We did it! 8 elaborate blog posts just to get here. Let’s review the history of our shared keystroke rainstorm.
- Aggressive and Invested Requirements Gathering
- Relentless Ideation
- Atomic Preparation
- Torrential Communication
- Constant Collaboration
- Constructive Accountability
- Immersive Demonstration
Are we close enough to call it a day? Well, if Mortal Kombat is an accurate indicator (and it is), the finishing move is absolutely critical to overall satisfaction. Who cares if the other guy’s energy bar is depleted and he’s lying limp on the floor if you then try to finish him and then only end up tripping over your own extra set of arms. You need to drive this thing home in style and there are a few key components to this.
Perception at the end of a project is as important as reality. That doesn’t mean a garbage piece of software will be let off the hook because someone out there thinks it’s decent, but an amazing, efficient, secure and bleeding-edge piece of software will not be gratifying in the least if the product owner doesn’t find satisfaction in it. Impressive availability is not just about confidence in your software - it’s about letting your client know that you’re on top of things and unusually responsive.
Being impressively available isn’t just about making sure not to have your top engineer on vacation on go-live day, or not scheduling a big project to start when another is about to release. It’s also about going as far as it takes to convince the client that they are the thing you are thinking about going into the final days and that you’ve got their back. A few examples include:
- Tracking and sending a reminder list of things the client needs to do before launch that don’t affect you. (ex: replacing placeholder images, creating user accounts, finalizing the site email address, etc). This is super helpful because even if it’s not your responsibility, they appreciate someone else making sure they don’t let something slip.
- Schedule a pre-launch meeting two days before and a launch meeting the day of. For big projects, this is also a relief because it implies that conversation will happen before we flip the big switch and there is even sort of a two-day grace period to finalize the schedule and approach before things actually launch.
- Even if it’s not the only thing you do on go-live day, treat it like it is. To get at what I mean - what I’m saying is that even if a big launch is a very minor time commitment on your end and even if there’s really not much to do, treat the whole day (or number of days) like your the only ER doctor in the children’s hospital and treat even tiny requests or comments with higher urgency than you otherwise would. Do we need to fix a single 404 immediately after launch? No - however - we need to have everyone feel confident about what they just launched so that everyone can safely return to their normal lives and just enjoy the fruits of all this labor. So here at Ashday, launch day means that you are our #1 priority for that day and possibly the next because we want our client to feel like everything is in great shape and they can finally stop worrying about this huge pain of a project that has been running for who knows how many months.
Attitude of Ownership
Ownership isn’t about who writes the check - it’s about who cares. You don’t own your husband or wife, but you take ownership in the relationship in that you care about it, work hard at it, pay attention to it - you treat it like it’s your most precious thing. So ownership in a project is all about treating the project like it was your project, like it was your idea and you’re paying the bills. The impact this has is tremendous. It means fixing those last few bugs that your client may not care about but you know some of their users will be dealing with it. It means continuing to test and discuss and adjust even though you’re wiped out and can’t wait to get onto something else. It means wanting to be proud of what you’ve done long after you’re complete and wanting your client to beam with pride at the end. This attitude drives away a lot of site launch problems because when you treat something like it’s yours, you just do what needs to be done vs just trying to get through it and out of it.
So there you go. At some point we have to stop talking about this and just start practicing. Heck, I even have a hard time ending the cycle of writing and re-writing because I think there’s so much to say about this topic, yet, almost all of it is theoretical until you start talking about real clients and real projects and real teams, which make each component of this take very different shapes.
Fortunately, it’s now all laid out for you and failure will never happen again. We promise. Follow these simple rules and you’re all set. Your projects going forward will all be successful, where afterwards everyone is buying each other chocolates and naming children after developers. Where project managers are heralded as true project saviors, accompanied by openly weeping executives, all with the Karate Kid soundtrack playing in the background. Where you tell yourself “hey, I would have done all this even for free - or better yet - even paid for the opportunity!”
It can happen. We at Ashday wouldn’t be lying if we said that we have had clients buy us 12 year old whiskey after a project was over.
You too can live this sweet life.