Friday, January 24, 2014

Oh Hey This was in Draft for a Year

I had the opportunity to speak with someone who left the food truck business.  Food trucks are an interesting beast as they are just now becoming a pretty common in the St. Louis area.  Sure, there are some pretty well established hawker stands like that dude with the boombox at Olive and 6th, but the idea of getting your food off the street is still a new experience for a lot of St. Louisans during the workday.

Anyway.  I was looking at my blog stuff and saw that I still had notes for a post here.  I'm too lazy to see about actually putting these things into wordy-form so here they are.

The Idea

Provide a food truck meal with a gourmet twist.  Meals that included a side and a drink started a $7.

How it got Started

A loan for $50,000 from a combination of friends and family

3 partners - 2 ran the truck, 1 ran the business plans, supplies, and red tape.  The lady I talked to was #3 and would sub in whenever one of the other two wasn't available.

Making Money 

Stick with the city - County had way more red tape.  Only ventured there for single-day events like Stl County Parks

Sporting Events?  There were rules about the trucks that made it too much of a pain.

Tried to do catering events.  That seemed to go well but again, that only worked well in warm weather.


Brick and Mortar - there is a rule that you can't be so close to a brick and mortar competitor.  That was annoying.
Other Trucks - Sure they tried to organize with each other so that they wouldn't cannibalize each other's business but a lot of times some of the other trucks ignored it.  You'd think you'd have a spot all to yourself and then boom.  Your lunch crowd just got cut in half because another truck showed up.

What happened at the end?

The Partnership ended when one of them just didn't want to bother anymore.  Business plan lady actually had a full time job so she didn't have time and they didn't feel like bringing in a new partner.

I personally thought the food was pretty decent and nowadays, lunch for $7 without a drink is pretty reasonable.  I really appreciated her speaking with me.

Costs of Software Beyond Code

So I might as well end my blog posting drought with a stupid gripe.

The software development cycle is but a small subset of the actual software product release cycle.

Sure, a lot of people are talking about Agile processes and getting a new release every sprint and whatnot but cutting a release for most software development teams means the following:
  • We have some features developed!
  • It's passed some sort of regression testing!
Especially in larger organizations, this is far from what's required to get a release out the door.

I work for a company where the developed software typically has 3 types of consumers:
  • Developers within and outside the company
  • A couple hundred marketing/accounting/operations folk who are in the same physical location as us
  • Thousands of marketing/accounting/operations folk that are scattered around the country
Oh by the way, bullet two govern rules for bullet 3.

Coming from a large "systems of systems" integrator-esque company, it comes as a surprise to me how little care people take for delivering to another developer team.  Of course, they care when they're at the butt-end of the stick.

However, what's even more surprising is when a team isn't aware of all the work involved once a release has passed QA.

Especially for those thousands of folk scattered around the country, there's a boat load of preparation going on.  Training material, help documentation, videos, webinars, and conference demos are done to ensure that major features or even changes to existing features are flowed out and can be referenced in the future.

... and THEN there's the support and any issue investigation in production.  

The amount of personnel devoted to this is practically the same headcount as the development teams.

The absolute worst thing any team can do is simply provide these people some new features and say good luck!  No release notes.  No Requirements that fed into this.  Nothing.  Else.  Awesome.  You just tripled the cost of all the post-development work.  You probably tripled the cost of QA since you probably did the same to them as well.

I am of the firm belief that solid requirements that are reviewed early on by everyone in the release cycle is the key to efficiency in any software project.  The key words being reviewed and everyone.  It's pretty much everyone's responsibility to ensure that this happens as early as possible.  Unfortunately, what happens a lot is that everyone pretty much throws their arms in the air saying that it isn't their job and a combination of snowball and broken window effect happens.

I'll try to talk about a Shangri-la scenario in a Scrum perspective and also talk about what the overall deliverable set should be.

When I get around to it.