We are coming to the end of the development stage of the AlbinoPhant online party. We have learned a lot about preparing and deploying a internet based application. We have discovered that communication is still the key to getting things done right and finished in a timely fashion.
In the world of web site development the Scope of Work (SOW) is the guidebook for preparing the design and writing the code to make it all work.
Unlike other pioneering efforts, our project was based upon a well documented real-world party. The white elephant/yankee swap is a proven and fully tested traditional party activity, so you would think that it would be relatively easy to communicate how to build the online version of this game. But it hasn’t been as easy as we had hoped.
Writing a SOW should have been simplified due to the fact that the Christensen family had actually used and tested most of the features that would be needed to make the game work. In addition, the technical features where almost all available, they just needed to be brought together into one application.
The problem is how to communicate the SOW in a way that others would understand and be able to build the concept into something that would work as we had envisioned.
In November of 2008 the first draft of what would become the SOW was completed. We began the process of finding expert technical support that would turn this vision into reality.
Immediately we found that even the most technically savvy individuals where having trouble getting their mind around the idea that playing a virtual-based game could result in real gift being delivered to a player’s door. Explaining this to these very smart people turned out to be very helpful in preparing to write the SOW. We found that those who have played the party game with family and friends had a distinct advantage in understanding the idea.
But even with months of preparation, helpful advice and SOW documentation of more than 150 pages, our Facebook developer missed the deadline by 4-months! And worst of all, missed Christmas… The season for gift exchanges!
We could be disgruntled with the technical development process, but that would not be completely fair. We (Sarah and I) are the technical outliers, so our communication skills should take some of the blame. We also recognize that we relied heavily on a professional organization that fell short of expectations.
Nevertheless, our family is still committed to move forward and share this application with others, because we have experienced the joy that this party can bring. We know that once it is fully deployed it will bless the lives of many others.
We are not discouraged by the delays, just a bit frustrated with the SOW process that missed an important season for our introduction.
We are learning that there are great technical people who know their stuff and there are those who only look like they do… We will do better at picking in the future!
We also promise that as we learn our role in the SOW process, we will do better in communicating the details.
What have you learned by trial and error?
The AlbinoPhant Creators
Your Party 2.0 Specialists