Monday, June 4, 2012

Removing the Mailman

When I started working at Syllogistic Software, all client communication went through my manager. They knew him, he knew them, and it was simpler that way. This worked great for about 30% of the emails we sent because they were managerial questions, like getting estimates, talking about features, and scheduling work. Once all that was done, it fell to the developers to actually do the work, and interpret the clients’ requests. And sometimes it wasn’t 100% clear what they wanted.

Enter the mailman. I would write up a question about something that we didn’t know, then my manager would look it over and then email it onto the client, usually verbatim. Then the client would respond to my manager, and my manager would forward the information back to me. Much of his "work" consisted of simply passing notes between the two sides. It was ridiculous!

This story was a big driver behind how we designed PMRobot. We wanted to have clients use the system, and communicate directly with developers, so that our manager didn’t have to be a mailman as well. This change also sped up how quickly we communicated with clients, allowing us to get answers within minutes, instead of hours, or even days. Now that our manager is travelling in Europe this is especially important. He’s no longer a bottleneck, and we don’t have to worry that “the answer is in the mail”. :)

About the author: Travis is a programmer for Syllogistic Software and helped build and design PMRobot.

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