Workplace Trends You’re Likely to See in 2018 and Beyond

2018 Workplace Trends

The workplace is changing more rapidly than ever. In 2017 we’ve seen progress in narrowing the wage gap, a shift from offshore to nearshore outsourcing for agile software development, and the rise in popularity of nontraditional benefits. Things will undoubtedly continue to gain pace in 2018. Here are some of our predictions for top workplace trends we will see in 2018 and beyond.

Higher Turnover from Burnout

Full-time workers in the U.S. work an average of 47-hours a week, with 40% of workers saying they work at least 50 hours. The availability of communication via technology means employees are forced to work in their off hours without additional compensation. This trend directly relates to the increased trend in workplace burnout which HR professional attribute to almost half of annual workforce turnover.  This trend is set to continue into 2018 for companies that fail to create wellness and flexibility programs that encourage employees to take time off for their health.

Artificial Intelligence in the Office

Artificial intelligence is the next big technology trend. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft are all incorporating AI into their upcoming devices and services in order to create “smarter products.” In particular, businesses will be using Chatbots more and more to handle operations including on-demand customer support, data mining, personal assistance, and human resources. Internet retailer Overstock.com uses an HR chatbot called Mila that alerts managers when their employees are sick. Meanwhile, employees at Intel use an HR virtual assistant to answer questions about benefits and pay.

Emphasis on Human Interaction

workplace trendsCompanies will continue to explore the effects of interpersonal relationships between workers. We’ve already seen this trend in action this year as IBM shut down their remote worker’s program and the new Apple Park in Cupertino, designed to increase worker relationships and collaboration. Companies are hoping increased socialization in the workplace helps boost office morale while fostering creativity.

Upskill Nation

In order to “higher up” and fill the growing skills gap in the workforce, companies are investing resourcing in “upskilling,” or providing current workers with additional training and education that allow them to fill higher positions. The National Federation of Independent Business reports that 45% of small businesses can’t find qualified candidates. Meanwhile, 60% of all employers have open positions that remain vacant for twelve weeks or more. Employers hope the process helps workers stay relevant in positions automated in the future.

An Aging Workforce

The Baby Boomer generation is living longer. The number of people 65 and older should triple by the years 2050. Meanwhile, a higher quality of life is keeping them in the workforce longer. About three out of every four Americans plan to work past retirement age. Projections expect the aging workforce to cost companies in the form of equal opportunity, retirement benefits, and healthcare. Meanwhile, younger employees will have a harder time advancing in their careers as senior employees maintain their leadership positions.

 

At Number8, we keep our finger on the pulse of both past and future workplace trends. We think keeping up with this news helps us implement the things that work in our business practices. We do this for increased job satisfaction for our employees while providing services that satisfy our clients’ needs. 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!

Why Programmers Include Unit Tests for Quality Assurance

Described concisely and directly, Unit Tests is Quality Assurance (QA) for the core of your software. The main difference between Unit Tests and regular QA is that Unit Tests are not done by a user interacting with the software directly. In fact, they are done by a programmer with code.

When we develop software, it must meet an objective or main requirement.

  • The core of the software is the code that relates directly to that objective.
  • The core is essential. If it does not function correctly, the software has no purpose.

Examples of software cores:

  • Online Payment – the code that processes the credit card or web payment method given by the user.
  • Hotel Booking Engine – the code that associates the user’s information to the hotel room and saves this to a database.
  • Scientific Calculator – the code that performs the actual calculations and returns a result.

When a software is declared ‘done,’ Quality Assurance (QA) tests the software to assure it satisfies its objective.

  • In a controlled environment, QA tests every core function possibility, making sure nothing breaks and everything works as expected.
  • The core is outlined clearly with every one of its cases for QA to test continuously.

The number of tests QA needs to perform can grow rapidly…

For instance, take a basic calculator (a relatively simple, single page application) that uses 4 basic functions (ADD / SUBTRACT / MULTIPLY / DIVIDE)

At first, QA needs to test the calculator’s 4 basic functions…

However, to ensure quality, QA needs to test every possible combination of functions at one time. 

