AZA

Kasia Kramnik

In its origins, AZA’s goal help businesses move money in, out, and around Africa. Founded in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, is a cross-border transaction platform for individuals and entrepreneurs from African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda). Code & Pepper has had a pleasure to participate in building one of their latest products, BFX – the instant international payment platform.

About BFX by AZA

African economy is changing rapidly, but the growth of international business and freelancing outruns the development of reliable payment systems. African companies are suffering due to slow and fallible money transfers, which made Elizabeth Rossiello, the founder of AZA, come up with a secure platform that allowed anyone to send money outside Kenya and receive money from abroad without a hassle. They quickly drew investors’ attention, helped AZA reach new markets and transform into several branches serving different market goals.

Challenge

Code & Pepper was hired to work on BFX – a step-by-step money transfer platform operating between Africa and the rest of the world. It serves mainly businesses, such as financial institutions, import/export companies, and other FinTech’s that want to send money more quickly and easily. The client’s resources focused on initial designs and back-end solutions while Code & Pepper’s job involved mainly front-end development. However, as the project advanced, the teams started cooperating even closer and the responsibilities have grown.

Code & Pepper Solutions for AZA

Flexible team structure and project scope

At first, our commitment to BFX involved only front-end development. A dedicated developer joined the team and worked hand in hand with people responsible for the backend, design and quality assurance. Project management and product ownership were handled by a team leader (and QA specialist at the same time) on the client’s side.

After a couple of sprints, it turned out that the team members were able to bring much more value to BFX in different areas of product development. Firstly, we came up with a number of improvements in the provided user interface, which were later implemented by the BFX in-house team. Also, we conducted a code review and participated in the quality assurance processes. 

React at its best

For the front-end side of the application, we used React connected with Material-UI, which is a framework for user interfaces. In order to make the most out of the chosen tools, we’ve included the latest features of React, such as React Hooks or context API. Also, we’ve replaced commonly used JavaScript with TypeScript, which made the whole application less prone to errors.

Inclusivity

AZA team’s strong asset is the diversity of its members – it gathers people from different regions of the world and cultural backgrounds. In such an environment, everyone needs to put many assumptions aside and remain on communication clarity, common goals and mutual empathy.

Reliable communication approach

We started our collaboration with AZA from a challenging position – after their unsatisfactory experiences with the previous software development agency, we needed to step up our game in building trust and rapport. It was possible thanks to our approach to communication, including one-team policy and full transparency:

  • Providing everyone on the team with open access to all project resources,
  • Active participation in frequent project meetings,
  • Opening communication channels for all project team members 

The possibility to have an open discussion led us to new fields of cooperation, namely to exchange insights about the platform design and implement some of improvements proposed by the team members hired by Code & Pepper.

Technologies for AZA

Rectangle Created with Sketch. TypeScript
Scrum

Services for AZA

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Monkee

Justyna Burzynska

The necessity to quickly extend a software team can occur in businesses of any size and stage of development. Monkee, a European startup originated in Austria, were struggling with hiring a developer in their native market that would meet the requirements in terms of skills and experience. Code & Pepper joined Monkee as a recruitment partner to provide a steady source of highly qualified programmers.

About Monkee

Monkee was created to help manage personal and family budgets in a motivating and enjoyable way. The app promotes smart spending for an average spender by using effective behavioral design, gamification and machine learning. Based on the data collected from the user’s bank account, the app provides spending forecasts, tips and personalised communication. The company was founded in Austria, which was one of the kick-off markets for the application, but the current team is working from different locations around Europe.

Challenge

Monkee founders approached Code & Pepper during Pioneers, a renowned technological event in Vienna. For some time, they had been struggling with the recruitment of a React Native developer on their local market, only to find out that the supply of developers in Austria is far from meeting the demand in general, not to mention particular technologies. 

The next requirement they had was to collaborate with the developer directly and avoid hiring the additional staff such as project manager or product owner. The team augmentation formula offered by Code & Pepper proved to be the most effective option for a company like Monkee.

Solutions for Monkee

Flexible recruitment process

In its essence, team augmentation at Code & Pepper involves the partner’s active participation in the recruitment. With Monkee, this meant designing a custom process requested by Jean-Yves, the CTO of the company. We were given a job specification and agreed on the request to skip the standard recruitment task and require the candidates to share a code sample instead. It is our job to provide a portfolio of interesting developers, but the final decision stays on the partner’s side. 

Steady flow of talent

Rapid changes in product development are the spice of life in the startup ecosystem – there’s no time for lengthy talent search, no matter if it’s connected with team scaling or replacing previously hired staff. One of the key values brought to Monkee was the continuous supply of talent for different stages of their business. We started with one developer, but since the cooperation in terms of recruitment and team coordination proved successful, Code & Pepper is on the lookout for new talent – Node.js developers. 

Remote team coordination

Finding the right person for the job is just the first part of the process. If the team is scattered around different locations, we need to take care of the working conditions for new hires and ensure they have everything they need to perform well. This means legal work, office coordination, equipment, security, administrative tasks, and other factors that affect the overall results of the cooperation.

Technologies and solutions for Monkee

React Native
JavaScript

Services for Monkee

Open unlimited recruitment opportunities

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NoMo

How to democratise personal finance management with a mixture of iOS, .NET and smart product development from A to Z

Edinburgh, Scotland
Mobile Development, Project Management
.NET, Cloud, DevOps, iOS

Smart Pension

Kasia Kramnik

Smart Pension is a high-scaling fintech company that has inspired a new approach to pension systems in the UK and abroad. Once their concept of an auto enrolment product proved a huge success, the software team started growing exponentially. The only way to keep up the pace and quality was to hire developers externally and leave further recruitment to an experienced provider. Here’s how Smart Pension ensured quick growth and top software quality by joining forces with Code & Pepper.

