Category Archives: IT Outsourcing

  • IT service management

    AI and chatbots: Driving the future of IT service management

    AI and chatbots: Driving the future of IT service management

    AI is an evolving technology that is gaining mainstream attention by technologists and analysts on how it is shaping up to enhance more services in the future. The IT Industry Council indicated guidelines on how to secure the use of Artificial Intelligence, as it encouraged the participation of the public and the private sector to form partnerships for innovation, investment, Education, and scalability of the future workforce.

    IT Industry Council has estimated that the U.S AI market will reach $40 billion in 2020, with a possible generation of $60 billion productivity improvements on an annual basis. In a Gartner report of 2017, the author stated that conversational and chatbot AI platforms had allowed the creation of service delivery channels for the government. These channels are being looked into by the government CIO’s to determine their roles for more opportunities to be identified.

    Implications of AI for IT service management

    One can easily think of chatbot development and AI as augmented intelligence. This kind of human intelligence is not here to replace humans; it is here to help people deliver quality services both internally and externally.

    AI is looking to disrupt three key areas of IT service management (ITSM)

    Point of entry

    Chatbots that are AI driven will automate ITSM solutions to correctly interpret requests and incidents. Different route requests and scenarios will be learned by the chatbots to the right back-end process. AI will be equipped with a deep decision path that will direct inquiries to the solution with minor faults.

    Chatbots powered by AI can identify the requester, profile them and route inquirers who are regular clients to an agency to the solution desired, saving enough time for the ITSM.

    Back-end processes that are automated

    AI can identify requests, recognize patterns and provide unlimited amounts of possible solutions to different scenarios. AI will gather the requests coming in and use integrated technology to automate the troubleshooting process until the problem is resolved.

    Knowledge management

    Databases that have trustworthy solutions will be accessed by AI solutions over time. AI will learn the organizational patterns for it to efficiently resolve issues. Not only will AI provide answers to the IT queries, but it will provide tips on training for analysts and end-users. The database will be updated consistently with relevant data, based on the new problems and their solutions.

    The path to AI

    When AI is successfully integrated to business and government agencies, there will be a lot of money saved and an increase in the service management and service desk capabilities. It has been documented by Deloitte Insights that automating tasks that have been placed on a routine by computers will free up approximately 96.7 million government labor hours on an annual basis, saving approximately $3.3 billion. Some of these tasks include using messaging apps to push important information to employees, reduce backlogs of service requests and help agencies identify trends in big data.

    For this to happen, an automated infrastructure needs to be set up to connect the entire silo network. The foundation of AI will be administered when these tech operations are merged.

    Integration

    ITSM, security, contracting solutions, procurement solution, and operation analytics should be integrated with this connected and automated infrastructure, to gather new information, identify solutions and send data that will provide sufficient responses to inquiries on events through the ITSM.

    Business process management

    The workforce needs to be looked into differently when planning for augmented intelligence. Employees need to be trained by their companies or agencies on how to manage chatbots and chatbot development, how to become knowledgeable of the agencies operations, and on how to be more diverse in the technological know-how of their organizations.

    All professionals of ITSM need to understand how security works, for instance, impersonation. Future jobs need the management of automated tasks in departments, as AI becomes a crucial business process.

    Future uses of AI

    When you look at ITSM of companies like Facebook, AI is being used to provide exceptional services that help the society. For instance, Facebook is using pattern recognition algorithms to identify texts that suggest that someone is suffering and they are considering suicide. The algorithms are trained using previous posts to identify the language that contains contexts that show signs of risk. Once the comments o posts are identified, an alert will be sent to the human review team who will suggest immediate help to the subject. Trials are being conducted in the US; if it is successful, other countries will adopt this AI capability.

    Conclusion

    Businesses in our current times expect results within seconds. AI and its branch of augmented intelligence will bring about efficient services and cost savings to businesses. If you start to deploy an AI-enabled infrastructure, you will reap the benefits of ITSM effectiveness and workforce satisfaction.

  • IOT Security

    5 ways developers can improve IoT security on their devices

    Five Ways to Developers Can Improve IoT Security on their Devices

    Today, modern technological devices have changed the way we do things. With an increasingly high number of people using various devices to access the internet, online users are able to communicate more easily, purchase products online and access a wealth of information. However, just as the devices evolve, so do the threats associated with the Internet of Things. While it is clear that IoT security offers numerous benefits, system security remains a concern among both developers and users. Lack of proper security measures is likely to result in major vulnerabilities, with malicious actors exploiting IoT security weaknesses to compromise homes, enterprises and even governments. With more devices being introduced into the market, these threats are bound to increase. This is why mobile app developers should use innovation to improve IoT security.

    Focus on simplicity

    In most cases, hackers will target unprotected and under-protected devices when looking to carry out attacks. This is why all mobile app developers should consider effective ways of strengthening security on the side of the end consumer. The first step to achieving this would be to understand that some of the users of these devices are to tech savvy. This is why it may be important that you alert them of new IoT security breaches as well as guide them on how to maintain security. You can make it easy for them to update their gadget software and change their passwords in order to boost security.

    Ensure your gadgets are patchable

    The nature of malware attacks is such that they are constantly evolving. This is why ensuring IoT security will require that you keep up with the changing trends. Some of the IoT gadgets in the market come with pre-prepared passwords. This means that end users will find it difficult to change the passwords or patch their gadgets. One of your responsibilities is to ensure that gadgets are patchable so that all device users can update them, effectively resisting any possible attacks and breaches.

    Multifaceted approaches to security

    Although it is impossible to achieve perfect IoT security, there are several measures that you can take to strengthen security and minimize attacks. Rather than relying on a single approach to address security issues, mobile app development should embrace multi-faceted approaches to the problem. Since you can never be sure of the nature of threats that software and malicious hackers will present in future, modern techniques will go far in helping you meet the problem. If the approaches are to be effective, you should consider investing early enough during the development process. In the end, it will be more difficult for malicious hackers to exploit gaps.

    Encryption to secure communications

    In the world of the Internet of Things, hackers are constantly monitoring network traffic with the aim of identifying weaknesses in the system and carrying out attacks. Rather than allowing for communication in plain text, you should consider encryption during initial configuration. You should always use encryption tools that guarantee end-to-end security, making it hard for anyone looking to access or compromise data being transmitted across the internet. This will protect the various gadgets from destructive software while at the same time ensuring that data belonging to end users is secure at all times.

    Threat detection

    Hackers are always coming up with new ways of exploiting system vulnerabilities. This is why you should develop innovative ways of preventing them before they can carry out possible attacks. Web app developers should ensure that devices are built in such a way that they will detect possible threats in the event of attempted logins or malware. One of the best ways to achieve this would be to monitor networks so as to detect any suspicious activities. By being aware of security breaches in real time, there is a good chance that the necessary steps will be taken to protect both the Internet of Things device and the end user.

    Taking the necessary steps to promote security during mobile app development will go a long way in ensuring that devices that are introduced into the market are secure. Although efforts are being directed towards tackling IoT security issues, a lot more needs to be done. It is only in this way that the opportunities available to hackers will be reduced.

  • agile development

    How to write effective user stories in agile development?

    Writing Effective User Stories for Agile Development

    The software world has been changing rapidly, and a new approach to engineering is at the heart of these changes. By embracing self-organizing teams, flexibility and iterative development, agile development methodologies have revolutionized the world of software engineering. Traditional software engineering used the waterfall method, in which each step of the software engineering process was completed before moving on to the next step. This, however, tends to create bloated software that lags behind the needs of the users. Agile developments methodologies seek to address these inefficiencies by running through all the stages of agile development in short iterations, called sprints. At the heart of these sprints are user stories, which are the ideas your engineering teams will put into action.

    User Stories
    User stories approach software problems from the perspective of the user, placing developers in the shoes of their customers. These replace traditional software specifications, which outline some kind of functionality expected of the software. Each user story consists of a way in which a user would hope to interact with the application. For example, a user might wish to visit the website, log in to their account, and check the remaining balance from a gift card. This user story is written out by the team, and functionality is designed around it. In this way, engineers and designers are able to empathize with users, allowing them to build their product to meet their needs more effectively.

    However, writing quality user stories can be challenging. Engineers and designers have a nuanced understanding of their product, and may not easily place themselves in the shoes of an individual trying the product for the first time. Furthermore, stories can be vague or even fail to reflect the needs of their actual user base, and this can lead to products that simply don’t do what the customer needs. Developing best practices around writing and managing your user stories will help your teams efforts stay aligned to the needs of your customers.

    Writing Quality User Stories

    There is no silver bullet for writing good user stories for agile development, but incorporating best practices will increase the overall quality of the stories your teams come up with. Ensure that writing these stories is a collaborative process. Empathizing with your user base will be easier for teams than individuals, who only bring a single perspective to the process. Stories should be as concise as possible. Using a simple template for stories will help developers keep them from becoming overly verbose or too complex. It is also important that these user stories remain visible and accessible to the team at all times, so they can remember the goals they’re working towards.

    There are pitfalls for teams to avoid as well. Often, user stories aren’t refined until they’re testable, which keeps them from being resolved. Ensure that all stories your teams work on meet certain criteria before they’re released. Remember that user stories can’t define all possible requirements, and ensure that teams don’t get locked into thinking about their product solely in those terms. It is also important for executives and product managers to ensure that the real-world needs of the targeted users are being met in the stories. Participation by all stakeholders in product development can be the difference between the success and failure of that product, and it is the job of management to ensure that participation takes place.

    Agile development incorporates user stories because it allows for more flexibility than traditional specifications. They also force developers and designers to see the product from the perspective of the end user, which leads to a more useful and better-received product for your client at the end of the day. By building best practices around user stories into your teams’ agile development process, the quality of your teams’ output and the suitability of their software to its real world applications will increase dramatically.

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  • How to be a better startup founder in 2017?

    How to be a better startup founder in 2017?

    “How can I be the best startup founder I can be?”

    It’s a question every entrepreneur has asked themselves at one time or another. Unfortunately, it seems like every technique to improve your business either takes a lot of time or money (or both).

    Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to be a better entrepreneur in 2017; if you apply the following tips appropriately, we’re sure that your start up will really start up.

    Knowing Yourself: The Theory of Constraints

    There are no shortage of books that claim to teach you the “right mindset” for entrepreneurs. Many of them focus on positive thinking and growth mentality, which is a good place to start, but to be truly successful, you’re going to need to be honest (and occasional harsh) with yourself.

    If you’ve ever worked in manufacturing or production, you’re probably familiar with the idea of the Theory of Constraints (sometimes referred to as the “TOC”). Essentially, TOC is bottom-up approach to improvement in which you outline every single step of the manufacturing process, with the goal of finding the proverbial “weakest link”.

