Well we’re 8 days into 2014 and starting to plan our targets, goals, objectives and projects for the year. We know these will change but it feels good to have something to aim for. In order to prepare myself I spent some time over Christmas reviewing the past year, what worked, what didn’t, what were the highlights and lowlights. Here’s my summary of how things went:
2013 is the year that Skore became real for us, it was the year I left full-time employment to focus as much time as I could on the project. Until then it had been about discussions and early prototypes generated in the small amount of spare time we had. We had high hopes at the start of 2013 and we set ourselves ambitious targets for the year. But did we hit them? Well… Not exactly.
We certainly achieved some of our objectives but our main goal, to launch the software to the public, has been delayed until this year. Although we didn’t achieve it we certainly don’t see this as a negative. In fact we learnt an awful lot that will help us continue building a solid foundation in the future.
There were two reasons we didn’t hit our target; firstly a lack of understanding of the technology platform we had chosen and secondly money.
During the prototype phase we focused almost entirely on the UI. We had thought about the backend requirements and had poked around some of the available frameworks that looked a good fit. But when it came down to actually using it we realised we were doing things that, while theoretically possible, there was little precedent or community to rely on. After hitting a few challenging problems we decided to explore an alternative architecture, one we were more familiar with. We felt that we were better equipped to handle challenges in a more familiar environment.
Needless to say this cost us a lot of time and whenever we thought we were nearly there we’d stumble into a mountain so high we couldn’t see the peak through the clouds. It wasn’t long before we realised the original approach was in fact better. There was a reason it had been developed in the first place, to overcome limitations in existing development technologies.
While there were times when this felt frustrating to us we now see a huge amount of value in the exercise. It means we are more confident in the technology choice than we perhaps would have been. It also gave us the chance to experiment with some of our requirements, as we built them we saw what worked well and what didn’t. When we switched back to the original platform and rebuilt the features we were able to do so using this experience.
As we were working through these challenges it became clear that our original budget was stretching. As a bootstrapped project this was a concern to us given the limited financial resources we have. To overcome this particular challenge we started picking up more consulting work. Of course the time spent working on other projects has taken time away from Skore. Again this became a frustration at a time when we needed all the resources we could get we had to stretch ourselves more thinly than ever.
But as I said before there are some major positives to come out of this; firstly the bank balance has had a healthy boost to help us invest further in the business, which we already started to do before Christmas. Secondly we have been able to use the experience to test drive Skore in various client situations. For example, in a project I have been engaged on we successfully used Skore to capture current state lifecycle diagrams and perform root cause analysis on a number of business problems that I shall write about in future posts.
If there are 3 things I would take away from 2013 it would be:
- Under promise and over deliver – this is a hard one to get right but the point is if you agree to do something be realistic about it, if you always promise but never deliver it will end in frustration for you and those around you. Under promise and over deliver and you will delight.
- Set and agree clear goals and objectives for the team – you may not achieve them but they allow everyone to align and work efficiently, especially when you are all working remotely. It’s important to set real dates to work toward as they give real tangible targets to hit.
- Failure is not a bad thing – failure to achieve our goals allowed us to learn a huge amount and will make us stronger in the future.