Things Any Software Company Can Learn From Jason Fried

3 Things Any Software Company Can Learn to Increase Work Productivity From Jason Fried’s Ted Talk: “Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work”

increasing work productivityJason Fried is a software entrepreneur as well as the co-founder and president of 37 Signals, a Chicago-based software company.  Widely recognized for intense work productivity and collaboration, 37 Signals specializes in web-based work productivity tools. Fried prepared a Ted Talk titled: “Why work doesn’t happen at work,” in which he discusses work issues, bringing up many valuable points about productivity levels at the office. Fried believes that work doesn’t happen at work for several important reasons.

His talk begins with the answers to a question Fried has been asking people for ten years. He has probed individuals about their worksite preferences when it comes to where they work best. Individual responses repeatedly ignored the office, but instead included a location, an object or a specific period of time. Some would say they work best early in the morning, on the porch or in the car. Nobody answered that they work best at the office.  Eventually Fried concluded that people work best in locations that do not provide any interruptions or distractions to their work.

Generally, most employers feel that their employees should not work at home because they are afraid of distractions or fear of lost productivity. In reality, some people work better at home because they are free from workplace interruptions. At the office, people tend to work in short bursts of time before they are bothered by a co-worker or manager. Fried compares the phases or stages of sleep to the ability to work. In order to sleep well, you must get a total of 6 hours of uninterrupted peace. The same applies for work. A day at the office should include long periods of deep thought and application in order to resolve complex issues and to even finish basic tasks

Fried explains that the biggest distractions at work come from managers and meetings. He calls them the “M&M’s” of office interruptions. Managers are constantly interrupting work time to bother employees about issues unrelated to the problem at hand, or simply to check-in. Without these disturbances, a person has the time to compete important tasks. In addition, meetings also sometimes function like managers. Meetings throughout the day may take large amounts of time away from an individual while providing disappointing value in return.

Despite his criticisms of wasted time in the workplace, Fried does have some interesting suggestions to those hoping to complete work at the office.

Suggestions for Completing Work at Work to Increase Work Productivity, from Jason Fried

While Jason Fried could be described as a proponent of enabling employees to work where they work best (home, office, or somewhere else), he does offer practical suggestions to those trying to improve productivity at work. Here are a few of Fried’s recommendations:

  1. No Talk Thursdays – While this concept may seem a little restricting, Fried makes the point that people need to schedule longer stretches of uninterrupted time to get serious work completed. By having a day of the week designated as a “no talk day” people are freed up of meetings and other distractions that may negatively impact productivity.
  2. Passive Communication – Moving from face-to-face interactions to a more passive approach to communication increases the amount of time spent free of interruptions. While face-to-face collaboration is a positive aspect of working, Fried notes that email and instant messaging can be turned off or silenced in order to get some quiet stretches of work-time.
  3. Cancel Meetings – Fried simply states, “If you have a meeting, just cancel it.” He believes that some meetings are simply irrelevant and lengthy, and that gains in productivity from fewer meetings may outweigh any negative effects.

Fried has some strong beliefs when it comes to working at work. He believes that the office environment should be conducive to high productivity. As a leader in collaboration, Fried’s suggestions come from years of observations and personal experience. If you or your organization is struggling to create a more productive work environment, it might be useful to watch Fried’s Ted Talk and/or to check out some of his publications about work productivity.


Business Tools to Increase Collaboration

Whether you are running a business out of one office, or from all around the globe, we can all agree that maintaining communication and organization is essential to success. This might sound difficult if half of a company’s employees are located across the world or even in the next office. Yet here are now many great ways to increase communication and enhance the levels of collaboration for employees that are situated in different locations. If you think this sounds too good to be true, and you’re wondering about the costs involved, we’re happy to report that many of the best business collaboration tools have free membership options.

