Custom applications used to be like houses. You’d get a call about an application someone wanted to have written and you would spend some time architecting it. Like a house builder, you’d quiz your client about the size, the number of bathrooms, the number of garages, etc. You would go about the construction of the Spreadsheet Of Needs (or however you named it) and produce an estimate of costs and fees. Then, with the numbers gathered you would architect the solution to accommodate that menu of things the customer wanted. We would architect that house on the hill to match the customers needs and all would be well (assuming they paid on time). Custom applications aren’t really like building a house on a hill anymore. Now we build houses in existing neighborhoods, with many other applications already in place and doing things in a certain way. If we keep building our own houses, without regard for the others we’ll quickly run into trouble. You can avoid some trouble by considering modern application development in a larger context. Lucky for us, such a context already exists: Urban Planning. A pioneering urban planner, Jane Jacobs, came onto the scene in the 20th […]
As leader of a team of six software developers, I get to see a wide variety of experience levels, coding styles, and effectiveness. I also have a multi-year backlog of work for my team to do. My constant challenge is balancing quality, maintainability, and productivity. These are hard enough to juggle as an individual, and they’re incredibly difficult to manage well across a diverse team. The goal of my development team is to deliver value to our customers. This is a superbly straightforward goal, but it’s not hard to lose sight of it as we work through a miles-long list of feature requests and bug reports. We’re under constant pressure to deliver features on tight schedules, and it would be easy to give into the temptation to do the bare minimum to get the work done. There’s a popular term in the startup world for this: minimum viable product (MVP). We actually do practice this to a certain extent, but we’re careful to keep an eye on where the project is headed; if it looks like it’s going to be around for a while, we need to shift gears and start building a higher quality, more maintainable product. We are […]
Of all the hats I have worn in my technical career (developer, technician, accountant, therapist…), “leader” is the most uncomfortable one. It is a word that is loaded with a responsibility that I do not always want, but it has also proven to be the most rewarding. I just looked up and realized that over the last few years, I have transitioned from being a solo coder to managing a team of six full-time developers. Learning how to juggle all of the responsibilities, increase productivity, and maintain sanity have been an interesting journey of growth. I started as a software developer right out of college. I was a passable developer when I started, but I was lacking in discipline. Working with experienced and patient colleagues and mentors throughout my early career helped me gain that basic discipline and learn how to communicate effectively with customers and team members. I was given the freedom to make mistakes, and I learned from those mistakes and got better. I didn’t see it at the time, but I was also learning how to lead a team by being a member of several highly productive teams. Prioritize Team Goals My team grew organically, along with […]
Jason welcomes Joel Bergeron, the founder of The Future Is Creative, a website dedicated to helping creatives start, launch, and grow freelance businesses where the sky's the limit. Joel is originally from Canada and currently located in Melbourne, Australia, but lives a location independent lifestyle. In the past year he has lived and worked in a number of countries around the world and he joins us on the podcast to talk about the pros and cons of the location independence.
Our friend and colleague, Jonathan Stark, released a new value pricing podcast called Ditching Hourly. It’s a weekly show that helps software developers increase their profits, decrease their labor, and delight their clients. Jonathan has been a proven advocate of value-based pricing for software development projects for over ten years, so Ditching Hourly focuses on those pricing strategies rather than traditional time and materials billing. You can check out the first five episodes right here. Jonathan has been a friend of Elusive Moose since its inception. He has been a featured speaker about both of our Find Your Moose conferences, a guest on our Expert Interview series, and a guest on the Elusive Moose podcast.
We received a question from one of our Elusive Moose readers who asked: I’m lazy and disorganized (the whole package!) so what’s the minimum amount of effort I can get away with (as it relates to my bookkeeping)? Having been in the small business world for over 25 years, I must say, I was taken aback by this question. How can you start, nurture, and grow a business but not want to have your hands in the books? Is there a “minimum effort” that’s really realistic? How Lazy is “Lazy”? So let me ask, how lazy is “lazy”? If you are willing to try anything, then you can certainly run your own books. You’re not lazy, but rather scared off by ‘accounting’. Really, it just requires some setup, some testing (recording your real transactions), then conversion (entering opening balances, deeper configuration, training, cutting the cord). Yes, you can do that. If what I just said freaked you out – work with a great bookkeeper who will explain it all, do most of the work, keep you in the loop and explain your reports weekly. If you simply want nothing to do with it, hire your mom to be your bookkeeper […]
Dear Molly, I’m pulling my hair out over here. I’ve got a bunch of talented programmers who cannot under any circumstance tell me, or even guesstimate when they are going to be able to deliver a product to a client. Sometimes they will say it is done even when they still have a few hours of work to do that they haven’t gotten around to or they will say it is done even though it is clear they never tested it. I’ve gotten to the point where I say, “Is is done or is it “DONE-DONE”? How do I get my developers to give me the information I need, and separately, how do I drive home the question of “completion”? All Done in Missouri Hey Done, Oh man, I hear you. You’re facing pressure from the client to deliver but you simply cannot get the information you need to provide the end product, or even a reliable deadline to your client. I’m guessing you’re sick of going to your client with your hat in your hands to ask for more time, especially when you don’t even know how much time you need. Right now you might need to just hire […]
Cash is king, right? Well, yes, but accrual accounting is the queen If you run a small business, no doubt the concepts of cash vs. accrual accounting probably make you hear elevator music. Probably something like Barry Manilow singing “Feelings….”.While I can’t change the song in your head, let me demystify the confusion. Cash vs. Accrual Accounting, by definition Cash-based accounting is the concept where income and expenses are recorded and recognized only when you receive or expend cash; (e.g.) you receive payment from a customer for work performed on their website, or you pay your monthly AMEX bill, or you write a check for new office equipment, etc. Accrual accounting takes it to the next level by tracking income when the work is performed (and you issue an invoice, therefore recording an accounts receivable) and expenses when incurred (and you receive a utility bill recording it as a purchase to be paid in 30-days, therefore an accounts payable). Cash based accounting does not recognize accounts receivable and accounts payable, because cash has not changed hands. Accrual recognizes events when they are recorded, not necessarily when cash changes hands. To add confusion, it may not always be an either or […]
In this expert interview, Molly talks with Nancy Simonson. Nancy spent 25 years at Accenture and is now starting her own consulting and coaching practice. Check out the full video (with an Elusive Moose membership) to learn more about Simonson’s approach to hiring and onboarding employees including: Clearly defining the job role Quickly assessing skills Positioning the new employee for success One of the benefits of an Elusive Moose membership (less than $17/month) is exclusive access to our Expert Interviews video series where we tap into our vast network of colleagues and experts to learn from their experience through personal stories, tips, and techniques. These interviews are informative and inspiring as our guests have faced and overcome many of the same challenges you face each day. Along with Expert Interviews, Elusive Moose members can experience the best sessions from our Find Your Moose conferences through our conference video series, explore techniques, processes, and methodologies through our exclusive Moose Guides, and receive discounts on our live events like the upcoming Find Your Moose conference, September 7 & 8 in Chicago.