By Starr Horne
Every so often someone in the Business of Software forum asks about process.
For most mISVs, formal methodologies like extreme programming are extreme overkill. But there are a few “processes” that I’ve found essential to my business productivity.
Keep in mind – process is fundamentally different for a one-person company than for a large corporation:
- IT is no longer a separate department: So you need to address business as well as technical issues.
- You have the flexibility that larger companies would kill for. Process should structure your work, without sacrificing your ability to make quick decisions.
- Process should be biased toward action, not documentation. (Those TPS reports can wait)
Using these criteria, I’ve come up with four practices that have boosted my productivity and helped me hold on to a little bit of my sanity.
Hold weekly business and technical reviews
When you’re starting a business on your own, it can be hard to see the big picture. Why not devote two hours a week to self-review? Sit down with a pad and a big cup of coffee and ask yourself: What have I done right? What have I done wrong? How do I do better?
Define clear end-points
One of the hardest things about development is knowing when to stop. But there’s a simple solution. Create a “bare minimum” requirements document. As soon as you code and test a feature, check it off and move on! Don’t optimize, beautify or abstract. It can take real discipline, but you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done.
Create a work schedule (and stick to it)
There are a million things you have to do to create a successful company. It can be especially overwhelming if, like so many of us, you’re working full time & creating your ISV on the side. So do yourself a favor and make a work schedule. It takes the pressure off to be able to say “Hey, it’s GUI Thursday, I don’t have to worry about PR.”
Keep a “Not Now” list
When you’re racing towards version 1, you don’t have any time to waste. Every time you sit down to code a new feature, ask yourself: “If I leave this out, will it break my product?” If the answer is no, it goes on the “Not Now” list. This will save time, sure. But more importantly, it will train you to constantly focus on your core values.
If you decide to implement any of these techniques, or if you’d like to share some of your own, let me know! I’d love to hear them.
Starr Horne is currently developing the StepLively Switchboard, a CRM system for e-commerce, which incorporates live chat, email and click-to-call. You can read more articles by Starr in his development blog, The Startup Lowdown, and in his e-commerce blog LetsTalkEcommerce.com.
[tags]47hats, development, StepLively[/tags]