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Resources for Clients

How we work, and how it makes our clients’ project stronger.

Why Software Design Matters

not intuitiveAre preschoolers smarter than college students? When it comes to figuring out gadgets and iPhone apps, it certainly does seem that way sometimes.

I heard an interesting piece on NPR several weeks back about this very issue. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that 3- and 4-year-olds use a different process than older children and adults to figure out how things work. In experiments conducted by the researchers, children had to figure out how to operate a specially designed music box. According to the NPR story,  “Children try a variety of novel ideas and unusual strategies to get the gadget to go.” For that reason they are often quicker to figure out how novel technologies work.

As we age, we start to expect things to work a certain way. And when new gadgets don’t meet our expectations, we struggle with them. Read more on Why Software Design Matters…

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Fixed Price vs. Time & Materials vs. FBSC (Fixed-Budget, Scope-Controlled)

Atomic Object builds custom software for our customers. Because of the complexity involved in building a great software product, software development projects are always more difficult to price than a product.

As a result two different strategies for pricing services, such as building software, have traditionally been used by most companies. These are called “Fixed Price” and “Time And Materials”.

Fixed Price

A Fixed Price strategy locks in the total price of the project upfront.

  • Static Variables: Scope, Cost
  • Flexible Variable: Quality
  • Assumption: The estimate and plan are correct and will not need to be changed.
  • Risk: On Consultant (Responds by inflating cost; may compromise quality if estimates are inaccurate.)
  • Effect of New Information: Causes conflict about what’s covered by the scope vs. what requires a change order. New ideas are rarely incorporated.

In this strategy, the vendor is taking on all the financial risk of a project. They have committed to completing the project for a specific price. If they complete the job early, it’s a bonus for the vendor (and you the client has overpaid), if they don’t then the vendor loses. In order to mitigate this risk, they will want to know all that can be known about this project and the risks before it will commit to a fixed price. Read more on Fixed Price vs. Time & Materials vs. FBSC (Fixed-Budget, Scope-Controlled)…

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When Not to Build Custom Software


Sometimes you shouldn’t spend resources on a custom software application. And sometimes, you should realize that you aren’t ready to create a software product.

Atomic Object gets hundreds of inquiries every year from people interested in engaging us to build a custom software application or product. Our ultimate goal is help our clients succeed in their business. That means we occasionally recommend deferring custom software, reducing the scope of custom software, or not building custom software at all. Read more on When Not to Build Custom Software…

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3 Ways Software Products are Different from Physical Products


First time creating a software product? If you are familiar with creating or selling physical products and are looking to get into the software product space, there are a few subtle differences that you should understand. These differences can make a substantial impact on your planning.

The majority of products that exist in the world today are tangible things. They are all around us from the food we eat, cars we drive, houses we live in, and trinkets we buy. As a species, we have been buying and selling physical products for thousands of years. We have internalized and accepted the economics at play (e.g. variable costs, mechanical failure, etc).

But what about software products? Have people internalized the subtle, but important differences? Read more on 3 Ways Software Products are Different from Physical Products…

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Developing a Mobile App? Some Numbers You’ll Need to Know

Are you thinking about developing the next great mobile app? When creating your business strategy you’ll want to know:

  • How many potential app users there are?
  • What platform you should develop for?
  • What apps have the greatest reach?
  • What apps generate the most revenue?

The mobile app market is evolving quickly, so the answers to the above questions change frequently. In this blog post, I will report the most recent numbers, and also provide links to resources that you can use to stay up to date with the information you need. Read more on Developing a Mobile App? Some Numbers You’ll Need to Know…

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To In-source or to Out-source? 9 Questions to Ask Potential Teams

This post is revised and republished from Carl’s blog at Crain’s Detroit Business.


How should you build your next innovative product or service? One major consideration is whether to do the work inside your company or outsource it. I’ve identified some key dimensions of this problem to help you think through your choice. I’m assuming you have a project large enough to need at least a small team of people, that the stakes are high for you and your company, that time-to-market matters, but is not the overriding factor and that your company is large enough to have employees to consider using. Read more on To In-source or to Out-source? 9 Questions to Ask Potential Teams…

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Creating a Software Company? 9 Decisions You Have to Make


So, you have decided to sell software. Congratulations, you are now a software company!

Maybe your building the next big new product that is going to change the world, or perhaps you are re-purposing an internal piece of software that has really helped your company. Either way, it doesn’t matter. There is a lot of strategy and implementation work that needs to be done (maybe more than you realized!).
Read more on Creating a Software Company? 9 Decisions You Have to Make…

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Your App Idea Stinks! 3 Steps to Make it Better

You come up with a great idea for an app, and you’re sure it’s going to sell! You plan to have it built and in all of the app stores in a few months — soon after that, you’ll take a vacation or retire on your vast app income. The app, the idea, and the marketing plan will all just form as you go and everything will be perfect.

Wrong! Most of the time, the first idea is never the final idea. It takes work. Read more on Your App Idea Stinks! 3 Steps to Make it Better…

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The First Tech Hire – Helping Clients Build their Software Company


Atomic’s success ultimately depends on our client’s success, and their success turns on much more than the quality of the software we build. This drives a lot of our business decisions:

  • We brought design practices and designers into Atomic back in 2007 to help our clients determine the right thing to build.
  • We start every project by digging into the business ecosystem and our client’s business goals — that understanding helps our teams contribute valuable new ideas and guides development priorities.
  • We’re as diligent with deployment and hosting as we are with programming and design.
  • We offer beneficial support agreements.

In short, we take a broad view of what’s necessary for market success and provide help well beyond programming. Read more on The First Tech Hire – Helping Clients Build their Software Company…

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Strengthen your Software Investment with Research, Design, and Planning


If you or your organization is ready to invest thousands of dollars on building a piece of software, you hopefully already have a good idea of who your users are and how they will interact with your product. You could be a subject matter expert, or your company may be a leader in the field that your project is targeted towards, putting you in a great position to provide background on what the software ought to do and how it should be used. What you’re looking for is a top-notch team ready to hit the ground running and build your software.

In a previous post, I discussed how Atomic Object engages with our clients in a phase of Research, Design, and Planning (RDP) at the beginning of each project to help define and refine a software product. If you’re well-prepared and grounded in your field, it could be difficult to see how this work could be worthwhile for your project, and skipping RDP may seem like a great way to save some money towards feature development. However, just a bit of time up front can pay off in a big way during the build phase of your product. Here are several ways an RDP phase can benefit a project. Read more on Strengthen your Software Investment with Research, Design, and Planning…

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