Background

When Apple’s Don Norman became the first person granted a “User Experience Architect” title in the 1990s, the world did not quite understand the value of UX. Fast forward to 2021: Companies from all industries have invested in the development of UX teams, realizing the advantage of a human-centered design process. However, one thing that remains is the disconnect between stakeholders and users throughout the product building process. At Softrams, we constantly work to connect our clients’ goals with end user needs. In this blog, we outline three tried and tested methods to bridge the gap.

Proven methods to connect users and stakeholders:

  1. Summarize the HCD journey succinctly
  2. Align development timelines
  3. Deploy and test rapid prototypes

Articulating the Research Journey

The first step of the UX process is to align the product team and stakeholders with a clear and concise version of the research plan. Our HCD teams ensure the viability of this deliverable by condensing our research into a one-pager. If your stakeholder doesn’t understand your one-pager, they are less likely to engage in the journey.

Aligning Timelines

In the past, product developers often ignored the timing of the UX team’s process. We work closely with our product analysts, project managers, and lead developers to stay aligned by launching routine update meetings. These coworking sessions help build trust and credibility with key stakeholders.

Deploying Rapid Prototypes

Building and testing new ideas is an exciting part of our role. We work closely within our agile teams to build prototypes that help us validate our assumptions.

Conclusion

The most integral element in connecting clients with users is communication. Beyond defining their own goals, stakeholders must be actively looped into the research regarding their target audience and user needs. Alignment is integral to a successful product development process.

 

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

I belong to the first ‘digital native’ generation. As a Gen Z, I do not remember a time where I did not have access to Amazon or Google or was not anticipating the latest Apple smart phone launch. I am part of a generation that was born with technology at our fingertips. My generation has taken to social media, to make careers, to spread awareness, and build an online global community. However, that is not without its consequences.  

Online identity thefts, phishing attempts, ransomware attacks, and much more are at an all-time high. Therefore, Cybersecurity Specialists are needed now more than ever before. My journey into the realm of Cybersecurity was unexpected. While I had always liked the idea of being an Ethical Hacker, a career that I ignorantly equated with the glamorized Hollywood version of the job, I never knew where to begin, how to begin, and if I was even capable of doing it. However, our Security Practice Lead, Bill Jones, and my wonderful Security team at Softrams have made my transition into the world of Cybersecurity, less daunting.  

I would like to share a few tips for Cybersecurity beginners, that I have learned from my month-and-a-half experience of this career. The best way to get started in a new career is to get hands-on experience as soon as possible. Cybersecurity is a broad career field with positions ranging from Penetration Tester, Security Engineer, Cryptographer, to Security Analyst, Cryptanalyst, and Security Consultant. Internships are the best way to decide what career within Cybersecurity you want to pursue.  Here at Softrams, I have been shadowing my fellow team members on their daily tasks. My colleague, Srinivas, took me through how an AppSec is conducted with the Burp suite tool and explained how to report on vulnerabilities, through Bulwark. My other colleague, Nick, went over how security documentation is done and shared his experiences as someone on the policy side of Cybersecurity. These are experiences that I would not have received if it were not for the supportive Softrams work culture. Additionally, in order to supplement my Softrams’ hands-on experiences, I completed an online Certified Ethical Hacking study course. This has given me background knowledge on ethical hacking and has prepared me for the CEH certification that I hope to complete in the future. Studying for such certifications is important as this is a constantly evolving career that requires you to be a flexible and inquisitive. The online educational tool, Burp Suite Academy, can also be used to learn the concepts through interactive labs. 

As helpful as the tips above are, none of this would be as effective without the support of my incredible team. From the lighthearted morning stand-ups to Bill’s encouraging one on ones, from my partnerships with other team members to the company-wide, informative brownbag sessions, I am so amazed by Softrams’ work culture. I have spent a little over a month at Softrams and I have learned so many new concepts, have made connections with each of the team members, and have stepped out of my comfort zone to learn and present a new topic at my own Brown Bag session. My internship, thus far, has been informational, challenging, and exciting. I look forward to performing my own AppSec and reporting it on Bulwark. I look forward to applying this knowledge in the college classroom as I continue my education as a Sophomore at the University of Southern California. I look forward to presenting and learning more advanced concepts in the evolving field of Cybersecurity. I am so grateful for this guidance, here at Softrams, and hope to share many more Cybersecurity experiences with you all in the near future.  

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

We are really excited to announce a new initiative to build the workforce of tomorrow, in partnership with Teaching For Good, that is building a non-profit ed-tech platform. 

