April 11th, 2022

How to reinvent the wheel without changing the tyres.

How do service providers manage to navigate their customers through a field of conflicting demands while constantly developing themselves? Our experts share their insights about how this works at WTF.

We share one thing in particular with our customers: the passion and ambition to constantly evolve and create solutions that offer real value for users. Solutions that don't just chase temporary trends, but take on a pioneering role themselves, that are sustainable and scalable - while at the same time meeting high standards of reliability and robustness. In other words: software that can grow with our customers and in whose development we also develop as a service provider and partner. What at first glance appear to be divergent demands create an interesting field of tension in which we are passionately engaged. In years of experience we have learned how this can be successful. Some of our experts have gathered to share their insights into the development of technologies at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Nowadays, market and customer demands are evolving faster than ever. We aim to allow our solutions to grow with our customers. Our CTO Hauke describes how this is achieved:

"Customized software does not mean that software can cover all relevant processes 100%. Tailor-made simply means that the software matches the company in terms of its complexity. What is the focus? Completeness or time-to-market? Extensibility or scaling? We often find ourselves in a magic polygon when it comes to these requirements. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot jointly finds the best way with the client to build software that fits the business very well at any point in time."

Franzi, our Lead Software Developer in Frontend adds, "I think the bottom line is that we are forward thinking. We have a basic set-up that is modularly expandable and constantly question whether components fit and always consider which of the different paths best suits the customer - especially with regard to the big picture and the vision of our partners."

"It is particularly important to balance flexibility and robustness of the technical solution in order to allow both evolution and change in the long term," adds Johannes, one of our Lead Software Developers, "Especially when looking at the future, changeability and stability are not opposites, but rather condition each other: only stable software allows high-frequency changes - and it is precisely high-frequency changes that promote the stability and value of the applications."

Johannes explains what this looks like in practice at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and how it is possible to "reinvent the wheel without changing the tyres":

"To stick with the metaphor: Our accumulated experience from past projects always contributes to a new project. How much the wheel has to be reinvented afterwards depends on the individual conditions: Sometimes only the tyres are new, but other times we build a cabriolet after a truck. In that case, individual components are included, but are hardly to be recognized any more."

"I think it's important to share some more in-depth insights into how we actually operate." Adds Julia, our Chief of Client and Team Relations. "Basically, we run quite an iterative approach. We have a team of colleagues who are very interested in and have a broad range of expertise in clients, sectors and challenges, and who enjoy getting to grips quickly. Depending on the challenge, other experts join in, taking their seats at the table right from the start. In this way, we ensure that we fully understand the client's individual challenges and goals from all relevant perspectives."

"The right architecture is often determined by an interplay of the available resources: money, time, knowledge and employees. Hauke interjects. "Do I need a microservice architecture if I only employ a small team? Does it make sense to use if none of my developers know how to use it? Does my system need to be able to handle as much throughput as Netflix, even though only 20 people are working with it? To build software that matches, a lot of questions need to be asked. This is what we do."

In the following process of developing a solution, we always have to face challenges...

"I consider it a challenge not to commit to a solution too early or too late." Emphasizes Johannes. "If you start too early, the solution may not be mature. But you can also search forever for the perfect solution and never find it."

Franzi adds: "I think the balance between best practices and completely new approaches can also be challenging. Because of course it always has to suit the customer and the project first and foremost. Based on our experience, we are now in a position to evaluate new technologies or trends very well, to see what will become established, what our customers will be successful with in the long term and what might just be a flash in the pan."

The basic precondition is to always be up-to-date and to constantly learn something new. Julia describes how we live this at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:

"First of all, the structural foundation is important - we directly schedule time periods and budgets for further development that everyone can use in an individual way. In this way, we make sure that our experts are always dealing with topics outside of their field of expertise and that they also deal with approaches and methods that may seem unconventional at first glance. But of course these possibilities must also be embraced - we encourage the teams to do so, set an example and encourage the transfer of knowledge. 

"I think a lot of companies don't put enough value on it." Sven, another of our Lead Software Developers, adds. "But nowadays it's more important than ever, especially because of our role as a service provider and partner. Unlike many other things, especially the early assessment of trends and new technologies, which Franzi had mentioned, is something that customers often cannot afford to do themselves and have to rely on us as experts."

"I can fully agree with that." Interjects Johannes. "And in order to firmly incorporate exactly that into a culture, it is tremendously important that as a company, as a team, as a partner, you always offer support for experimentation, in other words, " space to learn". And of course, first and foremost, always have fun. My teammates are on fire to get to grips with new technologies."

Last but not least, we love what we do. We master projects for and with our customers, because we are united by the passion and ambition to constantly develop and create solutions that offer real added value in the long term.

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