No, I’m not trying to start something. Let me explain. I started in construction when I was pretty young, doing many miscellaneous tasks including cleaning job sites for my brother-in-law. He would come to me and say, “Jeremy, you need to go do ‘the job’ and make a trip to the dump….oh and make sure you sweep the garage.” So I would go get the truck, throw in my gloves, broom and shovel and get to work, no questions asked.
Since then I’ve held many different roles in the construction industry and eventually landed in software development. One thing I have come to realize is that there are many parallels between construction and software development. Now you may be thinking to yourself, “huh?” Hear me out. Customers come to you and say, “I need a new building, bridge or road.” You answer, “We can do that,” and you begin to solve the problem. But in order to start, many questions have to be asked and answered in order to gain full insight and knowledge into the problem you are trying to solve so that the end state meets the needs and expectations of your customers.
During the last 10 years I’ve been working for construction technology and software providers, interacting with companies to understand their operational business problems and needs so that we can provide solutions that meet their needs and expectations. Typically when I sit down and talk to somebody about technology and software, I don’t bring my computer with me and I don’t open up the software and ask you where a button should be placed on a form. What I really want to talk about are the day to day problems and pains people face when doing their jobs. What is your need and why do you need it? In software development, we call them stories. Listening and seeing what and how you do your work, allows us to build and provide software that reflects your real world needs.
When my brother-in-law came to me and told me to go to the dump, I didn’t know why he wanted me to do that, I just did it. The reason may have been because there was going to be an inspection that day, or the customers were making a visit or maybe because some material was being delivered. Looking back at even this simple task, if I would have asked him why he wanted me to go to the dump, I may have approached the task a different way. Maybe I would have started in one area vs. another if materials were being delivered – or maybe I would have got it done quicker, or been more thorough with my cleaning if the purpose was to impress a customer or inspector.
Our businesses are similar; we are constructors and problem-solvers. Our jobs are to provide the solution or the end state. The best way to accomplish this is to have intimate knowledge about the problems we are solving. With that in mind, share your business problems with us and chances are we might be able to solve it with technology and software.