Levi9

Top 5 quarantine picks by our colleague Sonja Ivković

Sonja Ivković – Learning & Development Partner “My 5“

(Top 5 quarantine picks)

Interview done by Netokracija.

The content from digital culture that she follows the most, this week was revealed to us by Sonja Ivković, Learning & Development Partner in the company Levi9.

Sonja is the mother of two girls, holds a PhD in psychological sciences and has a lot of experience in almost all areas of HR. She stayed in the employee development field for the longest time, because Sonja believes that development, both personal and professional, is the only successful strategy for a fulfilled life.

When she retires, she says, she would like to live by the sea and ride a white Vespa.

Series: ‘Gomorra’ as an image of the Italian mafia
I’m frantically watching the series called “Gomorra”, a rather tense and somber series about cruel Neapolitan mafia that doesn’t pick resources when it comes to struggle for supremacy. Nothing is sacred and unlike to the common belief of the Italian mafia seen as “gentlemen in expensive suits”, there is not much glamour and luxury in Gomorra.

The series, at first, attracted me because it is a European production, I also expected to learn a bit of Italian along the way, but it turned out that it is filmed in Neapolitan dialect, so in Italy itself, the series is broadcasting with the title. It is too late to give up now, but the colorful depiction of brutal violence is not always enjoyable.

YouTube: The mastery of bread baking
My husband has been in the hobby of homemade bread for a while. Yes, lucky me, and to be transparent immediately, I don’t take credit – I just do the dishes and take photos for Instagram. For this reason, lately we have been following channels that deal with the topic of bread making, like this one. Now we went a step further – we also grow homemade yeast and bake bread from ingredients that ferment for 60 hours.

Book: How to successfully lead IT teams
I just finished the book Elastic Leadership written by Roy Osherove. It is a practical guide for day-to-day (IT) team management, based on the author’s professional experience as a team lead. The book is written in a simple language, with many practical examples that author also collected from colleagues from similar occupational background.

There are not many theoretical perspectives (in my opinion – this is both an advantage and a disadvantage) and the book offers experiential advice when addressing common challenges in life of each team. The sentence I remembered was: „If you don’t know anything about human behavior, you know very little about software development”. I recommend it, for sure.

Music: Radio instead of playlist
I listen to Monte Carlo radio. Super cool music!

Text: What about happiness in the work environment?
I recommend the great article on the topic of happiness in the workplace in Harvard Business Review. It is seriously supported by relevant research in this field. This comprehensive text has inspired me to take a more detailed and critical interest in this buzz phenomenon and served as an inspiration to embark on the writings of my own on this topic (stay tuned).


Levi9 cooworkers smiling at online meeting

Staying Connected Remotely

Tatyana van Witzenburg, Security Officer & Damir Solajic, Head of IT

In times of crisis, like the one we’re all experiencing right now, we really begin to appreciate the people in our lives – our family, friends and colleagues. We also begin to realise the brilliance of the technology platforms we often take for granted day-to-day.

While we’re used to remote working at Levi9, we won’t pretend that adjusting to a new way of working has been easy. While the technology we already use has of course made the transition easier, ensuring that 1,100 people across Europe could work from home was a big effort.

In a similar way, just because we have access to Microsoft Teams, it doesn’t mean we don’t miss being able to quickly turn to colleagues for advice or a casual chat about last night’s TV.

But we’re doing our best to maintain these connections and some semblance of our usual work patterns. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

Overcoming Major Challenges

Remote work presents both technical and mobility challenges, which depending on the way your company’s IT is set up, will vary in terms of difficulty.

Here at Levi9, our team is based across offices in the Netherlands, Serbia, Romania, and Ukraine. We’re lucky in that the majority are developers who can work from anywhere. But when it became clear that we’d all need to work from home, the race was on to make sure 1,100 of us had remote access to, well, pretty much everything in a short time span. While it wasn’t as simple as flipping a switch, what made it easier was the fact we have a digital cloud-based infrastructure.

However, like many office-based companies, several teams used desktop computers in offices, so we had to make sure they had mobile devices and laptops. But once that issue was resolved, we had to address security. Although security is high on our agenda, we had to rethink it on a whole new level in order to protect both customer and company data. We needed to ensure our set-up with each customer was workable and secure, so that any team members logging on remotely had the same level of security as they would in the office.

Prioritize Communication

With all of the technical stuff taken care of, we needed to keep our company culture and communication strong – ensuring that everyone remained aligned on work and to maintain morale and mental health.

