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Meet Nick Grebenkine – Software development industry after the COVID-19 pandemic

Today we have selected Nick Grebenkine to take his interviewHe is the Founder of Aetsoft.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

To begin with, I’d like to say that since its foundation in 2014, Aetsoft software development company has been acting as an innovative center that creates cutting-edge digital solutions for diverse business goals of digital and non-digital companies throughout the world. To maintain a high level of global operation, we often have distributed teams working on the same project from different time zones. Additionally, sometimes our employees work under their own schedule as long as they succeed in their duty fulfillment under known deadlines.

Thus, our team got used to remote work in the rapidly changing environment long before 2020. In this regard, I should acknowledge that even though the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected all of us as humans, Aetsoft as a company was unexpectedly well-prepared for the day-to-day upsets occurring in global markets because we already knew what to do in the best way possible.

We all switched to remote work and supplied our office facilities with necessary sanitary and antibacterial items to make it maximally protected for those who wished to continue working in the office.

As for the business growth, the harsh-lockdown period in early and mid-2020 passed smoothly for us. By that time we had already signed several new contracts as of 2020, and only a couple of clients wished to freeze their new activities in the R&D phase but to focus more on the modernization of their existing products. In the second half of 2020, when it was clear that life goes on, the frozen activities were put back to the discussion and sent for further development.

We have also developed a blockchain-based solution to help resist the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital Health Passport serves as a digital ID with information about COVID-19 or other tests, vaccinations, and other important medical procedures done to a person. DHP can be installed to medical software providing anti-fraud, failure-free, trustworthy information about personal health. It’s interesting that numerous countries nowadays implement same-concept solutions on the governmental level, although technologically our solutions are different.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

For many years I’ve been doing business in a variety of industries. I’m passionate about trends, ideas, innovation, and new formats, and due to this I never stop exploring new markets. So, in 2014 I founded Aetsoft, a software development company that delivers digital products to its global clients. Evidently, the world of digital has strongly impressed and captured me with its beyond-the-border mindset – isn’t it inspiring when you help thousands of people to solve their problems and create a digital masterpiece? I enjoy the process a lot and always look forward to even greater things to come.

How does your company innovate?

Obviously, there are two types of innovation by origin. Firstly, you should answer: is it you or your client that needs to innovate something? Once you get the answer, you can make up a list of problems you want to solve by this innovation, or what goals you want to achieve. Depending on the list and the answer to the first question, you will have several scenarios of how things would evolve further.

If your client from a supply chain company asks you to solve their legacy problem in logistics management, but they’re tight on budget and time, it would be pretty hard to create something truly innovative since there would be multiple blockers such as limited terms, limited budget meaning fewer people involved into the project, and most efforts would be dedicated to solving the legacy-to-modern upgrade.

On the contrary, when a genius idea strikes your team member, it is you who defines all the variables. In this case, you have no limits to stop your thought, and thus you have space to innovate. As a result, you develop an innovative product that you can further deliver to your client with necessary minor adjustments.

There’s a classic dilemma triangle in Project Management – time, money, and quality. Each parameter influences the result dramatically, so the more of them you limit, the harder is the goal to be achieved. Whatever the variables are, innovations are most achievable when these three parameters allow for more.

Sometimes companies manage to innovate crazy things under unbelievable pressure with no budget at all, but once we want to copy their experience, we should remember that the digital market is joined by hundreds of new competitors daily, and many of them have plenty of budgets to buy the best minds. I assume you need to give a little bit of freedom in technology choice and decision-making if you want to innovate a product someday.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Today most of the Aetsoft team work remotely. About 20% of the headcount still works in the office because it has become a perfect working area for those loving big rooms just for themselves. We continue working with our signed clients; what is more, we have expanded our partnerships for 2021 with them. So I can say that the pandemic helped us get closer to our customers and build an even more trusted relationship with them. Despite the remote work, employees are always welcome to the office and can enjoy the same office perks and benefits as they had had before 2020. We’ve adapted fast, and I think we’ll keep on doing good at it. If not for the lockdowns, I would have invited our clients to our office, just the way we did before the pandemic. So let’s hope for changes to the best soon.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

After years in diverse markets, I cannot name the very one difficult choice taken or lesson learned. To cut it short, the hardest decisions I need to make are usually about people and projects. I love my team so it’s very hard to say goodbye to someone you’ve been working with for years, whatever the reason for leave is. I do my best to always stay friends with all my team members so as to be able to invite them to my team again in the future.

I call a project anything that takes my attention and requires my efforts in the mid and long-term. When an innovation that you believe a masterpiece suddenly fails to succeed, or cannot be reached, or cannot show the expected performance level, it is very difficult to choose to leave the project where it is. In fact, this is what any business person or investor must understand – if you don’t accept the reality that you must stop investing in a plane that would never fly, you risk losing all of your money for nothing but love for your idea. Just stop it, step back, take your time, and try again if you feel so.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

At Aetsoft, we’re experienced in working distributed, so we’ve been prepared for remote work long before 2020. We know everything about cloud services and enjoy working with them, so part of our tools is smartly distributed between cloud services. Besides the tech stack that is different for each project, we use Google office services, Jira, Confluence, and a range of other traditional and brand-new tools for all employees depending on occurring demands. Unlike some companies, we’re open to new ideas so any employee can suggest using any tool they find interesting. If the tool proves to be useful, we can easily apply it to the whole office. As for the distributed teams, guys decide what tool to use and what communication schedule to follow to meet all the deadlines.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Being a digital company, Aetsoft can have new competitors each day depending on the product or service we’re talking about. If we speak about custom software developers, I’d name IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft the biggest competitors in the market. Although these giants have built must-have products, these days the demands get more and more diversified. And this is the point when clients turn from giants to other companies because a corporation requires more time and money to deliver the same quality. When it comes to own product development, there’s a new set of competitors for each product.

Your Final Thoughts

Since I founded Aetsoft in 2014, I have never regretted that decision. At Aetsoft, we’ve already managed to work with companies like DHL, Velocity, Volvo Trucks, ArcelorMittal, and many others. As you can see, these are very different markets, and knowing that you can influence each of these markets is inspirational. I welcome clients from any industry abroad to work with us – I’m sure we have many things to offer.

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