Breaking the Mold: Taking Charge of Your Development Process

Tony Spiro

So you're on a development team that thinks they have it all figured out.  They get product specs at week 0, start design at week 1, start frontend development at week 4, install the CMS at week 6 with the immovable launch date set for 4 weeks later.  They are confident that this is the way to build software, but you notice something.  The process never works.   Deadlines are constantly being pushed back and problems always arise in the same way every time.  You can narrow down the problems to key areas and are ready to talk to the team...

When you're a part of a team with a system that doesn't work and everyone knows it, it's hard to initiate change.  And it's especially more challenging to change the longer a system has been in place.  It's the devil you know vs the devil you don't and it takes a team with courage to challenge themselves to try for better.  Even when you know that the system is flawed and there is a better way to accomplish the task, there are factors that persist the status quo.  Whether it be management or client expectations or just familiarity, it's hard to break a habit.  The ones that challenge themselves and their peers to think differently about their process are the ones that push a business forward.  And the businesses that embrace those that bring up new, challenging ideas are the ones that survive and succeed.

Harder than breaking a habit is actually getting un-used to something. It's a real challenge to give an alternative a fair shake...

For me, I noticed the development process always bottlenecked during the CMS installation phase.  That's why I started Cosmic JS, because I knew there was a better way to introduce a CMS into the process that didn't involve setting up a server and installing a CMS.  

When you introduce an installed CMS and database into a development process it's like pouring concrete over everything from content to design to frontend.  This goes against the ideas of Lean Thinking, that stress the importance of being able to adapt to changing requirements in every phase.  Even when you are adding the CMS, you need to remain agile and able to react to changes in specs and design.  That's why an API-based solution is the lightest, most agile way to begin the content management phase.  Many teams have introduced Invision to encourage faster prototyping and product iterations using interactive designs prior to and during development to great success.

Cosmic JS provides a way to make your development process more efficient from prototyping your applications, to staging to launch.  By using Cosmic JS in your development workflow you are completely cutting out the need to install and maintain versions of a CMS in a database.  The Cosmic JS CMS API allows your content to be more flexible and portable during and after the development process.  This allows the development team to stay light on their feet, avoiding unnecessary bottlenecks.  We've seen some dramatic development time savings with internal teams, partners and clients (some seeing 70% development time saved during the CMS phase vs an installed CMS!).

In technology, if you're not moving forward, you're moving backwards.  For digital agencies, start ups, technology-focused small businesses, big companies, this means constantly looking at your technology stack and looking for ways to be more efficient.  This can mean different things for you and your team, but the general message is: don't be afraid to challenge the status quo and let everyone know you have an idea about how the process can be improved.  Whether it be a more efficient development flow or just using different tools the get the job done.  Speak up, you and your team will be glad you did.