Building Great Teams with MISSION+
Our CTO recently wrote an article “The Art of Strategic Product Building.” It sets out a succinct vision for product building that draws on years of experience that have informed the MISSON+ approach, which can maximise your probability of success.
Read in parallel, this summary is about putting theory into practice; addressing the more mundane but important day to day questions around how we align great technical talent with the product building aspirations of the companies that we work with.
How are we distinctly different from other software development companies?
At MISSION+ we provide our clients with dedicated teams who are fully committed to their mission. When onboarding clients, we often hear anecdotes or negative prior experiences of outsourcing and our conversation skews heavily to trust building. Reflecting on these horror stories has allowed us to reflect on what we do differently when assembling teams. In short:
- We align incentives to minimise attrition. This is a big one. Our attrition levels are very low, as teams are invested in product success.
- We collocate squads in one location where possible; trying to sit them together while offering flexible work opportunities.
- We avoid the switching out of teams, which is common. This is another big one. Most of our squads work with clients for multiple years. We encourage our clients to do everything they can to embed our developers into their team to increase alignment of understanding and purpose. Remembering birthdays and inviting teams to team events helps build a truly unified sense of team across the board..
- We manage delivery as needed via technical advisory. In many cases the early stages of the engagement is by far the hardest, when over communicating is critical to getting two teams facing the same direction. Our engineering leads are experienced in ensuring the initial sprint cycles are effective, establishing the right baseline for future delivery.
- We are very comfortable turning down work. If the client or a technical problem is not interesting, it creates future problems with delivery. Life is short and we want our teams to feel motivated to work on exciting projects with interesting people. If a project doesn’t give them the feeling of jumping out of bed in the morning, then we will politely decline the opportunity.
Where does building a team begin?
Most introductory conversations start with one person. For an emerging startup, it's the CEO. For larger companies, it's a leadership team member, like the CTO, CHRO or a CFO.
From here, the conversation generally deviates in two directions depending on whether or not they have a CTO.
For companies without a CTO
How do we help you hire a CTO?
Is usually the first question.
You probably don’t need a CTO when you think you do. We instead encourage founders to identify a product and business strategy first as these decisions inform the tech strategy.
Jumping straight into hiring a CTO can be expensive and premature - except for the rare occasion our clients are building edge case technology.
Otherwise we have found that when senior technical input is needed, our technical advisors or Fractional CTOs are the most effective and cost efficient.
What’s the difference between a MISSION + Technical Advisor/Fractional CTO and an actual CTO?
On paper very little. Our technical advisors are senior engineers who provide a couple of hours of assistance a day, week, or month - depending on need. Some technical advisors work full-time for MISSION+, others keep their day job.
Having this variety of options allows MISSION+ to prioritise cultural fit and the right senior leader for your mission.
We understand that finding people who get your mission is important.
How do our Technical Advisors help?
They generally sit onshore or closer to your core team. They can oversee our tech team delivery and interface with our technical team leader and your head of Product.
They might do code reviews, provide iterative feedback, act as a sounding board, attend investor or board meetings, and even help with hiring the CTO at a time when it makes sense.
In short, they help ensure we are pointing the tech team in the same direction as your product needs.
For companies with a CTO
What are we offering?
We offer dedicated offshore tech teams who have experience working at different stages of growth.
These groups of engineers or squads are generally assigned to work under a client’s existing engineering org chart that we integrate into your organisation as much as possible.
These teams comprise engineers, QA and design.
Our focus is on quickly integrating these resources into your company which will have its own unique culture and ways of working.
What if they are the wrong resources?
We want to see your company succeed, so if the resources aren’t the right fit, we can switch or modify the resource type as we learn more about your engagement needs, or even as they change with the product build process.
What is the duration?
This has generally proven to be indefinite. In most cases, it ends up being multi year though the engagement can align elastically (up and down) as needed.
As we have a company with in house engineering, why would we look at offshoring engineering given the risks?