One feature at a time:
ADD SUBTRACT
MULTIPLY DIVIDE

 

Two features at a time:
ADD / SUBTRACT ADD / MULTIPLY ADD / DIVIDE
SUBTRACT / MULTIPLY SUBTRACT / DIVIDE MULTIPLY / DIVIDE

 

Three features at a time:
ADD / SUBTRACT / MULTIPLY ADD / MULTIPLY / DIVIDE
SUBTRACT / MULTIPLY / DIVIDE SUBTRACT / DIVIDE / ADD

 

Four features at a time:
ADD / SUBTRACT / MULTIPLY / DIVIDE

 

  • For a basic calculator application that has four functions, QA needs to run 15 tests continuously to ensure it works properly.
  • Each scenario should be tested with its own input and all outputs need to be verified.
  • Now imagine another a new function is added to the app, for example, the trigonometric function sine. You have to test all the above functions again, but this time with the sine code added.
  • With the addition of 1 function, the number of tests increases from 15 to 31. The addition of 1 function doubles the number of tests to perform and forces QA to repeat tests.
  • A typical scientific calculator includes at least 13 functions:  add, subtract, multiply, divide, percent, sine, cosine, tangent, square root, nth root, exponent, log, factorial.
  • That yields a grand total of 8191 different test cases to perform!

This amount of QA is not feasible for a person to perform…. enter unit tests.

  • Unit Tests are QA for the software core done by machine calculations, therefore free of human errors.
  • Unit Tests will send inputs to the software core and evaluate the result.
  • The fact that it is done by code helps test a big number of cases and vary the inputs accordingly.

Typical Unit Test Structure

Given… Inputs
It (when)… Code to be tested.
Should (then)… Evaluation of results.
  • In the ‘Given’ section the programmer declares the inputs that will be passed to the feature tested. This can be a single number (like the calculator) or a different input, like a database object.
  • In the ‘It’ section, the programmer details the function or code that will be run and tested.
  • In the ‘Should’ section the results are evaluated and the Unit Test passes or fails.
  • Unit Tests include objects called ‘Mocks’ which resemble a database record. The programmer hardcodes the Mock’s attributes values, but it is important to note that the attributes are the same as a database record attributes, making it able to be tested.

 

Unit Tests are not fancy, unnecessary code

  • Unit Tests run quickly while verifying outputs correctly.
  • They are scalable and fit for applications with multiple requirements.
  • When a new variable is added, tests that verified the old cases can be reused.
  • Unit Tests are not a luxury, but an advanced way of doing QA by code that is needed when the software that wants to be tested has too many cases for a human to consider.
  • Plus, they are free from a human error, like passing a wrong input or interpreting the result incorrectly.
  • Unit Tests make QA more efficient while making it harder for its members to enter, as they will require a programming background.

 

At Number8 our programmers implement necessary code to ensure your software products can handle all functions and develop as needed. If you are interested in learning more about our development process or if you think you are qualified to join our team, then give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

Why Northern California Tech Companies Turn to Nearshore Outsourcing

Northern California: A National Tech Hub

The tech industry is one of the most important contributors to the Northern California economy. In order to continue developing high paying jobs, information and technology companies outsource operations to streamline processes and cut down on costs. Traditionally, Silicon Valley managers have looked to India for their outsourcing needs. However, there are various cultural issues when outsourcing to India.

Drawbacks of Offshore Outsourcing

     

  • Communication Issues – It’s hard enough translating programming concepts to clients and establishing milestones. You are bound to run into issues communicating with programmers who speak a different English dialect on top of that.
  • Time Loss – There is almost an entire day’s worth of time lost between San Francisco and Mumbai. When working with developers in India, take the loss of time into consideration when establishing project parameters. While the idea of planning a day ahead of schedule sounds great in theory, in practice we know that unexpected issues always require up-to-the-minute communication with programmers.
  • Spaghetti Programmers – The vast majority of coders in the Indian outsourcing market train to churn out work as quickly as possible. The term “spaghetti programming” refers to the code they produce; it loops round and round into a jumbled mess and if anything goes wrong, it’s very difficult to trace steps back and fix it.
  • Hidden Costs – An abundance of cheap, quick labor produces systems without structural integrity od proper checks. A system like this will eventually crash, leaving people in charge of small to medium-sized projects scrambling to fix it. Project managers end up spending the same amount of manhours they originally outsourced fixing the problem, sometimes doubling the cost of operations.

 
 

Nearshore Outsourcing: Solving Offshore Issues for Silicon Valley

 
northern californiaDespite the issues that come with offshore outsourcing, Northern California businesses still need to reach their demands for tech talent. The United States systematically fails to produce homegrown programmers and coders. Without these workers, operations halt and business growth stagnates.

Operations managers in Silicon Valley are turning to nearshore outsourcing to bridge the gap between the lack of tech talent and their business’s needs. Nearshore outsourcing finds talent in countries close to the U.S. such as Honduras and Costa Rica. There are various advantages to nearshore outsourcing.

