5 Keys to Becoming a Strong ISV Leader

Leaders aren’t born — especially people who are adept at leading a team through software development processes. Here’s advice on how to develop your skills as an ISV leader and build a team that fuels business growth.

It takes skill to lead a successful ISV business, and although some people have traits that make them naturally inclined to leadership, anyone can work to develop strong leadership skills.

Subodh Gupta, founder of Franpos, an ISV that provides point of sale (POS) systems for franchises, is one of those people to whom leadership comes more easily than most, but he says it’s still something he studies and works to perfect.  Here are five things that Gupta says you need to know to be a strong leader of your ISV business:

1. Leaders Plan

According to Gupta, effective leadership depends on the right foundation. At Franpos, Gupta, who is also head of sales, says all planning is driven from the sales perspective.

“Know your customer and what they want. Then get the product, vision, and scope together before you start marching on with the product you are developing,” says Gupta. He says it’s important for leaders to lay out the path for the team and break the project down into executable tasks that will result in a product customers want. “It’s like a pyramid. The strategy is on top, then everything flows down,” he explains.

2. Leaders Hire Smart

Gupta adds that success as an ISV leader also depends on assembling the right team. For example, says Gupta, “Our products are designed for franchises, so we look for developers who’ve worked on large-scale projects.” He also says you need to have people with the right skills, including UI and UX. “You have to plan and understand who you need to develop the product,” he says.

He adds that leadership and planning also ensure success for team members. “If they have the right skills and they understand the product and the vision, they’ll know what to do.”

He points out, however, that leading a successful team doesn’t stop with hiring for the right skills. “Regardless of their experiences, different companies do things differently, so training is important,” Gupta comments. At Franpos, new hires spend one to two months of training working on smaller tasks. After they’ve familiarized themselves with the company’s processes and their peers have reviewed their code, they receive assignments for the main product line.

3. Leaders Have Faith in Their Teams

Gupta says successful ISV leaders aren’t micromanagers. “Developers are extremely smart people and are skilled in what you need them to do. Give them tasks and they’ll get it done.” He says his team also has the freedom to try different approaches and find what works best for them. “If it doesn’t work, they try again,” he comments.

Gupta adds one of the best moves a leader can make it building a culture in which team members take ownership of their projects. “Then you only need to check in with them to make sure they don’t require any assistance and that they understand your expectations.” Franpos uses Agile software development, which allows leaders to divide projects into sprints, and Jira project management software to provide visibility and keep projects on track.

4. Leaders Never Stop Learning

Another important key to successful ISV leadership is continually working to improve your skills. Gupta says he turns to books on the subject, such as Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google that Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock, with advice, for example, improving productivity by letting people define their own goals and be accountable.

He says he also realizes he needs to learn each time he works with a new person. “You need to tailor conversations to people with different types of personalities. The same conversation you would have to correct one employee wouldn’t work with another type of employee,” he points out. “Rather than making them adapt to you, you adapt to them,” he says.

5. Leaders Work Hard and Work Smart

Gupta says the one thing about his leadership style that his team most appreciates is probably the fact that he doesn’t just throw things at them — he works with them. “If a task is related to a customer request or if it’s a bug fix or an update, our leadership jumps in and helps. It strengthens the team if they know you’re in the trenches with them,” he says.

He admits, however, that given his other responsibilities in the company, it can be difficult to balance time. “The biggest challenge can be when you know too much and everyone depends on you,” he says. One solution is to equip others on the team with leadership potential to take some of that responsibility, helping them develop their skills so they can oversee other team members — that’s another trait of leaders: they help their teams grow and develop professionally.  


About Franpos

Franpos knows franchises and enterprises have unique needs, as we’ve been providing the industry with tailored solutions for over a decade. Our systems are designed exclusively for franchises and enterprises, providing a turnkey, out-of-the box solution designed to streamline operations and boost store economics. Our vision is to become the operating system for franchises by building the most comprehensive POS platform. Franpos is a Seiko Instruments partner.

About Seiko Instruments Inc.

As a Seiko Holdings Corporation subsidiary, Seiko Instruments (SII) represents a globally recognized brand, embodying innovative design and precision manufacturing excellence. Founded in 1937, SII currently has more than 13,000 employees worldwide. The company manufactures and markets electronic components, consumer electronics, communication and network technology, scientific instrumentation, precision manufacturing technology, and a complete lineup of receipt printers, mobile printers, label printers and OEM printing solutions.

Mike Monocello

Mike Monocello is the co-founder of DevPro Journal, an online publication created to help B2B software developers build profitable, sustainable, and fulfilling businesses. Prior to DevPro Journal, Mike was editor-in-chief of Business Solutions magazine, as well as a former VAR and ISV.

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Mike Monocello

Mike Monocello is the co-founder of DevPro Journal, an online publication created to help B2B software developers build profitable, sustainable, and fulfilling businesses. Prior to DevPro Journal, Mike was editor-in-chief of Business Solutions magazine, as well as a former VAR and ISV.