    This theory can apply to your personal life, too. Take a personal inventory of your traits as an entrepreneur. For the sake of explanation, let’s say that you have realized that you have the following problems:

    • Wasting too much time on social media or other “time-wasting” technology
    • Taking too long to respond to emails and messages
    • Having problems with employee retention

    We don’t know about you, but we’d definitely choose “employee retention” as the most serious issue, and therefore, the first one you should work on. By slowly rooting out your…shall we say “lesser qualities” one by one, you can efficiently and quickly improve your skills as a startup owner in 2017.

    Harnessing SEO and Knowing Your Competition

    As the owner of any sort of business, you need to know what makes your product or company unique. What are you giving your customers that your competition isn’t (or can’t)? This means it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of the other businesses that are competing for your customers.

    These days, one of the easiest ways to do this is by checking out their website and social media presence. If you want to dig even deeper, you should do a Google search for “(your line of business) in (your area)”. See which websites pop up before yours on a simple search–those top few results are your fiercest competition.

    It’s an unfortunate truth of business these days that if you’re not in the first page of Google results for your kind of business, you’re invisible. If you want to fight your way to the top of Google, you should start researching SEO techniques.

    SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to an ever-changing series of techniques ranging from content to website organization, link-building, and more. With the necessary SEO knowledge and application of a few techniques, it won’t take you long to start making your way up the search engine ladder.

    If that all sounds a little complicated, we understand. We recommend Red Evolution’s excellent guide for entrepreneurs and development professionals who are new to the world of SEO.

    Growth Hacking and Bootstrapping

    If you’re an entrepreneur, or you work in development, you’re probably familiar with the term “bootstrapping”. It’s a term that refers to self-funded businesses. Although it’s really difficult to fund a business by yourself, every entrepreneur can learn from the mindset of successful, bootstrapped businesses, including:

    • Promoting maximum efficiency in the workplace
    • Keeping expenses as low and as lean as humanly possible
    • Putting in extra hours as the boss or manager to minimize payroll

    The last 2017-centered technique we’ll examine today is “growth hacking“. It’s not as complicated as it might sound–rather, growth hacking is a catch-all term for low-cost internet marketing strategies. A few of these include setting up automatic social media posts or inbound drip email campaigns.

    Although there’s no “one-size-fits-all” strategy for business success, with the right mindset, research, and techniques, you’ll make 2017 your business’s year!

  • Agile Scrum Development

    How to use Agile & Scrum to develop software efficiently?

    Development of computer technology and its advancement is the best event that ever happened to our society. It becomes useful and functions with the use of computer software and also with small devices. Life has eventually become easier and better. Appropriate software should be developed for best results. The software is a program that is run on a computer. It instructs the computer to perform specific tasks. This article will give you an insight of how to carry out the activity by the use of Agile & Scrum.

    AGILE

    Agile development refers to classifying procedures that are depending on their iterative growth to enhance software development. Agile development processes should be within the set Manifesto. The solutions and necessities develop if the self-organizing team collaborate with the cross functional team. The methods advocate for a management process that aid in the following;
    • Frequent examination and adaptation.
    • A qualified and well-supported teamwork by the leaders.
    • Accountability and self-planning.
    • Best engineering practices with the aim of delivering quality software.
    • A business model capable of fulfilling the customers’ needs and the goals of the organization.

    SCRUM

    It is a set procedure that is used in the development of software. The framework involves a lightweight process that is used in development. A particular set of tasks is done as directed to have consistency with the framework. Development cycles known as Sprints are required in the context process while pair programming requires XP framework. The process involves little work. It saves a lot of time.

    Specific notions and tasks such as time boxes, responsibility, and artifacts differentiate it from other procedures. Complicated software and product growth use it for management by practicing increment and iteration. Time is saved, and productivity is increased remarkably. Organizations can smoothly adjust to the ever changing demands. This creates a product that helps in accomplishing the actual business goals.

    Advantages to the firm
    • Deliverables increase in quality.
    • Adapt well to change.
    • Estimates provided are better and less time is used to create them.
    • More control of the project program and state.

    You must comprehend the following significant terms used for you to understand how to develop software efficiently;
    1. Team.
    This consists of database people, developers, product owner, support people, master, and a tester. They work together relatively and at intervals to create and apply the features.

    2. Sprint.
    The duration in which the work should be completed and presented for review or deployment is called Sprint. It lies between 2-4 weeks in most cases.

    3. Product Owner.
    The primary stakeholder of the developed application is the product owner. He or she is responsible for customer clarification. The team should be able to access the product owner whenever they need him.

    4. Master.
    The master coordinates the team and ensures that they produce and progress efficiently.

    5. User Story.
    The necessities implemented are called user story. They appear in the form of a short paragraph.

    6. Epics.
    The unspecified user stories reserved for the future are called Epics.

    7. Product Backlog.
    User stories get stored in a place called Product Backlog that is managed by the owner.

    8. Sprint Backlog.
    All the collected user stories that are worked on by the team at a particular sprint are known as Sprint Backlog.

    9. Story Points.
    Story points quantify and show the complication in the user story. The complexity gets presented as small, medium, or high.

    10. Burn Down Chart.
    It tracks the everyday work of the team to determine whether the progress towards completion of the user stories is achievable within a particular sprint.

    11. Velocity.
    The total of all story points stored by the team within a particular sprint is known as speed. It helps in judging the team’s efforts.

    METHODOLOGY.

    Software development is as follows:

    a) Plan for a meeting
    The team gathers for a meeting. The product owner chooses a user story according to priority. They size the story based on its complexity after discussing it.

    b) Implementing of Sprint Tasks
    The team works on the user story until it is finished.

    c) Daily Meetings.
    The team should meet daily for at least 15 minutes to articulate on what each member did yesterday, plans for today, and any barriers available.

    d) Meeting to Review.
    The team member should come together to demonstrate the applied user stories to the owner after every sprint.

    e) Retrospective Meeting.
    The meeting is held by the team after every sprint to brainstorm on what went on smoothly, the rough times, learned lessons, and actions to take on specific items.

    CONCLUSION:

    The above methodologies may be difficult for some people at the beginning. Your application will start growing if you have enough practice and sufficient resources. Allocating the team members for self-study and presenting their findings every day offers an excellent platform for knowledge and skill enhancement on this development.

  • The Internet of Things

    How the IoT is changing business today?

    The Future of Industrial IoT And Your Business

    As far back as the assembly line, we have used technology to gather data in order to increase output, become more efficient, and more effective. We are just now entering the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

    For companies in any sector that take advantage of the use of technology, now is the time to get ahead of the curve. Fortune 500 companies are ill equipped on their own to handle the sheer amount of data that sensors produce, but Centers of Excellence aim to solve this issue.

    Centers of Excellence

    To properly analyze and execute upon the data created by the billions of available sensors that exist today, companies are putting together brain trusts known as ‘Centers of Excellence’. These are think tanks filled with directors, software engineers, hardware engineers, and various other positions that are experts in IIoT across global business sectors.

    Big Data

    Sensors around the world are producing big data. Uses for this data includes increasing the efficiency of manufacturing, refining current and creating new products, and lowering labor costs.

    Everyone is in search of a faster, cheaper, and more reliable way of doing things. Data captured and made use of through sensors are a surefire way to contribute to this goal.

    For example, if a Caterpillar machine has sensors that can capture and relay data such as movement, fuel, and hydraulic usage, engineers can improve upon current machine designs. This will allow them to refine their designs in order to make the machines more efficient, more effective, and more attractive for the consumer. After all, who wouldn’t want a more reliable and less expensive version of products that are vital to daily operation?

    Automation

    Labor costs are the first line item in the budget for nearly every business. Businesses need people to produce, operate, and maintain the products that they produce. For now, that is.

    Drones, robots, and driverless cars are already in use. While this may not be good news for the laborers, it is certainly good news for companies looking to cut costs and increase output. In fact, a driverless trucking company has already made a delivery of beer purely without the use of human labor. Imagine the ability to run your trucks 24 hours a day without the need for the human drivers to sleep. The ability for robots to run 24 hours a day forming, cutting, and welding sheets of metal to be used in various applications. Let us not forget drones that inevitably will fly commercial planes without the use of pilots.

    Data As A Product

    Big data is a name that doesn’t do it justice. With billions of IoT/IIoT devices and sensors now connected that each spit out a continuous stream of information, there is more information than people know what to with.

    In the future, when companies who are late to the party finally understand the need to join the connected devices and big data revolution, it will be another great opportunity for the early starters to cash in.

    The data that they collect today will be able to be sold to these late joiners in large packages for extremely high amounts of money. This is because they will have years of invaluable information collected and analyzed that late adopters will see as a necessity in order to survive, let alone thrive.

    Those companies that choose to jump the roadblocks and navigate their way with a compass early on will be able to sell their GPS-precise (so to speak) information at a premium.

    Final Thoughts

    The future of automation is close. Those companies that decide, and decide now, to get in on developing technologies on their own and through centers of excellence will cost them a lot of money now, but they will reap the rewards in the future. Their companies will understand what works and what doesn’t, thus being far ahead of the curve compared to late adopters. And when those late adopters finally arrive tomorrow, they will be met with a heavy price tag for guidance and data from those early adopters that took the risk today.

  • The Power of Blockchain in Transforming the World

    How is blockchain transforming the world?

    The traditional ways of doing things, such as carrying out business transactions, are under attack. The technology behind that is blockchain is a technology that has created a lot of attention and excitement around the world. So what is this technology? It is a technology comparable to the internet; it is built to be robust. It stores identical information in the form of blocks that is across the network. Some of the greatest characteristics are that any single entity can not control it and it has no single point of failure. There are several ways in which this technology is transforming the world.

    There are more applications of this technology that have the capability of digital transforming the world as we know it and they go beyond the obvious things such as electronic currencies and money transfers. One of the major use cases includes electronic currencies and money transfers. They range from electronic voting, smart contracts & digitally recorded property assets to patient health document management and proof of ownership for online content.

    Increase Transparency

    One of the major features of distributed database is that it is transparent and incorruptible. Founded on the status of consensus, a state where it checks itself in an interval of ten minutes, it is a self-auditing system of digital value; the network reconciles every transaction that happens in every ten-minute interval. Each transaction that is carried out in the system is known as a “block.” There are critical properties that are the outcome of these operations/transactions; the data that is exchanged within the system as a whole is public; the database cannot be corrupted; changing a single unit of information in a database would require enormous computing power capability to take over the entire network. In theory, it may be possible to corrupt the data. However, in practice, it is impossible to carry out such a task. For example, taking control of the system to steal Bitcoins would also destroy its value.

