Stephan Schmidt

Development Speed: From Idea to Release in One Day

Speedy development is possible


What is this? I made a proposal to Go+ and less than 24h later @xushiwei has implemented the feature. Is this possible in your startup? Why not?

As a freelancer, one of the tasks I don’t like is collecting invoices. Going around monthly (the reason I prefer yearly invoices, you have them?) and getting invoices from services. Most of them have bad filenames—most of them have invoice.pdf. Which might work for one, but if you download dozens, you get invoice(11).pdf and it gets annoying renaming them all. So I’ve sent an email to every supplier with the suggestion to change the filename of their invoice to <companyname>-<invoicenumber>-<date>.pdf. Most didn’t reply. Those who did reply said they could do nothing.

Except Simple Analytics. Not only did they reply but released the change the same minute. Is this possible in your startup? Why not?

I’m mentoring people on the (free) Mentoring Club website - here is my profile. I did cancel a session because the mentee didn’t show up and marked the session as no-show. Mentoring Club sent me an email afterward asking how my mentoring session was. Duh, I told you, the mentee didn’t show up. So I’ve sent them a UX problem report. Some hours later I got a reply with a fix.

When I was CPTO in the startup of my wife, we often had an idea during breakfast, I wrote the code, released in the afternoon, and we checked if the feature got traction or not the next day (week). Is this possible in your startup? Why not?

While the reason for this article is to highlight that it is possible to develop fast and release faster, let’s look into possible reasons.

You might say, those features are small. They are. But can you release small features in a day?

Why not? Where is your development speed lost? Where is your agility?

You might be too large. The mentioned companies are small. They might be small, but you can’t see from their service that they might be small teams, I’m very happy with Simple Analytics and The Mentoring Club. The customers of our wife’s startup were also happy, and you couldn’t see a difference to our competition with much larger teams.

I bet your teams are too large and endlessly need to discuss and coordinate things. Smaller teams of two devs and one pm/designer are more agile and can take more responsibility.

Many fast companies don’t do Scrum. They don’t have endless meetings. They don’t have months-long roadmaps stretching into the far future with features that sounded good at the time, are no longer key but the momentum ties them into the roadmap—many people might have a bonus tied to that feature, even if it doesn’t make any sense anymore. And now they block the fast release of features that make more sense.

What would you need to change to get this development speed?

Are they unsuccessful because they do release new features in hours? Mentoring Club, Simple Analytics and Go+ are all successful.

Those examples show that fast development can be done. Can you speed up?

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About Stephan

As a CTO, Interim CTO, CTO Coach - and developer - Stephan has seen many technology departments in fast-growing startups. As a kid he taught himself coding in a department store around 1981 because he wanted to write video games. Stephan studied computer science with distributed systems and artificial intelligence at the University of Ulm. He also studied Philosophy. When the internet came to Germany in the 90 he worked as the first coder in several startups. He has founded a VC funded startup, worked in VC funded, fast growing startups with architecture, processes and growth challenges, worked as a manager for ImmoScout and as a CTO of an eBay Inc. company. After his wife successfully sold her startup they moved to the sea and Stephan took up CTO coaching. You can find him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @KingOfCoders

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