Even though we are used to working in a distributed set up – and while our management teams, both HQ and local management, are sharing regular updates with employees – we have always given a lot of attention to social interaction and face-to-face communication, with each other and our customers.

As a software development company, we’ve always used an Agile approach to work and so teams and customers are used to weekly ‘stand-up’ sessions to share progress and next steps. To keep things moving remotely we’ve increased the number of weekly sessions, which so far has had a very positive impact.

But perhaps what we’re most proud of are our staff’s own initiatives to stay connected. They’re taking lunch with one another over webcam and having virtual watercooler sessions to chat more informally. They’ve even set up a social media hashtag to stay connected online and to keep each other informed – #ninersunite – and have started organising Friday afternoon pub quizzes.

In the short time since our teams started working remotely, we have been astounded by the way in which everyone has stepped up to do their very best. There’s been no lack of ideas and people are sharing those ideas with each other.

Moving forward, after seeing how effective remote working has been, we will definitely consider giving our people more flexibility how we do things moving forward when normality returns.

Many of our working practices will undoubtedly change, with a focus on getting more balance between life and work. Despite the current challenges, we can see a positive outcome for all employees – and we hope that other businesses will too.

Remote Working: Takeaway Tips

  • Remote collaboration tools work best on cloud-based infrastructure
  • Always use VPNs, antivirus, and encryption software to maximise security
  • Give people ground rules and tips on working from home
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate (it’s not just work that connects us)
  • Empower your people so that they come up with ways to make working from home more efficient and fun
  • Organise informal sessions to boost morale and team spirit

Need some more tips on remote working? Just want a chat about how to make it work for your company? Drop us an email on info@levi9.com.


Creativity is the business, tech is the tool

Don’t be misled by the technical side of our work. We are primarily a creative company. The technique is the tool, the medium we use to shape our creativity.’ – Pien Oosterman, CEO Levi9

It started with a bang
In 1994, the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the planet Jupiter, a cosmic bang that changed the skies forever. That fact meant the conceptual starting point of a tech company that called itself Levi9 and set itself the goal of bringing about lasting change through digital disruption.

We want more
Levi9 differentiates between support tech and business tech. There’s a crucial difference between the two. The first offers support to the client’s business, meaning the most important goal is to achieve greater efficiency. Which isn’t something that particularly floats a Levi9er’s boat. Levi9 wants to create lasting change to their clients’ businesses with creative, technological customisation. Creating impact. A domain where the only thing that counts is effectivity, or rather: more. Should the project deliver more profit/success/production/output/results than it did previously? Time for the levi niner to roll up his sleeves and get on the case.

Programmers should shine
To be able to change your client’s company, you have to understand their business through and through. This goes beyond a briefing or a day of shadowing. You have to speak their language, test their products, know their processes, recognise their insecurities and be aware of
what keeps them awake at night. Which is exactly where Levi9 sets itself apart: ‘customer intimacy’, or a personal, involved relationship with the client. Equality, without hierarchy and with space for every idea. You wouldn’t necessarily expect this term in a tech company and as a business principle it does bring with it the necessary challenges. Not every client is accustomed to working
like this: some companies have a fight-mindset, or bureaucracy, or distrust. In which case, it simply doesn’t work. Levi9 are unable to add anything and the programmers get frustrated, while they should actually be allowed to shine. Their work is as good as their dialogue with the customer.

Tech as a tool
Creative digital disruption is the objective, technology is the tool. To achieve the necessary creativity, freedom is crucial. You must have the confidence to think, feel, do and talk without limitation. The entire company culture has been deliberately created to constantly reinforce this
feeling of warmth and safety. For a tech company, Levi9 has an above average focus on people, or the soft side of the business. At Levi9, leadership is about relationships, not targets. The paradox however, is that this doesn’t stem from soft human behaviour, but from hard ambitions. Or, as CEO Pien Oosterman describes it: ‘We think people are very important, but we’re not some soft yoga joint. We pay a lot of attention to our people because this leads to better results. And we all know that better results lead to more profit…’ That too is creating lasting impact. But then on your own business.


Cultural match and shared focus

Customer Intimacy: close to the employees

“Cultural match and shared focus”

In IT services, the explicit demand of the customer often entails an implicit desire. To provide the optimal answer to this unspoken need, the business objectives have to be clear to all parties involved. Levi9 Technology Services believes that the right response to the customer demand happens at three levels: the customer itself, the end user, and last but not least, the employee.

