While it comes with its challenges, innovation is crucial for any business. But, without fostering innovation and implementing new technologies, technological growth it’s nearly impossible. Development companies need innovation to ship robust products and increase employee engagement.
Humans are creatures of habit. Most of us enjoy the predictability and familiarity that comes with routines, with knowing–more or less–what a new day will bring. Of course, we can’t generalize, everyone is different, but typically, that is how the day-to-day goes for most of us. And in our workplaces, things are no different, especially in the app development industry and particularly when it comes to technology. Whether it’s a design program like Figma, a cross-platform development framework like MAUI, or a technology like Artificial Intelligence, we love to use what we comfortably know and understand. In other words: we don’t like change. While some people have the ability to adapt easily and recognize the immediate value of implementing new technologies, many more don’t. Perhaps it’s because we don’t like to break our routines, or because we feel like adapting to a new way of working may be too challenging, not worth the trouble, or maybe even because we don’t like what we don’t understand. Either way, innovation almost always comes with certain intricacies. Hence, it’s extremely important for CTOs, managers, and other team leaders to avoid overwhelming and confusing their staff members by carefully planning when and how they choose to implement new technologies.
So, since technological change and innovation are unavoidable in our industry, we at Foonkie Monkey wanted to share our knowledge and tell you, based on our experience, how you can successfully implement new technologies in your development team in the most hassle-free, seamless, and efficient way possible. Let’s begin.
The importance of innovation
Did you know that 62% of high-growth companies plan to invest a more significant part of their budget in implementing innovative technologies in the coming year? This is because they understand the importance of fostering innovation and its relevance in remaining competitive. After all, they are high-growth companies for a reason.
If you’re in a position of leadership in an app development company, then you probably already have a very clear idea of which are the areas of improvement. You already know how and when to do coaching sessions, where your team can improve, and the areas where time and resources are being wasted. But what about the outdated or obsolete tools, platforms, frameworks, and systems that may be hindering your team’s progress? Innovation hinges on you (or your team leaders) staying on top of how these technologies and tools either inhibit or promote process efficiency. Yes, it also depends on successful teamwork and collaboration, but the truth is that today, innovation relies upon much more than individual creativity or groundbreaking ideas. It depends on when and how you use new technology to solve problems and drive efficiency and also when to update and reevaluate what those technologies and tools can do for your company.
Ideally, innovation drives efficiency, growth, and positive change. It helps you and your team feel supported, work together, solve problems faster, stay on top of market changes, and constantly keep delivering mobile and software products that conform to the highest technological standards, meet users’ expectations, and stand the test of time. And, when you operate under an innovation-first work model, you ensure your team is primed to make better decisions and is open to experimenting, learning, and trying new things. As a result, your development company can become fertile ground for successful development practices. In addition, you’ll keep your team ready to tackle shifting consumer demands and take on market changes quickly and effectively.
Still, many development companies can feel dumbfounded by how to foster innovation and make mistakes either when choosing the new technology or platform to implement or how and when to implement it. Many other companies also need help to weave innovation and new technologies into their day-to-day operations and identify the right solution to implement, making the wrong decision and greatly damaging their efficiency and product quality.
With that in mind, and as a highly innovative development company, we want to share our recommendations on successfully fostering innovation and implementing new technologies in your development team.
Make a plan
You know how you always conduct thorough target and market research before developing a product? Or how you never start a development project without a roadmap or business plan? Well, the principle here is the same. Before you invest thousands of dollars in buying a new program, tool, or technology, you need to make sure you have an unequivocal understanding of how it works, why you’re implementing this new element and introducing it to your staff members, and how it will benefit your team and your company. Then, you must translate the answer to these and other questions into a detailed strategy where you define the following:
- What are your goals?
- Why are you implementing this new technology?
- How will the new technology help you and your team fulfill those goals?
- How much will the new technology cost?
- How long might the migration to the new technology take?
- Will your staff need training?
- How long might training take?
- Who will be in charge of the implementation process?
Building a plan around these and many other questions that may apply to your specific case is crucial to avoid going in blind and implementing a technology that doesn’t solve your problems or confuses your employees, which may result in higher costs, unnecessary time wasting, and headaches.
Take advantage of free trials
Making a plan and understanding the benefits of the new technology yourself is the crucial first step to successful implementation. But how do you really know that those benefits will actually adapt to your team? How can you be absolutely certain that the new technology is what it claims to be? Of course, you can rely solely on your research and planning phase, but you can also leverage the benefits of free trials.
This point might seem obvious to some, we know. However, it’s not wise to go all-in and purchase an expensive software or tool without trying it out first for free. So, to make sure you truly understand and have got a grasp, or at least a broad idea, of what this new technology can do for you and your team to take advantage of the demo versions and free trials that most, if not all, software and IT companies put out when they develop a new technology, program, or tool. In some cases, you can even schedule guided demos where you can try most aspects of the new platform and ask questions so you can be confident you’re making the right choice. You can even invite some of your staff members to try the software so they can dip their toes and witness firsthand how it works. Then, once you see the new system in practice, you should be able to make an informed decision and be sure that the software will be a good fit with your app development team.
Get your team involved
While it’s true that the decision to implement a new technology or tool in your development company ultimately falls on your hands, new processes come with significant changes that require action from more than just you. Therefore, your development team has to be right there with you to get the most out of any software or technology acquisition.
The final users of the new technology you’re implementing are your developers, so why not involve them in the decision-making, purchasing, and implementation processes? Unfortunately, team leaders often make the mistake of implementing new technologies and tools without consulting their team. As a result, they’re not only taken by surprise when the implementation process comes, but they can also feel excluded, which may impact their performance and their sense of belonging to your company.
So, while the question of whether or not you’re going to purchase the new technology is non-negotiable, you can still invite some, if not all, members of your development team to test it, offer insight and opinions, and review it to see how well the new product fits with your staff. After all, they’re the ones who will use it. In that sense, it’s a very smart idea to include your team members in implementing new technologies. Encourage them to feel free to discuss their ideas, even if that means talking about their pain points, and encourage them to give you their honest feedback and suggestions regardless of if the input is negative. It may not deter you from purchasing the new tool, but at least it can help you plan ahead and address those issues beforehand to ensure they will not become roadblocks in the future.
Giving your team members a voice and letting them be a part of a lot of the decisions that will ultimately impact them and their workflow is a great way to ensure constant feedback, employee engagement, increased productivity, and better adoption of the new technology.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
A study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting found that the vast majority of managers strive to foster innovation and understand that constant digital transformation is critical for business success. However, 63% said that technological change and innovation processes happen too slowly, primarily due to poor communication between the leaders and staff members. As a result, the latter lack an understanding of the strategic benefits of implementing new technologies and tools and, thus, remain hesitant to adopt them.
So, to foster innovation and ensure a successful implementation and complete adoption of new technologies in your development team, you or your team leaders must put communication at the forefront of everything. You can leverage daily scrum meetings or one-on-one coaching sessions to keep them in the loop. You can communicate how the implementation process is going, how the new tool can help–or is helping enhance their workflows, and discuss the improvements you are already witnessing as the team hikes up its use and starts getting more comfortable with the change. Again, make sure to always highlight the benefits of the new tool and communicate how they are beginning to improve the workflow and help deliver better and more innovative applications.
Of course, this principle applies to every aspect of app development, but it is especially important for innovation. When you not only include your team in the decision-making process of purchasing new tools but also communicate how they can help foster innovation and continue to extoll the benefits of these new technologies, you ensure your staff remains more open to accepting and learning how these new tools work.
Be realistic regarding timeframes and goals
Planning, researching, and communicating are only half the battle when implementing a new tool in your development team. You can plan your head off and still not be able to meet the timeframes and objectives you initially outlined. However, successfully implementing new technology and fostering innovation also means considering it may not immediately meet all your expectations and magically adapt to your team’s workflows the minute you hit start.
As with any significant change, coming to terms with and falling in love with new technology will always take time and patience. Even if your current technology is outdated or inefficient, it is familiar, comfortable, and predictable for your team members. Hence, the implementation process of your new tool will likely not happen immediately, partly because your staff will likely need a period of adjustment. You and your team will probably have to do several test drives to get used to and get the most out of the new tool you’re trying to implement. Your developers need enough time to familiarize themselves with the software to customize and tweak it as they go and find the features and functionality that make the most sense for them.
Additionally, no matter how innovative or necessary the new implementation might be, you might still run into some internal resistance from your development team.
This resistance may come from a lack of familiarity with the system, usage concerns, UX issues with the new technology, or a simple hesitancy to change, all of which are common and can be quickly addressed and solved with proper planning, feedback gathering, and efficient communication. Still, you must remain realistic about the timeframes and goals you planned for in the first place and understand that you may not immediately see the fruits of your investment.
Make things fun!
