Independent Software Vendor (ISV) - The Road I Travelled, Processes Part 1

Tags: ISV, Process

In advance, my apology I shall issue. To me this, Process, is the tip of the iceberg. Aimed to be high level, though not so high level as to be uselessly obvious, as essays can be. I am however, an engineer first and foremost, so this entry may well have cluttering details. The guarantee offered: you will think about all of these things and their relatives, ferreting out far more detail than the light frost that follows.

You won’t survive without it.

So let’s continue with our starting point: There is an inventor, now an Entrepreneur, with the (1) Kernel of a Product that works. Well it works, but on their desktop, in the garage or what have you. Maybe you have been so brave as to put it in the hands of your spouse, but never your brother-in-law (it’s a rule). The Thing will always work for you, and it is obvious (To You) that it is needed. However, you know the world thinks differently than you; else you wouldn’t be so bold as to put it in somebody else’s hand before making your fortune - you’d just go straight to market. You have come up against the first process: (2) User testing, emphasis on User. Well, why test? To Get Feedback of some quality and in some aspect. E.g. did the buttons I forgot to label other than ‘Button1’ help guide you through the process? Or, You clicked on that? I never thought to click through in that order.

This whole exercise leads to (3) Where will I keep all of these great ideas, strange behaviors, issues and bugs? Your file cabinet should not be full of post-it notes, napkins nor junk mail with critical product features written in the margins. I can save you some time here. That doesn’t work and the margin notes are way too cryptic once you find the paper - If ever you find it (you will picture it, though. It will drive you crazy). In my case, the initial feedback occurred as I let my Beloved Wife sit in my Hallowed Lair and click on some things, ask some questions and finally heard the phrase uttered: “I don’t know what this is supposed to do, but maybe Dave (in this case a fictional character) would be better at this.

The very next thing crossing your mind is: (4) How will I protect my beloved creation from Dave as he tests it? And the floodgates of popcorn worry open up because you immediately cast Dave, whom you have known for decades, in a suspicious light. “What if Dave steals my idea?’ What if (may the heavens forbid) somebody has a patent on it and Dave reports the infraction? What If Dave’s computer is left a smoking wreck? Thus, you enter the realm of Risk management topics, Legalese…, Liabilities…, Licensing…, Intellectual Property. Branding, Naming, Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, Registered Trademarks are all things that can land you in a bit of a sticky wicket. Licensing in particular, gets broad when you consider (5) Government requirements, taxes, and the like may need to play a factor.

Anything seems to need a Name. In fact, (6) What Names shall I use for …my Beloved Product? …even better, my business? A domain name to get on the Internet? The Internet, that daunting place of excitement. Never hurts to keep things consistent. But, that means (7) A Website is needed, eventually. Are any of these names used? Since every company and organization conceived, existing or postulated has a website, a search for a Domain Name seems an easy place to start. Enter the (8) Domain Registrar. A fun experience in misspelling your best name ideas and seeing the suggestions returned. Some are crude, some hilarious as CamelCase means nothing to a domain name checking tool. I started to understand why “NoName®’ is a name in the marketplace.

But of course, none of this gets the Beloved Product into Dave’s cruel hands.

For that, you might decide you trust Dave totally and completely and have the funds available should all of the smoke be let out of His Trusty Computer. Dave says he has a computer backup and wants to give you a hand, but you spring for an external drive and gift it to him for his birthday. You even do the backup for Dave yourself. And then you realize (9) you have to create a Setup Program for Dave. He then shows his true colors as a friend and suggests that maybe he can read (10) The User manual while you figure out how to get your Beloved Product into his hands. He will name things after you because of the backup that saved His Beloved Novel, even though it was not your Beloved Product at the root of his trauma.

OK then, focus here: a Setup program is still needed. In the process of using your faithful Integrated Development Studio to create a Setup program, it starts asking about Logos, Icons, Web Pages and Support. Imagination fires; you decide to get your arms around the creative process of (11) making Graphics Images and creating some kind of Home Page to at least house your works of art; namely, your logo. Oh, and post the (12) Phone number you managed to acquire (without the fax, because, who uses that anymore?) That Phone number was a whole lot easier to get because you had an official state document, having registered as an LLC. For all that effort, it’s somewhat like a bait-less fishing hook, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and it’s all going to be public anyway.

So many of these people expect remuneration for their troubles. Your accounting friends drop hints that these are costs and should be segregated from the family budget. They are business expenses. There are ‘Business Organizing Expenses’. They (the accounting people) lovingly share something called (13) a ‘Chart of Accounts’ with you. The reverence, the hush of respect, the awe of an ancient mystical art is conveyed to you. No big deal. It’s categories of numbers, none of them in the complex plane.

You take the obvious step and visit a bank to setup (14) The Business Banking Account. This is a whole adventure where they discover they know nothing of your idea; the words you use bounce off uncomprehending eyes. They are happy that you do not require a loan because then they don’t need to learn of your highly risky Beloved Product. Will you accept credit cards? That will require things like (15) Merchant Account and Credit Processing. More fees, so you decline since you don’t know if Dave’s computer will suffer a meltdown, yet.

To be continued…
(yes, it's already written)

© 2017 James J Hayes

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