Software engineering and development are professions with a direct impact on people’s lives. It is important to take into account ethics in software development to ensure that the products we create are safe, reliable and respect users and society in general. In this article, we’ll analyze why ethics is so important for software development companies. Also, we’ll discuss how we can help users neutralize potential threats that may arise while using our apps and programs.
Ethics in software development is often overlooked. It is not something you can put on the back burner and hope will go away. It must be actively monitored for your team to produce high-quality work. Software development is a complicated and intricate process. Developers are responsible for creating products that will be used by other people. This means that they need to take ethical considerations into account in their projects.
With the advancement of security measures used by companies, ethical concepts are increasingly present. It is essential for software teams to know the best practices in ethical behavior. Let’s analyze together the essential concepts of ethics and how to implement them in your software development projects.
Why ethics in software development?
Ethics are the moral principles that govern the behavior of a person or organization. This concept can be defined as a set of socially accepted considerations about what is right and what is wrong. In a software development context, ethics refers to the standards, conditions, and rules developers shall consider when creating their programs and apps.
Information and communications technology allow new possibilities for user behavior and interaction. In this sense, development teams and software factories must consider certain basic ethical concepts. Some of them we consider important at Huenei are:
Responsibility. Organizations are responsible for the actions they take. This responsibility represents a moral obligation (and, in many cases, also a legal one!).
Accountability. While companies must act ethically, it is often unavoidable that users will be affected by the operation of our software products. As a company, we must recognize these situations, take action to resolve them, and take the opportunity to learn and prevent the issue from happening again in the future.
Mandatory nature. There are regional laws that allow obtaining compensation if damages are caused to users.
Respected process. These laws are generally known and understood. Users can contact authorities to enforce them. In this sense, taking preventive actions before having any type of legal inconvenience is key.
Privacy: The main ethical dilemma of software development.
Lawyers define privacy as the moral right to be alone, without surveillance or interference from other people. In information technology, information privacy refers to the fact that individuals should be able to control the use of information about themselves.
Personal data represents information of any kind referring to individuals or organizations. Within these, we find sensitive data, which are those that could affect the image of a person or institution if they were made public. The line that determines what is and what isn’t sensitive data is sometimes difficult to identify and represents a potential inconvenience for software factories. It is important to understand that this type of data can only be collected when there are reasons of general interest authorized by law, or for scientific and statistical purposes if they are dissociated from the owners.
Illustration by Grafimedia
How to protect data privacy?
The main threats to privacy come from the process of collecting and storing information (personal data, sensitive company information, etc.). It is a moral and ethical obligation for software developers to ensure that they structure the functioning of their products in a way that protects against these threats. To address them and try to reduce them, we must focus on three key areas of privacy protection.
Legal protection. Take into account the laws and government regulations of the country or territory where the program or app will be used.
Self-regulation. Consider the uses, customs, and general preferences of the industry. In other words, regardless of the law, what does the end-user prefer and need to feel safe?
Technological solutions. Remind users to take security measures, such as the use of secure email providers, the choice of reliable passwords, and the management of browsing cookies, among others.
In conclusion, we can understand that ethics is a set of moral principles that govern the way people and organizations behave. In software development, it is important that we work considering the needs of users, but with an ethical perspective. We have already discussed what we should consider to respect their privacy and help them be less vulnerable to external threats. You should always try to understand the user’s perspective; not only to understand how you will use the product you are developing but also to help you maintain your personal and professional privacy.
Organizations have transformed into working systems. Different areas interact in pursuit of the same goal of generating value and optimizing results. In this context, it becomes extremely important for a company to be able to focus on its core business and not consume human and financial resources in other areas that are not strategic to its main activity. Here, software development outsourcing appears as a solution that allows greater performance by avoiding unnecessary distractions and deviations.
A Little History of Outsourcing.
Outsourcing is a business solution adopted at a particular historical moment, along with many other related and key processes for its emergence, boom, and current status. Let’s look at a brief timeline of the evolution of outsourcing in recent years. It is important to recognize the motivations that mobilize outsourcing, as well as the location of the service provider companies and the type of relationship that is generated between provider and client. The role of these strategic concepts has evolved.
