Admin, ugh

We have a third principle (read also one and two), and this one is perhaps the most important from a culture point of view: avoid all avoidable admin.

Everyone hates admin, developers most of all. And often the management layer is a cost to the client with no transparently obvious benefit.

I’m not suggesting management isn’t required, but as a bespoke business software company we have always been well positioned to automate much of our admin away.

Because of that view, when we discuss company process either internally or with our clients, it’s always an upfront point to identify how we can simplify the processes as much as possible and also how we can automate what’s left.

Most obviously this lower overhead helps us to keep costs related to direct value, which in our case is development, as much as possible.

But it has a more subtle benefit, that we actively avoid adding barriers to getting things done. When the process for getting something done is to jump through 3 flaming hoops, this slows down progress and annoys people who can see a goal at their fingertips.

So we’re always guided by the goal to let people do what they want to do and to let the computer systems facilitate that as quickly as possible, while still capturing every piece of information we need to be effective.

As I said, management is required, but it doesn’t have to be a big heavy bouncer who blocks every turn. No-one likes a gatekeeper.

We tried many agile systems (most of the ones you can think of now), but none of them quite captured the full end-to-end process. For us this means starting from the first coffee meeting with a client, through to refining the brief, speccing the dev plan, estimating, working, testing, and ending with invoicing and receiving payment and ongoing client communication.

To be fair, it’s a big ask for one system, and if we hadn’t had our goals in place we might have ended up with a plethora of partial solutions.

But having rejected most solutions we encountered for either not being nimble enough, or not comprehensive enough, or simply by tacitly assuming every person in the system wants to spend hours managing things, we created our own software.

Built on our preferred technologies, and infinitely tweakable as we find new solutions to our admin problems, our company has been looked after by a single over-arching piece of software, now called ImpTime, that does it all for us.

Of course we appreciate micro-services and we implement distributed software for our clients all the time, but for us having a single system for everything was, and is, the right choice.

Admin seems to come back in new forms as we grow and change, but ImpTime grows with us and is always fighting to keep the management monsters at bay.

As a postscript to this post, two year ago a meeting of minds with our friends and partners at Passacaglia convinced us that ImpTime has a place amongst the many existing management systems and that we have some unique ideas around attention management. So we’ll be taking ImpTime to market in late 2018/early 2019. Watch this space, soon you too can enjoy true freedom 🙂