At the ThinkingLinux conference yesterday there were two presentations by the CEO and CIO of wotif.com. The messages I took away:
  • Always test your assumptions. Make sure you validate what you are delivering to your users by using it yourself in the same environment
  • What works today should work tomorrow, however it is unlikely to work as well next year and the year after. Review your processes and plans on a regular basis
  • Work closely with the business. Use melded teams, give the business very early visibility into what you are building. Be Agile if appropriate
  • Keep strategic development close, but outsource non-core functions if there is a benefit.
  • Invest time and energy on recruiting and keeping the right people; and maintaining your business partnerships. It's crucial
  • Plan for the future, but only invest and implement what you need now
  • Keeping your cost base low can allow you to keep competition away by making the market less attractive and harder for new new entrants
  • Early cash flow and reduced borrowing are good things and make your business attractive
  • Word of mouth is the best and lowest cost form of marketing, but the most difficult to get
  • Make decisions based on data and test your assumptions (yes, I know I already said that, but it's important)
  • The user experience is key -- make sure you (and everyone in the team) experience it directly for yourselfs (that's worth repeating as wel). Make sure that the experience remains as good as possible under peak loads and during failures
  • Provide a user community -- e.g a market for for products and services, the exchange of ideas etc.
All pretty much common sense in many ways -- but easy to forget in the daily trench warfare that is current business reality for many of us.