The outsourcing process is closely linked to the constant growth of information and technology systems. Mainly, we refer to their impact on commercial, labor, government relations, etc. The approach of distances, the possibility of coordinating actions in different places without the need to be physically connected, the scope of international, regional, or global agreements, the existence of more and more written or unwritten rules that are adopted along with this growth and the formation of institutions or organisms dedicated to them, are without doubt enablers of growth.
It is no longer necessary for a company to have an area for each process, nor building or technological infrastructure to grow. Nor is it essential for an individual to be part of an international corporation to work with other nations.
Technology Outsourcing Alternatives
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the outsourcing of business processes that are not the center of the company’s strategy, and about which it does not need to store sensitive information. They are departments that surround the main business, they are necessary, but they can be carried out in the same way and with the same knowledge as the rest of the market. You can take advantage of the best practices of the activity, of the standardization of processes, and of all development in this sense, in which the companies dedicated to providing them are specialized.
Software Development Outsourcing is a specific type of BPO where client companies hire providers who will be in charge of planning, executing, and subsequently evaluating programs and apps designed specifically for certain business objectives.
The main work models in IT and software services outsourcing are Dedicated Teams, Staff Augmentation, and Turnkey Projects. At Huenei we work with all three systems since we believe that we can use different approaches to arrive at the perfect software depending on the client’s needs.
Huenei’s Dedicated Teams.
Our Dedicated Teams are working groups tailored to the needs of your project. These agile and self-managed teams provide immediate responses to your demands, helping you meet your development goals. Through agile methodologies and management support tools, we establish a working method that offers total transparency and continuous feedback on the service.
Our work process consists of 7 phases:
Survey and Understanding of the Business.
Scope of the Dedicated Team.
Metrics and Performance.
Final Delivery and Continuous Improvement.
Huenei’s Staff Augmentation.
Many companies face difficulties when it comes to growing their work teams: the costs related to human resources are high and it is often difficult to sustain headcount growth. With our Staff Augmentation services, we solve these problems. We integrate members of our experienced team for a particular project into your work team. In this way, you can add expertise and increase the speed of delivery of your projects, reducing risks and costs related to the hiring of new personnel.
Our work process consists of 4 phases:
Profile Search and Selection.
Analysis and Follow-up.
Huenei’s Turnkey Projects.
If your project needs total outsourcing, we can take it forward by adapting our workflow to suit your needs, seeking to add value through an excellent Turnkey Project. We can offer you an end-to-end development service, a server migration, and a concept test, among many others.
Our work process consists of 7 phases:
Solution Proposal Design.
Post Implementation Service.
Now you understand that outsourcing software development projects can bring great advantages to your company. It will be important that you can determine which of the three models we offer is the right one. But don’t worry, our experts are here to help you evaluate the alternatives and arrive at the perfect working model.
The power of knowledge is a fundamental element of the strategy of any successful organization. Knowledge contributes to the development and implementation of policies, strategies, plans, and programs. It is a vital part of the organization’s value chain.
There are several ways one can understand the components of knowledge and how they work together to create a strategy. The following points will help you put together a master plan that can help you use knowledge to your advantage.
Building blocks of the power of knowledge.
Knowledge consists of three main building blocks that help boost decisions. These combine to provide a solid foundation for advanced knowledge management. This trilogy forms a strategy allowing information to be leveraged, resulting in a company that is constantly on the bleeding edge of organizational skills. Your business and your bottom line will experience a boost as a result.
The three building blocks of the power of knowledge are:
People. Knowledge management cares and focuses on people and relationships, through the formation of formal and informal relations motivated to learn and promote knowledge transfer through your organization.
Technology. This aspect is key in information management. Technology provides your organization with methods and tools for storing, transferring, and manipulating knowledge.
Processes. These focus on harmonizing the culture, politics, organizational structure, and hierarchy of your company, so it is centered on knowledge generation and dissemination. They also support and encourage the exchange of knowledge and learnings between parties.
Components of organizational knowledge.
There exists an important distinction between explicit and implicit knowledge. In a nutshell, explicit knowledge can be described, taught, or formally communicated to others. It is relatively straightforward to remember. However, this type of knowledge is not always the easiest to acquire. Implicit knowledge, on the other hand, is a type of knowledge that is not easily described. It is not tangible; in fact, it cannot be touched, measured, or known. It is not only more difficult to obtain, but also more difficult to describe. One theory about implicit knowledge is that it is largely unconscious, and as such may not be easily accessible to conscious thought.
