The Silicon Review
“Most good programmers do programming not because they expect to get paid or get adulation by the public, but because it is fun to program.” – Linus Torvalds
Being dissatisfied with the quality of service and the culture of big ICT companies, Rob Slaats and Bas van den Eertwegh started GROUP9 in 2011. Their aim was to deliver software of unparalleled quality and to create a company culture where people really matter and have control of their own destiny.
GROUP9 is currently positioned as a top Java software development company, hiring only senior JAVA consultants with strong personal skills and a love for hands-on coding. The company is perceived as a strong, reliable partner that always delivers. It mainly works for blue chip companies and participates in their most important software development programs.
At GROUP9, employees are given challenging projects which helps them grow. The company pays above market conditions, has good working conditions, pays close attention to training and suitable jobs, and takes major decisions together. GROUP9 does not pursue to be the biggest, but the best.
Software development at its best
An important part of the work is getting big software development projects back on track. Often, companies face challenges as suites of applications have evolved over time, with eroded software architecture and software development process. This growing lack of quality (technical debt) results in reduced productivity. At the same time, their customers are demanding, they want a steady flow of new functionality. In these situations one needs to intervene to re-implement a workable software architecture, to de-compose software, to strengthen the software development process and most importantly establish a culture of quality and pride. The people at GROUP9 conceive the plans to do so but also execute those plans. Often they have a role as architect, scrum master or lead developer to make sure the project/program team gets back on track, i.e. to lead from the front.
It also specializes in the use of open source technology and helps customers implement this in their software solutions. By doing this, the customers get control of their software development process, are able to reduce cost and increase velocity.
Most of the technologies that GROUP9 uses have one thing in common- they enable better communication. The company doesn’t use technology for its technical “eloquence”. Bringing people together, both within and between companies is facilitated by technologies like Agile, DevOps and Domain Driven Design. It believes that communication and implementing simple concepts, is more important than technology itself when it comes to accomplishing the business objectives of the customers.
The differentiating factor
One of the main differentiators is that the company almost lacks any hierarchy at the workplace. As the GROUP9 team is highly skilled, they are adept in advising the customers on important issues. The company has a unique decentralized approach when deciding “Where do we want to go as a company?” Decisions are made by the group, not just by management.
GROUP9 looks at their folks from a holistic perspective. To ensure the best delivery results to the clients, it chooses to focus on every aspect of the people’s well being, whether it concerns health, challenging assignments or their personal situation. An example of this is that GROUP9 has an ongoing health program, in which almost everybody (voluntarily) participates. When dealing with clients, GROUP9 believes in partnerships, transparency and walking the talk. It is not a company that blindly does as it’s being told. It has clear opinions about the job at hand and engages with clients to discuss their views. If these views contradict, it may say ‘no’ to a job. Being transparent is another key value. It is very clear about its intentions. Finally, when advising a company, GROUP9 makes sure that the client is able to execute the advice, to show that it is sound and not just some theoretical solution.
Hopping the hurdles
When the company was started, the main challenge was establishing GROUP9’s name as a company. Nowadays, getting the right people is the main challenge. GROUP9 sets very high standards for its people, both in the technical and personal skills area; resulting in a lot of turned down applications. Another challenge is staying on top of new developments whilst being involved in big client projects. The company needs a healthy balance to ensure that it stays true to the mission of being the best.
Future focus areas
Currently, GROUP9’s main focus is keeping its people “fit”, energetic, socially skilled and technically on the front. Because of the high demand for its services, GROUP9 plans to focus more on project delivery, where delivery takes place anyplace and anytime. This requires a software development environment including continuous integration and deployment that is completely cloud-based, and making sure that quality remains second to none.
Meet the Key Executive
Rob Slaats, Founder and CEO: Rob started his career working for Shell International Petroleum Company as a business consultant. He then moved to the computer industry working for CGI and later for Atos. He held various management positions, and managed various start-ups. Together with Bas van den Eertwegh he started GROUP9 in 2011. Rob studied civil engineering and mathematics at the University in Delft.