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How To Fund Enterprise Software Development

When we think of software development, sometimes our minds can move towards all things Startup. With the buzz given to new startups and funding, you could be forgiven for thinking software development is heavily skewed to developing and building startups.

Funding routes within the Startup industry is somewhat formulaic. Starting with a concept and after researching the market size and opportunity you will have a variety of options to fund your idea. This usually comes in the form of a friends and family funding round, pitching to angel investors, crowdfunding on platforms such as Seedrs, or, you can self fund your app development.

Standard practice would be for your first investment to fund your prototype in the form of a design sprint – then build your MVP.

After you build your MVP – the name of the game is traction, and then likely taking proof of concept and perhaps early-stage revenue and pitching to Seed Funds and Venture Capital (VC) firms.

That’s how you fund your Software in a Startup.

What about an Enterprises and SME’s?

These businesses that may be less desirable to investment from Venture Capital institutions, and equally, may find VC terms unappealing.

Typically, to fund software development within these Enterprises, you are faced with a small number of choices.

  • You can fund software development from your balance sheet
  • Or you can finance software development through company loans.

Loans are repayable, and balance sheet funding can be difficult, especially if you have company debt to be paid, or wish to reinvest profits in different elements of your business.

But, there is one underutilised form of funding software development in Enterprises and SME’s often neglect, and this is through R&D tax credits.

How To Fund Enterprise Software Development?

When I caught up with Jonathan Alford-Leach, Senior Business Development Manager at Signature Tax R&D, he managed to shine a light on how Software can qualify for R&D tax relief.

“Software is continually evolving, and new applications for Software are constantly being developed (e.g. robots, augmented reality, IoT and more).

Any company that is developing Software could qualify for R&D tax relief. If a business has a team of software developers to support other companies in their software projects, they too can make an application. This includes the provision of Software as a Service (SaaS), business tools or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.”

So How Do I Qualify?

To qualify, you need to demonstrate how the Software will advance the overall knowledge or capability against an existing product. The improvement can not be adapted from freely available information. This is good news if your business resolves difficulties and challenges that have not to net been overcome by a competent professional in a field.

So what constitutes an entity that may be able to benefit from R&D tax relief?

“An example could be, the development of a new software capability to improve the speed of the system. It might be the optimisation or re-architecting or combination of different technologies that did not previously integrate. Or improvement in the capability of an existing product or system.”

It can’t merely be tweaking a software platform just for your business. Still, it could include adapting custom-made systems for integration (with web programs, new hardware, new devices or making older technologies work in conjunction with each other).

If you are interested in connecting with Jonathan online feel free to connect on Linkedin here

For further information on software development and outsourced software development book a call with one of the Business Development team at Jyst

How to Hire A Quality Remote Software Developer

Finding a highly skilled remote software developer can require a huge amount of time, and even some trial and error.

When we ask companies. “What are you looking for in your search for a highly skilled quality remote software developer?” We typically get common responses.

They must be:

  • Adaptable
  • Experienced
  • Fluent in our language
  • Willing to make Standups on our timezone
  • Preferably worked in one company that has scaled previously

Not too long ago, the majority of software developers used to be concentrated, on-premise and work for major players like Microsoft and Adobe. With a lot of operations transitioning fully or in part to digital, software developers have found careers in other industries such as agriculture, startups, marketplace applications and manufacturing while a large number do freelance work.

Software developers do more than just write code – contrary to what some non-technical co-founders think. Although one of their main functions is to develop and test software to meet client demands, they are also tasked with upgrading software, monitoring performance, and resolving issues. The most exciting part of all? Documenting all of this work for future reference (said with sarcasm!). 

Recent global events have drastically changed the landscape of how we work. The risks and limitations of moving around have forced a lot of workers to WFH.  Several industries have transitioned successfully to having their teams work remotely with little to no effort. Others are in a blind panic, trying to figure out how to work remotely. Thankfully for remote Software Developers, they can get all of their work completed anywhere they have a computer and a stable and robust internet connection.

Software developers can be flexible in where they work but hiring and recruiting a great one is a different animal, let alone executing the interview and recruitment process entirely remotely.

What Qualities Should I Look For when Hiring a Remote Software Developer?

