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Worthwhile Technology Foundations


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Worthwhile Technology Foundations

  1. 1. Towards a WorthwhileTechnology Foundatation Smartly prioritizing early-stagetechnology efforts in the service of a long- term platform for your business. CIC Critical Mass • July 12, 2011 Will Koffel • 1
  2. 2. GoalWhen you identify an opportunity for your business to truly crush it... Your technology team should reply “yeah, we can get there from here!” (This is the business of tech) 2
  3. 3. Lessons• Adopt Development Best-Practices• Manage Your Technical Dependencies• Eschew Legacy Support• Pick Your Battles 3
  4. 4. [foundations]“Beginnings are always messy.” – John Galsworthy 12
  5. 5. Admirable Foundation 13
  6. 6. Your Foundation 14
  7. 7. Your Foundation• extremely fragile, susceptible to lots of external forces• complicated and expensive to access and maintain• really hard to extend• can’t build a proper foundation now even if you wanted to 15
  8. 8. Your Foundation• doesn’t adopt “best- practices” for architectural design.• has “dependencies” on environment and design decisions• unreasonably values “legacy” lakefront luxury• fought the wrong “battles” causing undo long-term hassles 16
  9. 9. [adopt best-practices] “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” - Jim Rohn 17
  10. 10. Leech & LearnAlmost all your problems have been solved before. (yes, including that one you are thinking now, and the one you’re going to hit next) Best-practices save time, and work better! (Inventing a car with geared wheels isn’t better unless the roads have teeth) Don’t be so clever, great artists steal. (And steal from the best, big or little, known or admired) 18
  11. 11. Some Must-Haves • Source Control • Project Management Tools • Data Control • Customer Feedback • Testing Infrastructure • Reporting, and Analytics • Reliable Deployments • Development • Monitoring Methodology Good news: we live today, so do great solutions!These have to be...but they don’t have to be hard. 19
  12. 12. RecommendationTake a week of time to adopt the tools and techniques of the best comparable startups around. It will be time well spent. 20
  13. 13. [manage dependencies] “A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what a ship was built for.” – William H Shedd 21
  14. 14. No Crystal BallModular systems are flexible and reliable. (If you can’t describe the pieces of your technology foundation, then it’s too complicated) Define Your Interfaces (If changing system A affects system B, you want to know about it in advance) Evaluate Vendors Defensively (They will sell you on the features. Grill them on the gaps, avoid early lock-in) 22
  15. 15. Brace for Change • databases • grow a mobile presence • hosting providers • add an API • language/frameworks • expand to social • swap off-the-shelf networks components with home-grown • experimental featuresMemo: you will fail to predict the path for your business. Don’t code yourself into a corner. 23
  16. 16. Recommendation Take a day of time to create a greatdiagram of your technology platform, including all the data and communications between modules. It will be time well spent. 24
  17. 17. [eschew legacy]"One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it." – Gaston Bachelard 25
  18. 18. Look Forward The past is getting older every day (By the time your business is big enough to support legacy systems properly, they’ll be gone)Your team can’t accurately predict the cost(And don’t forget to clean up all your code, tests, user messaging and documentation when you do eventually drop support) Dropping features makes you free (Don’t make your team rummage around in a cluttered attic, they’ll trip an get hurt) 26
  19. 19. Stay Current but Safe • browser support, be aggressive • mobile device OS versions • plugin / API catalog, keep informed • framework versions, latest stable • social graph integration and auth (e.g. oauth) • new tools and services, pay attentionBonus: not only will this grease the technicalwheels, but you’ll also hire better developers who respect and embrace your approach 27
  20. 20. RecommendationBe a bold futurist. Imagine how prescient you’ll look in two years when yourcompany is as technically relevant as the next generation of startups. It will be time well saved. 28
  21. 21. [pick your battles] "To achieve great things, two things are needed: aplan, and not quite enough time." – Leonard Bernstein 29
  22. 22. Core Competencies Don’t invent anything you aren’t innovating (The things you are innovating will need all the attention you can give them)Be ruthless when evaluating what really matters (Will it kill the patient?) Build tech in the service of your business (Leave tech for the sake of it to the academics and open source crews) 30
  23. 23. Ask the big questions • Are you built on scale, or built on UI? • Is your technology evolutionary or disruptive? • Are you reinventing payments, or collecting cash? • Which of those best-practices should you better? • You want it good, fast, or cheap? (choose one) Tip: If you keep your tech team focused onwhat matters to your business, they will stillfind an acceptable path for all the other stuff. 31
  24. 24. RecommendationMake a list of what your technology needs to do better than anyone’s if yourbusiness is to be successful. Put 100% of your fungible efforts towards that list. It will be time well saved. 32
  25. 25. [talk about it]“The single biggest problem with communication is theillusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw 33
  26. 26. • Educate each other• Focus on the business strategy• Agree on the platform strategy• Make the hard decisions together 34
  27. 27. [q & a] “To avoid criticism, do nothing, saynothing, be nothing” – Elbert Hubbard 35