Here are two important principles in managing a startup company:
- Building a high-quality product with value in the shortest time possible, in order to bring it to the market ASAP.
- Prioritizing the use of existing tools rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.
These two principles seem to contradict our decision at Oribi to develop quite a few internal tools.
So why did we decide to invest in developing tools that are not an integral part of our main product?
One topic I plan to address extensively in this blog is the work-life balance. I believe that startups which part of their culture is to work into the night on a daily basis, do not necessarily progress any faster than ‘calm’ startups (on the contrary – they almost never do). I believe that a constant pressure in startups is mainly indicative of a lack of focus and suggests that working methods are not effective enough. This is one of the main issues I’ve been focusing on recently – how to work smarter and more efficient.
A choice I’ve made, which has already been proven successful, is that any project which requires less than a week to develop, and which ‘compensates’ for the time invested after two-three months, is launched.
This is a list of five tools developed in the past few weeks, which required between two days and one week (of one developer) and immediately saved hours of cumbersome manual work.
Kob – Slack Integration with our DB
Handling many DB queries doesn’t only take too much time but is also a barrier for the non-R&D team members (product, marketing, CS) for accessing important data easily. For example, when processing questions from users or trying to understand a problem reported by a user, we had to run various queries in order to understand how many times the user has signed in to Oribi, how many accounts they have, etc. We did make a list of repeating queries, but the process of logging in to the DB and synchronizing the queries between team members was time-consuming. Another thing that had made this process so unproductive was the DB’s inaccessibility from a mobile phone, which in some cases delayed replies to users or finding bugs. Kob (all Oribi’s internal projects are named after antelope species) is a Slack channel querying the DB. The first, most basic question we set for Kob was:
Who is [user name]?
This enables us to immediately access all the information required to provide support from any device. Other planned questions relate to events on a certain day (what happened on 1.7.16), user lists according to different parameters, etc. We are ‘talking’ with Kob dozens of times each day, and it also makes life much easier for less tech-oriented team members, who can easily access the information without having to learn how to work with the DB.
Development time: two days.