People in tech love it when they make the difference. Software development teams are most effective when all parties understand the context in which the product is going to be used by the end customer: the intended goal, user-friendliness and the business value. Levi9 is helping one of its clients build a platform to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. Making this explicit in the performance indicators for the development team is one of the ways that Levi9 is increasing their engagement; the sense of social responsibility then becomes an additional motivation for achieving the objectives. But it starts with a deeper insight into the culture, objectives and needs of the client.

Employees involved

Regular, and preferably informal, personal contact with all parties is one of the keys to getting at the real customer demand. IT service providers try to do this at three levels:

The customer itself – In IT services, by definition the customer demand goes beyond the wishes and requirements of the individual customer or that one contact person. It always involves more people and more departments. Their needs and desires can be very different depending on the internal coordination. The real customer demand is the greatest common denominator of all the individual demands.
The end users – The customer demand is also the demand of the end users. It often happens that companies get bogged down in interpretations and assumptions here. That’s why it’s important to verify that the company really knows its end users. As the IT services provider, that might mean that you have to go talk to the end customers yourself. To be sure that the functionality you are delivering answers to what they actually want.
The employees – As IT services provider, you also have to get up close with your own personnel. This is as important as knowing the customer and the end users. Because even the smallest wrinkle in their interaction with the customer or the end user can have a number of ripple effects that can work against you. And that’s bad for the customer and bad for your own people.

“The interaction with Levi9 is always about a shared focus on making the best possible product”  Johan de Groot, Faktor co-founder and CTO

Johan de Groot, Faktor co-founder and CTO

Partnership means startup on steroids

Faktor’s explosive growth and sensational success are the stuff of adventure novels. His company was recently purchased by LiveRamp, but chief technology officer Johan de Groot is still working closely with Levi9 on further growth in the field of consent management. “We went through the learning curve as partners, and we’re still learning.”

“At that time, Faktor was one of the few parties that foresaw the rise of data privacy legislation and took it seriously”, explains De Groot. “Even then, we understood that when a company handles the personal data of its users properly, on the basis of consent, everyone wins.” Faktor launched in 2017 with four employees and the backing of several angel investors. “We knew we had to get off the ground by 25 May 2018, the day the GDPR went into effect. That meant we had to go very fast from an idea to a minimum viable product to a fully operational and scalable solution. And we did, thanks to our partnership with Levi9.”

A lot of the strength comes from the broad-based synergies between all parties involved, including the people of Levi9 in Amsterdam and the developers in Zrenjanin, Serbia. “We all have the same focus on producing a good product together. Levi9 operates like a unit of our company. For example, developers have access to our Slack environment and all our documentation.”

Synergy

Levi9 worked with Faktor on the core product using methodologies like Lean and Scrum. For De Groot, the customer intimacy comes from putting heads together: “We really do it together, across the whole organization. That’s one of the most important success factors. When I get critical feedback from our own customers, I send it straight through to the people on the Levi9 team, with no filter. And then within 24 hours everyone’s working on the solution.”

Meanwhile, new legislation and regulations governing data and privacy keep coming, so the demand for consent management continues to rise. “To keep up with it, we’re growing from four teams to six. The partnership with Levi9 is getting even closer. We’ve strengthened our ties and have become real friends and coworkers.”

Scale

The way Faktor uses its people and its tech explains how the company can focus on innovation, business logic and customer journeys. Domain specialists of Levi9 can look on where they need to and call on senior or mid-level developers. “The smart way we put the teams together has given us basically a startup on steroids.”

And the need for growth is also coming from LiveRamp, a specialist in identity solutions. “The speed at which we are able to get products out in partnership with Levi9 is starting to get noticed in California. Who knows where that’s going to lead in the future …?”

“Levi9 operates like a unit of our company”
Johan de Groot, Faktor co-founder and CTO

“A good match generates energy”

Levi9 Technology Services is very selective about its customers. We first take a close look at whether our culture is a good fit with that of the customer, and whether their needs and the needs of the end users line up with our internal values. And the mission has to be sufficiently challenging for our employees. Everything is focused on creating a valuable relationship for the long term.

“Our tech people want to understand the customer’s business, so they know what their efforts are leading to,” explains Levi9 CEO Pien Oosterman. “Together with the customer, we translate the product vision into technology: the features that will make the difference for the business.”

