It's All About People ...and Software

Relocare - It's All About People ...and Software

A company based on human interaction and relationships - becomes a software company

Relocare is a Danish company founded in 2007 specialized in providing services of relocation, taxation, global mobility, as well as culture and competence training.

Companies and corporations utilize Relocare when they need to relocate employees and new recruits to work in Denmark. Relocare is a one-stop shop, they have have handlers at all levels; Experts in EU and international mobility legislation, taxation experts, and most importantly on-site workers who will welcome and help the relocated employees and their families to settle in Denmark. They provide housing, residence permits, schools, insurance, NemID, social security, bank accounts, expat communities.

Profound market insight becomes as successful app

Relocare was naturally engaged in handling A1 applications for their clients. (A1 applications are required by posted workers in EU to maintain their social security rights when travelling between countries). A1 applications are notoriously known as a cumbersome and error prone process - with potentially large fines to companies if their employees get it wrong.

Without having any prior professional insight in developing software Relocare saw the opportunities in developing an administrative back-end system with smartphone apps on top, that would help companies and corporations to handle, register and automatically fill out A1 applications for all their travelling employees. The accompanying smartphone app would register when a user’s location shifts to a different EU country and then pop-up a reminder to sort out A1 applications properly.

Simply a must-have app for all corporations with employees travelling a lot.

Relocare chose to partner up with a software development bureau, who offered to develop the app with multiple intermediate releases in a total timespan of roughly six months. At a discounted fixed price - in return of a cut of the future revenue.

In October 2020 - when I was introduced to Relocare - the development runway was ending and the relases was delayed. Relocare wanted the application to become self-managed inside Relocare’s own organization.

I took the role as Interim CTO.

Social Security AppRelocare's Social Security App - available on Google Play and Apple's App Store

Over a period og five months I was engaged in Relocare’s Social Security App in the role as Interim CTO. The main goal was to establish a competent IT and software division inside Relocare, so they could shift the overall responsibility of quality and well-being af the software from the partner bureau to themselves.

I engaged with the software bureau, talked to project managers and developers, interviewed all stakeholders to establish a full assessment of the situation. I established an agile project setup - kanban style - integrating version control, declarative pipelines and efficient issue handling, that would allow the team to prioritize better and become empowered and self-managed.

I made a shift in focus from continuous feature development to the one milestone that made sense to reach for: The acceptance Test - A toll-gate that was clearly defined in the contract between Relocare and the software bureau which we started planning for.

For a few months we had all hands on deck, defining test cases for the acceptance test. Automating tests, automating infrastructure, automating releases - running the tests over and over again. Essentially minimizing work in progress, finishin one task at a time, only working on issues with high priority. Building an end-user support and ticket platform inside Relocare. Continuously taking small steps in the right direction.

How To get Away With Software

My engagemnet as Interim CTO was on a fixed retainer for five months, based on the estimated workload of merely ten hours per week.

The morale of the story is; "If you're trying to get away with software, be sure to have someone on your team - who knows software."

At some point I initiated and led the negotiations on mutually releasing the two counter-parties from the original contract. The result was that Relocare would take the software as-is and finish it by themselves - and in return, the software bureau would waiver their rights to a part of the revenue bonus that they were contractually entitled to. In the split, Relocare would also employe the tech-lead on the project into their own organization to found and lead Relocare’s own emerging Software R&D department - and essentially become a real software company themselves.

My shift ended with on-boarded the newly hired tech-lead. For about a month the new tech-lead and I had paired overlap, then I stepped down - handing him the reins.

Today the app is on track in the competent hands of the new tech-lead, it’s picking up more and more users.

Case closed.