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About startups and time machines

Yesterday I met with a very dynamic team working at making their startup succeed. The partners, Gabriel and Samuel, were full of that enthusiasm young entrepreneurs have when they believe anything is possible.

Websystems started like that, eight years ago.

When your company is still in the nursery stage, the sky is the limit. There is never a conversation about things being technically impossible.  No sentence ever starts with “we can’t do that.” There is no technological debt to live with. Just dreams and hopes and energy.

Which made me think: why does this feeling stop? As the company grows, why do things become less possible?

Ease of change is proportional the resources invested in the project

Small teams, like small companies, have the ability to turn around much faster. Likewise, when we are at the beginning of something – company or project –  it’s much easier to change everything. It seems as time goes, it becomes harder to change our minds. We are blinded by the sunk costs. Sunk costs represent what we have invested already in something. […]

By |2009-09-16T12:42:00-04:002009-09-16|

Project managers who like to learn belong on Twitter

Ah, Twitter. Possibly the most misunderstood tool online.

A lot of people wonder “what’s the deal with Twitter? Why would I tell the world what I had for lunch?”

For us at Websystems, Twitter is a learning tool. The amount of information, wisdom and discussion that happens on the twitternets is simply amazing. Since each post is only 140-characters long, not only must people be concise and to the point, but it’s also very quick to browse through all those tweets.

The secret to getting good information from Twitter is to use hashtags. Hashtags are like search terms that people will put at the end of their posts. Then, through a simple search on the Twemes website or with your favorite Twitter application, you can see everything that’s going on for that keyword.

The popular one related to project management is #pmot (for project managers on twitter). There’s also #pmi, #pmp, #agile and #pmiagile

Here is what was posted recently:

Essentially, […]

By |2009-07-16T12:50:00-04:002009-07-16|

Webcom2009 in Montreal

We’ll be attending Webcom 2009 in Montreal on Wednesday. It’s refreshing to see an event with such interesting speakers close to home (Websystems is located in Quebec City).

An event like WebCom is a great source of inspiration. It’s a way to look at the world through other people’s eyes.

Here are the conferences I’m looking forward to attending:

If you’ll be in attendance, drop us a line and we’ll meet up in between conferences!

By |2009-05-11T13:22:00-04:002009-05-11|

Competition or colleagues?

The world of project management is a crowded place. There are multiple profesional accreditation options, multiple project management methodologies and countless books, blogs and tools to manage projects.

This is a good thing. I have never talked to two organizations who managed projects the same way. It makes sense that there would a wide range of options.

In most markets, when you sell something, the other products that are sold to do the same thing as your product are called competition. The customer base is finite and the game is to win over the heart of a majority of those customers. When we talk about AceProject and the world of project management software, this feels wrong to me.

There are many, many, many project management tools out there. Open source tools, free tools, affordable tools, expensive tools, web-based and desktop-based. The Google search for project management tool comes up with 188 million results. With that many players in the race to win over users and fans, how can we even see it […]

By |2009-05-08T13:23:00-04:002009-05-08|

Optimization: observe yourself

We often think about optimizing our day, our work life, our home life. And by optimizing we thing or improving how we do things.

Here’s something else to think about: how many things to you do every day? How many of those things could you automate?

A good place to start is email. Most of us start the day by sorting and processing the email that came in since we left work the day before. Could you setup rules to automatically sort emails, automatically forward emails to the right people? The amount of time you will invest in setting up the automation will pay for itself in no time.

Here at Websystems, we receive payment confirmations via email and we need to sort those emails in the morning. It doesn’t seem like a time-consuming activity (it takes Sylvain about 20 minutes every morning to sort payments). However, if we count 20 minutes per work day, the total is 80+ hours! That means that Sylvain spends over two weeks a year just sorting emails.

Implementing an automated system to sort […]

By |2009-02-12T19:46:00-05:002009-02-12|

A development process without a good dose of crazyness is wrong

I saw this great comic at Stack Overflow this morning, and I though I would share it with you.

No matter how much method we want to have in our development process, there is always a part of it that looks (or feels) like the comic above. It’s normal. When it’s over, it’s funny. Some of the best ideas can come out of those all-nighters.

Even though at Websystems we feel our development methods yields a much higher quality of product that the “lone coder” ways of our beginnings, there always comes a point when we all run around in circles. Usually in the bug fixing stage: everyone wants the software to be perfect, and we all want the software to be released. Inevitably, something will happen to threaten both our desires, and that’s when the running starts!

By |2009-02-02T15:29:00-05:002009-02-02|

About the Websystems family

I never thought about our workplace in terms of family-friendliness. Still, there are nine of us at Websystems, and there always seems to be a baby or two on the way.

So I started counting. Between the nine of us, we have 19 children! That’s more than 2 per employee. I think that makes Websystems a very family-friendly workplace!

For Websystems, it’s important to hire the right people and to keep them. By making it easy to balance work and family, we are creating an environment that makes us happy.

For more information on happiness at work, check out the Chief Happiness Officer.

By |2009-01-15T12:29:00-05:002009-01-15|

A blast form the past: FreeTaskManager

Back in 2001, AceProject started out as FreeTaskManager. In fact, FreeTaskManager only became AceProject in 2003.

It’s fun to look at the old screen, they feel so…obsolete. And yet, a lot of what make AceProject powerful today was already there.

Here are a few screen captures. Enjoy!

By |2008-12-03T12:25:00-05:002008-12-03|

Sales and marketing in the same person is good

I’m in charge of both sales and marketing at Websystems. This is highly irregular: at most companies, sales and marketing are kept separate.

However, in a small company like us, it makes more sense to have one person do both sales and marketing. Since our business is online, I can do live demos and write a press release in the same day. I like to keep contact with our potential customers, because it keeps me connected to what people are looking for in a project management system.

It’s very important for marketers to know what their audience is looking for. And it’s very important for the sales team to understand well how marketing wants to present the product.

At Websystems, having both sales and marketing in the same person is beneficial. I get good contact with the market, and I can align my campaigns with current and upcoming trends.

By |2008-12-01T18:48:00-05:002008-12-01|

The Defining Moment

I imagine every company has a moment like this, where its founder decides to take a leap of faith. Faith in himself, the product, and the promise of success.

For Websystems and project management software, this moment happened in the Fall of 2001. Back then, Daniel worked out of his two-bedroom appartment, and AceProject was called FreeTaskManager.

Daniel and I met when we both worked at Multitel, and lost our jobs in the post-9/11, dotcom crash layoffs. I was a technical marketing coordinator and he was a software developer. Daniel had put together AceProject’s predecessor, FreeTaskManager, and I was working with him on the interface terminology and documentation.

So it was that we both ended up jobless. The logical course of action would be to look for another job, and keep FreeTaskManager as a sideline. Or was it?

This is when the leap of faith happened. As we were working on FreeTaskManager, Daniel stopped, thinking. He said:

“Karine, do you believe in FreeTaskManager? Do you think I should focus on growing my business, instead of looking for a job?”

This was […]

By |2008-02-14T13:00:00-05:002008-02-14|
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