Is it worth it to go backward to make one giant leap forward?

07 May 2014

In my last video, I talked about optimizing the use of your limited cash reserves to build the most effective business, emphasizing that you need to spend just the right amount of money on marketing and just the right amount of money on your technology. An important observation goes along with this: if you have technology and no marketing, you don't have a company. On the other hand, if you have marketing and no technology, you can at least build a company, building technology to catch up with the marketing.

In this video, I want to talk about an equally difficult question that companies often wrestle with. The situation is this: I'm in the process of building a piece of software, and I have a contractor who built me a great prototype. However, in validating the prototype, I found that, in order to have a business case, I need the software to do something that isn't trivial in its current state, but the contractor tells me that rewriting the software using different tools will put me in a position where these new changes are trivial.

So how do you solve this problem?

Before we jump to any conclusions, let me address the course that is often chosen out of fear. Often, people look at the code they already have as an investment ' and, to be sure, it is ' and are afraid of the idea that they might have to go backward to go further forward.

But let's keep in mind that at the end of the day, both options cost something. Both options cost money now, both options require future maintenance effort, both options cost some level of familiarity with your users --- changing a system that users are already used to can go unnoticed in the best case and be outright confusing in the worst --- and both options may have other costs associated with them.

Your goal in this situation is to minimize your costs. This means that there's no clear choice; it will depend on the situation. In some cases, going about it the hard way can be cheaper than going backward for an easier option. In others, the hard way may be more costly.

Often, these decisions are made in desperate times, and nothing clouds the decision-making process more than desperation. If you're faced with a decision like this, take a step back. Talk to people, too. Talk to your existing contractor. Talk to other contractors. These sorts of things are some of the many decisions that we help our clients with on a regular basis.

If you've got questions, give us a call. We'd love to meet with you and help guide you on how to spend your money wisely.