Unlocking the Potential of Your Industry-Changing Idea with CTO as a Service
In the ever-evolving landscape of start-ups, the path to success can often be challenging. Many entrepreneurs possess groundbreaking ideas that have the potential to revolutionize their respective industries but lack the necessary resources to assemble a full-fledged development team. This is where Finaps steps in, offering a unique solution: acting as an external Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Insights from our CTO
With our “CTO as a Service” model, Finaps aims to empower start-ups to not only thrive but also dominate their sectors. In this exclusive interview with Andrew Hagens, the CTO of Finaps, we delve into how our company can assist you in building and establishing a robust Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution. Furthermore, Hagens shares his invaluable insights and explains why a successful SaaS solution is scalable.
The struggles of building a SaaS solution
Building a strong team is hard
In the fast-paced world of technology, businesses face the challenge of keeping up with constant changes. The demand for skilled IT professionals is higher than ever, and acquiring their expertise can be both challenging and costly. Building a strong team takes years of effort and investment.
Understanding of evolving technology
“A strong team is crucial right from the beginning because a sustainable SaaS solution is inherently complex. As the system evolves over time, its complexity increases, resulting in more unexpected or undesired behaviors. Managing risks and possessing a deep understanding of the technology are essential for ensuring successful implementation.”
“To achieve this goal, Finaps strives to develop a profound understanding of the interconnected technologies involved, ultimately leading to the emergence of functional solutions.”
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Scalability is a must
Hagens has observed numerous success stories and unfortunate outcomes over the past decade, and in his analysis, he has identified some key topics that contribute to the complexities. He has come to the conclusion that it’s all about scalability. This is the key to unlocking limitless growth and success.”
Scalability comes with a set of challenges and difficulties that arise when a software system needs to handle an increasing amount of work or users. Scalability is a critical aspect of software design and development, especially for applications that need to support large and growing user bases or handle large amounts of data. The complexity of software scalability can vary depending on the specific software system and its requirements.
However, there are several factors that can contribute to the complexity of achieving scalability, including:
- Architecture: The software architecture plays a critical role in scalability, and it must be designed to handle the increased load that comes with scaling up the system. To ensure the system can handle the increased workload, this may involve implementing distributed systems, load balancing, caching, and other techniques.
- Performance: Performance is another critical factor that can impact software scalability, and as the system scales, the performance must be maintained, and response times should not increase beyond acceptable levels.
- Data Management: As the amount of data increases, managing that data becomes more complex. To ensure data can be processed efficiently, scaling a software system may require implementing new data management techniques, such as sharding or partitioning.
- Operations: As the system scales, the operational complexity can also increase. Managing large-scale systems requires significant effort, including monitoring, logging, and troubleshooting to ensure that the system is performing correctly.
Overall, achieving software scalability requires careful consideration of all the above factors. It also necessitates having a thorough understanding of the software system’s architecture, performance characteristics, and data management requirements.
How does Finaps approach the complexity of scalability?
To address the complexity of software scalability, a systematic and holistic approach is necessary, which takes into consideration the multiple factors that affect the scalability of a software system. Based on its expertise, Finaps recommends the following steps to tackle the complexity of software scalability:
- Determine scalability requirements: The initial step is to identify the software system’s scalability requirements by analyzing the anticipated growth in user base, data volume, transaction volume, among other factors.
- Set scalability goals: Based on the scalability requirements, set specific, measurable, and achievable scalability goals. For instance, the goal could be to double the number of concurrent users that the system can handle within six months.
- Design for scalability: Design the software system for scalability based on the scalability requirements and analysis. This might require the implementation of distributed systems, load balancing, caching, and other techniques to ensure the system can handle the increased workload.
- Validate scalability through testing: Once the software system is designed for scalability, test and validate its scalability using various scenarios that simulate the anticipated workload. This testing should involve performance testing, load testing, and stress testing to ensure that the system can handle the expected load.
- Monitor and optimize performance: Continuously monitor and optimize the system’s performance after it is deployed to ensure that it meets the scalability goals. This includes monitoring key performance metrics, identifying and resolving bottlenecks, and optimizing the system for improved performance.
