Would You Like it Cheap, Fast or Good?

I’ve come to understand this paradigm as an immutable law of service delivery. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about building a house, custom application development, creating a huge marketing campaign or having the neighbor kid mow your lawn. Here’s the concept. There are three variables that can be controlled in a business transaction. Of the three, you can set values for no more than two. Those two then set a value for the third. I’ve heard several terms for the variables, they’re all about the same so have your pick. 1. Expense (aka Cheap) 2. Speed of delivery (aka Fast) 3. Quality of product and/or service (aka Good) Let’s take a closer look at each of these variables. 1. Expense (Cheap) – This is obvious. On some level, we’re all looking for the best deal and frequently, the easiest way to measure a ‘deal’ is the price. It’s a little lazy in that it typically doesn’t take into account the true cost of the purchase (e.g. lost opportunity costs, etc., etc.) It does however, provide a nice clean number – so it’s easy. 2. Speed of delivery (Fast) – How long does it take to get to the results? This variable frequently has more weight in determining total value of a solution than either of the other two. However, that’s only because it’s been ignored and now is out of your control; you NEED a solution YESTERDAY. You’re ‘bleeding’ cash, employee morale is awful, you know the picture. It’s grim, right? And the solution, the one that’s right in front of you, can’t get here fast enough. That’s an example of loosing control of the ‘speed’ variable. Setting a more realistic speed of delivery will have major effects on both Expense and Quality. 3. Quality of the product / service (Good) – You might not realize it at the time but you are choosing this variable by selecting the service provider to partner with. If you can accept less polished, less reliable work you can afford a less experienced and reliable partner. In SK’s world of application development and technology consulting, less reliable means downtime, bugs, and all of the other frustrations you associate with technology. Truly high quality professionals will refuse to produce low quality work which sets the quality variable. The customer controls two of the variables. Those two determine the third. In well-run, satisfying and successful projects there is a balance. None of the variables become punishing for the customer or the provider. It’s about setting priorities, planning the work and working the plan. This expectation can only be accomplished with an open dialog between the customer and provider. Tell me which of the three variables: expense, speed or quality, you’re not discussing regularly with your services provider; I’ll tell you which one is going to bite you in the keister. Skeleton Key has a systematic method for estimating and project delivery that enables us to communicate all three variables transparently throughout the process. If transparent project management is critical to your organization, please give us call.

Superheroes vs. Rockstars

You’re a Rockstar!! It’s become common in the technical world to refer to a really smart person as a ‘Rockstar’. This is terribly unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong – Rockstars are cool with their torn-up jeans, long hair, assorted substance-abuse problems, groupies and stalkers. That’s all, um, awesome stuff, and perhaps worthy of some sort of aspiration. In fact, I used to talk about our team at Skeleton Key as a group of Rockstars brought together in a sort of ‘super-band’ ~ like The Yardbirds might be for guitarists. I’ve since changed this language. As a rule, we don’t hire Rockstars. You read that right. NO ROCKSTARS HERE. As promoted at FileMaker’s DevCon 2010, we have opted for the more accurate term of SUPERHEROES!

Four Reasons Superheroes Are Better Than Rockstars

  1. Superheroes, by and large, are not egotistical maniacs. They do their job ~ a job that amazes the rest of us ~ and then slip back under the humble cover of their mild-mannered alter-egos.
  2. Superheroes deliver extraordinary value, and in the end their ‘clients’ seek ways to remunerate them. Have you ever seen those exposés about Rockstars’ contracts? Insane demands, like “I need Jelly Beans, but only the blue ones, and they must be individually wrapped in yellow silk towelettes”.
  3. Superheroes are timeless. Green Lantern, The Flash, Captain America, Superman – you’ve heard of them, your kids know them, their kids will know them. As evidenced by the VH1 series ‘Where Are They Now’, Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons, no matter how hard they try, this really isn’t as true for Rockstars.
  4. Two words: X-ray vision. Does that really need any explanation?

If you’re looking for regular old ‘Rockstar’ FileMaker developers, call someone else. We only work with Superhero FileMaker Developers!

St. Louis’ Best in Value

St. Louis' Best In Value The crew at Skeleton Key continually focuses on our customers having a solid return on investment (ROI) in our services. We expect the projects we undertake to make a direct impact on their bottom line. We use that as a measure of the value we’ve brought to the customer and the project and encourage our customers to do the same. We also understand that sometimes the ROI you need is ‘soft’ and difficult to measure, like time at home with your family or peace of mind. Many times, those are the most rewarding projects because we know the value of these intangibles is what creates rich lives and strong, vibrant companies. We don’t know who nominated us as St. Louis’ Best in Value but we are honored by the distinction. Thank you, – The Skeleton Key Crew