01 / Article

Bleeding necks, pain points, and bug bites

Erin Doland
Erin Doland
5 min read

At Vulcan, most clients come to us because they have a problem or set of problems and they don’t have the in-house skillset to resolve the issue(s). Typically, the client has already figured out some part of the solution before they approach us, so we become their partner in making the solution a reality.

Some problems we address are bleeding necks and need immediate attention; some problems are pain points that keep a business from achieving their potential; and other problems are small nuisances, like bug bites, that can create low-levels of stress. We happily address all three types of problems because, if left untreated, bug bites and pain points can become bleeding necks—and no one wants a bleeding neck.

What if a client has all three types of problems?

It is common for us to be hired to help solve complex problems that include all three injuries. When this happens, we turn to project management strategies that aid us in determining priorities with our work. This is the method we usually employ:

Step 1. Stop the bleeding neck

This is obvious, so there isn’t much need to delve too deeply into it. Put whatever resources you can to stop the problem from hemorrhaging and killing your business. You don’t need to eliminate the problem completely, just get the wound to stop bleeding so that it can be a pain point.

Step 2. Heal the bug bites

What’s great about bug bites is that they are quick wins with very little effort. Often they can be solved by one person in a single afternoon. If you find yourself planning out a project with multiple steps or relying on numerous people to solve the problem, you aren’t dealing with a bug bite (you’ve got yourself a pain point).

A bug bite might be fixing a line of code that is misbehaving in the footer of your website. It could be drafting email templates for a sales team so that everyone is using the same corporate voice. It might be diving into your customer database to create a market segment for a very specific rewards initiative. Or maybe it could be implementing a new “Buy now” button design across your eCommerce site with a change to a site-wide CSS file.

A great way to fix a lot of bug bites at once is to schedule a two-hour block of time every Wednesday afternoon for everyone on your team to solve a simple task they’ve been avoiding. At the end of the two hours, meet up for a quick chat to celebrate your wins.

One of the reasons you solve bug bites so early on in the process is because they are extremely motivating. An easy win reminds you that you have the ability to solve the more complex problems.

Step 3. Define your pain points

One of the reasons pain points stick around for so long is because they aren’t well defined. “I hate our website’s CMS,” may be true, but until you identify why it isn’t meeting your needs, it’s not a problem that is going to be solved. The more specific you can be with defining your pain points, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to alleviate them.

Step 4. Create milestones

Pain points require multiple steps to solve, so you need to break their solutions into chunks. If you work in an Agile environment, these chunks each need to be solvable in two-weeks’ worth of work. A team usually has other work responsibilities beyond just this project, so keep that in mind and be reasonable with milestones. A milestone that requires more than two weeks’ worth of work is probably multiple milestones in disguise, so separate accordingly.

Step 5. Create action items

Once you have broken your project into milestones, you need to create specific action items to help you achieve it. Action items need to be concrete and should be able to be blocked out on a calendar.

A bad action item: Fix the proposal.

A good action item: Copyedit the X proposal, located FILE LINK, on Monday morning by 11:30 am and send to Carla for review by 4:00 pm.

Step 6. Schedule action items

Again with the obvious advice item, but put action items on the calendar. This step is the one most often overlooked and the one most necessary to make progress on a project. You need to block out time to do the work. If you don’t make it a priority, your chances of procrastinating greatly increase.

Plus, if it’s on a calendar, you know you won’t have to scramble to get something done. People working on the project with you also have an idea of when they can expect work from you and better plan their schedules. You may think that it takes too much time to put something on a schedule, but it takes far more time and energy to scramble late at night to finish work that was forgotten.

Step 7. Solve the problem

It may take you months, but addressing your backlog of pain points with milestones and action items will advance your work. Additional problems will arise, and as long as you’re methodical in your approach to solving them, they’ll be solved, too.

Do you need help solving a bleeding neck, pain point, or bug bite? Vulcan is here to help.