About Smart Pension

Smart Pension is a perfect example of fintech revolution brought to the areas normally operated by state institutions and banks. The platform offers automatic pension schemes based on a defined contribution plan, handling the whole process through a digital platform. 

Challenge

Smart Pension, a UK-based workplace pension platform, started as a product dedicated to their domestic market, but it proved to have the potential to conquer global markets. The new ambitions were followed by an increased demand for new employees – in 2019, the in-house development team growth exceeded 400%. At this pace, the company needed to find new sources of employees with appropriate skills to avoid compromising the product quality. 

Solutions for Smart Pension

“The fast fish eats the slow fish” – agile teams for fast-paced growth

In today’s business, the size doesn’t matter as much as the speed of development – even a small player can win with a big enterprise if it reacts quickly to the changing market. As a consequence, such companies need to find ways to optimise their performance and maintain high standards. One of the ways followed by Code & Pepper and cultivated in Smart Pension was agile team management with such elements as:

  • a dedicated product owner that stays in touch with the client’s team and is available for constant communication
  • project management based on Kanban, put together by a dedicated Agile lead supporting the teams in all locations
  • self-organising development teams working independently, but keeping each other up to date with their progress

Currently, the team built by Code & Pepper is working from two different locations (Warsaw, Kraków). They are fully synced with the core team in London, participating in online meetings on a regular basis.

Strict product requirements vs. customisation

As a fintech product, Smart Pension faces the necessity to comply with strict regulatory requirements. More importantly, the evolution from a UK-based workplace pension to a globally adaptable platform requires constructing features that are highly customisable. To resolve the two matters, team built by Code & Pepper in Poland worked hand in hand with Smart Pension engineers to create an advanced pension forecaster. It is based on complex conditions, which results in just the right level of flexibility to adapt the platform to different regulations.

Continuous deployment for irresistible code quality

Smart Pension has cultivated a strong developer community with high standards in terms of code quality and development process. There was no other way for Code & Pepper but find skilled developers and quality assurance specialists who would follow the client’s requirements including:

  • Clean code – universally compatible with previously developed branches and easily maintainable
  • Continuous deployment – the new branches are merged 20+ times a day
  • Focus on testing – the code features nearly 100% test coverage

Code & Pepper have been instrumental in helping us scale our Engineering Team.  
By building dedicated teams of Ruby Engineers for us they have helped us hire highly skilled engineers into our business.

Martin Warner, Head of Talent at Smart Pension

Technologies and solutions for Smart Pension

Ruby
Rails
JavaScript
Kanban

Code & Pepper Services for Smart Pension

Extend your team with the people you need

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Flex Funding

Smart UX and UI design brought to life with Angular for profitable investing and lending

Copenhagen, Denmark
UI/UX Design, Web Development
Angular, Frontend

LUSID

What’s the story of your IT product? Did you start with a clever idea that scaled faster than your team? Sometimes the demand for new skills and technologies in your company may interfere with the pace you can achieve. The story of LUSID goes exactly like this – the lack of front-end developers and product designers kept interrupting the engineering work. Find out how Code & Pepper stepped on board and filled in the missing piece in the puzzle in the nearshore IT outsourcing model.

About LUSID

LUSID is an independent project launched by Finbourne, a business asset management platform. It’s an advanced business intelligence solution that streamlines the data analysis and processing so that companies can discover and utilise the insights lying in their assets. By reducing operating costs and facilitating data integration from multiple sources, businesses gain an opportunity to optimise their performance and use the best strategies.

Challenge

The team involved in LUSID consists of experts in data processing who came up with an outstanding technical solution, but the problem lay in the lack of web and design team who could frame their technology in a user-friendly web interface. The existing one didn’t meet the expectations and required a total makeover. Code & Pepper stepped in with an independent team to design the new interface of the platform and implement it using Angular. The cooperating teams were located in Poland and the UK, which required fluent communication and smart project management.

Solutions for LUSID

Product design taken to the next level

The interface for applications such as LUSID requires high precision and understanding the domain knowledge related to asset management. The team behind the asset management API in LUSID has dealt perfectly well with the technical aspects of the platform, but they found it much harder to build the customer-facing part of the application. The team were lacking experience and skills in product design. We started off with one product designer and product owner to fill the skill gap. In time, the project evolved and a UI/UX designer joined the team.

Scrum project management for hassle-free cooperation

When done wisely, nearshore IT outsourcing is an efficient formula for software product development. With LUSID, we started off with a meeting in person and established clear project management patterns within the Scrum methodology. With changing processes, product progress and new members, Scrum streamlined the communication between Code & Pepper and the client and gave everyone the possibility to adapt the software development process to the current status and needs. Even though the teams are located in the UK and a couple of cities in Poland, the current project management practices eliminate communication obstacles.

We have used a variety of skill sets provided by Code & Pepper including UX design, development. We have also found using their Scrum process to be very beneficial to measuring the progress of the project. We are happy to recommend Code & Pepper as a partner.

Thomas McHugh, Founder and director at Finbourne

The only constant thing is change – dynamic teams

When the cooperation got started, Code & Pepper assigned two developers to implement the new product concepts and designs in LUSID. It turned out this was only the beginning – the redesigned product required more man power. Thanks to the surefire team augmentation formula, we were able to support the client with additional team members shortly. As a consequence, the Finbourne team realised their structure needed changes as well. By hiring a web development expert who could focus solely on communication and collaboration with Code & Pepper, the work moved even faster and more efficiently.

Technologies and solutions for LUSID

Angular
.NET Core
Scrum
Product Design
Product ownership

Code & Pepper services for LUSID

Sky is the limit with team augmentation

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