In a world where online calls and meetings with clients change the dynamics of both verbal and written communications, certain soft skills continue to be essential for people who want to grow and develop in the IT sphere. As a tradition we have held in the past two years, we gathered members of our team to share what skills they believe to have been most beneficial in their work and will persist to be so in the year to come.
Be Curious, The Cat Has Nine Lives
I believe that curiosity will be a top asset in the hasty world of software development. It will help with learning new technologies related to AI, IoT, and Cybersecurity or else, so we can be competitive on the market. It will also help us understand better the current projects and deliver quality solutions. In order to achieve it, we need to be on the proactive side and ask as many questions as we can to our boss, stakeholder or management. Getting further insights about the products which we are building will help us figure out what kind of technologies are best fitted to deliver the desired result (even learn a new one on the way) and also leave you in a leading role.
During one project, the team and I needed to develop an API gateway for our services. We had already picked one specific technology, but in the process, I decided to take a look at the different alternatives and build small POCs. A year and a half later it turned out that our initial pick of technology was wrong, as our business needs have changed, so my willingness to experiment helped us to move swiftly to a new solution.
– Chavdar Angelov, Senior Software Consultant
Each one of us has a favorite technology, which we claim we feel most comfortable working with. Even though the specialization in one area or technology has its benefits, the curiosity is the soft skill that motivates the developers to experiment with new different technologies and to expand their expertise. And the knowledge acquired thanks to that curiosity helps us be flexible when looking for solutions to obstacles we encounter in our everyday work.
– Svetozara Minkova, Software Consultant
Mind the Convo
I believe that one of the most important soft skills is to be able to communicate well with your team and your clients. That being said, the way in which you transfer information will be even more essential for every successful project. More and more often we work with colleagues that we have never met in person and it is really important how the communication with them transpires.
– Silviya Borisova, QA Consultant
When I hear soft skills in the context of IT, my first association is the word “communication”, both at a professional and a personal level. Quite often the solution to a given bug requires that we input an accurate description of the problem or use the right keyword. When collaborating with the people around us, the key to reaching a solution is the same. Once we formulate clearly what we want and what we need, we can receive the desired result from the query – not only professional help, but also humane understanding, an idea, new perspective from which to look at the problem.
– Svetozara Minkova, Software Consultant
Get Wired to Care
Many times, when we start on a path, we believe that we are always right. We forget that there are other colleagues, modules, steps, and processes, or do not have enough information and focus on what is right in front of us. If we are aware that there are others around us (people, points of view, opportunities), it will be much easier for us to cope with the problems we encounter. If we do that self-awareness process more often, we will catch mistakes earlier and it will not be that difficult to fix them and continue forward. It is not bad to focus, because sometimes exactly that is needed, but from time to time it is also beneficial to just stop and pay attention to the things that happen around us.
I have worked with people who are empathic more often and with such who are not aware of others’ emotions most of the time. The major thing is to just stay empathic to other peoples’ feelings, emotions, ideas, and the solution will come naturally.
– Yordan Lyubenov, Senior Software Consultant
It is kind of the same as with your friends. You listen to your friend’s opinion, consider it, share yours and then you reach a solution together. You would think that the team work on project should be similar.
– Silviya Stoyanova, Software Consultant
Another important soft skill for me is trying to be open-minded. In a project of our long-time clients, a big manufacturer in the bearings industry we inherited designs, which we had to implement in the product we were developing. After a couple of iterations, our team didn’t feel like continuing with them. Things started working out only after we began looking at them with an open mind. We acknowledged the strengths and the weaknesses. By taking the discussed steps, we managed to improve the designs, which led to increased motivation in the team.
To wrap up, an open mind will help you better evaluate the situation, which will lead you to the right decision.
– Zlatko Rusev, Business Analyst
Think like a Holmes, not a Watson
I would say that the developers should question and scrutinize everything concerning architectures, ways of solving particular problems. I believe that this skill will be really beneficial in a conversation as we not only understand in detail the situation, but also see the bigger picture of the whole application. By questioning every single detail, we also encourage colleagues to be more creative which by itself is another important skill.
