Boldare’s 2020 - our summary

The year 2020 will be remembered, no doubt about it! But alongside the events that impacted us all, life, work and business continued. It was definitely a VUCA year – the essence of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. But in facing the challenges, some businesses found opportunities to do more than just survive, even found themselves prepared in some ways for the unexpected crisis. For sure, here at Boldare, our long-established agile methodology, and our prior adoption of principles such as holacracy and radical transparency helped us pivot to new ways of working.

We all know the lowlights of 2020; here are the highlights of the year at Boldare…

1. Our clients

Over the last year, we have taken on a wide range of digital product design and development projects for 23 different clients from all over the world – including Chartipedia (Hong Kong), CRS (United States), PRISMA (Austria), and Takamol Holding (Saudi Arabia) – from East to West and everything in-between!

As an external expert partner, our basic strategy is one of close collaboration with our clients, with dedicated dev teams and direct communication between Product Owners, stakeholders and our people.

I was impressed by the team’s willingness to do something extra to exceed our initial targets. Co-Founder, Chartipedia, Jeff Ko

And here’s other example of our customer’s feedback:

I was really impressed with how much they cared about our product. Co-President, CRS (Community Response Systems), Allan Wilson

Over the course of these 23 collaborations, we worked in a variety of industry sectors (including Information Technology & Services, Real Estate, Renewable Energy, and Management Consulting) and carried out work on every stage of the digital product development cycle: prototypes, MVPs, product-market fit and scaling. The most common products we created were prototypes and MVPs; often within short timescales, just as in the case of Chartipedia.

2. Our people

Maybe it’s an obvious thing to point out, but if we’re summing up 2020, it needs saying: Boldare can’t do what it does without the people who work there: the highly-skilled, agile, experts who collaborate, design and deliver our world-class, award-winning products.

And during 2020, we received over 5700 resumes from people interested in becoming “a Bolder”; almost twice as many as the previous year. We hired 58 new team members and drawing on such a large talent pool, we can be sure we’re still getting the best developers in the business (and quality assurance specialists, business analysts, scrum masters, UX designers, etc.).

3. Reaching out, reaching wider…

We’re proud of what we achieve at Boldare. And while much of that pride rests in the products and quality that we deliver to our clients, we also know that our worth depends on more than just delivering on a contract. It’s also about what kind of role we take in the wider community. Here are eight examples of how we’ve tried to ‘give something back’ in 2020:

  1. Maska Polka – Remember the beginning of the pandemic, when countries were beginning to lock down, implementing safety measures such as social distancing and handwashing? Wearing a mask was (and is!) important but early on, masks were not so easy to find. In our after-hours time, Boldare developed a landing page to help connect people who needed masks with those individuals and manufacturers who were producing them.
  2. CORNELIA – We also collaborated on the creation of the CORNELIA platform, enabling doctors and medical professionals to manage an anonymous survey, gathering essential data on the neurological impacts of the COVID-19 virus.
  3. Szlachetna Paczka – For some, Christmas is a difficult time, and maybe 2020 is worse than most. Boldare contributes to Szlachetna Paczka (very roughly translated in English as, ‘noble package’), an annual scheme to provide families in need with the ‘Christmas gifts’ that they need; maybe cash, food, cleaning products, logistical services, etc. - everything that a family needs to get through this special time without worrying about the most basic stuff.
  4. #nie zwalniajmy – For many people and businesses, one effect of the pandemic has been job losses. The website and hashtag #niezwalniajmy refers to a forum of companies and social organizations trying to address this issue, finding alternative options to layoffs and redundancies.
  5. Awesome People List – Continuing the people and jobs theme, we were inspired by an initiative called the Awesome People List so we created our own version for Poland. It’s an online register of people who have been laid off during the pandemic (in any industry sector) together with a list of companies that are still hiring.
  6. At Boldare, we’ve been called a ‘young company’… Maybe, but we do have a number of people with young children, which gives rise to very specific issues in a pandemic. With this in mind, we organized a series of online psychology-based workshops for our people with small children, tackling the ‘family issues’ that can arise during a pandemic lockdown.
  7. League of Charity – Not everything this year was about the coronavirus. Thinking of our ‘wider family’, we arranged a charity League of Legends online tournament to raise funds for a prosthesis for a cousin of one of our developers who lost his leg to cancer.
  8. #WszystkieDzieci wSieci – As a digital product company, it’s not surprising we’re concerned with the future impact of digital exclusion. Boldare donated computers to the wszystkie dzieci w sieci initiative which aims to ensure all children have access to the internet and educational opportunities online.

