Note: this post is going to be a bit of a cheese-fest. Consider yourself warned.
Yesterday, our CTO Jason Carlson and I were lucky enough to be able to visit one of our favorite customers, SpaceX Corporation, at their headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. SpaceX is one of our biggest installations, and the purpose of the visit was to hear and see first-hand what using LiquidPlanner is like for larger teams.
We didn’t go down looking for pats on the back; we wanted to hear about pain points, feature requests, areas of confusion, and challenges to adoption. We got, them, too. The SpaceX team’s projects are hugely complex (they’re building rockets, after all), comprised of nearly 6,000 tasks. On top of it, they’ve got nearly 2,500 dependencies in the system. This creates some slowness in load times (many of which are browser-based rendering issues). It also calls for easier batch updates (or in-line editing), better dependency debugging, more permission controls, and an easier way of keeping the workspace “clean.”
You can be sure that Jason and I took copious notes. Naturally, these feature requests were mostly ones we’ve already documented and plan to work on as quickly as possible. Not just for the SpaceX team, but for the hundreds of companies like them that would benefit from such improvements. As part of our iterative design process, this is par for the course. Build, correct, improve, repeat. We’re excited to get started.
Thanks to the SpaceX team for taking the time out of their busy schedules to spend the day with us. (As a bonus, we did get a tour of their amazing facility and got to see some of their launch vehicles in various stages of production. Probably one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life.)
And here’s where Kenny comes in. The very kind receptionist at SpaceX called us a cab to get us back to LAX for the trip home. The cab that picked us up was like none I’ve ever been in before. The interior walls were covered completely with photos of Kenny the driver’s “regulars” – thousands of them. Kenny called the people in the pictures his “children.” The cab was hung with tiny sparkling lights and little inspirational sayings. The back of the front driver and passenger seats were hung with laminated copies of press coverage Kenny’s received. Apparently, he’s somewhat of a legend in Southern California.
One of the sayings posted in Kenny’s cab struck me: “I’m not just a cab driver, I’m a friend who wants to make sure you get home safely.” Really, what more can you ask for in a service provider?
Although we don’t post it on our website, the team at LiquidPlanner operates under the same philosophy. (“We’re not just software developers, we’re friends who want to help you manage your projects successfully.”) I know that sounds silly, but I can remember almost every customer I’ve worked with – what company they work for, where it’s based, and what challenges they face. The reason we do what we do is not that project management software itself is so mind-blowingly exciting. It’s that there are real teams, real people, that need a tool to make their lives better. They’re our “regulars.” They’re the motivation for every line of code we write.
So we may not have achieved the legendary status of Kenny the Cab Driver (yet!), but if we can help our regulars the way he does his, we will have done our jobs.