Tally Solutions is undoubtedly the leading GST accounting software company in the Indian market. In an interaction with CRN India, Harsha Kodnad, Director – Technology, Tally Solutions, speaks about the various aspects of product development and the company’s increased focus on R&D and innovation
Can you highlight the technology trends prevailing in the industry, which is going to lay the foundation for future product development at Tally Solutions?
While technology as it emerges definitely plays a crucial role in continuously laying the foundation for our product development, it is always identifying user problems, unsolved or not solved well. This is pivotal for our roadmap and lays the foundation for future products.
With our purpose of engineering to solve these user problems exceptionally well, which is useful, delightful and flawless, we need to identify the right experience that will make this. This uncompromisable experience is what influences us to create, or sometimes adopt, the right technology.
The point is that, the technology is an enabler having the potential of solving every problem and hence a trend created on that hype. For us, the technology comes after the experience i.e. the architecture and associated technology choice are after the product design. For instance, while moving to browser-based applications is a technology trend, we believe that having a thick application on the device will always be better from a responsiveness and offline working perspective.
And while moving the application and compute on the cloud, which has the potential to bring down capital cost and provide anytime anywhere access, it has the tendency to increase the regular operational cost, impacting the privacy and security of the customer data, and needing a always-on internet making it difficult to run businesses. Hence, we believe in pushing more compute to the customer’s device; thus reducing the operational cost of using cloud, as well as provide an exceptional responsiveness of application, leaving the control of the data in the user’s hands, while still make it available anytime-anywhere.
As enterprises are digitally transforming their businesses, how are you fuelling innovation in your product offerings?
The goal of the enterprise is not to digitally transform their business but to become more effective, efficient and attain exponential growth. The digital transformation is an aid in making that happen. We have continuously believed in the growth of our customers. Each of our product offering and continuous evolution of our product adding various features, experience and simplification is pivoted on this objective.
Tell us about the various facets of your product development – be it design or architecture among other areas. How these are weaved in to create a master product?
We are a company obsessed with customer experience. For us, it is about solving a customer problem exceptionally well. This requires a lot of discovery/research mode working to find the right problem. An open problem with enough diversity, various exceptions that can break the adoption. Be it interface, interaction experience or information design, we give great importance to NFRs (Non-functional requirements such as Speed, Flexibility, Simplicity, Reliability), and hence, we put immense efforts in making a design that first gives us the visualisation of these outcomes.
Our product development is more about design followed by the architecture, which is identifying the technology and things to make the design a reality. Both these jobs involve a lot of upfront thinking and iteration to reach a significant detailing that gives us the confidence of reaching millions of small and medium businesses.
Then, we follow this with the construction, which involves writing specification, doing code design, testing, validation, acceptance and so on. So largely, we don’t follow agile methodology, but our methodology ensures that our products have high agility when it comes to the size and diversity of our customer base and continuously evolving technology and domain model.
We don’t build solutions on an available technology stack; we build exceptional experiences for a solution by building the required technology stack as well. This helps us deliver products that are useful, delightful
How much of your time and effort goes into R&D in order to come up with better solutions every time?
To be honest, most of my time goes into this. I participate in the design stage deliberating the experiences, in architecture stage to architect, review and few times even in construction by participating in writing some piece of code with engineers. My participation also involves keeping a close eye towards validating against various non-functional aspects such as durability, flexibility, reliability, etc.
There is also another organisational aspect of people development, where we expect to build mastery or expertise in every aspect we touch (be it functional domain, user experiential aspects or technology). Hence, a good amount of my time also goes into these mentoring, coaching and cultural transformation-oriented sessions. These are more oriented towards building an exceptional engineering organisation in line with our organisational value – ‘Continuous Pursuit of Excellence’. Here, we discuss about building mastery, getting into fundamentals, having a better collaborative culture and so on, involving intellectual and emotional deliberations.
Can we expect more advancements being introduced in TDL? Has the successful creation of this programming language prompted to develop similar innovations?
To give a context on this, the TDL (Tally Definition Language) is an Application Specific Language. While a significant portion of the code is written as a platform which ensures the various NFRs, the TDL as a language provides us an ability to handle the diversity of the domain and users in a rapid way.
Each evolution of the product and its release will involve advancement to our technology stack (platform) and hence to the TDL, followed by the application which will use these advancements to deliver required experience and functionality. With its flexibility and simplicity, it has also allowed us to do various niche customisations of the product, integrate product with the customer’s other systems and software and provide certain extension to the product. And, the focus is to continuously enrich our tech and the TDL language to make our products useful for more and more businesses, while also ensuring that it can be customised and integrated with digital ecosystem at large.