    Transform the Internet and Global economy

    The distributed database protocol has altered hundreds of industries that depends on the intermediaries; they include finance, academia, finance, insurance, healthcare, legal, and real-estate amongst others. It eliminates the time it takes to process a single transaction and another regulatory requirement as is the case with banks and governments. The protocol is opening up the global economy; more people is in a position to conduct their business more often and efficiently. Most importantly, the technology behind this database is eliminating costly intermediary fees such as remittance space that become huge impediments for individuals and businesses.

    The protocol enables the digitization of assets. The primary objective that is driving public ledger is shifting from the internet of information where you can view, exchange and transfer information of value over the Internet; you can also transfer assets. This technology is transforming the global economy due to its elimination of the large intermediaries who is no longer play a significant role.

    Eliminating Intermediaries

    The protocol is placed to phase out the intermediaries that have been in use in previous years. In future, intermediaries such as the banks will not play their usual role when this technology finally takes over. The future of distributed database is where the trust is established through consensus and robust computer code rather than through central intermediaries. The nature adopted by the technology, decentralization, openness and cryptography, it allows you to conduct transactions that are based on trust and making operations on peer to peer basis, thereby marking the end for intermediaries. Eliminating intermediaries could also bring forth various benefits such as security. The cyber-attacks that are usually carried out on centralized intermediaries such as banks would be impossible to conduct successfully.

    Power The Internet of Things

    Blockchain can be closely related to the Internet of Things (IoT). The most significant development in this industry is concerned with the quantitative measurement of what in the past has been considered as qualitative phenomena. Apart from having the capability of tracking and authenticating device history, this technology that is powered by IoT can give a greater degree for devices enabling them to make different kinds of the transaction without having to depend on the third parties.

    Finally, this technology could provide to the rise of applications that plays a critical role in the future societies, that we do not have an alternative. With time more use case of this protocol will be adopted, and it is bound to transform the world as we know it.

  • Agile Scrum Development

    What key roles are necessary in agile scrum development?

    What key roles are necessary in agile scrum development

    Agile scrum development methods are an alternative to stage-gate project management, including software application projects. Stage-gate methods of management depend on project managers delivering artifacts that record a completed task. A list of required artifacts for each stage is established, usually by a PMO, that needs to be created, reviewed, and approved before the next stage of the project’s life-cycle can be started. A change to the project must be submitted via a project change request or PCR. Changes are strongly discouraged and take a long time to approve.

    The agile scrum development approach assumes that changes will occur during the product’s life-cycle and are welcomed as long as they improve the customer experience. In other words, what the end customer wants and needs will change over time as they get to interact in phases (or releases) with the solution. Agile scrum development teams start working with a product owner, or user representative, as early as possible, to determine what is called the minimum viable product or MVP. The MVP is an understanding with the product owner of the minimum functionality required to do something useful and from which incremental development, or releases, will proceed until the full set of requirements is delivered. Scrum teams are made up of five to seven members, with role flexibility in mind. Work is done in “sprints” lasting three to five weeks, at the end of which there should be a fully tested product with additional functionality.

    There are only three key roles in a scrum team: product owner, developer/tester, and ScrumMaster.

    Product Owner

    The product owner represents the product users and their vision of what the product functionality is to be. One way they convey this vision to the agile scrum development team is through product backlog “grooming” meetings, or prioritizing features list (a.k.a. user stories) for the product. A product owner delivers a solid understanding of users, the business competition for those customers, and a product roadmap with a vision for the future. Product owners must collaborate and compromise, since it’s the scrum team who selects from the backlog priorities the amount of work they commit to during each sprint, trusting that they know best what they are capable of. In return for that commitment, the product owner makes a reciprocal commitment of not coming up with new requirements during a sprint. Requirements are allowed to change (and change is encouraged) but only outside the sprint.

    An individual in the product owner’s role is expected to be actively engaged with the scrum team, be business savvy, and skilled in communicating different messages to different people, internal and external to his organization, sponsors and stakeholders of the project at any given time.

    Developer/Tester

    In non-agile, traditional software development, a programmer’s role (Developer) is sharply separated from a tester’s role (Quality Assurance). In agile scrum development teams where members are encouraged to be flexible and knowledgeable with many tasks, at any given time, if necessary to meet the sprint commitments, everybody works together to improve and build quality into the product. Developer’s don’t program and hand-out their work to be tested. Tester’s don’t just run test scripts, identify defects, and log them for fixing. They work and complement each other and roles may rotate sprint by sprint, per each member’s strengths, weaknesses, and desire to learn new things. It will be difficult for individuals to meet the acceptance criteria of what they are developing and consider a story “done” without early-on tester collaboration and tester’s won’t be effective without immersing themselves and understanding the developer’s work. There are no set/fast rules, it goes down to team working agreements per sprint.

    ScrumMaster

    ScrumMasters serve as mentors and champions of the scrum way of doing things. They also organize meetings associated with it such as sprint planning, backlog grooming with the product owner, stand-up meetings, reviews, and retrospectives. The ScrumMaster role is similar to the traditional project manager but without complicated process and procedures to follow. ScrumMasters are flexible and ideally can take any scrum role to complete a task required to move the sprint forward.

    Summary

    Agile scrum development team roles must be assigned wisely to individuals. Look for members cultural fit and acceptance of their responsibility in the sprint. Let the team come up with their own working agreement decisions and trust their daily procedures for communication and collaboration.

    Click to hire dedicated agile scrum development team

  • How will technology change our lives in twenty years?

    How will technology change our lives in twenty years?

    Technology is constantly advancing and changing, sometimes at a shocking pace. While we often think we know what the future holds, we are often surprised by what does and doesn’t actually happen. While the 1995 hit movie Back To The Future made some wild predictions about life in 2015, such as the availability of hover boards, it did actually hit quite a few technological advances right on the nose. Flat panel, widescreen TV’s mounted on walls were in fact a daily part of our lives in 2015, as were video chat systems, wearable devices and even tablet computers with fingerprint scanners. You don’t necessarily have to have a crystal ball to predict future technological advancements, you just have to see the seeds being planted today to understand how they will develop in the future. Here are 3 ways technology development will change our lives in the future.

    1. Disease prevention

    Watches and wearable devices are currently on the market that can monitor our heart rate and how many calories we burn when exercising. Tomorrow’s software will allow wearable tech to monitor blood sugar levels, oxygen consumption and even changes in hormone levels. Your watch can tell you when your stress levels are rising, when you need to eat and what would be the best food choice at that time for optimal health, when you are getting dehydrated or even when its the optimal time for pregnancy. Today we are getting much better at curing cancer, in 20 years, our wearable tech may actually be able to help prevent it in the first place.

    2. Minimal drive time

    We are already seeing cars that can park themselves and self-driving cars are definitely on their way, but current technological advancements are already decreasing our need to even use cars in the first place. As it is, features like video conference and cloud computing are allowing more and more businesses to offer their employees the freedom to work remotely, not to mention hire someone from India as easily as someone from Indiana. Not only does this cut down on the amount of time spend commuting every day, but it also cuts down significantly on the number of people that even need cars in the first place.

    Public transportation is also making rapid advances as are car sharing services and even hire services like Uber and Lyft. The time may come when individuals won’t even need driver’s licenses anymore because they either don’t drive at all or their car drives itself. With less cars on the road – and possibly even less roads – this will also lead to fresher air and less pollutants in the atmosphere. This may also lead more people to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Fewer cars will almost also lead the trend away from giant shopping centers and mega marts in favor of smaller, local stores within walking distance – which will also have an increased benefit to overall health.

    3. Less time spent on routine tasks

    Just 20 years ago, when you went to the grocery store, a checker had to remove each article from your basket and manually ring in the price of each item into a cash register. Today, checkers simply run a bar code over a scanner – if there is even a checker at all. Checking out has become so easy, many people opt for a self-checkout rather than waiting in line to have someone do it for them.

    In the future, there will be no checkout lines at all, as scanners will simply scan any items you leave the store with and automatically debit your financial account. Many items will actually be ordered by your appliances and simply delivered to your home, most likely via a drone or even a robot. Even your visit to the doctor will start off with a drone or robot checking your vitals, hormone levels and perform a number of baseline tests, which will include accessing the information from your personal health monitor.

    All in all technological advancements are moving towards automation to take over our most mundane daily tasks, as well as the most mundane tasks in business, science and medicine.

  • 5-Reasons-Why-Startups-Fail

    What are the major reasons for start-ups’ failures?

    It is a sad fact that only 10% of start ups actually become profitable enterprises. It would be great if people venturing into the world of startups would genuinely learn from the mistakes of those that came before them, but like so many other cautionary tales, people often think that what happened to others can’t or won’t happen to them or they are the exception to the rule. For those that are eager to learn from the mistakes of others, however, here are 5 of the biggest reasons for a startup to fail.

    1. They create a product people don’t actually want

    The tech world in particular is littered with apps that no one genuinely wanted or had a use for. Some of those apps were able to be salvaged by others and used for purposes the original designer never thought of, but sometimes redesigning an app takes almost as much time as designing it did in the first place. Even outside of the world of technology, however, for every Croc or Post It note, there is a superhighway littered with inventions like hula chair, phone fingers and the pet spa.

    2. They compartmentalized too early

    Genius inventors often don’t have a head for marketing, while marketers may not be great number crunchers. Eventually, there comes a time when you definitely want to compartmentalize and hire people to be brilliant in different areas without your direct supervision. But entrepreneurs have to pay attention to and be fairly skilled at everything. You have to pay attention to all the “boring stuff” like contracts, finances, leases, permits, codes and even patent law. Yes, you need people who can explain all these things to you, but you also need them to not stop explaining it until you fully and completely understand not only the topic at hand, but how it affects the overall big picture.

    3. They grew too soon

    This might possibly be the #1 with a bullet reason most startups fail. Most often entrepreneurs that think they have a new, hot product or service want to get it on the market now. In reality, the most successful inventions, businesses and companies spent years in development before getting up and running. What’s true in the business world is also true in almost every other field as well. Musical acts that become an “overnight success” have generally spent years laboring away in crappy bars and nightclubs and practicing in garages and storage units before finally hitting it big.

    4. They didn’t grow fast enough

    Yes, this is something of a conundrum. The point is, before you are ready to start your business or company, there is a certain amount of preparation and maturation that needs to happen. Before you are ready to grow, you need to be prepared for growth, because once you start growing you need to grow fast to achieve critical mass. The point is, there is a lot to be said for laboring in relative obscurity for years before becoming and “overnight success.” The time you spent laboring in the dark is preparing you for your moment in the sun, because when it comes, you want to milk it for all it’s worth.

