So I’ve been busy thinking about the requirements for Resourcer. One of those is authentication against it. Since the methods that people will be using will be varied, I’m looking for something pretty simple and adaptable. Turns out OAuth might be just the ticket.
As with any software project, the difficulty is in the requirement gathering stage. Making changes at this point in time costs nothing, except well time. But right at the end making changes, not only is that costly but it’s inefficient. And it makes software projects fail. So I’ve been spending a lot of time gathering requirements for Resourcer. One method I recommend is doing mental walkthroughs with paper prototypes. Build your application on paper and use it. If things are missing, odds are they’ll really appear when you start using your paper application. Do note, your mind is used to software. Try giving it to someone completely new to the idea to use. If they can’t get it, your users can’t either.
Another useful idea is to look at competitors. If you have no competitors, you’re probably doing it wrong. In my case, it’s Yammer. However, Yammer is just a clone of Twitter. I mean, apart from security restrictions, what’s the difference? And I’m not saying this as a biased competitor, but just as someone reviewing the features. Where’s the enterprise support? Maybe we’re aiming for different markets, they’re aiming at SMEs and I’m aiming at Enterprise customers. This forces me to think about where data is hosted, SOX compliance, security, importing and exporting users, authentication, etc.
In other exciting news, OpenSSO has been released (well, about a month ago). Deployment’s a lot easier this time around, with just a war file to drop in your application server. I’m looking forward to some improved Policy Agents, especially the ability to remotely configure them.
So I’ve found my first near direct, and biggest competitor: Yammer. Yammer is the enterprise version of Twitter so to speak, it allows you to micro-blog to a group of people within the same domain name.
Similarities between Resourcer and Yammer:
- Micro-blogging to corporate audiences
Differences between Resourcer and Yammer:
- Resourcer is a workforce utilization reporting and modelling tool.
- Yammer is a corporate micro-blogging tool.
- Resourcer doesn’t limit you to people within a certain domain name, and uses powerful organisation and group functionality that lets you create virtual organisations and groups that cross domains, i.e. projects involving multiple companies.
- Yammer reminds me of a chat room, except there are multiple ways of sending and receiving messages.
- Resourcer gives managers powerful reporting tools that allow you to view the productivity of your workforce.
As always, if you’re doing something right, then there are going to be multiple companies doing it. When I first heard about Yammer (thank you Jo), I panicked. And then when I saw they won the Techcrunch 50, I panicked some more.
But there are some positives. They launched nine days ago, and have 50,000 users already. As always, first mover advantage is significant, and often turns into the sustainable competitive advantage of a user base. Once a company decides to settle on Yammer or Resourcer, that’s a decision that’ll be made once. Hence now the battle will need to be done company to company.
And so the updated road map:
- Finish linking core application functionality with database.
- Gather requirements and building secondary application functionality.
- Finish information type pages.
- Tidy pages, do quality assurance, move project into Beta stage and open logins to other people.
- Write business plan.
- Contact angel investors.
- Move application onto framework, either Seagull or Silverstripe.
- Tidy pages, do quality assurance, move project and beta data/logins onto Gold release.
- Publish API.