Health Checks… How to assess thoroughly your/a software company, before an investment decision…

Health Checks. An expert’s approach from Andrew Parker, The Software Anthropologist. Lancaster, UK.

A few questions plague investors before making an investment decision, CEOs before deciding on a new strategy, and boards before approving an acquisition:

  • What actually happens inside your software development organisation? 
  • Is the team the star performers that you think they are? 
  • Are they muddling along, producing a good product but slowly digging themselves a hole? 
  • Are the managers capable of supporting the teams?

The problem is that investors, CEOs, and boards don’t have the expertise nor time to uncover and interpret the information needed to make an informed decision. And everyone else is either busy (your CTO probably needs a clone already!) or would have a conflict of interest (is your VP Engineering worried about their role in the new organisation?). This is where expert outsiders come in.

Outsiders can look at the organisation and ask questions that you might struggle to ask or say things that you might struggle to say. I provide this outsider perspective to clients through my Health Check service. To go into the depth needed for a Health Check, I

  • Interview key people
  • Examine documents and artifacts
  • Review code and architecture
  • Analyse all of those parts to produce grounded assessments.

About a week after I’ve done the interviews, you’ll have a report in hand, full of observations, assessments, interpretations, and recommendations.

Each Health Check is tailored to the needs of whoever commissioned it. Investors want to know the risks of what they are taking on. CEOs often want to know that there isn’t some obvious answer they haven’t seen. For a faster sense check on how things are going or to work out what a longer engagement might look like, a Rapid Assessment is more suitable.


Andrew Parker, The Software Anthropologist (LinkedIn), is a software engineering consultant creating highly effective engineering cultures by bringing the right skills to the organisation’s leaders.

He has over 20 years of experience leading organisations in various domains, from e-commerce to open-source configuration management software. He augments his practical experience with an MSc in Software Engineering from the Technical University of Munich.

His engineering department at TIM Group was featured in two books on building effective teams, where he applied methods from anthropology and sociology to get to the root of what is going on in groups and collaboratively design better systems.

You can learn how Andrew thinks about and helps organisations on his podcast “Tactics for Tech Leadership”, which he co-hosts with Mon-Chaio Lo.

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