Does your IT-department not deliver?
Are there always new bugs introduced with each release?
Have you missed opportunities because your software is too old to support new features?
If this sounds familiar, you are probably looking to fix your IT-department. Maybe you're looking to hire an extra manager to ensure all processes are being followed. Before you do that though, listen to this episode of scoutcast, where we discuss the pain points described above, and how to tackle those! Hint: Not by hiring more managers
IT is never the problem, it is a symptom. There usually is an underlying root cause. Which one is it? We will try to point you in the right direction!
Rolf Suurd 0:07
All right, we are live. Welcome to another episode of scout cast, my name is Raul suit, and I'll be your host. So a few years ago, I bought a new couch. And, you know, I walked up to the salesperson and I told him like, hey, I'd like to buy this couch. And he said, like, well join me at the at the table, and he will enter your details in the system. And I think that I always do when I met like a doctor or, you know, buying a couch, I was looking at what systems do these guys use. And I saw the salesperson entering the order. And he was using like an ancient old dos programme. And then you had to navigate using a combination of tab keys and F keys and like typing everything manually, like I don't think there even was a mouse present. But the order was placed, it was printed on chain paper using a dot matrix printer. And, you know, in the end, I actually got the couch, and you know, everything was complete and done. But I still had like this huge flashback to the 80s. You know, it's like, Man, you know, we have all this super new cool technology. And these guys are still using super old stuff. So I was surprised to see that, you know, the store was using technology that was well over 20 years old. And when I asked the salesperson if it bothered him that he had to use such old programmes that didn't really change much. He didn't even understand the surprise that I had, because he said like, Well, you know, this is what we use, it works fine. You know, why should we even change it? And, you know, it made me wonder, do you actually need always the latest and greatest in technology? Can you maybe can you get away with having an old system that is proven and battle hardened? And, you know, maybe you don't need to add new features all the time. And you know, to go even further, like, do we need technology for everything nowadays? I mean, yeah, everyone probably has some smart devices in their house. But you know, what's wrong with just using physical switches to turn off your lights? Like, why do you need to do that, you know, through your smartphone? So that's what we talked about today, like, you know, technology or even it, you know, is it overrated? Do we actually need it? Is it actually a problem? Or is maybe something else that problem is it maybe you know, attitude or his business or his people? And so it's a broad topic, but to help me, you know, discover these things are two of my very well loved colleagues and he and Silvester, welcome back into the studio. Yeah, thank you. So, Silvester How you doing?
Silvester van der Bijl 2:24
Pretty good, actually. Yeah, it's Friday. We're doing the podcast early today. So I have lots of time this afternoon to finish writing documents. So I'm all good.
Rolf Suurd 2:32
And do you write these documents? Because I read somewhere that George RR Martin from the from the Game of Thrones books. Yeah. He, he uses also like wordstar for DOS to write these best selling novels. So are you using ancient technology as well?
Silvester van der Bijl 2:50
All this in some ways, ancient I guess. I'm using Word at this point. Because I can actually do formatting right. Microsoft Word. Yeah. Microsoft Word number one, right.
Rolf Suurd 3:01
Oh my god. Okay. Interesting. Cool.
Silvester van der Bijl 3:04
You are Laughing
Rolf Suurd 3:05
Yeah, I did not expect that. Because your, your Apple fan man, right. I mean, it just works. And it just integrates this what you tell me all the time. So
Silvester van der Bijl 3:14
it's really good integrates better than everything. The thing is, I have to send it to people and I need to be able to open it.
Rolf Suurd 3:20
So it doesn't integrate with the outside everything.
Silvester van der Bijl 3:25
Well, long story.
Rolf Suurd 3:26
All right. But yeah, we'll we'll get to that. I guess. Of course, you guys already heard him. Henrique, Welcome.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 3:33
Yeah. , and thanks. doing pretty good. Today has been two episodes that I was not here. I got some complaints from friends. Of course, maybe my mom who listened to this podcast. But I am glad to be back.
Rolf Suurd 3:43
Henrique Santana de Miranda 3:45
Yeah, I don't know. That's what they say. But I doubt. But I was thinking about when you introduced yourself about this episode today. And it did striking. Like, I'm going to physiotherapy now to fix a problem with my shoulder, and they give me an app, right that I can actually do my exercises. And then I can actually check my appointments. And it's a horrible app. It just makes me frustrated of using it. And I rather not use it. So I think it goes like interesting point, I guess is like if it is internal use of a software, probably the company's Yeah, maybe the software doesn't need to be updated very often. But I guess if it's customer facing and more people using it, then I think has a different vibe to it. I don't know. I was just like, contemplating this idea. Now the moment that you actually talked about this old DOS software
Silvester van der Bijl 4:37
then it's more about usability, right?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 4:40
Well, no, it is about only usability is also like for example, I needed to cancel my appointment at Corona time. I had a little bit of a cold. Wow, guess what, you cannot cancel the appointment you need to call so why do I have an app?
Silvester van der Bijl 4:52
Although feature still hasn't been implemented?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 4:55
Wow. Let's go with that. But I think it's more likely patient. I don't know.
Rolf Suurd 5:00
Well, that's a that's for sure interesting that they you know, they give you an app and it kind of sucks to work with. And maybe you don't do your exercises as you should nowadays, so maybe it's even blocking you from getting better.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 5:11
Yes, it's defeating the point.
Rolf Suurd 5:13
Yeah. Yeah. But then what's the problem there? Is it the app? Is it? You know, people pushing the app on you? Do you even have a choice? Like you say to your therapist, like, hey, maybe just print out this stuff for me on paper?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 5:29
Yeah. So. I actually asked them, because I went to quite a few physiotherapists and ask a Why do you guys use this? And they said, like, well, somebody, you know, for the organisation of physiotherapy is whatever they want to like, go to, they decided to use that. And yeah, we also don't like it. But hey, that's what we have to work with. And then, in a way, it makes me wonder if they ever ever spoke to anybody who actually use the app, you know, because like, and I think that's somebody make a choice and had an idea, but I don't think they actually spoke to any customer, because they are just not really usable at all.
Rolf Suurd 6:03
Right? It's kind of like, I guess my toilet, right, like, recently installed a new toilet, and even that came with an app. So maybe it's
Silvester van der Bijl 6:10
like it. So what can you do with the app? I'm really curious about
Rolf Suurd 6:14
you can you can control that, like there's a light on the toilet that lie on the toilet? Yeah, to help you find the like the flush button that has like a red light there. So you can find it in the dark? Should you ever prefer to do your business on the toilet in the dark. And there's a built in fan and you can control the fan speed with the app.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 6:34
So there's a fan in the toilet or like in the bathroom,
Rolf Suurd 6:37
like in like it's it's integrated in the toilet so that the the smells get actually extracted from the toilet before they even reach your nose,
Henrique Santana de Miranda 6:45
that your life got better after having this fancy toilet.
Rolf Suurd 6:48
I spent, I spent. I spent the whole day on the toilet man. Like, you know, you guys think I'm in the office right now. But I'm actually in the toilet sitting recording this this. Okay, so
Henrique Santana de Miranda 6:59
your life did get better?
Rolf Suurd 7:00
Yeah. But I never used the app. But But the point is that, you know, everyone and everything seems to think nowadays that they need an app, I guess, even as like, even if the added value might be negative, even if it sucks
Henrique Santana de Miranda 7:16
I do have to admit when I went to Japan, and I actually tried their warm toilets with water and music, and thing is one of the coolest toilets I have ever been alive. So I think technology that actually helped quite a lot.
Rolf Suurd 7:28
Okay. That sounds pretty cool. So to switch the focus away from toilets back to back to it, I guess, because, you know, due to our background, this this episode of roasting marshmallows, we'll we'll focus more on the software side of it, you know, because I guess technology, you can also, you know, refer to it as hardware and like devices and all that kind of stuff. But like we mostly know software. So that's what we're going to be focusing on. And I don't know, maybe you guys do have maybe some some examples of when, you know, the it or the software side of things, is considered a problem by companies. But actually, you know, it isn't or like what could be conceived problems in it. So as we haven't we have an example.
Silvester van der Bijl 8:18
While I was actually just thinking about what you said about the dose application that made me think about, actually my first, let's call it job, where I had to help set up a system like that. And I think it was really the people loved using it because it was kind of like this technical production company, right? Yes, we had these big mechanical keyboards. Well, the old guy, you know them, right? Bam, bam, and it worked. And at some point, and I think the supplier said was exact. They said, Yeah, but we're moving into new territory, right, and everyone is now using Windows. So you got to use the windows edition. And I seem to remember a lot of people being frustrated, because now they have to use this mouse pointer and then click in the first input field, then start typing and then repeating the process because all the shortcuts are long work. So it made me think about your example.
Rolf Suurd 9:07
Yesterday actually upgraded to new technology, but it made their life worse.
Silvester van der Bijl 9:11
Yeah, way worse. And it also felt slower. That's weird, right? Because the DOS screens they refreshed while like magic. And so all these things slipping by you couldn't really read them at work. And we think that's actually why windows at some point implemented progress bar, something moving. So you have the illusion of speed.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 9:27
Or are just a feedback that something is happening.
Rolf Suurd 9:31
Yeah. Well, to me, though, like, for example, when I'm at the doctor, and I see the doctor using like an ancient old programme, I was kind of worried about, you know, maybe not having certain security measures in place or something because it feels like there has not been any development done to that probe, which like is just like it's a judgement call that I make basically on the UI, right? So I have no idea. But because it looks so old, I assume that it just doesn't get maintained anymore, and then I'm counting Worrying like, you know, is my medical data saved here? You know, is it also like super old stuff where, you know, hackers can maybe easily get to it or not like, is it encrypted? You know, all that kind of stuff? So, what do you guys think about that? Like, you know, if all it stuff works, like don't touch it, or you need to keep updating it? And if so, yeah, I mean, there can be huge problems, right, with everything maintaining old stuff.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 10:26
Yeah, I think touching an important point, right, like security. So I definitely have the same bias of like, say, if I look at the UI, and I say, Oh, that looks nice, then it's probably well, well developed, or the English actually had like a nicer designer. But I think, knowing I'm also like, I have a developer background, right. So I actually think those old systems, they are probably very unsafe, and I am totally with you is a weird judgement call, but is, in the end, I think they should be constantly at least updated to the point that keeps them safe, but I think they are not. And I think that's why we should as let's say, companies, or like, developers thinking of it as well on how to make sure that if this is going to live for pretty long, and that's the idea of software, right, that it can live really long, we need to find a way to keep improving the security part of the product. What is really hard, I think.
Silvester van der Bijl 11:25
I think that's an interesting point you you're making, because it's actually not just about building the product anymore, right? Like it used to be, it's kind of like, okay, you're assembling the team. And they are responsible for maintaining it and making sure it connects with users. And yes, it should be secure and encrypted, and all that stuff. But I don't think that's how things used to work. And actually, I think a lot of the projects that we're facing, right are kind of like the legacy systems, they still stem from that kind of line of thinking maybe.
