Please, Stop Letting the Sales Team Drive the Software Schedule

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My friend Thomas Wagner has a small epiphany of sorts. At first, I thought he was writing the biography of my first year at my current job. But apparently this is quite common among businesses.

Very frequently the profit center of a company drives the development schedule and also drives the pressure being excerted on a developer or team. Can you guess who the people are that drive most of the profit? Those crazy lunatics in the Sales Dept.! Yes, the flunkies who like to bend reality in order to make a deal. Those are the folks that set your schedule and drive your work.

Just the other day, I was working on a task that requires certain deliverables from the marketing team be in my hand before I can even begin. Of course those items were delivered late, but naturally I get several emails in the span of the day asking for the status with wording like

This is something a client is waiting to see and technically it’s already late. Yadda yadda please get it done ASAP.

My reply was [edited slightly to protect the guilty] (note the weird pronoun use as time travel is involved).

I’ll tell you what, I will personally bend space, time and reality so that the deliverables will have been delivered to me a week prior to the day they actually were. And then I will personally spike everyone’s water with SPEED so they will have been working faster this entire time, and I will swap out our networks with a 1 TB connection so data will have been transferred faster. Also, I’ll swap out our systems with quantum computers so that they too aren’t limited by the silly constraints of a linear time continuum.

Of course, we have to remember that Sales and Marketing guys have their own pressures and are human too. Sometimes they aren’t all flunkies and can even be intelligent and witty as his reply indicates:

I think I saw a quantum computer at the local pawn shop… crazy shit.

Afterwards I reminded myself not to be such a jackass to this guy. But then again, the more of a jackass I am, the funnier he gets.

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4 responses

  1. Avatar for Niels Hansen
    Niels Hansen February 12th, 2005

    Yeah I hear what your saying. There needs to be a balance between what Sales/Marketing needs and what Development requires to finish the product.

    I have seen both sides of the coin and usually if one side has complete control over the other, you usually have a complete project failure.

    More often than not I have seen software development projects fail because you get the "Academic Attitude" with developers who will spend every waking moment creating Use Cases, UML Diagrams, Unit Testing procedures and never really complete a damn thing. Yeah those couple of procedures are PERFECT, but guess what? Nothing else is done and you've run out of time and money.

    Then I've also seen Sales/Marketing driving everything and software development is put together with band-aids because you don't have time to go back and redesign a fatal flaw in the framework. (Can you say dot coms!!)

    The only example I have seen where the first approach really works is if they have a TON of money and don't really need software up and running because what they have is still making them tons of money. (Google comes to mind!)

    Sometimes how I develop software drives certain types of "Academic" developers nuts because I'm not totally into on all the use cases and unit testing procedures. However, I have a hugely successful track record on getting projects completed on time.

    I still have applications I wrote in 1993 still being used because it gets the job done still today! Plus, most of my development today is repeat business. The reason I have their additional business is that my clients don't feel like I bleed them to death.

    My previous two employer's that I worked before starting my own business had that problem. Part of it with the first one is that we would do specifications that costs more than 2/3 of the budget. (Project Managers were getting the big pull at the end. Plus, don't EVEN get me started on Project Managers, GAWD) The last company I worked for, I felt they did way too much in UML and Unit Testing. Yes you should have this but don't go overboard. Projects of a certain size should do the full UML and Unit Testing. However something that really should only take you three weeks to develop don't require it! The client wants you to solve a problem, not write him a novel! Trust me if your any good, you will solve their problem and you get more work from them later!

  2. Avatar for Thomas Wagner
    Thomas Wagner February 13th, 2005

    Unit Testing .... Whats that?

    Just kidding!

    I'm currently working in a company were the ratio of project managers to developers is 5-1. These people have entirely too much time on their hands and drive the devs bonkers.

  3. Avatar for Paul Whitaker's Blog
    Paul Whitaker's Blog February 19th, 2005

    The next time you I have an impossible deadline, I think I'll try this:

    "I'll tell you what, I will personally bend space, time and reality so that the deliverables will have been delivered to me a week prior to the day they actually were. And then

  4. Avatar for Mehul
    Mehul February 22nd, 2005