CTO, QArea Inc.
Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
I am the Chief Technical Officer of QArea, which is a software development outsourcing company. My main role at the company is split between handling technical decisions within QArea (choosing the technologies we are going to adopt, optimizing our software development workflows, helping with recruiting, exploring new technologies, frameworks, and platforms, etc.) and being the supervisor between our sales and our developers (picking teams to work on clients' projects, communicating with clients and answering technical questions, etc.). My role in the company tends to be related more to processes rather than technical issues. I’ve been working at QArea for nearly six years now.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
Our founder and president was a very talented developer who has worked on many large projects. At some point, he developed a network of skilled developers who cared deeply about the quality of their code and the functionality of their software. Eventually, this turned into a business that helped clients find the ideal developers for their project within the roster of A-Level developers in his network. This network expanded and grew and eventually became what QArea is today. Despite continuous growth, QArea hasn’t suffered with quality loss, but our high level of customer satisfaction didn’t come easy. To support ourselves in delivering a consistently high level of quality, we have grown a company called Diligences that developed several products for us:
● Code Quality — a statistical code analyzer that helps us to maintain low technical debt
● DueFocus — a comprehensive time tracker, aimed at boosting the productivity of the development team.
● DueSLA — a web application which makes our relationships with clients transparent with service level agreements.
● DueRank — a social project providing global code quality ranking.
What is your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
QArea does everything in-house. Sometimes we hire consultants from niche industries to help us understand and implement best-practices within those respective industries. For tools relating to medicine, robotization, security systems, and cryptocurrencies we like to go above and beyond to make sure the final product meets the demands within the industry.
Other than that, if you make the decision to work with QArea your software will be developed and tested by the 280+ engineers in our team. So, we do everything in-house and aim to be the third-party vendor for our clients when it comes to all things programming and QA.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
Our workflows and business models are CMMI appraised, our software testers are ISQTB certified, and our developers are continually working to improve their skills and expand their knowledge in both niche technologies and the most in-demand technologies. The company’s recruitment choices expand their technical skillset. Our management focuses on improving and streamlining our processes. The end result is 18+ years of finding the best way to work with clients and make them feel like working with us is just as good as (if not better) working with an in-house team.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive?
We’ve had the chance to work with clients from many different industries, but our most exciting long-term projects were with clients from the fin-tech, healthcare, and entertainment industries. Which is not to say that we don’t have ample experience in eCommerce, insurance, logistics, and transportation as well.
We have a high ratio of returning customers and, as a matter of fact, quite a few of our new leads come from recommendations from current and former clients.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing a web app.
The biggest influence on the development time frame usually comes from the non-functional requirements set by the client. Demands regarding performance, scalability, reliability, and availability are going to have a much more profound effect on the cost and time frame than the most convoluted functionality. It’s much easier to build a functioning web application than it is to build a functioning web app that will have a nearly 100% uptime and will be able to handle millions of requests every second. Those non-functional requirements are the real (and more interesting) challenge.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of a web app?
It would be inaccurate to give a specific answer with a number. More often than not, we would prefer to spend more time on the front end than back end development, and we’d like to utilize our full potential in this sphere. We want to interview end users and find out what they really need and make it happen. More often than not, though it really depends on the requests and demands of our clients and what they want to focus on. Software that requires a machine learning feature will need a lot of work on the back end. Interfaces with custom animations and many complex, animated graphics elements will have more work on the front end. But on average, across all of QArea’s projects, I would estimate that it would come out to about 50/50.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a web application?
It all depends on the requirements of our clients. Their budgets and their long-term plans for the web application matter the most. If it is a simple project that needs to be done quickly and cheaply — that will require a more straightforward platform with many readymade solutions. If it is a complex project that the client will want to scale? Well now we’re talking about more complex architecture (maybe something involving microservices) and potentially working with several platforms, each of which will be responsible for its feature. All I can say for sure is that the answer to this question will be different for each new client.
Which platform and technologies do you prefer to use in the development of your web apps?
We don’t have a preference per se. There are definitely platforms that are our go-to’s when it comes to prototyping and creating quick demos (should the client need them), but the final decision will always stem from the needs of the client and the suggestions of our software architects, i.e., functional and nonfunctional requirements.
Also, we are adepts of microservices architecture, so we think every microservice should be implemented with the technology that fits its requirements.
Do you offer website design templates or customised website design, and do you have a responsive website design?
We have a team of very experienced and highly motivated UI/UX designers that would love nothing more than to be allowed to flex and create something extraordinary. So yes — we prefer to do customized website design. But also we’ve been doing this for 18+ years, and if our clients need to cut costs on a design we do have many templates that they can use. Finally, it’s 2019 — of course, we focus on responsive web design.
Which Content Management System do you prefer to use (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc)?
As for PHP-powered CMS, Drupal has been a cornerstone CMS for many of our projects. We are Drupal and Acquia partners and quite a few of our most significant web-development projects over the past ten years have used Drupal. However, we often work with Wordpress as well. The only CMS we actively try to avoid whenever we can is Joomla.
We also developed a couple of websites based on .NET CMS like Umbraco and Sitecore. Despite this, PHP-powered CMS is still most often used to reduce costs for our customers.
Do you provide website maintenance services?
Yes. We have several (around 10) clients for whom we’ve built websites and have continued to provide maintenance services for 8+years, and many more clients for 2-8 years. I think our current “record holder” is somewhere around 5+ years of working with us.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a web application?
As with the time-frame of a project, the biggest factor in a project’s cost will be its non-functional requirements. It might not seem like much to most, but the difference between a 99% uptime and a 99.9% uptime is huge. The same goes for a web application’s scalability and maintenance costs. So, to make a long story short, the key things we consider before deciding the cost of a web application are the long term plans the client has for the app and the non-functional requirements they have.
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’re extremely flexible in our payment structures and business models. We have a dedicated team model for clients who prefer to work with our developers directly. We also work with Time & Material, fixed cost projects, and payments per-milestone (pay per feature). Generally speaking, we usually have a business analyst look at the project and help us find the most convenient pricing model for the client.
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 do have a minimum budget; however, there have been several projects we’ve worked on that did not meet these requirements. If we see a project that has potential, we will make an exception, of course.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2018?
This question forces us to oversimplify complex things, but here are the numbers: $20,000 and $500,000.
Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
GoodFirms has been a great help in increasing our visibility. Platforms that allow you to show your experience, share your knowledge, and highlight the projects you have been working on are a great resource to us as a company and to our clients as a way to find the right vendor for their software projects.