“Everyone finds it so exciting when they get a chance to work for a startup,” she continues. “It’s something that gives a talented professional the chance to push themselves and grow. And the energy that comes from that is priceless. When the spirit on the teams is good, that’s when a company can make the greatest strides. And we see that most with a strong social drive, like the push for sustainability or a living work environment. And of course, the contribution to the customer’s business goals counts for us.”

“When the spirit on the teams is good, that’s when a company can make the greatest strides” 
Pien Oosterman, Levi9 CEO

Unique in customer focus

Levi9 Technology Services places a strong focus on business technology: the tech that companies use to distinguish themselves in their markets. The engineers of Levi9 work in a nearshore model with the business and the management of the customer to develop outstanding custom software.

Levi9 has some 20 staff in the Netherlands and over one thousand in Eastern Europe – all ambitious, highly educated professionals who speak English well. They are not hindered by a superfluous management layer, so they can get straight at what is best for the customer.

Alongside custom software development, commodities are also an important part of Levi9’s services. Cloud services, APIs, business services, and serverless computing are all used wherever possible. Individually and in combination, these technologies are the catalyst for scalability and acceleration.

All levels

At all levels – from the break room to the boardroom – Levi9 Technology Services has the right contacts to collect the knowledge and understanding of the customer and the end user, which we do in combination with surveys and research. The result is an optimal interaction that leads to top-quality tech applications and products that make the difference for the customer.


THINKING IN USER STORIES AND BUSINESS IMPACT

Customer Intimacy: The end user in the picture
“Thinking in user stories and business impact”

In IT services, the explicit demand of the customer often entails an implicit desire. To provide the optimal answer to this unspoken need, the business objectives have to be clear to all parties involved. Levi9 Technology Services believes that the right response to the customer demand happens at three levels: the customer itself, the employee, and last but not least, the end user.

The digital transformation promises a company many things, and one of them is a more intensive, more individual, one-on-one relationship with customers and the consumer. The delivery on this promise comes from a combination of cutting-edge technology, data and smart algorithms. Although online research and data analysis produces beautiful customer journeys, personas, results and insights, the customer feedback you get through this channel is less personal than human contact. That greater personal distance to the customer is a significant change, one that companies need to be aware of. IT services providers can help organizations and executives regain a vision of the real need in the market.

End users

Regular, and preferably informal, personal contact with all parties is one of the keys to getting at the real customer demand. IT service providers try to do this at three levels:

The customer itself – In IT services, by definition the customer demand goes beyond the wishes and requirements of the individual client or that one contact person. It always involves more people and more departments. Their needs and desires can be very different depending on the internal coordination. The real customer demand is the greatest common denominator of all the individual demands.

The end users – The customer demand is also the demand of the end users. It often happens that companies get bogged down in interpretations and assumptions here. That’s why it’s important to verify that the company really knows its end users. As the IT services provider, that might mean that you have to go talk to the end customers yourself. To be sure that the functionality you are delivering answers to what they actually want.

The employees – As IT services provider, you also have to get up close with your own personnel. This is as important as knowing the client and the end users. Because even the smallest wrinkle in their interaction with the customer or the end user can have a number of ripple effects that can work against you. And that’s bad for the customer and bad for your own people.


Martijn Hohmann, Five Degrees CEO

Working together towards the bank of your dreams

Five Degrees is a software company that drives the software behind a fully digital bank delivered from the cloud. The roadmap is all about user-friendliness, flexibility and speed. “We deliver this with our choice for a cloud solution, developing on the basis of micro services, and our years of partnership with Levi9,” says CEO Martijn Hohmann.

With its sights set on supersonic development and strong growth, scalability in technology and manpower is critical to Five Degrees. “Think about the development of new technological possibilities, both in the core banking application and on the user side. Then, there are the options for making integration with other systems as easy as possible,” says Hohmann. Now, eight years after Five Degrees’ launch, over twenty banks internationally are using the technology.

The highly qualified people and excellent service of Levi9 gave Five Degrees the comfort and security they needed. “It was also important for there to be a match in terms of culture and a shared passion for the field and the product. That led to an intensive cooperation and knowledge transfer, which was one of the biggest success factors. After five years of intensive cooperation and a few successful recent pilot projects, the people of Levi9 are now working on the core teams and having an input in our product roadmap.”

