How we’re trying to shape the culture here at 345 Technology
The first time I tried to explain a “Culture” I was staring at something growing in a petri dish in a biology class.
Now that I’ve grown up and founded a technology consultancy, the word has taken on far more importance. Company culture is defined as the shared mission, values and behaviours that determine how we interact with colleagues, clients and the wider public. It’s our DNA.
So what and who are 345 Technology? How are we different and why would you want to work with us?
While we haven’t got a bar or a games room, the founding directors have been successfully providing software consultancy for more than 20 years, we’re still together and we’re growing. We have strong ethics and shared values and we’re not afraid to be honest with clients. That’s the glue that keeps us together.
Before we founded 345 Technology, we all worked in and with a lot of other consultancies, so we know what makes software engineers really unhappy. We set out to put that right. Our goal is to create teams of highly-skilled professionals who genuinely like and trust each other so that they work more effectively together to deliver the best solutions to clients’ problems.
These are the common pain-points in other consultancies that 345 Technology sets out to solve:
Good pay, but is there a lack of control at some bigger consultancies?
Over the past couple of decades, we’ve found that the big consultancies are, in the main, focused on financial performance rather than employee satisfaction. They treat their people as commodities, billable units, each with skills that can be sold into their clients. A person’s ‘worth’ is measured by how much money the business can earn from them. This can have a dehumanising effect that forgets that each individual has a family, personal interests and goals, geographical and emotional attachments, in short, a life outside of work.
Because most consultancies need to squeeze every last drop out of their people to meet their profit and growth targets, they won’t want to see anyone “benched”, and so active and billable projects have unassigned staff. To avoid benching, consultancies usually try to deploy people to any available project they can, without giving those people a chance to turn down the opportunities.
The pay tends to be relatively good to recompense the stressful deadlines, the antisocial hours, and the brainwork involved in constantly adjusting to new projects and staying up to date with the latest coding languages.
However, in spite of the financial incentives, this laser focus on the bottom line can lead to software engineers feeling unappreciated and less committed to doing their best work because they never know when they’re going to be redeployed. The nature of unassigned work can cause disruption in their personal lives as they get continually ‘placed’ with different clients. This has perhaps become a little easier to bear recently, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced so many organisations to change their attitudes toward flexible working and working from home. However, this sense of being anonymously assigned – of being a resource rather than a person – leaves software engineers feeling like they’ve lost control over their lives. This feeling is compounded if they feel that they are not the best fit for the assignment and have only been placed with a client because, yet again, a problem or deployment has become urgent. This feeling of being a commodity, rather than a living, breathing person leads to general disgruntlement. We know, we’ve been there.
You can get caught in the consultancy trap
Despite all of the downsides, the financial compensation can lead to talented software engineers getting stuck doing consultancy work that they no longer enjoy but can’t easily leave. Seeking a role that better suits their skills and interests might involve taking a pay cut, and that means they’re caught in a bit of a trap.
It’s a tough one, we know, we’ve all been there too. (Maybe we should design a T-shirt?).
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably seeking an answer. (If you’re in a hurry, head over to our people page now!) We are a team of talented software engineers who managed to break out of the tech consultancy trap. We see the person, not just the skillset. We don’t just put bums on seats. We assign teams of people who work well together, who respect each other and who encourage and support each other do their best work. We’re not afraid to be honest with clients, even if that costs us money. We want to take back control and be selective about doing our best work for good clients and creating code that makes a difference. We’re looking to grow, but we want to do that in the right way, with people like us, who share our skills and values. If that sounds like something you want to be part of, read on…
How we are trying our hardest to make things work here at 345 Technology
So many organisations seem to think they’re progressive, different and driven by their values. Their website mission statements bang on about this ad infinitum, so we aren’t going to try to say the same things as though they were brute facts.
Instead, we’re going to share as much as we can about the ways we think and act so that you can decide for yourself whether we’re any different to other consultancies you might have experienced before.
Here’s one way we think we really are a bit different.
Most big consultancies assign people and create teams for projects.
But a team isn’t just a group of people who must work together.
We believe a team is a group of people who need to trust each other and work for each other. So first we build a strong team. We then align them with certain customers or sectors – supporting them to increase their industry and domain knowledge all the while – then put our effort into finding more of the right work for those teams.
The more this team works together the stronger their bonds of trust become, the closer their communication, the more they enjoy it all and so, inevitably, the higher the quality of the work they do…. what’s not to love about that?
From the customer’s perspective they get a team that’s already gelled, that ramps up fast, that’s easy to work with, that models best industry practice and delivers great stuff. That makes our customer very happy, and far more likely to want them back – happy days for everyone!
We feed work into good teams, rather than feeding people into the machine.
So, what are our values?
We can’t do a piece like this without saying something about what we believe and how we act. And even though you might have heard this before, we do try to live by these values rather than just spouting what sounds good.
- Treat people right: we give them as much info as possible, so as not to disempower them. We’re always scrupulously honest and don’t set false expectations. We apply the same approach to the customers, suppliers and businesses we work with. We’ll always tell the truth even if it’s financially disadvantageous to us. That’s how we build trust.
- Do things properly: we do the harder end of software engineering. When building mission-critical systems, we know they simply can’t be allowed to go wrong. All our documentation should be clear, and we should each do our best work technically and in the softer areas.
- Make a difference: each of us takes on a responsibility to do large amounts of good work, and we can make a difference as a company. We want to do projects that help the wider world. For example, some of our work is to help people make small financial transactions – a fundamental service to help them connect and make the world better. We also work in social housing and healthcare, and some of this work is discounted as it’s for the social good.
- Take a closer look at what we’re mad about, what we believe and what we will never do – what we stand for.
Things that worry us
Culture is probably a bit like a personal relationship: it won’t stay shiny and happy forever unless you work hard at keeping it fresh and relevant.
It’s not the hardest thing to do when a team is small and everyone knows each other well, but what happens when you grow? This is something that matters to us.
We want to grow – well, we are growing – but we don’t want to dilute the culture we’ve built so far.
We’ve decided that finding the right people is more important to us than fast growth.
The biggest part of that is building a team based on our people having the right values and attitudes. Put another way, having outstanding technical skills won’t get you through the door with us unless the values and attitudes are right. We can teach competent people the technical skills they will need, but we can’t teach the rest – it’s either there or it isn’t.
This probably caps how quickly we can grow, because finding good people isn’t easy. You can’t just scale your people in the same way you would spin up servers on the cloud.
But maybe we shouldn’t worry too much. The right people are out there, and maybe they’re reading this blog…
Could you work for us?
If you share our values and attitudes – and you’re willing to let us help you improve your technical skills – we could be a good fit.
We’re hiring people who’ve worked in IT but who feel as though their job is maybe a bit… empty. If you want to join a tight-knit team and care more about professional respect and friendly faces than funky office furniture, let’s have a chat.