Lessons and Experience from my First Project
Working with a big client on your first project at your first job after graduation is quite a daunting and scaring task for a young Product Manager especially in Nigeria where the Role of Product Management in the Software Industry is a gradual growing space.
I remember one of my mentors (Dapo Olotu) words clearly saying to me “Ronke you have the power to ask the MD of the company to have a meeting with you” hearing this made me even more scared but I never showed this in my countenance I always maintained a Poker face.
My first client was a logistics company in Nigeria. I was assigned to work closely with the then PM(my mentor) as an assistant PM and Quality Assurance Engineer before gradually taking over from him.
The project went on smoothly on our end and finally, it was time to go live with the first phase of the project. We were excited and proud of how far we had gone because this was our first major project as a new company. The project was to design a Track and Trace system for an Indigenous logistics company in Nigeria. An Android App was also incorporated to be used by the Dispatch Team.
Some weeks before Go-Live! we had a Demo with the company staff, the feedback we gathered was the beginning of our “awesome journey” on this project, little did we know what we have gotten ourselves into, we didn’t realise a project of about 5month will last for over a year. From that moment to the next 6–7months I became a perpetual staff of this company. It was so funny that sometimes I was asked to sign-in on the staff attendance sheet.I had to remind them “I am not a staff of this company”
We went from one Feature to a bigger feature to a more bigger feature. We were stretched, we were drained and we were bored.
So let’s get to what went wrong????? “You must be wondering”
Detailed Requirement Gathering:
For me, one of the major things that went wrong was requirement gathering. I was not present at the first meeting but from what I gathered the people present in this meeting were the top officials like the IT manager, Operations manager, MD, and all the managers you can think of. We also had a couple of the ground staffs in the meeting. These people described the requirement like that is what they do on a daily basis. Documents were provided and all sorts “I must confess the documents were to some extent comprehensive” But they were not sufficient
Proper Agreement on Project scope
Proper agreement on the scope of a project is very important. Don’t get me wrong, we had a scope and an agreement but issue 1 above affected the agreed scope.
Yay!!!……our first project, a potential opening for other projects, looking forward to other collaborations.
Approval can mean different things and can be done on several levels. For us approval is a customer signing off on features to be worked on or before we start working on such features.
I could go on and on with what went wrong but let us discuss lessons learnt
Cover all ends during requirement gathering
The high-level documents supplied at the start of the project was needed and very much relevant but was not sufficient. Asides getting high-level requirement there is a need for you to visit the actual end users i.e the staffs in the offices receiving the parcels, the staff covering the manually captured parcel, the delivery guy pushing to complete his task for the day or the Hub Manager answering to about 20 delivery men each day without a lunch break. You cannot overrate the place of gathering requirement from these set of users. Trust me they make your life easier in the long run
Agree on a scope and get Approvals
Agreement on a scope could be agreeing to the project scope as a whole. It could also mean breaking the project scope into smaller chunks. This makes your project delivery faster and also provides a form of consistent deliverable for your client. Always ensure your client signs off on every feature your team is about to take on before coding commences.
Know your Limits
Projects like this could go on and on and on, but as a smart company that you are, you need to know when to stop so you don’t run at a loss or wear yourself out.
Alright, I will stop here for now….let me know what your experience was like on your first project. Feel free to also share lessons learnt.
PS: My first ever published article yay!! :-)Thanks to Adegoke Obasa for helping out with reviews and Akapo Damilola for inspiring me to write.