Just another day at the office
A little while ago I had an opportunity to spend a day with Teemu, our head of operations, and follow the activities that keep the engine running behind the scenes. I believe it to be important not only to be a professional QA consultant, but also to understand the fundamentals of how our business works, and the everyday tasks that are happening constantly at our office, often unseen by those not there all the time.
The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was despite several people working in an open office area. It felt like a standard Finnish thing, we like our quiet and are not bothered by that one bit, but it is, in fact, an agreement to help everyone concentrate on their work. All phone calls and meeting etc. are taken to either a more secluded spot or a separate meeting room. Have to say everyone follows this admirably.
When the parties involved in business trust one another, and promise only what can be delivered, then the relationship is a working one.
Teemu and I sat down in one of those meeting rooms to see how the day would unfold. He explained and showed in detail the various tools that are used; for example for tracking client contract status, a log of contacts etc. (CRM), who is doing what and when (adapted scrum board), and how the company budget is followed and forecasted and so on. What impressed me the most was how everyone was on the same page (thanks also to the efficient tool usage), no unnecessary hassle or meetings without a purpose and basically everyone knew what the others were doing. It shows these guys have worked together for some time now, the co-operation seemed seamless.
As we had a client meeting coming up later in the day, we sat down to finalize the presentation we’d give. That would also be the basis on the offer we would put out to them later on, with small tweaks based on the feedback we would get. After lunch we drove to the potential new clients’ office to discuss future possibilities. This took the better half of the afternoon, and we spent the remaining day recapping the meeting and planning future actions.
What was most surprising was that taking care of customer relations is very similar to any other relationships.
It turned out, since throughout the day we met and discussed with many people who are not solely QA or development oriented, that even though we all basically mean the same things, the lingo and approach can be somewhat different. As my problem solving mindset met the more contractual and resourcing point of views I found myself trying to verse some things in a new way. This is definitely something I need to practice to be fluent in both worlds, the playfield of software development and the background processes.
What was most surprising is that taking care of customer relations is very similar to any other relationships. It is people with people, not rocket science, and what I imagined to be tough negotiations and grinding teeth is actually a quite relaxed event with likeminded people. Granted, discussion was to-the-point and business-like at times but very open and honest on both sides. And this is probably the most valuable teaching of the day; when the parties involved in business trust one another, and promise only what can be delivered, then the relationship is a working one. To gain that trust, well, that takes time and effort.
All in all the day was a successful one and I learnt there are quite a few things to take care of in order to keep the company engine running. My glimpse was brief, granted, and I would very much like to take the opportunity to do a follow-up day sometime in the future. And by the way, the customer meeting mentioned earlier proved to be quite fruitful. Although not the original intent, I will be starting a new project with them after summer holidays.