Konstantin Tolstopyat, CEO and Founder of InStandart Company tells us about how they develop software products of varying complexity.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Konstantin Tolstopyat: We are trying our best to stay safe by establishing a new working process that is related to remote work, being online, i.e., literally “on the line” all the time. What’s more, now is a time when our family is by our side all the time because of working remotely. This itself can be quite unusual, as we were not used to spending time at home that much until the beginning of quarantine. But overall, the arrangement seems to be quite alright after having adjusted to this situation.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded InStandart Company.
Konstantin Tolstopyat: As is so often the case, something can start from a small beginning. When we got our first client, they had various ideas and wishes regarding the development of projects related to e-commerce. Thus, our first project emerged, estimated at just 8 hours. Gradually, while working with this client, the number of hours for the tasks rose to 2,000 per month, allowing us to grow and develop, acquiring new experience.
How does InStandart Company innovate?
Konstantin Tolstopyat: We are becoming more mature as a company, as we learn more about business automation and optimization through implementing our software solutions, the processes powering the e-commerce business, how it works, and how to go about developing software that suits today’s requirements in this business and is as relevant as possible. We are striving to develop our own internal processes in the company in the right way. In terms of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), we are at level 2 and trying to achieve more and grow higher by building these processes step by step. Besides, we work on the processes themselves, with the help of the Business Process Model and Notation 2.0.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Konstantin Tolstopyat: At first, it seemed like quite a complicated situation where you needed to adjust to a new work process. But looking back, one year has already passed since we started getting used to the quarantine and working remotely. This time gave us an opportunity to become familiar with new circumstances of life, and in this way, we gradually built our processes accordingly. We cooperated with our clients in a way that correlates with current requirements. Our main developmental direction is connected to e-commerce, and it is important to note that, due to the pandemic, the processes of commerce around the world have become even more digitalized. Thus, e-commerce itself started developing at a much quicker pace, which, in turn, required newer and quicker solutions for many things. And thus, we needed to learn more and adapt to new changes and new times.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Konstantin Tolstopyat: When the quarantine started, it was something unusual and sometimes difficult, as most of the processes are centred around working at the office. Communicating face-to-face at our workplace allows us to resolve issues and decide on things quickly, and being online all the time, away from your coworkers, differs from the usual setup. However, eventually, we adjusted.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Konstantin Tolstopyat: The situation with the pandemic gave us a push towards deeper internal development. Having started working remotely, we began to document our processes even more meticulously, starting from simple tips on the interaction between team members while being online, writing communication plans, to the text instructions on the sequence of working processes, such as code reviews, deployment to the server, and suchlike. Due to the distance, you grow to communicate sometimes twice as much with your coworkers compared to speaking in person before. As for the tools and software, we started using such services as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc., even more often, at least to communicate with team members within the company, not to mention interaction with our clients online. We are also focusing on knowledge transfer among ourselves as a crucial part of the company’s development.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Konstantin Tolstopyat: In this age of digitalization, there are many different competitors who also are also trying to implement new technology. By working on project requests from our clients, we constantly resolve questions and complete tasks that might be something entirely new in terms of development, and also by applying cutting-edge technologies along the way and moving forward with completing tasks for business automation. By having domain knowledge and understanding business and client needs, we are able to communicate freely with them and build our work in the right way.
Konstantin Tolstopyat: Business automation is something that is always needed. And the pandemic became sort of an unfortunate catalyst for changes in the digital world, especially when it comes to e-commerce. As a company, we combine our efforts to optimize and automate processes in this business by creating software solutions that come in handy for clients around the world.