Components

Five Degrees’ technology agenda is built on the modular development and provision of software components based on micro services. According to Hohmann, “The advantage for the customer is that they can choose exactly the relevant blocks of functionality they need from a huge range of integrated options. And they can combine them with components they already have. For us, working with components means that we can produce them as location-independent modules. By developing new functionality in a fully event-driven and serverless way, making it cloud-native, the applications get more and more efficient and easier to scale.”

Ambition

Hohmann says that the years of intimate partnership with Levi9 have produced a lot of advantages. “There’s so much mutual trust between us that we don’t even think of them as a vendor anymore. They have so much knowledge of our processes and products, and that means we are getting so much out of this partnership. And it means they’re not afraid to say something when they know that a product or solution can be better.”

That critical, proactive approach comes along with the personal professionalism and ambition of the people on the teams. “They want to learn, and grow, and work on exciting and relevant solutions too. As a customer, we challenge those people and give them the opportunity to up their game. That’s good for us, for our customers, and for Levi9.”

“At Levi9, they’re not afraid to say something when they know that a product or solution can be better” – Martijn Hohmann, Five Degrees CEO

 

Truly understanding the end user

The added value of Levi9 Technology Services comprises much more than simply delivering what the customer asks for. Truly understanding what adds value for the end user, and delivering it as a shared goal, is what it’s all about. That demands constant reassessment. A truly good customer relationship is always based on data, intelligence and human interaction.

“We are always trying to use the user story to prompt our clients to think in terms of business impact,” explains Levi9 CEO Pien Oosterman. “That kind of dialogue requires discussion partners that know their market and their competition very well.” This multidimensional customer orientation can be challenging for the CIO, CTO or CDO on the client side.
“More than with small and medium-sized companies, at the big companies, we still see a lot of thinking and action from islands and silos,” says Levi9 CCO Debby Jansen. This is something that can obscure the view to the end user. “As a strategic partner, we really like to help facilitate a cross-functional exchange. For an intimate relationship with the customer, the end user, and our own people. This way, we can always deliver real added business value.”

“We are always trying to use the user story to prompt our clients to think in terms of business impact”
Pien Oosterman, Levi9 CEO

 

Unique in customer focus

Levi9 Technology Services places a strong focus on business technology: the tech that companies use to distinguish themselves in their markets. The engineers of Levi9 work in a nearshore model with the business and the management of the client to develop outstanding custom software.

Levi9 has some 20 staff in the Netherlands and over one thousand in Eastern Europe – all ambitious, highly educated professionals who speak English well. They are not hindered by a superfluous management layer, so they can get straight at what is best for the client.

Alongside custom software development, commodities are also an important part of Levi9’s services. Cloud services, APIs, business services, and serverless computing are all used wherever possible. Individually and in combination, these technologies are the catalyst for scalability and acceleration.

All levels

At all levels – from the break room to the boardroom – Levi9 Technology Services has the right contacts to collect the knowledge and understanding of the client and the end user, which we do in combination with surveys and research. The result is an optimal interaction that leads to top-quality tech applications and products that make the difference for the customer.


IT’S THE EXPERIENCE, NOT THE EXPECTATIONS

Customer Intimacy: Business value for the customer

“It’s the experience, not the expectations”

In IT services, the explicit demand of the customer often entails an implicit desire. To provide the optimal answer to this unspoken need, the business objectives have to be clear to all parties involved. Levi9 Technology Services believes that the right response to the customer demand happens at three levels: end users, employees, and of course the customer itself.

Organizations and their leaders generally find themselves facing two fundamental challenges that are in essence the formula for the ultimate customer demand. Firstly, they have to have a clear vision of their own products and services: what distinguishes them in the market. Then, they have to have the right technological response, as fast and as scalable as possible.

In the face of increasing competition and the rapidly changing demands of today’s market, the modern company has to move fast. Companies have to make optimal use of the technology that opens the doors to new activities and more effective ways of working. The right tech solutions can reduce time-to-market, increase revenues and decrease costs.


Personal contact
Regular, and preferably informal, personal contact with all parties is one of the keys to getting at the real customer demand. IT service providers try to do this at three levels:

The customer itself
 – In IT services, by definition the customer demand goes beyond the wishes and requirements of the individual customer or that one contact person. It always involves more people and more departments. Their needs and desires can be very different depending on the internal coordination. The real customer demand is the greatest common denominator of all the individual demands.

The end users
 – The customer demand is also the demand of the end users. It often happens that companies get bogged down in interpretations and assumptions here. That’s why it’s important to verify that the company really knows its end users. As the IT services provider, that might mean that you have to go talk to the end customers yourself. To be sure that the functionality you are delivering answers to what they actually want.