To hire a great software developer, the benchmark qualities and characteristics must first be clearly defined. Here are a few traits that make a great software developer.

Curiosity

More than coding and programming, a software developer’s job is to solve problems. Great developers will not box themselves into a singular or linear set of tools, skills, or languages. They are able to view problems from multiple angles and perspectives and consequently provide more creative and efficient solutions.


Technical Skills

Great Software Developers don’t rely on technical skills alone. There are fundamental skills that a developer must possess to be functional in the role. You should not expect successful outcomes from people who are not equipped with the appropriate skills for the job or with the required experience


Adaptability

Remote Software Developers often work in highly variable work setups. Good developers can cope with changing tasks, accountabilities and an evolving team and leadership. The work specifications and demand may also change over time. The ability to be productive despite these is critical. The ability to communicate clearly across teams that may potentially come from a different background is also vital.


How do I Recruit a Great Software Developer?

Recruiting quality, remote talent can be a daunting task. It involves a time commitment, utilizing advanced evaluation techniques, and employing appropriate interview strategies and tactics. Here are a few steps that may improve your chances of success in finding the quality you are looking for.


Before the Interview

Quality attracts quality; quality people often associate themselves around other high-quality individuals. Having a personal network at the top echelons of whatever industry you work in will put you in an excellent position in filling vacancies. Studies have also shown that referrals still account for up to a quarter of successful hires.


Evaluating Technical Skillset

One effective method is to have candidates solve a programming problem that is not boxed within a specific language. This will effectively help you measure the candidate’s problem-solving skills, overall knowledge of computer science, and coding style. The litmus test for evaluating a software developer is to provide them with a test project to work on that would showcase their skills and overall competencies. This way, you can have a better measure of how they fit your organization.


How do I Recruit Software Developers Remotely?

Recruiting employees who you will not be seeing in person brings about some level of anxiety, especially for those companies that have recently transitioned to a WFH culture. The remote recruitment process bypasses several steps in the observation of the candidate and the way they interact in a physical workspace.

Keen observation and documentation skills is key. You will have to look out for little things such as responsiveness to emails. A remote employee who will take days to respond to emails during the hiring process will most likely have delays in responding to urgent work emails and other forms of correspondence.

It is also equally as important to ask exploratory questions that require specific answers that you can validate. Dig deep on experience, particularly in working remotely. Have the candidate provide a portfolio of previous work and projects and have your team verify. At this stage, the interview is not much different from a physical in-person interview aside from the fact that you are missing the candidate’s physical presence.


Putting it All Together

Hiring a quality candidate can be difficult in any setting – remote or otherwise. One good example is recruitment within sports teams. When choosing a prospective player to purchase, teams, gather volumes of data, study workouts, and observe how the prospect plays in-game. Yet, most teams still end up drafting busts.

premier league transfer flops

The best way to hire a top remote software developer is by narrowing down the options as much as possible then deciding objectively based on the facts presented.

At Jyst, we have placed numerous high-quality developers into some of the fastest-growing companies. We have extensive knowledge of how to find the right outsourced developer for your requirements.

If it all seems like too much going through the rigours of finding reputable developers at scale in the current climate then sync with one of our Business Development reps here.

Figma: The New King in Designing and Building Prototypes

Figma recently announced that it has successfully raised $50 million in Series D funding. The acquisition of more funding from various investors has increased Figma’s value, which Forbes now estimates at $2 billion.

The recent announcement is undoubtedly a big deal. Figma is a tool mainly used for designing and building prototypes. Its sales pitch is that Figma is superior by increasing collaboration between development and design teams. The recent funding round is expected to expand features the feature set and provide a better tool across the entire organization.

Figma, the collaborative interface design and prototyping tool, was the brainchild of then 20-year-old Dylan Field and WebGL prodigy Evan Wallace. The tool was built to rival Adobe and its Creative Cloud application suite. It was built to be a genuinely cloud-based tool that promotes collaborations among teams and makes the design process easier – something the “cloud-by-name-only” Adobe Creative Cloud lacks. 

UI and UX Design used to just be an afterthought. In software design, companies used to accomplish the workflows first then added the designs that fit into that workflow. Figma sought to change all that by shifting the focus to design using a design-centric collaborative approach. Today, many similar apps are eyeing a similar approach to make design a critical part of product development.

It all starts with a wireframe.

What is Wireframing?

At Jyst we are often approached with the following questions from people who wish to build an app or application.

I have an idea, can you build the app?

How much to develop this application?

How do I go about building an app?

The answers are, before even writing one line of code you should wireframe and prototype your idea.

Before you can even come up with a blueprint for your software, you will first need to come up with different concepts of the initial design. Initial ideas go through several iterations before they can be used as a final concept for an interface. During these initial stages of design, the use of actual text and images is meaningless and, quite frankly, at such an early stage of product development too tedious. 

Using wireframes as placeholders simplifies these initial stages. It lets you see how an interface would look like without any of the actual information that should otherwise be there. Think of it as the blueprints to your home. You can see what the structure looks like including its electrical and plumbing layout without using actual pipes and wires and interiors.

How did we Wireframe before Software?

The design process doesn’t begin with any software. As part of the pre-design phase, conceptualization starts with brainstorming. One of the most straightforward tools used by design teams is post-it notes. Boards and walls are filled with tons of ideas written on colourful post-its. 

Once a viable idea has been developed, they start to envision the content they want to show to users. They create wireframes on paper, which is later developed digitally, to visualize the content they want to show. The content is then sorted and labelled in a card sorting session. 

When building a prototype, and once the initial wireframes have been successfully created, they are then digitized and developed using Figma or any other prototyping tool to connect the wireframes to the information architecture. 

How Does Figma Stack Up Against Other Products?

Figma is relatively new to the design world, yet it is fast becoming the go-to tool for UI/UX designers around the world. Its success is thanks in no small part to its focus on improving the ease in which teams can collaborate on a project. It has a seamless user interface and a sleek feature palette. Here’s how it compares stacks up against similar apps such as Sketch, Adobe XD, and InVision Studio.

Pricing. All but one app use a subscription-as-a-service (SaaS) pricing model with free and paid plans. Adobe XD and InVision Studio offer free access for one document while with Figma you can have up to 3 projects for free. Figma provides team access at the lowest price at $12 per month. Sketch offers lifetime access for a one-time purchase of $99 per license. 

Platform. Only Figma has a powerful browser-based app that is universally-accessible while the Sketch app has been criticized for being offputting due to it being Mac only. (Does anyone still design on Windows?)

Prototyping and Interactions. Figma offers a powerful prototyping tool that rivals even that of Sketch and Adobe XD

Figma Prototyping

Collaboration. As the “Google Docs of UI design”, Figma follows through on its promise of offering a powerful live collaboration tool with a polished design UI. Adobe XD has only recently introduced real-time coediting at Adobe MAX 2019. With Sketch, you’ll need a plugin to promote collaboration while InVision Studio doesn’t support real-time collaborations at this time.

Figma built for collaboration
A complete product prototype

Is Figma the New King in Wireframing?

The early 2010s brought us a variety of innovative design tools that sought to change the way we viewed design. The introduction of Sketch was a welcome change to a design market that was dominated by design giants like Adobe. They offered innovations that were never before seen on the market, which kick-started a wave of design collaboration changes.

Then came the web-based Figma who many thought would never work. While many of those earlier apps focused on the actual design process, Figma took it a step further and focused on visual collaboration. 

Today, it is one of the best tools for wireframing and prototyping. Designers and design teams all over the world swear by the product. Even the best developers from the likes of Twitter, GitHub, Dropbox, and Microsoft swear Figma. In fact, they consider it to be the ultimate design tool today, as do the Jyst team.

Building a Fintech App : UI/UX Case Study

Disruptor and challenger banks are fast eating away at the market share of institutional banks. Traditional banks find themselves competing and playing catchup with new banking applications who possess the ability to roll our features faster and provide more superior financial management features within their application.

Recently Revolut revealed they had reached the 20 million customer mark and Chime in the US raised $ 200 million, giving it unicorn status. 

AWSM(“awesome”) is the thought piece of Gennadiy Khayutin and Alibek Junisbayev both of whom have vast experience in the financial services industry. AWSM considers themselves an Edtech company with Fintech elements. AWSM teaches teens and their parents financial literacy by intertwining video content with actual full-service banking. It offers all the products of a typical bank. These products are designed to be safe enough for teens so that by the time they reach 18, they have had debit cards, tried credit cards, and learned how to manage debt and lend to their siblings. AWSM helps teens to avoid making stupid mistakes in early adulthood, and in the process, becomes the very first bank in their life.