10 Free Collaboration Tools for Business

All of the tools featured on the list below were created to support a cohesive business unit. While all start out for free, some have added the option to purchase upgrades or more features. It’s up to you to decide what level of service you need, and whether a tool is actually worth some type of fee for your business. These tools will help you run a successful business despite differences in time zones and location barriers for your employees.

  1. Skype: The first program is all about maintaining communication. Nine people can communicate simultaneously through Skype’s interface. This program allows video, voice and text chat all for free. Skype
  2. Google Docs: You and your team can now create, edit and collaborate all during real-time with the help of Google Docs. This type of office suite created by Google, allows individuals to use programs such as word processors, spreadsheets and presentation programs to stay connected. Google Docs
  3. Co-op: This simple interface runs closely to Twitter. It allows team members to post updates, ask questions, exchange links and record time. This is an easy way to track activity and keep the team on schedule.Co-op
  4. Obayoo: This unique program allows groups and team members to stay connected at all hours of the day. With unlimited space to create groups, this program is all about connectivity and file sharing.Obayoo
  5. Large organizations and established IT infrastructures should flock to this tool. is a private and secure collaborative program. The best feature about is its ability to function on several devices (Desktop, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Sharepoint).
  6. Snipia: While Google Docs is a great program for file sharing, Snipia is another option to consider. It combines some of the features of Co-op with Google Docs to provide an extremely efficient user experience.Snipia
  7. BusyFlow: This is the ultimate project and task management tool. This program combines everything from Snipia, but allows sharing across different platforms. These platforms work together to combine programs like Google Docs, Dropbox, Calendar and much more, under one interface.BusyFlow
  8. YouSendIt/Hightail: While the previous program may be called the pinnacle of file sharing, YouSendIt is very capable of getting the job done as well. This interface uses the cloud to keep all documents stored and sharable. It even allows document signing!YouSendIt
  9. Advanseez: This collaboration tool is all about getting the job finished. It allows teams to solve a problem, set goals and complete the project from any country. This is perfect for maintaining structure and autonomy within a team project.Advanseez
  10. Pivotal Tracker: While this program requires you to select a payment plan after 30 days, it is by far a no brainer for improving task and project management. This interface allows collaboration between team members, as well as stakeholders! It is a great tool for keeping an entire project or even an organization, well connected and efficient!Pivotal Tracker

All of these tools are similar and often overlap with each other. When selecting a great collaboration tool like the ones mentioned above, the decision may seem difficult. Keep in mind the goals, progress and structure that your organization would like to achieve. Some programs may offer packages to improve your experience. Using technology to keep your organization focused and on track is much easier when you take advantage of one or many of these programs.

Who Uses A Scrum Approach and Why Should You?

Car industry and agile scrum

Scrum has made a major impact on the software development world in recent years by enabling teams to complete projects using an agile methodology. Now other industry sectors outside of software development are benefiting from the agile scrum approach.

A scrum approach to project management often helps teams work together more efficiently and effectively to complete a common goal. This strategy has consistently helped improve organization, collaboration, and communication — often resulting in a higher quality finished product and better overall project team morale.

One of the central elements of the agile scrum process is the daily team meeting referred to as a “scrum.” This time is used to keep all group members focused on the most important priorities. Although the scrum methodology is typically associated with software development companies, other types of organizations are jumping on board to benefit from the scrum approach to project management. In fact, according to the 2011 State of Agile Survey by VersionOne, 66 percent of all companies are beginning to use scrum or scrum variants.

Industry Sectors Currently Benefiting from an Agile Scrum Approach

Most companies are faced with hardships or difficult tasks at some point in time. By distributing the work among different members in a collaborative group setting, the task tends to become much simpler. Examples of other industries using a scrum approach include the field of education, the military, and the automotive industry.

Education: Many universities are finding that scrum techniques help them better accomplish their goals. With many disparate departments and areas of interest in universities, things can become complicated and unorganized very quickly. And the importance of different university departments working together in cross-functional collaboration has never been greater. Using a scrum methodology has helped universities increase organization and effectiveness.