Unleash-ED is an initiative by Teaching For Good, supported by forward thinking industry leaders that offers job training and mentoring programs to build skills for the future workforce.

https://www.teachingforgood.org

With this initiative, partnering organizations like Softrams help to:

  • Identify skills of tomorrow
  • Sponsor job ready training programs
  • Offer Mentoring programs and
  • Career Pathways via internships for on-the-job training

We are excited to share that Softrams LLC will be the first launch partner with programs offered in four different tracks to provide opportunities to communities with diverse backgrounds and capabilities.

The following is a list of initial programs to be launched in January 2021, with more programs coming later in the summer. 

  1. Data Engineering 
  2. Full Stack Development 
  3. Human Experience Design 
  4. Product Analysis  and
  5. Product Management

TEACHING FOR GOOD, INC is a non-profit organization based out of Plano TX, USA, that empowers individuals and organizations to teach, train, coach and mentor individuals and communities. It offers a 100% FREE edTech platform to organize one-on-one mentoring sessions, webinars, full duplex video online classrooms and on-demand courses. Organizers of such events can also choose to raise funds for a cause or non-profit of their choice. You can learn more at https://www.teachingforgood.org. 

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD
Deck of cards with Softrams logo

Ts or T-shaped people or T-skilled people, is a metaphor known to be first referenced by Tim Brown, CEO of the revered design firm IDEO, as the best method to assess and build inter-disciplinary teams.

The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one’s own.

I guess, that quote from Wikipedia says it all. If one is serious about agility in their teams or organization, must look for inter-disciplinary teams or many refer to as cross-functional teams. Cross-functional doesn’t mean, as some assume, a person that can do every function in the team, but have a team of people with different functional expertise.

What Ts emphasize is that we should not only look for people with functional expertise, but also have broader understanding and hence appreciation of other functions. So they can trust each other in the group and collaborate towards the goal. Many a times, if you do not appreciate what others are bringing to the table, it is very difficult to build trust and rely on each other. Trust is the key to agile teams, particularly where innovation matters, because you are always venturing in unchartered waters.

We are like building a football team of champions, that play their positions exceptionally well and trust in each other to win the game.

At Softrams, we are consciously striving to build a team. Not a one person army. So, no, we are not looking for unicorns or rock stars that can do every possible thing under the sky. But somebody that is really exceptional at one thing and understand well enough to trust in each other and collaborate with rest of the team on all other aspects.

Here are our ground rules :

  1. We define objectives and specify key skills that are required for a position at hand, as precisely as possible. Often, it will be one key skill and a few related skills.
  2. We believe that what a person learned and did in the past 2–3 years has significant impact and value than what a person learned or did years ago. So, we refrain from asking for experience in our key skills longer than 2–3 years.
  3. Softrams is built on innovation with people that push the boundaries in every direction. The key to this culture is our emphasis on continuous learning and experimentation. So we always look for people that are always learning and trying something. We value your weekend experiment trying to learn a new skill above many other factors.
  4. We love people with strong opinions and those that respect and appreciate the fact that everybody in the team have their own strong opinions. Ideas must win, no matter who brings them up. This is why, we look for Ts that are exceptionally well but also respect others and trust each other.
  5. We do not believe in factory style cubicles. We are not looking to optimize the real estate. We want to make ideas thrive and teams are built and collaboration happen. We have consciously invested and designed our workspaces, to be open, vibrant and make us huddle together anywhere and work.
  6. We always love to know more and ask every single person that is considering joining Softrams team to share their body of work and let that be the focal point of interview to assess (rather than a multi-page resume). If for any reason, it is not possible to share, we ask to do a very simple experiment for about an hour, giving you a chance to showcase your skills, your favorite tools and your approach to solving a problem.

These ground rules help us bring not only the best and brightest in the industry, but also build a team of champions, that trust in each other and work as a team to win.

If you are looking for an opportunity to challenge the status-quo and build human centered digital experiences, we are growing and hiring for our UX, DevOps, Full Stack (Angular / NodeJS) and Cloud teams in Baltimore MD, Leesburg VA, Plano TX or remotely from anywhere in the USA. Checkout for more details https://www.softrams.com/careers

Practice Areas
Softrams – Practice Areas

Have the Ts? Join our Ace Teams at one these vibrant, open and exhilarating collaboration workspaces in Baltimore MD, Leesburg VA or remotely from anywhere in the USA.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD