June 17, 2024

Bill and Sally, a cautionary tale on the road to nowhere

“Are you on Track?” Seems like a pretty simple question that deserves a simple answer. Yet, as I speak with business owners and executives that are either in the middle of a digital transformation or have so thoroughly been abused by their digital transformation partner that they have stopped their transformation project, it’s clear that […]

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“Are you on Track?”

Seems like a pretty simple question that deserves a simple answer. Yet, as I speak with business owners and executives that are either in the middle of a digital transformation or have so thoroughly been abused by their digital transformation partner that they have stopped their transformation project, it’s clear that the answer is more complicated than I think it should be.

Let me explain…

Recently, within a span of about 10 days, I spoke with 2 business people - let’s call them Bill and Sally. (I am changing their names to protect their innocence.). And I do mean ‘innocence’ - a lack of knowledge or experience in the domain of outsourcing software development.

Both Bill and Sally had frighteningly similar experiences with different software development partners that took their money and, after 12 - 18 months, delivered nothing. While they delivered nothing, they were always reporting that they were “close” to a release. I was dumbfounded when I encountered Bill and straight-up amazed when I later encountered Sally. These individuals run successful businesses - they are smart and capable business managers - and yet they couldn’t see this coming because they didn’t know what to look for.

To be frank, this sort of behavior by the software teams angers me. It is one of the reasons there is such distrust in our industry - it makes it difficult to break through to customer organizations and produce relationships built on trust because, from the start, there is cynicism about the process, the anticipated costs and the quality of the end results.

So let’s start to take a look at how you could determine that you may just be off track.

When you are trying to determine if you are on track or not, you need to know where you are (currently) and where you are headed. This is the minimal amount of information you require (ask any Boy Scout or Girl Scout…more on this next week). Without these two critical pieces of information, assessing your status/progress is impossible. But, even if you have these two critical pieces of information, it still isn’t enough.

With both Bill and Sally, even if the promised had been software released to them, what would that software be and how would they judge if they were where they needed to be given their starting place, the time taken to develop the software, and ending capability they are paying to produce? Your starting and ending points are not enough, but they are essential.

It is a simple concept - if you don’t know where you are or where you are headed, how can you possibly know if you are “on track”? Many software development projects fail just for this reason. And it can be a contributing factor to expanding project scope or "scope creep" - check out last week's post to get our take on that here.

To be fair, a lot more information is required to manage a trustworthy software process, but it has to include your current situation and the end state you envision.

Next week, we will take a deeper look at how we help our customers build the software they need, in the timeframes that matter to them. And, I will share a personal story about a bike ride around Martha’s Vineyard with my wife that will have you wondering how I’m still married…

Don’t fall victim to the bad behavior of some software development service providers. Don’t become a Bill or Sally.

If you identify with either Bill or Sally, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to us.  We are happy to speak with you about your situation and how we can help you get the help you need.

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