The recipe for great software
Name: Thomas Gullgarden
Role: CTO, Odevo
Background: Thomas joined Conzignus Hem och Fastighet in 2005, which became Nabo in 2018, and is now part of Odevo. He created Odevo’s software and customer portal for homeowner associations and leads the Odevo’s large development team. Prior to 2005, he was a business leader and developer in the computer gaming industry.
“We decided to create our own tools, which became a scalable, fit-for-purpose management system for our market.”
After a successful career developing some of Sweden’s largest gaming sites in the early 2000s, Thomas began building what is now Odevo’s property management system from scratch. Today, as CTO, he leads a large team that is scaling the platform for multiple markets.
For years, like most programmers, Thomas Gullgården worked alone. “Now, as CTO at Odevo, I manage a team of 40 that will likely grow to 100 by 2023. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. But it’s also what most inspires me.”
In his free time, Thomas is a scuba diving instructor who has made more than 750 dives. “When you teach someone to dive, you get to see them experience something they have never done before – breath underwater. At the same time, you’re also responsible for that person’s life. It’s both a big responsibility – and extremely rewarding. While our lives aren’t on the line at Odevo, that sets the bar quite high for me as far as the kind of leader I want to be. I want my team to feel empowered to achieve great things.”
It’s an approach that appears to be working. So far, almost all of the developers he’s hired are still with the company. “Even one who quit came back,” Thomas adds, smiling.
“Our software is an important reason why we score so highly in customer and employee satisfaction surveys.”
What makes Odevo’s platform so great?
While the needs of the property management business are similar all over the world, many still rely on 3rd party providers, which is seldom what they actually need. “That’s why we decided to create our own tools, which became a scalable, fit-for-purpose management system for our market,” says Thomas.
With fewer systems, and bespoke digital tools, employees spend less time finding information or performing repetitive tasks. That’s time they can spend with customers instead, solving more complex problems. More importantly, owners and residents benefit from user-friendly tools that make it easy to understand and perform their duties so they, too, spend less time on administration and communication – and more time doing things they enjoy.
“It must be easy for everyone who uses it. We’re always evaluating our processes to see how we can simplify things. For example, we look for ways to reduce the number of clicks, eliminate repetitive tasks, or make it easy to access all necessary information in the same place, no matter where in the system the data exists.”
But the most important qualities for Thomas include making a system that will last, that handles data efficiently, and where everything works in such a way that other companies neither can nor want to compete with it. “We’re all getting more and more used to how people and computers complement each other,” says Thomas. “With software, we can have 24/7 availability, and information is accessible in the palm of our hand, wherever we are.”
“I want my team to feel empowered to achieve great things.”
Everyone is an important piece of the puzzle.
Developers at Odevo are hands-on, and everyone is given a lot of responsibility right from the start. Because of this, Thomas says, it’s important for him to have a platform that programmers like to work in. “We don’t spend our time on a bunch of hot fixes. We actually say ‘no’ to quite a lot of these requests for the sake of keeping the development speed up and future proofing the platform. Instead, we focus on the quality of the data, and on making sure we have a good structure. Our platform is not just a fancy facade.”
Because the platform is created in-house by a development team who learned the business and knows what can be done with technology to help differentiate Odevo from the competition, it helps the company keep an ever-increasing advantage.
As a system developer, Thomas has become more and more confident that the platform will be a global success. “Our software is an important reason why we score so highly in customer and employee satisfaction surveys,” he reflects. “We’re building something we are proud of.”
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