You’re a product leader on the cusp of starting new development work, so you have an outline of your product strategy, and you have hypotheses about the users of your product. But you don’t have the first-person point of view because you haven’t talked to users yet. You want to have those conversations with users, but you hesitate, because you don’t want to...
If you’re a prospective client of Lab Zero, then you have a software solution in mind. It’s axiomatic: if you didn’t have a solution in mind, you would not have the approval to solicit proposals from top-shelf development agencies like Lab Zero, and we would not be talking to you. But, since we’re talking, we know that you’ve already encountered pain, or opportunity, and you have started to think how software could solve that problem or meet that opportunity. In short, if you are talking to us, then you have a software solution in your head.
Anybody floating down the river of Agile these days will look very sharply at you when you ask how much time it will take to build a feature, or how much a set of features will cost. The answer is usually, ‘By letting us do what we do best, you will get the most value possible per time. By demanding release dates and budgets, we can only say for sure that we will deliver less value per time.’ Yeah. Thanks a lot, man.
You know what you want to do. You've done the buy vs build analysis and you've determined that it's worth building custom software. You defined the features, the product you need to deliver. You’re looking for a vendor to contract for those deliverables. Why, then, is Lab Zero sending you a proposal that includes people and roles you didn’t ask for?
Building and maintaining custom software can be a pretty big investment of time and money. Custom solutions aren’t just for big, established companies. Many startup business models depend on custom software development using platforms like Ruby on Rails. We’ve had lots of conversations with decision-makers in a variety of situations, and we know where you’re coming from. Making the decision to build a software solution comes with excitement and some anxiety. The fear of failure: fear of wasting your time and money on something that doesn’t make a difference--or that makes a difference in the wrong direction. The excitement of creating something uniquely valuable that differentiates your company or product year after year. It’s the kind of decision that can keep you awake at night, no matter what you choose to do.
A Fortune 5 technology company asked Lab Zero to explore Tableau; a business intelligence tool for connecting to myriad data sources and creating advanced data visualizations. We built a reporting infrastructure for an organization with disparate data sources, and gained some insights on Tableau along the way.
The team looks to the Product Manager to establish the product vision, to set priorities, and to act as primary liaison to stakeholders. Setting priorities- and communicating the priorities effectively- aligns the team for value creation while eliminating waste. But managing priorities and expectations is a challenging task, and as a web development and design firm we've seen lots of different ways to do it. Here are a few tools in our prioritization toolkit that we’ve used in challenging situations.
It's received wisdom that the developer just needs to understand how the design works, and implement it without changing it. But how many times does the developer start coding the design, and notice something that wasn't anticipated by the design? We find that it's quite often. Our developers specialize in Ruby, Elixir, Angular, React and other frameworks. The developer is the first person who actually sees the system doing (or trying to do) what the user needs it to do. What kinds of observations do we harvest while they’re in the throes of writing the code?
We at Lab Zero are big Mad Men fans. We’re also fans of building valuable products solving users' problems.