BUILDING TECH THAT BUILDS A NATION
As a young democracy, South Africa is still very focused on nation-building, and the IT world is destined to play a huge role in making this a country where problems can be clearly identified and tackled and the lives of its citizens made just that little bit easier. There are three things that all systems builders and developers must bear in mind in order to play their part, says Mike Steyn, Operations Director of Aspire Solutions. ‘Build software to make people’s lives better, make sure you’re on the end of the phone when things go wrong, and remember to step back and look at all you achieved to solve the nation’s problems!’
South Africa and the African continent are unique in respect of these solutions needed to fulfil our aspirations, and developers are compelled to adopt a much wider perspective when creating software that is guaranteed to accelerate transformation.
So what does that wider perspective entail, and why is it so important for creating effective solutions?
First and foremost, when embarking on any project it is crucial that you identify the problem that needs solving and that your solution is of practical benefit. Software just for software’s sake is a pitfall we must all avoid, especially in a country where we face so many daily challenges – challenges you can help to solve. If you aim to improve lives, and not just show off your skills, you’re already halfway to a great solution.
Another issue to remember is that it is not only your job to build a solution, but also to provide support for that solution. You might have created a game-changing system, but it will be totally worthless if nobody is able to use it. There must be a structure in place that users can turn to when they get stuck or when things go wrong, and that structure must be equipped to resolve issues at lightning pace. And if the system does go down, make sure everybody knows you’re working hard to get it up and running again. Users must know how hard you are working to keep them happy.
Yet another part of that wider perspective involves being resilient, both personally and as a company. It is a sad truth that you will rarely be praised when things are going according to plan, but will be drowning in complaints if issues arise. ‘You don’t get the pats on the back when things are working, but you get the kick in the pants when things are not working,’ says Mike. ‘Acknowledge your own successes and look at what you’ve achieved in terms of solving a nation’s problems. And celebrate that!’
Whether we’re building systems or building nations, true success always lies in finding the right solutions, making sure those solutions stay on course and taking a step back to enjoy the fruits of our labour.