Michal Faber

Spark Project Handbook, seriously!

This is work in progress. By no means over. First iteration. Enjoy! If you can…

1. Our goal is to deliver WORKING software in STAGES or iterations for which we have an agreed scope, timeline and budget (Project Management Triple Constraint). It’s an iterative process of improvement, constant work in progress – Rome was not built in one day.

2. Each project stage or iteration should be delivered:

  • in SCOPE – nothing less, nothing more than agreed with the client (functional specification, wireframes or a set of user stories – they exist for a reason!)
  • on TIME – as in the agreed timeline (save time early on, you’ll need it later)
  • on BUDGET – predictability and accountability builds clients’ trust and confidence in our ability to deliver (people will love you).

3. Confidence builds VALUE and long lasting relationships among everyone involved – our team, our clients, their stakeholders. Everybody benefits.

4. There will be a NEXT stage if we inspire confidence by completing a previous one successfully – deliver everything in scope, on time, on budget. Build TRUST in our ability to deliver results! No results, no love…

5. Keep it short and SIMPLE (KISS) in everything you do – every single task, every iteration. Our goal is not to deliver the best product we are able to and too late, but a WORKING product we agreed to deliver (MVP = Minimum Viable Product) within the agreed timeline and budget. Let’s improve in the next stage or iteration. A simple and working product is better then no product at all. People will love you (in time).

6. COMPLEXITY KILLS… time and fun. Engineering is about taking two steps forward and one step back. We’ll all make mistakes and waste some time anyway due to life’s uncertainty and unpredictability. Don’t spoil the party by complicating everybody’s lives on purpose. Party pooper!

7. Avoid SCOPE CREEP – adding new features without adjusting the timeline and budget. Be honest with yourself and CRYSTAL CLEAR with the client (use this phrase, it wakes people up!) that adding new, even small, features to the current iteration backlog will increase delivery time and cost. Expect client to explicitly agree on changing project constraints. DO NOT change them yourself – it’s the client’s project, time and money. Are you the client?

8. Be OPEN to requirements change and POLITELY add scope modifications as NEW features – mark them as EXTRAs. Move them to Icebox if possible. Resist temptation to please the client by going straight to delivery. Do not pretend that modifications were a part of original scope. Save TIME now, leave nice-to-haves for later. People will love you (eventually).

9. If all else fails… SIMPLIFY. Some clients want to increase scope, but not the timeline or budget. Don’t quit just yet. Relax and carry on. Be the champion of SIMPLICITY, workarounds, smart solutions, reusable elements. Improve in the next iteration or post launch. You’ll thank yourself later.

10. DELIVER EARLY to make it on time. Aim at getting the job done in 80% (60%? 40%?) of the time and budget. Do NOT expand scope on your own. Eat vegetables. Discuss BLOCKERS. Be real, be honest, ask questions early, talk to other people a lot, resist temptation to complicate everybody’s lives. Murphy will get you anyway, let him do his job…

11. We are the EXPERTS in Ecommerce software development. Clients are NOT, they’re experts at their business – that’s they come to us for technology advice and services. So politely push back on wishful thinking (“this surely won’t take long” – yes it will), scope changes without time and budget adjustments (“but this is a must have” – do you have the time and money?), simplistic thinking (“this is easy” – no, it’s not, let me explain why…).

12. We are experts but not wizards. Anticipate and mitigate RISKS early. Don’t wipe the database or deploy before the client call or on Friday afternoon. Ask yourself what can go wrong – because it will. Talk to people about it. Learn from your own and other’s mistakes. Write them down so you don’t forget. You’ll sleep better.

13. Have FUN today. Don’t wait till tomorrow, it might be too late. What we do is the future (of mankind) and we’re pretty good at it (in iterations, after code review, QA, refactoring, QA, client feedback, refactoring, QA, push to production, QA, rollback, fixes, QA, push again…yes, it has to take so long).

14. What you will accomplish today is the BEST THING since the invention of ice cream and beer. Be proud of yourself. It’s all you. And 30 other people working for months – they all contributed to your overnight success today!

15. Smile and say THANKS a lot. Tell people they’re awesome. Murphy will get them anyway… Don’t be his…

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Michal FaberSpark Project Handbook, seriously!

Join us in New York City on June 28-29th for OpenCommerce Conf 2016

Join us in New York City on June 28-29th for OpenCommerce Conf 2016: http://opencommerceconf.org/

It’s a 2 day event on E-Commerce with great speakers, Spree success stories, discussion panels for both developers and business people and of course drinks in the afternoon.

