03.19.2010 Culture, Community, and Business

The brutal truth

This week I had the rare, but gut-wrenching experience of a lynchpin service provider flaking on a client project at a critical point on our development cycle. This isn’t one of those typical experiences that development shops blog about - but it does happen from time to time. And in choosing a software provider, I think that it’s something that you should ask about, because how a company handles this situation speaks volumes about their professionalism and integrity.

Like I said, fortunately since starting ThinkShout this hasn’t been a situation that I’ve had to deal with. And with this client in particular, we have a solid history of over-delivering. Still, admitting to any client that a major piece of a project has seen a hiccup isn’t fun. And going into our meeting to discuss this situation, I felt like my guts where going to explode. We were now going to have to rejigger much of our project plan and schedule - and ultimately, I was going to have to fall on my sword and eat a non-trivial amount of costs to make this situation right.

But then, something awesome happened. I presented the client the truth about the situation. I didn’t drag her into the muddy details, but was fully transparent - and opened the meeting by saying that ThinkShout was committed to making this situation right. With the truth out on the table, the client and I then began talking through alternative solutions to best meet their functional, as well as scheduling needs. And in the end, this experience led to us re-examining our project goals and approach, such that we actually were able to come up with a better technology solution than we had originally conceived.

So, with transparency and clear thinking, we were able to leverage a bad situation into an opportunity to build a better product. And ThinkShout will complete this project with a more satisfied customer.

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