Invoko Transform: Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster

Congratulations, you’ve brought a great idea to market. And, as you predicted, it’s a success, people are buying your product. So, how do you keep growing fast without losing existing customers? Introducing Invoko Transform, a monthly consulting service aimed at transforming your startup into a sustainable business.

You’ve gotten to where you are by being a free thinking innovative company, right? In the early days this is exactly the right thing to do, get something out quickly, get feedback and iterate. It’s when you’ve got a growing customer base that the cracks start to appear. New features are taking longer and longer to implement, your developers keep talking about refactoring. Maybe it’s reached the stage where deployment is not as easy or reliable as it once was.

Who is Transform for?

If any of the following sounds familiar then Invoko Transform we should talk

  • You’re a startup that has validated the business with a rapidly growing customer base.
  • You know the company can do better, and that a heavy weight process is NOT the answer.
  • The CTO is also the product owner and works directly with the developers, he/she probably does the QA role as well. If you are the CTO you may be starting to get frustrated with the developers inability to ‘get it right’. You keep finding obvious bugs, the kind of bugs the developer should have spotted, when QAing the product.
  • Your trust in the delivery team is starting to dip, the warning signs are there. Deploying new features has caused major problems for existing customers. The thought of deploying code makes you nervous, even though you know the new features are great for your customers.
  • You are not afraid to make difficult decisions. Some of the bottlenecks may be caused by team leadership carrying dead weight. This happens because of the misguided belief that it’s quicker for me to do it than to pass it over to a less experienced member of the team. It’s time to create an environment that allows everyone to give all they can to the business.

What you’ll get

Put simply, you’ll get my extensive experience of producing software products large and small. I’ll show your team how to put just enough process in place, getting your company into the habit of delivering quality software quickly.

I’ll work on site for 2 days a month, where I’ll get to know business stakeholders and web development team. This will give me a good overview of how work flows through the company, from idea to implemented feature. I’ll look for the bottlenecks as well as areas of confusion that are hampering the team from working effectively. After each visit you’ll get a report with recommendations, designed to form the habits of a high functioning team.

I focus on the following areas

  • How do ideas become features? I look at how your company takes an idea and turns it into a well defined feature that developers can deliver into production. Much of the problems can be solved at this stage in the process.
  • Development practices – I take a look at how the software is developed, is it with the right amount of quality in mind. A fast paced company can deliver features that exceed the users expectations as well as being easy to change. The corners that were cut to build the business will come back to bite you. You’ll know when this has happened when feature development slows down and the developers want to refactor everything. Or worse, rewrite everything, hint: rewriting is almost never a good idea
  • Technical implementation – is the software aligned with the business? Do the development team have a shared understanding of the implementation? These are some of the questions I will be answering by reviewing the overall architecture and the implementation if necessary.
  • The truth – I won’t shirk my responsibility to you, I will look for the things that are holding you back and suggest ways of fixing the issues. This maybe tough to hear, especially if you’ve had a great run of success. I want to put you on the right road that will ensure you have a great platform for growth.

Who are you anyway?

I’m Dermot Kilroy, and I make sure companies get the best out of their product delivery teams. I’m a technologist by trade, I’ve been building web products for over 10 years now.

Why are you the best man for the job?

Most people believe that the software development part of a web project is the most complicated. I don’t, sure, it gets complicated and the people doing it have got to have a level of skill to implement a quality product. But that’s not the most complicated part of the project. No, the most complicated part of any project is the people and how they work as a team.

More specifically it’s how the team interact to get an idea into a product and in front of paying customers. The projects I’ve worked on that have been the most successful have been the ones where the software is completely aligned with the business.

You might be thinking, what does keeping the software aligned with the business mean, surely the software is always aligned, right? Not always, you’d be surprised how often the web development team diverges from the business goals. You’ll notice this in your company if you find that features take a long time to get through to customers. Deployments always seem to go wrong. The development team will be complaining about the state of the current system and how they need time to sort it out, or even rewrite it (and this time we’ll get it right :-)).

At that stage the goal of the development team is to paper over the cracks in the implementation whilst the goal of business is to meet customer demand. I have focused my team leadership on solving this problem. By being aware of user behaviour we can see which parts of the system are important, that way the whole company can play their part in reaching the goal of delighting customers with an awesome product.

How much is this going to cost?

There is a minimum monthly cost of £2500 a month (depending on location). How many months I spend with your company depends on the size and depth of the problems. I usually find it’s a minimum of 3 months. The monthly cost will be affected by location, clearly if your the other side of the world it’s going to cost more for me to visit.

So, couldn’t we do this over Skype? I find the most effective way to transform your company is for me to meet the team face to face. I like to see the environment and working practices in glorious technicolor.  Over time we may be able to transition over to Skype, I will be looking to ramp down my team as your team gains confidence with my recommendations.

When the ramp down happens I’ll charge accordingly. My goal is to make your company transformation in as short a time frame as possible.

So, are you ready to transform your company?

If you’re interested in getting started with Invoko Transform, get in touch, I’ll setup a mutually suitable time for us to see if we will be a good fit. Believe it or not some business owners know they have a problem but they’re not ready to make the necessary change. I can’t help those people, you have to understand that, as the business owner, you’re the most influential member of the team. How you behave has a huge impact on delivering the product.

Not quite ready yet?  Not to worry, I understand this is a big commitment on your part. I’d still love to hear from you. We can, at the very least, begin a conversation. I don’t mind if you’re not ready for a months or even years as long as we begin the conversation.

Dermot Kilroy