Why is Your Team Falling Behind? Ask ‘The Penny Game’

One of the chief concerns of a software development team is managing work. We even have our own jargon—user stories, tasks, chores, bugs, epics, sprints—terms we use to help juggle assignments and stay organized.

But even a smart, hard-working team full of disciplined developers can fall behind, failing to meet deadlines and feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. To understand why work piles up like this, it helps to look at a different but similar industry: manufacturing. Read more on Why is Your Team Falling Behind? Ask ‘The Penny Game’…

Don’t Let Silos Ruin Your Software

Dividing up work is a natural and proven way to solve most problems faster. Specialization is also common, especially in areas that demand a range of skills too broad for anyone to master fully. Both of these approaches can be useful, but just like ammonia and bleach, if you aren’t careful to keep them separate, bad things can happen. I’m talking about the dreaded silo, the bane of engineering projects. Read more on Don’t Let Silos Ruin Your Software…

When Collaboration Goes Wrong

“Collaboration” sounds dreamy when people say it—as if everything will be great because we worked together on a project. But simply put, collaboration isn’t easy.

This post explores the challenges of collaboration, not in a negative light, but in the spirit of learning from challenging times to make interactions more positive in the future. Read more on When Collaboration Goes Wrong…

Four Types of Software Projects & Their Risks

In my years at Atomic, I’ve noticed some patterns across different projects. For many of them, the differences tend to fall along a very specific axis. Of course, there are technical differences in tools and platforms, but right now, I want to talk about the broader element of how the projects fit into the business.

My train of thought was inspired by Jeff Patton’s post on user experience. Jeff splits projects around whether users choose or are compelled to use the software, and whether they’re intended for internal use or commercial sale. This is a good way to partition the world for discussing the relevence of user experience, but there are other useful attributes as well.
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On Being “The Expert” & Disagreeing with Your Client

At Atomic, we pride ourselves on not just engineering the right code for a client, but on actively helping them shape their software to be the best possible solution for whatever problem they want to solve.

There’s a huge feeling of satisfaction that comes with the ability to own a product like that, but also a large amount of responsibility. Caring about whether or not a piece of software is solving the right problems (on top of being engineered the right way) introduces a whole new set of potential issues—the kind of issues that you can’t bash out at a command line. Read more on On Being “The Expert” & Disagreeing with Your Client…

Best Practices for Scheduling Creative Teams

Managing project team schedules is one of the most challenging parts of running a consultancy. Optimizing for client release dates, assigning the right team to the job, creating good mentoring opportunities, connecting individual team members with a project that they’re personally passionate about, and minimizing schedule gaps to protect your own cash flow is an exponentially difficult problem that keeps getting more and more complex as the company grows. Read more on Best Practices for Scheduling Creative Teams…

A Better Approach to Collaborative Problem Solving

It can be difficult to build team consensus on the best way to solve a technical problem. I believe the difficulty often stems from how each of us strives to present our own solutions without really listening to others in a spirit of true team support.

To improve the way we collaborate and overcome team dysfunction, I’m proposing a new working agenda. Read more on A Better Approach to Collaborative Problem Solving…

What I Learned from My Largest Software Project (So Far)

Can a large-scale software project really launch on time, on schedule, and to everyone’s satisfaction? Yes! As the lead designer and product manager for the recently introduced web app NexGen Inquiry, I’d like to share my thoughts on how Atomic Object and our client Van Andel Education Institute accomplished just that.
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