The employees
 – As IT services provider, you also have to get up close with your own personnel. This is as important as knowing the customer and the end users. Because even the smallest wrinkle in their interaction with the customer or the end user can have a number of ripple effects that can work against you. And that’s bad for the customer and bad for your own people.


”With an Agile mindset towards a leading platform”
Joeri Kamp, Everon COO and Managing Director

Everon is the software division of EVBox, a worldwide manufacturer of charging points for electric vehicles and charging management systems. Faced with the increasing importance of charging point management and fast growth in the market, Everon chose to work with Levi9. “Our assumption has been a partnership with maximum business results,” says COO Joeri Kamp.

“With our mobility solution, we’re going to be playing a worldwide role in the electric vehicle ecosystem,” Kamp says enthusiastically. “Our charging point management platform is set up to be entirely scalable as a service, and Levi9 helps us do that. For us, it’s a unique opportunity to grow in this relatively young and, above all, promising market.”

Levi9 doesn’t just lend a helping hand, but is also raising the quality and working methods within the development teams. “They bring knowledge and experience to the table with the Agile methodology, with continuous improvement, attention to security and architecture. All these things mean real added value in the short and long term.”

Worldwide platform
Everon is an independent unit responsible for the EV charging management platform in a number of areas, including the EVBox charging posts, which have already been rolled out in over 100,000 charging points in more than 55 countries. Everon is set up as an independent unit and might emerge as a worldwide platform for the management of charging points from all manufacturers.

The synergy with Levi9 began with the need for additional Java developers on sixteen teams, working mainly on issues relating to the core application, to develop new functionality and flexible options for scaling up. “They have a reputation as a reliable partner, so you know they deliver, and you know you can count on satisfaction as a customer. All those things played a role in the choice. Working with them means lots of face-to-face contact, both with Levi9 in Amsterdam and the thirty or so developers who are working on the various teams.”

Business results
Until recently, Everon did not have a development team focusing on mobile applications. “Working with Levi9, we put together a team for iOS and Android that has the goal of launching native apps next year,” Kamp continues. “Other teams are focusing on things like eliminating technical debt and developments around data – both front and back-end.”

“A shared mission means the cultures have to be largely compatible, with similar diversity in terms of national background and gender. That’s certainly true for Levi9, an international company with over 40% of its employees female,” says Kamp.

“Our assumption has been a partnership with maximum business results, for both the short and long term”
Joeri Kamp, Everon COO and Managing Director

“Regularly reassess customer demand”
Optimal customer intimacy means that the customer demand has to be reassessed regularly, ideally at least once per quarter. If you see that two or more of the customer’s people are starting to have divergent visions, then it’s time to have an open discussion about reformulating the demand in clear terms. Levi9 takes up the responsibility for actively encouraging and facilitating this dialogue.

“When we know their business goals, then we can support our clients with the right data and technology,” explains Debby Janssen, CCO of Levi9 Technology Services. “That’s how we deliver a customer experience instead of customer expectations. That means real added value in the long term.”

The pitfall is that as the vendor, you might think you understand the customer demand and then start working on that basis, only to then find out that the client actually meant something a little bit different. “That demands intensive contact with the client, their people, and any technology partners involved,” says Jansen. “That broad-based coordination is an important success factor.”

“By knowing their business goals, we can support our clients with the right data and technology”
Debby Jansen, Levi9 Technology Services CCO

 


Unique in customer focus
Levi9 Technology Services places a strong focus on business technology: the tech that companies use to distinguish themselves in their markets. The engineers of Levi9 work in a nearshore model with the business and the management of the client to develop outstanding custom software.

Levi9 has some 20 staff in the Netherlands and over one thousand in Eastern Europe – all ambitious, highly educated professionals who speak English well. They are not hindered by a superfluous management layer, so they can get straight at what is best for the customer.

Alongside custom software development, commodities are also an important part of Levi9’s services. Cloud services, APIs, business services, and serverless computing are all used wherever possible. Individually and in combination, these technologies are the catalyst for scalability and acceleration.

All levels
At all levels – from the break room to the boardroom – Levi9 Technology Services has the right contacts to collect the knowledge and understanding of the client and the end user, which we do in combination with surveys and research. The result is an optimal interaction that leads to top-quality tech applications and products that make the difference for the customer.

