Brand voice in social media

This video is part of Sunscrapers' weekly talks. Paulina gave a short speech about the magic of language - brand voice in social media and how to stay consistent with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ObUgLOPYcg

How to start a software development project?

Starting a software development project might raise many questions. No matter if it’s a web development or mobile development, you have to know what to expect. Here’s a short summary of steps needed to kick off a project at Sunscrapers. The process will differ in some aspects, from case to case. That’s because we approach every project individually. Over the years, we’ve learnt that software development is far too complex to tar everyone with the same brush. What’s most important is the execution and decision making in a given business context. Market landscape, leadership, resources - all those factors  have an impact on the ultimate success of an application. We know that this context is inevitably different for everyone. That’s why we must approach those individual circumstances in - you guessed it - the individual way. How do we start then?

1. An introductory call

We set up a 15-30min Skype (or Hangouts) video call to get to know each other. This is the moment to talk about your vision, goals, requirements, resources and constraints. We will also tell you more about Sunscrapers and our software development services. The goal of the call is to give us enough input to determine:
  • whether we’re the right partner when it comes to our expertise and your needs - we’ll be honest if for any reason (e.g. technology mismatch) we’ll not be able to guarantee the top quality service,
  • how we could help - what service(s) and competences we think are needed, what engagement model would work best, what we can propose,
  • what next steps would make most sense.
We care about your time and needs, that’s why we won’t discuss functional aspects of the application during this call. Without determining the fit first it will probably a little bit too early to do that.

2. Project proposal

Based on your individual circumstances as well as your progress up to date we’ll propose the best way to tackle the software development project. Essentially there are three entry points for collaboration:
  1. Product discovery workshop - aimed for those who just have an initial idea of what should be accomplished, don’t know much else and need our help in clarifying the business concept, it’s assumptions and feasibility. 
  2. Scoping session - most of projects will start with this step. It’s goal is to take all your input (brief, list of functionalities / requirements, mockups - everything or anything you have), analyse it, follow up with Q&A sessions (that’s where we discuss functional requirements in details) and then start our own internal process aimed at putting together a solid strategy for product development in a formal project proposal document. 
  3. Code audit - if we’re taking the project over from a different team, we will want to start with reviewing the existing codebase to get an opinion about it’s current state. Then, if the project backlog is well defined we may jump straight to development, or otherwise revert to the scoping session. 

3. Agreement

Once we’re mutually happy with the project proposal, we will move on to sort out the formalities needed to kick off the project.

4. Onboarding

Alright, all set! Our project manager will now take you through our client onboarding so that you understand how our collaboration will look like in detail. We’ll tell you about the tools, working process, roles and responsibilities to make sure we all make the most of our time together. The whole process is designed to bring as much value to our prospects as possible. Our existing clients happily admit they’ve learnt a lot during our initial conversations! Even if we’ll not be able to help, we’ll always look for genuine ways to help, guide or recommend other solutions/providers. That’s simply the way we are. If you’d like to see the process in practise and learn something on the way - do get in touch to check if we’ll be able to help you with your project.  

Dlaczego programowanie w parach jest przydatne?

Niektórzy programiści uważają programowanie w parach (po ang. pair programming), za jedną z najbardziej pomocnych rzeczy w ich pracy. Inni z kolei nie do końca rozumieją ten koncept - uważają go za trudny w realizacji i niezbyt racjonalny. W Sunscrapers uważamy, że programowanie w parach może naprawdę czynić cuda! Jeżeli zastanawiasz się jakie są jego zalety, przeczytaj listę stworzoną na podstawie naszych doświadczeń.

Inny punkt widzenia

Czy kiedykolwiek zaciąłeś/aś się na szczególnie trudnej części twojego kodu, z którą nie była w stanie poradzić sobie nawet twoja gumowa kaczka? Cóż, programowanie w parach daje ci możliwość spojrzenia na twój problem z innej perspektywy. Towarzyszący ci developer może wpaść na rozwiązanie szybciej niż ty, dzięki czemu nie musisz tracić czasu na bezowocne rozmyślania. Co więcej, programowanie z kimś innym pomaga zwiększyć produktywność i angażuje cię do bardziej kreatywnej pracy.

