Reading over our recent blogs, it struck me that we haven’t had one about us for a while. That’s partly intentional. Our blog tries to give you, dear reader, more insight into what software development has to offer real businesses. We aren’t very “me, me, me” at Helastel. That’s a good thing, which might sound quite strange coming from a marketing person.
Anyway, we haven’t been saying enough about ourselves of late. So where shall I start?
We’ve grown a lot
2016 was a busy year to say the least. We grew significantly, pushing us over the 30-person mark, which has had two major effects on the business. Firstly, it’s changed our outlook on growth from being one where we used to just hire extra developers when we took on extra work, to one where we properly understand the importance of having enough people in operational management positions. Secondly, it’s complicated the process of booking tables for Helastel nights out. I expect Microsoft and Apple have similar difficulties getting their entire companies into little boutique Bristolian restaurants of an evening, but such is the price of success.
Our client base is changing
The thing about working on software projects is that your client profile evolves over time, and we’ve seen a lot of change since Helastel was born over 10 years ago. Today, the projects are larger than ever and more of our clients are big national or multinational organisations. This, in turn, has allowed us to perfect our competencies in specialist areas such as healthcare and pharmaceuticals. We still have a good mix of smaller businesses and projects across industry sectors. You’d think that these would require far more hand-holding than the larger outfits, but it doesn’t always work that way. In any case, we’re used to it.
We realise we used to be a bit rough around the edges
2016 was the year we really professionalised a lot of our internal processes. That sounds terrifyingly boring I know, but it does go a long way to defining who Helastel is today.
As Marketing Manager, I sit on our exec. team meetings and these have really stepped up a notch because none of us can afford to work in isolation anymore. As the business grows, old ways of working can’t continue. I hesitate to admit it, but in years gone by I think ‘winging it’ from time to time was an essential part of everyone’s role. That’s reality in any small business.
But now, being reactive, working in a silo or duplicating efforts just can’t happen. So we’re collaborating more than ever, with managers increasingly problem-solving for each other.
Everyone has one job, rather than lots
In a way, things have got much easier now that managers can just fulfil the role on their job description. There’s much less spanning across roles. When I was first here six years ago, I was covering tasks in account management, business analysis, project management, marketing and HR – I don’t think my feet ever touched the ground!
It’s both exciting and exhausting work at a startup, but Helastel isn’t a startup anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still really cool, there’s a fun (slightly geeky/jokey) vibe, and colleagues are very supportive of each other. People have a lot on their plates, but robust processes are in place.
We are still on a change curve
You never stop learning at Helastel, and that can be intense. People are still expected to make things happen of their own accord, though we shield our developers from any unnecessary distraction.
All that brings independence, freedom and trust in terms of the jobs we do. Each Helastel manager is effectively creating their own department, defining their processes, originating ideas and needing to develop their leadership skills to bring everyone else along for the ride.
Still no room for passengers
I have no doubt that 2017 will see another crop of talented new Helastelistas joining the fold. They won’t be the kind of people who are happy taking a back seat or expecting things to be pre-defined or static. For the people who like working this way it is a creative and exciting time.
It doesn’t fit everyone, but it certainly fits me. I’m looking forward to another record-breaking year of new opportunities and experiences that will make Helastel stronger and more successful than ever.