    5. Their team wasn’t solid

    This is another reason why you might not want to try and push your way into the limelight too quickly. Every major corporation was once a startup and the most successful ones were almost all started by a team of people that had a long history together and well-developed relationships. Apple was of course founded by the Steves Jobs and Wozniak, Bill Gates had Paul Allen and Phil Knight of Nike had his old track coach Bill Bowerman. Even wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg had his Harvard roommate Eduardo Saverin.

    Not all of these relationships stood the tests of time, in fact sometimes the team you need to grow a company is very different from the team you need to get it up and running the first place. The point is, most successful startups have been the result of a team effort, not a single individual. Ironically, in many of these cases, the team that stuck together through the toughest of times often fell apart once they achieved success.

  • scrum agile methodology

    How to derive effective results using Scrum agile methodology?

    How to derive effective results using Scrum agile methodology

    Agile is an alternative to the traditional waterfall or stage-gate project management in software development. Traditional  scrum agile methodology follow a step-by-step sequence such as initiation, planning, execution, control, and monitoring, and finally closing. Scope, budget, and schedule are determined early in the project and closely managed during the project’s duration with clearly defined change processes. Traditional project management expects that once a scope of work, budget plans, and activity milestones are created and reviewed by sponsors and stakeholders, changes will be few and difficult to implement.

    The scrum agile methodology approach to software development instead emphasizes that the requirements of the solution to be delivered, in other words, what the end customer wants and needs will change over time. Instead of waiting or expecting to know it all at the beginning of the project, agile teams tackle this unpredictability through incremental, iterative work, and lots of feedback from the customer.

    Agile teams are commonly known as scrum teams, emphasizing small(5 to 7 members), with simplicity and flexibility in mind for each member’s role. As a team organizational method, it requires constant empirical feedback, team self-management, and the delivery of fully functioning, properly tested product increments within short time iterations of between three to five weeks called sprints.

    There are usually only three roles: product owner, developer/tester, and ScrumMaster. The product owner represents the customers of the solution, for example, a software application, and his role is to provide constant feedback and influence team decisions taking into account what is best for the customer. Developers are expected not only to program but also to test their own work and that of other team members if necessary. ScrumMaster’s are closely related to project managers, and
    in a sense, that’s what they are, but without the baggage of processes and procedures imposed by a traditional scrum agile methodology. Instead, ScrumMasters are expected to participate and facilitate teamwork by taking any task or role required to move the project forward.

    ScrumMasters are also expected to own the effective planning and execution of meetings that support agile development: backlog grooming, sprint planning, daily 15-minute stand-up, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives. A backlog is a collection of project/business requirements called user stories. Each user story is a self-contained, easy to understand narrative, that when worked upon in a sprint delivers a new software application capability. User stories that are not being
    delivered in a current sprint are “stored” in a backlog, and the list is “groomed” at the end of each sprint to remove, update, or become part of the next sprint deliverable. After the backlog grooming exercise, at the sprint planning meeting, the team decides which user stories will be delivered on the next sprint.

    In sprint review meetings, teams show what they have accomplished and are ready to ship. The sprint retrospective meeting is done before the next sprint is started. This is an open, honest, all-team discussion of what went well and what went wrong. At the end of the meeting, the team agrees on what could be changed to make the next sprint more productive.

    In order to derive effective results from teams following an scrum agile methodology, there are important considerations to take into account.

    Build teams wisely with hiring decisions and team design that ensure acceptance and cultural fit of its members. Training, mentorship, and coaching should be made available and if necessary part of new hiring decisions to create a support structure for implementation of agile development. Trust the team to make decisions and stay away from their daily process. The only way to build an effective scrum team is to let them organize themselves at their own pace and with their own collaboration processes and working agreements.

    Protect the team from disruptions during the sprint, especially from over-eager product owners who may want to introduce changes in mid-sprint.

    Make it a continuous process to identify and eliminate waste, encouraging lean processes and practices. Automate as many manual processes as you can. Create incentives wisely to boost morale and reward positive behavior recognizing in a balanced approach both teams and individuals for on-time results, high quality, creativity, collaboration, leadership, and process improvements. Create opportunities for growth with rotating team roles.

    Build software using scrum agile methodology

  • How can companies save cost with the help of cloud?

    How can companies save cost with the help of cloud?

    Data management is a core component to any business’s success. From inventory control to client invoicing, computers make the business world a reality in today’s connected times. However, stacking servers and updating software on a regular basis at each business can add up in cost over the years. Businesses are quickly realizing the strength of cloud computing as technology improves on almost a daily basis. By outsourcing data management to various third parties, companies can save thousands of dollars. Take a close look at the reasons behind these cost savings so that you can look forward to a stress-free office with cloud capabilities.

    Ample Storage Space

    Businesses managing their own computers will often run into storage problems. They face a choice of deleting some files or increasing their storage space. Both of these decisions take time and money away from the company. When businesses turn to third-party resources, such as Microsoft Azure, the storage factor isn’t an issue. In essence, companies rent enough server space for their needs. Many cloud-computing companies have options where businesses can upgrade their storage for a nominal fee. With virtually unlimited space, companies save on costs by avoiding any data setbacks.

    Fewer IT Hires

    When computers first entered the business world, their incorporation heralded in the field of IT or information technology. Computer-savvy employees suddenly had jobs because they were necessary for data management and possible software development. These professionals, however, can be expensive hires. Large businesses may need entire departments dedicated to IT tasks. With the use of cloud-based computing, businesses can reduce or eliminate their IT department. Only a few professionals are necessary as permanent hires to oversee this third-party relationship. Companies save thousands of dollars on payroll savings alone.

    No Hardware Updates

    Keeping up with hardware changes through the years is expensive. A computer or server might be three or four years old, and its components aren’t compatible with the latest technologies or software updates. Businesses end up paying for regular hardware updates as a result. Cloud-based computing has no such updates because the clients don’t support the hardware at their offices. The service provider houses and updates the hardware as necessary. These costs are part of the service package that’s offered to each business. There’s no downtime when the cloud-based company updates their hardware as clients continue to upload information from their remote computers.

    Remote-Employee Inclusion

    Because of Internet connectivity, many employees work remotely from the field or home office. In the past, they had to manually upload their data to the company’s computers each day or week. Remote workers didn’t have instant access to the main server. With cloud-computing services, remote workers are more efficient than ever. They can instantly see the business’s entire database without stepping into the main office. Because these workers don’t need to contact another employee and ask questions about database information, companies save substantial money.

    Data Backup Covered

    Losing data of any size is incredibly serious at a company. That information must be replicated and preserved somehow afterward. This reaction process takes time and money away from businesses every single day. With cloud-computing services, your data is backed up on a frequent schedule. It’s nearly impossible to lose data with these services because it’s their main job to focus on. Computing customers simply need to upload their information so that it’s available for regular backup processes. Time and money losses can be taken out of the equation.

    The Psychological Factor

    It’s difficult to run any business with so many worries that normally include IT priorities. When cloud-based computing is in place, business owners and managers can focus on other concerns. They’re not dividing their attention between various tasks so the business saves money as a result. In fact, a calm mind might create the next great advancement so that the company can move even further ahead. Being overwhelmed with internal issues can only drag a company’s momentum down with increased costs ahead.

    Picking a familiar name for cloud-based applications, such as Amazon Web Servcies, is a simple way to dive into this sector. Get to know the process, and you can slowly alter your needs in the future. Cloud-based computing will only grow larger as the Internet and businesses continue to expand across the globe.

  • mobile app idea

    How to choose perfect developers for your mobile app idea?

    Select perfect developers for your mobile app idea

    If you want your mobile app to work well, you need to have a defined process of filtering and choosing a good team of mobile app developers. It involves knowing what you want ahead of time. Once you know what you want from your app, you will have an mobile app idea what questions to ask your app developers.

    What do you want from the mobile app?

    When you know what you want from the app, you will communicate better with the app developers. The examples to keep in mind are having social media integration and login features. Other things to remember include giving out mobile apps for free or having a lite and premium version. You should also consider if you want the app compatible with Windows or Android or iOS or all.

    Do you want the app to make money? You need to tell this to the app developers, so they know what app to build for you. It could be a pay-per-download with a range of prices based on the features of the app. If the app is free, the app developers need to know too.

    Ask the app developers to show apps they created and list clients

    You need to be sure the developers know what they are doing. The app developer should have a list of people for whom they have created apps. The list includes the apps created. You cannot tell who has created an app by looking at it. That is why you need to speak to the developer’s clients. When you check references, you will know how responsible the app developers are. The reason you are checking the developers out is to ensure you get the services for which you will be paying.

    Speak to the team ahead of time

    Part of having clear communication is to talk to someone before hiring the person. Speak to the app developers face-to-face or on call and ask questions. It can be in person or via video messaging. You will get a feel for the team and how knowledgeable they are. The conversation will decide how the team works. You want to understand your developers, and you want them to get your message too.

    Find out what smartphone the developers use. You will get a clue of their knowledge on the topic. Whatever app the app developers claim to build, they should have it on their phone(s). They should also be familiar with how the app works and be comfortable discussing it. Asking these questions will set up a clear communication between the development team and you.

    Set up a timeline for each phase of the app development

    Ask the app developers when a part of the app finishes. It will give you a better idea of how far along the project is. You want to meet your deadline, so it is important to set these goals. Another way to handle milestones is to mark a date on the calendar you will speak to the app developers. You expect to get an update once you talk to them.

    When you know the project is progressing well; you will feel more comfortable paying their fee. The developers will know what you want once you have set these goals. Matured team of app developers would recommend using Agile Scrum & other advanced iterative models for developing apps and get quicker feedback while it is done. These practices allow you to change the app’s direction (if need be) faster and have more control on progress of app development.

    Find out the special features the app developers can create.

    The features attract users to the app. Know what features to include and see if the app developers can handle it. It is best not to assume the developers know it all. Examples of unique features include 3-D gaming, social media sharing, product coupons, location sharing, offline synching etc.

    Ownership of the app

    The app is important to you, so you need to show who will own it. One way to show who will own it is to draw up a contract between you and the app developers. Add a confidentiality clause to the agreement. Make sure you will own the rights to the source code and all the contents of the app.

    Testing the mobile app

    Ask the developers how they will test your app. Most people check apps on the phones they will be using. You should also get an easy to understand explanation of how the developers will test your app. You want to get rid of any glitches before the app’s completion. If they find any errors, see how they will fix the problem and how long it will take to complete.

    Conclusion

    Your app will generate an income stream. You want to make sure you have someone experienced doing the job. It means knowing what you want so you can communicate well with the app developers. Find out how many other apps the developers has completed. It is best to speak to the developer’s clients and ask questions. One question includes how responsible the developers are. You also want to know how long it took the project to finish. Another question you should ask is how competent the developers are.

