The curse of being dependent on developer

Developer are annoying

We developers are magicians. Yeah, our magic wand is a keyboard ;) not sexy but so powerful!
We can do anything with code.
Well, that’s what we think. Sometimes the real world has some difficulties to reach our overdriven brain.
We are blissfully unaware that writing code takes time, commitment, and comes with a bunch of bugs … regression … maintenance … random crap hitting the fan.
Every time we get the occasion to build something with our keyboard, we misestimate by order of magnitude the time and resource it will take.
Talk about an elephant in china shop…

That’s why being under the good will of a developer can seriously annoy the crap of anyone who is not.
And also, as a by-product, hinder the capacity of a starting company to grow fast.
Allow me to make my point:

Imagine you’ve built this really awesome app.

Clients begin to subscribe to trial, you even have some serious paying ones.
Your startup is on the right track, so you hire someone to handle the marketing, and your customers
Who apply the well-known tactic of sending an email right after submission, or at other important moments.
To be able to do that, you as the developer, very kindly shoot an email or a notification at this customer success person each time something happens

Well lemme tell ya, you’re not helping.
First, these life-cycle emails should be automated. One-hundred-percent-automated.
Second, you should not even think about implementing the thing for one second.
Third, the only method you should code is a mechanism to trigger a webhook to whichever service is chosen to do the job of email automation.

Do not handle manually what can be automated

Now, you, the marketing-customer-support guy/gal you should march to your CEO and make your point about how much time you waste manually handling life-cycle email.
Task switching is a thing for everyone, not only for developers. If you have to interrupt whatever you’re doing just to send an email within 5 minutes to a new trial subscriber, it’s not just unproductive. You’ve got far better and valuable things to do to get your next 1000 subscribers.
Also, it’s not the role of a developer to think/ tweak the copy and metadata of a transactional email
The marketing-customer-support team needs a tool which can help them see and measure what’s happening. Do split testing on email.
And put together workflows to take marketing efforts to the next level.

This case can be made for any peripheral tool that a company needs to run effectively.
Dashboards, analytics, …
The best « reflex » is to find an « off-the-shelf » solution. Code —apart from the core product of the business— should be avoided at all cost.

Goldfish are … difficult

One of my friend UX designer had this marvelous metaphor about new feature: it’s like a goldfish. You think this little tiny thing would need very few to be content. But, no. A small goldfish of 2 inches needs 40 gallons of water to survive. Add another fish, it’s 20 more gallons of water. And that’s not the end of it: they dig out the plants you put inside the water tank, they fight fishes from other species. They’re high maintenance. You can’t go away for a weekend. Code is the same. Any new line of code will mean:
  • time to make on an already crowded schedule
  • write the code
  • test it
  • break things around
    and when finally in production, it’s not over
  • you’ll have to maintain it
  • keep the dependencies in sync
  • reproduce bugs
  • fix them.

build connectors, not the real stuff

If it’s not the core of your product, the value added of the functionality is just not there
And you’re preventing your team to do their job.
Yeah, I know, developing new stuff is fun… but it’s not because you can that you should.
If you claim that « you can do it » every time someone on your team talks about/present a new tool, you’re becoming the bottleneck.
Instead, you should jump on your feet and claim: « I’m gonna code a connector for you right away. Or I’ll cobble together a webhook so you can apply some Zapier-fu to get the data you need. Or can I just generate a file that you can grab at this location? »
Well, you get the gist: gift your team with a faucet to access the data they need to use in the peripheral tool that’s gonna help them

Obviously, if you’re part of a big team dedicated to building tools for your companies, this does not apply :)

Now, if you’re a marketing-customer-support person, which task are you doing daily if only for 1 minutes, that is automatable? Pick the first one that comes to your mind, grab the list of 2-3 tools —that you already made— which can handle the job, and ask for a trial.
You can pick any of my words above to make your point.
And if you have no idea about what kind of online tool you can use, just shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help