Head of Software Development, James Dawson

Updated: November 23rd, 2022

James Talks About The Development Of  Our Workplace Safety Application

It’s always nice to find out the background behind how things work or why they have been developed. So, we have taken the opportunity to catch up with our very own James Dawson to talk about his teams’ innovative approach and their solution to a customer request. 

James Dawson is our Head of Software Development and explains how his team of developers came up with this innovative solution.  Recently we discussed the innovative software App, developed to help companies ensure that their staff can work safely and securely when returning to the office.    


What’s the relationship with the customer you developed the App for?   

We always work incredibly hard to create and maintain great longterm partnerships with our customers. We have been working with this particular customer for a decade now on various development projects.  We already had a great working relationship and this has now meant us being turned to as a trusted partner for their infrastructure and other IT needs as well. 


What was the customer’s challenge/business need? 

The customer asked up to provide them with a simple and effective system to allow their staff to book a hot desk in one of their office locations across Wales. As Wales was coming out of lockdown at the time our customer needed a solution that helped manage a safe return to work for staff. There was also a need to both record and register who was in any given location for track and trace, whilst also allowing the management of desks and meeting spaces, ensuring a safe working environment. 


How did you approach developing a solution that serviced their requirements? 

We work to gather initial customer requirements and then create a prototype working closely with the client to take the model into a working system.  We understand that software development is a very different beast from most other types of projects and therefore need to embrace change and flexibility during the project lifecycle.  This flexible approach allows us to handle changes to requirements during development to ensure we deliver what is needed rather than sticking rigidly to the original concept, which could be very different from what is actually required. 

We use a very inclusive process, where the customer and stakeholders are very much part of our team, helping guide the development throughout. 


Was the creation of the COVID-19 Workplace App a team effort?   

Our projects are always a team effort! As well as our own team members there is always vital input from the customer – without this, projects would not be as successful. From our side, there are developers and testers as well as project support such as Business Analysis and project management. 


Did the team develop the app whilst working from home? 

Yes, we did. We are in the very lucky position that we can work seamlessly from any location. Before Covid-19, the entire team was in the same building, but we were used to working closely with our customers from all over the UK. This meant that we were already using Microsoft Teams daily to keep in touch with customers. 

I’m proud to say that the team are working amazingly well from home and its testament to each and every member that we’re able to deliver projects as well as we did when we were all in the same office. 


What collaboration tools did you find useful? 

Prior to Covid-19, we were big fans of using Microsoft Teams for collaboration and this has continued since the pandemic. Teams allows us to work in groups or in pairs as needed.  We regularly have Teams meetings with members of our own team and customers – Teams is by far the best tool for the job. We have used other video and collaboration products due to customer preference or a 3rd party supplier need, but they always remark on how much better Teams is once we introduce it to them. 

We also depend on SharePoint, Azure DevOps and our own internal systems which are all webbased and designed for collaboration and work from any location. 


Do you think this App could be applied to other businesses? 

Absolutely. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’re going to be working in a pre-COVID way any time soon, so this application could be of great benefit to most companies. 

With that said, we don’t design any application with multiple customers in mind – we focus on delivering what that specific customer requires for that project. While a lot of our applications can be used asis by other companies, we always look to take an individual approach for every customer. This ensures they get what they need from the product and we are always happy to tweak the applications to work for them rather than make the customer work to the application. 


Do you have any useful tips on positive customer relations principles that were employed in this project?  

I think our best attribute is being open, honest and collaborative. We, as a software team have many years experience and the guys are technically very talented, but that counts for nothing if the customer is not engaged and involved in the project. We acknowledge change is going to happen and embrace it. We always want to work with the customer and produce what they need. We can’t do that without their engagement in the project. 

Software developers also get a bit of a bad rep…! We like to show that we all communicate on a nontechnical level and love to get to know our customers and develop long term relationships with them. 


Do you think these could be applied to future tasks and other projects in general? 

We are really enjoying embracing the customer focus that Elite Group promotes throughout the business. Its very easy for us to build strong relationships both professionally and personally with customers because of the type of projects we are involved in within Software Development 

It’s clear that all Elite Group employees and departments share this philosophy. I’ve seen this same sense of friendship and trust from customers towards Elite when I’m working with other teams and their customers.  

If customers like and trust us, as can be seen by the huge amount of repeat business we getwe’re clearly doing this really well. 


Elite Group is one of the UK’s leading unified communication providers, supplying reliable and professional IT and telecoms services to organisations seeking Business Mobile, Cloud, Networking, Connectivity, and Telephony solutions.  


For more information on how Elite Group can power your unified communication solutions, call us or request a quote today