In assisting their goal for a Q3 launch AWSM engaged with Jyst to bring their brand UI/UX to life so that AWSM can join the list of disruptor banks taking the world by storm.

When building the UI/UX for a Fintech and Edtech application we had to breakdown all processes, screens, gestures and customer journeys, then map them out so design met functionality and user experience. 

Here is a breakdown of some challenging questions we had to overcome to design the UI and UX of a fintech app.

  • How do you increase engagement in an application that crosses both the edtech and fintech industries?
  • How do you create a rewards-based UI for a fintech app to increase the engagement on typically “boring” topics, interest and saving rates?
  • How do you onboard customers for a fintech product considering AWSM’s aim is to acquire teens and parents as customers. 
  • How do you work with the developers to build a UI/UX experience across two different contents. 

So let’s start from the top 

Q1. How do you increase engagement in a fintech app at the same time as project an educational message?

Engagement is vital when developing an application for the fintech industry. Long gone are the days of a once-monthly statement in the post. Now customers need instant metrics, notifications and breakdown on expenditure.

Here’s how we increased engagement 

  • Ease of use – people will not engage with anything hard to use or understand. Simplicity is one thing, but portraying value-added functionality while retaining simplicity is the main challenge. Here we used the easy navigation, menu bars and gestures to increase the engagement with the AWSM app.

  • Minimize the number of processes to any key action No one wants to see screens of information or pages and pages of terms and conditions. So attention was paid to portraying what is necessary to a customer in their first session after creating an account.

Q2. How do you create a rewards based UI for a fintech app? 

The topics that provide course content on are not typically on the wishlist of any teenager to learn. Therefore we have to increase the rewards based feature set to drive engagement on typically “boring” topics such as interest and saving rates.

Sophisticated Rewards –  We all have that one application on our phone that brings us back for more. Be it the dopamine hit from a like on a photo, or a reward or badge for finishing exercise class. Cleverly laying out a sophisticated rewards structure leads to higher engagement across all age brackets. With AWSM an advanced rewards programme for educational courses was built into the application creating an incentive element within the platform. When incentive meets education, it’s a powerful combination.

Q3. How do you onboard customers for a fintech product considering AWSM aim is to acquire teens and parents as customers.

Think about how difficult it is to acquire one customer demographic, now consider having two demographics that you aim your Fintech and Edtech application at.

When looking at onboarding the idea is to be concise yet precise. By law you have to capture specific information to open a bank account. This process was simplified using the inbuilt scanning of photo identity, meaning the on-boarding screens and data collection processing time is halved.

Utilize Touch ID for quick sign-in – Applications that have Touch ID, have a much higher engagement rate than those that don’t. By implementing touch ID, you are much more likely to convert a customer and bring them back for their next web or app session.

Deliver the feature and benefits for the user before they use the application -Use the on-boarding screens to push features, remember in the signup process the customer still doesn’t know all the elements within the app. Do not lose this screen real estate space and push capabilities and features.

Let’s get one thing straight; as a teen you do not want your parents to have visuals over everything that you do (banking included) However, when you flip the concept around and offer more freedom when you reach your goals, things fall into place. 

Edtech Gamification – AWSM utilizes a lot of gamification throughout the app to drive people back to the app, which improves acquisition growth, but also to increases customer retention.

Below are some measures AWSM implemented with Jyst to gamify the platform.

  • Bonuses badges and rewards for completing chores and finishing courses 
  • Key metrics and KPI’s on spending and saving habits
  • Progress indicators on their journey within the app.

Q4. How do you work with the developers to build a UI/UX experience across two different continents? 

Like many of our clients, AWSM is based and headquartered in New York. Jyst Creative are headquarters in the UK.

Working remotely with clients we have honed our skills and processes to make sure the clients while miles away always have access to the team when most needed. 

For this project we used a combination of Zoom, InVision and internally Slack to ensure that the UI/UX interface of the AWSM did justice to the team and product that Gennadiy and Alibek have built.