About a week and a half ago we launched two major versions on our production servers simultaneously: our Open API in beta form, as well as Canadian Currency support for Legacy.com and other features for our stable environment. It was a typical day in this Roller Coaster ride (one of the leading proposed titles for our blog) I have been living since I joined SharedBook, but it got me thinking…
I still remember the days, back when I started programming, where a version was something you launched once or twice a year. We spent months on analysis and design, months on testing, just like everyone believed software development should be back then. We even had a name for this: waterfall methodology. If someone would have told me back then that I would be leading an organization that launches a new version a couple of times a month, or even a week – I would have laughed to tears. And now we have broken another record: twice in one day!
But it seems to be working well in SharedBook. Since day one, we started developing in agile methodologies, having shorter and shorter development cycles that enabled us to quickly respond to what the market taught us. Before long, this wasn’t fast enough. We had to develop our own methodology that would be best suited for us – we call it the SharedBook way.
So we switched to multiple parallel projects development, relying on the agile principles we had applied successfully before, and adopting them as we went. When we started this parallel agile development, we weren’t sure whether it would be possible for such a small startup company. But we decided to try and learn from the experience… and we sure did learn!
As an organization we are constantly learning. After each iteration and each project we ask ourselves: what worked well? What didn’t work that well? How can we do better? And we now have a development process that is very unique to us, and is constantly evolving and changing, as new requirements come in from the market (If you’d like to learn more about the basis where we started checkout this article: New Methodology by Martin Fowler, in fact – check out all the material on his site – I learned a lot from his articles and opinions).
Sometimes I find myself puzzled as to why this is working in SharedBook so well. Friends and colleagues from other organizations, come over to learn from us, and ask the same question. The answer I give is that eventually it all comes down to people. Having the right people makes a huge difference.
I remember when we had just started SharedBook, I was consulting with Yossie (our chairman and founder) about what type of people I should be looking for. He gave me some of the best advice I ever received for recruiting: look for the smartest people you can find (OK, that is not that difficult), who can work well together as a team (OK, now it gets trickier: very smart and team players?) and can easily adopt to change. Find those people he told me – and success is bound to come.
Well Yossie – you were right! I went from thinking that releasing every few months was very fast, to thinking that releasing a couple of times a month is not fast enough, and we are still accelerating… thanks to having a great team, consisting of the right people. I wonder what we’ll do next?