Military: The U.S. government, particularly various military groups, is another organization that relies on scrum to successfully operate. A scrum approach is often used when deploying ships or keeping different units on the same track. When good communication that is efficient and effective is a life and death matter, scrum proves to offer a helpful framework.

Automotive: Some vehicle manufacturers have begun to adopt a scrum approach to project management as well. Because the traditional auto industry tends to operate in slower development cycles, an agile scrum approach offers an opportunity to speed up the pace of innovation. An increasing number of companies and industries are relying on an agile scrum approach to keep projects moving in an organized and efficient manner.

The next time you use a smartphone app, or you go shopping for a new car, you can bet that scrum project management may have been implemented to create your device. Scrum can be beneficial to any organization or company willing to make the move from a more traditional approach to project management (often top-down), to a more collaborative, cross-functional so-called “agile” process.

While there is plenty of online information about the scrum process it may also be helpful to participate in group training where you can ask questions and learn from other people already using this approach.

When you complete training through an organization like the Scrum Alliance, you can become certified in a variety of different roles that are part of a typical scrum team. These certifications include the following:

  • Certified Scrum Master or CSM
  • Certified Product Owner or CSPO
  • Certified Scrum Developer or CSD
  • Certified Scrum Professional or CSP
  • Certified Scrum Coach or CSC
  • Certified Scrum Trainer or CST

Hand-in-hand with training, the opportunity to use scrum for different projects is the best way to gain mastery of this unique approach to project management. For more information on agile project management with scrum as it applies to a variety of industries, you may be interested in Ken Schwaber’s 2004 book aptly titled “Agile Project Management with Scrum.”

Costa Rica One of Happiest Places on Earth

Costa Rica one of Happiest CountriesWhy is Costa Rica Considered One of the Happiest Places on Earth?

Costa Rica is full of rich life, beautiful scenery, and diverse wildlife. This country is known for its 800 miles of coastline and a comfortable yearlong tropical climate. While Costa Rica translates to “Rich Coast,” the country has a lot more to offer than just beautiful beaches. According to the Happy Planet Index, an annual survey conducted by the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica has found its way to the top of the list once again as one of the happiest places on earth.

While this study works towards determining the happiness of every country, it is more concerned with the country’s progress of embracing a “sustainable well-being.” Because Costa Rica is determined to minimize their ecological footprint and embrace a higher quality of life, they continue to rank very high compared to most other countries.

In 2009, Costa Rica was ranked the “Greenest Country in the World,” by the New Economics Foundation. Also, because Costa Rica plans to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, Costa Rica has been named 5th worldwide by the 2012 Environmental Performance Index. These are just a few of the reasons why Costa Rica has been named the “Happiest Country in the World!”

Costa Rica is known for its “Pura Vida” culture, which literally translates into “pure life.” This saying can be used as a greeting or simply a way to lift another person’s spirit. As a whole Costa Rica is recognized as a culture where people care deeply about living a happy life and encouraging others to do the same. This happy-go-lucky attitude has influenced their ranking as the “Happiest Country in the World.”

While Costa Ricans have a life expectancy of 79.3 years, the people living on the Nicoya Peninsula are known for living healthy active lives past 100 years of age! Many Costa Ricans spend their time enjoying the beautiful weather and activities this beautiful country has to offer. Because Costa Rica is dedicated to reducing their ecological footprint, many natives live an active lifestyle, one that keeps them much more fit and healthier than what could be described as a typical American lifestyle.

While this culture is positively contagious, the beaches seem to provide a visual appeal unlike any other. Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches are comprised of an impressive 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. And this country has dedicated 25 percent of its land area to protecting these species in national parks and other protected areas.

Costa Rica is committed to making their community and their visitors feel comfortable and content. If you are interested in planning a trip to Costa Rica, many recommend scheduling it during the dry season – from Mid-December to April. Visiting Costa Rica is quite convenient from many American cities.