Głupie błędy

Małe błędy w kodzie są czymś zupełnie naturalnym, ale potrafią bardzo zirytować i pochłonąć twój cenny czas. Czasami jedna niewielka pomyłka jest trudna do wykrycia, zwłaszcza jeżeli musisz przejrzeć całą swoją pracę samodzielnie. Współuczestnik w programowaniu może być tutaj wybawieniem, gdyż zauważa błędy w kodzie w momencie w którym powstają. To prawdziwe koło ratunkowe oszczędzające nie tylko cenny czas, ale też twoje oczy! :)

Szybsze uczenie się

Każdy kto wprowadzał nowy język programowania lub nowych członków zespołu do projektu, wie doskonale jakie to bywa trudne i czasochłonne. Programowanie w parach po raz kolejny przychodzi z pomocą! Pozwala na szybsze uczenie się nieznanych zagadnień, a wdrażanie nowych funkcjonalności przebiega sprawniej. Również szkolenie kolegów i koleżanek z pracy jest o wiele łatwiejsze - szybciej się wdrażają, pracując z bardziej doświadczonymi programistami.

Zabójca “syndromu oszusta”

Wspominaliśmy jak radzić sobie z niską samooceną w jednym z naszych poprzednich postów dotyczącym syndromu oszusta: 5 Ways to Fight the Impostor Syndrome. Programowanie w parach jest jedną z metod polecanych przy walce z impostor syndrome. Dzięki wspólnej pracy z drugim developerem popełniasz mniej błędów, co skutkuje lepszej jakości kodem. Czasami twój/twoja partner/ka może być twoim nauczycielem, innym razem to ty możesz pochwalić się swoją wiedzą. Najważniejsze jest jednak to, że czujesz się lepiej, swobodniej i bardziej kompetentnie jako programista/programistka.

Umiejętności miękkie

W Sunscrapers wierzymy, że umiejętności miękkie są bardzo ważne w pracy każdego developera. Radzenie sobie z presją czasu czy docieranie się z nowym klientem może sprawiać trudności. Możesz być najbardziej utalentowaną osobą na świecie, ale ciężko będzie ci pracować, jeżeli nie potrafisz radzić sobie z ludźmi i problematycznymi sytuacjami. Tu z odsieczą znowu nadchodzi programowanie w parach! Wspólna praca z drugą osobą może być świetną okazją do nauczenia się dobrych praktyk komunikowania się z innymi. Pozwala zdobyć umiejętności interpersonalne, dzięki czemu jesteś bardziej pozytywny/a i elastyczny/a. I… stajesz się lepszą wersją siebie! Organizujemy programowanie w parach najczęściej jak tylko możemy. To proste - szykujemy sobie wygodne miejsce w biurze i działamy. Jesteśmy świadomi, że koncept programowania w parach nie jest dla wszystkich. Nie ma nic złego, jeżeli nie do końca to czujesz. Pamiętaj tylko, aby robić regularny code review ze swoim zespołem ;)

Sunscrapers among the Top Web & Software Developers in Poland by Clutch

We thoroughly check opinions about a product before we make a purchase. It is pretty obvious right? The same goes with looking for a reliable web development company. We know how important it is to research information before cooperation starts. And at this point there is a rescue for all companies looking for software providers - Clutch. Clutch is a B2B market research firm that helps to find partners for one-off project or a long-term relationship. It uses an innovative research process that melds a traditional research and newer consumer review services. We were really thrilled to hear that we were showcased in their recently updated listing of Top Polish Web & Software Developers! We stood out from almost 140 companies with a thirteenth place.

Leaders Matrix

Leaders Matrix consists of 15th best Polish companies that are able to deliver. We feel that it is just the beginning of changing the image of Polish developers in the world! What are our biggest advantages? Our clients mentioned our engagement in offshoring cooperation, which made any communication barriers or time zone differences irrelevant. Also our superior English skills and uncompromising responsiveness were indicated as our strong points. What is more, our our knowledge and passion for Python was much appreciated in our client’s reviews and we are more than happy to read that! [caption id="attachment_178" align="alignnone" width="373"] Highlight from our client’s review.[/caption] Our startup client wrote that "For a company the size of Sunscrapers, it's unique that they try to keep relationships on a personal level. They invest in people and find quality programmers who don’t only care about being paid a lot. We are glad we found Sunscrapers as a partner."

Big thanks everyone!

We feel grateful for being acknowledged by Clutch. Thanks to the support from our clients, we are able to solve their problems with technology. Big thanks to our team as well. We are really proud of our developers: keep up the good work! If you would like to read more reviews, check out our Clutch. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

How to plan your day like a genius

It can be a challenge to plan your day and squeeze all your tasks in 24 hours. And when you are moaning that you don’t have enough time to go to the gym or to call your mother, remind yourself that you’re not the only one with a tight schedule. Going further - all legendary people, like Mozart, Tchaikovsky or Kant, probably had the same issues. But they somehow managed to get the most from their days and now we will take a closer look how did they do this. Mason Currey took a deep look into habits of 161 famous artists in his book called ‘Daily Rituals: How Artists Work”. Currey shed some light to a typical day of work and many eccentric routines of writers, composers, painters or philosophers.

