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Quick Recap

Here we are and the reality of the situation is:

  • we have a problem we want to solve 
  • we have a client who wants the problem solved 
  • our solution doesn’t work and I don’t have enough technical knowledge to salvage it 

What now? 

In retrospect, my ignorance, youthful exuberance, and passion stops me from evaluating whether this is something that has a high chance of success or low chance of success.    

Second Attempt!

I decide to talk to my mentors to get some guidance on how to overcome the technical problems and it turns out the only logical way forward is to outsource again. On one hand, I don’t have the skills and on the other hand, I have already burnt the client so this time it is up to me to cover the cost of rectifying the situation.   

And this time, I choose to outsource to a team based in Australia simply so that I get the chance to sit with them and learn from the people who have the expertise and increase my understanding because ignorance hit me so hard last time. 

Version 2 Interface

I manage to find a team with some great recommendations; a niche provider with a small team but highly specialised in SharePoint. I go through the specification process and so far I am really impressed with their knowledge. I start working closely with one of the senior developers, he is REALLY SMART so I’m pretty excited. 

Trying as much as I can to understand I ask many questions and he patiently answers them while still moving the project forward. Everything definitely looks good. I have my go-to guy, I trust him, I understand the concepts of the solution way better. We are progressing and it starts to look like this was a great idea after all.  

Sensing Trouble…

But as with everything, how can things be so smooth? Here comes the second bump in the road.  

It starts out innocent enough that the senior developer starts missing meetings with ‘valid’ excuses. Then he starts missing deliverables with no explanation. I talk to the owner of the business and he assures me that all is under control… 

A few days later, as I stand on Esther St in Fortitude Valley after another client meeting, I get a phone call from the developer. Excited to hear from him, I excuse myself to take the call. He begins to tell me how things aren’t going well at home that he is unable to cope and that the company isn’t handling things to his liking. This call turns out to be a 1 hr counseling session about his life.  

At the end of it, I am shell shocked and I have numerous thoughts running through my head..

“What just happened?” 

“Now I get the odd behavior, but what’s happening with the project?” 

“He is the only person on my project and without him, it seems like I might be up the creek.” 

“Am I a bad person for thinking about my project when it sounds like this person’s life is falling apart?” 

I manage to get myself together and begin to focus. 

Ok, I’ll check in with the CEO of the company and he should be able to shed some light on what is happening. 

The phone call proceeds to assure me that indeed the senior developer is on his way out of the company in a very messy way but they will find a way to salvage our project. Phew, that’s a relief!

In hindsight, I should have seen that physics (time and space) was against the project being salvaged but I didn’t because I wanted it to not be my problem. As I mentioned, it was a small team, and losing a senior team member left a huge hole in their capacity. They never picked the project up again.  

I jump into the source code because I have a copy of it. I try my best to see what I can do to salvage this situation. I have enough knowledge from my conversations to at least understand what he has been trying to do hoping that would help me get things sorted. I sit there looking at the code like it is in another language.  

“How am I ever going to make this work?” 

So here I am again, exactly where I was 3 months before: 

  • we have a problem we want to solve 
  • we have a client who wants the problem solved 
  • our solution doesn’t work and I don’t have enough technical knowledge to salvage it 

Finding Alternatives…  

I am sitting in the Red Rooster in Kelvin Grove with a good friend of mine, Ricky Kenny; I am not in a good place. The code is kicking my arse. The experts, even though they have done the best they can to help us (allowed us to work from their office, answered questions we didn’t have the expertise for), they are overwhelmed too and I am really thinking of throwing in the towel. 

But Ricky says, “We can do this and for a moment, I don’t feel like I am doing it alone. Ricky had actually been involved in the project previously but had taken some time to go overseas on a sabbatical and has just come back.

We double down again. I learn another language and become the developer for my solution and so does Ricky. It is terrifying, heartbreaking, exhilarating, and fulling all at the same time. It takes my level of understanding from 1 to 9 out of 10 over a 3 week time period and it is DIFFICULT, REALLY DIFFICULT. 

But after that 3 weeks, my problem of understanding isn’t an issue anymore. I understand the solution from the first line of code to the last and from the highest level to the lowest level. For the first time, I actually have the technical knowledge and support to be able to pull this off!!! 

Ricky and I work for another 3 months on getting all of the features (new features that is) that the client wants into the system, we smash it out of the park and have something we are really happy with. I am in control of my own destiny. I have all the skills I need and we have a product that is solving the problem that the client wants to be solved. 

Just to be clear I am by no means a developer. I can code but within a very specific environment that I totally understand because I am a part of building it and that’s all I have to do. We are good to go. 

We keep moving forward and get something out!!!!

So when we took on the responsibility of delivering v2 after the failure of v1, I negotiated with the client that if we were successful then they would pay out $80k which was outstanding from our previous agreement. I am pretty stoked about the prospect of being able to recoup at least some of our costs. 

D-Day!

The day comes and I sit down with the CEO of the client showing off that we have met the requirements they had outlined. He pushes for additional features that are definitely not in the agreement. We have been working so fluidly that we haven’t written them down as proof and because I have been wanting to please the client so much I always said ‘Yes’. 

And this is where we hit the third bump in the road. He proceeds to ask me a whole bunch of questions about who we want to reach with our solution. Since I have always been passionate about micro to small businesses I say I would love to help them. 

What follows next is like this:-

CEO – “So we aren’t your target market really, are we?” 

Me – “Well.. not really.. but we can help you as well” 

CEO – “Yeah, but we aren’t your target market” 

CEO – “Well, we have a new MSP who is looking to come in to work with us. They are building something very similar and we are THEIR target market!” 

Me – “Oh ok” 

We continue the chit chat for a little while longer, he gives me some advice about moving forward and leaves the room. 

I am numb, What just happened?”, “I’m pretty sure I just lost the client” 

So here I am again, in a slightly different position than 3 months before but still not great: 

  • we have a problem we want to solve 
  • we NO LONGER HAVE a client who wants the problem solved 
  • our solution WORKS and I HAVE enough technical knowledge to salvage it. 

Now what? 


Read the series of the journey so far…

Mitchell Hunt

Mitchell is the CEO of Rapid Platform and Founder of Zapien Group. He is passionate about helping people and empowering individuals and organisations to achieve their full potential. Whether in the office or at home he is always energised by thought-provoking conversations. He loves to ponder and discuss some of the deep-seeded issues in today’s society. He enjoys reading and continually studies human and human behaviour; what drives us to do what we do, and how could we do it differently, better, and what would it ‘cost’ to change? His world is completed by his amazing and supportive wife and their remarkable, yet exhausting, four young children. Intentional parenting is a big part of his life and so you will frequently find him on the sidelines of a martial arts class, or with one of his children in the office. If you’d like to get a fresh perspective on a problem in your world, or you are crazy enough to think you can change the world, Mitchell would love to connect and have a conversation.