08 Oct

Why Media Companies Should Pay Attention to Software Development/Operations Integration

Many if not most media companies invest relatively little in software development. But those that do have been grabbing the attention of an increasing number of readers, subscribers, advertisers, and investors. What to do if software is not in your DNA, and why do you want to do something about it in the first place?

Adopting new tools and workflows is work, no matter how you slice it, so I will highlight that this is not just about operational quality control or developer productivity – though these are important in their own right – but more importantly about maintaining competitiveness in light of shifting readership expectations and behaviors. Here is the business case for paying attention, and carefully adopting, some of the latest methodologies popular in web development circles. For many organizations this may require a significant cultural shift. Read More

05 Mar

Publishers Contributing to Open Source Projects, Maintaining APIs

I’ve put together lists of teams and people working at the intersection of news publishing, data, visualization, and online/mobile/software development to get a better sense of who talks the talk and who walks the walk. There’s a strong UK presence, while some organizations are missing that you’d expect might want to show up.

This would deserve some analysis (anyone up to datamine Open Source Report Card?), maybe later.

1. Github repositories from news orgs Read More

07 Mar

Customer Support Should Feed into Product Requests, Documentation

In our dealings with various SaaS vendors, it is interesting to see cultural differences translating into behavioral patterns. You can see from the outside which functions have heft, which ones are afterthoughts, and where are the missing integration points. A behavior that I see pretty often is a good level of quality in customer support, but a failure to properly integrate it with other parts of the company. That is suboptimal both internally for these companies, and from the perspective of the customer. Vendors miss opportunities to learn and improve, while the customer feels he’s dealing with well-meaning professionals hindered by a poorly designed organization.

In my experience two scenarios often play out that give the customer an overall “meh, whatever” feeling no matter how great the work done by support. Read More

01 Sep

Collaborative Culture Challenge

One of the main challenges I encounter every time I participate in launching a new venture is striving to create a culture that is open and collaborative, as well as informal and fun to be a part of, yet not obsessed with soft consensus to the point of drowning in details.
On one hand you don’t want to stymie discussion and lead people to self-censor because they perceive you as a fascist boss or project manager. On the other hand some people don’t know when it’s time to table a discussion, agree to disagree, or even accept they won’t win the argument. You do want to listen and gather the best from everyone but a small business can’t be dragged in UN-like discussions either. Irresolution and the lack of a feeling of urgency are a big business syndrom smaller companies can’t afford.

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03 Mar

What is Toucan Navigate?

Toucan Navigate is:

"the Geographic Information System (GIS) for users of Groove Workspace, the desktop collaboration software. […] Toucan Navigate delivers maps and core GIS functionality to members of Groove shared spaces including co-browsing or the ability to have entire teams seeing the same map concurrently regardless of their physical location [and] co-editing of map features and attributes."

23 Aug

There’s More than Email to Groupware

Tim Bray lists a selection of email clients for you in case you want to be teleported seven years ago (cool, I’ll long then short the bubble and will become a gazillionaire!), when you needed separate applications to handle tasks that are obviously related to each other. Outlook is a market leader because it’s leaps and bounds more usable and feature-rich than the Notes client, its only real competitor. I wonder how software such as Eudora stacks up to manage contacts, tasks, surveys, custom forms, or shared calendaring. And how do you integrate RSS, spam filtering, or instant messaging? (Has anyone ever heard of a Eudora ISV?) How do you custom-code mini-portals, integrate workflow, or build reporting applications on top of all that collaborative data?

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22 Aug

Cheap, effective hosted bug tracking software?

Before my Excel spreadsheet bursts at the hinges, I’d like to start using an online system to keep track of bugs and feature requests. I’ve been doing some research and got helpful advice from Tim Appnel. So far, I’m interested in FogBUGZ, Bugzilla and JIRA, though there are of course plenty other possibilities. I want something cheap, easy to setup and manage, with a great UI and simple workflow. We’ll have about 5-10 named users, and I don’t expect more than a couple hundreds entries within the next few months (but I’m just guestimating here).

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01 Jul

Up2speed is getting up to speed

Our new site about internet marketing is live. We rushed through the last couple of days to get it done (thanks to John and Rick for pulling extra hours and making it happen) but we still have some kinks to fix (e.g. the whole newsletter subscription process needs to be streamlined, and the Adventive integration isn’t complete).
So as the guy nominally in charge of project management, am I happy? Well, I’d say overall we’ve been effective, since we did deliver on deadline most of what we had planned to reach our first set of goals. Time boxing more or less worked toward its purpose, as I was able to press on with a process driven by goals and deadlines.
On the other hand, we’ve been far from efficient, meaning I had to ask my teammates to work on the previous weekend and late at night before our migration and launch, and we have more open bugs than we’d like. We’ll do a full post mortem to identify what we can improve, but here’s what I can share publicly (this will sound like PM101 in some ways, but there are lessons you keep relearning, and we’re still new as an organization – besides I’m more of a marketer than a planner):

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