Outsourcing IT? What to Look For in an IT Outsourcing Agency
Outsourcing is a great way to get things done at an affordable cost and avoid the hassle of adding more people to your staff. For example, you can delegate all of your IT maintenance requirements to an external IT firm instead of creating a new department for it in-house.
There are two opinions on outsourcing; some people believe it's a great way to get the job done while others worry that outsourcing compromises quality and security. The quality of service depends on the competence of the firm you hire. Here are some things you should look for in an IT outsourcing agency:
Substantial Industry Experience
Look at the amount of experience the company has before hiring them. Experienced establishments know how to interact with customers, understand priorities, and have a proven system in place. They are better equipped to deal with emergencies, unexpected delays, and last-minute changes. You can ask the company about their experience directly or look at the information provided on their website.
Good Company Culture
IT companies often struggle to maintain a good company culture or work ethic, which can compromise the quality of service provided. Do some research into the company’s background to understand if their culture aligns with yours. This can be especially beneficial if you intend to maintain a long-term relationship with the outsourcing partner.
Reputable Past Clients
Looking at the past clients and getting in touch with them can tell you a lot about the company. Ask the outsource partner to provide some referrals so you can discuss the quality of services provided with someone who has already worked with the company. Past clients will offer unbiased and straightforward information about the company. They will point out flaws and habits that you need to be wary of while highlighting the right qualities.
Good Infrastructure and Technology
An IT company should have good infrastructure and technology. For example, you won't want support from an IT company that still uses outdated technology and software programs. You won't want to share vital information with an establishment that doesn't have a robust and current security system in place. Make sure the company uses the best and most current technology so you can get the most consistent results.
Strong Customer Support System
A reliable customer support system is the heart and soul of any outsourcing partner. Look for a company that spends time and effort on their customer support. There are many ways to identify a proper set-up; look for the characteristics mentioned below:
- The partner offers multiple ways to get in touch. You can call, message, email, live chat, etc.
- They provide a dedicated expert as your point of communication. You can go to this expert for all of your concerns.
- They offer 24/7 support for emergencies. For example, IT maintenance and repair service will respond promptly if your system crashes, even if it is on a Sunday.
Good customer support is one of the most important characteristics to look for in an outsourcing partner.
Wide Range of Services
Keeping track of multiple vendors and outsource partners is a drain on resources, which is why you should look for a company that can handle all of your IT needs. They should be able to provide on-site services, remote services, conduct new installations, dispose of old hardware, etc. If you can find a company that does everything you need under one roof without compromising quality, hire them.
At Number8, we help businesses optimize their operations with onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide effective communication and service that allow your business to grow at a rate that keeps up with your market. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!
5 Inspiring Things You Should Know About Elon Musk
Elon Musk is a fascinating person. He is the man behind Tesla, the company that introduced revolutionary electric cars into the market. He's also the force behind SpaceX, which is a private organization that launches rockets into space and frequently collaborates with NASA.
Recently, Musk created special flamethrowers and sent a Tesla car into space. He's a man who doesn't hesitate to experiment and pushes the boundaries of tech innovation fearlessly. Here are some of the most inspiring things you should know about Elon Musk:
He Amassed His Fortune Before the Age of 30
Elon Musk became a millionaire
when he sold one of the first companies, an online media-services establishment, to Compaq for $307 million. He was 27 years old at the time and ready to keep moving. He founded X.com, which eventually became the highly successful PayPal. Musk sold that company to eBay for $1.5 billion and earned a profit of around $180 million from that sale. He was already a success story before he established his two most significant projects; Tesla and SpaceX.
Both Tesla and SpaceX Were On The Verge of Failure
SpaceX and Tesla are both successful companies now, but they came close to failure just a few years ago. SpaceX tried to launch its flagship rocket three times and failed. He lost a considerable fortune during those six years and was down to his last $75 million.
It took around $90 million to build a rocket at that time, which means Musk could barely afford another launch. He was the sole owner of the company, so he didn't have much support. Tesla was also in a rocky boat. Their first product, the $100,000 Roadster, had several quality issues and faced many recalls.
Fortunately, both companies recovered. The fourth SpaceX launch was a success, which impressed NASA enough to give the company a multibillion-dollar contract. Tesla also managed to brave public distrust and launch successful products. The third-generation Tesla cars are a big hit. This goes to show that everyone faces ups and downs and need to be persistent.
Musk Wants to Make Tesla Cars for the Masses
Tesla started with a premium product that most people couldn't even dream of owning. They launched a fast Roadster with a price tag of $100,000, which put it firmly out of reach for most people. But Musk has a plan to create one luxury line, one mid-range line, and one mass consumption line. In 2016, Musk introduced the third generation Tesla vehicles with one model priced at $35,000.
Tesla has already made an impact on the automobile industry and has been a disruptive influence. Many other manufacturers are trying to follow in their footsteps and release their electric car models.
His Work Ethic Is Not One To Be Rivaled
Musk works hard and has an unbelievably busy schedule. According to an interview, he has only taken two weeks off in almost 12 years. He also has 100-hour workweeks and only sleeps around 6 hours every night.
