Dan Rutkovský (iOS Senior developer) and Míra Voda (Android Senior developer) are two of the three founders of SYNETECH. As our senior developers, they have dedicated a significant amount of time to the German company tadoº. Working there on behalf of SYNETECH they are helping to develop an application for a smart thermostat for heating and air conditioning control, which has hundreds of thousands of users across Europe.
What is it like working for a German company? What ideas would they bring over to SYNETECH and what would they leave to the Germans.
Guys, so when were you assigned this work in Germany?
Míra (Android): I’ve been working with tadoº since 2018, but I had a break for about half a year and then rejoined in September 2019.
Dan (iOS): I’ve been there for about a year and a half, since February 2020.
How did the collaboration start?
Mira (Android): They needed help delivering a new version of their Android application, which was due for release in three months, but no one had even started working on it yet. I got there, looked at the app and found that its architecture and code were lagging behind the market standard for the time. I suggested that it would be nice if we solved this problem before developing a new version, so that we wouldn’t be developing an app with an already outdated codebase from the very beginning.
What did they say?
Míra (Android): They agreed and a long-term plan for cooperation emerged. :) I was responsible for the entire process from the architecture proposal, programming, servicing the CI and final release. The hardest part was designing the new architecture to be compatible with the old one. But we managed it, we fine-tuned it during the autumn and in December I was already on my way back to the Czech Republic. In the summer of 2019, they were short-staffed again, so I came back.
Dan (iOS): I didn’t get involved until later, when they needed help with the iOS platform. I started purely as a programmer.
What was it like for you to join the team?
Míra (Android): For me, at the beginning, the language was the biggest challenge. :) Even if you have a certificate in English, you will find that you still don’t understand a lot and it takes three times longer to say what you want to say, which can be quite “embarrassing”. But they accepted us. We were in a team of 8-15 people of various nationalities, which was great. There were Spaniards, Kazakhs, Moldovans, Colombians, Portuguese and Egyptians.
Dan (iOS): At the beginning we had a bit of a problem, because we were working externally we didn’t have complete access, but during the covid crisis it was impossible to work without full access, so they started to involve us more. Now we are on a completely equal level with their core employees.
Describe a normal day working for a German company? Míro, you lived there for quite some time, didn’t you?
Míra (Android): I spent a big part of my stay onsite and I have to say that they are really work focused. The open-space is peaceful and there is a good productive atmosphere. At noon we would go to lunch together, which was great networking, and then we played table football or table tennis for a little bit every day. Then we all returned to our desks and worked until the end of the work day. The German determination, drive and target focused mentality can be felt a lot.
Dan (iOS): I was only onsite for 3 weeks because covid happened and the border was closed, but I can confirm what Míra is talking about. I enjoyed the playing of games after lunch the most :) Even though I didn’t really know the people well, we always had a great chat. I also went to game night, where the company paid for some beers and pizzas. They sent out an e-mail to everyone and anyone who was keen to join could join. That was cool :)
What did you learn from the project?
Míra (Android): It was great to look under the lid of hardware product development, how everything is validated in line with the needs of the end user. I also realized that things can’t always be done the best way possible, that you also need to take account of the customer’s wishes and also the resources you have at your disposal. I’m not so stubborn about how things are supposed to be done, I’m trying to find the right price / performance ratio.
Dan (iOS): I learned punctuality. :) The Germans are really precise to the minute. If you’re two minutes late for a call, they’re already looking for you and it’s really embarrassing when it happens to you twice in a row. Everything also finishes on time. They don’t drag the call. Three minutes before the end, they plan to continue next week and everyone leaves the call.
Míra (Android): Yeah, that’s great, because in a half-hour meeting you don’t want to deal with waiting around for someone for 10 minutes. They take the other person’s time seriously.
Were there any difficult moments?
Míra (Android): The most difficult thing for me (apart from the language :) ) was to convert an old application into a new one in a very short time, so that it would be compatible and not fail the current users.
Dan (iOS): I experienced a more “personal challenge” :) Sometimes I wanted to do things differently, better, but I had to adapt to their assignment. Because tadoº is the one product that everyone is focused on, the ready-made concepts come to us and we get no say and don’t get to know why something is being done from a business point of view. So we can only comment on the parts that relate to the platform and development.
Míra (Android): I would contradict that a little bit … I think now we do have the opportunity to influence things.
Dan (iOS): It’s true that it has changed. In January this year, they changed the structure and we now have better access to information and we will be able to influence it in time. I’m not saying that before they didn’t value our opinion, they did, but now the structure is better organised.
Is there anything you would like to adapt from tadoº to SYNETECH?
Dan (iOS): I think that over the years that Míra has been there, we’ve already taken on a lot for SYNETECH, or at least tried.
Míra (Android): Yeah, the boys here play football after lunch too :) I really like the way they gather information about new “features”. They have one place where everyone stores information, from designers, product managers and developers to testers (actually, they don’t have testers :) ). The information is not fragmented, they don’t go to the project manager and ask what they should be doing. They can see everything clearly.
Dan (iOS): I like that too. They keep everything in a presentation on Google, which is accessible to everyone. But they are a different type of company, we would struggle with the extra time and money investment. Our project managers don’t have time for this approach. In tadoº there are dedicated teams that do design user research and only after that, the developers receive the concept.
And what about the other way around? Should tadoº take anything on board from us?
Both: They should have testers :)
Míra (Android): That’s a big minus. Now the developers are testing everything, which on one hand forces them to be as careful as possible during development, because their work will be tested by another programmer and they do not want to embarrass themselves. But on the other hand, they do not have enough time or skill to test everything like a dedicated tester would.
What is some of tadoº’s feedback for SYNETECH?
Míra (Android): They perceive us as experts and see our approach as professional. At the Christmas party, Kevin (Head of mobile apps team) and Johannes (CTO & Founder) told me that they are very grateful for us and our help, hopefully it wasn’t just the wine speaking :) I’m glad it wasn’t a win just for SYNETECH, but also for tadoº.
At what stage is the cooperation now?
Dan (iOS): We’re going to partially move back to SYNETECH and see if anyone can replace us at tadoº. We figured out that we are missed here, so we want to dedicate more time to our teams and projects that depend on us as senior developers.
What of you will remain at tadoº?
Míra (Android): A pile of code and hopefully some knowledge. To put it bluntly… we now have 3 people in the team, two of whom were taken on board last year and it was my task to integrate them into the team and the platform. Basically, I am in fact the oldest team member on the Android platform :)
Do you know what the feedback on the product is?
Míra (Android): The application has a rating of over 4.5 stars out of 5 on both platforms, which I think is great for an app that has hundreds of thousands of users. It supports about 6 languages - English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and French.
The crucial question to end our conversation - do you have tadoº at home?
Míra (Android): I don’t, I have a weird heater that isn’t compatible with it: D
Dan (iOS): Míra could only mount it to his water tap :) I got one from them for Christmas. Normally we wouldn’t get it working externally, but because we’re nice and we’ve been there a long time, they gave it to us. I’m happy with it.
\ Do you want help with speeding up delivery, complete rebuild, the design of new architecture or an audit of the current state of your application? Contact us. Míra and Dan have extensive experience in the field and will be happy to discuss everything with you.