Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
At Laneways.Agency, we design, build, and support premium software solutions and custom CRM. We work a lot with companies that are bogged down by their legacy systems. Our greatest expertise is in understanding highly complex industries and translating that knowledge into innovative tools. Some examples of industries include Aged Care and Insurance, where we are building the tools needed that allow these sectors to operate with vastly reduced administrative burdens.
I have been helping companies in this way for decades and become incredibly efficient at helping companies turn problems into solutions. That is why, for every project we work on, I oversee the setup and management. We have Project Managers, of course, but my focus is on customer onboarding and client accounts management.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
I worked in CRM and then startups. I realized quickly that most systems do not deliver a complete, tailored solution. There is so much training, so many modifications with most software off the shelf! It is a huge time waster and stressful for staff. I realized then that I wanted to help make peoples’ working lives happy and productive by building custom software that is perfect for them.
What is your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
We have local accounts people and our own dev team is a mix of local and remote staff. The cleverest people are not always next door and this allows us to work with the best wherever they are. These guys and girls are incredibly smart. It is a bit of a stereotype of the super-clever, mathematically minded techie but my team lives up to that in spades.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
We do things very differently to most software development companies. For a start, our model is very transparent. We pride ourselves on that we don’t keep secrets from clients or obfuscate about problems that might arise (as they will from time to time in any project). In fact, we don’t need to because our working model is based on collaboration with the clients rather than fixed-pricing. We estimate costs at various stages and then work through the project. It gives clients an incredible amount of flexibility to improve their software on short notice. Better still, it is generally much less costly than fixed-price models because we don’t build in ‘financial buffers’ in case of budget overruns. We pay our staff a fair wage and add a fair margin on top to cover our costs and some profit. Our clients are heavily engaged in the process from day one, and they love learning about their software every week.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive?
We cater to industries and companies that are ‘legacy burdened’. Some examples are Aged Care and Insurance. Some of our clients want to move from old systems, some are still using Excel, but one thing they have in common is a deep frustration with tools and solutions that seem to create more work than they resolve.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing software.
We have a carefully curated process that works very effectively. We work from concept document to workflows, then to sketches and designs, then to user-testing and onto the build. Generally, we will break down the costs at each stage so that clients know they are getting value for money at each step. We are confident in our results and don’t lock clients in. The benefits of doing it this way are that the client gets to flesh out what they need before committing to the build properly. At the post-design stage, we break down everything into JIRA tasks and estimate from there.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of software?
Our philosophy is that too much time is spent on software development, and not enough time is spent on planning and design first. We focus on the planning and design stages so that the build can be executed fast and efficiently. The better we and the client have planned everything, the better the build will be. From there, the backend usually takes up to two-thirds of the time as the frontend design is almost ready to go if you like.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right framework for developing software?
What systems does the client currently use? Do they need to keep those, or are they obsolete? Also, what are the businesses’ long-term objectives? We need to consider what the business aims to achieve in the long-term and make sure that the software solution is designed to support that goal. In this way, we know they are getting the right solution. Then, we look at how scalable and flexible it needs to be. Since we build mostly on AWS using Ruby on Rails, for example, flexibility is inherent, and that ensures no obsolescence. Finally, what sort of support do they need, and how important is robustness? If they have no in-house tech team, or if they need guaranteed 99.9% uptime, then that will influence the build in terms of cost vs. robustness.
Imagine your constructing a building with four rooms. If it needs to be cyclone proof then it may cost more or be less ‘design-oriented’ - but virtually indestructible. On the other hand, if it does not need to be cyclone proof, you can build a perfectly functional building for half the cost. While a focus on technology is important, understanding clients’ needs is more so.
Which languages & frameworks do you prefer to use in development of software?
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of software?
We work on a clear cost plus margin model. We find this is fairer to everyone, including staff, and ensures a fair price is paid for the work provided.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions etc.)
We have a fairly unique way of working. We create tasks and estimate costs by weekly sprints. Clients are committed to that sprint only.
Do you take in projects which meet your basic budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
We work with clients to establish a realistic budget. We’ll never turn down a challenge.
Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
GoodFirms is ranking incredibly well on organic searches. If you’re not on GoodFirms, you need to be. Clients realize that GoodFirms qualify their reviews, so being endorsed by GoodFirms as a Top Developer is a great way for us to establish credibility with new clients quickly.