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The Bright Side of Breaking Your Software

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

JOIN US ON OUR QUEST TO 100M TEXTS/MONTH!

As we enter 2015, one of the most important lessons I have relearned is the same message parents tell kids today; "patience is a virtue."

I find being patient to be challenging...I think most business owners have that same challenge.

There is no more important time to control emotions as an entrepreneur than the weeks leading up and the weeks after your anticipated launch.

That’s right…I said “the weeks after your anticipated launch."

Software doesn’t launch on time…ever. Ours didn't either mobile messaging campaign . I've heard cases of software launching on time, but those turned out to be urban legend (it doesn’t count when it’s the 4th launch date). Most studies show that over 90% of software projects don’t hit their deadline…I think that means that ~10% are lying!

I don’t want to talk about our first anticipated launch date…it’s embarrassing. I was wrong despite knowing and applying the golden rule “all software projects take twice as long as cost twice as much as you think.” I still missed by a lot…a whole lot.

Our 2nd launch date was October 15th, 2014…and we hit it! I got the message on the evening of the 13th that the product was done but has “a few bugs." I eagerly waited until close to 3PM when my business partners and development team wake up and drove to the office. That’s right…these vampires stay up all night and get to work at 3PM. That may be early by technology standards.

The first few screens looked and worked brilliantly. There is an old saying in software that you never know what your programmer has done wrong until it’s done…so far, so good.

Then the product broke.

The product broke because we were using Auth0 (for accounts) and Groove (customer support), and when we went through the account signup portion the 3rd party JavaScript calls to the database interfered with our AJAX calls and broke the entire product. There was no way to avoid the issue…it’s one of those issues you cannot avoid, only fix. This is not an issue with “Auth0” or “Groove,” it’s just one of those things that happen.

Corey and Carlos (aka “Beast Mode”) dove into code. For those reading this who do not code; the crazy part about coding is the slightest error and your product is Copper-fielded (vanished!). The wrong bracket type, command or punctuation can be the difference between success and failure. The curse of the programmer is trying to sort through thousands of lines of code to find the few small errors. The other curse is that fixing one issue can "break" other code.

Because code is not normal communication, it is easy for the programmers to forget what in the hell they coded! If that code is a month old, in most cases that code might as well have been written by someone else…in a different country…maybe in hieroglyphics.

So Corey and Carlos had the unenviable task of digging through the entire product to look for small issues. This is a great thing for any software project…no I have not lost my mind.

Why is this the best thing ever? Breaking your product forces your programmers to revisit the entire product. In some ways, it’s like studying for a final in which you MUST get an “A." In the 6 weeks since the product broke, documentation is clearer and the programmers know the product code inside and out. Some CEO’s would much prefer to get out the door without the product breaking…I am happy it broke (and broke again).

Now when a portion of the product breaks (which it will…this is software), the programmers can have it fixed so much faster than they could have before. The future efficiencies gained are so much more than the 2 months lost. This also gave us a chance to clean up UI issues (user interface), eliminate cumbersome features and add things to make the product better. Testing a product before releasing it takes the utmost in patience because everyone wants it out on the market, but that patience is worth its weight in platinum. As is often the case in the "real world," you often don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

Since the initial "break", we have extensively tested the product, identified and worked on improvements and worked towards a back-end solution that will be able to support millions of text messages a day. In short, we are going to have a much better product.

I would rather have the extra speed and efficiency when we have customers that could be affected than get a product out the door 2 months earlier.

So be patient and enjoy the ride. Don’t get angry when your product breaks and no one was affected…it will only make your product and service that much better in the long term. No matter what software you are developing, the winning formula always includes “better product” and “better service.”

Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2015.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Beans

Eric Beans is CEO of Texting Base, Inc., out of Orlando, Florida. Texting Base is a cloud-based software that adds efficiency and power to business texting communications. Combining the efficiency of a “mass text” and the effectiveness of a personal text message, Texting Base uses patent pending software to allow businesses to build relationships with their customers like never before. Prior to Texting Base, Eric Beans owned Premier Mortgage Capital, Inc., a nationwide state charted mortgage company and helped to start TechSpan, a global IT consulting company.

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