– Iliyan Ignatov, Software Consultant
I would say that a useful soft skill is to be able to use the method KISS (keep it simple, stupid). There is no need in a discussion to explai things in a complicated way that in our eyes will make us look smarter. I believe that straight to the point is the best approach.
– Krum Yordanov, DevOps Consultant
I also agree that the communication and more specifically the ability to explain a complicated problem with simple words is one of the most essential skills. Basically, to illustrate the problem in a simple, straightforward way, with an understandable by the audience example.
– Pavel Purlantov, Senior Software Consultant
When talking about upskilling and developers, most people think of improving technical knowledge. This is useful from a single person’s perspective, but from a team’s perspective there are different skills that may impact the outcome more. Teamwork is becoming more and more important for developers, and those who can master the above – have a brighter future. Keep in mind the famous African proverb – “If you want to go fast, go alone; If you want to go far, go together.”
– Zlatko Rusev, Business Analyst
Teamwork and empathy are key soft skills for me. I believe so because I have seen first-hand how teamwork and active listening and understanding have led to a better work environment and end results.
For example, a colleague that made changes in the code for a particular functionality that can affect another feature (that is not being tested now), gave me the heads-up after the change. In this way, he or she expanded their work to include not only the task at hand but to support the team to deliver better overall results.
In another project, I shared with a member of the team that when locating some elements necessary for tests, the strategy that we are going to use is quite limited and can lead to a higher number of mistakes in the tests. Immediately I received help from the team, and we added new ways and strategies to the available options that led to higher-quality results.
– Renin Ahmed, QA Consultant
Become a Supple Leopard
The IT industry is very dynamic, not only technologically speaking. Even in your day-to-day work you may face substantial changes related to projects, expectations, responsibilities, etc.
I had a recent situation in which I had to work with three different teams. All I did was make sure I take priority tasks that I know I can accomplish so I can really contribute to the success of the teams. And honestly, it has been a very positive and enriching experience.
I believe being adaptable in any situation makes you a valuable team player!
– Boryana Mihaylova, Software Consultant
I consider adaptability to be an essential skill that helps you succeed in today’s dynamic market! In my line of work, there is a constant evolution of languages, technologies, libraries, and platforms. That is why the software consultant should be able to adapt to new developments and never stop the learning process to be able to even take advantage of these dynamics.
In each of my previous projects, I have worked in different setups including diverse technologies, teams, work styles, processes, and cultural perspectives. One of the key skills that helped me excel and deliver quality solutions was precisely adaptability.
A more recent example is my current project which involves one of the leading global providers of shareholder services. When I started work on their account, I had to adapt very quickly to the established processes and work methodology of the USA team. Nowadays, I dare say that I can adapt quickly to the clients’ needs and deliver results that even exceed their expectations!
– Mariyan Mlechenkov, Senior Software Consultant
Become a software consultant
Communication with clients is not always easy, it is actually one of the hardest aspects of the work as a software consultant. That is why it is important to know how to get the information you need and to put the extra work towards understanding the business structure, goals, the responsible stakeholders. Believe me when I say that this is the most essential element and can speed up the whole business process and make it easier for all parties involved. This is one of my pieces of advice – invest time and efforts in studying the business inside-out, in general, the structures in the organization, the main stakeholders for each project, the responsibilities. Understanding that, I would also know who to ask when I have a question and that will ease the work process.
For one of Accedia’s long-term clients, a leading entertainment company in South Africa, I applied exactly that and the results exceeded their expectations and they requested me for a team lead on a second project. The feedback was that the team and I can really understand their business needs as we know their organization and can bring a new perspective and out-of-the-box thinking. The new project appears to be a little more challenging as there is no structure in place and no clear stakeholders to whom you can turn for advice. That is why I have taken once again a step back to understand the bigger picture and have planned in the long term to assure I can reach the full potential of the project scope in the future.
– Yoanna Kostova, Software Consultant
Are you keen on applying some of the tips and skills the team mentioned above? Or perhaps you wanna join them and test in practice on a project? Check out the open positions and see and feel for yourself what is to work in a team of always curious, open-minded professionals open to collaboration and new perspectives.