Interview with Shahid Mansuri, CEO Of Peerbits
Give us a quick overview on Peerbits. When and how did you begin this journey and what were your motives to be successful in software development?
What started as a team of four people effort to make mobile technology accessible to the common populace soon we grew in our efforts and now we are 100.
I still remember. The year was 2011 and people had started buying smart phones more than desktops and laptops. The glass-clad, super classy, uptown iPhone 4 was a device everyone was eager to get their hands on. The iPhone 4’s retina display simply made us wow. We came across Android Gingerbread on a HTC device. It, although, was not as impressive as the iPhone 4’s glossy software, what we saw was the immense potential. Android Cupcake and Donut were an embarrassment to hold in front of an iPhone.
While the debate, which one is better Android or iOS, could never be resolved, we concluded one thing the future is mobile application development.
Mobile applications market is reaching a level of saturation and we are up to our next move already. Evolution is the key and the recipe of survival. In the cut-throat competition, there are chances to fade out and vanish. We must not only survive but also become prominent. Keeping up with the latest technology and industry trends is the least we can do.
What is your role in the management and development of Peerbits?
I am the Chief Executive Officer and one of the founders of Peerbits. As the highest-ranking executive in the company, my job is to make corporate decisions. The faster I make those decisions the better IT operations inside the company will proceed. If things get delayed our end the clients may request quotes from other companies. I am not the only founder and there are two others. Although they are my friends, in a few events, I have to convince them to go with my decisions. Also I do have to comply with their suggestions, feedback and amend my decisions accordingly with patience.
In addition, my job includes managing the overall operations and resources of the company. For that, I sit with the managers every week, where they share with me the progress of each project. I will then evaluate and share our progression and schedules provided by the managers to the client. This makes sure the team and the client are on the same page.
The major part of my role falls on making sure that no piece of work is stuck due to a pending decision from my side. I call for a meeting every Friday with managers and team leaders, where I will take the right decisions.
On a fine day, you can see me sitting with a project manager, the client on Skype and the project analyst and QA manager beside me.
While my tight schedules don't allow me to interact with every employee, I drop an email every month to let them know where I am, what I am up to, what are the projects I am involved in, my concerns, and how Peerbits is doing, along with the footnotes from our Senior Management team and other founders.
Tell us about your biggest achievement in the industry
Clutch listed us among the top 5 app developers in Ahmedabad and top 30 developers in India, alongside and above companies many years older than us, with the revenue margin higher than us, with better client-base that talk nothing short of Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft.
How do you schedule the development phases of the web and software projects to promise the timeline to your clients?
To schedule the development phases of the web and software projects to promise the timeline to our clients, we employ these five key steps:
This frequently starts will recognizing all the work products and deliverables that form the project. These deliverables are a part of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
1. Define Activities
2. Sequence Activities
3. Estimate Activity Resources
4. Estimate Activity Durations
5. Develop Schedule
How do you help your clients in choosing the right yet profitable platform for development?
When it comes to mobile app development, Android and iOS are the only two available options. Our clients come from various backgrounds, cultures and creeds and in most of the cases they want to develop a couple of apps: one for iOS and Android each. This is something we recommend too.
However, app development costs a lot. Every app publisher can't afford both at the same time. They expect higher returns for their investment on the app development.
The problem is, Play Store may have too many apps but it’s the App Store where developers can make money.
To help our clients in choosing the right yet profitable platform for development, we study their target audience. We start with the country. If it’s the US, UK or other developed country, we suggest iOS. If the app’s target audiences are in metropolitan cities, urban areas and women from developed countries, we would suggest our clients to go with iOS, without a second thought.
If the app’s targets are basically from developing country in South Asia or the subcontinent, Android would do well.
What would you suggest for a successful and profitable business progression when it comes to web and software development? How do you define the factors that influenced you make this choice?
Web and software development are experiencing a heavy dose of commoditization. I can tell you of a few development firms in Philippines and Bangladesh that are ready to work for as low as $5/ hour, which is hideous. I pity for the violation of labor law there. But this is where the reality stands at.
Have you ever been to farmer’s market? If a hawker is selling you potato at $1.2 for 10 Kilograms, the next one would sell it for $1 just to make a sale.
The same happens here. The cutthroat competition has commoditized the market beyond repair.
But, we must look at the other side of the picture too-the silver lining. The types of clients they are attracting are not worth working with. At times, they are mediators finding the cheapest option available so that they take the highest cut from the original party.
We are open to big clients, with exciting project, vivid scope and usage of latest technology, to bargain for an offer with us, than welcoming a small project that doesn't add any value to our portfolio, experience and skills.
I would suggest if you go fishing, catch a big fish rather than many small fishes.
