Often when we first meet people our topic of conversation is what they do for a living. Our lives are centered around how we earn our living and at Vanamco we have an interesting dynamic: we created a browser testing application designed to make developers lives easier and save businesses money. Behind this is our team – driving each other to deliver a better, stronger product and have a good time doing it. Over the coming months we’re going to introduce you to our team and get to know the who and why behind Ghostlab. We’re hoping that through our team, we can provide an open channel of communication – we want to know what you think, how you work, why you work and how we can make it easier for you to use Ghostlab.
Each time we introduce a team member, we’re going also talk about a topic surrounding our values for our team and workplace. As workplaces evolve, move to the cloud and become geographically scattered our attitudes and values must be transparent and clear so the team are consistently working towards achieving their goals. Our clients come from a diverse range of backgrounds and through providing our app and service we have learnt about many different working situations – and we’d love to share some of our insights as much as hearing yours. Given this is our first team post, we’re also going to give you a little background into how Ghostlab came to be.
Ghostlab is the product of Swiss company, Vanamco, based in Zurich. “Vanamco” stands for “vanilla ambient computing”. That’s computing applications and services that are built to work out of the box, use at your home and on the road, and provide you with the information you need in any context. Our skillsets rely around information architecture, responsive design, web engineering and customer satisfaction. We have grown to service clients such as CreditSuisse, RS Technick and Unic, just to name a few. Since launching Ghostlab (and also DeviceLab), the application has been used by major clients such as Bose, R/GA, Lego and Envato. More importantly however, we have been recognised for our work with Ghostlab amongst our industry peers as a quality product and major player in browser testing solutions. Now, we’re still humble! The point we are trying to make is that behind this success and quality application are 1) the customers and 2) our team. We learn from our customers and we develop our products to meet their needs – and now we want to share with you how and why!
This month, Andi Dysart, a front-end developer and self-announced ‘product maker, for lack of a better term’ will talk about his role at Vanamco. Essentially, Andi was a key player in bringing Ghostlab to market. But firstly, let’s begin with one of the key values that underpins the Ghostlab team: efficiency.
Our last blog post was about how a business can save money with in-house browser testing. Ghostlab itself is designed to promote efficiency for businesses by a company that states and upholds a ‘we build rock solid and fast’ mentality. So, it goes without saying that we strive within our team to be efficient. Why? In short, valuing efficiency cultivates the team and teamwork, innovation, accountability (internally and with our customers) and ultimately culminates in the delivery of a great tool we as a team can stand proudly behind. Let’s break it down a little further.
Learning to cooperate together on various tasks reduces workloads for all employees by enabling them to share responsibilities or ideas. Teamwork also reduces the work pressure on each member of the team, which allows them to be thorough in the completion of the projects . In sharing ideas or responsibilities, every employee should have a role that suits their specialization. It’s important to recognise the levels of interest in the project at hand, which positively influences the efficiency or speed of their output in accomplishing the task.
When a task is handed to a well-trained and efficient team, the team’s work pace assures that the task will be completed quickly and accurately. This is most helpful for a product like Ghostlab, where efficient team members from different backgrounds work together. This leads us to a thriving, efficient team capable of delivery as a whole. The result getting to enjoy great customer satisfaction!
— Paul Burgess (@delarge) May 14, 2014
With the team running efficiently, we see the next benefit: room to innovate. Working well together means a comfortable space where people feel encouraged to share their ideas and problem solving skills. Team members become accustomed to processing brainstorming information, and Ghostlab benefits from the variety of suggestions that come from effective teams. There are several reasons why employee proactivity and innovation might contribute to increasing company performance. First, many new businesses are now relatively decentralized and employees need to work without close supervision, not that Ghostlab is, but small teams generally work individually to produce the bulk of their work. Thus, proactive and innovative behaviours are necessary. Secondly, the team knows everything: they know what is going on, what customers want and need, what inefficiencies lie in the system. Without their suggestions, we may ignorantly be relying on potentially outdated products, services and procedures. True innovation can only come from a team with the space to cultivate it. We are proud to have innovation within our team and even prouder that so much of it comes from working as an efficient team.
The actual production of Ghostlab depends on the accountability within our team, because we are accountable to our customers! Accountability drives efficiency – are we all working the best way we can to achieve our common goals? Who is responsible for what and delivering when? When do we need to be delivering these changes to customers and how are we going to do it? These are some common questions that come up in the day-to-day running of an app like Ghostlab. Realising that within our team, our individual responsibilities add up to delivering on our responsibilities to our customers. People are relying on us and our product; for their business, on behalf of their clients and oftentimes for themselves. We are accountable! Again, it’s efficiency that must drive our team to deliver and be accountable: ‘work with attention to detail, but work fast and with purpose – we have people relying on us!’. As the mentality trickles through individuals and through the team we begin to see the benefits in the ultimate result: Ghostlab itself.
Browser Testing Rethought: Delivering a quality product
This is the core of what it is all about. The final delivery of a quality product, with attentive support and ongoing commitment. Efficiency as a value leads to our team being productive, innovative and accountable and that has led us to delivering an application that is productive, innovative and accountable. It’s quite a simple cycle and a simple point, and that’s why it’s good to step outside the walls of your office (virtual or otherwise) and see what values lead your business to where you want it to go. Now, as promised, we chat to Andi – front-end developer, adventurer, product maker and Tweeter of the things like the world’s longest word. Experienced with front end development but able to change hats, Andi now also maintains the websites, documentation and marketing. We asked Andi the quick five questions we’re going to ask all team members we profile:
Longest word in the world: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu — gitmash//andiio (@gitmash) April 16, 2014
What’s your name, how did you come to Vanamco and what is your role?
My name is Andi Dysart, I’m a frontend developer and a “product maker” for a lack of a better term. I’m sure there is a hip job description out there somewhere.
I came about the idea for Ghostlab due to the need for seeing the whole design not just the first viewport and wanting it to work on all my devices and not be platform biased. Furthermore, I’m a lazy developer and didn’t want to test forms or a menu click on 8 devices for every refresh. I was using Shadow from Adobe before this, they delivered the first mobile testing product.
Now, my general daily role with Ghostlab is maintaining the websites and documentation. I’m also on the Twitter, marketing and other social platforms.
How does your role fit into the team?
I test and develop new ideas, then build a package creating a product that can be sold. I am pretty much everywhere from the idea phase through to developing functions, design and coding, social media, building street cred and customer service. I wear all the different hats needed to develop and launch a product. But thats only a small part, Matthias Christen is the genius that codes the products and brings ideas to life.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Seeing people use the products we make, images on Twitter, videos, blog posts and speakers talking about them at conferences. Then you see where your “baby’s” ended up and how they are used. Another this is coding and learning something new, the team here is pretty relaxed and hacking around to solve problems (or make frankenstein solutions) is welcomed. I get the most pleasure being a humble developer building small custom made websites.
What has been a professional challenge in your role?
Having to change hats so often. Making my little brain change from say, coding in a very structured and focused way to coming into a creative flow and idea development. I guess its that left/right brain? If that makes sense.
What’s been your proudest achievement project-wise whilst working with Ghostlab?
Bring the product to market. So much work was involved, and then it paying off by upping the game in the web and mobile testing segment. Doing one thing and doing it well.
There you have it:
“Doing one thing and doing it well”
. Andi is just one in the Vanamco team, and we are looking forward to having you meet us over the coming months as we open up about our workplace and how we go about bringing Ghostlab to you.
As always, we’d love your thoughts, feedback and questions. Reach out on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and below. We’d also love to know about other workplaces – how do you experience efficiency, has Ghostlab maybe even been a part of that journey?