Rolf Suurd 11:56
But then it's interesting, because like, we're talking old software here. But that doesn't mean the episode is about that it isn't the problem, because the problem probably isn't to develop something new and modern. Right. So why? Why is it so hard to upgrade the systems to something new? Because it's it probably is never a technological problem? Yes. It's always like a procedural thing, right? Or like,
Silvester van der Bijl 12:22
it actually starts with why are you doing it? I use simply replacing technology with technology because of technology. And I don't think it makes any sense.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 12:33
I think, like, so I worked in this project in the past, where they wanted to revamp the technology in the head technology already. So they had systems in place. But they wanted to go to this call new trend microservice architecture, it has to be high scalable, and has to be all the nice buzzwords that there is currently in the market. And in the end, they hire a lot of people, I think when I was one of the first ones that he started there, and I think we hired about, like 25 extra people. So we had like three teams out of like, the blue. And basically, there was not really a direction to go. So everybody said, I think we are too many, you know, you have to scale down and actually see what is the point of the old days. Yeah. And then in the end, we work for a year, and we got nothing delivered, like absolutely nothing. And so I think in that case is and then they blame it right? It does not deliver. But I think it's a lack of direction of product of business, what they are trying to achieve, and what they just thinking about the scale on about how like big it should be and how modern it should be, but in the end is like nice selling to get like how to say some certification or prices, but then yeah, and then they blame it. So I don't think it is the issue here or at least not in that case.
Rolf Suurd 13:52
Okay. So and why do you think it's so hard for you know, for the business to really come with a vision because like technology because you guys could even start from scratch, right? Like a Greenfield project? Maybe Maybe you have to integrate some stuff here and there. But like why is it so hard to set a vision and adult on the horizon for everyone to work towards?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 14:14
I think they believe because we had this discussion a few times in the comparison always comes like but this is just like building a house building a church building a shopping mall, right? Like I'm saying I wanted this big thing that 1000s of people gonna come just build it for me. And then they think that's how it works. And I think that's the main problem until they are seeing a softer as as building a bridge or church or huge building. Then this problem is always going to be there because they're going to just say here's the constructor guys make it happen. And that's what the main flaw in my opinion becomes between this IT and business friction.
Rolf Suurd 14:52
Yeah. And let's say you know, the business guy say like, oh, man, it never delivers and you know, see, you know, it History repeats it So how do you break that cycle? Because that, of course, is the million dollar question as opposed. But is there a way for business in it to become friends and actually start working on something great together?
Silvester van der Bijl 15:12
I hope so. Because that's kind of what we do. Right?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 15:16
So So answer the question.
Silvester van der Bijl 15:19
Okay, getting clear on what's the what's the joint goal here, right? It's not about building technology. It's also not telling about telling the IT department what to build. It's about Okay, what do you want to achieve as a business? What outcome are you looking for? And then using technology in order to make that happen as smart as possible? Yeah. And that's also why I think replacing technology with technologies, there is no reason unless it leads to a better outcome for the business as all.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 15:46
I do have a reason, though, like I work also in this project is this big webshop in the Netherlands. And they basically saw that the number of, let's say, mobile users were growing. And the number of things, let's say users buying products was growing quite a lot. And they could see that the technology was not handling, well enough, it was low, it would not be able to basically support all their users in like, a year time. So they had to replace technology with technology to be able to support all those news while growing user base. So I think that's but I agree with you, right? Like that is an outcome based finger, hey, we want to sell more, we wanted to do more, we want to basically give a bad experience. And the way to do that is not that our product is broken is just that it was built in a way that cannot support it. And then for years you've replaced in technology with technology.
Silvester van der Bijl 16:41
Fine, okay, there could be a valid reason. But still, you will do it gradually. Right? At least I assume. But I have also seeing quite a few projects, actually where they Okay, we're going to implement microservices. And if you ask why not have these better scalability. And if you ask why. Yeah, well, we have five users online currently, but we expect a million. And I think your while you're optimising for something useful for you. But there's no point yet.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 17:12
You think you're going to get all these millions of users and become the super like, big night's Netflix? And then in the end, you just wasted a lot of time and money? And maybe your software more complex to maintain?
Rolf Suurd 17:23
And then who, who, because that's kind of like a symptom of over engineering, as opposed when you know, the it says like, Hey, you know, we have to make this in a certain way to be future proof for a future that might never even arrive. But how do you say that? Is that a business driven decision? or Why do Why do these guys make these decisions? You think? Like, do they just want the flashy, cool, new, geeky stuff? or?
Silvester van der Bijl 17:49
Yeah, I think they do. Because, well, if you don't have the shared goal, or the shared, understanding what you're trying to accomplish, accomplish as a company, I think you're not optimising for your own domain, right? And if technology is your domain, or it is your domain, you're gonna do the best edit. And that's what you're optimised for.
Rolf Suurd 18:07
So if it and business need to band together to make you know, the best solution for the problem, then why does the CTO position even exist? Like should there even be a guy head of technology, then if it's a business thing?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 18:20
Well, so just before I go there, because I have a point of this, I think what's so sad, I think a lot of companies look at it as a cost. thing, rather than like, Oh, this part of the business, and we invest in it and can retrieve, like, we have a big return of investment. So I used to believe that developers was the one, you know, like, the, the technical people, they weren't basically saying, like, hey, I want to build future proofing. But we have had a lot of customers like, including like CEOs, and managers will come to talk to us and say, hey, I want your help to build for me, and help my team to build a future proof technology, you know, like, no. And the question is, what does that even mean? Right, like a future proof technology? And then they said, like, yep, something that I'm going to invest now and I don't have to touch it in the next 10 years. I don't think that exists.