Factors that influence my choice are
We have requisite experience and knowledge of working with the top brands and leaders across the globe.
2. Highly process oriented
We follow distinct processes for every task while maintaining a holistic view of the projects.
3. No surprises
We ensure transparency in work keeping the unexpected surprises at bay.
4. Peace of mind
We dedicate ourselves to work for your business to assure smooth completion of projects, avoiding all unexpected hazards.
5. Committed support
We are passionate about our industry, and we love what we do. We provide regular updates, calls, and product demos for client’s assurance.
6. Customer satisfaction
Clients’ satisfaction is our priority which contributes towards constant enhancement for maintaining and improving client satisfaction!
How do you scheme your pricing model? How do you fix your budget?
We follow Value Delivery Method of software engineering. In which, we code the software around the feature set fundamental to the working of an app first and ask the client to bill on it. This is essentially 50-60% of the app features.
Then we add more features on low priority list and bill client gradually till the end of the project. This way the client pays the full amount over a period of time and not at project delivery.
To fix budget we develop relevant KPIs
You can’t efficiently manage a project budget without establishing key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs help you determine how much has been spent on a project, to which degree the project’s real budget differs from what has planned, and so on. Here are just a few commonly known and used project KPIs that are vital to effective project budget management:
1. Actual cost (AC), also known as actual cost of work performed (ACWP), shows how much money has been spent on a project to date.
2. Cost variance (CV) indicates whether the estimated project cost is above or below the set baseline.
3. Earned value (EV), aka budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP), shows the approved budget for performed project activities up to a particular time.
4. Planned value (PV), aka budgeted cost of work scheduled (BCWS), is the estimated cost for project activities planned/scheduled as of reporting date.
5. Return on investment (ROI) shows a project's profitability and whether the benefits have exceeded the costs.
How helpful are the web and software developed by Peerbits for your clients in enhancing their business?
Peerbits has developed a number of mobile and web apps that has helped our clients enhancing their business.
Indiref, for example, helped the client, a placement agency, to close a lot of open job in a very short span of time. It was possible because of Indiref’s unique approach to shortlist candidates. The app would assign a placement officer to each candidate, who would go through his profile and pick the best job for him, thus increasing conversion rate.
Wentamashy is an end-to-end event management system and helps an event organizer to manage an event from creation to payment settlements.
What according to you are the best practices to attain client satisfaction?
1. Hire smart, be patient, support people and treat them well
2. Multiple support options: Chat, WhatsApp, phone, email, etc.
3. Set the Customer's Expectations: Tell your customers exactly what they can expect from you
4. Listen First Then Speak: They are your customers
5. Draft Customer Service Standards: At the end of the day, they matter
6. Create Customer Touchpoints and Follow-Up after the Sale: Show them you care even when they don’t seek support.
How do you update your business system to be in pace with the technological advancements?
To be in pace with the technological advancements at Peerbits, we focus on three areas: Workplace, Employees, and Projects.
1. Workplace: We believe that unless our workplace is modern and equipped with latest technology, people working there won’t feel enough motivated to take interest in the technological advancements. That’s why we are working towards a smart workplace equipped with IoT devices and enabled with apps.
2. Employees: If our employees don’t know where the technology trends are heading towards, the business system won’t be able to keep pace with the technological advancements. So we organize regular seminars to update their knowledge scope.
3. Projects: But there is no point in learning about new technology if we are not working on them. That’s why Peerbits prefer projects that have latest technology in its project scope.
What are your thoughts about AR, VR and Internet of Things (IoT)?
AR, VR, mixed reality and IoT are the future technologies that are yet to show their full potential. IoT is going to shape the tomorrow. The cities of tomorrow will have smart cars, homes, retail establishments, hospitals, and schools with applications of IoT. Not to mention, IoT devices collect a lot of data that can be used as big data for data mining and improving machine learning.
VR has started to show its application in healthcare industry in addition to entertainment. AR will empower rich communication of tomorrow.
What do you think will be the future of web and software technology?
I would describe the future of web and software technology in three ‘S’s: Small, Smart and Scalable.
1. Small: Software programs will be targeted on small but capable devices that have minimal memory footprint and power consumption like IoT devices. They all will be light to enhance portability and connected to the internet 24/7 to enable exchange of data between cloud storage.
2. Smart: Software solutions would be made to make these devices work in unison to attain desired results, and enable smart solutions. They will become capable to take decision on their own and will have AI capabilities. The data they collect will generate a lot of data to leverage on.
3. Scalable: As we move from smart homes to smart hospital, schools, libraries, vehicles, ultimately, to smart cities. We would need to add a lot more of these devices. The software programs should be written with scalability in mind.