Our .NET Developer must rely on deep technical expertise and strong business acumen to ensure the right product, architecture, and systems are built for our in-house products and clients. Individuals must be a leader in all phases of the software development lifecycle and be able to contribute to the growth of the skillsets of the technical team through mentoring and best practice implementation and training.
When the going gets tough or you have no idea what to do next, too often we see folks looking around for help. Finding none, some people are willing to throw up their hands and walk away.
Walking away - especially from a client need - is the worst thing a small business (any business) can do!
AutoGov met last week to begin the process of developing standard operating procedures or SOP's for every facet of our business, ranging from the simple and mundane to the complex.
We began with one that I thought would be simple - "What to do when you have no idea what to do." This was subsequently named the "Chaos" SOP by the participants. Far from being simple, we spent hours following every rabbit trail we could think of and put each possibility through the Chaos flowchart.
Walking away from an issue? Not likely. Everybody learned that it is critical to be your own backstop even when chaos ensues and nobody is there to help you except you!
"Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error." Andrew Jackson
President Jackson's position on the acknowledgement of errors has withstood the test of time, not to in any manner imply that we all actually live by this standard each day. But, we would do well to consider his admonishment in our dealings with clients, vendors, partners and others with which we communicate each day.
Rest assured others know when you blow it. Its in walking away without accepting and acknowledging your hand in an error or mistake that sows the seeds of distrust and resentment. Over time, these incidents can cause a team to fail because the trust is broken and expectations are diminished.
My high school baseball coach used to tell us to forget saying "my fault" when an error was made. His reasoning was that everybody in the stadium knows its your fault, so forget it and move on. While Coach was right about most of the lessons he shared with us, he may have missed this one when applied to life and business.
Just a brief "my fault," an acknoweldgement that you are in error will provide your team with the comfort of knowing three things: 1) you know you blew it, 2) you actually care, and 3) (to borrow a phrase from my son) you are willing to "man up" and accept your failing.
While most folks race for the door on Friday afternoons, I find the time is perfect to reflect on the chaos of the week – quiet time for my brain. No phones, no deadlines, no payroll and no cash flow issues to concern me.
The week was productive. Working to ensure our business intelligence solutions are meeting our client’s needs, we have explored the BI markets newest stars – those whose model includes software as a service. SaaS meets our client’s needs and allows us to practice what we preach – our flagship software is a SaaS offering. Mashing a BI solution with our own will provide significant benefits to our clients.
AutoGov sales and marketing efforts are blowing and going. The company has a pipeline (yes, I know it’s cool, right?) for the first time since we crawled away from our consulting business years ago. We are exploring new methods of reaching our target markets.
The Mississippi Healthcare Summit held at Mississippi College in Clinton was enlightening. While the State has challenges eclipsed by few others in the United States, the leadership stands tall offering solutions and hope rather than doom and gloom. Soon to be elected Governor Phil Bryant, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and newly elected Senator Josh Harkins were a few of the players that will be key to Mississippi’s continued push forward.
Operations are solid, the technology is smokin’ hot and our customer service team ready’s for a month end drawing for an iPod. The team, led by our CEO (Rose Hayden) and lead data scientist (Taylor Phillips) produced a comprehensive analysis for one of our clients. The analysis provides a clear path forward and a bright future for the client’s operations.
Now my week is done. These musings bring clarity. Monday is certain to bring the return of the chaos of a small software company, but – at least for now – all is well.
Fifteen years ago next week, this company commenced consulting operations (whatever those where) on a card table in the guest room of my house in Madison, MS. The only assets - me, a computer and a dial-up connection to the internet.
Needing nothing else, I raced off into the world to be a consultant, purveyor of knowledge and expertise. Marginally successful at this new found work and freedom, I hired my first employee two years later and another the following year.
Two years later, I decided that I didn't want us to be a consulting company any longer. We were going to sell training over the internet, collect such interesting data as methadone intake and provide reports for community colleges.
Following a short hiatus from the business in 03 and 04. I was back at it again, except now I decided that we could do both - sell software as a service and consulting. Expecting the staff to jump to the new beat again, we trudged off into this bigger, flatter world with a whole new quiver of arrows.
A year or so later, I wrote a formula and the outline for how to apply this new intellectual property. Written on a napkin (actually three napkins) on a flight from Atlanta to Austin, this formula would ultimately serve as the basis for the next major change in the business - a metamorphosis that would ultimately prove to be the last.
The formula and the platform upon which it operated would need millions of dollars invested into it. But, before this could happen I realized at long last - I needed some adult supervision.
We needed someone to build a team, focus on goals, create a sales machine and stop the constant distraction of consulting.
Two years ago, our CEO, Rose Hayden, took over as our leader (and as my baby sitter!) It was quite simply the best single decision I have ever made.
Rose built a team of people (customer service, technical support and operations management) that are driven to deliver our only offering - our software. Goals that are clear and unambiguous have been established. Our sales machine has more deals in the pipeline than ever before. And, we only consult for our software clients.
This metamorphosis has produced a burgeoning software success that has built technology forward offering expanding in areas I never knew could be within our reach. We have learned many lessons along the way and bare the scars of a hundred crash and burn altercations.
Of course, we still face daily hurdles (sales) and occasionally mountains (cash flow), but the long tunnel nears an end with the light of a clear sunny day in front of us.
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