Should one follow the path (of least resistance)?

November 29, 2009 | Personal Blog, Statements and Rants | 0 comments

It’s a funny term isn’t it, ‘the path of least resistance’, but it just about sums up the way that a lot of businesses run day to day. It symbolises the age old dilemma that faces many people… do it right or do it quickly?

There are, of course, sides to every story and in the majority of cases it comes down to money. Money makes the world go around apparently. Take for example a project which is due in a week but to do it in that time you would need to cut a few corners. However, if given another few days the job could be done properly and actually work. When you put this question to your manager, what is his likely response? Quickly, exactly!

So is there a benefit to cutting corners? The answer, of course, is yes there is! Consider an IT contract. If you put in a system that works, didn’t take long to do but will inevitably fail then who are they going to call on that day when all hell breaks loose? Should they call you to fix it? Why? Well the reality is that yes they will call you because the likelihood is that because you wrote the system then you are more likely to fix it more effectively (and therefore more cheaply).

The opposing side to the argument is company reputation. If you are honest with your client and give them the dilemma to solve themselves then not only do they feel that they are a valued customer but also you not longer have to make that decision to extend or cut corners.

So why is the dilemma effecting so many people in so many businesses across the world? It’s because not every client likes to be involved on that level. There are a proportion of clients who just want to pay the money and get the job done effectively throwing the ball back into your court. The talent needed here, of course, can be put down to experience. It takes years to be able to tell whether a client wants to be involved or not.

My personal way of dealing with it is to ask them! Why not bite the bullet and communicate with them? One thing I have found whilst working on the forums at Newmedias is that people want to be kept up to date with anything and everything. They want hourly updates and ideally to be informed when anything changes preferably with a couple of forewarning messages as well. Ultimately this isn’t always possible and is very hard to manage at times which is why a lot of businesses either do it for a while and then stop or just don’t bother.

So let’s say we are supporting a product either via email or a forum? What’s best practice? Should we bombard the user base with automated system emails? Yes I believe so but only if they are done properly. This brings us back to the theme of the post. Do it right or do it quickly… my preference, do it right!

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