I like defining two completion states.
Ideal State and “Stop-Work” State
Ideal State – We have a clear “definition of done” and acceptance criteria. With this, we can measure progress towards that state.
Stop-Work State – If we hit any of the identified triggers, it’s time for us to stop and reassess what we are doing before we get into big, expensive trouble.
I am currently working on a resource management solution with a few friends.
This solution is meant to be a low-effort prototype. This is an experiment to see whether we can create something useful with what we have on-hand. If it goes well – we can evaluate whether this is something we can scope for a larger audience. If it doesn’t – we’ve learned some things.
Because this is a project with no budget and sweat equity – it was really important to make sure we had both our ideal state and our stop-work states defined.
I’ve seen too many people spend time and money on a passion project, get some users, and watch money vacuum out of their pockets as they operate the thing. When it started getting really expensive to operate, they struggled to monetize it – because their clients really liked free.
Not a position I want to put myself or my friends in.
Our ideal state for this project = we have a resource management solution that allows us to
- Add people and their skills
- Add projects and needed skills
- Match people to projects
Our stop-work state is triggered when one of the following happens:
- We need to go from a free platform to a paid platform
- The work required to continue does not match the existing skill set of the people working on the project (we need to pay someone)
- The amount of time needed to get it working surpasses current resource availability (we need to pay someone OR the resources are risking jobs or clients to complete the work)
The triggers in the stop-work definition are where we would need to start spending more than personal sweat equity.
We also thought that if we hit one of those triggers – it was a good time to look at whether this solution can be funded and has a potential business model.
Better to find that out early, before we generated significant sunk cost.