Over 20 Years of Data Consulting. Just How Do We Do It?
Yeah, over 20 years in the business. ‘How do we do it?’ That is definitely the million-dollar question. We’ve definitely sprinkled quite a bit of talk about our style throughout many blogs and web pages. And considering the amount we have devoted to it, at first glance, we can certainly seem pretty complex. “Less Sooner”? “Valued Output”? “Discovery, define, design and develop”? What in the world are you talking about with all this terminology, huh? Well, take some time to talk it over, and you’ll find that it’s all pretty straightforward.
Straight From Our About Us Page
Every company talks about a reason why their clients succeed. We are no different in that regard. Our clients succeed because of our collaborative approaches and our dedicated. Also, talented personnel who are passionate about solving knowledge, info, and data (KID) problems. We believe our superpower is our approach to addressing the sociotechnical culture, challenges, and nature of data program needs.
We first develop a deep understanding of the people, process, and policy guiding data needs, then use that knowledge to drive the technology, solution, and operations. Our clients thank us for our smart, dedicated team, high-quality agile approaches, valuable iterative deliverables, and timely delivery of outcomes. Also, our clients appreciate our pragmatism for knowing how to balance achieving efficiency while introducing external curiosity and capability at the appropriate level of strategic design through production and operations. Furthermore, our teams rapidly adapt to our clients’ driver – Is your challenge about introducing disruptive innovations? Is it designing transformation to complex information life cycle challenges? Are we moving data from A to B to create insights? Operating information workflow more effectively and/or efficiently than before?
Basically, our process revolves around the idea of collaborating with our clients to take them from point A to point B. We start with arming ourselves with all necessary knowledge about our clients: the people themselves, their own processes and their current data policies. Our whole existence revolves around the idea of putting the “I” back in “IT” and “GIS”. In other words, knowledge is far more valuable to us than technology ever could be. From there, our focus is on efficient services with timely checkpoints, with each checkpoint providing something “valuable” to our clients. This actually brings us to our next big subject: Our delivery purpose.
The Delivery Purpose
We have four major goals that make up our delivery purpose as a company. These four goals speak to what we hope to accomplish as we work with our clients. As we go through the four, you will see that they each “connect” in a way.
The valued output is the “acceptable” valued product. Just to be clear though, the valued output can be considered “valuable” even if it is not necessarily the final product, yet. Typically, only the customer can tell you whether you’re providing “valued output” to them. Basically, the product delivered matches with both the clients expectations and need as defined in the contract or agreement. As a general rule, you want to look at valued output like it’s a version of an app. Those app developers have deadlines to work towards, and I challenge you to look at an app that’s one hundred percent perfect and bug-free on its first release. And even if you lack bugs, there could be some features that developers lack the means or capabilities to add. Xentity has worked on plenty of apps ourselves over the years.
It ultimately comes down to a matter of being able to work towards deadlines, stick to those deadlines, and have workable, achievable goals for us to reach by said deadlines. Even internally, our employees are encouraged to set work-related goals every quarter. Point being, we strive to provide valued output, internally and externally. Good work for a company starts on the inside, and if you nail it internally, you can nail it with clients externally. Any way, this part of our delivery purpose perfectly moves into arguably our company’s personal favorite part: less sooner.
We love this concept. We devoted an entire blog to it. Anyway, if valued output is all about making sure you provide something valuable at every single checkpoint, less sooner is all about keeping you honest and making sure you don’t jump right to the final product, making mistakes along the way. In other words, less sooner is about making sure that Xentity’s notion of the deliverable matches with the client’s need and understanding. We achieve this by delivering less sooner on a regular and timely basis.
It is the idea of providing “version one” software to the client. It takes the idea of “valued output” and goes one step further by setting another rule: creating a minimum but still viable version of the product that allows you to say that you have nailed the “core” concepts of your final product, and have room for changes or improvement.
Ultimately, it goes back to the idea of looking at the project like versions in an app. In our first checkpoint, it will likely not be everything you want. However, the project does its core features well at that point, and not just one thing done perfectly and everything else done terribly. We compare it to going from a skateboard to a Cadillac. Suspend reality and just imagine for a moment: if someone wanted you to build them a Cadillac because they desperately needed to get somewhere often, what would they value more? A skateboard, and that way they can at least get to where they’re going for the time being? Or just some Cadillac wheels? We all want a Cadillac, but if we desperately need to get somewhere until we have one and are out of options, we’ll take the skateboard.
Our process revolves around the idea that clients could potentially take any iteration of what we have and go live with it. Then, we can continue with our work until they have reached their ‘Cadillac’. But speaking of checkpoints, check out the next part of our delivery purpose.
Internally and externally, this is a big part of our process as a company. The previous two steps of the delivery purpose mean absolutely nothing if you cannot get this down. If you are going to provide “versions” of the final product that isn’t entirely what your client wants, but can still be argued as a valuable use of your time (and it will eventually get to the “Cadillac”), checkpoint often. This means regular and frequent interactions with both the client and mentors.
Internally, checkpoints can often become a big part of our work week. We hold sprint acceptances; we set up meetings often described as “sanity checks”. Externally, we tend to schedule out the exact deadlines where we checkpoint with our clients.
It’s one thing to create different versions of the final product on the way to said final product, but it’s quite another to stay on the right track in the process. Efficiency does not mean anything if you are going in the wrong direction, or something has changed. Furthermore, you might have spent too much time on a part of a project that could have been solved even faster with a quick checkpoint with someone knowledgeable. Checkpointing often may seem like micromanaging, but for us, checkpointing is for our sake. It’s to make sure that efficient work is being used…well, efficiently. Staying on the right track helps us give value to our “valued outputs.” But checkpointing means adhering to deadlines and knowing what is expected of you until then. This is where timeliness comes into play.
This is arguably the simplest part of our delivery purpose. Timely iterations are regularly scheduled and phased; intermediate and final deliveries. Know when you are expected to provide the latest “version” of your product (the checkpoint). Obviously, this is when you “schedule” the delivery, be it intermediate or final. This allows the client to see either the intermediate examples of a product, or the final product, depending on the iteration. During each timely iteration, parties involved are responsible for reaffirming that we are on the correct track so that no surprises come into play.
All of these concepts make up the “timely iteration” of the delivery purpose. This idea of knowing when you are expected to deliver the latest version of your final product by a certain deadline. Then, having the ability to work towards and complete your tasks within that deadline. It’s basically just a fancy way of saying a big part of our process is completing the tasks we are given within ‘x’ amount of time. And in doing so, reaffirming that we are on the right track with no actual surprises. Timely iterations are just our roadmap to success via a combination of the aforementioned three parts of the delivery process.
A Process We’re Proud Of
Like we said before, we’ve been in the business of data consulting for over two decades now. That sort of longevity itself is something to be proud of. But, what truly makes us proud is the process we have refined and grown over the past 20 years. A process that allows us a roadmap to success in the most efficient and effective way possible. One that focuses on checkpoints, goals, valued outputs, and a time-based map to the final product. Thank you for joining us on another journey through our company, and thanks for all your support the past 20+ years.