Silvester van der Bijl 19:12
You know, it does. It's called a team that can modify.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 19:17
Yeah, but then that's the thing. I think they come looking from the point of view of like, Okay, I have, I don't know, half million, and I want to basically do this. And I wanted this half million to last for the last 10 years, next 10 years. And I do not have to basically torture the system anymore. But then that's the premise. I think where they come from, right, like is the same as well, basically, when you build a house and they just have some sort of maintenance cost? That is supposed to be low. So I think until they have this concept, I don't think this two sides are ever gonna be able to work together, right? In the sense that's going to be like highly effective.
Rolf Suurd 19:53
So then, what would you suggest then, like build software for the next 10 years and not bother to look be On that or like, what, what should be the scope of the of the future? When you're developing something? Is it like right now? Is it the current sprint? Is it? I don't know, the roadmap.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 20:10
I think it should be what you've actually said, like you build a team. And then you say, guys, we have this business problem. And maybe software is not the solution. It might be for most of the of the work, but then might not be software either. So you let them decide what is the best solution for that problem? Sometimes it's just sending an email sometimes it's great. In other say, like a forum, you know, that senders? questionary? Sometimes it's actually create an app? I don't know. But I think that they should look at it from the point of view, let's let's invest in a team that's going to solve this part of legacy our business problems, and then see how they out they do that. But I yes, I do believe that software is very much now we everything we do. So I think it would be very tricky, not be able to, like have a team like this and have no developer in it. I don't think that also would work very well.
Rolf Suurd 21:03
Right. Right. And I thought it was interesting, where you said like, you know, sometimes we have to replace technology with technology. But at, you know, the webshop that you mentioned, but then it's it's a business driven decision as well. Right? Yes. And so replacing technology with technology can be a business decision. But sometimes it might also be because super old technology, you know, phases out out of support, right? Like, I don't know, you have like a really old mainframe, maybe somewhere, and it's super, super costly, and you need to replace it. You know, vendor lock in might be a real problem. So then I guess it can really be the problem. Right? Is that an IT problem? Or is that also a business problem?
Silvester van der Bijl 21:54
Or it could be an IT problem? It could be a technology problem. But then I would ask, okay, how is this problem actually came to be in the first place? Right? If you're in, let's say, 2010, I think, right around those timelines where you still have a mainframe running. Why didn't you start working on it earlier to refresh it now? Because the signs were kind of there. Right?
Rolf Suurd 22:16
Yeah. Because we had to build this super important feature.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 22:19
Exactly. And I mean, looking inside is the signs were there. But once you are in that context, I don't think the signs are that clear. But I agree, you should look backwards. But I think the difference here is, yeah, you make a plan. And then eventually, you achieve part of it. And then at some point, like, yeah, there were changes, right? Like, you can be like investing a lot in or like, in an operational system that suddenly the person who was behind pass away, either know, or decided that I no longer want to work this way. And then it moves direction, and then it just gets eaten by luck, or that you have to deal with the consequences. It's about I guess, at the end, but I don't know if there is like a way to avoid those. And I think there is like a study from Amazon about vendor locking. It's a bit for conflict of interest as well, I guess. But it's actually cheaper to reboot it than to actually build something that we don't worry about vendor locking. So every time you make something very generic, you'll basically make it so much more complicated, that becomes so much more expensive than if you actually have to port it to another technology. I think, and I tend to agree with that, even though I have not done a scientific study on it. But
Silvester van der Bijl 23:35
I think that's a great example. I've seen too many places where people start with building some kind of wall, maybe a piece of code, or let's build build this generic. With only one use case. The thing is, while you don't understand that anymore, it doesn't perform well, for the specific situation. You wanted to perform it. It doesn't make sense. Yeah. Right abroad topic today.
Rolf Suurd 23:56
Yeah. Isn't that a famous quote as well, I forgot the name. But like, a lot of problems in software engineering come from trying to make one thing do two things.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 24:06
Yes. Yes. And I think that's when things really goes wrong with while most of the legwork of developers, they always say this, and I always, like, annoys me a lot, you know, like, Yeah, but this might happen in the future, you know, and I'm like, Oh, my God, here we go. Again, the same discussion?
Rolf Suurd 24:26
Well, I mean, developers are really good at predicting the future, right? Because they also need to give estimates, but maybe,
Henrique Santana de Miranda 24:31
Yes, exactly. No.
Silvester van der Bijl 24:38
I am still hung out by this example from the mainframe, though, right? So why? Because for some reason, the mainframe didn't become important enough to actually phase out right. So apparently, it was supporting a business process that didn't really matter. Right. So and at some point, it becomes important. So how is then technology the problem there?
Rolf Suurd 24:59
So the problem becomes because like, maybe the mainframe was super reliable, and it just worked. And people say, like, Hey, you know, this, this, this piece is here, it's working, let's not touch it, let's focus on new stuff. And then maybe you come at one point where, I don't know, like a part in a mainframe broke. And now all of a sudden, he won't start anymore, right? Because it's, you know, 35 years old or whatever. And then you have to replace it. And then it's, and then it's an actual technical technology problem, technological problem to, to actually, you know, either get the thing working again, or change the software so that it doesn't need the mainframe anymore. Maybe you need to salvage some data, I don't know. But then you have to
Henrique Santana de Miranda 25:43
And also, on top of that, the expertise of people gets more expensive, because people are moving on to new technologies. And then the old one, basically has less people. So you have like, another problem to solve?
