How ScribbleLive Powers the Moment with Liveblogging

ScribbleLive is bringing media companies and brands up to speed with software that allows them to publish, curate, and syndicate content in real-time.

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Recently, ScribbleLive powered Boston.com’s liveblog coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and even served as their homepage when the traffic surge caused Boston.com to go down. By providing tools for journalists and media companies to adapt to this era of always-on social media, ScribbleLive helps fill in context and provide reliable reporting of breaking news.

We talked with Matt McCausland, software development manager at Scribblelive, about how the Toronto-based company manages and communicates with each other.

There’s the company-wide liveblog, ScribbleLive Daily, which serves as a fun watercooler-type communication channel. Employees publish posts on side projects and Hack Days, share interesting links and photos, and celebrate good news such as positive feedback about their customers’ liveblogs.

Matt explains, “It’s an ‘eat your own dog food’ kind of thing. You’re supposed to post one interesting thing a day related to your job or not. So people will share cool things that our clients have done or an article about development or whatever their job is. You get a wide range of stuff. It’s like an internal social network.”

donuts at ScribbleLive
Always a good day at work with donuts. [photo]

With the bulk of the ScribbleLive team is in Toronto and a small sales team in the UK, the Daily liveblog helps people stay in touch and build camaraderie, on top of Skype and email. “We get to know them better than we would otherwise,” Matt explains.

For their own communication needs, the dev team turned to iDoneThis, especially to help keep a record of innovative projects for a Canadian research and development tax credit program. More generally, the team can see what’s getting done and how long it takes. “It’s good to keep track and have a log of things we worked on,” says Matt. “We like it because it’s so simple — just reply to an email with what you did. If a project gets out of control, we can go back in iDoneThis.”

As a team manager at a workplace with flexible hours, Matt finds the digests especially useful. “Sometimes I leave at 4 and other people are here until 6, so I can just see what everybody worked on all day. And Jonathan [the CTO] likes [the digest] because he’s not as hands-on as I am.  Within two minutes you can quickly read what everybody was working on yesterday.”

Matt McCausland, software development manager at Scribblelive

As the dev team grows rapidly — doubling every year — Matt is reconsidering how sheer size may change his management style. “We’re a startup, so we just try to get things done quickly that’ll push the business in whatever direction we need to be going in at the time. We don’t really have a project manager, we don’t have charts, it’s all pretty loose. We don’t have any software. We schedule out one project and work through it when things come up. Now we’re going to have 15, 17 people, so I might have to bring in some tools or we could use iDoneThis differently.”

The dev team does hold standup meetings in the morning, and Matt admits in regards to iDoneThis that, “Some of the developers are like, ‘I’m just telling you what I wrote the next morning.’ But the meeting is to talk about it.” With standups getting longer with team scaling up, iDoneThis could be used to make sure that those meetings stay short, by doing away with reports on what you did and jumping right into problems and issues.

All in all, Matt and the ScribbleLive dev team understand that a regular review of priorities is key to how the company moves forward. “We have a master list. We meet regularly with the exec team to discuss the importance of the top ten things on the list to make sure what we’re going to be working on in the next few weeks are the most important — not necessarily the most urgent, but the most important.”

We’re delighted to help ScribbleLive build software and share information in real-time by focusing not just on speed but on context and significance!