Now, that is what I call software….

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The Oscars of software

I wish that there were annual awards ceremonies for best and most valuable applications. Something akin to the Oscars, but for the software industry and with the twist that only point extreme point solutions can be considered.

Point solutions is a term that I came up with a couple of years ago to characterize the revolution that was happening with mobile applications (yes, please feel free to credit me with coining this term as well as the term extreme point solutions.)

Essentially, a point solution is a software program that undertakes a narrow task that is very useful to a user, and does so extremely well — quality over quantity, if you will. Think of it as Twitter versus an ERP or a CRM system. Less functionality cramming and more purpose, stability, and strength. And point solutions are somewhat atomic with no integration to other applications. The opposite of the endless vertical integration that we have been working towards for the last 50 or so year.

An extreme point solution is a software program that does precisely one useful thing. Moreover, it is entirely atomic. The more simple the thing that the extreme point solution does is, the more extreme the point solution is. The catch is, of course, the requirements for being useful. A program that displays “Hello World” on my phone certainly is pointy, but it ain’t useful.

I am always on the look-out for extreme point solutions, and today I discovered a new one: Mr. Brian Klug’s Expensive Meeting applications.

Meetings

Over the years, as I have P&L managed larger and larger teams with larger and larger cost-tags, I have become increasingly aware of the cost of meetings.

Once you start considering the costs of meeting — I mean really consider them — they are staggering.

Consider, for instance, that, at $100,000 per person in loaded costs (a relatively modest amount for an IT company in North America,) a one hour all-hands meeting for a 250 person company will cost you $12,500, and a two hour meeting of ten executives at, say, $250,000 in annual loaded costs per executive, will run you $2,500.

FriendsAnd, of course, a cost of $12,500 is not just a cost of $12,500. This amount is a cost amount and, therefore, one way or another, comes out of revenues, which means that somewhere, somehow, someone in the company has to earn it in order for us to spend it.

So, for our all-hands meeting to occur, someone in the company have to hustle to earn $12,500 in profit from our customers.

Assuming that our net margin on straightforward time and materials based consultancy project is 35% and our hourly rate is $250, one of our consultants would have to work — and bill for — a staggering 150 hours, or so, in order to pay for the all-hand meeting.

I am using round numbers, but you get the point. Those meetings aren’t free.

Or let’s look at it from an opportunity standpoint. Say, for instance, that each sales executive has a quota of $5 million. This means that each of the mandatory two hour long weekly team status call that all sales managers know and love, has an opportunity cost of $50,000. And here is the kicker… in these meetings one person speaks and the rest waits — one of the largest drains on productivity imaginable.

Also, consider the five to ten minutes, or so, of chitchatting that takes place in every meeting room across the world before the meeting actually starts. In our sales meeting, this time cost $4,250, or so, in opportunity costs — or $425 per minute.

And this is happening every day in every company … again and again.

Meetings are necessary, but they need to be limited and to the point. However, having experimented quite a lot with this, including standing meetings, walking meetings (yes, they do exist,) and a variety of other forms of meeting control systems, I have formed the view that the best thing is to simply make people aware of the cost.

Expensive Meeting

Expensive MeetingThis is where Mr. Klug’s extreme point solution comes in. All this little marvel of an application does is to accept the number of participants and the estimated annual costs for each, and then, once you hit start, provide you with a running tally of the cost of the meeting — in the form of a simple $ counter (a la the national debt clock.)

It ain’t precise. After all, the determination of how many working hours there is in a year in itself is a bit dodgy. But it gets the point across, which is all you want.

Try it (you can find it here.) And then, next time you have a meeting, fire it up and see how the meeting accelerates…

I am proud to nominate Mr. Klug’s Expensive Meeting applications for the Extreme Point Application of the Year Award.

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