Time is a Constraint

June 15, 2018

From coding to organizing one of the most frequent ideas I see raised when attempting to solve a vexing challenge is “what if we throw more time at it?” It usually is phrased something more like “what if we do more of X” or “what if we do more of Y” where X or Y is some idea that on its own merits is a good idea. Sadly ideas do not exist in a vacuum and we only have twenty-four hours in a day. So either we find ideas that do not require tons of time or we eliminate them.

In software one of the key decisions a team has to make is where they are going to spend their time. In many cases the decision usually rests with the front or back end of the website. There exist pluggable modules that largely abstract away the complexity of the front or back ends. In the case of the back end it involves using something like Airtable. In the case of the front-end it involves using Bootstrap. In many cases a hosted Content Management System like Wordpress or Squarespace abstracts the entire thing away. We can choose where to use off-the-rack components and where we want to custom tailor the things we build. In order to decide this we should ask where we add our special sauce, and what the cost is of going custom over off-the-rack.

The magic of off the rack components is they can be used to easily create a protosketch:

For many ideas there is a shorter version of the idea that can be built. It may not comport with the product owner’s exact idea of what their thing should look like. However it will at least be close and often functional. In software, like everywhere else, the Pareto principle applies. The last 20% of functionality will require 80% of the effort. If a product owner is willing to accept a simpler version of it to start then they can get more value for the time and money developers spend.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.