Article  |  Project Management

Creating and Implementing D^5: Discovery

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As my bio indicates, this software business was entirely new to me. I dabbled with web apps in the past, created a handful of websites, and managed — from a very, very high-level — a few web projects. But my experience is in the much more progressive-sequence world of construction, manufacturing, and marketing. These are industries with well-defined, industry standard work-flows.

Part of the draw to the web studio was the unknown. Studies since the 1960s have tried to figure out the best way to go about the ideation, creation, and launch of software. And much like the combustion engine, little has changed. There still isn’t a defined work-flow. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to build a web app.

The lack of benchmarks make it one of the most challenging industries to manage. There aren’t standard costs. There aren’t standard work-to-output ratios.

Good design costs more, but you can’t measure the quality of design.

A robust infrastructure costs more, but you can’t measure the quality of back-end development.

And lastly, development is a forever improving process. No software is ever—or ever will be—launched without bugs. Humans err, and humans write software. So unlike the song you just purchased on iTunes, software will never be “complete.” (Imagine buying a song, and a second or two are added or subtracted from it everyday for as long as you own it.)

With these thoughts listed as bullet-points on my notebook I proceeded to schedule hour-long interviews with each team member at Planet Argon. I needed to pick their brains and see what’s been tried, what works, and what drives them nuts. Further, I needed to figure out how the hell I was going to get this all to come together. The only thing I knew at this point was that whatever process I came up with would either be a circle or need a ‘catch-all’ step for the never-ending support role that comes along with every project.

Day two at PA and I had a short bulleted list and two flow-chart doodles: a line with a circle at the end, and a circle. Next, we design.

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