One of the earliest lessons that a project manager learns is a concept that the Project Management Institutes calls “the triple constraint.” Basically, it asserts that there are only three levers you can pull when working on a project: time, resources and money. Simply put, if you’re running a project, and you’re behind (or low) on time, then you better add more resources or spend more money to get your project back on track.
However, there is an inherent problem with the triple constraint: There are situations when all the money and resources in the world can’t make something move faster. My favorite example is that you can’t make a baby in one month – even with nine women, and even if you pay them overtime.
Really good software is a lot like a baby; it takes time, love and patience. And throwing more money and more people at it won’t necessarily lead to faster delivery times.
So, how does ViaTech consistently deliver effective software solutions ahead of schedule? We set realistic expectations, provide structure and treat everyone involved with respect. But most importantly, we listen.
Listening takes on different meanings for different people. At ViaTech, we listen by engaging our customers on all aspects of their business. Our goal is not simply to sell you the first solution that comes to mind. Instead, we take the time to truly understand your pain points. This typically entails a lot of questions and “what if” conversations. Only once we have full recognition of what we’re trying to solve for can we begin the ideation process and start working toward a solution.
Surprisingly, ideation involves even more listening than the initial discovery. Our team members all get a say and contribute equally to the solution. We usually produce a lot of “interesting” ideas, and by working through them all, we end up with the best answer. From there, we take suggestions regarding project timing. Our goal is to understand why things take the time they do and to ensure we aren’t trying to make a baby in a month.
Set realistic expectations
Once we’ve outlined our timeline and solution, it’s all about setting realistic expectations. First and foremost, we focus on setting expectations with the customer. (As ViaTech Implementation Analyst Jerri Cole points out, transparency creates a sense of trust and opportunity for innovative thought.) Those include classic expectations, such as timeline, budget and deliverables. But we also set expectations around customer participation – in everything from user acceptance testing and prototype testing to training and feedback sessions.
We also work to set realistic expectations within our own teams. Once we’ve agreed to terms, we must get all parties on board. Then, we can begin the easy part: the doing.
To ensure that “doing” really is the easy part, we need to provide structure. At ViaTech, we’ve chosen to use Agile methodologies to provide structure to our teams and guide our development process. And if you’re familiar with those methodologies, then you understand that our structure is constantly changing.
Our development teams work hand in hand with our business teams and end users to deliver software on a regular basis. We understand that requirements change, and it’s because of our Agile structure that we’re able to shift focus and keep the project on track. Our teams frequently meet “camera to camera” to work through any questions or uncertainty.
There are two reasons we continue to see success with this structure: 1) We’re empathetic and 2) we don’t micro-manage. After all, software development is not a typical 9-to-5 job. We’re known to have “eureka” moments and jump online to work in the middle of the night. With that, we’ve developed the empathy needed to understand that some mornings are harder to get up for than others.
Treat everyone involved with respect
It may sound like a complete no-brainer, but some find respect difficult to demonstrate. Respect isn’t just about how you talk to someone; it’s also about being respectful of their time and efforts. When it comes to software, small changes can take hours, days, possibly even weeks to carry out. It’s crucial that all parties keep this in mind in their communications.
Still, we know how hard it is to run a business. Ultimately, our team is here to help. We want to make sure that the solution we provide isn’t just a temporary fix, but it solves the issue for good. If tweaks or adjustments are needed, we’ll do what is right. And that’s the true embodiment of respect.
And did I mention listen?
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, delivering quality results is all about listening! Whether it’s to our customers, partners or teams, ViaTech listens. It’s what has made us successful for more than 25 years (even in the hardest of times), and it’s what will anchor our success in the future.
Cody Schuyler has been with ViaTech since April 2020. As Director of Program Management, he is responsible for delivering complex projects – on time and on budget. If you want to learn more about Cody or ask him about the innovative work being done at ViaTech, connect with him on LinkedIn here.