05 Feb What sandwiches and software have in common
To those of you reading this blog who want to know more about Magnus, I’m issuing an open invitation to have lunch. There’s no better way to get to know someone than by sharing a meal. I love to eat, but my one rule is that we can’t eat boring food. To me a boring sandwich is criminal. You know the kind I’m talking about, a mushy square of slimy boiled ham and yellow plastic wrapped cheese with a swipe of mayo. Ugh. It may just be my Italian New Jersey roots talking, but I’d jazz that ham sandwich up with some thin salami, a little provolone, arugula, tomato, and roasted peppers in olive oil with garlic and oregano on thick sliced toasted artisan bread. Now that’s delicious! (Can we add anchovies?) Food, like medical records, can be so mundane and boring, but they’re both essential. Properly documented medical records save lives, help nurses keep students healthy and frankly are required by law. I’m reminded of Roz from Monster’s Inc. “You forgot to file your paperwork.” How do I deal with the boring factor? It’s really simple. I make a food analogy.
When I approach product management and student medical records, I want to make a thick juicy Italian sandwich and not the shrink-wrapped gas station fare. The fun part is melding all the tasty feature requests into something that can make your jobs easier, keep your students safer and manage student health information efficiently. As a mom, and an Irish-Italian mom at that, I love a healthy, well-fed family. I also like a team that plays well together and builds good software on time. The tricky part is that just like your family or your school, not everyone likes the same things or has the same schedule. Sound familiar?
When you request improvements or new features with our software, they’re documented, dissected, and discussed (very passionately, I might add) as we try to plan out our projects for the year. It’s actually a lot like building a really good sandwich. Certain items will naturally complement each other and fit together in the schedule, like launching our new Safety suite and updating our mobile app (more on that in a couple weeks). And sometimes, projects you thought would be great turn out to need more work (hello, smart lists). Not every sandwich you make will be awesome the first time. So what do we do? Adjust. Be flexible. Try something different.
It’s a never-ending process because not everyone likes the same things or has the same priorities. One school might request a feature for nurse scheduling and another school is waiting for integration upgrades with their student information system. And internally, our engineers might have an infrastructure need that has to be done ASAP. Or client loyalty team may need a tool to help launch new schools faster. Satisfying all these needs and the collaboration required to make it all work is what I enjoy most about my job. So, how do we do that?
Magnus hosts a team of creative individuals who debate how and why an item takes priority on the project development charts. We make sure representatives from sales, marketing, client loyalty, engineering and help desk all get face time to discuss what they hear from clients and potential customers. We also spend time reviewing what’s hot in the technology sector for building new ideas. For better or for worse, the only private space at Magnus is the bathroom (thank goodness it’s private) so everyone’s ideas, comments and Katy Perry lip-syncing habits are frequently out in the open.
Is it easy to build a Dagwood-style software sandwich out of all these competing requests and different points of view? Not really. But it sure is loads of fun. Sure, some days I feel like arm-wrestling a co-worker to the ground as we have a lively debate about a feature (I’m talking to you Scott Pollak or Allen Cobb), but at the end of the day we have the same goal: great software that makes giving better healthcare faster and easier. And as long as I’m at Magnus, I’ll make sure everyone at least eats a decent sandwich.
About the author
Trish LaPaglia is the Director of Product Management. For her, most days at Magnus are a combination of Big Bang Theory and Cheers – a bunch of nerds hanging out together and who all know your name. As the Director of Product Management, she spends her time researching the needs of clients and collaborating with engineers, sales and client loyalty reps to create a plan for some truly awesome software. In her spare time, she inflicts homemade baked goods on unsuspecting co-workers, draws comics with her son, reads almost everything and laughs until she cries while watching British comedy.