Nobody wants to sit through boring training sessions, never-ending tutorials, and awful learning experiences that do nothing more than deter you from embracing change. Unfortunately, things are no different in development teams. No matter how experienced your staff is, if the implementation process consists of boring training meetings and workshops, it will take longer and be significantly harder to get the ball rolling on your team embracing the new tool. And rightfully so; I mean, who doesn’t like to have fun?
So, you can make the transition to a new system or tool more manageable and seamless by being imaginative and figuring out ways to make the process as fun as it can be. For instance, you can create internal contests and championships where, depending on the type of tool or technology you’re implementing, developers can compete in various challenges such as who designs the best logo, who uses the most colors, or who sends and receives the most emails per week or month, to name a few. This way, you can leverage gamification and engage your team in using the new system while helping them have fun with it.
To foster innovation and ensure technological progress in your development company, you must give your team room to experiment. Sadly though, some managers and team leaders discourage creativity, focus on keeping control over their staff and lead with a rigid mentality where they determine how a tool is used. However, this approach dramatically damages your developers’ creative process, hinders innovation, and limits what a new tool can actually do for your team and your company.
Thankfully, you can make a difference and inspire your developers to leverage new tools to build innovative products by allowing them to experiment. How else will they thrive and actually get the best of the tools they use every day? Your developers are the day-to-day users of the technology you just invested your valuable resources in. In that sense, they are not only the best source of feedback but also have first-hand knowledge and experience of how this new tool works and what it can and can’t do. So, you must let them play with it freely and create a culture of experimentation where they feel confident enough to discover, learn, and share any tips, tweaks, tricks, and even roadblocks they encounter when using the new tool. And, in line with the previous point and for the sake of keeping things fun, you can create an award for creativity or reward the developer who gives the most tips or discovers the most tweaks in a period of time. Remember, from freedom comes innovation.
Don’t fear failure
This point is the most important. Most of us have been there. You plan, and you plan, and you plan, yet things don’t turn out how you hoped they would. Failure is part of life, and as app developers, we know that having a plan doesn’t guarantee instant success. The same applies to innovation. You can’t change and grow without improving, and you improve when you fail and learn from it. And in our industry, failure happens more often than we’d like to admit. With new implementations, it can come in the form of glitches, lack of compatibility and understanding from your employees, hacking incidents, weak links in our workflows, disagreements, or lack of innovative approaches, to name a few. At any rate, even if you follow all the points above to a T and plan every detail of your new tool’s implementation process, the truth is that failure is a very real possibility and, thus, must be part of your plan. Yes, you may not know how to avoid it, but you must know how to face it. So, you must consider the worst-case scenario because that’s the only way you’ll be ready to tackle failure if and when it happens. In other words, fostering innovation isn’t about not failing; it’s about knowing how to fail, learning from it, and still being able to innovate.
But how can you cope with failure when it comes? You can make sure your development team is never afraid of failing. Make them see their doubts and uncertainties as opportunities to improve and move forward. Stand by them, support them, and encourage them to speak their minds and discuss their insecurities, so they don’t feel pressured to succeed every time. Believe it or not, the more you push your team for victory and perfection, the less likely they are to be victorious and perfect. So, don’t expect your developers to be successful every time. Instead, implement a pressure-free, risk-free work culture that never chastises failure and always encourages innovation through learning and experimentation.
So, our best advice is not to be afraid of failure. Instead, embrace it and see it as nothing more than a lesson that will help your company grow. After all, if you’re not failing, chances are you are not very innovative, to begin with.
Innovation is crucial for modern development companies to remain relevant and competitive in today’s saturated market, and yet, in most cases, it is elusive. For innovation to occur, new technologies must be implemented with laser eyes on compatibility, feedback, interoperability, collaboration, and constant learning. Therefore, when introducing a new technology or tool to your development team, you must ensure a culture of support and feedback is already in place. Hence, the transition happens as seamlessly as possible. And, even if you meet resistance or some of your team members are hesitant to embrace the new tech, keep the cycle of learning and gathering feedback going to ensure your staff feels supported. This way, they can feel confident enough to start experimenting with the new tool and discover how beneficial it can actually be.
Once you bring all the points we discussed in this article together and start fostering innovation, you’ll see just how easy and beneficial it can be to introduce newer, better tools and technologies into your development team. We’ve been doing this for over ten years now, and it is one of the best ways to remain innovative and keep breaking the mold. So, if you have any doubts or want to work with us, contact us and let’s get started right away!