Why Software Developer Businesses Will Never Be the Same

The pandemic and economic shutdown has forced changes, some of which may turn out to be the best things you could do for your business.


For many software developer businesses, the standard operating procedures of 2019 are a distant memory. To continue operations when the pandemic forced office buildings to close and to meet new user demands, leadership had only one option: adapt.

Jim Rose, CEO of CircleCI, provider of a CI/CD platform, shares his perspective on which changes are apt to become permanent, how sales teams are adapting, and some of the surprising opportunities 2020 is creating.

Which operational changes did most software developer businesses implement for the short term?

Rose: There’s so much uncertainty in the market right now. The transition to working from home has a huge impact on how teams operate, but the demands for getting software to market have not let down. In fact, the need for engineering teams to deliver updates and features have increased as companies are scrambling to adjust to rapidly changing market conditions.

I see the remote-first operating model continuing to trend for at least the next two years. For those software developer businesses that are not remote, resiliency will be key.

Which changes to business are likely to become permanent?

Rose: Long term, we will see cloud adoption and DevOps continue to accelerate. These practices that were once considered niche, cutting-edge practices are now mission-critical and here to stay. We’re seeing the market accelerate like never before as companies prioritize automation and continuous delivery systems, cutting down digital transformation processes that were taking three years down to three or four months.

No matter what market you’re in, speed and quality are incredibly important. The ability to create change and put it into the hands of the customers as quickly as possible is and will be critical.

How should marketing and sales processes, whether for SaaS or on-premises solutions, change?

Rose: Remote-first will continue to be the name of the game. Sales teams will need a process that is supported without face-to-face interaction, and top-down sales funnels will be difficult to support. This creates the need for quick, efficient sales processes. It also puts emphasis on sales teams to grow with their customers, which requires more responsiveness and more accountability.

Being incredibly sophisticated with demand generations will be imperative as well and will require consumer-level efficiencies to ensure the right messages are guiding your audiences appropriately and personally.

If you’re not already offering one now, consider a freemium or trial-model. Part of a user’s journey is the ability to get hands-on with your product and really understand how it can help them address a particular challenge that they face. A customer who can use or test your product for free and learn it’s inner workings is in a much more advantageous situation when they are ready to buy.

What advice can you offer for setting business goals for 2021?

Rose: Right now, software developer businesses, especially startups, have an opportunity to really hone their craft and focus on the qualities that make their company special. It’s a difficult time, no doubt, but after experiencing four market downturns myself, I have witnessed great companies being born from the crux of difficult times.

The uncertainty we are experiencing today will continue in 2021. The lack of visibility of what change is to come next will not go away. It’ll be important for companies to remain resilient by creating models and goals that are flexible. When setting goals, ensure a ruthless focus and prioritization of resources that will generate long-term value for your company.

It’s also ok to acknowledge that you can’t see all the way through the end of the tunnel. What matters is that you know you’re taking your software developer business in the right direction and focusing on the first set of challenges that will then lead to the second set. Above all, trust the journey!

Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.

Zebra Workstation Connect
Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.