Monday, June 29, 2009

How important is the Environment ?

I remember my grandfather telling me that when 'Lal Bahadur Shastri' was the prime minister of India, there was an acute food shortage in the country. To face the crisis 'Lal Bahadur Shastri' had asked the people of india to skip one meal and that would be enough to fill the food shortage.On wednessday in our house there was no lunch cooked for anybody.My grand father used to skip lunch in the office where he used to work. Our neighbors also did the same, except that they skipped the lunch on Tuesday's. I sometimes so much admire that generation that thought so much about the country and its people. But what was it during that time that made people think so much about the country and jointly faced all the problems.I think it was the ' the 'environment' of that time.'Environment' was such that everbody felt connected to the cause of facing the problem of 'food shortage'
Environment is a very broad term.In terms of employees a good environment lets the employees connect to the place they work for.
Imagine working in a company where employees are valued for the work they do and are not treated as mere 'Resources'. Resources is a very pathetic word and i totally dislike people who call fellow workers as resources.Somehow the 'management types' tend to call everybody else as resources though.
A good environment promotes a healthy atmosphere to work. One where people like to come to office, and work is not a burden for them. Very small things can promote a very healthy environment for the employees for e.g a good coffee machine, comfortable seats and hygienic working conditions,flexible hours to work, work from home allowed.Ideas of the employees should be listened too and if are good should be worked upon.The company should strive to bring out the best from their employees and create a sense of belonging.
Now consider the word 'Environment' in terms of a student coming fresh out of college.In India when a student comes out of college, he thinks of either going for an MBA or MS or taking up a job in some MNC.Once he is in there he takes up some loan to buy flats / cars etc. Why is this pattern so common, because the environment is like that.The environment forces people infact very young people at a very early age to think in terms of 'SECURITY', when the word security itself is so overrated.These kids coming out of college are fresh with ideas, they just need a proper environment to prosper, to create organizations, to create a better india.

to be continued.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Building a Brand

'Quality delivered over a period of time creates a BRAND Name'.Ever wondered why Nirma or Dettol are so popular in India. The first soap from Nirma was produced in the backyard of a house. It was because the same quality was maintained and delivered again and again.
Maintaining a standard of quality for services or products is easily said then done.Bigger service companies put a lot of processes in place for this. Its essential.Brand name not only assures quality but over a period of time it can become a symbol of fashion or status.

From a software startup perpective the following points can be considered for creating a brand name for your company or product
1. Excellent features and painless install (if its a SAAS company consider easy reuse)
2. Excellent customer service (listen to customers and their problems, fix them)
Its more important to give attention to your customers then even your competitors.
3. Have a refund policy - if people donot like your service or product give the refund.It builds trust between the customer and your company.
4. Any upgrade to new functionality should not hinder an existing functionality.
5. Most important - making the customer feel your product is worth what they are paying for.
As an e.g consider iPhone - a normal iPhone without contract costs nearly 600$, in the same amount you can buy a decent laptop or an LCD TV.A lot of people have iPhone but donot have LCD tvs.Its because an iPhone is a product that justifies its price, people love it style and usage.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Are you using J2EE/ASP or PHP for your Web Product ?

Does it really matter ?

When we first accessed Google or Yahoo did we ever think of whether these websites were made using java / php or asp.
When you are coming up with a new software product in the market, specially when you are coming up with a Web product, the technology choosen really doesnot matter as long as it solves the problem at hand.If you are a group 3-4 developers and starting on a web product, then we should use a technology that will help us ship the product fast as well as help us to code the features well.Using a totally new technology can increase the learning thereby also increasing the time to bring the product to market.
I believe there is only one rule as long as the end product is good and solves a critical problem people will always use it.Take the e.g of craigslist, a very simple website yet by far one of the most successful ones on the web.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Good Software

Any good piece of Software takes years of hard work on the Code, on marketing, on the build process and many more things.If you see the old version of Windows 95 and compare it with the new version of Windows Vista, there will be a lot of difference.One of the first versions of Windows had to be invoked
from the command prompt.The point that i am trying to emphasise here is that good software or for that matter any business that is running nicely takes years of hard work to where it is now.That is the reason there is a saying that
'Rome was not built in a day'.

In today's world of Web 2.0 applications lots of people (including me as i also thought this one time), think of
fast results.You as a developer can cook up an application in 2 weeks and put it up on the web and start expecting fast results.In 99.9% of the cases hardly any body would look at your pages in the first few days.
I have created lots of blogs earlier and all of them i brought down thinking about fast results.
Good businesses and good websites take years of hard work and patience.Even 37signals took many years to become what it is today.