepreneurs to bring in outside help from both budgetary and development strategy perspectives. That’s why I’m passionate about the work we do at SenecaGlobal. We only work with growth stage companies to help them innovate faster and be more nimble.

About SenecaGlobal

Founded in 2007, SenecaGlobal is a global leader in software development and management. Services include software product development, application software development, enterprise cloud and managed services, quality assurance and testing, security, operations, help desk, technology advisory services and more. The company’s agile team consists of world-class information technologists and business executives across industries, ensuring that we provide clients with a strong competitive advantage.

SenecaGlobal is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and has a state-of-the-art software development and management center in Hyderabad, India. The company is certified as a Great Place to Work® and is ISO 9001 certified for quality and ISO 27001 certified for security.