Rolf Suurd 25:55
Yeah. So then you have a real technological problem on your hands that you need to solve, which isn't like, kind of business driven, because it's driven because the technology actually just breaks down on you.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 26:06
Yeah. But then is it it is business driven, right, there is a risk that you decided to take.
Rolf Suurd 26:13
So every year when you decide not to updateyour technology, you're increasing your risk? Wow, that's an interesting viewpoint. Yeah.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 26:21
I mean, is the same as like every year that you decided to keep on healthy, not exercising, not doing anything to your body is a risk to take for the future. Right. So it's like, I think in the end, it is a is a choice that the business make it? And the question is like, do they understand this risk? And I think that's the part that they don't at least some of them
Rolf Suurd 26:41
And who do you say least explain the risk to them, then is that the IT department, then?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 26:45
I think that's your CTO role that you asked before? I'd like what is the role of a CTO I think, in a way he, he needs to build this gap.
Silvester van der Bijl 26:56
I'm being a bit idealistic today. We're saying business and it and I think that's actually the problem we keep running into, that's a real problem here.
Rolf Suurd 27:06
Can you can elaborate?
Silvester van der Bijl 27:08
Well, is it the business decision? I don't know. If it is part of the of the business, which it is, then yes. But it's a joint decision, right? You're trying to accomplish something? Is the mainframe getting in the way? fix it? Okay.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 27:22
Fix it? What does that mean? fix it?
Silvester van der Bijl 27:24
I don't know, replace the functionality, piece by piece, get rid of the critical processes running there, make sure you have a backup process could mean anything.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 27:32
Now, you're touching a part of like, we assuming that they know how to do that. Right? Like, is there? How to say, like required skills? Or because for me, then it becomes a problem again, right? Because like, that's what we hear all the time, like a CEO come to us, I need your help. My IT team doesn't deliver. And then it's like, Is that an IT problem? Like in the sense of like what you were describing, people just don't have maybe the expertise how to do what you're describing? Is because a company has no direction? I thought that's the part that is tricky.
Silvester van der Bijl 28:08
I have a few mainframe examples from my career. I don't think in all cases, people were very aware of the risk of running those things. Right and find people well, I was in the IT department. So it people, okay. And for some reason, it doesn't become important. Maybe that's because we're thinking still in projects. Right? Okay. So we have a project to build feature x final product x. And yet it didn't include fixing the mainframe dependency.
Rolf Suurd 28:37
So then goes off. Right? But But then, like, there's the technological problem. But you're saying that there is a deeper problem laying underneath that because basically, by the time that you have the technological challenge in order to replace the mainframe, or whatever problem it is that you're that you need to tackle, but you're saying like that, this could have been prevented if it has been not attacked, like not an IT problem, but more like a company wide strategy thing.
Silvester van der Bijl 29:06
Yeah, or how it's organised. And like I said, I'm I'm being a bit idealistic, but right, if you have a team that's working towards a business outcome, and they're using technology to scale it in some way. And if they're working on a mainframe, at some point, it will become an impediment for them. So they will start will start working it out of the way. And I think most of the examples, at least I have, it's more, okay, we're gonna replace this functionality fine, but there's no thinking about the mainframe, because it's too expensive. It's too risky. We don't know. So just leave that we don't want to expand the scope of this project we're doing, right.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 29:43
But that's also makes sense, right? I mean, it's a little fear. Well, I think it does. If you have let's say I'm airline running this big mainframes. Were flights going like cross the globe and like moving 1000s of people every day and then try to do such ranges and break the whole thing. And suddenly nobody can fly for 24 hours or even longer. I think it's the I think is a reasonable fear. Yes. reasonable enough to be afraid of touching it? I'm not saying makes sense. But I think it.
Silvester van der Bijl 30:15
I agree with you on that part. But the thing is, if you don't that's it, you know, this is going to happen at some point. It's not.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 30:22
Yeah, but there is not a problem anymore. Maybe nobody's done.
Silvester van der Bijl 30:26
So it's not a technology problem.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 30:30
Yeah, so the technology is just a symptom in this case.
Silvester van der Bijl 30:33
Yeah. I think so. I think actually, in most cases, this we also have a lot of situations where we encounter legacy software, a team that's not able to deliver anymore, right. And then that's the typical question is my IT team doesn't deliver, fix it? Well, I think it starts with asking the question, how did this legacy actually came to be? And it probably also has to be okay, how are you? What are the responsibilities or accountability of the team? Who's actually working on it? Are they responsible for the business outcome? Or are they responsible for producing the new features? And I think that's where a start. And as one of those topics we're gonna agree against. So that's why there's,
Henrique Santana de Miranda 31:17
yeah, I think we definitely gonna agree with it. Because it's like we see all the time. And I think that's one of also the big frustrations right now our line of work is that we come and then we just see this huge JIRA ticket explaining everything, what the developer has to do. And then in the end, they do exactly or close to what is written there, and the customer doesn't want. And then in the end, the IT department gets to blame again, you know, where in the end, the problem was never there, like, Okay, how to solve this problem, and then figured out the best way to solve it. And I think, yeah, they remove the power of the people to actually figure it out. And then I think, in a way is my biggest frustration, when I constantly hear every customer go in, they say it does not deliver. And then we ask, okay, what have you tried, and they just keep pushing down as much harder as they possibly can, hoping that the outcome is going to be different. But the problem just keeps getting bigger. And yeah, let's take one,
Rolf Suurd 32:17
but what if your IT departments like let's say it in business is super aligned together? But what if the IT department just the only has, I don't know, you know, junior developers who just don't have the experience to to go, you know, even if you can do a Greenfield project, they may or may not have the experience or the ability to architect something that will work out? Very well, at least then is done. Maybe it a problem?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 32:40
Silvester van der Bijl 32:40
Henrique Santana de Miranda 32:41
Of course, it's competence and competence in this field that we are talking about here is an IT competence. So background of software development. So that means yes, it is a problem. The same ways would be if you have a bunch of let's say, senior software engineers, and your commercial side business side is a bunch of 18 years old, who just, you know, get out of high school, and then they are pretty Junior on it. Yeah, the chance that this is not going to work is I think, pretty high.
