VirtusLab since it was founded in 2010, has been creating various products (according to customer thoughts) and building strong competences in the area of Software Development Efficiency, apart from the typical work on software services. It can be said that R&D ideas have always been present in VirtusLab to build tools that improve the daily work of our programmers. In 2017 due to the fact that we have significantly grown, we had to pack our R&D initiatives in a process to make them transparent for everyone. We set a goal to search for each improvement that can replace manual, repetitive activities that occur during the creation of any IT system/app. Also thanks to our work for top clients, we could participate in building the most demanding solutions, and watch how project methodology looks in very large dev teams, often dispersed.
How to start the R&D project
To launch the R&D initiative, we developed a simple framework that on the one hand was to encourage people to look for interesting ideas (new ones that came out during work or old ones that until now couldn’t be implemented due to lack of time/resources). In addition, we also made the assumption that the originator must come with a pre-thought idea or some initial implementation according to Linus Torvalds’s humorous saying, ‘Talk is cheap. Show me the code’. This has a positive impact on the whole project because if someone does the first phase by themselves, they identify with the project more strongly. So it is not just another project that needs to be done during working hours. In the next phases, VirtusLab sponsors 2 weeks for the implementation of a solid PoC (proof of concept), and if the effect of this phase is satisfactory, we launch a project to build MVP (minimum viable product).
More specific, completing tasks in our R&D teams requires a structured process, which consists of 6 steps:
- Idea – short idea showcase
- R&D session – to get the idea grilled! We believe that R&D should be associated with open discussion
- Research – it allows us to find out if anyone else has already created the idea and reserve the right (technology analysis or market verification)
- Early market validation and PoC – answers the question of whether the product can be done, it also helps us to present the idea to the first customers
- Prototype – a model of the system should allow us to visualize the user experience
R&D in numbers
In the beginning, we encouraged employees to come with any ideas to build awareness of R&D. However, our specialization has clearly shown that teams mainly explored topics in the field of Software Development Efficiency as well as Software Understanding and Software Visualization. Therefore, we decided that exploring these areas would be one of VirtusLab’s more important long-term goals.
During 3 years of VirtusLab’s Research and Development, we’ve been working on:
- 23 ideas (discussed & early work on PoC)
- 5 accepted PoC development
- 4 ideas* formed into full-time projects: Context Buddy, Graph Buddy, Vived, Jenkins-operator
*you can read about these unique solutions in our special blogposts #TeamStories
Growth through innovation
Thanks to the simple framework and intensive R&D sessions we are able to extract the most valuable ideas, design and develop PoC of products and test them in a production environment. Our employee’s research is improving the daily work of our VLteams, the services we are offering to our clients, and contribute to the tech community.