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!
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DevHeroes – meetup for Ruby and JavaScript developers organized by Spark Solutions

On April 12th, 2016 the historic, first DevHeroes meetup gathered a crowd of software engineers who decided to combine their superpowers for that one special evening. It was hosted by Campus Warsaw, one of Google’s hubs for startup communities placed in some of the most innovative cities like London, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Sao Paolo and Seoul. Campus Warsaw is located in an old vodka factory (yes, vodka;) on the right bank of the Vistula river. This gives the place a unique atmosphere and makes it one of the favourite spots for young entrepreneurs and innovators.

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Anna AmbroszkiewiczDevHeroes – meetup for Ruby and JavaScript developers organized by Spark Solutions
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Check how your site looks on iPhone 6 (or any other mobile) without having to buy one

We all know how important it is for your website to look well on any device (our article on RWD here). So you may be wondering how to check the website on various devices without having to own them all. Sounds like the Lord of the Rings, but without the rings, right? 😉

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Karol KozłowskiCheck how your site looks on iPhone 6 (or any other mobile) without having to buy one
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The Startup Nation: 8 million people and over 6,000 startups

Do you remember ICQ? This instant messaging software used by over 100 million people worldwide was founded in Israel in 1996! Since then a lot has happened on the Israeli startup and innovation scene. No wonder that the Tel Aviv area is sometimes called the Sillicon Wadi (Valley in Hebrew). Israel truly is The Startup Nation.

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Anna AmbroszkiewiczThe Startup Nation: 8 million people and over 6,000 startups
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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?
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Why RWD is no longer an option but a must have for your e-commerce business?

You must have already heard about Responsive Web Design (RWD), which is basically about providing the user (customer) with a smooth experience through your website on any device.

“Heading into 2016, it’s clear that consumers have shifted to mobile, and businesses know they need to catch up.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO

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Anna AmbroszkiewiczWhy RWD is no longer an option but a must have for your e-commerce business?
read more business streamlined by a custom Spree Commerce 3.0 implementation & fulfillment integration

St.Louis based startup 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 business streamlined by a custom Spree Commerce 3.0 implementation & fulfillment integration
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Spark Starter Kit: Rails, Spree, React, Webpack + Hot Reload and more

This week, thanks to the hard work of our CEO Damian Legawiec, we have open sourced our very own kick-off bundle which we use as a starting point for all eCommerce and Rails related projects at Spark Solutions.

The starter-kit is available on GitHub and should be very helpful not only to Spree developers, but to anyone who is seeking a reliable platform for a scalable online store. Quick and easy setup makes the repository a remarkable ready-to-develop foundation, which is packed with all of the newest technologies shortening time-to-value for your client or yourself.

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Adam PacaSpark Starter Kit: Rails, Spree, React, Webpack + Hot Reload and more
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