Let’s understand their main characteristics and differences!
Illustration by CloudTutorial
Implicit knowledge is based on your accumulated experiences, mind maps, and acquired skills. These are not easily expressed by people. It is a type of knowledge where everything is stored and not seen. It also represents the intuition and sophistication of individuals in companies, as well as one of the intangible assets of organizations like yours. It ranks as one of the company’s most valuable assets, due to the organization’s reliance on those experiences and skills.
Some common examples of implicit knowledge are the experience of a seller and their ability to convince a customer and the leadership capacity of managers.
Does implicit knowledge represent an opportunity for your organization? Of course! This type of knowledge marks the DNA of your company. It is very difficult to develop since it is generated and lives 100% in the people that make up your company. Expertise, experience, good practices, and both feared and beloved intuition can represent a before and after in organizational development. But, as we will see later, it is essential to try to record this knowledge and make it explicit. Take into account that intangibility represents a significant risk: what would happen if a key collaborator decides to leave the company and start working for the competition? Problems!!
On the other hand, explicit knowledge is a type of knowledge where everything is stored and seen. It is a form of information that is consciously accessible and can be seen, learned, and easily disseminated. Explicit knowledge can be expressed in written documents and is remembered better than implicit knowledge.
This kind of knowledge is tangible and clear to others, such as engineering design, work reports, tasks, and goals that have been documented and preserved for easy reference and for sharing with others.
Although implicit knowledge is the essence of your organization’s collaborators and represents a very important intangible asset, the knowledge management strategy should focus on making it more tangible and implicit. Processes, procedures, automatic rules, case studies and references, and a bit of the famous bureaucracy (without excess), can facilitate the actions of your company and make operations easier and more automatic –or, at least, reduce the probability of making the same mistakes more than once.
At Huenei we develop software capable of assisting in the registration and tangibilization of processes, procedures, and others. For example, we would like to mention the work done for Roemmers. We developed an app for commercial administration, which allowed pharmaceutical sales representatives to record visits, orders, and transfers. In other words, employees now can, thanks to this app, keep track of their business.
In summary, the power of knowledge is the ability to share knowledge with others. Sharing knowledge helps a person (and your company!) learn and grow as they share lessons based on experience. This is a powerful tool that can be used by individuals and organizations like yours. Acquiring a knowledge-oriented strategy in your organization is an endless pursuit. But with some focus, your company and employees can easily acquire skills and build a strong knowledge management structure.
Companies are increasingly orienting towards the generation of knowledge. Formal and informal work groups are born every day in organizations like yours, whose members manage to generate value together. In this context, communities of practice are becoming more frequent. But… what are communities of practice? Let’s dive into this interesting world together!
Understanding communities of practice.
Communities of practice (CoPs) are a knowledge management tool that is materialized through working groups that pursue a clear objective:to generate knowledge. In this sense, the members share learnings, reflect and analyze the experiences of others. Pretty often, it is an informal and self-generated group of people, whose members share expertise and passion on the subject in question.
Members of a community of practice have a common interest in the topic at hand and often possess expert knowledge. They are committed to helping each other and sharing activities, information and knowledge. They also share resources that they develop within the community, which can be documents, experiences, tools, procedures, among others.
We can understand them as a social network that allows knowledge to be generated, transferred and generalized among its members and, later, among the members of your entire organization. To identify a community of practice, it is important that you understand that it must have the following characteristics:
Domain. Areas of mutual interest between participants of the CoP.
Community. Relationships between participants are built through discussion, learning, and carrying out activities together.
Practice. CoPs focus on generating knowledge, standardizing work methods, and developing tools to later share with the organization.
Who is the leader of a community of practice?
The leader, also known as a facilitator, is in charge of keeping the community of practice functioning correctly, prioritizing joint work and commitment among the participants, and also stimulating a climate of trust. It is the leader who has the role of identifying new topics to introduce into the CoP’s tasks and centralizing the suggestions of the members. They are also the ones who ensure that knowledge is shared through community networks.
At Huenei we believe that communities of practice are essential to business development. This is why we set up work teams that function as communities of practice focused on specific problems of our clients. Our Turnkey Projects solutions focus on meeting the specific needs of your organization, carrying out customized turnkey projects, which in addition to software development, allow your organization to standardize information and share it.
