Special Projects Division
Our mission at Headforwards is to build long-term relationships. We are entirely focused on the goals of our clients to guarantee project success. We thrive when creating software that delivers tangible business value to our clients, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to do it in a place we love and find inspiring. Sticking to our core values of happy clients, great software, and effective software teams, enables us to produce work we are proud of.
So what is the Special Projects Division and what are the differences between this team and our usual business model?
SPD was originally known as UKNetWeb, a company created by Toby Parkins, Co-Director of Headforwards. With 10 years of experience building professional web systems for a multitude of clients, UKNetWeb merged with Headforwards in 2016. The original team of UKNetWeb then became the Special Projects Division.
Some of our clients require huge amounts of capacity and have the ability to fund larger, long-term projects. Their goals and targets are already set and they simply require a team to begin project work. For these types of projects, we create dedicated teams of people who are working solely for that client. With SPD, we are able to share the capacity of multiple smaller projects for different clients between a single team. For many smaller and lighter projects, this is the perfect scenario to test and grow new ideas. SPD fully employs the use of Agile development cycles. For more on our Agile process you can read more here or listen to Co-Director of Headforwards, Toby Parkins talk about Agile Innovation
How Does it Work?
The Special Projects Division operates differently from other teams at Headforwards so it’s important to know when SPD is the right option.
The framework SPD uses is designed to work with small to medium-sized projects. They are the ideal solution for startups that require a sandbox environment to test the feasibility of a product.
They are also perfect for ongoing projects where clients do not require a full-time dedicated team and would rather request work when needed. A lot of the work SPD is involved in revolves around greenfield projects that require a different way of approaching things.
The team is constantly looking at new technologies and development techniques to further expand their technical abilities, which plays well into new projects that have no set requirement for technology or coding language. This gives us the option to suggest new ideas which may improve the outcome of a product.
Finding the Right Solution
The advantage of the SPD team is that their experience and expertise working with different and very unique clients means they are better equipped to estimate and plan projects.
Saying yes to a specification isn’t going to happen if it’s unachievable or isn’t the best approach. It is much better to work together as a team to find the best solution to a given requirement or problem. The SPD team has a wealth of knowledge behind them and a vast expanse of new technologies in front of them. This means that there are a variety of ways in which a project can be built.
Transparency is of utmost importance to the success of any project we undertake, therefore we give our clients the ability to see into a project at all levels. We encourage our clients to join our Slack channels to see the development chat and release notifications. We believe this is important to a happy and successful partnership.
Estimating. The Right Way.
Before we talk about the process of development with SPD, it’s important to understand how estimations work. We’d be lying if we said that estimating a new project is easy. There are an infinite number of variables to account for when assembling a plan for a new project. In our own experience, 99% percent of the time, a first estimate will be wrong. This is because at the start of a project, we know the least. To avoid misleading a client, we like to commit to a more open estimate so that as time goes on, we can begin to narrow things down and create a more accurate time-frame. An idea never ends as it starts. By holding workshops and reevaluating the project as it progresses, over time we will start to have a better understanding of the requirements.
From Inception to Production
For a project to succeed it will require your vision, time, passion and enthusiasm. Without these, it is likely to stall. It’s going to start with an idea, an idea from you, the client.
At the initial stage, we will hold discussions between you and the Special Projects Division. During this stage, the initial idea will be broken down into a list of features so we can better understand the requirements. It is important to recognise the software development process as a continual cycle. There will never be a time when we will class something as done and dusted.
We will then hold various workshops to develop a solid plan for the project. This will include rough estimates for cost and time. Once these plans are in place and an agreement has been made to begin work, SPD will enter the development cycle.
For startups and small-projects, being able to see results early on is critical. Knowing if we’re going in the right direction is aided by developing with MVP in mind (Minimum Viable Product) – all of our teams utilise MVP with their clients seeing the benefits it brings. We believe in a small iterative release cycle during a project which allows us to re-evaluate estimates and costings making them more realistic as the project proceeds.
Once we are past the initial MVP, we can begin to load new features based on their priority. Our Agile approach to software development means we are able to adjust the scope to adapt to unforeseen issues early on and fix them quickly. From the first MVP, it is a case of holding routine meetings and even more workshops as the product grows.
It’s important to know that the team aren’t here for the short game. Working with SPD is a long-term commitment. They will be there to support your projects after release and into the future. All new updates, features, bug fixes, whatever it may be, this is all part of their commitment to you and your products.
There are many reasons why our clients outsource with us. Our attention to detail, the level of transparency we offer and our impressive staff retention rate. We dedicate a lot of time to crafting teams who have the right level of experience and forward thinking to help drive projects forward.
We are passionate about driving professional development for all staff at Headforwards. Being based in the heart of Cornwall has its benefits which a lot of the team recognise. Many of them have moved from big cities, European countries and further afield to join our ever-expanding organisation. We hold monthly talks for our team, given either by the team or by external people. Topics focus on innovative new technologies, hobbies, home-builds… anything that interests and benefits our teams.
If you are thinking of outsourcing your software development and this sounds of interest to you, please contact us. We would love to discuss your project.