I recently started working for an app development agency that was founded by a longtime friend of mine. The opportunity was presented to me the day before I was about to accept a job offer at another agency and really blind sided me. I was nervous to enter into a new industry but I was excited at the potential for personal and professional growth that it presented. I was also excited to be a part of a growing company in an industry that was exploding with new technologies and growth. Below are some of my thoughts coming in and what I've experienced over the past few months.
I started with OpenForge not knowing what to expect having not worked for a company that operated on a lean model. What I knew was that Jedi and his old business partner had shut down their app development company and Jedi started right back up with a new agency taking on several of the same team members. I had previously only worked for long established companies that had process in place on how to conduct day to day operations. OpenForge presented me with the opportunity to be a part of the planning and organizational process that could be fully customized to our needs and strategy. Established companies often have processes that are built in to their day to day operations that can require changes to communication, standards, and infrastructure that can disrupt workflow and get pushback from employees who are comfortable with “the old way”.
I was nervous to get started in an industry that I had never worked with before but I felt that my people skills and marketing strengths could provide value to OpenForge. I have known the founder, Jedi, for 10 years now and I trusted coming on board with him having faith in his abilities and leadership. Part of me was saying to myself, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? What do you know about app development? Deep down I knew that this would be an opportunity that would provide strong value for the company and also progress my professional development.
OpenForge is comprised of a diverse team with members coming from all around the world including Spain, Finland, Costa Rica, North Philly, West Philly, and everywhere in between. Lots of the team members have experience in the app development agency and others, like myself, bring in skills and experiences from other industries that have proven to be valuable to our mission. I expect there to be hurdles as we grow and implement processes to streamline our approach to designing, developing, and launching applications. I expect myself to learn a lot about the app development process and how different industries utilize applications and what industries don’t use apps but should!
One of the biggest things that can ensure smooth and ongoing business is establishing a high level of trust with customers, which is something that I love about OpenForge. Trust can be easily established and maintained by providing transparency with your partners, both in the professional world and your personal lives. Our founder, Jedi, adopted a unique business practice of transparency that gives clients and the public a look into what we do “behind the scenes”.
We have opened our financials to the public and given our clients insights into the build of their applications that keeps them in the loop all the way from discovery and design, discovery, and launch. No client gets preferential treatment with lower rates; everyone gets the same rates. All of our work is carefully scoped out prior to implementation to ensure that our clients understand what they can expect and what we will deliver. Because of this, we have not gone overscope in 3 years! If problems arise, we notify clients immediately, refocus, and move forward with a new approach.
I also like that OpenForge is a company that takes an agile approach to not only our internal work and processes but also the way we approach work for our clients. Technologies change, customer demands change, and clients change their minds about what they want making it important to have the ability to pivot and take a new direction to ensure customer satisfaction and app stability.
Communication and collaboration between different teams can make or break a company. OpenForge has just about mastered this through establishing communication guidelines and standards that bring our team together to be efficient, effective, and harmonious. When communicating with our clients, we utilize the project management software, TeamWork, where all messages, tasks, files, milestones, and time logs are kept.
To avoid ever losing a message in ones email inbox, TeamWork messages keep all communication in one place (although it does support email integration for traditionalists). Slack is used for internal communications among team members with a user interface that is both integrative ( for services such as GitHub, Google Drive, and the all important GIPHY) and also intuitive.
I am excited looking into the future as we grow the company and expand across the world. We have goals to develop opensource tools for the development community and build partnerships across different industries. As I go through this journey I look forward to what I have the potential to learn, to teach others, and grow a community.