Do you have a business challenge and are you looking for a technology partner to support you?
Please contact us, so we can define and reach our common goal: info@levi9.com 


Levi9 supporting kids education

Can’t Wait to Learn War Child & Levi9

Can’t Wait to Learn is fast, effective and low-cost – and utilises custom gaming technology to deliver quality education. The evidence-based programme was developed by War Child and partners, such as Levi9, through years of testing and research.

More than 32 million children affected by conflict worldwide miss out on education. Can’t Wait to Learn opens up a whole new world to them – the world of learning. But the real magic? It is designed in partnership with children and tailored to their reality.

Can’t Wait to Learn provides a solution for millions of children around the world – both in formal schools and in out-of-school settings. The programme offers children affected by conflict the opportunity to (continue to) learn to read and count through playing educational games on tablet devices.

Thanks to a delivery system which can operate in resource constrained areas, Can’t Wait to Learn provides quality education to all children – no matter where they are. The programme enables children to learn even in places where formal education is not available.
Children of all abilities can learn through the program – each game includes instruction and practice modules, as well as a learning management system.

Since 2017, Levi9 and War Child Holland have been collaborating on a project to establish a data management and monitoring portal for the education technology program.

The management portal is a data tracking system, which enables Can’t Wait to Learn’s global and local staff to register the children in the programme and monitor their progress. The portal is a product of on-going developments and improvements based on feedback from both the War Child Holland team as well as team members from their country programs. As the program evolved and grew, so did the management portal and its functionalities. One of the main challenges has been to create a ‘’global’’ portal while incorporating the specific needs per country. This challenge required both the Levi9 and the War Child Holland team to be creative and pragmatic.

The final result of the portal is widely used and appreciated by various War Child teams using it in Bangladesh, Chad, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Sudan and Uganda. The teams have seen their feedback being incorporated and come to life in the portal. Ultimately, the management portal is used for quality assurance, as we can track progress and follow up on implementation based on the data. This has been a valuable learning experience and partnership for War Child Holland, and we appreciate Levi9’s professional and financial contributions in the process.


Transparency, Teamwork, & Trust: The Joys Of Collaborative Specification

When it comes to putting software requirements together; transparency, teamwork, and trust are key to a successful project.

That’s why we put so much emphasis on ‘collaborative specification’ here at Levi9, as part of any customer project.

But what does it actually involve? What’s the process? Who needs to be part of it? Is it essential? Does it make things easier?

So many questions(!). Let’s take a closer look.

Transparency

In order to get the result our customers’ need, they have to tell us exactly what they’re trying to achieve – right from the outset.

It’s mission critical. It’s not ‘cos we’re nosy; we just need to fully understand our customers’ business goals – in order to start building a software solution that’ll hit their objectives.

It’s not always easy for businesses to define and specify their requirements alone – which is why collaborative specification is a great way to start. It helps everyone involved to focus on the ambition rather than the innovation.

Likewise, as a software development company, we need to make it crystal clear what we’re able to offer given time, budgets, and expectations. It’s a consultative approach, but it keeps everyone honest about what’s possible.

Teamwork

Collaborative specification also ensures that we set a precedent for ongoing communication and activity with our customers – which are essential for any successful partnership. This means we need to involve potential users and stakeholders across the customers’ business – in addition to the IT team and the software engineers building the new solution.

Of course, some customers often have very clear and detailed requirements prepared, while others (the vast majority) don’t. But involving development teams in this way, we can ask the right questions and challenge requirements – to ensure the correct actions are taken.

However prepared our customers are, it’s important that everyone is aligned, shares the same goals, and has the same understanding – which is why we take a similar approach to best practice with every customer. Success hinges on being able to verify requirements and close gaps in understanding.

Trust

Overall, collaborative specification allows us to build trust with our customers – right from the very start of our relationship. It levels the playing field by establishing the expertise of everyone involved – which sets up a true partnership rather than a ‘client-supplier’ hierarchy.

When there is no collaboration between business and technical teams in defining software requirements, there’s a high chance that the incorrect assumptions will be made, which eventually leads to the wrong solution being created. When you have trust, you have honesty. And when you’re easily able to have an open conversation, you can save a lot of hassle, time, and money.

Work In Progress

A nice example that demonstrates exactly how we handle the collaborative specification process is the approach we implemented with our customer: one of the largest energy providers in the Netherlands.

After breaking down the process into individual project milestones, we conducted a user story mapping session to identify important pieces of functionality and to outline the fundamental steps needed for the desired user flow.

