In 2019 we had very strong demand for our Bootcamp program, where we take inexperienced developers and throw them directly in the deep end, learning the tools and processes we use to build web apps at Coding Labs.
In each of the 3 programs we ran in 2019, our curriculum got a little better and we found ways to improve outcomes for the students.
The program is very much dogfooding our own problem we have in finding and training local Laravel developers.
So how can we multiply our strengths with Bootcamp?
Through 2019 we found ourselves answering the same questions and writing similar proposals for almost all projects that we pitched for.
Where we can systemise something, we will, and so we are going to build out some tooling to help us gather requirements and price our projects at a component level.
Some example components:
For our clients, the first obvious truth is that they are normal people, and therefore will have shifting requirements over time and expect varying levels of help and support from us.
Something we can do in 2020 is continue streamlining our service delivery so that we are providing a consistent baseline of support to all clients as a foundation for their unique requirements.
The most important whiteboard meeting is the first, where we try and gather the most important needs of both the product owner and the end user.
Once the caffeine kicks in, it is not uncommon for the creative juices to start flowing and the next thing we know we are exploring ideas for world-domination before we even know what a proof-of-concept might entail.
While this is fun, it is not actually productive, so we are going to build more structure into our whiteboard meetings so that we can fallback on an agenda designed to help us in the immediate future rather than the "what if's".
We really enjoyed @marcusamoore's Behavioural Driven Development talk at Laracon AU this year, and will use this process to capture business goals in whiteboard meetings in 2020.
We use and love Basecamp, but our biggest gripe with inviting clients onboard is that there is no such thing as "read-only" access, and that is problematic for us.
Fortunately Basecamp has an API, so we can pull out the client data we want and instead have our clients login to the Coding Labs website.
Some of the features will include collaborating through a help desk, viewing a stream of project activity, reviewing progress indicators, key dates, invoice history and more.
Providing a dedicated support service is something we have been formulating in 2019 and have some strong ideas about how it will work for us going forward.
We want to expand our offerings in this space and integrate ongoing support for all apps that we launch in 2020.
Our inaugural mobile app for Live Platforms is so damn close to being finished, early January is looking good for shipping to the iOS app store.
We will build at least one more app in 2020, whether for a client or for the members of our coworking office.
As I move into perhaps my 3rd of 4th year of my decluttering crusade, i'm starting to get the feeling that decluttering is a continuous process rather than a destination.
I almost fell off my chair when I got a reply from @dhh on this very topic:
Letting go of a mountainous backlog is hard! It projects the illusion of control and responsibility. But it's mostly just an illusion. Set a specific appetite for dealing with legacy issues, start with a blank slate, collect what comes up over the month. Importance bubbles.
With that piece of wisdom in mind, our 2020 decluttering crusade reads as follows:
I've read a handful of 2019 reviews already, and have noted a somewhat "meh" feeling about 2019 for many.
This is particularly surprising coming from people I admire and who appear outwardly to be successful and highly respected.
All-in-all, 2019 was a challenging year for me professionally and personally, but the biggest take home is that when I challenge the boundaries of what I consider possible, something good always follows.
Other 2019 recaps:
- Competition is fiercest for realistic goals
Each year I write down a short list of goals, and at the end of the year I rate my performance. I have been doing this privately for many years, and starting in 2019 I am going to move this process into the public domain.
Without further ado, my 2019 goals:
I'm giving this one a big 👍, thanks to two big changes:
While we didn't specifically hire a designer, Jerrell has proven himself increasingly capable when it comes to mockups, iconography and user experience.
We discovered awesome new tools like Figma, and learned plenty of new tricks from some of our design heroes including Steve Schoger and Adam Wathan. (To that end Tailwind UI is going to be a game changer.)
Our workflow now places a high priority on prototyping design ideas as appropriate, and we refer back to mockups during development more than ever before.
Now that we are comfortable with our in-house capability and more opinionated about how design fits into projects as a whole, we can continue to build our design expertise ad-hoc and place very little reliance on 3rd party designers.
Burleigh Space has continued to benefit from incremental adjustments to our policy and fit out and we continue to enjoy strong membership into to the tail end of 2019.
Having said that, from the great heights of our own TV spot on the local news in 2018 🎉, we did not do anything substantial in 2019 to increase our community focus, and we have been really quite lucky that we are organically attracting the types of (tech focused) members we desire the most, without any major effort on our end.
On the Coding Labs side we:
We also continued collaborations with local universities and TAFE institutes, including providing industry placements for 8 students in our newly established Bootcamp program.
We quickly realised that the cognitive overhead of working in 8-week cycles vs 2 calendar months was silly, so we pivoted to 2 calendar month cycles instead.
We had some mixed results, with the usual suspects of scope creep, emergencies, sign-off delays and unplanned capacity issues all contributing to a bit of chaos throughout the year.
All in all, the fixed start and end dates did quite a lot to ease the feeling of running continuous marathons on projects.
Fixed time, flexible scope is our mantra for 2020.
Whereas last year I was using the term "I" a lot, now I am using "we", because Coding Labs has a management duo for the first in its history.
We have thrown a tonne of ideas around throughout the course of 2019 and have gradually started to etch out our company culture and the process-driven systems that can deliver for us.
The key now is to sustain momentum into 2020 and keep multiplying our strengths.
I score each goal either a zero, half or full point based on the level of success.
#1. Structural separation of Live Platforms ( 1 )
#2. Add a FT designer ( 1 )
#3. Community focus ( 1 )
#4. 2 weeks planning, 6 week builds ( 0.5 )
#5. Dedicated BD and Accounts Management ( 0.5 )
Overall: 80% strike rate