Softwire Blog

Lightning Talks – Juggling Theory

22 May 2015, by

In April 2015 we ran another Lightning Talks competition where eight employees each had five minutes to tell us something they find interesting – inside or outside the software development world. We had talks this year on topics from Node.js servers to learning to commit!

Once again we voted on our favourite talks and the top two won Amazon vouchers. This is Rupert McKay’s second place talk introducing the audience to the surprisingly deep, mathematical world of Juggling Theory

Writing good notes during meetings

19 May 2015, by

NotesHave you ever come away from a meeting with the feeling that you’ve missed or forgotten some important information? Below are some tips to help you write better notes: if you apply them (and practice) you will find that your notes are much more useful and you retain the ideas and information that come out of your meetings for longer. (more…)

Tips for managing technical people – Be nice to the customer

12 May 2015, by

The following is an excerpt from my new book, “Galvanizing the Geeks – Tips for Managing Technical People”. You can buy the full book on my website, here.Galvanizing the geeks

A good relationship with the customer is absolutely key to delivering a good service – and, as it’s the customer who is judging your outputs, you need them to be involved in setting the goals that define what success looks like.

To do this, you want to avoid your team developing a combative relationship with external decision-makers. If the customer agrees with every suggestion they make or is happy to be uncritical of technical decisions, there will be peace. But if the customer doesn’t effectively communicate the constraints they’re working to and passes on ultimatums as a result, they are likely to lose the team’s respect and any chance of a solution-focused discussion. Instead, it’s likely that the team will try to work out how to impose the plan that they already intended to implement.

The problem here is that your team are guardians of expertise that the customers don’t have. And because their focus isn’t on communication, they assume that if the customer wants something different they must just be stupid or pig-headed.

It’s therefore important to train your technical staff to think about helping the customer –to think “They’re so inexperienced they think putting it on one server is a good idea. They need our help to not make the wrong decision” – rather than reacting against a customer ultimatum. But without training them to think in this way, you can’t assume that your team will immediately understand good customer relations the way you do.