M1 Abrams Tank or Milk Truck
Photography provided by Level 12
Integrity and reliability are keys to success and customer satisfaction at Level 12. Renamed in 2011 after the merger of RCS Computers and Intelicom, Level 12, based in the Louisville metropolitan area, serves clients nationwide with quality software development solutions.
Dale Gibbons, Level 12 CEO, proudly states that the company has never failed to deliver on a software project. To support this claim, Gibbons shared some of the practices, methodology and culture that comprise Level 12.
A realistic awareness of and focus on their skills and capacity help the company avoid overreaching that often contributes to failure of software development projects. Level 12’s services include custom software development, data management, systems integration and business intelligence. A strong emphasis on gathering and understanding customer requirements helps ensure the success of projects. An early mentor emphasized the importance of asking good questions. Gibbons learned the only way to get good, actionable information is to ask meaningful questions. That means having the right person asking the questions and all the right stakeholders providing the answers.
The requirements gathering process however, is not a discrete project activity, but one that evolves iteratively throughout the stages of a project. Gibbons believes that a software development project’s likelihood of succeeding and meeting a client’s expectations decreases if requirements are written in stone at a level of detail that doesn’t allow for flexibility to take advantage of what the client learns as the project unfolds.
Gibbons illustrates this with a story. At the start of a project, a client describes his desired outcome as a tank with all details specified – armament, track width, maximum speed and turret dimensions. Building to these requirements will be expensive and require a lot of time. Level 12 developers, using an Agile methodology, will suggest a subset of the requirements, a minimal viable product (MVP in Agile speak) and then start design and build. That MVP might only look and function like a skateboard when presented to the customer, but it will begin a process of refinement that builds toward the client’s actual desired outcome. Iterations will proceed from skateboard to scooter, to moped to sports car until, at minimum time and expense, the final deliverable emerges as a milk truck that meets or exceeds all the customer’s expectations.
A further advantage of this process is the benefit the customer derives with each iteration. Incremental functionality is provided at each stage of the project. The customer can use that benefit to fund additional stages of the project and to modify requirements. Avoided is the wait for project completion and the hope that the initial requirements were on the mark.
Process is important, but more important to consistent success at Level 12 are its people. Gibbons describes Level 12’s organization as similar to SEAL teams. Teams are relatively small, highly competent technically, and dedicated to providing value for the client and for the company. Team members are often gifted in ways that make them very good at doing some things and not very good at doing others. Team members operate in areas they are strongest in, focusing on their core competencies. Teams like problem solving and seek to use all resources at their disposal, but know when to ask for help and when more effort is needed.
Life-work balance is at the center of Level 12’s culture and contributes significantly to the success of employees, clients and the company. Teams work hard and smart. They strive to accomplish in 40 hours a week what might take others 50 hours. Team members and the company are committed to protecting personal schedules and ensuring adequate time for rest and family responsibilities.
Level 12 is located at 326 E. Court Ave., Jeffersonville, IN 47130. To learn more, call 812.285.8766 or visit www.level12.io