Team Spirit + Exciting Project = Good Product (and vice versa)

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Product is crafted by people. It is not a sum of collaborative work. It’s usually a combination of work, excitement, collaborative ideas, feedback loop inside the team throughout the whole project lifecycle.

Passion is right at the heart of every person, and if environment tends to motivate – a person will work hard to achieve a good result (appreciated by the team and himself). Moreover, working with passionate team amplifies the overall product, makes it bigger than sum of efforts.

I approach to motivation as to a three-factor equation.

  • Excitement about the project (and willingness to work on it)
  • Ability to apply your skills (and improve them)
  • Compensational part

Let’s leave out compensational part. Let’s also make a note, that such approach doesn’t work on lousy boring projects.

The rest two points are extremely transparent, if you work in a smaller companies with more or less ‘flat’ hierarchy and informal communication.

Excitement about the project comes from inspiration. It could be something cool, that brings value to the market. Aspirational team, that challenges you, while you challenge them. This makes it extremely easy to go & do your job day by day. Such teams later stick together, even working on different products, to exchange ideas and share experience (as we did with Ufa42 Conference).

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Once the project is exciting, challenging – person starts to work hard in order to bring his valuable contribution. Developer, manager, designer, analyst – everyone is involved into general decisions, everyone is able to improve the product from the inside. Which means he can apply his skills in a good way, practice fresh approaches and technics, learn on mistakes, tune the workflow.

However, lack of involvement in product creation (aside from simply doing your job), vertical hierarchy and formal chain of command – it all kills the motivation. This brings us back to our equation: team is unhappy, not motivated = product not exciting. World doesn’t need boring products. Don’t forget: awesome pros won’t stick with something dull for a long time, they will leave as soon as they can. And we all know, that finding great teams is something almost impossible 🙂

How to accurately estimate external projects. Part 1 – Delays caused by communication

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This is a first article from “How to accurately estimate incoming projects” series, aimed to help you see the possible future pitfalls. This includes both outsourcing projects and the ones where different teams around the world are involved.IT industry is dynamic. Companies change APIs, IDEs, upgrade hosting servers software, raise new compatibility issues. Of course improvements are welcome, but there is no way you will have a perfect product once and forever – it needs to be re-iterated. Don’t forget about hundreds of different environments that the system should work on. And people.

1. Client Interaction Time

It’s not a big deal when we are talking about local business (and even in such close distance email response delay time could be significant and expensive), but when you’re dealing with international clients and partners, this becomes a more significant issue.

There are several simple rules that are wise to follow in order to keep up with the deadlines:

  • Don’t underestimate time needed for interaction;
  • Client won’t run and read your email instantly, he has work to do;
  • Response time could vary, but prepare for the worst.

Let’s look at an example: you are building an ecommerce website. The catalogues structure is a bit tricky so you need to clarify where a product recommendation slider leads.

  1. You send the request;
  2. Client reads it in 2 hours;
  3. Gets back to you with some questions in order provide proper answer;
  4. When you answer him – you are already off from work;
  5. You read the final response the next day only.

Of course it’s not what may happen every time, but you need to take such issues into account before they happen. Here is what could cause “lags” on the client side as well:

  • Clarification from a third party (could be a hosting provider, lawyers, content providers, etc);
  • Interaction between departments;
  • Approval of department manager and other bureaucratic procedures.

In addition to that, there’s been quite a few times, when our clients from other countries needed to clarify detailed info with a a third-party with no people on that side speaking English at all.
The main point of this section is to make you understand how heavily client interaction lag can affect the entire project. It’s worth mentioning because these things rather frequently fall out of scope of attention.

How to avoid possible adverse effects? A checklist or a roadmap will be helpful to manage handling tasks in advance. In Codebranch, we prepare a project roadmap with Freeze dates, which are the last dates that a certain part of team-client interaction is due. For instance, there are:

  • Design Freeze Date – this is when the client takes a final approval and signoff to the proposed design, all the amendments and improvements to the design have to go before that date.
  • Functionality Freeze Date – the milestone by which the final application functionality should be agreed upon.
  • Content Delivery Date – this is when the content provided by client is due, so the client would know the timing in advance and have enough time to gather the content.
  • Hosting or CDN accounts purchase dates, domain name registration deadline – when, and no later, the accounts need to be available to the development team in order to set the environment up and deploy on time.

These dates are elaborated together with the client, basing on the delivery timelines that the client suggests, and adjusted accoring to the internal development milestones. This approach helps both the team and the client meet the responsibilities in working on a web project, and contributes into building a good working relationship.

Codebranch: an external web development team is now active!

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We are Codebranch – an external web development team. For the last couple of months we’ve been preparing the grounds to run – now the website is up, our 3 offices in Finland, Russia and Turkey fully operational, so we’re good to go!

Codebranch Website

We aimed to make our website content-centric, so you won’t find awesome charts and colorful pictures. You can find important information like what we do and how to reach us almost instantly.
The same applies to the whole approach of our company – we work in a transparent, leanand efficient way.

The External Web Development Idea

When we created Codebranch, the idea was simple: we wanted to be team which is not a spare pair of hands, but an extra brain for external development.
So this is what we do:

  • develop stable, reliable solutions;
  • consult on the workflow;
  • aim to point out possible pitfalls.

Our final mission is not just the completed solution, but also complete understanding between developers and client in the course of work.

Our Web Development Team

Each of our developers has between 3+ and 8+ years of experience. We are really proud of our team’s professionalism, but what makes us really great is shared development experience. Our team has been working together for almost 2 years, and we believe that a well-shaped team brings more advantages to the working process.

Our Approach to Development

Everything we do – we execute with care.

  • We ask the right questions to clarify important matters before we start the project. Always.
  • There are usually multiple ways to achieve a goal. We can suggest more flexible solutions.
  • We aim to point out possible pitfalls and think how to avoid them.
  • Clear roadmap, displaying the project stages in dynamics will be given after the contract sign-off.
  • English is a must for everyone in the team.
  • Project Managers are the tech people too. Everyone is very fluent in project’s technical details.

Development Services

We have been developing Web Apps and Websites for a very long time – we live webdev! HTML5 + Canvas, Responsive, Facebook Applications, Complex Frontend and Backend coding – we can help you present yourself in the web, develop an additional module to your website, integrate it with your CRM system.

We can help you with CMS as well!

  • We love the buzz and community around WordPress. In fact, we build our own websites on WordPress as well!
  • In case you are looking for an enterprise solution – here comes our team, ready for some Drupal Develoment.

If you need / use a helpdesk, and Zendesk in particular: we can help you with its customization and integration. That’s something we’ve been working with quite often for the past 2 years.

We build mobile solutions as well. Whether it’s a mobile version of a website, native or a cross-platform app – don’t hesitate to ask a quote on your project.

We will share our thoughts on the industry, as well as development tips and tricks, be sure to visit our blog and leave us a comment =)