The secrets to soothing the IT storm that can hit your start-up

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    September 06, 2022
The secrets to soothing the IT storm that can hit your start-up

At San Digital we know business start-ups are a wild thrilling ride (we are one too). Wild to the point of stormy. You want to make a difference and change the world for the better. Not to mention make some money.

The start-up business storm

The pressure is always on:

  • Grow your market, fast
  • Develop your product, quickly
  • Generate revenue, asap
  • Build your team, urgently
  • While containing costs, eking-out your precious seed money

The foot is firmly on the accelerator. It can be a bit disorientating. Customers respond in unexpected ways. Competitors get cheeky and ape your innovations. New executives arrive with bright left-field ideas. Constraints: time, money, people - leave you constrained. The best laid plans find you in a place you didn’t fully expect when you started out.

You need to help soothe that storm so you can be productive. No one wants that overwhelmed puppy feeling.


Soothing 1: Stay Agile

We’ve talked earlier about the importance of being an Agile Business: the need to stay flexible, implementing change through a series of small, focused, deliverable, successful projects. To be agile as an organisation, not just have a development process.

Not to be agile is to throw away a big part of a small business’s competitive advantage. If you have never worked for a large organisation, you cannot know the multi-vectored tangled web of constraints that tell you what is not possible, and the layers of approvals needed to jump through +100 step processes to go from idea to thing that exists and is working.

Soothing 2: Set your direction, lightly

The nimbleness of Agile has a close companion in your planning process. Of course, you want to avoid any heavy-handed Prince2 planning-fest, but it really doesn’t have to be like that. A straightforward roadmap can set a clear course, while acknowledging all the places where ‘here be dragons!’ for your future-self to slay.

Here Be Dragons

We typically work with you to establish:

1. North Star strategy

What is your North Star strategy - what is the leading indicator of success that we should be heading towards.

2. Metrics

What is the best, fullest outcome for this metric - at a high-level (post-it notes are fine)

  • If you’re developing a service, create a service blueprint that tracks everything that is needed to support the end-to-end customer journey
  • If you’re building a product:
    • Use a product vision board to ground your product in the wider needs of your customers and business
    • Also, consider if you need a service wrap around your product (e.g., how do they get it, how do they learn to use it, how do they resolve problems with it)

3. Achievable goals

Finally, bring it down to what can be achieved immediately and delve into the necessary details:

  • The user journey documenting user interactions and system/staff responses in a screen flow
  • The requirements for back-end processes and system integrations
  • Go through a process of Estimating and delivering defined outcomes to reduce risk and increase the chance of a successful delivery, so we have some clearly and quickly achievable Statements of Work to get our teeth into.

Specific now, impressionistic future

Layering your effort - lightweight at the top, detailed at the bottom - will avoid analysis paralysis, stop you from wasting effort defining future things that will not actually be needed, and allow you to pivot on the detail without having to rethink the top levels. It will give you a constant clear direction of where you are aiming, and just-enough wider context to see how what you are building now will fit into what (may) be the eventual overall product or service. Combined with an agile business mindset you’ll be able to successfully deliver bite-sized successes and avoid that start-up storm.

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