Making Smart Assumptions in a Project Budget

We work with clients to define custom software proposals and create a responsible budget. In this task, we’re always going to be in a position where there are unknowns. For example, a project may need to integrate with a third party service we’ve never used before. We have to assume the service works as advertised. We really won’t know until we do some additional research and start working with the service. Read more on Making Smart Assumptions in a Project Budget…

Dealing with Project Bumps – Get Mad, Get Over it, Get Smarter

“The best-laid plans of mice and men go awry often.”
– Robert Burns (paraphrased)

Problems – Every Project Has Them

At Atomic Object, we do mostly project-based work. We spend a lot of time planning a new project. We plan before the project starts, and (because we use Agile practices) we continually plan while the project is in progress. This helps us catch things that can block a project from moving forward before they have a chance to do so.

Read more on Dealing with Project Bumps – Get Mad, Get Over it, Get Smarter…

Clients Aren’t Customers – They’re Teammates

The Detroit Lions have been having a tough year with their kicking game. They are on their third kicker this year, and the season is only half over!  As a Lions fan, I was happy to hear the kicker say this:

“If they send me out there, they’re not sending me out there to just kick the ball. They expect points.”

– Matt Prater, Detroit Lions field goal kicker

I felt that this guy understands it’s the results that matter. (Let’s just forget that he missed his first two fields goals this year.) We want him to go out there and kick the ball, sure. But we also want the result of the kick to get us some points! Read more on Clients Aren’t Customers – They’re Teammates…

5 Ways to Maximize your NewCo Festival Experience

This post was also published on the NewCo Detroit blog.

On September 18th, Atomic Object will be a host company for the 2014 NewCo Festival. We will be showcasing our cool Detroit location, providing an overview of what makes Atomic unique, showing off some of the products we’ve developed, and serving coffee, tea, and bagels to help get your day started.

Were excited about having visitors in our space. We also participated in this festival in 2013 and enjoyed being a part of it so much were doing it again this year. Our goal this year is to help our visitors better understand the role Atomic Object plays in turning an idea into a product. Read more on 5 Ways to Maximize your NewCo Festival Experience…

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)…

Developing Winning Apps at Wayne State

Detroit is on its way up, and one of the forces driving it is a surge in technology entrepreneurship. Wayne State University, in Detroit’s urban Midtown neighborhood, is working to create better entrepreneurs by connecting students and businesses — giving students a better real-world education and helping companies find and foster great, local talent.

One way Wayne state is accomplishing this is events like last month’s Mobile App Matchmaking. I was excited to attend, since Atomic Object has a close relationship with Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, and we want to build a similar relationship with Wayne State. Read more on Developing Winning Apps at Wayne State…

Developing Business in Detroit, the Atomic Way

One of my responsibilities as the managing partner of Atomic’s Detroit office is business development. At first it sounds like a new-age word for “sales,” but while there is a sales component to this responsibility, at Atomic it encompasses more than being focused on a single sales transaction.

Don’t misunderstand me — we’re working hard on bringing work to our growing Detroit office. Our ability to remain in the Detroit market depends on it. But “business development” means taking a longer approach, becoming an active, contributing member of the business community and building relationships with other people in it.

Here are four ways we’re developing business and growing in Detroit. Read more on Developing Business in Detroit, the Atomic Way…

Resources for Getting Back Up to Speed in Software Development

If you are like me, your career has moved in different directions.  At times it progresses forward, others it moves laterally, and sometimes it even feels like it is going backwards. In my case, I started out in development, moved into a related but different field, and lately started feeling the desire to move back.

Many of the languages I learned in college — and even those I used while working in development — are outdated. I was introduced to development using COBOL, FORTRAN, Pascal, C and Visual Basic. Not only are these languages outdated, but also there are some major conceptual differences when developing modern web or mobile applications.

In order to move my career back into the software development field, I needed to update my technical skills and become more proficient with modern software development languages. I wanted to focus on languages used in Web and mobile development initially, so I limited my scope to HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Java and Android. (I’m sure a good discussion could be had about my choices, but I felt it was important to know more about these first.)

Here are some of the resources I used to bring myself back up to speed. Read more on Resources for Getting Back Up to Speed in Software Development…