Monday, September 24, 2012

When in Australia, you just have to have Laksa….

This post is a tad of history, it’s about InfraSoft, friendships, and how business is all about people.

The picture on the left was taken in late February, 2002. The Plan Team was meeting in Sydney to come up with the roadmap for the next 18 month. The idea was to always lay out plans for the next 18 months, and then in 12 months we would meet again, see if the plans still valid, and create a next 18 months plan.

This worked well: we would have representatives of Sales, Product Management, Development and QA, Customer Support, and Management. The rules of engagement were simple: we were there to come up with the best plan we could, and it had to include new product features, with the caveat that anything new could be pursued with baby-steps as we would be often venturing outside of our usual scope – “the next big thing” – yet, there had to be time and resources planned for process improvement, code streamlining, test libraries’ improvements and automation.

With all of us there it was easy to see others points of view and when we created our “stars” sprinkled chart and plan, where stars represented releases, we all felt that the best possible compromise was struck between Sales with their need for new features, and Development and Support with their need for solid, well tested software.

These meetings, held always in the January – February timeframe were accomplishing more than building the business plan – that was how the Team was forged. It was an open discussion between all those involved, and we felt safe to express opinions. Yes, it was all about the people!.

Of course meals were required, and among the more popular dining spots was a Malaysian restaurant, originally in North Sydney, but then moved to where it overlooked the harbor, that featured Laksa, a spice-laden noodle dish, (popular in Malaysia and Singapore) – we like the curry shrimp Laksa, coconut milk based.

We started these meetings in 1998, and continued through to late 2006. Even when ACI Worldwide purchased Insession Inc. we operated pretty much unchanged and continued to deliver the goods. When the “smash” happened, and our group was forcefully integrated into ACI Worldwide that became the owner of it all, some of us chose greener pastures at other software companies.

But the surprising thing was that the Team survived. The core part of the Team continued its weekly calls; this time, dedicated to discussions about “the next big thing”. As a group obviously we didn’t have the “current” anything anymore. Then InfraSoft came to be – started not in a garage, but in the “garage spirit”; no money, just an idea and a couple of guys with unparalleled programming skills. We looked for funding just about anywhere we could – we approached our then current employers, talked to venture capital guys, but the market was crashing and we couldn’t get the funds – even though we came close.

That’s when we found a partner, comForte, who was willing to finance InfraSoft, and to take the first product to the market. The uLinga product was developed and taken to market and has already proved successful at a number of customers’ sites.

In a couple of days we will be meeting face-to-face with comForte, at the annual GTUG event in Dresden, Germany. We will discuss our plans for yet one more “next big thing”, and we hope to take InfraSoft to the next level, resurrecting our yearly Plan Team sessions - and some of us are beginning to look forward to having a bowl of Laksa sometime soon.


JDeveaux said...

Laksa IS fantastic! One of those dishes that you have to try, and then wish you would have tried earlier! Nice post, too.

Travelbugged said...

Not trying to appear biased here, but I would like to take you to Katong Laksa here in Singapore - that would be the next big thing in Laksa tasting development.
No seriously - if either of you happen to be in my neck of the woods please get in touch. Martin