If we were to look back at the single most important aspect of the success of HATech working with our clients, our Integrity and Accountability would be at the top of the list. Our tooling and processes were chosen to ensure the visibility and integrity of our engineers towards our customers. All three “p’s” coming together and proving our value – People, Processes and Products (tools).
All of my team here at HATech have worked for other vendors, partners and software companies. We have all worked on projects on a time and materials basis. But what is not always clear is how the ‘Time’ is being calculated, allocated and more importantly reported on the project.
We all like the ‘dedicated’ headcount model. A customer requires a full time member of staff to work on their project, but this results in a false assumption that the headcount is actually contributing 40hrs of real value. In past organisations I have worked in, the business model was based on allocating headcount but knowing in reality that due to patterns, templates and blueprints that had already been developed, the actual number of hours they will be working on a project is considerably less. For a number of reasons this seems to be an acceptable business practice – but one to which HATech does not subscribe.
The goal of a business is to be successful. Success however takes on many different forms. Success can be measured as sales volume, margin, customer retention, size or any other metric that the Board considers important. However, one aspect has always remained true – happy customers are repeat customers and this is why HATech insists on complete transparency on the numbers of hours we work. You won’t get a rolled up weekly number on our time sheet from our engineers. We record every detail and every minute of every day is recorded in Atlassian JIRA for our customers to see how we are spending their money. This provides valuable metrics to the customer in which stories were the most expensive, which were estimated incorrectly, and which were over estimated allowing our developers to pull in other stories ahead of time.
Many consulting organizations believe that the efficiencies gained from automation and reduced hours to complete the same task, creates a business problem for them. Do they need to change the way they measure and charge for success with the customer? Should they charge for time saved by automation vs the actual hours spent? How do they maintain the viability of their business if engagement times decrease due to automation? What we’ve found at HATech, without exception, is that when we put the customer first, through strategy, planning, development, or any other stage in a project, not only is the customer happy but we feel invigorated and energized for the next project secure in the knowledge that our Integrity and customer loyalty metrics are sky high.
Recently we had the opportunity to work on a great project. As we looked at the requirements and the customer use case it became apparent that instead of the customer’s forecasted time frame for completion being about 6 weeks, in reality, to get the customer to the first stage of success would have taken little more than 2 days of effort. While we would have loved to have taken the revenue for a six week engagement, the smart and principled play was to show how quickly HATech could meet their goals. This relationship then flourished, and we became trusted advisers. Our engineers became ‘heroes’ and referrals and word of mouth increased exponentially.
It’s sad to say that not all consultancy and software companies have the customer’s best interests at heart. Some have integrity but others will take customers for every cent they can get. If you only remember one thing from this article as you work with partners and consulting firms, ask yourself one simple question:
We find all too often customers have spent their budget for a project on engagements with consulting firms only to find they have nothing to show for it or additional budget is “unexpectedly” required. Your chosen partner should take a pride in how efficiently they can meet your needs. Especially the more established consulting firms that have been in business for years. The time it takes to deploy or develop a project today that is similar to one that was completed last year or even last month, should be considerably less. In our experience this is very rarely communicated and very rarely something your chosen partner may be willing to disclose. If your chosen partner has a pedigree, that pedigree should allow them to realize your vision and business needs far quicker than a partner that is doing this for the first time.
Another great demonstration of our culture is our recent engagement with an amazing team at Wedgies.com based here in Las Vegas. We had heard many estimates being given for the work to be completed by other parties, even AWS themselves. But by putting the needs of this customer ahead of our own we were able to demonstrate our integrity and experience far more effectively.