As of last week, CaseySoftware, LLC has been in fulltime operation for two years. Being so close to the New Year makes it a great time to stop, take a look at all the nitty gritty details, and generally consider the status of the company.
First, let's get some of the negatives out of the way:
– The dotProject/Mantis integration was an abject failure as a business move.
Unfortunately, I seemed to have found that sweet spot of developers who knew they needed the tools, weren't willing to contribute (with dollars or feedback), but wanted the whole thing for free immediately. While the development and discussion of it brought a great deal of attention, it simply wasn't worth it. I consider it a lesson learned about the market space and where our niche isn't.
– I lost one of my key people.
At the time, there were a number of projects winding down, so it did not seem that difficult. Unfortunately, within just a few weeks, we were up to our eyeballs in work again. I did not plan ahead in terms of recruiting to find the people I needed in time to make a difference. This was completely my fault and not related to the technology at all.
– dotProject Hosting growth is still slow.
Most of the people who wish to use a Project Management System want all of their confidential and/or proprietary information safely in their own hands and under their own control. While this does have some downsides in terms of hosting, it does have two upsides. First, our customization and support packages have been selling relatively well and slowly forming a solid foundation for the rest of CaseySoftware. Second, the few hosting customers we do have, the easier it is to handle maintenance, uptime, and most importantly it lowers our insurance costs.
Now, for some of the positives:
+ There is now a dotProject Manual and training curriculum.
I believe this is a huge addition to CaseySoftware specifically and the community in general. Everyone points to the training you can get for Microsoft Project as a benefit and there is a certain amount of credibility that goes along with that.
+ There are some huge organizations using dotProject.
Universities such as NC State and UW-Milwaukee are actively using dotProject along with numerous organizations in construction, law, software development, design, and even the military. CaseySoftware is actively providing priority support for some of these organizations but others we simply keep in touch with to discuss features, roadmap, etc.
+ I have and continue to work and communicate with some of the smartest people in the industry.
While there are obvious people such as Ivan – one of my key people – there are less obvious ones such as Chris Shiflett, Mike Ho, many members of the DC PHP Users' Group and numerous others here and there.
+ I spoke at two conferences in this year.
The Better Software Conference and the DC PHP Conference gave me an opportunity to talk with and reach out to people ranging from people active in the guts of some of my favorite software all the way up to various project management thought leaders and authors. In addition, I will be demonstrating and discussing dotProject at the MySql Users Conference in just a couple months.
+ And most importantly, revenues are up 50% over last year.
While I wouldn't exactly call it “spare cash”, having additional revenue has given us the opportunity to focus on longer-term goals and take a few risks that don't have immediate financial benefits. Some of them have turned out quite well while others have resulted in small losses. Overall, I consider them learning experiences.
Overall, I'd say CaseySoftware is in very solid shape and has the opportunity for growth into a few new areas this year. The drawing board is full of interesting things for dotProject, but also some ideas in new areas that I've quietly moved us into this past year. As those things boom or bust, you'll read about them here.
Last year's annual assessment is online and open for ridicule.