    Hire Certified Mobile App Developers

  • OTS Solutions news - K8 selects OTS Solutions

    OTS Solutions Selected as Virtual CTO & Technology Partner by Chicago-Based K8 Ventures

    OTS Solutions is proud to announce its partnership as virtual CTO for Chicago based K8 Ventures, LLC, a tech-venture firm with a focus on early stage companies. OTS is currently working on the production version of BAMM – Before and After Meeting Manager, a smart mobile and web based personal assistant that enables users to plan, book and manage their schedules with people and third parties. BAMM will be available in the App Store and Google play.

    Kurt Johnson, CEO, says, “Our partnership with OTS creates capital efficiency. OTS’ knowledge and scale ensure portfolio companies build quality products at market speed. We are excited to make BAMM available in both iOS and Android, and look forward to a successful October 2016 launch.”

    Hemant Madaan, CEO of OTS Solutions, has called the partnership “A strategic combination of two innovative companies that can ideate, innovate, and deliver to the market high-impact software solutions.”

    From its New York headquarters, OTS Solutions has been helping over 200 high growth startups & businesses around the globe in developing award winning web & mobile software apps for the past 14 years. Learn more

    K8 Ventures, LLC, is located in Chicago, IL and works with early stage companies as an accelerator and investor. With the company creation supply chain, go-to-market know-how, K8 has achieved significant capital efficiency and is redefining how early-stage capital is invested.

    Read full press release in media here – https://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/10/prweb13752805.htm

  • Agile development OTS Solutions

    Making agile development more predictive and less risky

    Healthy sales often depend on being first to market. Innovation and rapid deployment are important to tech and startup companies. This is why Agile software development methods are so popular. It can deliver software quickly while allowing for flexibility, feedback, and risk and change management.

    Making development predictable

    But fast turnaround is only the first phase. Speed has to be balanced against performance, reliability, and costs. Your product has to be sustainable in the long term. It has to integrate with existing systems, often across a variety of platforms.
    What this all boils down to is predictability – software development that can be consistently delivered on time and trusted to meet requirements, pass quality assurance testing, and bring value to partners and customers.

    The level of uncertainty

    Many companies adopt Agile or hybrid Waterfall approaches because they’ve seen and heard that it works for today’s development environments. But because it’s flexible, small and large companies may not be using it the same way or for the same reasons.
    These methods require defining and identifying requirements and risks, planning, estimation, and incremental development through Agile timeboxes. But discovering and designing as you go along is often too big and complex, depending on both the size of the project and the size of the team. Too many people. too many components, and undisciplined management can cause things to be overlooked. Changing requirements and priorities can make an iterative process essentially useless.

    Enterprise Agile software development depends on control and visibility to reduce uncertainty. Using velocity, story points, and release reporting help create early confidence on progress and more accurate timelines. Relying on the methodology itself to reduce time and costs is a fallacy.

    Redefining the process

    The software development process should involve doing enough investigation upfront to create more reliable plans and estimates. This in turn means more faith in commitments to meeting requirements while assuring higher levels of quality. Using Agile is not about responding to changes in plans, but sticking to a plan that can incorporate change. A better plan is more likely to accommodate change without disrupting the project.

    Agile software development can reduce the “cone of uncertainty” by delivering smaller, working pieces of code, and correlating the progress with project data through velocity. As the project moves forward, predictability comes with increasing ability to deliver on estimates, and the experience translates to future projects. There is still going to be a need for changes and priorities, but these can be viewed in terms of the incremental rather than the iterative process.

    Small projects may be better realized by iteration and fast, adaptive change, depending on the team and the requirements. But larger, more complex problems will have to involve predictability in obtaining results, and that’s gained from making everything align with an incremental, controlled process. Big projects may be slowed not by requirements, risks, or even the size of the team, but by bad planning.

    Want to learn more on techniques of agile development – learn here for comparison on scrum and kanban.

  • co-development of software

    Know how Co-Developing Software Product Development is the Key to Balance Costs and Sustain Longer

    Why Co-Developing or Outsourcing Software Product Development Makes Sense
    Partnering with a software development company affords businesses the flexibility and responsiveness necessary to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced, constantly changing software product development market. What used to involve years-long project and development cycles can now be delivered in a fast, cost-efficient manner. For many companies, outsourced product development just makes sense.

    Here are four reasons why co-developing software product development makes sense for many businesses.

    Cost Savings
    The cost of maintaining a full IT staff dedicated to software product development is prohibitive. When you factor in the salaries, benefits, hiring and training processes, it’s easy to see why many organizations seek alternatives in the form of out-sourced development work. By relying on outsourced talent for development, companies can maintain the bare minimum of IT staff necessary to support, implement and guide the software products.

    Shorter Development Cycles
    Outsourced developers often have the resources and skills necessary to meet the aggressive time constraints of individual projects. They have the ability to staff-up with the right skilled developers to meet the demand. Not only does this shorter time to market present a competitive advantage for companies, but it also allows them to be more responsive to existing customer needs. Promises for enhancements and new features can be delivered sooner.

    Different times zones can also be a plus for productivity. Take for example the opportunity to develop during the day and test code at night. Or struggling to find more hours in the day that overlap, there is a chance to leverage teams in hat work in nearby time zones.

    Quickly find the Skills Needed
    As referenced earlier, outsourced product development companies have larger numbers of skilled developers than can be cost-effectively maintained in-house. The flexibility of being able to plug in different skills sets as the project demands becomes a boon to productivity and cost-savings. No longer do companies face the dreaded “switching costs” associated with getting staff trained on new technology and up to speed with the right development skills.

    Sustainability and Flexibility
    A companies ability to regularly bring updated, responsive software to market in a short time frame keeps it ahead, or in step, with the competition. The strategic strengths and sustainable development cycles mean the company will remain in a flexible and market-ready position for years to come. Co-developing software product development provides a strategic advantage.

    A software development company can also seamlessly switch from a waterfall development approach to an agile, iterative based product development life cycle. Agile has proven to deliver the better results for customers.

    Software development companies need their software product development cycles to be shorter and cost-effective while simultaneously providing the flexibility and responsiveness necessary to get to the top of the market. The costs associated with maintaining a large IT staff can hinder the profitability of many companies. Couple that with quickly out-dated skills sets and long project timelines and it’s easy to see why many organizations have turned to outsourced product development.

  • Software product development

    Why Software Product Development is Different Than Internal Software Projects?

    Why Software Product Development is different than internal software projects?

    Internal software projects can cover a wide variety of tasks, such as building a data warehouse or creating a custom application to be used internally by a business. Many projects might involve coding, but actually developing and producing software from an initial concept to successful release is an entirely different animal.

    Software Development Process

    The software development process, or life cycle (SDLC), is a structure for defining progress. There are a number of development methods which describe approaches to the tasks and objectives involved. These process models began with waterfall methods, which developed in turn into iterative, Agile, and extreme programming (XP) processes.

    Typically any software development includes stages of requirement analysis, specifications, software architecture, implementation, testing, documentation, training and support, and maintenance.

    In thee internal software projects, this cycle is completed for a version to be used by business and remains steady for a while till business needs new changes. However, software product development in many instances, development is never really completed, as there are numerous releases over time with new features and fixes as customer feedback is received and user needs change more frequently. With new cloud based SaaS products gaining foot in market, the cycles of development have become more agile and product companies are actually doing this shorter as possible to get more customer feedback as fast as possible.

    Driving Role

    With internal software projects, it is usually seen that CIO or IT heads get the requests for business software needed, which gets checked by them if available off the shelf. This is what drives to make decisions of creating this custom internally for their business OR if a off the shelf software package can be used to meet the needs with minimal or no customization.

    In technology startup space, CEO is more of an “idea man” or venture capitalist who hires or partners with a technology specialist to head up development. This is the CTO, or chief technical officer. In practice this is seldom a hands-on team leader but a technical adviser. In today’s development world of IT outsourcing, this is not someone with a vested interest in the technology startup, but a contracted, high-level consultant who can be hired as virtual CTO. The role may become more physical and they may need to bring a full time CTO in house once the product hits market

    Platforms & Technology Stack

    Today’s software product development can be extremely complex, and may need to run a variety of devices and platforms. Development teams must stick to their methodology to establish and meet requirements, plan system architecture, and coalesce constantly revised code blocks into a working product that satisfies all quality tests. Going at it with a poorly defined process will only lead to failure.

    In contrast, an internal project although being a very important requirement from business standpoint, does not necessarily need to support many platforms for user adaptability as most of the users may still be internal to business. Technology and architecture decisions however are equally important, still rank low as preference if compared with product development needs of a technology company.

  • Project management tools

    Team & Project Management tools for engineering managers of software companies

    One of the biggest challenges that faces any software development company is how to best manage the developers, engineers, requirements, code base, scope of work and even budget. It is easy to lose sight of these important factors while you’re developing the next greatest widget. Doing so, however, can cost your company money and even future work. It is key to find the right software development tools for your team.

    When researching, the first factor to consider is the type of software product development you do. Are you an app company that focuses on mobile? Do you develop tools for Government customers and worry about legal? Or maybe you develop custom IT solutions for small businesses. Regardless of what you develop, you need the tool that meets your company’s critical needs.

    Choice of programming languages at times make you decide against or for tools used for creating software, like IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) – .NET may be best coded using Microsoft Visual Studio, PHP / PERL / Python / Java have their own flares of specific generic IDE. One of such widely used IDE is Eclipse.

    Another consideration is your team size. Do you manage a small handful of engineers who all work together? Or does your team number in the hundreds across multiple worksites, maybe even multiple countries? Project management, tracking and transparency to stakeholders is the key to success for any project. The space of project management, collaboration tools has been exploding in past few years. We have options like Assembla, Trello, Jira, Basecamp, Asana, Git and many more such names all used by different teams for their own version of needs.

    Beyond just your team’s size, your infrastructure is key. Do you have physical servers on which you maintain your code base? Or do you develop in the cloud? This answer will be absolutely critical to choosing the right tools for your team. The infrastructure on cloud has its own options of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google, where one can host their code base and applications for production. Managing these instances or physical servers is also getting largely automated with tools like Chef.

    While cost is always a factor when looking at software development tools, be cautious that it doesn’t become your deciding factor. As with all IT solutions, the most inexpensive software management tool may not be the right fit. Almost always, the cheapest options have fewer features; while this may seem to be the right fit for your team now, always look towards future growth. As your team expands and diversifies, you do not want to have to purchase another software management tool. This is an easy way to waste your money and is best described by the old saying, penny wise and pound foolish.

    Don’t shortchange your software development company by choosing the wrong development tool. Whether you are looking at Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), Source Control Management (SCM) systems, unit testing frameworks, integration build tools, or Continuous Integration (CI) servers, you can find the right option for your team and project after deeper assessment and evaluating your needs in terms of size, criticality and scalability.

