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How is tech development like baking a cake?


Why is it taking so long to automate local tv buying? Or, why tech development is just like baking a cake.

As we approach this unusual holiday season, I’ve been thinking about how to “develop” some new kitchen skills like baking…which got me to thinking how similar the effort is to our daily life at ProVantageX.

Everyone loves dessert, right? But everyone wants something different.

One guest is dieting, one has a nut allergy, another is a vegetarian or vegan.

And well you know the drill….

In the past year and a half, I have learned a ton about technology and development. I am not a baker nor am I a software developer. However, I do know a thing or two about buying local media and my dad always said, “no such thing as bad cake”.

Both baking and technology require planning, and organization and knowing what is needed before you start. The baker needs a shopping list, ingredients, baking pans, a working oven, oven mitts, a mixer and so on. In tech development we start with the BRD; a business requirement document which focuses on the details of the needs and expectations of the customer. Unlike the baker who most likely works alone, the BRD is the result of the work of many.

The road map is the recipe, complete with the steps needed to complete the finished product. You cannot leave out one ingredient or step as the results will suffer.

The general rule of thumb when baking is “the bigger the pan, the lower the temperature”. If a recipe calls for “room temperature” ingredients, there is a science and legitimate reason behind it. Cold ingredients do not emulsify together.

The ingredients must be followed in specific order just like the workflow of a development team. You simply cannot whisk the eggs and then realize you do not have the vanilla extract.

You think you have all the ingredients you need but remember that baking soda you swore was in the back of the cabinet, well its expired (tech debt)the baking dish you thought was just the right size, well now you have left over batter or your batter is flowing over the sides of the pan….

Baking requires precise measurement and altitude for the results to be perfect.

Technology is quite similar in her demands for accuracy; one-character error in the code can lead to a “bug”.

The altitude or attitude can make your cake fall. Developers possess a skill set like a baker; they are passionate about the process.

Baking is not very forgiving:

Cake Flour is not all-purpose flour, and yes it matters.

Do not over mix, do not under mix

Do not open the oven!! This lets cool air in, and temperature changes can cause the cake to sink…I think this is like letting the sales team into the development meeting

Bounce back test

You can determine if a cake is done by TESTING with a toothpick

Technology needs testers too, teams of experienced users to conduct testing to make certain its perfect for the users.

Allow the cake to cool completely

This seems like a no brainer, but we are often in a rush, and assembling or decorating the cake before it is completely cool is literally a recipe for disaster.

I wrote this for all the frustrated sellers and buyer who despite best intentions to accept change do not realize that we are in fact trying to turn around the Titanic.

ProVantageX and our competitors are working towards changing the rules of media that were established decades ago. Like in that trusted recipe from your great aunt …you want to substitute the sugar for monk fruit, but you know it just won’t taste the same; we at PVX are trying to keep the integrity of the business in tact while providing tools to allow us to compete with all other mediums and show clients the value local media brings when executed efficiently. You don't have to adjust your tried-and-true recipe; simply elevate the taste by using higher quality ingredients and make the experience more enjoyable by upgrading your hand-me-down appliances and bakeware.

So, do not skip dessert…and have patience for the bakers and developers- the result will be delicious!

Randy Altman, who is constantly on a diet, has tried replacing the sugar with monk fruit and trust me it is not the same. Randy is currently employed in sales and marketing by ProVantageX.


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