What HGTV and your custom software project have in common
If you’re like me, you watch enough shows on HGTV to make you think you know something (if not everything) about real estate and renovation.
Recently, though, I’ve been struck by the striking similarities between our custom software projects at Praxent and those managed by the “Property Brothers,” “Rehab Addict” Nicole Curtis, and “The Love It or List It” crew (among others).
Like HGTV stars, we at Praxent…
- …maintain perfectly coiffed hair and stellar make-up (*cough*)
- …minimize drama through natural, winning charisma
- …make managing projects an enjoyable and enlightening experience
The key similarity, though, is budget. Specifically: in our projects, as in those on HGTV, frank and unreserved conversations about budgets are key to a project’s success.
Budget Comes First
Watch nearly any episode of nearly any series (they tend to follow the same formula!) and you’ll see that the budget for a project is ALWAYS one of the first things that gets covered. Whether it’s a new home purchase on “House Hunters” or the renovation of an existing space on “Income Property,” the introduction to the project is not complete until the viewer knows exactly what there is to spend.
Can all of the members on your project team say the same about your custom software project?
Often it’s tempting to assume that your sales consultant has successfully transferred all of this budgetary knowledge to the software developers… but even if that’s the case, has anything for the product owner recently changed?
Or perhaps you don’t feel the need to talk about budget because the project is just kicking off, or isn’t (yet) in any danger of being over budget… but are you missing an opportunity to strengthen a relationship for candid and comfortable financial conversations?
Budgets Are Visually (And Ritually) Referenced
I can (and often do) watch “House Hunters” on mute. This means I miss a lot of specifics: how’d the family feel about the carpet?; did they like the traditional wainscoting?; and was there really enough space to accommodate the mother-in-law’s frequent visits?
One thing I don’t miss with the sound off is budget. Not only is there a friendly graphic that appears on screen to frequently remind me what the budget is, I know that every time the show returns from a commercial break I am going to be reminded and re-informed as to how much our hunters and their realtors have to spend.
Is your project team having the same conversation? We’ve found that Agile Scrum has some great tools with which to ritualize conversations about budget and remaining work, but the need for consistent reporting on budget transcends methodology.
How can you ensure that you’ve got a visual representation of your project’s budget? And how you can you normalize the distribution of this information so that the project team and product owner can keep that information in the forefront of their minds at the end of each commercial break development cycle?
Budgets Are GOOD Constraints
There are some TV programs out there where the budget is not referenced or even constraining. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is one that comes to mind wherein host Ty Pennington has an unlimited budget with which to amaze and astound deserving families. Of course, one major catch is that the families give almost no input at all on what design or architectural decisions get made. Now while I love the idea of finding a brand new home replete with new appliances and furnishings, I often wonder how our families really feel about the extreme (and often over the top) decorations and whether or not they really fit their wants and needs.
By contrast, the budgets on most HGTV programs are almost characters themselves: friendly foils that challenge the hosts to consistently evaluate function and style. For example, when Jonathan Scott discovers asbestos in the bedroom wall that will cost an additional $10,000 to remove, he and his clients then need to determine if it’s best to extend the budget or perhaps just hold off on purchasing that new granite countertop for the kitchen.
The good news about your project is that you can have your cake and eat it, too (no, wait, that’s Food Network). So maybe you can have your sconces and install them, too, which is to say that a team who accurately understands your constraints will make the best decisions about how to work within them.
Lastly, these projects on HGTV are not easy. There are plenty of obstacles, surprises, and setbacks just waiting to appear. Imagine how much more difficult things would be if budget were not an early and often part of the conversation. If that’s not also true about software projects, then I don’t know what is.
Ready to work with a partner that understands your budget and can help you build the perfect solution within it? Contact us.