  • software development outsourcing

    It’s not Outsourcing that’s bad, It’s the way it’s done that creates issues

    You’ll hear plenty of software development managers and business owners swear that they’d never outsource. Not because they couldn’t use the extra help or they don’t think there’s enough talent, but rather because they’ve had horrible past experience or heard some terrible stories that make them decide it’s better to just forgo the hassle of outsourcing altogether.

    While there are definitely some circumstances when outsourcing work can hinder the overall productivity and quality of a final product, it can be an incredibly valuable and profitable decision if done right. Software outsourcing and outsourced product development doesn’t mean that the project is any less yours, only that you can save time and energy doing extra work and instead focus your energy on effectively delegating and managing your project team.

    Why Outsource?

    When you outsource, you’re hiring a company or independent contractor to do something that usually could have been done in-house. For many people this seems like a costly, time-consuming affair that is completely unnecessary and used solely for the purpose of accommodating lazy workers who don’t want to meet deadlines.

    In reality, outsourcing is a great way to stimulate the economy, network with other companies and leaders in relevant industries and maximize productivity and turnaround times in your own office.

    Offshore vs USA Outsourcing:

    There may be some horror stories from outsourcing offshore, but there are also plenty of benefits if you take the time to scout candidates or hire through a reputable outsourcing firm. What matters most when outsourcing is how you handle the situation from start to finish. Just because a contractor or company isn’t in your region doesn’t mean they don’t need to be kept as informed as your in-house team.

    Thankfully today we are no longer limited to email and can interview/work alongside our offshore employees via Skype and FaceTime. Holding weekly to monthly meetings depending on the scale of the project is an excellent way to stay on the same page and ensure that everyone is where they should be on the production schedule, regardless of their actual timezone.

    You should never hold an offshore contractor at lower expectations than one of your own employees. Many software outsourcing projects tend to involve the outsourced contractor being viewed as a third-party rather than a teamplayer and integral part of the product’s development. By stating your expectations explicitly from the beginning and having frequent check-ins with your offshore outsourced contractors, you’ll not only receive greater feedback and have more free room to request changes, but they’ll also be more inclined to work better knowing that they are being managed and treated as important as everyone else on the project team.

    If you’d rather stay local though, outsourcing an independent contractor or company stateside can be done via Skype or face-to-face. You can go through another firm or simply start to scout potential contractors on job boards, giving you greater control and a better chance at connecting with the right people the first time around. There are lots of software development company leaders who could benefit greatly from hiring contractors or other smaller businesses to perform certain tasks on a larger development product. Mainly, doing so will minimize the menial tasks and crossover duties that employees often have to take care of, and free up their schedules so they can focus on more specific, larger objectives.

    Recap:

    Outsourced product development is a controversial topic among many software development company leaders, but while there are a few horror stories out there, outsourcing is a great way to free up time for in-house work and allow projects to be broken down and divided into larger, easier tasks that ultimately wind up saving time and cost and improving the quality. The decision to outsource may not be for every business, but it can certainly work wonders for those who give it a try and get connected with the top workers and companies out there.

  • Captive vs. Outsourced – Which is the Right Option for Software Development?

    When it comes to software product development in the modern age, most companies will settle for one of two primary models, opting for either a captive approach or outsourcing the work to a third-party provider. There are a number of different factors that must be considered in order for a business to determine which option is best for them. Some variables that must be considered when determining whether to outsource software development or use captive operations include customer needs, associated risks and relative costs.

    Each option has its own benefits and setbacks, so understanding each will be key to ensuring that the right option is chosen for your business.

    Third-Party Outsourcing

    Third-party outsourcing is reflective of the classic client-vendor relationship, which is strictly governed by contractual obligations, in addition to service level agreements. Whenever a company chooses to outsource to a software product development company, some form of strategic and tactical reasoning, such as short-term cost-efficiency or staffing flexibility, usually motivates the decision. For instance, if your company has current expertise to develop your software, but your current staffing situation doesn’t allow for a major overhaul, porting to new platform (mobile version etc.) or increasing speed to achieve newer releases, then third-party outsourcing will likely be a better option.

    The most common form of outsourcing used when setting up a software development project is generally project-based outsourcing. This however changes a lot when it comes to outsourcing software product development. One must look at outsourcing software product development activities to be a core strategic move and form an extension of their own product development team in longer run. This type of outsourcing can be carried out on site or off site, depending on the specific needs associated with the product.

    Captive Operations

    Where outsourcing often provides a cost-effective method for producing necessary software programs, it was earlier rarely considered when certain core functions and critical activities were involved. Businesses have been motivated to create their own captive operations in low cost countries to take advantage of cost without compromising on IP security and other critical factors, as they believe to controlling these operations directly.

    This has worked well for many vendors but with time, the hassles and issues faced like local red tape, difficulty of doing business in remote countries, business costs, taxes, rising costs in developing countries have all added up and many times overshadowed the captive advantages for many companies, forcing them to shut down their captives and going the third party route.

    With the evolution of cloud and reliable project management and team collaboration tools, companies today can take advantage of using the third party outsourced software product development vendors without really compromising and losing control over their core software development and security requirements.

    While there is no cookie cutter approach to determining which development process will be best for you, the general rule would call for you to start outsourcing with non-critical and cost sensitive smaller chunks of product development and slowly look at outsourcing vendor(s) more as your own extension and as your partners for core product development activities & support. While captive operations provide the control that is needed for critical projects, it may turn out to be very expensive approach. One can even look at options of matured models by niche outsourcing product development companies that may help you build, operate and then transfer the software development operations to your own captive if needed with time.

  • SolutionWordPuzzle

    Retail IT Leaders – Must have software solutions for your business

    The Must-Have Software Solutions For Retailers 

    Today, the expansion of the Internet has increased the pace of global commerce in startling ways. Around the world, retailers encounter new challenges as a result of this situation. If your company expects to remain competitive in this dynamic market, you require some basic software solutions in your IT investment mix. Don’t overlook these must-have products when you plan for your retail software IT needs:

    1. Security Software

    The ever-changing landscape of viruses, malware, trojans, phishing scams, spam and other threats to website security pose a potential hazard for any business enterprise which maintains an online presence. Although some Cloud Management providers offer comprehensive security for cloud-based applications, companies still need to consider this issue carefully. Even with excellent protection for databases in the cloud, it usually makes sense to secure individual computers within a company, too. Malicious software programs and thefts online can damage a retail reputation and result in costly claims.

    2. E-Commerce Software

    Companies today require E-Commerce software that enables seamless automated online sales. The type of product you select will likely depend upon the size of your enterprise and the fulfillment procedures you maintain. Just as a single shoe size won’t fit every customer, enterprise E-Commerce software packages deserve careful evaluation. A startup with a limited budget will likely not possess the same needs as a well-recognized retailer with an established chain of B2B vendors. However, some excellent software programs today assist retailers in adding ECommerce sales to existing revenue platforms. E-Commerce software includes both tailored and custom-designed versions.

    3. CRM Software

    As the Internet has grown in importance, the variety of excellent Customer Relationship Management programs has kept pace with this expansion. Today, retail outlets can locate some exceptional packages targeted towards their particular marketing needs and preferred promotional strategies. Some companies also obtain customized CRM programs. Just as most retailers now depend upon online sales as a source of revenue, in addition to in-store business, the intelligent use of CRM marketing programs may help enhance your company’s bottom line.

    4. Retail Mobile Apps

    Companies seeking IT solutions need to consider the growing importance of retail mobile apps. The expansion of beacon technology has increased the availability of very sophisticated commercial metrics programs. Developing customized, tailored mobile apps to furnish information to in-store consumers who carry mobile devices may boost store revenues. Many of these programs work well for promoting online retail services, too.

    5. Social Media Integration Software

    Today, even retailers may benefit by maintaining smoothly functioning databases to track sales metrics and promotional campaigns. Using software programs to help integrate social media and SEO campaigns with these programs offer many enterprises an opportunity to take the best advantage of low-cost Internet marketing techniques. Many of these programs work seamlessly with compatible CRM software. Outsourcing to ensure excellent integration with legacy systems may prove helpful in some cases.

    6. ERP Software

    ERP integrates every business automation need required to operate a business of any size in a single platform. With some large players like Microsoft, SAP, Oracle playing in the space, there is a wide variety of software available that can be tailored to any enterprise need and can be installed at multiple locations. ERP software of modern times can cover all business processes ranging from end point of sales, inventory management, supplier management, commerce integration to order processing. Once your business scales up, this is the most essential and complex piece of software you must look to implement helping you control things efficiently.

    7. POS Solution

    Retailers today are trying to achieve an omni-channel approach where their consumers should be able to have a similar experience irrespective of the platform they use for purchasing the goods. It is hence more essential that those old cash registers must become compliant to organization wide Point of Sales (POS) approach of the business. Choice of this software solution is very critical and may break or make your business’ ability to interact with the consumers. It is highly recommended to use an experienced IT solutions provider to choose from plethora of options available in this space.

  • local-seo-multi-locations

    Retail Software – Keeping all your multiple locations synched

    Businesses with multiple locations have special considerations that single-site software can’t address. Companies that have an online retail presence have further additional challenges that come from managing an e-commerce store. The following reasons should help you understand the importance of finding the right multi location retail software for your company.

    Centralized Reporting

    When all your retail locations sync to either a central location or the Cloud, you can view your entire business at a glance. Most reporting functions allow you to begin with an overview of company-wide sales performance and then drill down to see location-specific data. Without centralized reporting, you only see the performance of each store.

    Uniform Pricing

    By managing prices globally, you avoid the complications that arise from having different prices at every store, and you save time. Rather than have staff at every location entering and updating prices, you can have one person do it for your entire company, avoiding the frustrations that develop when your stores compete against each other.

    Inventory Management

    When you have a global view of inventories, you can efficiently use your resources to move inventory between stores before reordering. When the time comes to order merchandise, the software lets you order for all your stores at once, saving time and allowing the use of your purchasing power to buy at lower prices. You can also use global reporting to optimize your merchandise mix at the local level, so stores that don’t sell much of an individual item can free their space for better-performing merchandise.

    Organizational Troubleshooting

    When you have a multi-location software package, you can easily compare the performance of your retail locations. You can quickly identify your retail locations that need attention. You can either improve or close stores that drag your company, so you can focus on the areas of your business that generate the most profits.

    Online Integration

    Many retail businesses have realized they need an online presence to take advantage of modern savvy shoppers. Many companies choose to operate their virtual storefronts as separate companies because they don’t have the software that manages multiple locations.

