Leave IT alone until BETA!

It is an issue that most people developing and working on an IT project fear; the moment that a manager, owner or boss says he/she wants to ‘see it’. And the worst part is that ‘it’ is, while it is still in development, absolutely not ready to be shown. When programmers work their code, designers still work with placeholders, a project may be 80% done, but looking like it is not even past 10%. And this, when shown to a non-developer usually means trouble.

The reason is simple, the most work of any production, especially when made from scratch, is building the functionality, making it all work together, making sure it will work in the future. When you go to the Netherlands, where the soil is mostly existing out of soft clay, when you watch the building process you will notice that about 25% already is not providing any visual progress. This is because the first to-do item on the list there is to drill gigantic metal poles into the ground that will support the foundation and prevent the sagging of the ground. If this is not done, houses will fall apart within five years, if not sooner.

It is all so logical, but still, you will be surprised how many times this still provides an issue, and that suddenly a sense of panic rises within the company. Especially people from within management do not think deadlines will be made and suddenly all kinds of precautions are taken into effect. This whole sense of panic an it’s effects usually are the reasons why the development and design team cannot make the deadline anymore. Often new lengthy meetings are scheduled, the management loses trust in its team, and morale lowers, causing even more problems.

And the whole project might still have been right on schedule if this development version did not have to be shown. But what can you do as a development team when a superior demands to see the work in progress? Deny it? That usually is also not a good move.

So for the management, the best thing is simply to wait until a beta version is released. Make sure you set a deadline for the beta. But besides that, do not request a preview. It is simply not a good idea. If you work with a qualified designer, he/she can come up with mock-ups of what the product is going to look like that you can work with until a beta version is presented. I know that often the mock-ups are more beautiful than the end result, but that can be covered easily by explicitly requesting realistic and tested designs.

But resist the temptation for previews.

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