CTO Compass

Faking It Until You Make It: Why You Don’t Have to Automate Everything (Yet)

CTO Compass series

I recently had a meeting with a prospective client who was brimming with excitement as they shared their fantastic idea and what they wanted our team to build.

However, as we discussed the business and administrative needs of the system, their enthusiasm waned. It became evident that they had overlooked the essential foundations, and their limited budget further added to the challenge.

Understandably, they desired a complete and “perfect” solution right from the start. Fortunately, when budget constraints arise (and let’s be honest, they almost always do), there’s more than one way to skin the cat.

Fake it until you make it

When embarking on the development of a brand-new application, everything is unproven. The primary goal should be to get something acceptable in front of the right people as soon as possible to gather honest feedback and make informed decisions while there’s still time and resources available. However, that doesn’t mean we must build all the foundational elements immediately, instead, we can “fake it ’til you make it.”

Instead of investing in a complete user administration system, we can leverage existing systems or even forgo this aspect initially. For instance, by focusing on providing a personalized “concierge” style service for your first set of clients, the entire user administration system can be omitted. We can create a “good enough” form that appears intentional and part of the product, which collects the necessary user information and then sends a copy via email for manual setup.

Think of it like a construction project where the outer boards are painted to represent the finished building. In software development, creating façades is even easier! By taking such an approach, we achieve the twin objectives of cost-saving and operational efficiency. Add automation later, once the business model is proven and generating revenue, or when the pain points become too great and hinder other more valuable activities.

As a development team, we are here to help you figure out solutions to your problems, looking beyond the “only” and “obvious” answers. Many other options can get you 80% of what you need right now at 20% of the time and cost. It can always be revisited later.

This mindset of prioritizing what truly matters and eschewing unnecessary complexities can be applied at any stage of a system’s lifecycle.

At Foxsoft, we have a “Support & Maintenance First” philosophy. Support and maintenance should not be an afterthought; it is a cost-effective solution for “stop-gap” measures. When something needs to be done rarely, it’s far faster for a developer with systems knowledge to create or massage the necessary data to achieve the desired result.

There’s always more that users or the business wants, and there’s never enough time and budget. Decisions and trade-offs are par for the course, but there are always more options than you might think with a bit of out-of-the-box thinking and remembering that you don’t have to automate everything initially.

⚡️ Thinking Time ⚡️

Are you putting off some things because you “need” a perfect solution? Have high standards, but sometimes getting something “good enough” is good enough.

When considering how you might solve a thorny problem in your Thinking Time sessions, keep in mind that you might be able to do less, acceptably.

  • Where can you take a shortcut to get closer to the goal?
  • Identify the most important things and do them exceptionally well. The rest can be “good enough”, or perhaps skipped entirely.

CTO Compass series