Rob Harr


Rob is a developer and software consultant who found his way into running a web business. He is a co-founder and Vice President of Sparkbox, a web design and development studio in Dayton, OH that focuses on long-term partnerships with clients and creating a better Web through education.

Before Sparkbox, Rob always enjoyed the people side of technology problems while he worked and consulted for enterprise software companies. This allowed him to run projects and communicate effectively with stakeholders from early on in his career—and with great success. In his current role as Vice President, Rob is responsible for Sparkbox’s operations and financials. This has led him to speak frequently about pricingoperations, and other business topics. His personal commitment to brutal honesty and plain speaking about what he has learned and the struggles of growing a business have struck a chord with audiences. Also, while at Sparkbox, Rob led the design of the apprenticeship program which allows the company to develop web talent in Dayton.

Over the years, Rob has worked with clients big and small—always finding a way to add value to their businesses. Rob loves the idea that relationships (with clients, partners and employees) should be mutually edifying. He is passionate about growing the business of Sparkbox and helping others in their quest to do the same for their businesses.


Half-Day Workshop: Running Discovery Projects

9:30 am-1:00 pm, Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 4
Ballrooms C, D & E

Running digital projects is hard. When expectations are mismanaged during initial client conversations, running digital projects can be nearly impossible. Before the work begins, you and your client must agree to terms, so you define the project and provide an estimate. Once agreed, you have to manage to that budget for the life of the project regardless of what else you learn. This is crazy. One of the most important constraints–budget–is too often defined when you know the least about the project: the beginning. The largest risk in any digital project is building the wrong thing, but a few conversations and a quick estimate do not provide what you need to build the right thing.

We understand that Agile and iterative techniques can help mitigate risk during a project, but an iterative mindset can provide just as much value when planning that work. What if we started our projects with a smaller engagement that allowed us to “lean into learning” and teach our clients how to work with us? This unique way to gather requirements and start engagements has dramatically improved the way we run projects. In this workshop, we will discuss how you can implement Discovery Projects to dive into a project with confidence. You’ll be armed with a thoughtful, scoped roadmap to provide more accurate estimates and begin to chart the course of your project. During our time together, we will walk through setting the correct expectations, running in-person collaborative meetings and building trust with the client team along the way.

In this workshop, WE'LL COVER:

  • The value of Discovery Projects and how to convince your team and clients to work this way

  • Interviewing Stakeholders and Users

  • Setting the correct project expectations up-front

  • Getting just enough feel for Design requirements

  • In-person collaborative meetings: an approach different from a “Kickoff” which includes exercises designed to engage clients while providing critical insights

  • Documentation that can set up project success

  • Showing clients what effective collaboration looks like

  • Making sure you start the project building the right things

  • Lessons learned from running Discovery Projects