This was an opportunity for the product owner, business representatives, and the development team to contribute to the specification process. It also allowed us to spot dependencies with third party systems early on, and to point out technical possibilities and any system restrictions – in order to plan an Agile release.

We’ve noticed that with this approach teams are more proactive in sharing ideas during implementation. Also, when the time is taken to understand each requirement, there’s a higher chance that the right solution will be built first time – as the potential issues and functional gaps are detected before the team starts developing code.

At Levi9, we enjoy being involved in the process of co-creation, as we have vast experience with different collaborative specification models and techniques – to help our customers get from idea to high quality working software in the shortest time possible.

To talk to our experts about how we can get your next software project up and running, drop us a line on info@levi9.com.


DevOps Culture of Agile Software Development

Let’s be honest, software development is a complex process. Defects and integration challenges are quite often identified too late, becoming sizeable obstacles for business owners, development teams and end-users.

Lucky for you, there is a better way to do things. At Levi9, we use a holistic approach to software development. One that encourages communication and collaboration between the product management, development teams and operations. We transform a business idea into a product that delivers value and contributes to your objectives. It is called DevOps and we’re quite fond of it.

DevOps culture maximizes productivity and predictability. It complements lean and agile software development practices with the main goal to ensure fast and reliable delivery of useful software. DevOps practices ensure a smooth and fast flow of work from product design and development to operations and ultimately to the customer.

It enables a fast feedback-loop from operations to development, in order to detect issues fast, recover quickly and prevent problems. A streamlined process that keeps everybody connected, from users to product management to the development team.

On top of that, our continuous improvement practices create a culture that encourages initiative and experimentation; plus it gives us more time and energy dedicated to innovation and taking your products up the value chain. Global organizations that embraced DevOps definitely have a competitive edge: they deploy software code 30 times quicker; …with 60% less bugs; …with up to 200 times faster lead time to change; …and 168 times faster time to restore service.

Not only do these companies have higher growth rates, they get much higher satisfaction scores all across the board. Their customers appreciate their reliability in delivering products that truly add value to their business. Their employees love having a growth culture, where continuous improvements lead to professional development and a psychologically safe working environment.

An organization that does not use data as an incentive to improve practices of flow, feedback and continuous improvement will probably end up wasting time. In a competitive digital market, DevOps helps you keep up metrics and learn from your data – a real game changer. Take it from a myriad of state-of-the-art products, happy customers and satisfied employees; taking ownership of the way you approach the value stream and your innovation culture is the most beneficial change you will ever make. …and we’d be happy to assist you.


The secret to fruitful collaboration

We sat down with Ian Meyers, senior product manager identity at LiveRamp, a San Francisco based tech marketing company that just started working with us, to get some feedback on their experience with finding the right partner for their IT challenges.

LiveRamp provides the identity platform leveraged by enterprise marketeers and their partners to deliver innovative products and exceptional experiences. The LiveRamp platform connects people, data, and devices across the digital and physical world, powering the people-based marketing revolution and allowing consumers to safely connect with the brands and products they love.

LiveRamp was looking to build a product from the ground up and got referred to us by Faktor, a company they had recently acquired and one of our long- lasting customers. Being listed at the New York Stock Exchange, LiveRamp is required to comply with a myriad of regulations, both legal and compliance-wise and as such they had to act very prudently in their selection process for a development partner.

Contract negotiations proved to be an iterative and collaborative endeavor, in which Levi9’s framework agreement proved to be both legally sound and able to meet LiveRamp’s requirements in a flexible way. Mutual trust and openness were at the basis of a fruitful process and led to an outcome that respected the interests of both parties. LiveRamp shared their product concept with us, our team wanted to understand exactly what they would like to achieve, to make sure we were in the best position to help them throughout the entire project.

The interactions during an orientation phase really shape a project. Through technical input and prototypes, a rough idea was converted into a detailed project that would truly help LiveRamp move forward.

We made sure that a 9 hour time difference wouldn’t get in the way of running intensive agile processes together. LiveRamp stressed the importance to have teams that collaborate and communicate closely and short-cycled – a foundation to make a project a success.

The communication between the team was not about preventing hurdles along the way but rather to iteratively keep fine-tuning the product.
LiveRamp never feared that things would go off track, they were in good hands.

Ian shared with us: “Even though we are your customer, the Levi9 team very much feels like our colleagues” Collaboration is key to us, and LiveRamp is the best partner we can hope for!