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5 Ingredients when creating Hug-worthy Software

I followed my wife to a local Audi store last week so she could drop her car off for service. I walked in to see the new facility and to say hi to the salesperson I bought the vehicle from a few years ago. While standing at the receptionist’s desk, I couldn’t help but ask her what software the sales team was using for their CRM. I mentioned some of the more popular ones and she looked at me with a blank stare saying… “I really don’t know the name of it.” Just then, a sales associate who was standing 10’ feet away spoke up and told me the name of the software and said “it should really be called “Dealer-Stink.” He then asked, “How do you know so much about CRM software?” I simply said, “I founded a company 28 years ago called Autobase that was a pioneer in CRM for Automotive.” Without saying a word, the salesperson walked over to me and gave me a HUGE BEAR HUG saying – “man I miss that… we used it at my last dealership and it was the best thing ever… it was so easy to use!” Just as the HUG commenced, my wife walked into the showroom. Awkwardly, I quickly introduced my wife to the administrator and my new admirer. As we were walking out, my wife said, “It looked like you just saw an old friend” and I said, “no, he just really liked our software.”

So what is hug-worthy software and how do you create it?

Below is a quick list of 5 key ingredients:
1. Pain ~ Without pain, there is no problem software needs to solve. Identifying the pain that businesses and consumers experience is sometimes fairly easy, but truly understanding the source of the pain is where great solutions are born. That requires a deep understanding of processes and the people you are building the software for.
2. Purpose ~ The best software roadmap in the world is useless without understanding your purpose. Many call this a mission or vision statement and it should be embossed on the stationary that your roadmap is printed on. Always make sure that every item on your roadmap supports your ultimate goal.
3. Plan ~ After identifying and understanding the Pain and clarifying your Purpose, you must create a plan. It is okay for the plan to be “wildly achievable” as long as you understand that you will need to build your solution in steps. Just remember that your plan or “roadmap” may change along the way as you use your customers to get constant feedback. Note, I highly recommend that you not only get direct feedback from your customers but also from their customers as well if your solution impacts them.
4. People ~ It is amazing what a team of people can do when they buy into the Purpose and the Plan and they completely understand the Pain they are trying to solve. Whether you have a team of 7 or 197, everyone must be on the same page here. Even a person who is building a small widget for your software solution should understand the benefit it has and the problem it solves. Do not let a person on your team start working until they completely understand the Problem, the Purpose, and why their role in the Plan is so important.
5. Passion ~ If everyone on your team doesn’t love your Purpose or your Plan, neither will your customers. You will not build hug-worthy software. Instead, you will be stuck in MVP (minimum viable product) world where developers like to live before they are truly bought in. Passion for some is not inherently there. It is leadership’s job to continue to share and coach around the Pain, the Purpose, the Plan and ignite excitement about the work that’s being done. Over time, you will be amazed at how Passionate your team is and how much your customers will LOVE your software.
Here is to building Hug-worthy Software!