Of course, not everyone can or should follow this example, but people can get inspired by his commitment to his dreams. Musk has many goals in mind, and his current success is just a starting point.
His Entrepreneurial Spirit Manifested Early
Elon Musk had a mind for business even before he was a teenager. At the age of 12, he developed and sold a game to a computer magazine for $500. That was big money for a child living in Africa back in 1984. It was a simple enough game named Blastar, and it wouldn't get much attention now, but it shows that it is never too early to start. Ideas can come to you at any age.
The 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto
The agile methodology started in the software development industry in response to the limitations of traditional software development principles. Eventually, companies realized that it could be used to improve project management, team management, and other such processes. Agile focuses more on individuals and interactions between different teams than processes or sophisticated tools. There are 12 core principles of the agile manifesto.
Customer Satisfaction – Providing Early & Continuous Delivery
The Agile Manifesto states that developers and companies can achieve customer satisfaction by delivering products early for testing and feedback. Teams can continuously share their progress with the clients and incorporate their input into the product. The focus is on fulfilling client priorities and then focusing on other aspects of the project. This allows developers to adjust to the client's changing requirements during the development process. Customers get a more refined product at the end of this process, and they're more satisfied.
Responding Positively to Change – Even During the Later Stages of Development
The modern business environment is fluid, and customer requirements change frequently. Traditional working models don't adapt well to change, especially during the late stages. The agile methodology adapts to change quickly at every stage. Agile offers a simplified model for requesting and making alterations in the product design. There's no formal documentation or approval required, which can speed things up.
Frequent Delivery of Product Elements
Rather than forcing the clients to wait for several months, the development team can deliver the project in stages. You need to make sure every aspect is finished, tested, and styled appropriately. This gives customers quick fulfillment and offers assurance that their project is progressing as planned.
Communication Between Developers & Executives
There's often a communication gap between developers and executives. People who work on the project have more technical skills and knowledge about the product, while executives understand the business side of things. This can lead to miscommunication, delays, and other such issues. Agile requires everyone to be on the same page and maintain open communications.
Trusting Developers & Teams to Do Their Job
Many executives don't trust their workers to choose the right job, which results in micromanagement. Such micromanagement can hamper productivity and place unnecessary pressure on the team. Projects should be built around motivated and passionate professionals who understand their strengths. Self-organized teams are more efficient and content to work on every aspect of their projects.
Face to Face Conversations
Essential instructions and project requirements can become lost in endless chain emails, which is why face-to-face communication is necessary. Executives should obtain feedback from the source and work with the team on the project. Virtual communications like video conferences can help in this process.
Collocation & Pair Programming
Collocation is the process of making a team work from the same open area. Pair programming is when two programmers are assigned the same workstation. One programmer is writing the code while the other looks at the bigger picture. Both swap roles every few minutes. Both of these processes improve product quality and make teams more productive.
No one can work continuously or at a demanding pace without experiencing some form of burnout. Agile methodologies focus on improving work-life balance and making sure everyone in the team is healthy. Product development is only sustainable if workers are allowed to get adequate rest.
Self-Reflection to Improve Overall Performance
The agile manifesto is focused on the human aspect of development. The best designs come from teams who are committed, passionate, and happy to work. They also come from teams that are willing to look back at their past work and improve.
The Pareto Principle says that you get 80% of the work done with 20% of the effort. Professionals should focus on the 20% and make sure that 80% of the work reaches the customer on a priority basis. You can then focus on the nitty-gritty and refine the project later.
Executives should give their teams some room to flex their creative muscles. The team has skilled employees who are experts in their field. Allowing them some independence will help product development and improve overall work culture.
Adapting to Change
Agile means fluid and adaptive. You can only be agile if you're willing to accept changing demands and requirements during a project. Everyone can plan for a perfect product, but you can only develop something substantial through trial and error. Adopting agile principles can help improve your team’s performance and productivity significantly.
At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.
“Automated QA: Save time, use a web calendar handler!”
Number8's very own Derick Arzu was recently published on Medium. Read the article on automated QA processes below.
Text boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, and other elements of forms are fairly simple to deal with when it comes to developing UI functional tests for a web application. But what happens when you want to write a test that verifies that the UI for a web calendar is working?
You are probably thinking that it can be easily achieved with a couple of clicks and validations, which is not only true but also the approach that led to the idea of a handler.
Before you discover how to make your automated QA team very happy, here are some reasons why writing a simple function or just a segment of code that deals with ONE specific calendar is not as scalable. Imagine you are a QA Developer at a company who is developing the websites for airlines A and B and your team is requested to create the automated test suites. Sounds quite easy, you will use the same code in both projects, nothing will need to be changed; until someone shows you the designs of the two web calendars each airline uses in their website.
