Ok so I started off with this prototype piece of software in my attic and now it's has become a company. I really can't be too specific, but imagine a server side scripting thing that is now being sold abroad to high-profile customers. There are people to whom this might sound great, but in fact, some years down the line this is really wearing me down.
It started as a one man company, and as luck would have it I quickly found a launching customer who brought me two more, and then after some year of struggle I settled with a commercial guy who called himself an IT entrepreneur and said he knew how to build up a company. Indeed we got like 10 more clients, hired a guy or two and have been implementing ever since. I'll talk about the actual business model another time, but the problem I'm facing now is this:
- I built it in this prototype language just to make my point about the market opportunity. I'm not a software engineer and have probably violated all the rules in the book. But it works.
- I built my own release mechanism and it works.
- I use this weird mix of technologies to make it all work together. It works.
- Never really documented anything really. It's all intuitive.
But you might have already guessed: I'm the only one who can make it work. So far this went fine, but it's not scalable because I'm not scalable. The more implementations we have to maintain, the more workload I get. Risks for customers are high. No gravy train. Runaway train and I'm the only one who knows its running away.
So what I now have to do is to come up with a plan to set up a development team whilst dismantling a bomb on a runaway train, and the other guy does not really see the need, or closer to the thruth probably, does not want to see it. So if somebody must make a decision, it's probably me. I always liked the thrill, but I'm getting tired.
For now, I see some options:
- We're already looking at Java engineers, but whoever want's to jump on a runaway train must be a cowboy just like me.
- Do an executive search for some guy who we can make a director of development
- Find a investor who helps out with money and whose development team we can use to refactor the whole thing
- Continue in dutyful quiet desparation until derailment.
- Jump off the train, and after recovery from the law suit see what's left in the wreckage.
- Go to the back of the train and hope I'll survive the crash.
I think the best step forward is the first option. I'm deliberately being candid about the level of desparation here - and I'm deliberate in placing the question on Workplace because what I'm looking for is advice from people who come from the workplace and know how to best set up development teams in awkward situations.