Software projects are all about people. A good development team can mean the difference between project failure and success. So, what is the secret to a dream team? How does Cegeka recruit its people, continuously educate them on new trends and technologies and guarantee continuity to its customers?
Job hopping is commonplace in IT. Over the past few years, the turnover rate within tech companies has been higher than in any other sector (13.2% in 2017, according to LinkedIn). Even big names like Amazon, Google and Uber have difficulties retaining their software engineers for more than a year. With a 0% attrition rate in 2019 and an average seniority of 12 years, our Connected Health team is clearly an exception to that rule. Changes in a team are always costly, so we feel really blessed. More than retaining our team, we even managed to grow by 13% in 2019 for the Connected Health team at Cegeka.”
Attracting the right people
Hiring the right people is, of course, the best start to a successful team. 60% of the people that Cegeka hired in Belgium in 2019 applied spontaneously or came to us via referrals. Internal staff fills 9% of all vacancies. So, Cegeka is clearly considered an attractive employer – which means we get a lot of interesting candidates.
In spite of the war for talent, Cegeka is strict when hiring new people. Our developers and consultants need more than great technical skills. As we attach great importance to working ‘in close cooperation’, communication and collaboration skills are just as important. Moreover, we look for people who fit with our company culture – people who are genuinely committed to our corporate values like authenticity, entrepreneurship and ownership.
More than great technical skills, our developers need soft skills too. And most importantly, they have to fit in with our company culture.
Three keys to keeping your software developers happy
What is it that keeps your tech team engaged, satisfied and productive? We see three keys to keeping developers happy (spoiler alert: an outrageous salary isn’t one of them):
1. Give them a purpose
Employees – especially millennials – increasingly look for jobs that are useful to society or that give them the chance to help others. So, if you want to bring out the best in your people, show them the purpose of their work: how their software makes a difference in business and in society as a whole.
2. Ensure access to the latest technologies
Software engineers typically enjoy trying out the newest innovations. Create opportunities for them to use the latest and greatest tools and test new technology – especially the teams that update or maintain existing applications.
3. Provide ample opportunities to learn and grow
Tech workers are always yearning for opportunities to grow and advance. Satisfy that desire and challenge them to prove themselves on a bigger and bigger scale.
Learning at Cegeka – at every level
Cegeka strongly believes that an organization's learning culture is one of the most important drivers of business impact. We encourage our people to constantly learn about new trends and technologies – new languages, frameworks, methodologies, etc. – to make sure they can apply these to their work if needed. We provide the framework, the tools, the coaching and the practice sessions to help them develop their technical and soft skills. Yet, of course, it’s up to everyone to take their careers in their own hands and make sure they acquire the skills and knowledge they need to grow.
We encourage our people to constantly learn about new trends and technologies – new languages, frameworks, methodologies, etc. – to make sure they can apply these to their work if needed.
Training and learning at Cegeka is done at different levels:
- Craftsmanship program (technical and soft skills): e.g. the current Microsoft Azure Certification program, which strives to get 1,000 people Azure-certified in 2020.
- Leadership program (soft skills): over 200 Cegeka managers followed training courses on the Cegeka DNA, soft skills, leadership capacities, etc. in 2019
- Cross-industry initiatives to encourage people to share their knowledge:
- Guilds (competence centers): groups of people, often from different departments, who share an expertise, a passion about a topic, etc. They deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area (e.g. .NET development), interact and exchange their know-how with colleagues – and even customers.
- Sandboxes: small groups (5 to 10 people) who get together to explore the pros and cons, technical features, market opportunities, etc. of a specific topic or industry. The result of their research is a clear deliverable: they summarize their findings in a toolkit, which they share with colleagues.
- Internal conferences and hackathons to bring people together, e.g. the semiannual ‘Digital Festival’, featuring both internal and external speakers, and the quarterly ‘Agility Days’ hackathons.
Did you know that …
… just like squads and tribes, guilds is a commonly used term in agile organizations? Modeled after medieval guilds where skilled masters passed on their training to apprentices via a rigorous, hands-on process, modern-day guilds are set up to boost expertise sharing.
Building and scaling software teams
When it comes to deciding which expert will work on which IT project, Cegeka takes many aspects into account. Every IT project, every customer and every industry is different. That’s why we determine which experts are needed in the foundation phase and during the project phase, i.e. in the workshops that Cegeka organizes to define the project’s scope, risks, technical solutions needed and budget.
Mostly, we start with a basic team consisting of a technical and a functional lead, which we then scale up as the needs become clearer. Bigger project teams are composed of both technical (developers, architects, etc.) and domain experts, plus one dedicated people manager who supervises and coaches them. That combination of techies and business people is crucial. When it comes to experience, we try to find a balance between experienced and more junior profiles. Whatever choice we make, however, our ‘in close collaboration’ baseline reigns: we communicate openly with our customers to make sure they have all the expertise they need for a successful project.
In line with our ‘in close collaboration’ baseline, we communicate openly with our customers to make sure they always have the right expertise needed for a successful project.
A good team is a crucial requirement for a successful software development project. Need more tips on how to set your own project up for success? Download our free e-book.