It’s been roughly nine months since starting Spottah and we’re still hacking! It’s been tough, given that our team of five is spread across the country and, with full-time gigs, have to work nights and weekends. We thought we’d share our process for those who are in the same boat or are considering going down the same path.
Constant Communication is Key
With schedules that don’t always align and a sheer lack of being able to often meet in-person, we have pay extra attention to ensure everyone is on the same page.
We started out with ad hoc phone calls and email threads, but our back end developer was quick to suggest we do short, nightly phone calls, or “stand-ups,” as a way for us to share with our most recent updates and any other pertinent news. Not only have stand-ups been key for keeping up-to-date, but they’ve also been a great motivator for getting more work done. You are inspired to come to the stand-up with an update or task checked off the to-do list. These stand-ups take place every night between Monday and Friday for about fifteen minutes each.
We use Google+ for longer meetings. It’s a great way to see each other face-to-face, virtual though it may be. During design reviews, the screen sharing capabilities make G+ a must. Hangouts usually take place every Saturday and typically last an hour. We are currently in a redesign phase, so these Google Hangouts have been happening more frequently.
While these digital tools help tremendously, nothing beats meeting in-person. We’re lucky enough to occasionally get the entire team together, which means everyone coming out to New York from California, Chicago and Boston. During these team outings, we spend half the time working and half the time celebrating our success. Two months ago, for example, we tore through downtown Manhattan’s bars and restaurants on Saturday, and then met at NYU Stern on Sunday for a full-day working session.
Inspire Each Other
There have been so many milestones: The first time we saw a barebones, functioning Spottah; the first time we saw our completed logo; the first time we saw our live design (and now redesign); the first time we had an article published about our app.. All these moments have pushed us along and kept us going, and they’re all a direct result of our hard work and talent. As each of us have pushed Spottah along, we’ve inspired one another to work that much harder toward our goals.
Cliche though this may sound, this is really the most important part. All of us working on Spottah have the understanding that we’re here to kick ass and learn as much as we can, and part of that comes with realizing that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over failures or take things too seriously. If you aren’t having fun, your heart is most likely not in it, and if your heart it isn’t in it.. Well, what’s the point?
Tools we’ve been using to get us along
- Spottah - We use Spottah for work and play. If we need to share a screenshot, we post it to our teams album, “Building Spottah.” This is also the album where we say thank you (thumbs up pics), send birthday wishes (pics of cakes), and capture the memories for our outings.
- FreeConferenceCall.com - Conference hosting service that we use for our nightly standups. It works just fine and it’s free!
- Texting - When it is too tough to get everyone on a conference call, we’ll do a text up. Everyone texts in their updates for the day.
- Gmail - For our never-ending email threads.
- Google Calendar - To keep everyone up to date with meeting schedules, etc.
- Google Drive - A great place to keep all of our pertinent docs, like PSDs and work-session notes, in one place.
- Google+ and Google Hangout - Essential when it comes to seeing each other face-to-face and sharing screens.
- GitHub - An excellent place to not only store code but to keep track of bugs, improvements, etc.
- Pivotal Tracker - A project management tool that helps us manage requests for improvements, bugs, and anything else we need to keep track of.