Last week was a phenomenal week for us as a company and me as a leader. As I write these words, I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me to lead multiple projects in various technologies, specially in a time, when the growth of women in technology and that too in lead positions has diminished stupendously over the past decades and that the trust level in general public about a woman leading a whole project is pretty low.
Fortunately, I come from a background, where my extremely progressive father never shied away from giving my mother, me and my brother equal opportunities. My father always discussed various personal, professional and financial issues with us. I remember taking long walks with my father, where we would discuss about my college life, challenges I faced and route that I seek for the future. I think that is what gave me strength to travel all the way to USA for higher education and effectively deal with very very strong men, right from the beginning of my career. I never felt intimidated by the strong expectations about project, deliverables, technologies, that these men imposed upon me and the company I worked for.
This upbringing possibly could be one of the reasons, that I can speak my mind very clearly and fearlessly, hear client’s implicit and explicit expectations minutely, expect deliverables from my team rightfully and unapologetically.
Coming back to our latest victory, we recently delivered phase 1 of a major webConnect initiative by, United CIIGMA Hospital, a top hospital in Aurangabad. For an onlooker it might just look like a fancy website built using a popular framework and some colors here and there, but for us, it was an uphill task to understand a new framework, and deliver a completely revamped, rebranded website plus a very extensive doctor appointment module with fancy dashboards for doctors, patients and admins.
Personally for me having a testing background, leading a DNN project required spending countless hours, understanding the architecture of DNN, building test sites from scratch, understanding modules, containers, skins, installing them, configuring them, moving them, evaluating them. Even though we purchased a special theme for this project, still designing the whole portal, that too keeping the vision of the client in mind was a mountain to climb.
I remember the first time, we showed three prototypes to our client, he had dismissed them all in the first 30 secs of looking at them. Thankfully he did not give up on us then but we were surely disappointed. Its like giving paints and paint brush to a non-painter and expecting a painting from them. It has to be noted that I am not a designer and neither had I designed a website before, that too a commercial website. I definitely missed a UI Designer in our team. We had not anticipated the depth of that effort initially.
It is a challenge to bring something into existence, that was originally just a thought or an idea. My client had a lot of reference sites that he was impressed with but along with that, he also had a vision of how their brand should be demonstrated to the rest of the world. But apart from all those challenges, the most difficult task was to understand my client’s vision. For that we would have ideally needed a lot of his time but we also understood that he was running a major hospital and providing treatment to many many patients in dire need. In all, we had 6 sessions with him and the maximum time, one session lasted was about 13 minutes. You could imagine how we managed to squeeze his vision out in the time that was bestowed on us.
This project also required us to travel to client site multiple times because of the lack of time that we were given, it was difficult to extract information and get feedback on the phone or a conference call. Most of these were day trips with 4.5 hours going up and 4.5 hours coming down. Sometimes we got back at 11 pm and sometimes not until 1 am the next day. Our feet would give up the next day having been cramped for 8-9 hours in the car the whole day but still there were miles to go and we couldn’t rest much.
The next time, we showed him a renewed prototype, he wasn’t impressed but he did mention that we were on the right track. Looking back, I used to be shivering from inside, whenever we were ready to show him a prototype, of what he is going to say and how he is going to react. Thankfully for us, he realized the efforts we were putting in and the speed with which we were delivering. After seeing the second round of prototypes, he said he would review the site designs every week and help us move in the direction of his vision. That was a relief for me and the team. Even though I used to be scared meeting with him and getting his feedback, I had to get comfortable being in the uncomfortable to move the project forward and towards completion at the planned delivery date. The other objective of delivering on time, was to make sure that the next phases do not get delayed and that we leave the best first impression on the client, such that he becomes a returning client. Only then is the deal profitable for the company.
As a team, we have not only proved our worth by delivering a beautiful, quality product on time, but in turn, we have been promoted from being a vendor to becoming a technology partner for the hospital. That is exactly what we had promised at the beginning of term and have achieved over the course of the first phase.
Let me share with you the day that we shared with our client, the third and the final prototype of the webConnect site. It was a remote call at 1 pm. I was in my office in Pune, nervously waiting for the doctor to arrive for the call. His IT head informed us that the doctor is busy in a surgery and will be delayed a bit. At around 3 pm, I got a call from the IT head, saying that the doctor is now available. I had got 2 min from the doctor to review the complete pack. I walked him through the web pages, the inner pages, the publications page, the doctor profiles page etc and he kept saying next next next. I didn’t know what he was thinking, when finally he uttered the words, FANTASTIC! He said, Chetna, whatever is going, its going good. Keep it up. I was glad, relieved. We had taken our client’s idea and had almost transformed it into reality.
The last evaluation was a day before the launch date. We arrived at the hospital, took the elevator to the 7th floor, setup a demo in their conference room, and waited for our client to arrive. Our doctor arrived about around 40 min later, reviewed the website, didnt say a word and then when we were finished, his eyes twinkled in approval. A smile for the first time from the task master, looking at his vision come to reality. That was enough for me. My colleague pointed the client in my direction, giving me credit for pulling this job off successfully. My client said, we are 50 % there, we are not done yet and there is a long way to go but this is a good start.
It made my day. It made me very happy. The stress, the early mornings, the planning, the adrenaline, the roller coasters, everything had come to a standstill. Our drive back to Pune was as calm as if I was floating in galaxy and there was no resistance. That all the obstacles had suddenly disappeared. The solitude of success relieved me and nudged me for the upcoming phases at the same time. My feet still hurt from the travel but there is sweetness in the aching too, of delivering to expectation.
Looking forward to delivering them stupendously too before the new year begins! Fingers Crossed!
United CIIGMA webConnect Location: www.unitedciigma.in
Launch Video Below!