Extensive interview with technical director of Novacom

13 dates.month.long.10 2023

Nick, today you are the technical director of Novacom. How did it all begin?

One day, a friend with whom we studied together was inspired by the idea of creating software that could automate document flow and many other organizational processes. I assembled a small team and became a developer of this company. Nowadays it would be called the fashionable word “start up”. This is how the history of Novacom began...

What programming language did you use then?

In those times, people wrote mainly on Delphi language.

How long has Novacom been in business?

The legal entity was registered on September 15, 2006.

Please tell us about the products that you develop now in Novacom?

We development software by customer’s requirements. One of the main area is automated information systems that collect data, obtain and standardized different reports.

What projects of your career you can highlight?

Web portal of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus for electronic registration of currency agreements of individuals and legal entities.

Corporate portal of the Social Protection Fund of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Belarus.

State information and analytical system for The National Centre for Marketing.

Let's talk about your current position. What is the responsibility of a technical director?

The technical director is, in fact, the link between the customer and the project team; the position is in the area of intersection of business and development interests. The main task is to listen to both “sides”, accumulate the information received and direct it in the right direction, thereby ensuring the high quality of the product.

Obviously, the technical director needs to control a huge number of processes. How do you manage it?

The technical processes are so complex and numerous that, unfortunately, it is physically impossible to control them in full alone. Delegating authority to leading employees is the key to effective management. It is necessary to build a vertical that will “work for you” and will allow you to solve tasks quickly and successfully.

How long does it usually take to complete a project?

On average about a year. And this is absolutely normal period, since we create highly loaded information systems. It’s a big work of collecting and analyzing data, identifying customer needs, then designing, developing and implementing.

Has the specificity and complexity of the projects being changed?

Of course. The IT sector is one of the most dynamic in developing. When we start a new project, we try to use new technology that we have not used before to enhance our skills and grow as professionals. We study all the time, and implement  new knowledge into projects.

What technology stack does Novacom use now?

Java (Spring, Spring-boot, Spring-cloud), JavaScript (ReactJS, TypeScript), PostgreSQL, Redis, ClickHouse, Apache Cassandra.

Instead of proprietary, copyrighted software, we are increasingly using “open source” – publicly available software based on an open source policy.

How was the Novacom team created and how did interaction processes improve?

Everything happened naturally - as the complexity and volume of implemented projects increased, we invited the necessary specialists. At the same time, we introduced business standards from international practice, compliance with which helped to establish many processes and increase the efficiency.

Can you name the qualities required for an IT specialist?

A balance is needed between “hard skills” and “soft skills”. That is, a symbiosis of professional skills and personal qualities. Development is always a team game. A conditionally highly qualified programmer who does not know how to interact with other members of the project team, unfortunately, will not have the best effect on the work process.

If a person from another field suddenly wants to become an IT specialist,  where should they start?

First of all, you need to decide the direction - frontend, backend, business analysis, software testing  etc... I recommend signing up for any courses, it will help yto understand how interesting this or that direction is.

How important is having a higher technical education?

A specialized technical education certainly provides a good basis. But such kind of diploma is not so critical. For those who have worked in another field for many years and want to try themselves in IT, the courses mentioned above are the best option.

What do you pay attention at interview with candidates?

First of all, special knowledge and skills. Then - how developer is logical thinking. And last but not least is communication, the ability of a potential employee to formulate his thoughts and  ideas in an understandable way. It should be balance of “hard skills” and “soft skills”.

What book would you recommend for a beginners to read?

Perfect Code is a software development book, written by Steve McConnell. A true classic and a reference book for any programmer.

Let's talk about the future. What will be with  IT sphere? What technologies will be in demand?

The future in IT is the automation of even more different processes. Both in the public and private sectors.

Technologies... Everything related to Big Data will be in demand. The modern world is literally permeated with “big data”.

Will artificial intelligence replace a number of technical specialists?

A similar trend can indeed be observed, but this is a perspective. And you also need to understand that artificial intelligence is not a panacea; it needs constant supervision, adjustment and improvement. From the human side.

You've been in the profession for a very long time, right? How do you avoid burnout?

Yes, more than twenty years. Professional burnout is a very relative concept. When you really enjoy your work, it’s difficult to “burn out.” However, human resources are not unlimited and must be replenished. The ability to switch will help here. The daily routine should include time reserved exclusively for things not related to work: family, friends, hobbies... And, of course, healthy sleep.

At what stage of development is Novacom now and what goals does the company have? 

Novacom still in the stage of growth and aspiration. We are not a “technological giant”, we are just a small company that has found its niche and is working for the goods and needs of our country. We have simple but very important goals for the future: develop and improve the team’s competencies and make all our products even better.