That is the question!
A week ago I had an interview with a potential new client who owns a startup company that is related to sports activities.
This potential new client, let’s call him Peter, told me about some problems he was having with the developers who were building his web application. One of the problems Peter mentioned was that these developers didn’t know enough about sports, so he asked me about how much we know about it. We talked a bit about people in Argentina (where we live) pays a lot of attention to sports, specially soccer. We don’t watch much American football, but we do have rugby which has some similarities. Some other sports are also important, tennis and boxing on the individual sports, and basketball, volleyball, female hockey and some others on the team sports. I don’t think many people over here play or watch baseball, another important American sport, but there are quite a lot NBA fans each with their favorite team or player. Of course we had to mention that generally speaking developers are not the most sporty people, although that we play soccer with the guys in the office, maybe 15-20% of our staff doesn’t care about sports at all.
After I finished the call with Peter, I kept thinking about our conversation and there was something about my answer to his question that didn’t feel quite right. I started to think about other kind of projects we had worked for. We developed software for the healthcare industry; manufacturing (a piping company for the energy industry); banking and finance; restaurants and fast foods; and legal among other industries. We even did a project for the aerospace industry! It was a web console to communicate from ground with a new kind of nano-satellites manufactured by an Argentinean startup company1. I am almost sure we knew little or maybe nothing about these industries before we got engaged on those projects, so I asked to myself why we were able to work on all those different things and be successful without knowing much about them beforehand.
The answer I found is quite simple: we care about what we do. As soon as we see a new opportunity, even before we get started, we google and search about its business. We have tons of meetings and we communicate as much as we can with the business experts: we listen to them, but more than just listening we ask them every small or big question that cross our mind and we keep asking them until we feel comfortable that we have reached the understanding we need about what we are building.
To the entrepreneurs or head of development or anyone who is looking for hiring a software developer or contracting a software development firm: do not go out and look for domain experts on your business, rather go and look for people who love what they do and put all their effort and passion on their daily work. You don’t need someone who knows about sports, all you need is developers who care for what they do. That is the answer!