Monthly Archive for March, 2009

Starting your own business day 3 summary (24/03/09)

Marketing, this was the class I was waiting for. For me this is the bread and butter of how to kick start & sell your business. We started out by looking at our products / services and seeing what makes us stand our from our competitors. The exercises were tough and although we all have great idea’s that sound fantastic in our own minds and to the immediate audience, it was time to cut to the chase:

Do people need it?

Due to the climate that we are in, it is not enough anymore to suggest that the people that want your product / service will make your business sustainable, want may or may not pay the bills, the people that need it will.

One thing more evident recently is that the service quality in general is on the increase, as people need the business. An important thing to note aswell is that you don’t have to have a ground breaking idea, you can always take an existing idea and put your own unique twist on it and do it better than the existing project. Do I hear you mentioning Apple Ipod?

Online marketing was impressed upon us as the key to successful promotion. Promoting yourself on Twitter, Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogging, create your own website & other web based mediums gets yourself and your business well known. This is where I felt that the course lacked some detail.

How should you promote yourself on these mediums? Create a Facebook application? Launch a campaign in Bebo? Affiliate yourself with certain groups in LinkedIn? None of these were explained. If even to say that you should start a blog about your business would be putting people on the right track.

It was suggested that everyone look to Damien Mulley who is recogised as one of them most knowledgeable online marketers in Ireland . If I was to recommend anyone that I feel has the key to promoting themselves online and selling their service it would be Niall Harbison.

A couple of questions were posed about google ad words and increasing your hits in google and basically getting your business to the mecca of the top ranking site for certain keywords etc sadly the lecturer struggled a little with these questions…

There were more exercises to take home with us and hopefully the second talk on marketing will be more detailed.

Grails, Hudson and Selenium - Supporting Agile Development

To be successful at agile development it is important that you have the right tools in place. Some of the tools we use to deliver projects include:

Grails
Java web applications have proven themselves to be scalable, reliable and offer high performance but the emergence of frameworks like Ruby on Rails have exposed common Java application frameworks (like Spring MVC, Struts, etc) for their lengthy development cycles and heavy configuration (hard to argue with this). Grails changes this. Grails is an application development framework that leverages Groovy and other Java based frameworks such as Spring, Hibernate, Sitemesh, etc. Grails supports rapid application development, covention over configuration, less code, flexible configuration and just makes it much easier to build applications (more importantly it makes maintenance a lot easier too).

Hudson

Hudon is a java based continuous integration server. We have used CruiseControl in the past but Hudson (like grails) makes things very easy. One of the main principles of agile development is iterative development - which means deliver working functionality in short iterations. Iterative development means you should be releasing the application very often. Hudson supports this process by allowing us to automatically deploy applications as soon as changes occur in our subversion repository. Hudson monitors our subversion repository for changes and when there are changes made to the repository Hudson will complete a number of steps including:

  • Run all unit tests
  • Run all functional tests
  • Run static analysis reports
  • Build a new version of the application
  • Deploy the new version to our test environment

Selenium
Selenium is a framework which allows automated testing of web applications. Selenium allows us to automatically run functional tests when a new version of an application is available. This means a full regression test can be completed within minutes.

These are just some of the tools we use to support our agile development process. Any other recommendations?

Start your own Business day 2

Starting your own business day 2 summary (10/03/09):

I guess I should have started this post on day 1, I will summarize it below. I decided to do the follow course on advice of a friend of mine because it is a similar course to what he has done.

It is a FETAC accredited course. In a nutshell we are going to cover how to setup and run your own business, everything from the business plan & marketing to sales etc.

Personally, I am hoping to gain an insight into how you would setup a business and make it sustainable, also meet entrepreneurs and mainly figure out how to market and sell your product / service. In my limited experience, software engineers can build anything, but when it comes to selling and marketing…..

We started with book keeping. The majority of the people of the room, myself included felt we were in accounting 101 and this is where we needed to be, i.e. how to keep your basic books and what should go into what ledger etc. To say that I don’t find accounting exciting is an understatement, but put simply i do see the benefit that if you are going to start a business you need to see how much everything will cost and what you are going to make out of it….. simple maths.

There were loads of examples to try out and lots of clerical errors, I can also easily see why you would hire an accountant.

We proceeded with looking into VAT and how complex it is and that basically whatever service / product you are selling VAT can be very different, i.e. Fruit and plain scones are different.

On a final note we used the revenue on line system (ros) to see how easy it was to file your vat.

Next time,I will have to bring a calculator & pencil, Iphone calculator just doesn’t cut it here.

Starting your own business day 1 summary (03/03/09):

The location of the course is in the National College of Ireland IFSC Dublin. Currently, there are lots of road works going on here so I decided not to drive and rely on public transport and some walking. GPS (Google Maps with triangulation), on the Iphone, is perfect for this kind of thing for people that have the Iphone and haven’t used this application before I highly recommend it.

I found out there were a lot of curious people like me, some people that are well on their way to setting up their own business, some that were taking the course as a precaution in the current environment.

Any of the ideas I heard were all good and can be easily sold, sorry but I am not going to mention any of them as I am sworn to secrecy on them. In four hours:

  • We got to meet everyone, brainstorm their idea’s.
  • Get an insight into how to be creative.
  • Look at some excellent new idea’s and products / projects.
  • Try to figure out what goes into a business plan.

There are lots of handouts and very little time to take a breadth. I was very impressed with how well it was organised, it was a lot to take in.

New Business Cards

Our new business Cards arrived today from moo.com - I am not completely happy with the cards but I think the problem was with the image we used to create them. Hopefully we will get them distributed quickly so we can use a different image to create the next set. :-)

RND Solutions Business Cards

RND Solutions Business Cards

Excellent Agile Book

At RND Solutions, where possible, we use Agile project management principles to deliver projects. For anyone looking for an overview of Agile project managment, specifically Scrum and XP, InfoQ offer an excellent book called Scrum and XP from the Trenches. This is a very pragmatic book using real world examples to explain concepts. The PDF version is free and there is also an option to buy the hard copy.

Scrum and XP from the Trenches

Scrum and XP from the Trenches



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