There are thousands of Spree store owners and developers all over the world invested in Spree over the years. Thousands of stores and developers rely on a lean, flexible, extendible Spree open-source software being developed. That is a large community and a foundation of all our open-source efforts.

Over the past 4 months we’ve observed increasing interest in Spree 3.1 for new E-Commerce projects big and small. The official Spree Slack channel reached over 555+ members from 20 timezones in only 4 month which is by far the best result during that period among all the Spree-related open-source projects.

New Spree extensions pop up, including the official Braintree v.zero & PayPal extension for Spree 2.4, 3.0, 3.1 developed in cooperation with PayPal: https://github.com/spree-contrib/spree_braintree_vzero

Spree open source project is becoming truly community-driven, transparent and open.

That is why we organize OpenCommerce Conf – the first Spree-community event since SpreeConf 2014.

We’re excited to meet and talk to the OpenCommerce Conf speakers:

  • BRIAN QUINN – Sticker Mule, Spree Co-Founder
  • FABIO AKITA – Codeminer 42
  • JIMMIE LINDSTROM – PayPal
  • DAMIAN LEGAWIEC – Spark Solutions, Spree Core Team
  • RESHMA CHATTARAM CHAMBERLIN – B/C Designers
  • MICHAEL TUCKER – GoDaddy
  • MANIK JUNEJA – Vinsol
  • ALEX FRANK – FCP Euro

Such conferences are wildly valuable, Spree development shops showcase their work, connect with clients, sometimes secure  work for the whole year. Don’t take our word for it – it’s what the owner of the NY-based dev shop told us.

Join us in New York City on the 28-29th of June: http://opencommerceconf.org/

If you would like to become a speaker, a panelist, present your Spree case study or contribute to the event in any other way let us know by slack or email: hello@opencommerceconf.org

Yours truly,
Spree Commerce Core Team

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Michal FaberJoin us in New York City on June 28-29th for OpenCommerce Conf 2016

Monthly Hangout with the Spree Commerce Core Team

You are very welcome to join a Monthly Hangout with the Spree Commerce Core Team every first Monday of the month. Spree Commerce is an open-source project and as such it relies on community contributors. Contributors are very human and we strongly believe that face to face contact is vital to our open-source efforts.

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Michal FaberMonthly Hangout with the Spree Commerce Core Team

How much should your MVP cost?

You want to build the Next Big Thing. And you have a pretty good idea how it should work, look & feel. Great, now it’s time to find a dev team to build your MVP. But how much should your MVP cost? A freelancer will tell you it should cost $5,000 to $15,000. An experienced CTO will tell you it should cost between $50,000 and $150,000. Which one is right? Are they even talking about the same thing? No, they’re not!

SPOILER: it will cost you $50k to develop a Twitter MVP, $100k for an Instagram, $500k for a Facebook and $1M for an Uber. US dollars when hiring a US dev team.

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Michal FaberHow much should your MVP cost?

Greetabl.com business streamlined by a custom Spree Commerce 3.0 implementation & fulfillment integration

St.Louis based startup Greetabl.com was transformed into a scalable and automated one-stop-shop for creatively-curated gifts and greetings that are personalized with Instagram photos, packaged and sent in just a few clicks. This enabled the startup to scale, fundraise and compete for larger market share as well as bigger ROI.

“We threw a lot at the Spark team and wanted everything ‘yesterday’. They did an outstanding job executing our vision. We have big plans, and a lot of new things to build, and we look forward to working with Spark for years to come.” – said Joseph Fischer, Greetabl founder & CEO.

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Michal FaberGreetabl.com business streamlined by a custom Spree Commerce 3.0 implementation & fulfillment integration

MVP dilemma: fat vs. lean, lovable vs. laughable?

How much should a Minimum Viable Product cost? How much time should an MVP take to build and launch? These are the questions our clients ask us and every time answering these questions comes down to one simple conclusion – we understand and define MVP differently. 🙂

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Michal FaberMVP dilemma: fat vs. lean, lovable vs. laughable?

How MilanStyle.com got 45% conversion boost for 300k luxury & fashion products after migration to Spree Commerce 3.0

British-based luxury & fashion marketplace MilanStyle.com experienced a spectacular 45% increase in conversion rate after launching its new mobile-ready and improved platform running on open-source Spree Commerce framework. MilanStyle.com now features over 300 thousand luxury items from top boutiques all over the world and brands like Gucci, Tom Ford, Givenchy, Saint Laurent. That’s ten times more than its old website.

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Michal FaberHow MilanStyle.com got 45% conversion boost for 300k luxury & fashion products after migration to Spree Commerce 3.0