The Games and Sitecore Project World Paralleled – Part 3

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Behind the Scenes

The host city logistics of organizing the Olympic Games is astounding. There is the Village to construct, each athletic venue and location, the ticketing, security, the personnel, the marketing, and then throw a little Zika into the mix … this year and the last Olympics were full of controversy and, according to the media, were even close to not happening.(Sochi, Rio)

A Sitecore project can begin to feel like this … overwhelming and maybe, not going to be executed.  Fear not!

Project Preparation

For a client, beginning a new Sitecore project can be daunting, yes.  The key is having a project team that has quality leadership and demonstrated experience to execute.  It can run like a fine-tuned machine.  And regardless of the expertise, there will be hiccups.  The key is to understand that, while they are expected to be minimized, obstacles happen and a good team will navigate around them.

Like the Olympics, the project involves much preparation: creating an initial environment and setting up the servers for each step of the project life cycle (venues), executing the authorization and authentication required (ticketing/security), ensuring that the proper team members are included (personnel), inventing the most appealing design to entice people (marketing)…

So what’s the ‘Zika’ of a Sitecore project and how do you prevent it?  To me, it can be the perceived lack of confidence in a project team.  This tends to happen with inexperienced agencies, junior teams or ones where the client chooses to be more hands off.  When a client inflates a project misstep or misinterprets a situation, it can disrupt and potentially derail a project.

A successful project team has rhythmic communication with the client and is transparent with every step. If something goes awry, the client is involved in making decisions to fixing the issue, if needed.  If not, the client is fully aware of situations that may hinder the progress of the project and works with leadership to rectify.

Sharing the project experience with the client and having them be an active member of the team is key.  The relationship between the agency and client will have no choice but to move forward as one leaving any lack of confidence behind.

Images courtesy of: rvlsoft/Shutterstock.com
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The Games and Sitecore Project World Paralleled – Part 2

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Opening Ceremony

Checking out the cool, and, yeah, sometimes downright goofy, uniforms during the parade of nations, the fanfare, the folly … I love the Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies.  I also get a kick out of the biased US television coverage that I now notice. Several years ago, I was backpacking through Australia and New Zealand during the Games and would sneak a peak at the events in each hostel. But, I hunkered down in a communal room of one hostel for the opening ceremony. It struck me how differently the Aussies televised the opening ceremonies compared to American television.  Of course there was plenty of focus on the Aussie athletes but I remember very few cuts to commercials, and that American tendency to disregard smaller nations.  Aside from Australia, all nations seemed to have equal billing. The paid advertising was of much less importance than allowing the viewer to feel a part of the ceremony.  Hm.

But I digress … on to the project world …

The Project Kickoff

There’s much to say about participating in a Project Kick-off with a client.  Like the opening ceremony, everyone is optimistic, a bit nervous, but anxious to get started.  There are virtual fireworks and getting to know one another, excitement in the air. One project of mine even included team building exercises for some client/project team bonding (we actually had competitions at the beach).

I think I can relate to the athletes enjoying that evening gala … the end of the kick-off means it’s time to get to work.  Time to focus on the upcoming weeks, the monumental tasks to conquer, the precision and expertise required.  It’s time to put all that previous experience and training into force.  Time to apply best Sitecore practices, coding standards, and develop a rhythm with the client.

The team’s focus is not only on the application, but the hardware on which the application lives.  Here are some questions that will be answered around project kick-off time.  Most often this is done during Technical Discovery:

  • Where will the servers be hosted?  Azure or on-premise?
  • Who will own the servers?
  • Who will manage the servers post-launch?
  • How many environments (development, quality assurance, staging, etc) will there be?
  • How many content delivery servers will exists in production?
  • Will the site take advantage of Sitecore’s Experience Marketing system?
  • If so, are there servers to hold Mongo DB or will it be in the cloud?
  • Will there be a processing server?
  • What’s the redundancy/recovery plan?
  • Is there a need for a custom database?
  • What Sitecore third party modules are needed?
  • What version of Sitecore should be implemented?
  • What is the search/index strategy? What number of servers are needed for performance and redundancy?
  • Is this a co-development project (client IT participates)?
  • Where is the source code stored during/after the project?
  • What is the maintenance plan post-launch?

It may be clear that bringing in an experienced project team makes sense.  There are many decisions to be made; why not bring in a team who can ask the right questions to get your application off the ground?

Back to that tv room in the multi-national hostel … I remember how special it was to be a part of several nations’ celebratory moment during the parade of nations.  Some groups were shy, some were annoyingly boisterous (read: Americans) but each corner of the room had their moment of pride. Very cool.

Images courtesy of: rvlsoft / Shutterstock.com

The Games and Sitecore Project World Paralleled – Part 1

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Introduction

Well the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio will commence this week!  I always look forward to both the summer and winter events each Olympic year for the spirit of competition and pride that comes with rooting for my motherland … and, frankly, favorite vacation spots!

For the next couple of weeks, I will be entrenched, enthralled, inspired, and wowed beyond imagination; my life will be the Olympics and work, the Olympics and work; rinse and repeat.

As an engineer at a software application agency, I’ve often wanted to blog about Sitecore project life … tips, rants, secrets, behind the scenes sweat … there is so much to cover, but how could one make it more interesting?

As some of you can relate, my work brain rarely completely shuts down after-hours and I know it will be whirling with parallelisms while watching the games.

This series of blog posts will be documenting some of those parallelisms.  Of course, a worldly-massive event with 11,000+ athletes participating hardly matches up with a project life cycle but bits and pieces of the experience can be related.  That’ll be my content du jour.

By the way, if something in the Olympic coverage reminds you of your work life, shoot me a comment; I’d love inspiration for a future post.

Let the Games begin!

The Opening Ceremony

Images courtesy of: rvlsoft / Shutterstock.com