A simple solution for a complex problem

Situation

As founder of a SaaS platform for the patent law industry, I was both product lead and sales lead to the Fortune 1,000 clients we were targeted with our cloud-enterprise solution for patent management. The Chief Patent Counsel for a global manufacturing client I was trying to sign on as an early adopter was insisting that some specific reporting capability out of our SaaS was a mandatory requirement for him to sign an agreement.

Unfortunately, those capabilities were not coming up soon in our development path and there were numerous technical and resource challenges we were already facing that did not make it an easy addition. The cash flow and credibility of landing this high-profile client would have been a boost for our financial situation and a gamechanger in our sales credibility.

Task

I needed to find a way to generate the required reports in an output that was suitable to the client without breaking our existing agile software development plan that had a few features we had sold as working perfectly that was still buggy and needed our full attention.

Action

I convinced my developer to quick-ship a manual export feature in our client admin interface that would dump the client’s raw data. I created an excel import template on my laptop that could ingest the information and in a matter of a few minutes of manual data manipulation, get the data output in a format we’d need. I then created a Word template that would import the output of that spreadsheet to create a 5-page document that I could manually save as a PDF and upload to the client’s portal each day.

Every day at 6 a.m. I’d wake up and manually run the report and publish it to the client’s portal. I carried this out for about 7 weeks until we had resolved our backlog of bugs and features and could automate this process in our software.

Result

By showing the client a sample output using dummy data they had provided, the CPO had the confidence to sign the agreement and become our highest-profile client. The manual process I had implemented avoided out-of-budget overtime expenses for the developer, ensuring on-time delivery of more critical features that impacted all of our customers, and keeping our product path on target without being distracted by a custom feature at a critical point in our launch to market.

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