DSCOOP8 Nashville Photo Dump

DSCOOP8

DSCOOP8, held in Nashville.

This past week, a few members of the MindFire team visited Nashville to attend the DSCOOP conference.

DSCOOP is an HP user group, specifically for folks who own the HP Indigo (a digital printer), and companies that help these folks maximize their investment in HP equipment.

(By the way, these aren’t the little printers that sit on your desk; rather, they’re large $500k+ pieces of machinery for printing very personalized marketing pieces. If you want to know what a $1.5 million printer looks like, click here to see a picture of the Indigo 10000…)

I arrived a day earlier than the rest of the team to work on setting up our booth, and configuring our integration with HP (see the official press release here).

I’m very proud of how everyone on the MindFire engineering team worked to prepare us for the show. Our team worked with the HP engineering team to enable our multi-channel marketing automation workflows to easily print to the Indigo — with no human intervention. No human intervention means less errors, more value-added opportunities, and more margin for our mutual Clients.

We demonstrated the integration at the show, which required running a very long Ethernet cable from our booth to the HP booth. You’ll see that Read more of this post

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Lessons Learned Filing a Software Patent

Over the years, we’ve filed trademarks and copyrights (which are interesting in their own right), and now I’m having a great time working on some patents for various aspects of our product suite.

I’ll share some information that might be helpful if you find yourself in a similar situation: Read more of this post

Why Writing Product Specs Is A Waste Of Time

I’ve developed software in two distinct ways: (1) writing very detailed and elaborate specs, or (2) writing very little and instead using lots of pictures and conversations.

There are certainly situations where writing specs seems to make sense, but what I’ve found is that by and large, writing specs in an agile environment can be a complete waste of time.

(Note: There are situations where I’ve found it worth spending time writing things out; specifically, when the process of writing itself helps you clarify in your own mind what you’re trying to do.  I happen to be someone who gains clarity through the writing process — but expecting your engineers to read pages and pages of your precious thoughts is usually a waste of time.)

Here’s the process we’ve found to work; most of the time, we’re using some variation of these steps: Read more of this post

SaaS Roadmap Planning in an Agile Environment

I’m often asked if there’s anything different about managing a roadmap in an agile environment. I don’t think so; since agile is (just) a methodology for delivering software, I don’t think having a roadmap and being agile are mutually exclusive. Let me know if you disagree.

Over the past few quarters, we’ve refined how we manage our marketing automation platform’s product roadmap (which we develop using agile methodologies).  As of today the platform has 525 Users, so the volume of feedback and demands is rapidly increasing.

Here are a few things we’ve found about managing a roadmap in this type of environment:

1. Creating a detailed roadmap for more than 1 quarter at a time seems to be a waste of effort. Read more of this post

Tips For Running A Sprint Planning Meeting

Tips for running a Sprint Planning Meeting

Build better software, more quickly, with less risk

For the past 2 years or so, we’ve been using an Agile-ish methodology for the development of our marketing automation platform.

I’ve described how we use daily stand-ups (here’s a real-life video example) during development of our MVP (minimally viable product), and today I’ll share how we run our Sprint Planning Meetings.

Here are a few things about Sprint Planning that we’ve found to be uber-helpful: Read more of this post

Lessons Learned Developing a SAAS App

In 2003 and 2004, as we were developing our cross-media LookWho’sClicking SaaS application, I had the privilege of developing our software in a way that has now become a part of my work-process: getting embedded at a Client’s location.

Early on during development, we succeeded at licensing our software for $4,500 to a local marketing services company (once we found our product/market fit, we eventually raised the price to $9,500).  The company was located about 20 miles from our office, and I started making frequent trips in order to do training and on-boarding. Since they were one of the first on our platform, there was a lot to learn (on both sides).

At noon each day, I’d drive to their office and help users with learning how to use our software.  In addition, I became very interested in how their business worked, and how our software made an impact on their clients, revenue, and margins.

Over the course of a few weeks, the practice of visiting their office became a daily occurrence, and eventually, I was able to grab an unused desk and set up shop.

Here’s what I found extremely helpful about getting embedded with a Client: Read more of this post

Eloqua CEO: “We Had $200k in Bank Day Before IPO”

Joe Payne, Eloqua, Says Company Had $200k in Bank Day Before IPO

Joe Payne, Eloqua

Talk to most entrepreneurs, and you’ll likely hear incredible stories of near-death experiences.  I can’t think of one entrepreneur I know who hasn’t stared failure in the face (in some cases, multiple times).  It’s scary, sometimes nearly incapacitating — but you somehow find your way through and life goes on.

Here’s an anecdote to remember next time you’re feeling down: Eloqua (who happens to a quasi-MindFire marketing automation competitor), had a successful IPO in August of this year (they raised $92 million).

But according to Bill Flook of the Washington Business Journal, Joe Payne (CEO) reports that they only had $200k in the bank the day before going public.  Holy cow!

From looking at Eloqua’s SEC filings, I don’t think they were in any near-death situation, but it just goes to show that to be an entrepreneur, you need guts (and tons of help — it’s very difficult to do on your own).

Kudos to Joe Payne and the entire Eloqua team for their continued success. Here’s the full article on the Washington Business Journal.

What about you?  What near-death experiences have you had?  Do you agree that nearly everyone goes through them?

V2MOM: How SalesForce.com Went From Idea to Billion-Dollar SAAS Company

Marc's book on Salesforce.com and V2MOM

Marc’s book on Salesforce.com and V2MOM [Amazon]

One area that we spend a lot of time thinking about (and working to improve) is our ability to communicate our company’s direction in a way that aligns everyone.

We use the word “alignment” a lot around the office, and we’ve made a number of changes that have helped us improve in this area, like daily stand-ups (video example here).  Alignment is critical for start-ups and companies going through rapid growth.

In “Behind The Cloud“, Marc Benioff (co-founder of Salesforce.com), shared the V2MOM planning process he and his team used to grow Salesforce.com into the largest SaaS company in the world.

The acronym stands for vision, values, methods, obstacles, and metrics.  The purpose of V2MOM is to create alignment, from the leadership team out to every team member.

Here’s how the V2MOM process works:  Read more of this post

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