Software development company Propellerhead builds elegant software solutions to enhance people’s lives.
It has created an environment of craftsmanship and innovation that empowers its talented 65-strong team to push the limits of technology, bringing great ideas to life.
When just enough is more than enough
As a software developer working with large corporates, Andrew Weston found himself encountering a myriad of large, clunky software solutions, many built without the end-user in mind. Wanting to do things differently, he founded Propellerhead in 2002 with a vision - to create elegant, meaningful software solutions that were just enough to solve the client’s needs. No more, no less.
Director Sandra Kaminski explains, “It’s much tougher to produce just exactly what you need. It’s so easy to be swept away with producing all sorts of clever, quirky things. Here, we want to solve just the problem, saving both time, and money”.
Bringing treasures to life
Propellerhead insists on partnering with clients, believing the solution cannot be dictated by the client alone.
Sandra says, “We turn a lot of work away every year because we can’t partner properly with a company. If you get told what to do and sent off to produce exactly that, there’s a high chance it’s not going to be at all what they need. We want to partner with companies long term and make things of value that enhance people’s lives”.
Auckland Museum partnered with Propellerhead to develop a digital solution to house and showcase its vast collection of treasures. Challenged by lack of physical space, the museum wanted to reach a wider audience and enable better connection between people, stories and objects in its collection.
Propellerhead created an online platform using Linked Open Data, providing digital access from anywhere in the world and allowing interactions between items – both within the museum’s own collection and other museums and collections worldwide.
The result brings the collection to life and reveals stories never told or seen before. The solution has earnt the museum global accolades for its Linked Open Data leadership.
Unlocking people’s creativity
Propellerhead has created an agile working environment where people work in small teams, constantly communicating and collaborating to solve clients’ problems.
Sandra recognises this workplace may not suit everyone, “We look for people who’re not only technically capable but who’re comfortable talking to their team every hour of every day about what they’re working on. Ultimately, if you know what everyone else is working on, then you can help each other. And that’s the goal here, to deliver as a team”.
Moving away from traditional management roles, Propellerhead adopted a de-centralised, holacratic management structure, empowering its people to make critical decisions within their teams, resulting in greater efficiency, agility and innovation.
The company has invested in developing robust processes that enhance and support this structure. Sandra comments, “We have very good processes that we’ve invested heavily in and that’s why you don’t need managers. Without managers, power doesn’t get held in pockets and that’s a much better way of running a business”.
A culture of craftsmanship
At Propellerhead’s Auckland offices you’ll discover an environment where people come together to do work that challenges them, with people they enjoy working with.
Most of Propellerhead’s 65-strong team are developers, including leader Andrew Weston. Elyse Wyatt, the company’s Recruitment Strategist comments, “You’ll often find Andrew coding, working on projects. In the weekends he builds products just to learn new technologies. When the leader is doing things like that, it’s pretty special”.
Propellerhead has a unique approach to rewarding and recognising its people. An internally built digital badging system is in the first stages of being used and assigns skills-based badges to employees. Badges recognise technical skills, as well as soft skills such as communication and attention to detail.
The individual can track their progress and work on areas for improvement. It’s a transparent system that develops people without discrimination and actively encourages personal development.
Elyse explains, “People are so used to doing yearly performance reviews, but this is more dynamic. You can actually see where you are, and where you want to be at any given time. It’s able to look at the core attributes of a person’s skill set – not their age, not how long they’ve been with the company. It tries to eliminate bias.”
Time to take a different approach yourself?
Over 15 different nationalities are represented in Propellerhead’s Auckland office and the company is growing with roles available for solutions architects, product owners, developers, quality analysts and a user experience researcher.
With a recruitment process that puts firm emphasis on people-fit, you can be confident knowing you’ll be joining a team of people that really are friends.
Sandra comments, “It’s like a marriage. We spend time making sure that anyone who comes in will match the people and the environment they work in. You’re here for eight hours and you want to know that you’re building something useful and valuable and the people around you care about what you’re building too”.
Propellerhead has built a successful business and created a unique working environment by doing things differently. If you think it could be time to do things differently yourself, make the smart move to Auckland, and check out available roles in the IT sector.