Do you budget getting it wrong?

January 23, 2020

No one budgets getting something wrong!  You may build in a bit on the side, but the ramifications of getting something wrong can be devastating, not just financial, but customer retention. 

Before moving into QA I was a software consultant, I would meet customers and work with them to make sure the software we supplied worked for them.  This is a story of getting it wrong and the ramifications and costs of that happening!

I was sent to the Middle East to work with a prospective customer.  It was already a difficult relationship.  Communication was difficult, timezone differences caused massive confusion.  I knew it was going to be a hard week.

Everything, though, was going well.  We established what they wanted to do, our software could easily do it.  We worked together building up the specification, and it was not a big job.

I came home, all written up, went through it with the development team.  Delivery timescales were agreed, and KPI set.   

What could go wrong? 

I went back to the customer and set up a date to be onsite to go through it with them.

Demo day came, a couple of days before I was due to fly back to the Middle East,  and the demo went well, until I tried a few things.   For a start, the customer spoke Hebrew, which is written right to left.  It was in the specification document, in fact it was the first paragraph,  but no one through about getting a PC with Hebrew installed and checking it out. 

I did, and it was horrible, cells over text, squares instead of characters, it was not good.  

After the excitement, it was clear that I could not fly, to the Middle East, with the application  in its current state.  The customer was not too amused, add on the price of the plane tickets were non refundable, and was charged against the project, the next project this development team was to undertake was delayed, costing money in cash flow and my relationship with the customer, which I had turned into a positive, I had to work on again to get their trust back.

That one miss, a rather massive miss, cost the company tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

But I learned, demo early, demo often, keep on top of the specification!