Plan Big & Execute Close
Updated: Sep 21
A recent client had moved with admirable speed to implement a major new initiative. The new program mixed new data resources, new code, algorithms and processing, with a series of manual procedures to link it all together. I like using talented team members as an expedient process element; you can get your new process/product up and functioning very quickly, and learn plenty in the process. Of course, these parts of your process will not scale, or scale profitably, so those steps must be automated into software before the growth phase hits.
We're so "agile" we can build without planning
In this case, the client was at a loss to get that software build-out working. I've experienced situations where we allowed the manual processes to drift way from the intended design in ways that were tough to replicate in software, but in this case there was no big-picture design. These folks had jumped on a new opportunity and figured out a very fast way to get into operation, but lacked the time, or the inclination, to develop detailed plans for a full-scale software and data solution; something that could grow and be profitably operated. So... that was my assignment. We crafted a plan and detailed description of a stack of software and data that would replicate the customer benefit, but took a significantly different approach compared to their first effort.
The lesson is that the big-picture planning should not be bypassed. even if you plan to build in phases, or build quickly, filling gaps with manual steps or temp elements. Create "Phase 1" with the later phases in mind, or you may find youself unable to get there. If elements will eventually be integrated via APIs, better think about that at the start.
Then build quick and close the immediate scale and use. Indeed, when solutions are web-based and hosted in a cloud environment, you can execute very close to the present need, building what you need now or cannot work-around. But have the blueprints of your big, scalable, and profitable solution close to hand. Then your quick expedient steps are moving toward your goal, and not into a dead end.
"Plan big, execute close"