One weekend I decided I would be the “Fun Dad.” Rather than make the normal oatmeal or scrambled eggs for breakfast, I started to make pancakes for my kids. Batter mixed, ready to pour onto the griddle, my 7 year old daughter said, “What color are you going to put in?”
What a fun idea, I thought. “Lets make them green,” I replied, and mixed in some food coloring. Now, ready to pour, she says “Where are the squeeze bottles?” I guess when “Fun Mom” makes pancakes, the kids get to make shapes and designs on the griddle with the batter. Minutes later the kids are drawing rockets, hearts, cars and anything else their creative minds desire. Ready to flip the “breakfast art” my son says, “don’t forget the chocolate chips”.
I didn’t realize what I was signing up for when I chose to make breakfast but now we have colored, shaped, chocolate chip, creations plated and ready to eat……or so I thought. Before I can add the syrup my son walks out of the pantry with “food coloring pens” (yes, these are a real thing) and says that they get to draw on them before we eat.
This is a bit ridiculous for something as mundane as breakfast. It took longer than I expected, required extra effort, and I have a new appreciation for my wife, who recently upped the stakes for breakfast, but I start to make comparisons to my job in Software implementation. In this story, I was the Implementation Manager, breakfast was the product, and my children were my clients.
There are Four Strategies that I learned from this simple Saturday morning that apply to software development.
1. Align expectations before starting the journey. In order to meet the expectations of your customer, it requires a lot of communication about what they envision. I have implemented many enterprise level clients on a SaaS product and learned that, while everyone is using a common platform, each program is unique. If you take the time to understand their expectations before you begin, you wont run into roadblocks that halt work and require additional scoping meetings.
2. Create flexible boundaries. SaaS implementation is meant to scale. Getting into custom solutions may not be your business model. Review the Statement of Work thoroughly to know what is included and what isn’t. But even after clarifying the work, setting boundaries, and getting commitments on a timeline, there are always unexpected issues that arise. This is where you make or break your relationship with the customer. If you have done a sufficient job of communicating out the process, they will realize how much the issue will impact the scope. You should both agree whether this is an acceptable deviation from estimated time and materials, or if it requires an amendment to the contract and additional cost.
3. Doing it right takes time. Rushing an implementation increases risk of failure. When presenting a timeline, rarely is a client thrilled that the implementation will take X number of weeks. Reviewing all tasks and duration shows the value of the process, ensures QA, and reduces re-work later.
4. People matter. There are some people in your organization who can take the mundane and create a positive memorable experience. Their value is priceless, and you should recognize them as much as possible.
Implementing software is not as easy as making pancakes, but it can get just as messy if you don’t communicated throughout the process.