Rolf Suurd 33:09
degree This is interesting.
Silvester van der Bijl 33:11
How is this a technology problem who decided to hire only junior developers.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 33:15
I'm saying is, is an IT related problem is like we're talking about competence on the IT industry, right? So like, we're talking about software developers who don't have the experience to pull it off.
Silvester van der Bijl 33:27
Fine, but still, who hire those people who decided to start a project with them?
Rolf Suurd 33:33
Or maybe maybe it's someone who just came out of university decided I want to start my own business. Maybe the development team is the actual CTO.
Silvester van der Bijl 33:42
Okay? Yeah. Yeah, so that's it problem. But maybe it's me,
Rolf Suurd 33:48
Maybe there's a budget issue, like, Oh, I can only afford to hire these Junior. Yeah, the junior people.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 33:53
I mean, I've been an environment that myself, that was my first job, like, the guy hired 11, juniors, I was basically my first month of university. I barely knew how to write a for loop. And I had another 11 peers like me on the same boat. And it was like, Yeah, for the word, but like a shit show. Like the amount of crap code we actually produced per minute was like, pretty high, you know? And then in the end, the software might still be run some government somewhere. And I think in that case, it was a symptoms of the problem. But yes, I can agree with the veteran there. That the problem was like he only hired the cheapest labour he could possibly get. Yeah.
Silvester van der Bijl 34:38
And right. And that's how IT problem if you get the cheapest labour in whatever your business does. You're not going to get the experience you want to. Yeah. And so this is not the it problem.
Rolf Suurd 34:50
You pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Yeah,
Henrique Santana de Miranda 34:53
I think you're right.
Silvester van der Bijl 34:57
Mark this occasion in a podcast. Oh briliant.
Rolf Suurd 35:01
But is there not a single example to give where it is? The fuck is the actual problem? Sorry, excuse my words there. There has there has to be an example where like, okay, these it guys, man, you know?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 35:14
Yes, I think that is I think there is a combinations of RSA. Like I worked in a team that over engineered everything. And the your seniors as well, I was part of it as well. And we did definitely over engineer everything that was not per se, aligned to business outcome. And what I meant by this is that every single time, they would come would say, Hey, we need to refactor this, hey, we need to refactor this. And we push them back in every new functionality. And looking at, like, say, backwards. It was mostly our ego, right, like CV building, like, Oh, we need to do this new technology, because the market is moving that way. But there was not really any reason for it. And on the on the idea of like, say, having business it side, while the business was basically supporting us, okay, if you can say that, let's do them. No one on these decisions now, because they did not know and they trusted us to be the better judgement. So I think, yeah, I think we are the problem there.
Rolf Suurd 36:19
Silvester van der Bijl 36:20
Okay. But I have to ask, you said okay, wasn't really optimised to a business outcome. Did you know The business outcome?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 36:28
Not per se. I mean, we knew that we had to deliver a few functionalities, but not per se, what the outcome was? No, of course we outcome was get more customers, but not much. Not much more than that.
Silvester van der Bijl 36:40
And did you see what impact your work had on getting more knobs?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 36:44
Silvester van der Bijl 36:45
Is it then an IT problem?
Rolf Suurd 36:49
So you guys were isolated from the rest of the organisation, then?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 36:53
Well, I'm not precise with the things the way how I can see this is an IT problem is that we could actually have, we should have highlighted all that right? Like, what is the outcome of this? Why are we doing this? You know, like, what do we you know, then we can base our decisions. But all our decisions was based mostly internal, on the team, thinking about this product that we wanted to hold and about ourselves, not. But I yeah, so I guess you have a point again, if maybe all of those things are clear, we will not have to take those decisions. That's what you're trying to say.
Silvester van der Bijl 37:28
So what I'm trying to say is, of course, the technology is any problem, right? You build features and stuff that's not going to be used or right. Well, it's beautiful Gulf but it doesn't really have a burgers. But I think in the end, it's an organisation problem is still business. And it if you're working together on something that you both understand, then this shouldn't happen, I think. So it's not per se the technology. That's the problem there.
Rolf Suurd 37:54
Yeah, well, IT in this case, then I suppose.
Silvester van der Bijl 37:57
I'm really wondering about the comments on this episode, actually.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 38:00
Now we're like, okay, so I remember watching this episode of Uncle Bob, where he talks about this company who bankrupt because of crap code. So don't you think if you actually have people that write a lot of crap code, they can actually break the company down?
Silvester van der Bijl 38:15
Of course they can. And I know, in the end technology can be a problem for the company. I am just saying, or usually it's not, maybe that's what I'm trying to say? It's a symptom, right? It's not the cause.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 38:24
Yeah, it's a symptom. Yeah.
Silvester van der Bijl 38:25
And we had a lot of clients that are facing legacy software unable to produce anything anymore. How do you get out of that? Well, starts with increasing your quality, improving the practices, right. That's also where we start. But we also end up working towards Okay, what's the bigger fish in here? What are you trying to achieve? Right? And how do we make sure your team actually understands that and figure out a way that they can measure progress?
