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 one has to build a team and inflame them with the idea.
But just the idea and inspiration is not enough. One has 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. Even the most brilliant ideas in the head of the creator could turn out deeply flawed in practice. There is a limitless number of reasons for that.
By reason of the specific nature of my expertise at times people seek advice from me. Typically in regards to the development of products in the shape of informational systems. It’s a convoluted wording for what sounds like “we’d like to build a website” or “we need an app” etc.
With such requests, mates join a long line of customers of agencies, studios, and individuals of all sorts. All these make a living by developing software. I fundamentally do the same. However, I strongly believe that established practice in the area is far from ideal, to say the least.
There are several reasons to start this blog:
- The aspiration to make a difference.
- Willingness to take a closer look at the situation.
- Desire to make it better to the extent of my own capacity
That’s primary drivers to start my 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 to build a website” or “we need an app” resonate vigorously with contractors. They offer services in a wide price range. It starts from simplest websites for as little as $100-200. The most complex information systems are on the other end of the spectrum. The development cost of these could reach millions of dollars. In other words, there are options 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 what customer really needs. Is that particular website or app that one thinks they need in one’s particular business context actually worth it? The contractor is busier minding their own business than advise the customer. Custom software development has lots of subtle aspects to talk through. Make hay while the sun shines and do what you asked for. Similarly not every customer would happily disclose their own motivation to create a product. They can be afraid for commercially sensitive information security, see 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. The informational system under construction can be of utmost importance. In case of failure 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. Besides everything else such try to humanly help potential customers. These aren’t confused by talking a customer out of working with them during a pre-sale. That’s a fair outcome if buying their services isn’t what the customer actually needs. But these are rare. It’s similar 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 businesses rather than large. Large business typically has required internal manpower. They can both assign a task to a contractor and to ask for the full ride. Also, large businesses usually seek custom development as opposed to off-the-shelf solutions. Reasons could be just prestige and they are comfortable with financing the project at the level interesting to contractors. In such a case the contractor role narrows itself down to the workforce and everyone is fine with that.
How to talk a customer out of working with you
There is an alternative to a contractor who presses for getting a project no matter what. An ethical consultant would do a 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?
- What off-the-shelf solution will do the trick 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?
- How about outsourcing this 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. Let’s imagine the 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
- Exactly this contractor will do it in the best possible way
- It’s precisely that moment to start.
The same is true for the contractor.
Custom software development is quite a bottomless pit. We just took a look inside but for introductory articles that’s pretty fine. See you in the next posts! 😉
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