“It’s different every day. There’s always a new challenge to tackle.”

This is my most common response when somebody asks what I love most about my job. I’m passionate about solving the intricate puzzles that come with web and mobile app development. Early on when we started 14 Oranges, I realized that to be successful, we would need to ensure our team not only had the technical chops to solve challenging problems, but also shared that passion for problem-solving and continuous learning.

We’ve built a team of individuals with strong communication, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities so we can deliver high-quality solutions, even when facing the toughest challenges.

The Importance of the Right Team

When building our team, we look beyond resumes and technical certifications. We look for individuals who can communicate effectively, work well in collaborative environments, and approach problems with creativity and determination. We prioritize:

  • Understanding Customer Priorities: We work closely with our customers to understand their priorities, whether it’s budget, timeline, or features. These priorities often become the constraints that lead our team to innovative problem-solving. If a client has all the time and money in the world to build something simple, our job is pretty easy. Safe to say, that never happens. The reality is that the client has a restricted budget or timeline, and that’s when we start thinking outside the box to meet their needs.
  • Communication: Clear and open communication is essential in software development. It ensures everyone, from developers to stakeholders, is on the same page and can collaborate effectively.
  • Collaboration: A team that works well together can overcome any obstacle. We foster an environment where no question is too small and no idea is dismissed without consideration.
  • Problem-Solving Aptitude: Technical challenges are a given in our field. However, the ability to approach these challenges logically and creatively sets our team apart.

We use tools like Trello, Google Chat and Spaces to facilitate communication. Fogbugz helps us with project management and bug and issue tracking. Regular meetings and an open, collaborative environment enable our team to tackle any challenge cohesively. These meetings also help with the “cross-pollination” of ideas from one developer to another. It’s not uncommon that something we learn on one project ends up helping us solve a challenge on a future project.

Our approach to real-time problem-solving involves:

  • Good Requirements and Design Thinking: Starting with clear requirements and thoughtful design discussions.
  • Comprehensive Issue Assessment: Gathering all necessary information (logs, use cases, diagrams) to assess problems accurately.
  • Experience and Expertise: Leaning on our team’s extensive experience to navigate and resolve issues efficiently.

Navigating Complex Development Challenges

With the right team, processes and tools in place, complex projects are exciting and invigorating rather than stressful or overwhelming. Whether it’s working on something we’ve never done before or working within a brand new set of constraints, we have a team of folks who are excited to dive in. The best way to understand our approach is by looking at some of our case studies:

Columbia University COVID Screening App

We worked with Columbia University to develop their COVID-19 Screening app, which involved integrating machine learning to screen covid tests with speed and accuracy. This project posed several technical hurdles:

  • Machine Learning Integration: Balancing accurate predictions with app performance.
  • Budget and Timeline Constraints: Delivering a functional product within strict parameters.

Through continuous communication with Columbia University and effective internal collaboration, we aligned our efforts with their needs and stayed on track. Our team’s experience and problem-solving skills were crucial in overcoming these challenges.

Technical Safety BC (TSBC) Star Lite Mobile App

Another complex project was developing an automated view generator for TSBC’s Starlite mobile  application. TSBC is an independent, self-funded organization that oversees the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment across the province of BC. In addition to issuing permits, licences and certificates, TSBC works with industry to reduce safety risks through assessment, education and outreach, enforcement, and research. 

For their Starlite Mobile App, TSBC needed a flexible mechanism to keep the app up to date with the latest rules and regulations without forcing their Safety Officers to constantly update the app. Our approach included:

  • Thorough Planning and Design: Spending time upfront to get the requirements and design right.
  • Iterative Testing and Feedback: Ensuring the solution met user needs and performed well.

Without effective communication and seamless collaboration, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver what TSBC needed.

Innovation Through Challenges

Innovation often emerges from working together to overcome obstacles. For example, our automated view generator project for TSBC not only met the client’s needs but also showcased an innovative approach to dynamic data presentation. While one developer on their own may have come up with a viable solution using just their technical expertise, this innovative approach was only possible through collaborative efforts and creative problem-solving skills.

Staying Agile and Adaptable

The ever-changing landscape of web and mobile technologies demands flexibility. Staying agile and adaptable goes back to our hiring philosophy. 

  • We hire for attitude and aptitude: we hire individuals with the right mindset and train them appropriately.
  • We’re focused on continuous learning: weekly developer meetings cover new technologies, techniques, and problem-solving strategies, keeping our team updated and flexible.

Resolving complex development challenges is a multifaceted effort. While technical skills are essential, the heart of our success lies in the personal qualities of our team members. By hiring individuals who excel in communication, collaboration, and problem-solving, we make sure we can deliver innovative and high-quality solutions, no matter how challenging the project.

If your business is facing a complex web or mobile app challenge you think 14 Oranges could help support you in solving, get in touch today. Our team can help.

Sylvain Marcotte is CEO and President of 14 Oranges.

Troubleshooting in Web and Mobile Development: How Effective Team Dynamics Lead to Success