Rolf Suurd 38:49
And then, once these steps are being taken, have you seen that, you know, the it and the business, you know, start becoming friends again, where they really see like, okay, you know, instead of stop blaming each other, we need to work together. Like, can you turn it around?
Silvester van der Bijl 39:03
Yeah, sure. I think it actually, in most cases I've seen, right, it's it starts by talking. And yeah, it's not that difficult, right?
Henrique Santana de Miranda 39:11
It is actually quite difficult.
Silvester van der Bijl 39:14
Rolf Suurd 39:15
Henrique Santana de Miranda 39:17
If it was easy, we will do it is one of those things that is simple, but not easy. was easy.
Rolf Suurd 39:23
I don't think we would have actually had a half this job. Right.
Silvester van der Bijl 39:26
Exactly. Okay. Okay, maybe maybe it's because of our background then. But right. For me, it starts with talking to actual distance, right, which is also a misnomer in my book, right? Because business is marketing and sales. It's, I don't know, there's, there's lots of people running around there. You start talking, and you start figuring out what people are trying to achieve the frustrations and right well usually end up with someone say, Well, I filed a JIRA ticket two years ago. And it still doesn't work. But it's a real problem for my customers. I think it's Well, learning that then improving it. And by doing that you increase the collaboration and the friendliness, if you will.
Rolf Suurd 40:07
So it's kind of funny, like, because my brother, for example, he sometimes works as a consultant for certain car importers. And he always says, like, yeah, you come to these really nice big buildings. And then, you know, you usually talk to like account managers, or sales and marketing first, and then, you know, you have these nice offices high up, you know, with nice views and, and then, you know, you make a trip down to the IT department, like actually, like, physically, like lower, like, in a basement actually, like super dark everything, like it's a total different world. So do you think, you know, when you say like, yeah, start talking to, you know, maybe people should start working together better as well. Not just maybe talking but also being physically in the same room once Corona allows for it?
Silvester van der Bijl 40:53
Yes. It doesn't even have to be physically on the same room. Alright. I think reminding at work. Yeah. Ideally, they need to work together. I think that's the main thing, right? And in order to work together, you need to have some kind of shared objective. That's it. And I told you, I was writing a word, I'm actually writing about this right now. So that's why it's triggering me today.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 41:12
So you're writing a book now?
No, no, no, no, that's way too much work? Is the technology to do that?
Rolf Suurd 41:18
What are you writing them? is? It's gonna be a long read for the website or something?
Silvester van der Bijl 41:22
No, it's not gonna be a long read. I will tell you about it. I was gonna say in our next meeting, but that's not gonna continue because of your holiday. Yeah. So I will tell you next week. It's going to be great man.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 41:33
Do you all think that is any place that the technology is a problem?
Rolf Suurd 41:39
Yeah, I will, I actually have to kind of agree with you where you have this, like almost aristocrat see of, you know, senior engineers, or just engineers in general, where you have the business that says like, okay, we need to have this and then yeah, you're just going to totally over engineer it, because you have a certain ego, or you want to try out, I don't know, man, I've heard about this cool new technology, I'm going to, I'm going to implement this because I would just want to learn it, rather than saying, like, Hey, this is the best tool for the job. And while I do think that in the end is an organisational problem, as well, because like maybe the culture is kinda kind of wack like that, but still, I think it's the IT department that might be driving these decisions and really pushing it through. So yeah, then for sure, I feel that that that it is an IT problem, and that you might can only fix with maybe putting in some new people there to challenge the way of working there. That might not be something that the business can actually overcome. Because these guys, us or girls usually don't have the technical know how to really challenge these people on those decisions.
Silvester van der Bijl 42:51
I'm pretty sure we can bring in more critical people, right? I know if you if you were if you're looking for them.
Rolf Suurd 42:57
Now, but if you're if you're if you're a senior engineer, right, and like some, some, some CTO or CEO is telling you like, Hey, I heard you guys are going to be using Kafka. But I don't think we need that. You're going to be telling like, dude, you know, mind your business. Right? If you're, if you're, you know, highly high level highly paid senior engineer. So yeah, I don't know, I do feel you need a certain certain type of people to really be able to do that.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 43:24
And then, and then imagine, because I think what he was trying to say now, and I'm gonna predict his mind, is that like, yeah, then the CEO could bring a group of experts to challenge you, you know, and then like, I imagined myself as a senior engineer, you know, like, Oh, so my boss, also, trust me. That's why he is bringing external guys to basically, look at my decisions as a senior engineer.
Silvester van der Bijl 43:46
No, I wasn't gonna say that. You're wrong on that one. No, I think mostly engineers, right? I said this before, actually. But if if your domain is okay, technology, and you're not sure how it's going to be used, right, or what you're trying to accomplish with the business with the technology, then you can optimise for the technology. That's what you know. Yeah.
Rolf Suurd 44:07
But what if you don't care?
Silvester van der Bijl 44:09
I don't buy that people don't care.
Rolf Suurd 44:11
But let's say let's say you're an engineer.
Silvester van der Bijl 44:12
And if you don't care, what are you doing there?
Rolf Suurd 44:16
Now, let's say you work but but let's say you're an engineer, and you join a company, because you know, the tech stack seems cool. But the business is like, Yeah, whatever. You know, these guys, I don't know, they sell model trains. I don't care about model trains, but the technology stack that they weren't that are pushing is pretty cool. If that motivates you?
Silvester van der Bijl 44:34
Rolf Suurd 44:35
Stuff like that happens. Right?
