One of my favorite techniques for building trust and demonstrating intent when starting out with a new client is to build them the first version of their application in two weeks.

No it doesn’t have every bell and whistle, and it definitely wouldn’t when any design awards, but putting that first version of working software in their hands after a single iteration can do wonders for you project.

What this does for your team

For your team it sends a message. We are going to move fast.

No time to sit around and naval gaze. The first version of our shippable product needs to be ready two weeks from now.

  • That means coding.
  • Testing.
  • Analysis.
  • Design.
  • Feedback.

It’s all got to be there for this one thin slice of functionality (usually their most important user story).

That means we are going to have to travel light and drop anything that doesn’t add value.

And if we are going to be adding new features confidently as we go (without paying an exorbitant amount) we are going to need to some practices and discipline around how we change our software.

  • Continuously integration.
  • Automated builds.
  • Automated unit testing.
  • Regular feedback.
  • Aggressive refactoring.
  • Rhythm and ritual.

It’s all got to be there.

This is good because you want your team used to the idea of regularly making changes to a production ready system.

That’s how agile (XP in particular) likes to view systems under development. They are meant to be kept in a state of continuous production readiness. We are simply adding new features every week (starting with the first version after two week).

What this does for your customer

Most customers are blown away when you tell them you are going to delivery the first working version in two weeks.

It gets their attention.

It shows an intent, and fierceness around delivery sorely lacking in our industry.

Regularly producing shippable software changes the game and relationship with your customer. It shows them the importance of their role and highlights the fact they are first class citizens and needed for a successful project.

What this does for you

While I can’t promise you’ll lose weight or it will improve your sex life, I can tell you delivering fiercely will raise your profile and get you noticed where ever you choose to work.

People are going to want to know how you got business to the table.

They are going to want to know how you built a system for them which is exactly what they wanted.

They are going to want to know how you made going live a non-event.

And they are going to want to you do it again, and again, and again.

Look, I get that there may be thousand reasons why may not be practical to deliver your first working version in two weeks.

If this is the case, then think of it more as an attitude.

But you’ll never know unless you take that first step.

Like Henry Ford said: ““Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”