From our experience, we like to consider communities of practice as a fundamental part of the structure of the intellectual capital of your company. This is so because, once established, these communities have an effect on both the organization’s structure and its culture and procedures. Managing to contribute to the knowledge that is shared and distributed.
Ideas to promote communities of practice in your organization.
A company that is committed to the development of communities of practice and that understands their value will be able to develop a strong culture of knowledge. It is not difficult to begin to empower and stimulate the emergence of communities of practice in your organization. Some ideas are:
Develop a web platform that facilitates the development and action of communities of practice, giving them easy access to them and a place to organize calendars, meetings, store information and share it. We can help you out with this 😉
Meet with your employees, discuss the need to develop communities of practice, and select a group of volunteers to start implementing one.
Achieve a close relationship with the leader, to help them guide and manage the group.
Don’t focus on the short term. Short-term approaches are typical in companies since often the urgent trumps the important. This causes communities of practice to focus only on the generation of explicit and low-value knowledge.
As a corollary, we can affirm that communities of practice are key to the development of an organization focused on learning and knowledge management. Companies like yours should work to reduce the transactional distance and increase cohesion between members in order to bring these communities closer to the creation of implicit knowledge. It would be convenient if you focus the strategic objectives of your organization in generating greater group learning of individuals and bringing communities of practice closer to the creation of implicit knowledge.
Understand What Innovation is and How It can Help your Business Strategy
Innovation has become a way of developing an organizational strategy that can give an advantage to businesses like yours. This is why many of the companies that intend to stay on the know and differentiate themselves from the others pursue innovation strategies. In this article we aim to understand innovation in an organization and give you ideas to implement it in your business.
Innovation is the implementation of a series of activities with the purpose of continuously making changes to what a company has established, thus introducing a new perspective or solution that adds value. Business innovation as a competitive advantage requires a continuous process and not simple isolated projects.
It is important to understand that is not a synonym for invention, that is, it is not based solely on creativity since it requires a constant process, rooted in business strategy. In other words, innovation is to give value through solutions that are relevant to the client and different from the alternatives they have in the market.
Doblin’s Framework for Innovation
Doblin is a company that for years has been dedicated to consulting and accompanying other organizations in their innovation processes and implementation of creative projects. During their projects they have gathered a lot of experience and information that allowed them to create a framework for the implementation of innovation as the basis of the companies’ strategy.
They reckon that organizations tend to focus their innovation processes on the development of new products different from those offered in the market that generate additional value for customers. But creating these new products is not the only way to innovate: this framework allows organizations to identify 10 different typologies of innovation that can help them establish a strategy for success, which can be grouped into three large clusters:
Configuration. Related to profit model, network, structure, and process.
Offering. Product performance and product systems as the center of the innovative process.
Experience. Related to service, channels, the brand itself, and consumer engagement.
Illustration by Doblin
How to develop innovation in your company?
As we have already discussed, innovation requires constant planning, development and ideation within a company. The objective of an innovative company must be to anticipate the market, in order to offer a differential value to its customers. In this sense, innovation may be part of a business strategy when the organization achieves processes that stimulate this culture.
There are various project management and agility methodologies that allow organizations to generate a work climate focused on innovation. In other articles we have already talked about Project Management and Design Thinking, for example. These work methodologies allow companies to focus on innovation processes, not only for products or services, but also those related to any of the instances proposed by Doblin.
An example can be seen in the next illustration, but we have to understand that each company will have its own procedure and preferences when implementing it. It’s key to understand that it is an iterative process. As we go through the different stages, we will need to be guided by a specific problem. This is the most important instance since if we are not sure that we are attacking the real problem, we will not be able to generate the necessary value.
The constant process of business innovation requires identifying the activities that add value, focusing on different specific business problems, designing action plans to solve them, and often support your plan with the generation of minimum viable products. Finally, it is essential to constantly monitor and measure results in order to learn from the process and optimize it in the future.
At Huenei we adapt our workflow to the innovation process because we consider it a good opportunity to offer our clients something more than an excellent finished job: the possibility of introducing them to the culture and strategy of innovation. You can review our Turnkey Projects, Dedicated Teams and Staff Augmentation services to learn more about our work process.
