De-risking their first software product and navigating digital transformation

Alex Mazer runs a pension and benefits consulting firm called Common Wealth. He and his business partner were investing in their first software product and had hired a a development firm to build it. They needed an experienced technical advisor representing their interests to ensure the product was built with their company’s needs in mind. Plus, Alex needed to navigate how to transition Common Wealth into a company that could support and build out their software product.

Alex had previously hired an agency to advise his firm on best practices in software development. It was helpful, but he realized that in contracting out software development he needed expertise “on our side” that could take into account the long-run interests of our company.

Alex engaged Kareem to play the role of an in-house technical and product advisor. Kareem ensured that Common Wealth’s business and technical interests were represented in discussions with their software development vendor.

Specifically, Alex says:

“Kareem pushed the vendor to make good architectural choices, improved product management processes at Common Wealth, helped our team prioritize features, and helped us learn how to communicate with software developers.”

Kareem also helped Common Wealth by:

  • Helping Alex and his team understand the implications of different technical architecture
  • Ensuring the vendor used best practices when architecting the software application
  • Ensuring the vendor used sane tooling for source control, performance monitoring, logging, error reporting, and continuous integration
  • Pushing their software vendor to use written requirements documents to ensure high product quality
  • Reviewing the CW team’s software requirements documents to ensure delivered features would be
  • Advising bringing the development team in-house, reviewing job descriptions for technical candidates, and talking through probable team compensation
  • Reviewing resumes and interviewing technical candidates
  • Structuring a process to triage and prioritize new bugs that were discovered during the process
  • Helping the CW team understand what realistic development timelines looked like
  • Sourcing a technical recruiter to help grow the team
  • Sourcing a technical operations vendors to ensure the application stayed up and running after launch

Alex says Kareem also helped Common Wealth with their transition to a services company that now sold and maintained a software product:

“Kareem has an excellent ability to translate technology concepts for a non-technical audience. I liked that his decisions were driven by an excellent ability to think like a business owner, not just a technical expert.”

Alex recommends working with Kareem, particularly if you’re a business owner or executive who’s not technical but in the middle of navigating digital transformation:

“I recommend working with Kareem. He offers a unique service especially for non-technical founders / business owners who are transitioning their organizations to technology businesses.”

A few weeks after wrapping up the engagement, Common Wealth successfully launched their first product to a client with 40,000 members. And a few months later Common Wealth had strong enough digital competencies that they transitioned development of their software product to their newly-hired internal development team.

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