Is it really true?
Yes, it is true, Metova is a successful mobile application development company that has stopped selling apps. Why?
The Theory of Constraints
Having been grown on the Theory of Constraints, the first question we ask is “What is the goal?” Our business goals are to survive, sustain, and profit, in that order. When developers are unhappy or overworked, their sustainability, and therefore Metova’s sustainability, is decreased. In order to offset this, various perks and rules are set in place. Developers are given a flexible schedule where they can work their own hours at the office or from home. Unlimited coffee, tea, soda, and beer are made available. To prevent burnout, developers were only required to bill 35 hours and working over was highly unrecommended. Even so, for years the most common complaint we received from developers was “I hate logging time.” Every minute of time was tracked and we knew exactly what our developers spent their time on and for how long. We would wear it as a badge and use it in our sales pitches; “You can monitor what your developer is spending time on, right down to the minute!” We used it to measure our developers; “You must work 35 billable hours a week.” With so much dependent on measuring time, we couldn’t just stop! Or could we...
Why measure developer time?
To ensure they were getting a set amount of work done for the customer.
Why? The customer wants to see progress on their application.
Why? To know they are getting something for the money they are spending. Why do they need to know that?
Why? Value is important to them.
Why? It makes them happy.
If we are trying to just make customers happy, and they are made happy simply by progress on their application, why bring time into it? What if during our weekly iteration call, the developer and customer came to a mutual decision on what features should be completed for the week? The developer just needs to complete those set tasks and not worry about the time associated with them other than ensuring they can be done in a week. The client sees the progress they requested on their application and the developer doesn’t need to worry about time. It no longer matters if the developer hits 35 hours as long as the client is happy. Won’t the developer have weeks where he works under 35 and some where he works over? Sure, but since time is not being measured, the issue is null. Since developers control their workload, burnout should not be an issue.
The Actual Goal
What are customers really looking for when they come to us? An experienced shop to guide them through the development process, offer insight, and build an application that meets their needs. So what will we offer? US. We have stopped selling applications and started selling our experience via our people. Instead of saying, “We will build your application for $40,000. You will be able to see exactly where every dime of that goes, and have complete control.” We now say, “We have no idea exactly what your application will turn out to be and therefore have no way of accurately offering a price. We think it may take around 8 weeks of work. During those eight weeks we recommend including our strategy and design services to work through your business plan. We will set goals with you and get a grasp on your business and discuss what your mobile application needs to make you successful. From that point, you can take the strategy and design documents to your funders or even another development shop if you don’t like working with us. Throughout development you can add features or remove features without needing to babysit changes. Our developers will offer their expert advice and feedback. You will be working with developers whose goal is to not hit a set number of hours, but to make you happy by doing the work they promise you. We aren’t offering you an application; we are offering you an experience in mobile development.”