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An inside look into Spenda’s Product Development

31 July - 5 min read

I recently sat down with our experienced Chief Product Officer, Dave Wood, for a chat and inside view into the mind of our leader in Product Development.

When Dave isn’t at home with his wife and two children (or playing with his Virtual Reality games), he’s at the forefront of laying the foundations and strengthening the features behind all of our software modules within the Development team.

Here is a glimpse on his expertise and experience in how Spenda is helping customers and where the future of software development is headed.

What is your current role?

“My current role is the Chief Product Officer for Spenda. This essentially means I am responsible for the vision, design and innovation behind the Spenda suite of products. I need to ensure that what we produce is easy to use and fit for purpose while continually taking customer feedback to refine our offering. In a nutshell, our products must be desirable, sustainable and continually grow our customer base.”

What/where did you study before moving into software development?

“I studied Graphic Design and Software Development straight out of school, however it actually was the experiences gained from early in my career in other industries that I found most valuable in my current role.

One of my first jobs was working as a designer in the sign industry, this gave me an incredible insight into typographic alignment, placement and spacing of elements to achieve a pleasing visual result. After enough time you can train yourself to spot design issues and inconsistencies instantly, and once you spot it, those aspects can never be unseen. At the time I had no idea how important these foundation skills would be in my future life developing software that looks great.

My second significant role was in sales in the printing industry. To do well in sales it’s imperative that you listen to your customer, empathize with their problem and then present a solution which they are happy to pay for. All of our software is planned and developed from a users point of view. Being able to walk in someone else’s shoes and empathize with their needs is imperative in our software development.

My last position before returning to software development was as State General Manager for a National printing supply company. This was my most valuable experience as it gave me a deep understanding of the supply chain which has proved vital in the development of Spenda.”

How long have you been working in this industry?

“Around four months before my daughter was born, I decided to make the very scary decision to leave my General Manager position and start a brand new business in web development. Sophie will be 12 years old in April, so the decision has certainly paid off.”

How many staff/employees work alongside you in the development team?

“We currently have 16 staff in our development team, which we have split into groups. We have three feature delivery teams consisting of a main and technical lead, along with software developers. We also have an experienced group of shared resources which look after business analysis, database design, optimization, testing and release management.

While I work with all members of the development team I work closely with our Chief Technology Officer, Olly Speed. The best way to think about it is my responsibility trails down to the ‘why’ and ‘what’ we do. Olly is responsible for the ‘how’ and ‘when’ we do it. We’ve developed this into a well-oiled machine.”

What kind of planning process goes into every aspect of software development from ideas to execution?

“It all starts with a plan, more specifically a Spenda Feature Plan. This plan outlines what the feature will do along with the minimum set of functionalities required for the first release. We call this the minimum loveable product. Next, we go into a rapid prototyping phase where within a few hours we create a rich, fully interactive mockup of the finished feature. At this point we can present the prototype to our customer base with exactly the functionality we intend to create.

The beauty of this approach is we can receive feedback and iterate our design before a single line of code has been written. Once we are happy with the viability and customer demand for the feature we can then start production.”

What are the most important aspects of user experience when designing software?

“First of all you need to have a clear structure and a natural navigation flow, coupled with a compelling visual design. It’s also crucial to have great copy and tone of voice throughout our app, we always try to speak to our users through our interface like a human would rather than a robot. Our intention is to take complex business processes and turn them into simple intuitive actions. Most importantly our software needs to make sense and add value.”

What kind of plans do you have in store for our software development?

“We have a huge backlog of cool ideas and feature concepts planned for Spenda. In the short term, we want to become the number one business-to-business payment and trading solution. Looking a little further into the future, we have grand plans to bring Spenda into the hands of consumers and ultimately make Spenda become a household name. This comes down solely to providing as much assistance to anyone who needs it by allowing consumers to track their personal purchases and warranties, or instant ordering and payment at the table in your favourite cafe.”

What are you most excited about?

“I’m very excited about what immersive technologies like Augmented Reality could mean for society in general and Spenda moving forwards. I believe that we are about to experience a change in our lives on a similar scale to how the iPhone changed our lives. It will mean the entire world will become our interface and interacting with our software could be achieved by a simple hand gesture or picking up real-world objects.”

What are your biggest accomplishments so far?

“I think designing, building and launching the first version of SpendaPOS with my team in six weeks was one of the most challenging and rewarding moments of my career to date. Setting it up for one of our first customers was such a great experience, there were two quotes that I remember from that day. Our customer said “Oh wow, I don’t need any training, I instantly know how it works” and “This does exactly what we hoped our previous POS system did. Knowing that we’re directly helping our customers with their customers is what drives us to go further.”

What are some of your hobbies outside of software development?

“I’ve recently bought an Oculus Quest Virtual Reality headset and motion controllers. I thought I would mainly use it for playing games, what I didn’t realise is how great using VR is for building fitness! The games are really fun and they can burn more calories than most dedicated workout equipment. I highly recommend VR to unwind after a hard day at work!”

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