Most Startup Tech Solutions Are Overkill
Before you make that big software spend, check for alternatives
Not too long ago, one of the companies I advise launched a new software product. It was a two-fer product, one that would enhance the capabilities of their current customers while also opening a new line of business to attract new customers.
I love those.
Once the new product settled in a bit, the team’s attention immediately turned to ways to get their customers using the new product more often, more efficiently, and more successfully. New tech always creates new possibilities, so there was a lot to talk about.
We started with the thorniest customer problems first. The highest priority problem–the one that was the most expensive and time-consuming for their customers–was the one for which the team had spent the most time designing an elegant and effective first new feature for their new product.
But something about their new feature bugged me.
In fact, when I finished for the day, I spent a few hours diving back into the design they had crafted. The feature was indeed efficient and elegant, even cool. I couldn’t put my finger on what was bugging me until the next morning, when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
The problem this new feature solved could be solved with an automated email hack.
Most Technical Solutions Are Overkill
I work daily with a CTO who only wants to build new tech when the building of new tech is absolutely necessary. On first take, this seems counterintuitive, but it’s actually a luxury for me. Good CTOs are always tasked with building new tech, and they know that good new tech is expensive, time-consuming, and almost always comes with some kind of technical debt.
If CTOs could predict the future, their job would be a breeze. Well, maybe not a breeze, but they wouldn’t get caught in the technical overkill cycle.
The statement “most technical solutions are overkill” also seems like hyperbole, and it is, a little bit. But having slung tech for the better part of three decades, I’ve learned that solving problems with tech almost always creates new problems.