Thanks to your reviews, we got quite the honor this week when Clutch released its best of lists for Chicago tech. The company — basically a Yelp for service providers — ranked Table XI the best software development company in Chicago and the best Ruby on Rails development team in Chicago. Our mobile team also made quite the showing, placing fourth for mobile development in Chicago and fifth for iPhone-specific development (though we’re mostly working cross-platform in React Native these days.)
If you’ve been working in medicine for decades, it can be a bit of a shock when all of the sudden you’re tasked with building software for healthcare providers. It’s an entirely new discipline, with different possibilities, different norms, even a different language.
The truth, though, is that the best hospital software starts with you.
There’s always a learning curve when any industry turns to healthcare software companies, but it’s a particularly deep chasm between tech and medicine. Both sides are highly technical, but that’s where the similarities stop — different cultures, different languages, different expectations about the role of software in healthcare.
I wasn’t thinking about the advantages of podcasting when I started Tech Done Right — or if I was, only vaguely. I wanted a way to have conversations about things that mattered in technology, with people I like and respect. If there were fringe podcasting benefits, great. But business wasn’t the primary motivator.
Since founding Table XI, I’ve only become more skeptical about professional services companies launching products. We built and sold Pegmo, a customer engagement platform and a modest success. But for the most part we’ve stayed away, wary of ending up stuck with an unpaid drag on resources that doesn’t do anything for us or our clients.
If you’re looking for an executive retreat about how to do the work better, there are plenty — I run one. But less than a year into taking over as Table XI’s CEO, that’s not what I needed help with (or at least not the only thing I needed help with). I wanted to learn how to be a better CEO from peers I admired. I wanted to understand how the stress was affecting them as leaders and as people. I needed answers. What does work-life balance really look like for the CEO of a growing company? And when, if ever, did people think about life after retirement?
So I led a group of nine executives into the depths of the Scottish Highlands.
Software risk haunts every development project. And yet we almost never talk about it. Every project manager focuses on the same big three constraints when putting together a proposal: scope, timeline and budget. For all three, you’ll get fancy graphs and analytics, a full, quantified representation.
Then software risks come in and blow it all apart.
In March, we celebrated 15 years in business at Table XI. I am incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and learned since we started in 2002. When we sold our first project to Dickson, it felt like proof of what we hoped — that doing good work for clients on our own terms was the right way to do business. 15 years later, Dickson is still a client, and Table XI has become a well-known UX design and custom software development company.
It’s been quite a journey, and I’m beyond excited for what comes next. As we plan for the next 15 years, we’re making changes that will help us form deeper and more strategic partnerships with our clients and our people. To start, we’ve launched Table XI Ventures and Table XI Labs — the former to partner with early-stage startups looking to explore problems and build game-changing solutions, and the latter to empower Table XI employees who want to pursue entrepreneurial ideas of their own.
We started a podcast — and called it "Tech Done Right" — because we wanted to talk about what matters in technology.
We’ve always been eager to teach people about technology. We teach developer bootcamps, we teach each other, we even teach our clients with a Chicago tech events series. It’s important to us to build a better community by building better software. That’s why I’ve published books throughout my career and continue to blog about Ruby on Rails. So when we found a partner in Mandy Moore who could help us produce a podcast, it seemed like a natural next step.
Every time we start an engagement, we sit down with our new partner to decide whether to build vs. buy software. It’s not something development shops typically do. We like our “hammer” of custom software solutions, but to be good consultants, we can’t treat every project like it’s a nail.
That’s why we help every partner weigh the advantages of buying software versus building. If we can find existing technology that meets their needs, we can save them tens of thousands of dollars.