Getting To Know Sidney MaestreVicky has been peppering Twitter and Facebook with little teasers about something called TaskForce for the last few weeks. At last, we’re ready to announce it and let you know what it means to you!
So, what is TaskForce? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a new way of approaching software maintenance. Most of the people who read this blog are probably familiar with the age-old adage that only 10% of a program’s life is spent in its initial development phase. The other 90% of an application’s life is spent in production maintenance.
Whether these numbers are exactly accurate – or not – is immaterial. What is important is that developers are often needed to keep applications up and running once they move into production. Companies will continue to invest in new features, additions, edits, and bug fixes throughout the application’s entire lifespan.
This leads to a number of problems from many vantage points…
To business owners and managers, maintenance costs time and money. This is pretty much a given, since no one will work for free. However, it has an additional cost associated with loss of opportunity and delays. What I mean by this is that businesses work in competition with other businesses. Whenever you’re not working to push your business forward your business doesn’t move forward. This gives the competition an opportunity to catch up and overtake you.
Furthermore, developers work best when focused on a single task for an extended period of time. It’s called being in “the zone”. It’s the same thing that musicians and athletes talk about with regard to top notch performances.
The worst thing for a developer, and for the business that’s paying that developer, is to prevent that developer from getting into “the zone”. It can take an hour for a developer to reach that mental plateau, and distractions can easily knock them out of “the zone”. So, the more unrelated tasks a developer works on, the less effective he/she is at any one task and the longer it takes.
Then, when you consider the problem from the perspective of an independent contractor it can be even worse. Contractors need to work as much as they can to earn their living. However, projects last for a finite period and, as one project is completed, they need to be ready to step off onto another project. This introduces a conflict for the contractor when the old client needs support and maintenance: Do you simply drop the old client and focus on the new client or do you support both? If you drop the old client they may well be in trouble. If you work with both clients they’re both likely to suffer from less than optimal service. This reflects poorly on the contractor.
There are, of course other aspects to the maintenance problems. For example, a company might not have the budget to pay for a full time developer. They might not have the need for a full time developer. Finding a developer who can be effective part time is difficult and companies are often left with less than stellar outcomes.
Collectively, I’ve termed these problems “Drive By Programming”. Drive By Programming is what happens when developers can’t (or don’t) have the focus needed to do their tasks effectively. It’s a symptom of changing gears too much. It’s what happens when a developer jumps ship. It’s what leaves companies stranded – unable to move forward and compete effectively.
And so, I thought about this problem and I believe I’ve found a solution that will work for all of the parties involved. We call it TaskForce.
The name TaskForce comes from the concept of Drive By Programming. Specifically, if there was an epidemic of drive by shootings in any city, the police force would establish a TaskForce to address the problem. That’s what Alagad is doing with TaskForce: We’re establishing a team of people to address the problem of Drive By Programming.
But What Is TaskForce?
TaskForce is prepaid, discounted, and retained application support services from Alagad. Each TaskForce project is assigned an experienced and dedicated team of North American developers, program managers, designers and quality assurance professionals to take care of ongoing maintenance and small enhancements of your existing applications. This lets you offload the burden of maintaining your custom websites and applications and allows you to focus on growing your company or handling new development.
TaskForce is a queue-based service. As a client, you would have access to an online system where you can assign Tasks to your dedicated Alagad team. Teams work through their queues on a first-come, first served basis.
Your program manager will work as quickly as possible to review the task you assigned to your team and to provide you with an estimate on the Task. If you approve, the team will begin work on your Task. This may include design services, development services and will certainly include quality assurance services to make sure the work was not just done right, but that it didn’t break anything else. Upon completion, and your approval, the team will publish their work to your live servers for you.
When kicking off a new project, the Alagad team will interview the stakeholders in your project to learn not just the details of the project, but its history, pain points and more. We will work with your team to insure that we are using source code control systems and have a private staging environment setup. These are two important steps that can be taken to help insure your applications function at their highest levels.
What Does TaskForce Cost?
TaskForce is a discounted service from Alagad. When you sign up, you will be asked to pick a number of hours per month – from 10 hours to 120 hours or more. You will also be asked to commit to a number of months – from 3 months to 12 months. The more you commit to, the lower your rate! TaskForce is a tremendous value – saving from 20% to 45% off our standard hourly rate. Check out our rate calculator.
What Does TaskForce Support?
TaskForce marks Alagad’s move towards supporting a wider range of technologies than “just” ColdFusion, Flex, Air and other Adobe technologies. The TaskForce team is made up of a range of professionals with very diverse backgrounds. We are able to support most common web based languages, platforms, frameworks, databases, and other technologies. If we don’t have the resources now we’ll find them for you and provide you with reliable, dependable support. Request a free consultation to see if we can help you.
Why Do Developers Care About TaskForce?
There are many reasons why developers would care. First off, this lets developers focus on new and exciting work while getting your client or employer reliable support. It’s a safe referral and eases transitions you’re making to new projects.
Furthermore, Alagad pays a 10% commission on referrals for life – even on future projects. Commissions are paid monthly. So, when you can’t take a project or you finish working for a client, refer them to Alagad for TaskForce support. You will continue getting residuals from that client for as long as Alagad works with them.
If you can’t take cash for a referral we’ll make a donation to one of a few charities in your name.
Who Can Be Involved In the TaskForce Referral Program?
Anyone can! If you are a connected individual who knows businesses, industry peers or acquaintances who could benefit from website and web application maintenance support service, be a hero and refer TaskForce to your contacts. You will be compensated when they initiate a project with us. Contact us today to get started as an Alagad Referral Partner.
If you want to put a badge on your website to advertise TaskForce, please let Alagad know so we can track your referrals and give you the credit you deserve.
Is the Referral Program Limited to TaskForce?
In a word, no. Alagad’s referral program is valid for any work Alagad does. And, even if it’s a small referral it can still be valuable to you. Most large projects come out of smaller projects and we pay commissions on referrals for life – even on new projects.
Please contact us with any additional questions or comments you may have! We want to make sure that TaskForce is a valuable solution both to clients and to developers.