Cheat Sheet: Project Kick-Off
My cheat sheet for kicking off new projects
I regularly spot the same things in projects that make me think “I wish we’d considered this earlier”.
This post is a checklist for myself to think about when kicking off a new project. Some items apply when joining an existing project too.
It’s currently in draft format and needs reorganising, but I want to get it out there.
I plan to keep this post updated as I think of new things to add or change over time.
Pipelines and CI/CD
- Static code analysis in pipelines
- Automated accessibility testing
- Can you go to prod on day one?
- Can you avoid branch-based CI and focus on trunk-based development?
- If you absolutely must generate release notes, can you automate this in your pipelines?
- Your pipelines should fail if they find dependencies with known issues (using something like
Monitoring, Logging, Observability and Alerting
- How will you know when something has gone wrong?
- Can you include both correlation IDs and customer-journey IDs in your logs from day 1?
- Do you need Google Analytics on your frontend?
- Is Instana something you should look at using?
- Feature flags/toggles - will they be easy to add if you need them? Why not just add this capability from day 1?
- Is your team skilled at outside-in TDD? If not, can you coach them during the project?
- Does the problem you are trying to solve actually need software written?
- Is there an open source tool that already solves the problem at hand?
- What’s the smallest, leanest MVP you can get away with?
- Can you set the codebase up such that a developer can clone it, build it, and run the tests locally with little to no effort?
- Remember that your job is to write software that is easy to change and maintain.
- Clean Architecture - is this an option?
- Can you get away with a hexagonal monolith?
- Does your architecture allow for blue/green or canary deployments?
- How much infrastructure work can you outsource to existing solutions, or at least write as code?
- Serverless framework - will this work for you?
- Where are the high-level boundaries in your domain?
- What are your obvious initial integration points?
- Are your VPCs, and all related network and security boundaries, laid out in a logical fashion and, if needed, easy to change later?
- If you are using a cloud provider like AWS, do they have a simple, recommended infrastructure pattern you can follow?
- Do you need to ship data to a data warehouse?
- Do you need different read and write models?
- Do you need to think about CQRS?
- Do you really need a document DB? Or is this software inherently mapping entities that are more relational?
- Can you automate dependency updates somehow?
- Can you achieve your goals using boring technology?
- Can you choose one language that will work in all areas of your code?
- Is your chosen language/stack/framework etc. a popular and proven one that you can easily hire for later on?
- How close can you get to your customer?
- What’s the smallest, leanest team you can get away with?
- Can you get a product owner and a few real users on your team?
- How do you know what your users actually want and need?
- Do you need fancy processes, scaling frameworks, Scrum masters etc.?
- Or is your team disciplined enough to take a simple Kanban approach without needing “management”?