Application Rewrites – Getting Started

Ugh. Imagine you are responsible for leading a project to replace a 15-year-old, complicated, internal business application. No one is happy with the status quo, and the complexity of the application makes this project seem intractable.

You ask yourself, “How did things get this bad? How am I going to get started?”
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Utilize Your Software Consultants to Frame Product Management Decisions

As software product consultants, we’re typically not in a position to take responsibility for significant product management decisions. However, we care a lot about the decisions that are made and want to know that our customers have the best information and context to make their decisions.

At every stage in a project, from sale to delivery, we can provide important information to help frame product management decisions. Below are a few things that a good software consultant brings to the table when product management work needs to get done.
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Maximizing Value Starts with Truly Understanding the Client’s Needs

Every step along the path to delivering a software project is a trade-off. Time and/or money are in short supply relative to the vision for a product, and every decision must be made with care. Moreover, there’s no one “correct” way to design or a build a feature—there are many possibilities, each with their own cost, time to implement, possibility for reuse, desirability, and maintenance burden.

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3 Design Techniques for Non-Designers

Design and design thinking can’t solve all of the world’s problems. But design is noticed by others, whether your company/product has considered it or not. And design can make your product more usable and accessible.

From your website to your physical space to the way you respond to emails to your actual product or service, it’s worthwhile to ask yourself, “Is this designed the way I want my customers or users to experience it?” Read more on 3 Design Techniques for Non-Designers…

Minimum Viable Product: Pick Any Two

As the minimum viable product idea becomes mainstream, I’m starting to hear “MVP” used to justify any minimal effort. It’s great that people want to benefit from being lean and agile, but it’s also absolutely vital that an MVP answers your important questions. There are many kinds of MVPs and most of them are anything but minimal effort. Thinking of an MVP as minimal effort risks wasting the effort completely.

Finding the Sweet Spot

In software we often balance competing goals. I’m going to deconstruct the MVP as tension between three different kinds of questions. Thinking this way helps you prioritize what you want out of your MVPs. It’s more useful than trying to find the sweet spot on a Venn diagram of potential products. Read more on Minimum Viable Product: Pick Any Two…

Don’t Skimp on Research, Design, and Planning

Our clients come to us with really cool ideas for web, mobile, and embedded apps. Usually, they know their domain inside and out, and they’ve come up with a great way to improve the world with some custom new software.

But we’ve learned over the years is that a little bit of planning before jumping into the code goes a long way. Read more on Don’t Skimp on Research, Design, and Planning…

8 Questions to Ask before You Automate

This post is revised and republished from Carl’s blog at Crain’s Detroit Business.

Innovation is not exclusively about revolutionary new products or services. Extending an existing offering or improving an internal business process can be an important form of innovation, too.

When I talk with business owners about using software to automate an existing business process, the request usually goes something like this: “We have this clunky process to do X which uses an old buggy application (or spreadsheets or email). It drives the people who do the work crazy. We’re growing and really need to automate the whole thing. Can you help?”

Of course, custom software and even automation is not always the answer. Given the cost of software development, jumping into a project too quickly can doom the hoped-for return. I always start with a few crucial questions: Read more on 8 Questions to Ask before You Automate…