Where to Find Information Technology Outsourcing Services

locations for information technology outsourcing servicesGiven that people with advanced software engineering skills can be difficult to find, companies in the U.S. benefit from the technical expertise and talent found around the globe. Advances with communication and connectivity make it easier than ever for U.S. software teams to effectively include offshore members in all phases of product development.

While software development takes place all over the world, there are several countries that tend to excel in this area of expertise. Some of it depends on country-specific access to technical training at the university level though this is likely to change in the years ahead as online educational programs are continually improving, offering more rigorous training in technical skills like software development.

8 Countries Specializing in Information Technology Outsourcing Services

An increasing number of countries have recognized software development and technical work as an area of economic opportunity.  Compared to many skillsets, this type of work can be more easily outsourced, offering people the opportunity to successfully work offsite while earning a competitive wage. Typically in locations where you’ll find a higher proportion of technical talent, you’ll also find strong educational programs training people in the required math, logic, sciences and engineering, necessary for a successful career in software programming. Here is a list of 8 countries that have gained a reputation for their software development work.

  1. India: India has played a major role in offshore software development for quite some time, with thousands of European and U.S. companies turning to India as a destination for offshore software engineering. India excels in this category by offering a large pool of technical employees, flexible pricing, a variety of services and a fast time-to market turnover.
  2. China: Similar to India, China is another popular destination in the software development world. China has prevailed in numerous areas of economic and technical success with the help of governmental policy and foreign investments. This support has helped China become a leading destination for software outsourcing. China is often recognized for its efficiency and value.
  3. Philippines: While smaller in size than India and China, the Philippines has had an important influence on today’s technological outsourcing. This country has proved itself in terms of economic growth, stability and dependability. With a pool of highly skilled and affordable workers, outsourcing in the Philippines has grown in popularity. Because English is the primary language for business and educational training in this country, it’s an appealing option for many American companies.
  4. Ireland: This country has a great history of establishing strong international business alliances, in part by offering the lowest tax rate in Europe. With foreign grants and a highly regarded educational system, Ireland has become a go-to location for software outsourcing. Ireland is also a comparatively convenient flight from New York City or Boston, making it more appealing for U.S. companies interested in visiting offshore locations in person.
  5. Nicaragua: Students are filling the universities in Nicaragua and they are ready for their first employment opportunity. Seventy percent of the population in Nicaragua is under 30 years old and many are focused on finding stable careers. With this young, motivated workforce, Nicaragua has become a fresh outsourcing phenom. The close proximity between the U.S. and Nicaragua also adds some appeal.
  6. Costa Rica: If 80 miles of rich beaches isn’t enticing enough for you, the software development services in Costa Rica may help you fall in love! This country is easily accessible from many U.S. airports including direct flights from Atlanta and Miami. It is also home to numerous universities which graduate an impressive pool of educated and talented software professionals every year. With minimal language barriers and a high literacy rate, Costa Rica is rapidly becoming a hot spot for software development. It is particularly ideal for companies interested in an agile software development approach.
  7. Ukraine: This country is recognized as a leading software outsourcing destination in Eastern Europe. The Ukraine has long been recognized for having a strong educational system and excellent labor force. With a growing infrastructure and interest in IT services, outsourcing software development to the Ukraine is a viable option.
  8. Vietnam: When it comes to software outsourcing, this country is sometimes regarded as an alternative option to China. With lower costs and a strong working-age population, Vietnam is full of possibilities for IT outsourcing. Although it is still developing its technical talent to compete with bigger players, this country is on its way to becoming a major contender in the world of IT outsourcing.

Whether you decide to outsource software development with a country like India, or go the alternative route with Ukraine, there are plenty of factors to take into consideration. Making the most informed decision for your business is top priority.  And depending on your specific needs and situation, there are certain locations that will be most suitable.  If you’re looking for top technical skills, excellent communication, an agile approach to software development, and a close offshore proximity to the United States, you should definitely consider Costa Rica as a location for software development. For more information about this opportunity, give number8 a call today.