2020 Agenda

Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas · 9th Dec 2019

The big picture agenda for 2020.

2020 Agenda

#1. Bootcamp as a service

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?

  • Build an e-learning platform for students to access, hosted on the Coding Labs website. Features will include progress tracking, quizzes and an improved curriculum structure.
  • At the start of each week I found myself running through essentially the same spiel when introducing topics. This can move to a pre-recorded video format.
  • By moving the bulk of the course online, we are enabling students to be both self-paced and remote.
  • Participation in Bootcamp will be mandatory for Coding Labs employees. This will reinforce and verify existing knowledge, and underpin a culture of sharing and teamwork.
  • Bootcamp will be a commercial product in whole or in part. We definitely want to maintain our in-house program and we will retain some free spots for students.
  • We will experiment with dedicated courses for backend and frontend. The full stack course then morphs into a combination of the frontend and backend courses.

#2. Component-based service delivery

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:

  • admin dashboard
  • product / inventory management
  • SMS notifications
  • user subscriptions
  • payment facilities
  • KPI tracking, graphing
  • Integrate with 3rd party APIs
  • Image and video upload
  • Calendar integration
  • Multi currency
  • Multi-lingual

#3. Streamlined client experience

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.

Whiteboard Meetings

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.

Client Dashboard

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.

#4. Ship two mobile apps

With the recent discovery of NativeScript-Vue (thanks @jessarchercodes!), mobile app development is finally within reach for us mere mortal web app developers.

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.

#5. Reduce clutter

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:

  1. cleanup and clean out all stale to-do lists
  2. Don't add to-dos for things that can be done right away
  3. don't add to-dos for things we are probably never going to do
  4. require better to-do notes, comments and PR descriptions from everyone

Signing off...

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