Michał Sztanga, managing director of Polish software developer Future Processing, explains how his company takes “getting alongside the customer” to a whole new level. Coming up with the right solutions,, he says, involves – first and foremost – asking the right questions.
Thank you so much for sharing your time with us, Mr Michał Sztanga. To start with, for a successful business leader like you, what are the best morning routines to jump-start a busy day and your quick tips for improving productivity for a day’s work?
You are welcome. Thank you very much for considering me a successful business leader – I prefer to think of myself as a member of the successful Future Processing team, who just happens to have a responsibility to do what he can to help our team and organisation to maintain our success and grow it sustainably by helping our clients to achieve their success.
As for the morning routine, in my case I need some time to actually wake up. So I either do sports before work, or some simple housekeeping stuff. Sometimes I also like to spend a few minutes in silence to register my emotional and mental state and make peace with it, before I start loading myself with new information and external stimuli. Finally, as often as possible, I hug my wife and son. That puts a smile on my face, which then helps greatly during the day.
Future Processing has grown immensely and expanded its reach to over 150 clients globally. What have been Future Processing’s milestones, in your opinion?
There have definitely been several milestones in our history, probably some on different levels of the organisation that I am not even aware of. From my perspective, one of the key moments was when we explicitly defined our FP company values in a huge team survey, as this became a strong guiding influence in our future decision-making. Another one would be professionalising our sales and marketing functions, which helped us to create another growth wave. We added a more business-oriented arm to our purely engineering organisation. Recently we have been reorganising ourselves into more specific and decoupled business units, each of which focuses on specific industry segments and has its own business strategy, and therefore slightly different internal structure and processes.
I imagine that we will go though many more milestones, during which we will change and redefine what we do and how are we doing it. The one constant that I see through the years is our dedication to creating a positive atmosphere of cooperation, an environment in which people passionate about technology can meet with people passionate about business and together create great results, great software.
Future Processing has been recognised as the top software developer in Poland for four consecutive years and recently ranked second in the Real IT Awards 2019. Can you tell us what are the inimitable features of your software solutions and what sets Future Processing apart from the competition?
I am very happy and proud that we are being recognised by the industry. We define three fundamental values that we offer our clients: software development expertise, long-lasting partnership and being like a partner next door. Our ambition is to ask the right questions to bring our clients tangible results in the form of reliable, high-quality and sustainable software that is delivered on time, right first time. I personally think that sometimes we all forget that all those great visions, buzzwords and megatrends are nothing without reliable delivery. It’s in our DNA to be honest and transparent and communicate openly. We feel very motivated when, as a result of working with us, our clients get peace of mind from knowing that their projects are in the right hands, so they can focus on their business challenges. It is obvious to us that we will succeed only through the successes of our clients. To make our philosophy more tangible, we have created The Future Processing Way, which is our own distinct way of working, a combination of methods, tools and behaviours that helps our clients achieve great results through our partnership.
Technology is continuously changing the world and the way business and industries operate. How does Future Processing leverage the latest technology to continuously innovate and ensure that its services and solutions will always remain cutting-edge and relevant?
In my mind, being relevant and being able to generate real value to the business are even more important than being cutting-edge. When it makes sense and is justifiable, it is worth considering the latest technologies, as they may give possible solutions that were previously unavailable. However, in majority of cases, I believe it is more important to choose a technology that can be implemented within the given time and budget, and which can be actually consumed. Before putting a cherry on top of your technological cake, make sure you have the cake.
Finally, I would not underestimate the human factor, when it comes to changes that are being, or might be, introduced by technology. At the end of the day, our people’s ability to work with the new technology will determine its impact on our businesses, our lives and the world. We as humans must want it and must understand it, and it must be transparent to us, so that we can trust it.
Poland, where Future Processing is based, established itself long ago as a significant hub of advanced science and technology. Can you describe Poland’s tech start-ups ecosystem and the Polish outsourcing market? How would Future Processing position itself as a global leader in the IT outsourcing industry?
As a business, we do not operate in the start-up ecosystem, so I would only be able to offer you my personal impressions on the subject. With regard to our position in the IT outsourcing industry, we position ourselves as software development experts who build long-term relationships with our clients and who are a partner next door. I would be very happy if our people-centric DNA proved to be a great business foundation for FP in the long term, regardless of the specific services and markets we operate in in the future.
What changes do you foresee in the business sector in terms of outsourcing and software development? How will Future Processing address evolving software technology needs, changing market conditions, and the growing demands of the different industries in the coming years?
I think that because there is basically insufficient expertise and skills on the market to serve the ambitions that businesses have, we will continue to see a growing base of software vendors and it will become even harder to distinguish yourself from the crowd, and for the clients to choose the best match for them. I would like FP to combine a down-to-earth approach with good understanding and awareness of the evolution of technology, so that we are in a good position to give advice to our clients on what the best options for them are, when it comes to technology selection. I wouldn’t like to get over-excited and over-optimistic about partial technologies. I prefer to see technology as a means to an end, focusing on setting a clear end and then choosing the right means to get there.
Future Processing has consistently lived up to its philosophy: “Great software because we put people first”. How do you create and ensure a healthy workplace environment for your employees? How would you describe your corporate culture?
We respect each other and, where possible, take care of each other. We try to take into consideration that everyone in the workplace is still a whole human being, with all their associated characteristics – some very helpful in doing business, others maybe not so much. In many cases, such a perspective helps to remove unnecessary emotions from the equation. We also promote a culture of open and constant feedback. All of this may sound simple, but it is not always so simple in execution, especially when it is inconvenient to follow such rules. In my opinion, being consistent in your actions and words is an important ingredient in building trust.
What excites you most about the field of software development? What are your short- and long-term goals for Future Processing in the coming years?
I am excited by the fact that software gives possibilities that we may use to our benefit. We may achieve objectives that were unachievable before. At the same time, I see that being in such a dynamic and challenging industry as software development gives people a chance to grow technically and personally – and also to unlock their potential. In the short term, we are planning to strengthen our ability to be a trusted advisor to our clients, to improve our ability to acquire new business, with a focus on growth in DACH markets. We will aim to continue to be below market average when it comes to team voluntary turnover, and to keep on improving our team motivation and efficiency. On the offer level, we will grow competencies and services in the areas where there is the most demand, such as product development, data solutions and cloud. With regard to the long term, I prefer to plan in a perspective that is manageable and leave the long term to unveil itself, especially as FP has a clearly defined mission that is about using technology to help us to realise our full potential and have a positive impact on the world. This is the mission that we are aiming for. When and how we will get there remains unknown.
What message would you like to get across to all the industries when it comes to digital transformation? What are the important factors to consider in order to increase the success rate of this process?
Be realistic, start with your real pains, not buzzwords, and be aware that change requires your people to be on board.
To end this interview, we are interested to know what the top things or activities are that a high-calibre business leader like you does to recharge during their day off from work?
I wouldn’t call myself a high-calibre business leader; I am sure that there are many more-experienced and talented business leaders out there, but thank you very much – it’s nice to hear something like that. Recently, on my day off, when the weather allows, I ride my motorcycle. If not, I tinker with it in my garage. I also do kick-boxing and try to spend quality time with my family.
Thank you very much Mr Michał Sztanga. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
About the Author
Michał Sztanga is a member of the leadership team and the Managing Director of Future Processing. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, with particular emphasis on cooperation with clients seeking to develop their business with the help of software. He completed MBA studies at the Kozminski Academy, post-graduate studies in project and business management at the Warsaw School of Economics and obtained a master’s degree in computer science at the Silesian University of Technology.