Chris Roos by Chris Roos

Week 178

Afternoon folks. I’m afraid I’m a little late with these notes for last week. Tom and I were busy with GDS on Friday and I had a pretty full weekend with a mate’s wedding and helping another mate move house. That’s my excuse anyhoo.

This was the fourth week of our renewed engagement with GDS, and the first where we (GFR) were effectively split into two: James A and James M were with the government on Monday and Tuesday and Tom and I took over on Wednesday until Friday. The lack of crossover does add some overhead, both for GDS and GFR tasks, but we’re aware of it and can hopefully manage it as we continue to work in this way.

When we resumed working with GDS we initially agreed to an 8 week period so that we could figure out how it was going to work before committing further. Although we don’t quite have enough information to know how the splitting of the team is going to pan out, we’ve agreed to extend for another four weeks. What we’re trying to avoid is us falling into the routine of continually working for a single client, at the possible expense of us focussing on GFR.

Something else we’ve spoken about this week is how we invoice for our time with GDS. Up to now we’ve always sold the idea of iterations (a minimum of two developers and normally for a week). The idea is that we charge for an iteration’s worth of effort and manage that effort somewhat opaquely internally. This has worked well in the past, even with our first stint at GDS, but it feels as though we’re going to struggle to do it this time round. I think the fact that we’re down to four people in the company, combined with it being holiday season, would mean that always trying to provide a two-person iteration worth of effort would result in us losing focus on our GFR goals. Given that the Capita system requires us to fill out individual timesheets1 anyway, we’ve decided that we’ll do our best to provide two people each week, but where that’s not possible we’ll bill for days worked rather than trying to make up the time.

James Adam jetted off to Texas for a month at the end of the week so we took the opportunity to head to Savoir Faire2 for goodbye drinks and a general catchup on Tuesday evening. James is going to be working from Texas for at least three of the weeks he’s away and we spent some time discussing how to best manage this. While working away from the office has its own challenges, we think the main problem is going to be the time difference, and we’re going to have to remain conscious of this in order to ease the pain as much as possible.

Splitting our time between GDS and GFR re-raises the question of what we work on in GFR time and how we go about working on it. We’ve all agreed that the first step is to come up with project ideas, and to this end James A and James M have started sketching ideas in Google Docs. We’ll then need to come up with a way to choose an idea (maybe at random, or maybe by casting votes) and decide who’s going to work on it. One thing we all agree on is that we’ve previously struggled having all four of us work on a project in its formative stages. This is something we’ll be looking to do improve on in whatever project we choose.

And finally. James and James met with the landlord of our office on Thursday. We took over an existing lease to get our office and inherited the lower-than-current-market-rate rent of around £17 per square foot. We also inherited a break clause in the lease that the landlord, understandably, wants to invoke in order to increase the rent to bring it inline with current market rates of around £25 per square foot. The break isn’t until January 2013 but we need to decide now whether we’re going to stay in the office for another two years after that date. Although it’s quite a hike in rent, we have to remind ourselves of how much time and money it took to find an office in the first place and factor that into our decision. I suspect we’ll end up renewing but we’ll need to discuss it a little more before committing.

Have good weeks everybody peeps.

  1. Or at least, I hope it will when they’ve finally decided that we can actually bill for our time again…

  2. This was my first trip to Savoir Faire and I’d recommend it to anyone. I’ll definitely be heading back.

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