A Boutique Software Company that Tries Harder

Creating Calm Technology for a Hectic World

KW Works is a custom software development company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We are known for our unique humanistic software development process that puts the people using technology at the center of both our process and outcomes. We are a team of more than 20 IT professionals, large enough to handle significant projects for Fortune 500 companies, while still relishing the close, collaborative relationship we have with our many small business and startup clients. KW Works offers complete and comprehensive design and development capabilities on all platforms from project start through ongoing support and maintenance.

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The Inevitable “Why Us” – 6 Key Characteristics

There are many custom software companies out there and many ways to create and implement technology. KW Works has a distinct approach to software development, and we create equally distinct outcomes. This approach has worked well for us and for our existing clients. But we understand it may not be right for every project or client. We encourage anybody considering work with us to also reach out to at least two other custom software developing companies for comparison. A well-informed, discriminating customer is our ideal. We can recommend here a number of excellent companies who you might also consider. All of them create excellent work. As for KW Works, listed below are a number of characteristics in our process and deliverables that we think define who we are.

Before we take on any project, we spend more time than most to ensure we are good fit for both project and client. We do this at no cost. Any reputable software house is going to think carefully if a project maps to their technical expertise, technology stack, resource capacity, delivery capabilities, and price points. We do the same. But we also consider “soft” criteria very carefully. Are we going be able to collaborate effectively, do our personalities compliment, is our process compatible with how a client expects to and is able to work, can we be absolutely sure we are going to be able to deliver what the client is looking for? We have found that a good fit in both “hard” and “soft” criteria matters enormously in ensuring the success of any project. The initial time invested getting it right inevitably pays off handsomely with project success. It is a big reason why we have a 100% completion rate. We won’t take on projects that aren’t a good fit.

Once we start working on a project, we try to learn everything we can about the ways in which the software will be used, what are its objectives, where it is used, and most importantly by whom. For successful software, we feel a deep understanding of the people using the technology, how they use it and for what purpose is essential. And then how we can make their experience as efficient, easy, and pleasant as possible. We employ techniques borrowed from theater and the performing arts to achieve this understanding. Intellectual intuition to help us to see the problem space through the users’ eyes, and situational empathy to appreciate the specific environments and scenarios in which system actions are executed. For us, the human beings using the software stand at the beginning, middle and end of all of our efforts. Hence the name we call our development process: humanistic.

We work on many projects for many types of clients. But there a common characteristic to all of our deliverables. KW Works creates “calm” technology. Technology that completely fulfills specifications while simultaneously acknowledging both the intellectual and emotional aspects of technology use. The term calm technology has been around for a while. It was originally coined in the 1990s by the Xerox PARC researchers Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown to designate technology centered on the human beings actually using it. Calm technology helps us face an increasingly complex reality by simplifying problems, removing noise, allowing us to focus on that which matters most. All of our activity at KW Works is animated by the ideals and principles of calm technology. We believe that machines should not act like humans, and humans should not act like machines. Good technology strives to amplify the best part of each.

In principle, there are as many ways to write software code as there are software coders. But there are undeniable benefits to following coding standards and the adherence to software best practices. At KW Works, we do not write idiosyncratic code. Our coding practices follow standardized style conventions and professional norms. Code that is clear, easily read by others, and maintainable. Self-documenting and fully unit-tested. We understand programming to be a collaborative endeavor, that everything we write may eventually need to be maintained by others who we may never meet. We create our codebase with an eye towards posterity.

When KW Works takes on a project, a client can have the utmost confidence in its completion. Our company has engaged on more than 100 projects since its inception, and we have completed all of them. KW Works has a 100% project completion rate. This contrasts with an industry average of less than 50%, meaning that more than half of all software projects fail industry wide. There is no metric in which we take greater pride, or we feel is better differentiator for who we are than this: we finish what we start. Always.

KW Works is unusual among custom software houses in that we are as much a product company as we are a service company. We manage a niche ERP system as a SaaS that serves the home improvement industry that is used throughout the United States. To support this product, we began offering a full-service help division 7 years ago. We are able to leverage these help resources to assist any other client who might require these services. Not all of our clients will need this full-service help desk, but for those who do, they will find we are prepared to assume complete and best-in-class support duties post-launch at whatever level required.