Set out plan to stabilize startup product.

Client: Telecom 

Category: Startup, Vendor, Transformation

Date: June 2019

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When a telecom purchased a successful startup to acquire its unique product, engineers discovered that the code was at high risk for failure.  The startup’s product contained 1 million lines of code yet there was not one comment. This meant that it would be very difficult for the telecom to update or change the code and maintain product quality.

This lack of basic code hygiene indicated that there were likely other development risks.

Our client called us in to come up with a strategy to introduce proper quality management practices at the small company.  The situation was delicate as there was no contractual obligation for the acquired company to align itself with any of the sound development practices or coding standards that the larger telecom had in place. Additionally, the founder and president was resistant to what he viewed as needless overhead.  He had built – and sold – a successful company without formal code walkthroughs, change management processes, professional testing, or release management.  Why did they need it now?

This is not an uncommon response but it is short-sighted and often burdens a startup with increasing numbers of product defects requiring more time required to fix them.  In fact, this is precisely what the staff at the startup explained to us during the interview process.

“When we first started out,” explained one of the engineers, “there were just a few of us and when we made a change, we just shouted it out to the other guys.  Now it’s scary because we’ve grown so fast that I wouldn’t know who to tell.”

Many of the senior people we interviewed had been with the founder from the beginning and yet, unlike the founder, they favored implementing process improvements right away.

Defined 15-point process improvement plan
Improved product maintainability
Aligned startup to major corporation

When the founder learned that his trusted team was keen to improve the company’s product development practices, he deferred to their wishes and allowed us to work with his team to develop a prioritized 15-part quality stabilization plan with processes that aligned to the telecom.