To effectively address the complexity of software scalability, it is vital to possess a deep understanding of the software system’s architecture, performance, and data management requirements, as mentioned earlier. By following a systematic approach, it is possible to design and implement scalable software systems that can efficiently manage the projected increase in workload and users.
A project Finaps did for a debt collection agency that wanted to automate and streamline communication with people in debt. The goal was to make it easier for debtors to pay using various means such as SMS or Tikkie payment requests through WhatsApp. Finaps was approached by this agency to design the IT infrastructure for the service, which was initially intended to use a microservices architecture. However, the project’s ambitions changed over time, and it was ultimately decided to use a monolith that was logically segmented instead. Hagens explained: “At first, we believed a microservice architecture was the way to go. We could separate the concerns within the platform, and we would be able to scale the application in a more precise way as needed. Some opportunities have refocused the intended use of the platform. The big change was the need for easy deployment. This meant we needed to refactor the code to go from a microservice architecture to a monolith. Monoliths are easier to deploy and maintain but have to be scaled as a whole.”
Hagens also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using microservices and how they can increase the complexity of the system as more services are added. He noted that “the growth of number services exponentially increases the number of potential communication lines between services,” which leads to an increase in cumulative communication lines and complexity. Moreover, Hagens points out the importance of data privacy and how they had to keep European and American data separate due to different privacy laws. When choosing a cloud provider, Finaps advise the client to go with Azure because it is well-supported and more business-friendly in supporting their clients. In addition, Finaps had experience using Microsoft products via Office 365.
The four phases of integrating CTO as a service
Hagens outlines four steps involved in integrating CTO as aservice: 1. building requirements, 2. designing, 3. developing, and 4. operating. Thereby, he stresses the importance of communication between the business and technical departments during each phase to ensure a shared understanding.
The requirements phase involves researching stakeholders and end-users’ needs, understanding existing boundaries and requirements, and determining an initial budget. In the design phase, the goal is to create the best design possible while keeping costs to a minimum. In the development phase, the team builds and implements the solution, and in the operating phase, they maintain and update it as necessary. Hagens notes that budgets are determined in the requirements phase, but adjustments may be necessary as the project progresses due to unknowns.
Outsourcing IT to an external CTO service vs. an internal IT department
When asked about the advantages of outsourcing IT to an external CTO service over an internal IT department, Hagens suggests that smaller companies with less confidence in IT may benefit from separating IT and business functions by outsourcing. This avoids political struggles and allows the CTO to focus on technical aspects without being influenced by internal business concerns. However, Hagens believes that good communication and contact with the client are essential, but not getting too involved in the company’s personal details. He recommends external consultants to work alongside internal teams as advisors to facilitate the learning process for new team members and ultimately provide good service and stability for the client.
How Finaps distinguishes itself
How Finaps distinguishes itself from its competitors according to Hagens is Finaps’ approach to building trust with its clients by making good decisions and providing transparent guidance. Andrew stresses that Finaps values quality over volume and strives to deliver quality work from beginning to the end of a project. Finaps’ flexibility in handling different technical requirements is attributed to its focus on knowledge and experience, with a primary focus on building a team of good engineers before developing consultants. Andrew believes that having a strong foundation as an engineer enables a person to become a better consultant who can provide accurate advice and make better estimates for the client.
“Managing risks and possessing a deep understanding of the technology are essential for ensuring successful implementation.”
Overall, Andrew believes that what sets Finaps apart is its reputation as being trustworthy, as the company strives to provide the best service possible while maintaining a high level of quality. “Finaps does not operate on volume but focuses on delivering value to its clients.”
Finaps’ CTO as a service offering
In the dynamic world of startups, entrepreneurs armed with industry expertise often come up with the most promising ideas, recognising the role of software and data as not just expenses, but as generators of revenue. They understand the significance of technology in executing core business activities, Their innovative vision connects technology to their industry in a unique way. This often leads to the birth of a new startup. However, when there is no Chief Technology Officer (CTO) among the founders, their biggest challenge is finding one. This is where Finaps enters the picture, offering a unique solution: acting as an external Chief Technology Officer (CTO).