4. Blog, blogger, bloggest…

If you know us at all, you know that Boldare likes to share, and our blog – Digital Shift – is important to us – it’s how we share our expertise, hints and tips with the wider world, not just our clients. So, a few stats from the Boldare blog:

  • 50 posts published
  • 75,000+ page views
  • Average time spent reading: 13+ minutes
  • Top 3 countries for visitors: Poland, USA, Germany

What did we publish? All kinds of topics, from outsourcing to code audits, and minimum viable products to user story mapping. Our three most popular articles were:

  1. Event Storming Guide – an in-depth guide to how we kick off our new products.
  2. How to become a JavaScript developer – Our 10-step guide to being a frontend JS dev.
  3. You need a Next-Gen company in your risk management strategy – How next generation companies are pushing digital transformation, especially during such restless times.

5. Events 2020

Business, networking, learning, growing, sharing… it all happens when people get together. But 2020 was very much a year for keeping your distance, so the big question is: how do you keep your community going?

With organized, international events and conferences taking place on a reduced scale, there were less opportunities available. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. For instance, HackYeah, Europe’s largest hackathon was online this year, meaning Boldare could take part, as usual (our finalist entry was Plantee, a care-for-virtual-plant app that helps build environmentally-friendly habits and behaviours).

But external events aren’t the only way to connect… Taking our knowledge-sharing a step further than the Digital Shift blog, Boldare organized a varied programme of short, info-stuffed, free-to-attend webinars:

6. An award-winning year

If we summarized this list of highlights so far, we might say that at Boldare, we share our knowledge, we take care of business, and we like to help others. And that’s enough because that’s who we are.

However, while that is “enough”, when some external recognition comes along, we get excited, of course. In this sense, 2020 was a very exciting year because Boldare work and projects were rewarded with a total of 10 global business and design-oriented awards…

We were extremely proud of the landing page we created to support the Chartipedia data visualization platform. The landing page was created to boost the Chartipedia community, effectively launching the platform to the wider world. It was recognized by:

A product we’re especially proud of was something we originally created just for ourselves, but then decided to put out into the world as a free resource for everyone: Boldare Boards. This app started life as a tool for use in sprint retrospective meetings, allowing everyone to easily contribute and vote on priorities. It quickly developed into a simple, intuitive, flexible app that can be used in any remote meeting – making it ideal for a world that is trying to work at a distance. Boldare Boards was honoured by:

Finally, we were honored as a company in the very first NextGen Enterprise Awards. Boldare was one of just a few winners identified as a new type of company: agile, non-hierarchical and value-driven.

7. The New Normal

If there’s a single phrase that will come to represent 2020, its “New Normal”! For Boldare, our sift to the New Normal began early. Within a day of official pandemic measures being implemented, we had 150 people, normally spread across four different office locations, all working remotely (and therefore, more safely!) The enabling factors included our dispersed company structure, and the fact that all our people are used to collaborating at a distance, with clients and with each other – you might say remote working was already in our company DNA.

Once we were operating efficiently ourselves, we naturally thought about helping others do the same, and this became the driver for our New Normal landing page. The page is a collection or resources for companies in the post-COVID-19 era, helping them to transition to working as an agile and distributed organization, covering topics such as remote working, cultural impacts, and risk management.

2021 - we are ready!

Looking back on a difficult year, we can feel pleased with what we’ve accomplished at Boldare. And to be honest, the above achievements were only possible because we were ready.

Not for a virus pandemic, necessarily but we were ready to work (or already working) in a flexible, distributed way. In a nutshell:

  • We have great people, ready-for-change, already used to working as self-organized teams.
  • Our clients all either work agilely or are keen to adopt agile working, and trust us to share and respect their business goals.
  • Our current practices at the start of the year needed little adaptation to quickly pivot to the new circumstances.

As a result, we were able to adapt and react quickly. And the adaptations aren’t over. If there’s one thing we can be sure of after an eventful but ultimately successful 2020, it’s that the VUCA challenges will continue in 2021.