News Article ————

Appdrawn Software Development: raising up the future generation of software developers

Author image Published by [email protected]
Published Date 12.04.2024

We are Appdrawn — a bespoke software development company based in both rainy Watford and sunny Barcelona. We are also a nominee in the “Best Employee Development Programme” category at this year’s UK Company Culture Awards.

Our mission is to make software that works for the user – not the other way round! We do this by creating bespoke software solutions that unlock business potential!

Founded by Managing Director Tim Kloss, we started out as a software consultancy back in 1999. After 12 years of giving advice on tech, Tim decided that he and his team could deliver it better themselves! That’s when we became the bespoke software development agency we are today.

Our Bespoke Software Development Services

During our 20 years of experience, we have worked with startups through to large corporations. From fintech to healthcare and entertainment, our clients hail from a variety of sectors.

Amongst our many projects, our team of bespoke software developers have: devised a rigorous, online testing platform for Oxford International Education Group; created an easy-to-use, “roadworthy”, traffic management app (ConeRQ); and built a ground-breaking customer portal development to showcase an estate agent’s land portfolio.

All the work we do is underpinned by a set of core values. One of those values is trust. We understand that tech is a big investment and not a decision to be entered into lightly. One of the ways in which we try to establish trust with our clients is through our design-first approach.

Over the years, we have been proud recipients of various awards. We have won awards that acknowledge the innovation and creativity within our work: Web Excellence Award 2023, Global e-Commerce Website of the Year Award 2021 and GDEA Global UX Award 2020. In addition, we have consistently ranked as one of leading software developers in the UK by Manifest and Clutch.

Beyond our output, we have also been recognised for how we conduct business and the company culture we have cultivated! As we were working through and emerging from the pandemic, winning the Agency of the Year (Small) Award at the UK App Awards in both 2020 and 2021, particularly meant a lot!

We are beyond thrilled to add a nomination for the “Best Employee Development Programme Award” at the UK Company Culture Awards to our list. This nomination acknowledges the new staff performance indicator we devised entitled the “Personal Career Ladder.”

What is the Personal Career Ladder ?

In a bog-standard appraisal, an employee will fill out a form and receive a written or verbal response in return. This usually consists of a destination but no means of getting there. It isn’t tangible, thus up for interpretation. KPIs tend to focus more on business outputs rather than the skill of the individual. It often leads to staff disillusionment.

We felt like we could be doing better by our staff. Thus, the “Personal Career Ladder” was born. We use it in conjunction with our quarterly appraisals to assess all roles across the business. 

How does it work?

For every position in the company, we have created a “Personal Career Ladder.” Each ladder comprises of up to 60 soft and hard skills pertinent to the role. Come appraisal, every staff member assigns themselves a score for each skill in their ladder using the following points system:

  • 0 – No experience
  • 1 – Needs training
  • 2 – Confident
  • 3 – Strong

Their manager then assesses them separately using the same method. A percentage of the scores attained in the management’s assessment against the total available is calculated. This then determines what level of seniority the employee is performing at within a 3-tier banding system. So for example: Junior – , Mid – and Senior Consultant.

The “Personal Career Ladder” allows us to understand how every staff member views their position. If a disparity exists between an employee and management’s score, it facilitates prompt, constructive conversation, preventing any disillusionment. It clearly highlights the areas where actions need to be taken, so the relevant support/training can be provided. Staff are both motivated and equipped to reach their goals!

Why did we make it?

  • Empower staff – Our aim was to bring transparency and clarity to the employee development process. We wanted our staff to feel empowered to take ownership of their career; know where they are, where they can go and how to get there!
  • Value staff – Our goal was to create a performance indicator that accounted for all the skills that benefit the company, not just the ones focussed on business outcomes. We wanted to reward our staff accordingly for ALL good works.
  • Facilitate continuous improvement – we wanted a more specific and quantifiable means of measuring performance, to identify development issues quicker. We also wanted to be able to log the effectiveness of our responses to resolving these issues (courses, training etc).

The Results

We have been blown away by the results and the unanimous positive response from our staff.

Staff Feel Empowered – the numerical grading clearly indicates an employee’s level of skill. They are impressed at how quickly the areas that require attention are identified and how promptly the relevant training opportunities are provided. They like how the Career Ladder has given them an actionable roadmap to achieve their goals. The results speak for themselves; overall staff performance has increased by 21.9% in 3 months!

Valued Staff – a manager’s numerical score makes it clear to employees how their efforts are valued. It also makes the negotiation on salary reviews or promotions more objective and fairer. Both parties have a tangible framework in which to evidence, put forth their case and understand where the other is coming from.

Facilitated Continuous Improvement – By breaking job roles down into 60 skills and deliverables which are assigned with numerical values, it’s super easy to identify the areas that need work and provide the relevant training. Ambiguous back and forth exchanges have been eliminated. This has improved staff engagement!

How it feels to be a nominee!

To have been shortlisted for the “Best Employee Development Programme” means so much to us. Appdrawn is a relatively small outfit which has grown exponentially over the last few years. We look to continue that trend.

Job seekers need to impress companies but companies also need to impress job seekers! Using the Appdrawn Linkedin feed, we try to share insights into our company culture. It is fairly easy to show the fun stuff such as meals out, team days and the occasional glimpse of office banter. But ultimately, people want to feel heard, valued and paid accordingly for their work. How do businesses prove they deliver on that? Expect people to take their word on it?

For the judges – people beyond our company walls – to approve and recognise our personal career ladder with this nomination, it is incredible! It will be such a powerful asset in our messaging to any prospective employees. That to us is already a win; if we can make it an actual win, that would be the cherry on top of the cake! With this nomination under our belt, we are excited for what the future may bring and look forward to recruiting in the near future!

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