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Doing Things Right – Why Company Values Are Important

Our estimations show we will need approximately 2 months to finish this project for the cost of XXXXX $”
“Sorry guys, but we are over budget. We cannot afford to pay that much, but we need this project. Can we cut something?”
“Can we decrease the scope?”
“No, we are already at the bare minimum. We cannot afford this. We need 15-20% discount.”
“What about time? Is 8 weeks for delivery OK?”
“Yes, that is OK. You can take even more time if you want.”

A few years ago I was working for a small company. Our biggest client will ask us to do something for them, we will estimate it and a contract will be signed. We will work on many small projects this way, one after another. We frequently had to negotiate contracts and this one was not going well.

We were complaining they always wanted to get work for free. They were complaining we do not deliver quality work to them.

It looked like this negotiation will go for a while – a time we could be writing code and making some money instead. At that moment our CEO just replied:

We will do it. With the discount.”

Later he said, just to our team:

We are not making any sacrifices on quality on this delivery.”
“What if we go over budget?”
“We’ll pay from our own pocket if we have to.”

This sounded brave and stupid at first. But he was right and we knew that. Why was he right?

Company Values

For years I believed company values and principles are just some HR mumbo-jumbo. I remember how the CTO of a company I worked presented our company values for the first time. He mentioned that the whole management have just spend an entire day figuring those out. I remember thinking – “What a waste of time”.

Back to our story… We have just spend our one day to define our company values. Excellence was one of them. We have decided to stop compromising on quality we deliver.

Doing things right

For the first time in months we were not just delivering something. Pressure was there, but not the same. We knew we wanted it to be good and decided “doing things right” this time.

So we started with the most important functionality right from the beginning. We tested a lot. We automated as much of that as possible, including all of our acceptance testing. We wanted to make sure our back-end logic works fine before we started polishing the UI. All this paid off after our QA had more time to play around. She found a few broken cases that we did not consider at first. This happened well into the project, but we had enough time to fix it. Our clients would have found this for sure, but we prevented that.

And than we were done

We finished our project – coding, testing, test automation, documentation. We communicated our progress and showed a few demos to our client. Quality was great and we were quite confident they will love it. And they did. We had no complains and almost no bugs for this project. Everything was predictable and smooth.

We have made one decision – make quality work from this moment on. It was easer to follow this now. It was something in our company DNA. It was one of our values.

But we were late. That means over budget. And that means no profit for us. We did the right thing, but it cost us something as well.

So what’s the point?

Our estimations show we will need approximately 2 months to finish this project for the cost of XXXXX $.”
“Sorry guys, but we are over budget. We cannot afford to pay that much, but we need this project. Can we cut something?”
“We are sorry, but we cannot cut more without sacrificing the quality of the delivery. ”
“Alright, agreed on XXXXX $ than.”

Thank you for reading.

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