Before we get into specific tips and experiences, can you briefly introduce your work?
I’m mainly in charge of sales. I look for orders, communicate with customers, analyze their needs and try to find a suitable solution for them. For us it’s quite specific, because we don’t offer any particular product. Because we make custom software, every customer is different and no two projects are the same. Besides that, I also do project management and marketing.
What is your process when you get an enquiry?
Well, first of all, I’m obviously happy. (laughs) When a customer reaches out to us on their own, it means that the marketing department is doing their job well and we in business don’t have to figure out how to approach companies. The main thing is to respond as quickly as possible and call or text the customer right away. Then we make an appointment. If the customer knows exactly what they require in advance, I go through everything first and then we meet. The goal is to find out what the client’s wants and needs are. After the first meeting, I can already estimate the total price, but an accurate pricing usually requires a more detailed analysis. When the client an I agree, an analyst comes in to work on the project and prepare a prototype. Then it’s the developers’ job. We describe the whole process in detail on the website.
What are the price levels of the contract?
It varies a lot. As I said before, our company doesn’t offer a specific product, we develop everything to order. There is a big difference between the price of web development and what a robust app costs. The simplest client website will cost a few tens of thousands of czech crowns, but it’s usually significantly more because clients today want perfect UX and custom design, flawless operation and integration with other data or systems. For an app, it depends whether it’s a mobile, web or desktop one. But it is all about how many features the client requires in their app.
So what should one know when requesting an application? Where to start?
He should know what he wants. The ideal is to structure the thoughts in your head and then write the idea down. If necessary, it’s of course possible to discuss everything with one of our analysts. It is also important to think about how the app will make money. It is always necessary to ensure the profitability of the app.
How do you even know if your company’s infrastructure is ready for an upgrade and new app development?
You can tell when you feel thet your current system is no longer enough. High number of users, low speed, not compatible with another, newer system… Then it is definitely time for a change.
Can you encounter the most common mistakes you encounter in software projects?
Probably just what I’ve already mentioned – when one doesn’t think through all the details of all the features of an app and consider monetizing it.
What types of projects do you tackle most often?
We have a lot of variety in that as well. There are a lot of firms that do custom development and just focus on the financial market or something like that. But we don’t really set ourselves apart like that, which I think is a good thing. We cater to every customer and I think it makes it more interesting for our developers as well. They still learn, they still have to push themselves.
And you taught yourself how to code?
No, I have not. I’ve thought about it, but I don’t need it for my job, and I don’t have time for it. 70 % of the people I go to meetings with are not programmmers. And it often happens that a stone falls from their hearts that I’m not a programmer either, and we can talk about the contract in a user-centric way. So I don’t think I’m particularly missing programming – I just need to be familiar with the possibilities and the process of the development.
How difficult is it to understand the client’s idea and convey it to the developer? Is there any way to train this at all?
I believe everything can be trained, but for this, practice is probably the only way. Every meeting counts an I gain new experience from it. And how difficult is it to understand a client’s idea? You can’t say, because every client is completely different. And handing it over to the developer used to be my job, but now it is done by the analysts who break the order down and then pass it on.
Getting contracts is not a problem for you in any case. In your five years in MEMOS Software, the company’s sales have doubled. What was your most difficult contract you won?
I have two contracts that are the most important for me. The first one was for the Chamber of Deputies. It is a big four-year project and the road to winning the tender was difficult. There was a lot of paperwork and stuff. I was quite tired of it but I told myself I would get it done. And I did.
And the other one?
That was for ROPID. We had to go through a tender process there, too. There were various complications, but in the end we managed to win the contract. It is a system for the wheelchair transport service, which will include the whole dispatching, route planning and so on. It will also include a mobile app for drivers, who will find a list of journeys and everything they need. It is really quite a big project.
That sounds good. What do you think is the key to success?
In general, I think you have to keep developing and learning new things. I listen to podcasts every day now. That’s good because you hear people who have the same problems as you and maybe they solve it a little bit differently. You just have to always keep yourself from missing the train. What was true five years ago may not be true now at at all. I mean, covid has really shaken it up. It did not use to be that I wouldn’t come to the first meeting with a customer and just call them through Teams.
What do you think of the move to the online world? Is it working for you?
In some ways yes, in some ways no. The difference between in-person and online meetings is big. Business is about emotions, so I definitely prefer the in-person one. On the other hand, the Teams call saves me a lot of time and I get more done. There have been projects where I have never once seen the client in person. It’s not bad, but I prefer the face-to-face meetings. In the end it’s up to the client anyway, I offer both options.