A Balancing Act

A Balancing Act

What I’m seeing is that companies are struggling with balancing new programs and ideas. In the end, you have to prioritize. These companies don’t have a good enough pulse on the time it takes to complete a given task. The energy and time involved to produce that new product are ignored. Also, they aren’t always realistic about the results.

What happens as a result is the staff gets frustrated because there isn’t a plan as to what can and cannot be done. All in all, this creates a very uncomfortable atmosphere. We can all agree that this atmosphere should and can be avoided. How, you ask? What does this mean for you? I’ll tell you.

Let’s start with a real-world example. You have a marketing person and you want to update your collateral, get a few articles written and change the website. All those things are great but if those things come up every week and they don’t get done people start to wonder why. Where’s my new website? Why wasn’t that article written? Well, it’s because there isn’t a plan and because there isn’t a plan, the marketing person can’t keep up.

I liken this to running in quicksand. You can’t get everything done, so you have to prioritize, but without a plan nothing gets accomplished. This applies to programming as well. How so? You may want to add all these new features and at the same time improve the GUI. Well, what’s most important? The programmer can’t do it all at once.

In the end, how do you get a handle on this? What it comes down to is having a strong understanding of how much time is required to do every change to the application. You need a product roadmap and/or a product management structure. Once you have that system in place, you can now quantify your results.

For example, if you want your marketing person to finish 12 things but you itemize it and see that it will take 89 hours of work to do those 12 things, that’s a problem. Now you know it’s not possible to get all 12 things done in a week, so you pick the four most important and focus on that. The same is true in product development. You can’t just be adding new features, you have to be strategic, and have an implementation plan whereby every decision is tied back to return on investment. This strategy will put your company in the best position to succeed.