Well the festive season is over and after a much needed break I’m winding up ready to get back to work and tackle 2012. This is my attempt to reflect and summarise 2011 and some thoughts on looking towards 2012 and what it may entail.
New company website
At the beginning of 2011 we finally launched a new website for Moov2, accompanying it was a blog on business software for sharing some more company related thoughts. To be honest, from the outset things were a little slow on our part for keeping it up to date. This was down to the usual poor excuse of being too busy. However in recent weeks we’ve made a real effort to add regular new content and I’m fairly happy with where its going. We’ve also been putting a bit of time and effort into Google Adwords, SEO and Analytics. The purist in me really dislikes those terms but they are paying dividend and there are genuine approaches to these things without resorting to underhand tactics and falsified pointless copy.
In February, I dived into Silverlight and I was very impressed with the platform. Unfortunately I don’t think Silverlight took off as much as it could have and the outlook for it in its original guise is now somewhat limited. However Windows Phone 7 does leverage Silverlight and the development approach for the upcoming Windows 8 Metro apps, while not Silverlight, is looking to be very similiar to it (I.e. c# and xaml). So I’m still pleased to have familiarised myself with it.
In November I declared that I was going to increase how much I’m blogging here. It’s only been a few weeks but so far I’ve upped the amount of blog posts I’ve been writing (although not really frequency or consistency). It’s hard to pinpoint the benefit of doing this but it definitely feels better to be documenting my thoughts more. Another benefit of doing so helps me better get in the mode for writing which helps with content on the Moov2 site too.
Upset in Flash world
Adobe made a few PR blunders with some mixed messages about the future of Flash, Flex and AIR. This did cause me some minor annoyance purely by having to first decipher these messages and then explain them to some of our clients (summarised here). However it doesn’t cause me any great concern. I think the Flash platform still has a strong future in gaming, cross platform mobile and brownfield projects. That said, I am fully on board with HTML5 and standards based development and can definitely see this as a unified development approach. So whilst the announcements from Adobe (and similar from Microsoft) may not have been handled as well as we’d like I do think they’re doing the right things by putting their focus into HTML5.
Outside of work and geeky interests I started a blog on mountain biking which has been my main non-tech interest and healthy activity in 2011. I’ve not put too much effort into the blog but Mountain biking is definitely still holding my interest and has had a definite positive effect on my waistline. I’ve done some amazing rides and made some great new friends as a result.
At the very end of 2010 Andrea and I moved into a new house on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire. After a tough few months trying to sort out a mortgage we were very grateful to finally move in. The novelty has still not worn off, I love living so close to the forest for biking and the general lifestyle of the area is great.
Championing a new approach
I’ve been running a software development company since 2003, it’s often still terrifying and I know I still have a lot to learn. However, I have learned a thing or two along the way. One of those is that no matter how meticulously planned a software project is change is inevitable. This was always traditionally referred to as scope creep but that puts the onus on the client to not deviate from the original plan. Fact is, change comes about not because clients just change their mind but because the change presents itself as the obvious thing to do. I will post more on this in the future but going forwards our approach will be to be open to and expect change. This will be managed by tackling the obvious problems and opportunities first and reviewing at regular intervals (or even constantly). Each project will be broken down into multiple smaller projects and we will have the agility to change direction at any point without loss of investment for our clients and wasted time for ourselves.
Another benefit of having been running a software development agency for nearing a decade is that we have encountered and solved many problems. We’ve identified processes and procedures for dealing with them and have been constantly looking for new more efficient means of doing so. However, this hasn’t always been particularly controlled, more of an ethos than standardised practice. I’ve recently read a great book, The E-Myth Revisited in which the author describes the process of creating a system (a defined, documented approach for exactly how to tackle something) for each and every process within your business. Whilst at first this seemed like a ridiculous undertaking the more I thought about it the more I’ve entertained the idea. There are so many aspects of running a software business that could be easily summarised into a documented procedure which could then effectively be undertaken by anyone (within reason), reviewed and improved upon over time. This essentially creates a path for improvement and also reduces friction when delegating and sharing tasks.
In 2012 I intend to systemise as much of what I do as possible with the intention of being able to easily alleviate tasks that are currently tied to myself or whomever currently undertakes them. This will also set a starting point for improvement from which slicker and more efficient processes will hopefully evolve.
Continue to play
Finally both in work and in my own time I will be encouraging ‘play’. It’s become somewhat of a skill at Moov2 now to be able to investigate and review new technologies as they come about and where appropriate integrate them seamlessly with our workflow. This has many obvious commercial benefits but also is a lot of fun. Going forwards I hope that we’ll be able to share some of our thoughts and findings with the wider development community in the form of blog posts and open source projects.
So that’s my wrap up of last year and some objectives for this coming year. To anyone who has read all of this (and I don’t expect that to be many, I’m writing this more for my own benefit really), I wish you a very happy and successful 2012!