    When you have software that supports centralized inventory management, you can avoid the expense of maintaining a separate stock room by drawing from the same goods that stock your stores. Also, the same person who prices merchandise for your brick-and-mortar stores can easily manage online pricing by configuring a separate price structure.

    Now that you know some of the benefits of multi location retail software, rather than struggling with software not intended for businesses with multiple locations, you should consider either outsourcing your IT solutions or finding software solutions that meet the needs of your business that you can manage in-house.

  • mshopping_1960x980

    Retail – How a well thought mobile app strategy helps modern retailers

    Retailers: Use A Careful Mobile App Strategy 
    Today a well thought out mobile app strategy enables retailers to compete more successfully for both in-store and online revenues. These useful tools promise to help some brick-and-mortar companies reverse years of gradual losses to ECommercecompetitors. How do Mobile Apps enter into modern retail marketing? What features should these software applications include? What strategies should businesses employ in implementing them more effectively?

    A New Retail Landscape

    Every year, an increasing number of shoppers head to malls and grocery stores carrying sophisticated mobile devices. A growing segment of these consumers use their iOs Apps, Android Apps, Windows Apps and more to seek out bargains. They may visit stores specifically to find certain products stocked there that they have identified via an Internet search. Additionally, a rising percentage of outlets today use wireless beacon technology to draw visitors into the store and promote products known to interest them. Visitors may gravitate to items offering coupon discounts or special promotions, for instance. Retailers who fail to take advantage of these technological innovations risk losing market shares to more aggressive, technically-savvy competitors.

    Custom Design Mobile Apps

    By seeking custom-designed retail apps, often developed with the assistance of IT Consultants, retailers obtain the ability to tap into this attractive Mobile ECommercemarketplace. Many larger stores already maintain 24/7 Online Retail operations. A well-designed tailored retail app helps your store complement and enhance these sales efforts. You can use Software Solutions that provide you with convenient tailored management platforms to track marketing and promotional campaigns campaigns very cost-effectively.

    Some Strategies

    Before making a significant investment in Retail Software, managers should consider consulting with knowledgeable IT professionals to fully explore all the available IT Solutions that might contribute to promotional efforts. Strategies for implementing retail apps vary widely sometimes, depending on your company’s marketplace, resources and staffing expertise. For example, some retailers hire IT consultants to manage retail applications for them, other companies perform this function completely in-house. You may wish to consult with an IT firm in order to gain a better appreciation of all of your potential options and marketing strategies. IT consulting holds value.

    A New Era in Retailing

    The popularity of Bluetooth-equipped devices, “smart” phones and wearable technology suggest that high tech Mobile Commerce will remain significant for retail stores far into the future. With so many exciting new ways to inform shoppers about sales and pertinent product information, retailers find information technology an increasingly productive way to convert store visitors into customers.

  • ecommerce-best-practices-for-small-biz

    Retail Ecommerce – Which is the right platform for you?

    Before choosing an ecommerce solution, you have to know what you need from one. 

    Retail Ecommerce – Which is the right platform for you?

    There are literally hundreds of ecommerce platforms and options available. Making a choice can seem daunting, and making the wrong choice can cost you more than money. Before finding the ecommerce solution that’s right for you, it helps to know what you need an ecommerce solution for.

    • What are you selling? Is it items, a service, or both?
    • Are your products digital or physical?
    • What’s in your inventory?
    • Do you already have a website?
    • Do you need to set up a new one
    • Is your site centered on your shopping cart?

    Answering these and other questions will help you to narrow your choices. There are ecommerce solutions that,

    • Favor one type of selling platform over others
    • Only allow for specific forms of payments
    • Work well as software or plugins to existing platforms
    • Exist as their own full-service platforms

    So look out for the ones that promise to do what you need them to do.

    The Size of Your Business

    The size of your business has a lot to do with the kinds and brands of platforms your company should consider. For example, an enterprise solution like the WebSphere Commerce Suite (WCS) is ideal for retail businesses that routinely spend several millions in operating costs.

    Such solutions come with high costs for testing and implementation. At the same time, such an expensive solution comes with far more by way of features, flexibility, and complexity.

    By contrast, a small business, startup, or single owner business can benefit from smaller options such as Zen Cart, Opencart, and various “eshops,” like Shopify. These solutions are easy to set up, and can cost as little as nothing to only a few dollars to implement. However, they lack features, and aren’t built for handling large volume business.

    Examples of high cost, high-end ecommerce solutions:

    • IBM WebSphere Commerce Suite (WCS)
    • Oracle (ATG)
    • Intershop
    • Demandware
    • SAP Hybris
    • Netsuite

    Larger businesses should look to these as examples of what they’re looking for.

    Examples of low cost ecommerce solutions:

    • Magento
    • Virtuemart
    • Drupal
    • Prestashop
    • Opencart
    • ZenCart
    • WooCommerce

    New business and businesses with low volume sales should see what these lower tier options offer.

    How Much Control Do You Want?

    Some ecommerce solutions will allow you to create a storefront from which you can sell your products or services. These hosted solutions are ideal if you don’t want to handle all the minutiae of site upkeep and backend manipulation.

    Examples of hosted ecommerce solutions:

    • Shopify
    • Volusion
    • BigCommerce

    Businesses that don’t mind hosting on third party services and at times giving away pat of earnings should see these options.

    These services also offer self-hosted and unbranded services. So they’re nice for those with a business that has potential for further growth. However, when your shopping platform is hosted on another’s service, it’s subject to another’s rules.

    Hosting your own

    On the other hand, if you host your ecommerce site yourself, you have absolute control over it. What you may not realize is that control comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. It’s on you to keep the site updated, keep the content fresh, source images, and deal with any technical problems.

    This isn’t such a big deal when you’re working with a handful of SKUs and a narrowly defined business. It becomes a large endeavor if you’re trying to move hundreds of items.

    More importantly, you’re in charge of your own security. If you’re not familiar with how to secure a site, or you’re not familiar with things like PCI security standards, then you definitely shouldn’t go it alone.

    Managed services

    You can outsource the server and data requirements to a cloud provider, dedicated retail IT services, and IT consulting firms that offer ecommerce options. You can maintain full control of the design and function, while a third party deals with bandwidth, servers, and technical resources. These managed solutions offer you more freedom, and typically more support than commercial hosted sites.

    You can look into many ecommerce comparisons, but no matter the platform, it’s all about what you need and what you can afford. It’s about who offers quality and delivers on promises. It’s not about which service gets the highest star rating on a website.

  • Back-to-the-Future-Title-Card

    Back to the Future – How Will Technology Shape Retail in Future

    Doc Brown and Marty McFly gave us some amazing insights of future and surprisingly many things actually have become a reality from the movie; I still believe they really never touched upon how would we be shopping in future. From smartphones and mobile devices to digital currencies and online payment methods, technology is rapidly changing the way we interact in our shopping experience.

    Experience Matters

    It is rightly said that in shopping, customer experience in interacting with your product or the sales person is the most important aspect that makes them buy from you. I believe that in future the emphasis will completely be on the aspect of customer experience.

    Already in today’s world, we have technologies available that can be extended to give the customers near real in-store experience when they shop online on web or through their mobile. Companies of future will try to bring virtual experience in store for some products that can be tried using holographic and VR headsets. It will not be long when you can move in a large shoe brand store and stand in front of a mirror and see the shoe style changing in your feet by tap on the mirror.

    Customer is King

    Once you are able to provide that needed customer experience with your products, it is the possibility of treating your customer in most personal way that will swing the game in your direction. We have all seen this happening already with personal touches in small shops when the owners know their customers well. Technologies of future will make the same experience possible now for any size of retail shops from small to large with multiple locations.

    Retail stores of future will automatically greet customers personally as they walk in the store. With real customer data crunching showing real-time insights to sales representatives will make them greet and act with the customer better. Consider walking in a store looking to buy stuff for your trip that you posted on Facebook or Tripadvisor and the executive offers to help you finding stuff for the trip or suggesting things as per temperature at the destination.

    Convenience

    From internet based shopping on beds or couches of your homes to now being able to shop using mobile phones and devices; retail in future will change further to provide more convenience to consumers.

    Retailers of future must think of implementing technologies that will give more convenience for customers both using internet and in the stores. Imagine walking with a shopping bag of items that you have picked through the store which get checked out of the money stored in your store wallet card automatically without standing in long queues all the time.

    Take Away

    There is no doubt that landscape of retail has changed a lot and will change more rapidly with technology changes happening everyday. Insights above on key principles of retail are just only a glimpse of what can be achieved to sell more and better.

    Many of these things are already happening or will be soon seen in near future. Being a retailer you should already start gearing up if you have not as yet taken steps in modernizing your business and processes. Missing out on the potential benefits and increased sales revenue that the latest retail technology and software solutions are able to provide can find business owners missing out on far more than they might expect. So I suggest to contact your trusted IT partners and fly back to future right away….

  • featured_e-commerce

    ECommerce Comparison – Selling Through Your Own Store vs Existing Marketplaces

    Is it better to sell your products through your own store or through an existing marketplace like Amazon.com, eBay.com or Etsy.com? When making this decision, it’s worthwhile to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.

    Advantages of Selling Through a Marketplace

    • It’s typically easier to get started selling through a marketplace than it is to start your own ECommerce store from scratch.
    • Some marketplaces do their own advertising and marketing. This creates a possibility of customers finding your store through their efforts.

    Disadvantages of Selling Through a Marketplace

    • You give up a substantial percentage of your revenue to the marketplace.
    • Many marketplaces will not allow you, or any of their third-party sellers, to market directly to customers acquired through their platform. What this means: They consider the customer to be their customer, not your customer. This limits your ability to solicit repeat purchases, and repeat purchases are essential to the success of many small businesses.
    • Your business is subject to the policies of the marketplace; you might or might not like or agree with their policies.
    • The marketplace can make changes to their policies, platform or procedures at any time. This will directly affect your business, but you will not have any say in the decisions they make.
    • The marketplace has the power to revoke your privileges to use their site at any time, and you have no control over their decisions in this regard.

    Advantages of Selling Through Your Own ECommerce Store

    • You are able to keep and allocate the revenue generated by your business; you decide which business expenses are worth paying for.
    • You are able to retain and use all the data from your business, including customers’ contact information. Thus you are free to continue marketing to existing customers within the framework of existing laws in your area.
    • You have complete control over your store policies, and you are able to change or adapt them as it suits your business needs.

    Disadvantages of Selling Through Your Own Store

    • Setting up a store is complex and requires skills that may be beyond your capability. However, this is not a long term or serious disadvantage; you can easily outsource the setup for your store in the current marketplace.
    • You are completely responsible for customer acquisitions and marketing of your business. This is also not a serious disadvantage; the truth is, even if you were to use a platform like Etsy.com or eBay.com, you would need to do substantial amounts of marketing. If you are going to spend time and money on marketing a business, it’s a good idea to spend that time and money marketing a business that you fully own and control.