Let’s quickly review the steps of the Design Thinking process below, which you can deepen in our recent article. You will see that the process is very similar to the process that we just talked about. In essence, the Design Thinking methodology is based on an innovation process focused on a particular problem.
Once this process is started and running, using the methodology that best suits your organization, the company will have a specific innovation action to develop. But it is important that this iterative work approach is continuous in order to implement innovation at the core of your organization’s strategy. Some useful tools to incorporate into the day-to-day life of your organization if you want to incorporate innovative processes are the User Story Mapping, the Minimum Viable Product and the Value Stream Mapping.
The advancement of the digital economy and its rapid growth in recent years has completely changed the way organizations do business. In this context, it is extremely important for business and industry leaders like you to understand what a digital transformation strategy is and how it can be implemented in an organization.
Digital transformation is the integration of technology in all areas of a company, changing the way in which the organization generates value for its clients and stakeholders. Digital transformation implies a change in the culture, mentality and way of working of managers, employees, and other collaborators. It leads to the development of a culture focused on innovation, which can also bring a competitive advantage for your company.
According to a Boston Consulting Group study, only 30% of companies that begin a digital transformation process successfully complete it. This is the case because digital transformation is an arduous process and requires the alignment of all areas of a company.
An example of digital transformation
Imagine a company like yours that sells products and provides services to its customers. This company works with two core areas in its business: the one in charge of marketing and selling the products; and the area dedicated to providing after-sales service to customers. Both areas have individual databases, independent sales, monitoring, control and measurement processes and procedures, which makes it difficult to provide comprehensive offers for clients.
Now let’s imagine that this company decides to get involved in a digital transformation process… Broadly speaking, we could think of a context where the top management of the company decides to digitize all operations in both areas: automate monitoring, incorporate a customer data management system, digitize contact with suppliers and the supply chain, among others. To consider this process a digital transformation, it would be necessary for the company to adopt a strategy to unify its offer, ensuring that these two areas manage to work together, optimizing work and mutual collaboration.
Why do you need a digital transformation strategy?
We could talk about several advantages of digitization and digital transformation. Most of the time, digital transformation responds to an organizational need to modernize, changing internal processes, restructuring the culture, and incorporating the necessary technologies to face the constant and changing demands of the market.
The key is that technology should not be a peripheral support in the organization, but that it should represent the heart of the business and support the operations and strategy of each and every one of the company’s areas.
We can understand then that successful digital transformation is a process that can take years, because it involves all parts of a company. But when this process is finally finished, it is capable of generating returns and creating capitalized value in results.
At Huenei we help one of our clients, ICBC, to form a support and maintenance team for the establishment and opening of bank branches. The process represented a digitization of processes and restructuring of the priorities of various areas. The results were very positive, reflected for example in an increase in customer satisfaction indicators.
Another success story related to digital transformation is the work we’ve done for YPF, which consisted in the development of a mobile application for employees, with the functionality of allowing them to request materials for oil wells. Its implementation required, in addition to the development itself, an alignment of different areas and teamwork towards the digitization of activities. The result was an improvement in the work of oil well operators.
Processes. The second key element of digital transformation is processes. These are the organizational dynamics that allow companies to communicate the technology used in different departments with people. In a digital transformation process, the end user must always be at the center of decisions.
Culture. If you want to change a company, you have to start with its culture. Organizational culture is understood as the set of values, customs and rules that determine the behavior of people within your organization. An adequate culture for digital transformation is one that allows the creation of an environment that stimulates constant innovation, communication between different areas and the use of technology to improve processes.
To achieve alignment with the digital transformation environment, companies need to start thinking more horizontally, move away from hierarchical or vertical dynamics, and focus on finding ways where the different teams of the company begin to share ideas, objectives, and work spaces. In this sense, the advent of organizations focused on learning, knowledge management and the importance of the intellectual capital of organizations is key. Communities of practice are workgroups focused on generating knowledge that can provide your organization with an ideal environment for digital transformation.
Successful digitally transformed companies
During our years of work, we have managed to implement the digital transformation in Huenei, and accompany many clients in their innovation and change processes. From these experiences, we have observed some characteristics that companies that manage to digitally transform share. We’d like to tell you what we believe the main characteristics of successfully digitally transformed companies are.
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