Silvester van der Bijl 44:38
Maybe, but then you better get your motivation from somewhere else and your work. Because you're building technology that's basically not going to be used.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 44:46
While there is a hope that is going to be used as a pilot, but as a whole thing, like that's when the problem is this. Like, I encountered them. I was one of them at some point in my career. I love the technology. I want to improve the technology. Want to improve my craft? I did not care per se about the business because maybe it was not visible. Maybe I was just immature, maybe there is like a lot of reasons for it. But the point is, there is still at some point in time in the career of a developer that they just want to build. And they actually don't really looking forward to like, Oh, yes, I'm helping somebody. Sometimes. Yes, sometimes not. So I think that yes, I still think that can be an IT problem is like, somehow, like a general behaviour? You know, I don't know, like, a lot of them have them.
Silvester van der Bijl 45:35
But I think it's a symptom.
Rolf Suurd 45:36
But yeah, in general, I do. I do agree that like, 99% of the time, it's it's an organisational thing or a business thing, or, you know, the
Silvester van der Bijl 45:45
organisation that I'll go with, right? Yeah,
Henrique Santana de Miranda 45:48
yeah. Yeah. organisation? Yes. Okay. We can agree on that. Yeah.
Rolf Suurd 45:54
So, you know, symptoms, they, you know, they tend to come out, and is it hard to really find the underlying problem, you think? Because it's easy to say like, Oh, it's an organisational problem, but that's super broad. Right. Like, it's, I think it's kind of hard to pinpoint, like, Where, where is the pain? Is it like, these are the specific individual? Is it maybe certain rules and regulations that the company applies to their, to their employees? Like, I don't think there's one.
Henrique Santana de Miranda 46:21
But I think as these tried and find out what the problem is, I think it's hard to fix it. Right? But I think it always goes goes back to like, why are we doing this? And then in the end, if we get no answer, then yeah, here is the problem, you are doing something that you don't know what you're doing. And then then you're gonna basically have a lot of people go in different directions, hoping to achieve whatever it is for them. But he knows how to go around to make that change. I think that that then are much more broader discussion.
Rolf Suurd 46:52
Silvester van der Bijl 46:52
There's gonna be a few podcasts, by itself,
Rolf Suurd 46:56
that we actually have that we actually have one of those episodes, right, like building a dream team. I think that's that's step one, right to get to get the team all aligned on the same page and being able to talk to each other live beside of the team, maybe, but like, the team itself should definitely be earlier than yesterday.
Silvester van der Bijl 47:14
I think it starts with actually the discussion, who's on that team there. And that requires an organisational change and different organisation on how, what is the team actually trying to achieve?
Rolf Suurd 47:25
Henrique Santana de Miranda 47:26
But then doesn't start with who is in the team, it starts, what are we trying to achieve?
Rolf Suurd 47:30
Yeah. And then talking about the team. We also have this assessment, right, I'm doing your sales bits in between where we are. Now we start with asking the questions. Okay. What is the fishing? Or why are we doing this? Right. And we, we tend to get nine different answers. If we asked 10 different people. I think that's where it's at.
Yeah, all right.
Well, I think we've, we've talked a lot about the subject. I think we could go on for quite some more time, I think. But we might end up going in circles. I don't know if you guys have anything more to add anything to ask to each other, or to me, or to I'm just gonna make a statement.
Silvester van der Bijl 48:12
I've got to say technology never is the problem. It might be a symptom, though. Okay. Yeah,
Henrique Santana de Miranda 48:17
I agree with you. I think technology is never the problem. But I think it is a symptom. And I think it is a symptom that people actually treat. And they waste too much time treating the symptom in the wrong way, and not actually fixing the problem. So I agree with you, 100%. For the first time.
Silvester van der Bijl 48:36
This is a day first, man.
Rolf Suurd 48:38
It's on tape. It's on tape.
Silvester van der Bijl 48:42
Well, now we have a technology problem.
Rolf Suurd 48:45
Yeah, and I also think that usually technology isn't isn't the problem. I do think that sometimes we want to apply technology to everything where it might not actually be needed all the time. You know, I think one of the examples that we all give a lot of the times is well, why not just start with like a Google forum somewhere to, you know, to see if this idea that you have actually has merits. So I think we do need to be careful when we start developing technology or to start applying it. But other than that, I also Yeah, I actually agree with you guys.
Silvester van der Bijl 49:18
And that doesn't mean the symptom we need to set out again, the symptom cannot be very disastrous for a business, right? If technology isn't performing like you wanted to be the business can indeed be, well,
Henrique Santana de Miranda 49:31
sure, but then don't fix the symptoms. Go to the problem, because you don't want your problem. So treat the symptoms. Sure.
Rolf Suurd 49:39
Yes. Cool. All right. And so the listener, what do you think? Do you think technology is a problem? Does your IT department not deliver behind? Do they suck? Maybe? I don't know. I hope not. I don't think so. But yeah, let us know how you feel. And if you think that we can help for sure, drop us a line and if you have a nice example of when Now it was actual the problem, we would love to hear about it. So we can maybe challenge you a bit on that notion. Send us an email at podcast at for scouts.nl. Or send us a Tweet at for scouts, or maybe even send us a voice message on anchor. You can go to the link anchor.fm slash for scouts and hit the message button to send us a nice voice message. We would love to hear from you. I'd like to thank my guests he can. Sylvester thank you very much for joining me.
Silvester van der Bijl 50:27
Thank you again.
Rolf Suurd 50:29
Yep, for sure man, and I'll catch you guys on the next one. Bye bye