    Keep in mind that you do not need to decide between creating your own store or using a third-party marketplace. You do have the option to use both strategies, and utilizing both can be advantageous for sellers.

    How to create your own online retail store

    If you decide to create your own ECommerce retail store, you have many options for getting it set up.

    • It’s helpful to seek IT consulting for guidance that will be specific to your business needs. Retail IT consultants can help you simplify all the complex decisions and details that could overwhelm you otherwise.
    • You can research software specifically created for retail ECommerce.
    • Hire a retail IT consultant to choose the most optimum retail software as per your needs.
    • Hire a IT consultant / software development company to help you.

    Hopefully this gives you a better idea of your options when it comes to choosing whether you want to sell through a marketplace or your own store. We hope this information will be helpful to you as you decide on the best approach for your business.

  • crm_best_practives

    CRM in Retail – Why is it becoming an absolute essential tool for success?

    You may have heard about CRM, or customer relationship management. What you don’t know is just how important it has become in the retail space. On the face of it, CRM sounds just like what a retail business should already be doing- building and managing relationships with customers.

    However, the real value of paying specific attention to the new tool of CRM software, that have made the process and workflow of actually developing those relationships much easier. As the saying goes, the best customers are the ones you already have. In retail, repeat business and loyalty matters. CRM solutions are the best way to promote that loyalty through carefully managing the experience of each customer.

    Why CRM?

    The CRM software tools now provide you ability to manage your customers, sales, orders, invoices, and products in more structured and automated fashion. Further business usage of this large CRM dataset can be achieved by analyzing and visualizing through various meaningful reports. This has brought totally new insight to various functions of marketing, product design, customer support, inventory management and even branding.

    CRM software can tap into an interconnected dataset made up of each customer’s history of interaction with the retail brand. That opens up the possibility to optimize business processes to make sure every customer has a good experience, because it’s that positive experience that encourages people to keep coming back.

    The Basics of CRM

    There are four main aspects of business that CRM tools can help unify: sales, marketing, technical support, and customer service. All of these are ways in which the business interacts directly with individual customers, so they all provide golden opportunities to leave a good impression. CRM can automate tasks like calling up customers to remind them to renew subscriptions or track a customer’s past interactions with the support team.

    That lets the business build up a picture of who its most valuable clients are, what needs motivate their customers, and which frustrating aspects of the product lead to the most calls to customer service or tech support, among other things. CRM tools allow the business to treat every customer with the familiarity of a long-time regular, and that’s the kind of approach that solidifies relationships.

    How to implement?

    Nothing matters more than figuring out how to build relationships with customers that will last, and that’s why CRM’s ability to coordinate goals and insights cross several departments is so valuable.

    CRM software tools take time to learn and implement in any organization, not because of their complexity but merely due to change management it requires across the businesses. Bringing in an experienced IT consulting firm that already know and understand CRM software can be major savings of both time and money.

  • Online Payments

    Retail Ecommerce – Things to consider when accepting payments online

    Once your Ecommerce website is up and running, it’s time to figure out how to accept online payments for all the products your customers will be purchasing through you. There are a number of easy steps that can be taken in order to ensure an easy checkout process for your customer. Plus, with software outsourcing and software consulting, accepting payments with your retail website is easier than ever.

    Pick your payment method

    How do you want to be paid? That should be the first question you ask yourself. There are a variety of payment methods that can be utilized on any given Ecommerce website. Popular payment methods include:

    • PayPal
    • Credit/ Debit Card
    • Bill Me Later
    • Google Checkout
    • Check
    • Cash on Delivery

    Now, you don’t have to use every payment method available. However, offering at least three payment methods is recommended so that your customers aren’t stuck only using one. This is incredibly helpful for customers who may not have a PayPal or credit card (or prefer not to provide their information over the web), and prefer sending in a check instead. A variety of payment methods just mean more ways for you to get paid!

    Pick your payment gateway

    Without a payment gateway, there’s no way to verify information and authorize payment in real time. With a payment gateway account, you get a service that facilitates between the customer’s account and your account, which allows you to receive payment. There are literally hundreds of different payment gateways, including:

    • VeriSign
    • Sage Pay
    • net
    • Paypal
    • 2Checkout

    Integrating a payment gateway might not be a straight task and you may need an experienced IT consultant and software programming company to do it for you. They usually integrate different types of payment gateways to build a system for you that works again and again. Using a middle man like that really cuts down on the time you spend creating and using a payment gateway account.

    Pick your online merchant

    Once you’ve decided what retail IT software you’re going to be using for your shopping cart, payment gateway, payment method, and more, it’s time to get an online merchant account. Without an account, customers have no where to put the money they give you when they make a purchase.

    This step is extremely crucial, as there are many online merchant services to watch out for. Make sure to read the fine print and avoid using any online merchant services that require an additional fee for credit card use or hidden charges. Also, make sure to stay aware of the other fees that go along with having an online merchant account, including account fees and minimums, termination fees, statement fees, annual fees, and much more.

    Don’t rush

    Take some time researching your options for all of the software you’re going to need. The software plays a role in the theme and design of your website, so choose carefully and make sure that each different software ties in with your overall goal for the website.

    As simple as it may appear with a complete plethora of tools and software available in the market, it may still be a scary but essential step in your journey to sell online.

    If you feel a little confused or feel that putting this in the hands of a professional will make everything run smoother, look into employing an IT consultant. An experienced IT consultant should be well capable of making the choices for you so that you can get the best and well secured experience of online payments for your consumers.

  • SharePoint Developer

    The Benefits Of Choosing SharePoint Developer

    The Benefits Of Choosing SharePoint Developer

    SharePoint Developer is a perfect technology offering easy online document sharing. If you are looking for a technology for effective content management, read the blog to know the benefits of SharePoint as a perfect solution.OTS-2

    SharePoint Developer is a program that allows easy process implementation with wonderful content management and information access features. Here are some more benefits of the program:

    Better Team Productivity

    SharePoint allows required information to be shared with your partners and this enhances the team productivity. You can get important notifications and announcements via different communication channels. You can also mix schedules, combine documents, create new templates and make your own blogs.

    Data Management Systems

    The great data management features of SharePoint make it easy to make approvals even while editing the document. It allows document checkouts. The security features ensure absolutely no leakage of information.

    Quick Services

    It is easy and quick to make new team workspaces in SharePoint. You can even customize the interfaces and make your own application designs for your business processes.

    Intuitive Interface

    SharePoint technology comes with a user friendly interface. Simple views and navigation menus make the tasks easy. It can also streamline navigation by separated websites for each team member. You can combine it with other tools available for productivity enhancement such as MSOffice. You can check notifications, schedule your calendar and make your own workspaces.

    Easy Creation Of New Workplaces

    SharePoint is an extremely easy-to-use program that allows companies to manage their tasks without any huge effort. Business customization and deployment of settings can be done to fine tune the environment according to your needs.

    Information Storage & Security

    SharePoint developer offers very professional administrative tools. It offers great data security in addition to cost reducing features. Total security is assured as it gives you full control over creation of new tasks, configuration of online multiple workplaces and membership roles.

    Application Alignment

    As it is already been discussed that SharePoint powerfully integrates with other performance tools, it enhances the application based usage. It consistently provides quick access to any set of information the user seeks.

    With lower cost of operation and maintenance, SharePoint Developer is a dynamic enterprise solution. A lot of companies make the mistake of adopting ECM technology according to the features offered rather than buying the program on what is specifically required by the business. SharePoint at this front offers great features packed with cost effectiveness and brilliant performance. It can help your business achieve goal easily and robustly.

    Contact to Hire Certified SharePoint Developer

  • All You Need to Know About Software Product Analysis

    Developing software from scratch is a very complicated task that has various stages. It is a process in which a lot of brainstorming is required with several steps involved. It also takes a lot of time. The more complicated the function of the software, the more is the time required to create it. If you are an owner or manager of a company with an IT team that is developing software then you must make sure that it’s tested thoroughly before taking it live.

    product-analysis

    Software Product Analysis

    It is better to hire a software product analysis company that specializes in testing all types of software. It would give you the following benefits:

    • Helps your developers to learn

     When you decide to outsource software product analysis, you give your IT developers a chance to learn from their mistakes. You get out of the box opinions on areas where your software can be improved. You also get detailed analysis on various bugs so that they can be removed before making the software live. A professional outsourcing company would also give you ideas on how you can incorporate new features in your software. This will ensure that your software becomes the very best.

    • Keeps your employees happy

    When you introduce a good software that helps your employees to reduce their workload, they are bound to appreciate it. This will result in better results, helping your company to move forward at a rapid pace. On the other hand, when you launch software that has not gone through software product analysis and thus has a lot of bugs, your employees will feel devalued. This can eventually hamper their productiveness.

    • Satisfies your customers in a better manner

    An internal software that has gone through detailed software product analysis, speeds up your company’s processes. This will eventually satisfy your customers in a better manner. You must know that customers always prefer speedy delivery of the product or service they are seeking and if you give it to them; they would likely become more loyal to your brand.

  • Give Your Business An Edge With IT Outsourcing

    IT Outsourcing isnot a bad option but there are many things which are to be considered very seriously. Especially if you are thinking to hire people like coders, web designers and other people for technical team, you need to follow a strategy which might include outsourcing as one of the options. If you are a tech startup, initially you have to divide the workload among partners only and then slowly expand the team. Here two things can be done- to hire people directly or outsource these people. Those working from a non technical background would find it better to outsource the manpower. You do not need to convince the whole idea for those whom you are outsourcing and you are the one in-charge. Of course the cost factor which reduces the actual cost of project to half in some cases is worth appreciating. This visible benefit allows you to allocate funds for different resources. The quality of project is nowhere reduced or compromised with. Low cost does not means low cost anyhow. The outsourced company on their hand tries to provide the best work, within the range of client’s expectation which saves about 60% of your project costs. This wide gap is due to the fact that there is a difference between wage range in India as compared to western world. Software Outsourcing also has some elements to it which are easy to understand-

    Communication-

    Communication is the essence of any project. The way you present yourself to others gives a solid picture of your present and future expectations. Because you are not physically present with your outsourced team, it is advisable to look for a software outsourcing company which has a brilliant track record and customer service skills. In constant touch with emails and video chats can be done in order to keep a check on every progress and problems could be handled very well when it is discussed in a room full of experienced people. Make each other comfortably and think like there is no geographical division between you. This will give both sides of people a chance to handle work in a smart and efficient manner. The proper communication channel should flow between team members.