Coffee & bath

Ludwig van Beethoven couldn’t start his day without a coffee, which isn’t anything bizarre. The weirdest thing in that is that he meticulously counted 60 coffee beans to prepare it. While bathing, he was playing with jugs full of water and his hands - turning himself into a state of meditation. While this ritual worked wonders for his art, it didn’t win his popularity as a neighbour - water was very often dripping through floor! Another great persona with love for bathing was Benjamin Franklin. Although he didn’t took inspiring baths like Benjamin Britten or long showers like Woody Allen. He preferred to take an “air bath” - where he sat in his room without any clothes on, while reading and writing.

Give yourself a break

But those are examples of bizarre habits. Author also writes about ordinary routines that we could apply to our lives like exercising, walking or taking a nap. Great minds in our history worked a lot on their artwork, but the act of creation was not the essence of it. Small breaks was something more important! Taking time off, even for 5 minutes, let them clear their minds and come up with fresh, better ideas.

Sleeping patterns

Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect, used to work between 4 and 7AM. After a quick nap in the morning he didn’t work more during his day. Those three-four hours before the sunrise were the only moments when he had a clear mind and could devote himself to acts of creation. Actually, about a third of the 161 artists mentioned in the Currey’s book were waking up before 7 o’clock in the morning. Maybe it’s time to become an early bird then?

Being hungry helps

There was also one interesting pattern amongst many famous people - starving. Marcel Proust, Glenn Gould and Immanuel Kant were not the biggest fans of frequent eating. They usually ate only one meal during their day! Others ate lightweight food or did a little bit of fasting during really important days. All of them pointed out that they worked more productively on an empty stomach or after small meals. Well, we bet it’s also a great idea if you’re striving to lose some weight... Here are daily routines of few artists from Currey’s book - infographic was made by RJ Andrews (click for a larger size):   Those time sheets can be an inspiration for you or maybe even some explanation of your work schedule (early birds vs. night owls battle has begun!). In most scenarios it’s not possible to apply those routines to your life, especially when you’re working full time. Also you have to remember that copying habits of fine artists won’t make you great all of a sudden. But it might be helpful to achieve perfection in time management. One day.

How to choose the best development company for your project

Choosing the best software shop from a variety of available companies is a headache. What factors should you look into while searching for a perfect one?

Quality

Many software shops say that they are striving for technical excellence, but how can you really verify it? The best way to check the quality of delivery is to dig a little bit in company’s previous work. Every respectable web development shop should have a portfolio or case studies published on their website. It’s also a good idea to check their experience with relevant types of projects, like marketplace, e-commerce or SaaS applications. Another reliable indicator of software’s shop quality are code samples - most preferably open source libraries. And when you’re happy with everything, just talk to the CTO or software developers working in the firm; such conversation should give you the final reassurance.

Communication

Everyone knows that communication is a significant aspect when it comes to every collaboration. Keeping in touch with a remote software shop is particularly essential, because you want to be up to date with your project and be sure that the communication is hassle-free. Your first impressions might be an important factor while choosing the best web development shop for your business. How is the company presented on the internet? Look at their website, blog and online presentations. When your first reaction is favorable, try to contact the software house and check their response speed and style. They don’t bode well if they respond to your e-mail after two weeks - cooperation can be even worse in the future. If you’re impressed maybe it’s worth to schedule a call or a meeting and find out how the software shop will handle communication while working on a project. A face-to-face contact gives you a wider perspective. The frequency of contact and methods of communication tell a lot about the development shop’s soft skills. Do they prefer to write e-mails or rather make calls? Do they use any tools to make cooperation easier, like instant messengers (for example Slack) or project management apps (Trello, Jira)? Maybe they go for video conferences? Regardless of their preferences, make sure that the web development shop is able to communicate in a way that suits you.

Contract

Usually at this stage you should have a list of companies you would like to work with. We don’t have to tell you that formal requirements play a huge role in the process of choosing the best one. First thing is the project management methodology, which defines the way you pay for services - you can choose between agile and waterfall (here you find our blog post about it - Agile vs. waterfall: what’s better for my business?) Next thing is the budget - you probably know it already, so now you have to reveal a dev shop’s fee. Finally - the agreement. Is it easy to understand? Or maybe it arouses some suspicions about the future cooperation? It’s important to dispel doubts and discuss every part of the contract if something is vague for you. Not only to protect yourself from fraud, but also to explain uncertainties before the partnership starts. Contract is usually a formality, but those small things might have huge impact on your decision.   Now you know what things you should consider while choosing the best software shop for your project. Maybe there are other important elements that are crucial, feel free to let us know about them! Also, remember to contact us if you need software engineers (Python developers or JavaScript developers) to handle your project - Sunscrapers’ team is waiting for you!

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