What is working in a software house like?

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12th May 2020

There are many career paths to follow in IT, and joining a software house is simply one of them. After all, you might as well put your skills and knowledge to use to support the technical department of some company, or take a completely different path and become a freelancer. However, deciding to be a part of a software house brings a range of certain specific benefits, which will be covered in the text below. You’ll find them significant, regardless of what you do — develop software, create content, or manage human resources.

How so? Because software houses are places that welcome ambitious people, no matter the field they specialize in. As a software house grows, there’s more room not only for new software developers. Here, apart from developers, there’s demand for other “technical” people — business analysts, testers, project managers, or Linux system administrators. But there are other — non-production — departments as well. They bring together HR specialists, office administration staff, salespeople, and marketing professionals, and are yet another important element of any software house.

So if you’re into the world of IT but software development isn’t exactly your thing, sit back and relax. Software house is not just front-end and back-end. It’s actually an entire team of brains. The technologies created and the solutions implemented need people who will show them to the world and turn them into achievements showcasing the company’s potential. It’s important to think about what’s your cup of tea and find out if it’s something that can help you get a job in a software house.

So much for the introduction. Let’s move on to the first thing on our list, unclear to many — as it appears.

Is a software house the same as an interactive agency?

No, it’s not. There’s a big difference between a software house and an interactive agency. Sure, the areas they operate in overlap, but they focus on completely different things in their core activity. Agencies deal primarily with projects aimed at supporting the process of building the online image of brands. Such companies are usually active in areas related to SEO, SEM, and advertising. Some interactive agencies build websites or simple mobile apps as well. Software houses, in turn, focus on different, more technology-oriented types of projects — on building or extending technologically-advanced web platforms tailored to specific business requirements and to the needs of their end users. Such companies work often with clients who have a particular vision of a product or a ready solution that needs to be improved or made fully functional.

Why it’s a good idea to work in a software house?

As we’ve already mentioned, software houses welcome not only software developers but also other IT specialists, and even those with a degree in the humanities! Regardless of whether you’re a PHP developer, a graphic designer, or a marketing specialist, see what the future in an IT company may hold for you and why it’s good to consider a software house as your next workplace.

Recruitment — not only experience counts

You’d like to improve your technical skills but you’re afraid your limited experience makes you an applicant not worth consideration? Or maybe you’re a specialist in some other industry and it’s never occurred to you to apply to an IT company? It appears that such an approach is quite wrong in the case of software houses! The way software houses work makes it possible to engage new employees with different skills and experience. Both those with relatively little hands-on experience with IT and those who haven’t had much to do with e.g. software development before have a chance to find something suitable. When you join a software house, bear in mind it’s a place where you can develop your current skills and abilities. What’s more, by working with clients from sectors you might haven’t dealt with before, you’ll also gain some new experience.

Working in Scrum: not only for production departments

One of the principles most software houses ‘go by’ is to work based on the Scrum agile methodology. What does it mean? Scrum is a set of simple rules adopted in order to be able to give and get quick feedback, regardless of the software development stage the team is at. Scrum is about 3 principles. These include transparency, which lets every team member be up to date on the current stage of the project the team works on. There’s also inspection, which makes it possible to check how a given element performs at a given time and see the progress of the entire project compared to the set objectives. The last principle is adaptation, meaning a possibility to make modifications and/or improvements instantly, regardless of the stage and the situation of the project. Following the Scrum methodology makes entire structures managed well. There’s no chaos or any unpleasant surprises. Since everything is controlled and organized, you shouldn’t expect to be called to take care of a sudden “Friday deploy”.

You work with people, not with e-mail addresses

All software house differ slightly in terms of their structures and management models, but they are, in general, companies with a flat organizational structure. Yet, when a company grows bigger, it’s hard to stick to rules that worked in much different circumstances. For this reason, many of the larger software houses have decided to restructure and make some organizational reconfigurations. But they are still places with a less formal atmosphere, where the standard practice is to work in smaller teams, composed usually of a few people. This applies to both production and non-production departments because it’s the latter who often borrow good practices from development teams. If a company has the Scrum methodology I’ve mentioned before in place, the workflow is managed by a so-called Scrum Master.

A 9 to 5 job? Not in a software house!

Flexible working hours are still considered quite exotic outside the IT industry. Employers usually expects their employees to show up in the office every day and spend a fixed number of hours there — with no exceptions. 

In the case of software houses, in turn, flextime is a quite common practice. But there are hours when all employees should be present in the office. These so-called core hours are to enable communication and cooperation between teams, or to make it possible to arrange the details of further dealings with a client. Another advantage of working for a business operating in this segment is the possibility to work remotely from home (so-called home office), which can be very helpful in emergency situations.

New knowledge and experience await you

As there will be many experienced software developers around, those with less experience will be able to gain the knowledge essential to their development much faster. Companies grow their libraries of resources available to the public by including valuable publications and courses, and employers are ready to reward ambitious employees by paying for their training and participation in conferences.

New challenges on a daily basis 

Getting to work in unusual business projects is yet another advantage of working in a software house. Each day brings new challenges, regardless of the position you hold and the department you work in. HR interviews extraordinary specialists each day, constantly on the lookout for the most talented and valuable people to join the ranks of the company and help it reinforce its market position. Sales specialists take solutions created by their colleagues and offer them to potential clients, providing them with information on how these solutions are able to meet their requirements and needs.   Marketing professionals, in turn, try to explain and handle any problematic issues, and respond to questions that are yet about to be asked. If you like your day to be full of challenges and inspiring brainstorming sessions, here’s your answer to what path to take. 

Collaboration and support

All software house teams live in symbiosis with each other. This way we’re able to consult both colleagues from our ‘default’ teams as well as those dealing with other things in the company. Everything boils down to the fact that regardless of our individual duties and responsibilities, we work on the further development of our company and build the brand our clients value and trust together, as a whole greater than the sum of its parts. 

Making a visible impact

When you work in an internal IT department of a large business, you may often feel that the effects of your work will never be seen. That the code you’ve created disappears somewhere in the depths of an internal tool you haven’t even seen in action, not to mention the idea of who exactly its end user is. This is true not only for production departments but also for all other departments engaged in the process. Software houses try to operate according to different principles, which usually lets us see exactly what we’ve spent so many hours on in front of our computers each month. 

Projects that introduce you to new technology

The projects software houses handle, depending on the requirements and the level of complexity, can last from a few to over a dozen months, and their implementation is divided into stages. A new project is often an opportunity to get to know and learn some new technology, which is a chance to gain valuable experience in a relatively short time. Not many companies can afford taking up so diverse projects within a span months. It’s important to bear that in mind if routine at work is something you find really exhausting.

A few words to conclude

I hope you now know something more about working in a software development company. Regardless of whether you’re a software developer who has worked so far in the internal technical department of some big company, a beginner QA specialist, or a professional who haven’t had much to do with IT before — now you know what to expect once you cross the threshold of a software house.