20 Questions, or Maybe a Few More
Have you ever played or been asked to play 20 questions? In the game, one person chooses an object which is not revealed to the other players. The point of the game is for the other players to guess the object by asking only 20 very smart questions.
At Inaka this is not a game and, thankfully the input we receive is far more detailed and we have a lot more than 20 guesses to get it right. In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about the estimate process.
Here at Inaka we spend a lot of time with companies learning about their product before lines of code are written and there are several very important reasons why. Here are just a few:
Your investment is our investment
Whether it’s deadlines, budget, quality, or something else, meeting the standards we mutually agree upon is critical to our business's survival. That means we spend a lot of time dissecting risk, understanding the different product’s pieces and how those fit together, identifying the best technological solution for each part, and thinking about the implementation time we calculate for each task. Our goal is ultimately to provide you with a very close to accurate representation of how and how much it will take to build your product, and to respect that for the sake of both of us.
Holes in product definition can be huge cost for you and for the development team if detected later in the development process
In over 6 years of building complex products we’ve learned that taking the time to find missing pieces, potential risks, bad practices, and unnecessary features while in the conceptual stage is one of the biggest cost savings exercises that a development firm can undertake. While development and feature definition can still be done on the fly, you run into fewer surprises having thought through some of the major features initially. Throughout the process, it’s also hugely important for us to have an open dialogue with our clients about questions, details, etc.
You are the product lead in this picture
When we work with a client, we want to make sure that we fully and completely understand their product so that we can build from head to toe exactly what they expect. In order for us to really dive into that and make sure our team will live and breathe your product while we build it, we need your help in getting a 360 degree view of it. This of course will mean you can expect lots of questions from us around things like who the product is for, what is it’s purpose, what do you want the end user experience to be, etc.
While it’s extremely important for Inaka as a company to make sure we’re checking the boxes on all of the above, it’s not just any questions that are important but the right set of questions. We’ve worked with enough clients through enough estimation processes to understand what the greatest risks are, and what questions to ask to minimize those.
That being said, regardless of the development firm you end up working with, if you remember one thing, remember this: If you’re not being asked many questions, either your documentation and wireframes are unparalleled in their exactitude and breadth, or you may be setting yourself up for risky business.