Blog – inception

It’s a combined translation of the original article series in Russian: first, second and third.

Why yet another blog

I believe that every entrepreneur is a committed, inspiring and purposeful individual. That’s because every endeavor starts with an idea and inspiration to bring it to life. Sometimes it’s enough to inspire oneself, in other cases it’s required to build a team and inflame them with the idea.

But just the idea and inspiration is not enough, one have to get from the idea to its implementation and it’s not an easy way. Because of that to be a true entrepreneur one should also be purposeful.

When inflamed by an idea of a new product only blatant break-neck will instantly chase its execution. More experienced ilks will try to evaluate product viability first since even the most brilliant ideas in the head of the creator could turn out deeply flawed in practice – for limitless number of reasons.

By reason of the specific nature of my expertise at times people seek advice from me regarding development of products in the shape of informational systems. That probably too convoluted wording for something that sounds like “we’d like a website to be built” or “we need an app” etc.

With such request mates join a long line of customers of agencies, studios and individuals of all sorts who make a living by developing software. While I fundamentally do the same I strongly believe that established practice in the area is far from ideal to say the least.

The aspiration to make difference, take a closer look at the situation and make it better to the extent of my own capacity – all that became one of the primary drivers to start own blog in already infinitely overwhelmed information realm of the Internet.

Belt up, it’s going to be interesting 😉

Patients who define their own treatment

Requests like “we’d like a website to be built” or “we need an app” resonate vigorously with contractors who offer services in a wide price range: from simplest websites for as little as $100-200 to the most complex informational systems with the development cost of millions of dollars – for any taste and budget.

The main problem is the fact that fundamentally “patient” makes own “diagnosis” and defines “treatment”. By far not every contractor would like to find out whether the customer really needs that particular website or app which one thinks is needed in one’s particular business context. The contractor is busier minding own business than advise the customer on subtle aspects of custom software development hence make hay while the sun shines and do what you asked for. Similarly not every customer would happily disclose own motivation to create a product: is one afraid for commercially sensitive information security, sees competition rogue ops everywhere or something else – it’s moot.

In such case the following anecdotic dialogue in a doctors room becomes reality:

  • Hey Doc, I need a сoronary artery bypass surgery!
  • Awesome, I’m on getting lancet already!

The catastrophe as in doctor’s case is unlikely but low performance coefficient of the collaboration and recrimination about results are nowhere near scarcity. In case the informational system under construction is of utmost importance the viability of the customer as a business could be at stake.

Surely there are contractors who don’t snatch at every opportunity to get a deal but besides everything else try to humanly help potential customers. These aren’t confused by talking a customer out of working with them during a pre-sale if buying their services isn’t what the customer actually needs. But these are rare similarly to the overall number of people who do their work in a responsible and ethical way.

I should clarify that we’re talking more about small to medium business rather than large. Large business typically has required internal manpower to both assign a task to contractor and to ask for the full ride. Also large business is often interested in custom development opposed to off-the-shelf solutions for reasons of prestige and is comfortable with financing the project at level interesting to contractors. In such case contractor role is narrowed down to work force and everyone is fine with that.

How to talk a customer out of working with you

Alternatively to a contractor who press for getting a project no matter what an ethical consultant would do seemingly illogical thing during preliminary negotiations – he’s literally going to try to talk the customer out of working with him.

When you’ll think through another project which would require custom development get through the following groups of questions yourself.

Why this project?

  • Why not keep everything as is?
  • Why not pick up an off-the-shelf solution instead of custom development?
  • Why meddle in such a costly and risky endeavor as custom development?

Why tackle this project right now?

  • What is the burning reason to start immediately?
  • Why not wait six months and decide then?
  • How it was possible not to solve this problem for that long?

Why this contractor?

  • Why not be good with existing inner resources?
  • Why not outsource that to India?
  • Why not hire some junior devs and/or students for this work?

What on the surface seems to be illogical in practice turns out to be a win-win approach. If contractor managed to talk a customer out of working with him in such a way, then the probability is high it’s not a good bet anyway.

Otherwise during such talk the customer will be reinforced in the view that it’s precisely that project which is worth spending resources on, it’s precisely that contractor who will do it in the best possible way and it’s precisely that moment to start. The same is true for the contractor.

Custom software development is quite a bottomless pit which we just took a look inside but for introductory articles that’s pretty fine. See you in the next posts! 😉

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