Enterprise Software: What Does A Client Value Most
Years ago, just after a few months when we launched our company, we decided to also pursue developing enterprise software and had assumed it would be somewhat similar to the consumer based applications we were developing. We thought that we would create an enterprise app which would improve with user-data as it matures. We met a client who wanted us to develop a software for their sales team. The enterprise software was targeted on improving the current process being followed and provide accurate information at any time of the day.
After a few meetings, it was evident that this domain is completely different. The needs of the client, their expectations, their goals, and the user impact they are targeting are different than the applications we had developed during the initial months.
Back then, our company’s founders were the ones making efforts to win project. They had put in a lot of effort, and this led to us being awarded our biggest projects of that time, and little did we know what a learning journey would that be.
Immediately after receiving the amazing news the next day, our team of designers, developers, SQA and project manager sat down to discuss what it would look like. The project manager started scheduling meetings with the client to gather detailed requirements and we were all set to begin the design phase.
With a team of highly skilled designers, we were able to create a fantastic design for the CRM. We met the client once the designs were complete to give them a walk through of the UX, and they were amazed to see the quality of our work. And that is a deliberate emphasis on the word quality.
Following the agile methodology, we had broken down the project in sprints. The team was highly motivated to work on this amazing opportunity that we had to benefit from. As weeks passed by, there were hurdles. As this was our first of the dozens of enterprise applications we have developed so far, we knew things would go wrong, but not completely. We missed a few targets, which obviously wasn’t appreciated by the client. When in two consecutive meetings we went with a partially complete milestone, we noticed that the client showed some concerns.
Do you know about the triple constraints in project management? It’s scope, time, and cost. To meet the next deadlines, we had two options in front of us; either to reduce the work of the upcoming deliverable, or to add more resources to the project.
Thankfully, we did none. Another thing we observed during the demos with the client for the enterprise software they wanted us to build was that our software had some glitches and they would be observed during the demo. The quality of work they were expecting was not up to the mark either. Maybe this is what the client was actually concerned about? As some project management guru’s say that in between the triangle of triple constraints is quality, we decided that this is what we had to focus on in our first enterprise app’s very next scheduled demo to gain back the confidence of our client.
After the next sprint was our demo scheduled. This time, nothing much was different. The pace of work, the feature set to complete, but yes, we focused heavily on quality of the software. When the next demo was scheduled with the client to update them about the progress, we went in with confidence. After 30 minutes of demonstration, we asked them to describe the user experience.
One said “Amazing!”, and the other said “Now this is what we were expecting!”. And at that point we told them we would require just a week or two more time to complete the application as this was our first and a challenge nonetheless, and that is primarily because we will make sure we don’t give you a product with any bug or defect.
Usually you don’t get a decent response when you tell a client that you may require more time, but here we did. That is all because they realized how much then we were committed to delivering a product that delivers what they value the most.
Enterprises do keep a time buffer for every project. This includes the user acceptance testing which may last months. But as we were a startup then, we worried about the timeline assuming that this must be what matters most to the client. The scenario is however different, and this learning came from experience. There is no ‘go to market’ urgency in such software. It is quality that matters the most.
Years down the road, we still stand as committed as we were during this first project of its kind for us. Developing quality driven CRMs and HR management applications, and since the past few years, with a 100% on-time deployment and completion. That is all because of the development process we had redefined. Even the same client has come back to us with other enterprise applications over the years. That is quality for you!
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