Beginning with the obvious differences, airline A uses two windows while airline B uses only one; that surely represents a significant change in the code of that first approach. Another difference you might not have noticed is that airline B has a dropdown to change the year of the calendar, so that would mean a slight change in the method used to get the text of the displayed year. Those are two visual differences that will affect the way your bot interacts with the calendar and the DOM will surely surprise you with more.
Now that you are interested, the coding begins!
This handler was implemented in Node.js and uses WebdriverIO as the test framework that interacts with the browser.
You will find out that the framework has two functions ($ and $$) to fetch web elements. However, a hierarchy of classes will be created to manipulate elements, later on you will learn this is so that the handler can easily be able to cover many web calendar designs.
The main class is Element. Here is where, the method to obtain the fetch function is implemented, it has two parameters:
- selectorObject (required) which refers to an object with two properties; the first named selector , is a string that specifies the selector that will be used to fetch the element. The second is index, which is an integer that must be assigned to the object if the fetch result wants to be treated as a single element and not as an array of elements.
- additionalProperties (optional) is an object with any property that wants to be added to the fetch result. The subclasses of the hierarchy use this to manage how some data is obtained from the web elements, you will learn this later on.
4 Powerful Tips to Improve Communication at Work
Communication is one of key pillars for any relationship. It could be a personal relationship, a friendship or a business relationship. People sometimes think that rules for personal communication don´t apply to a work environment but this is not true. Every human has needs, emotions, hopes, values and dreams. And each person faces situations in their personal life that may sometimes impact job performance.
Staff turnover is one of the main challenges many companies face. While employees come and go, many are less likely to leave if they are in an environment where they feel respected, rewarded, safe and comfortable. People tend to be happier in work environments where they are confident enough to speak to coworkers and managers about their lives – this includes work related topics and personal ones too.
This is why communication is so important in the work environment, both among employees in the office and for those that work remotely. While maintaining good communication with employees who work together in the same place each day may seem straightforward, it is sometimes less obvious how to improve communication with those working off site. As an agency that specializes in connecting nearshore technical talent with U.S. companies, we’ve got some worthwhile insights into this challenge. Follow along for helpful tips to improve work communication, including communication between onshore and offshore workers.
Four Helpful Tips To Help You Improve Communication At Work
1. Employees are human beings, not numbers or metrics.
Many companies focus on growth, revenue and developing new products/services or improving existing ones. Sometimes by doing this, employees start to feel more like numbers, or pawns in a game of chess. When dealing with human resources, emotions play an important role. Employees are much less likely to make sacrifices for companies that make them feel like a cog in a wheel. It is tough to go the extra mile for a boss that doesn’t seem to take interest or care about anything but the bottom line.
According to Dale Carnegie, author of the award-winning classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the main thing people care about in life is themselves. Every person wants to feel important, valued and appreciated.
Henry Ford surely recognized this back in 1914 when he started paying his employees $5 a day. (This was a big salary increase.) He also reduced shifts from 9 hours a day to 8. By doing this Ford quickly solved a high staff turnover problem that his company was experiencing. This led to notable increases in production.
If a company can make its employees feel important, feel that their job matters and that they are important assets for the company, they are far more likely to do the extra work needed to go from good to great, and to take care of the company as if it was their own. While a motivated employee will communicate better, it is an employer’s responsibility to make sure employees know they are free to express what is on their mind.
2. Body Language Matters.
Over 50% of the things we say are non-verbal. Given this, learning body language is an important part of developing more effective communication.
If you are a manager, it is essential that you practice your body language skills so that when you speak with your employees you can transmit your ideas in the best possible way and avoid any misunderstandings of what you are trying to convey.
Things like maintaining an upright posture, making eye contact during conversation and keeping your chin up will radiate confidence and those around you will see you with respect.
Besides using body language to communicate well at work, it’s also important to understand body language signals in others. This might be especially important when dealing with offshore employees that normally communicate through apps like Skype or Zoom. Knowing how to identify body language signals like face and eye gestures and tone of voice will enable you to read between the lines of the message that a coworker wants to transmit.
3. Make Yourself Available to your Co-Workers.
One of the easiest ways to make yourself accessible to coworkers is to simply tell them that you are available. People want to know they can count on you and the only way they will know this is if you communicate it. People want to know that their colleagues are people that can listen to them and understand what is going on.
Sometimes it may be difficult for people to communicate issues directly, especially with a manager. In these times, it can be useful to have a way for people to anonymously ask questions or even express complaints. Having a channel of communication that enables people who are too uncomfortable or shy to speak directly to leaders is a great way for a company to stay informed about situations they may otherwise not know about.
4. Share Something in Common.
Many of the best managers are comfortable sharing something about their personal lives with their coworkers. They might participate in a fun office outing or simply take an interest in the lives of their employees. Something as simple as remembering a birthday can make an enormous difference to a person’s morale at work.
This type of leader tends to be one that can talk about any topic with employees, not just work-related things. Often these more informal conversations help to build trust and work satisfaction. They also improve overall communication by making people feel more comfortable and secure.
Take the time to develop relationships with your coworkers and create a trusting environment for people to open up to you. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by the results.