We are more cost effective, as we reduce the burden and time to hire, while doing so at a lower cost. Plus, most companies ask our teams to work on secondary systems, allowing your existing technical teams to focus on core business or product building needs.
How soon can developers join my team?
Generally we take a few days to a few weeks. 2 to 4 weeks is common for larger squads.
Can you provide a team of developers?
Providing development teams in the form of squads is generally the preferred method for outsourcing development. When we work with mature companies, the magic happens when companies retain strategic engineering in house (think architecture, security, DevOps) and allow product engineering, data engineering and quality assurance to go offshore with MISSION+
Can MISSION+ take responsibility for the product building?
We are asked to own the product role from time to time and we have declined on every occasion, based on a core belief that strategic product building with MISSION+ is a collaboration between those that own the product (you) and those that build it (us). Our expertise is in building products, not solving the problem your product is focusing on.
As such, at any stage of work, we will not support product management or own the product vision directly. Even with limited resources, we recommend to all of our clients to prioritise the direct hiring of a product manager (even before a CTO) to work with our designers and developers. From our experience, the benefit of in-housing the product manager role is akin to maintaining a separation of church and state. Whilst MISSION+ can help you solve the issue of building/solutioning, the definition of product vision, the prioritisation of features and the validation with clients is best met by the person who is closest (in proximity and access) to the company or founding team. With this relationship in place, we thrive when we see a positive friction between the product owner and product builder roles.
How do you source developers?
As a South & Southeast Asia-based business, we have identified and work with some of the best engineering and design talent from Vietnam, Pakistan, Philippines and Singapore. To enable access to the broadest variety of skill sets, we also contract with individuals or partners, otherwise we maintain share ownership in many of the companies that we work with. In both cases we generally accumulate shared work history which can attest to output and understanding of ways of work. With the broadest set of skills there has rarely been a project we cannot work on.
How can you attest to developer quality?
This is where we spend the most time, as our developers go through rigorous assessment before being approved for MISSION+ work. To make the smartest technical hires, our technical advisors spent 100s of hours testing developers with a wide range of tasks, to gain a holistic view of their coding skills. This includes providing testing conditions that are identical to those that a developer would work on in a real project such as fixing bugs in example code or mirroring native development processes. The output of these tests, alongside a culture and communication interview, allows us to ensure we are offering the best developers in the region to our clients.
What about communication?
Often the biggest challenge for MISSION+ is not just identifying the right technical talent but also ensuring the requisite language and soft skills to meet the needs of our clients. In large squads (4+) developers, we ensure the Technical Team Lead and a Senior engineer are fluent in English, with the other developers meeting written English standards. We find this to be the most practical solution to allow our companies to scale.
We contract for a minimum of 90 days. We only offer fully dedicated resources and can scale up and down with 30 days notice.
We provide hardware and cover all costs associated with bringing a developer to you. That said, some clients prefer to send their own devices to our developers.
We understand that security is essential for any project. That’s why we take security practices seriously. We use a variety of security measures to protect our client’s data including:
- Secure coding practices - from the principle of least privilege through to secure configuration management, we always incorporate security best practice into our software development.
- Vulnerability scanning - use of third party tools to identify vulnerabilities in code before they are pushed into production
- Penetration testing - we advise of the hiring of independent penetration testers
- Access control including secure onboarding and offboarding process
- Training (mandatory training is being rolled out at M+ as part of developer onboarding)
- Contractual protections around IP from Singapore
- Lastly we can also advise on a Virtual Desktop or Data Loss Protection tool setup, although we recommend balancing this with the stage of your company - the more controls you add, the slower people can move.
We are committed to providing our clients with the highest level of security. If you are looking for a team that takes security seriously, MISSION+ is for you.
MISSION+ is a software development company that offers a unique approach to outsourcing. By providing dedicated teams of engineers and designers who are fully committed to their mission, MISSION+ helps clients to build great products.
If you are looking for a software development company that can help you build great products, MISSION+ is a great option and we encourage you to contact any member of the team.