Benefits of Nearshore Outsourcing

       

    • Smaller cultural margin – The culture in India is very hierarchical; because of this, workers tend not to take initiative on projects. They hesitate to think beyond their instructions. In many ways, the culture in Latin American culture closely aligns to that of the United States. Additionally, the English dialect studied in Central America is closer in line with that of the United States, whereas in countries like India they learn the British dialect. It may seem like a small difference, but the difference in dialect is a major barrier to effective communication.
    • Less time overlap – While there is an entire day’s difference between Silicon Valley and Mumbai, there is only an hour difference between San Francisco and Costa Rica.
    • Agile development – Nearshore programmers in Central America train in the methodology of Agile software development. Under the values and principles of agile software development, operations evolve though self-organizing cross-functional teams and collaborative effort. That means when something goes wrong, there’s no starting from scratch. Agile development is about motivated individuals working in real time and creating working software that evolves with business needs.
    • Lower costs – Nearshore combines the cost efficiency of outsourcing with the convenience of real-time communication. Higher productivity cuts down on overall costs and requires less backtracking.  Furthermore, with nearshore outsourcing, supervisors in charge of development projects are able to directly oversee their teams. Flights from Northern California to Central America are quick and relatively cheap.

     

    At Number8, we help Northern California tech businesses connect with agile software developers in Central America. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide cost-effective services minus the difficulties and risks that come from offshore outsourcing. 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!

Increasing Productivity on a Software Development Team

Increasing Productivity Before the New Year

As the year draws to a close, you may notice your software development team is lacking in productivity. You’re not alone. Managers from all types of sectors notice a dip in work rate as the holiday festivities approach. So how do you go about increasing productivity with a team distracted by online shopping and dreaming of vacation days?

Communicate Face-to-Face

We often rely on messaging applications like Slack and email to relay important information to teammates, but with all the digital noise available, crucial points may be lost. If you want to keep your employees’ attention, start logging IRL face time with your developers. Getting them away from the screen will help keep the task at hand on their mind without being overly aggressive.

Clarify Project Specs

If a project’s specifications are not clear, your team will waste hours trying to hit a target they can’t even see. Ask your programmers about the requests they receive and their clarity. There is always room for improvement as far as processes go and you will save time and money, in the long run, figuring out how to fix them today.

Lead by Example increasing productivity

Your attitude this season will affect your team’s, so be positive and productive if that’s how you want them to function. Teams work harder if their leader has a good attitude, so make a concerted effort to stay that way throughout the season.

Encourage Breaks

You may think that encouraging your team to spend time not working is counterproductive, but there is scientific proof that breaks boost productivity in the workplace. If you notice your team members are plugging away hour after hour and not getting up from their desk, gently remind them that it’s not a crime to take a break. Encourage them to take a 10-minute walk, get a fresh cup of coffee, or even take a minute to stretch.

Set End-of-Year Goals

Going into the season, have your developers set goals to reach by the end of the year. Help them decide how they will break up the work into daily activities so they can accomplish the goal. Setting small milestones is a good way to keep your programmers on task when the time of year tempts the mind to wander.

 

 

At Number8, we encourage healthy business relationships for increased productivity as well as job satisfaction. 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!

 

 

Nearshore Outsourcing: Why Texas Businesses Choose Nearshore Over Offshore

When it comes to meeting the United States’s demand for tech talent, the country comes up short. This presents a problem, especially for growing Texas tech companies. How do businesses fulfill the needs presented by growth when the manpower simply isn’t there? The answer is nearshore outsourcing.

Many Texas tech companies choose nearshore outsourcing to bridge the gap. Nearshore combines the benefits of onshore outsourcing with the affordability of offshore. For Texas businesses, in particular, using tech developers in Central America is more convenient than doing business between states. Flight costs for Houston to Costa Rica rival those of interstate flights– and flight time is only 3 1/2 hours. Team leaders can easily travel from the home office to developers when they need to. Nearshore developers also work in the same time zone, which allows more effective communication and eliminates the challenges of working on different schedules. These are just a few of the benefits of nearshore development outsourcing for Texas businesses…

Nearshore Outsourcing Alleviates Communication Challenges

When it comes to IT development, communication can make or break a project. Clear and effective communication is essential for project success, but when working with offshore developers that communication can become muddled. Not only do you have to take language and cultural barriers into account, the loss of inflection in digital messages means one simple sentence can be interpreted various ways.

Of course, working with nearshore developers doesn’t mean you’ll be speaking face-to-face with your team on a daily basis, but the proximity of nearshore outsourcing means there is less of a cultural gap– less room for interpretation. Clear and effective communication is crucial for web design. With nearshore developers, communicating is simpler, easier, and more effective.

nearshore outsourcing

Focus on Core Business Functions

As the leader of your business, focusing on the core functions is crucial. Your business’s core functions are the new things that create differentiation– the things that make your business stand out from competitors. When you outsource contextual functions, it allows your company to exponentially grow. The key is outsourcing with people that specialize in the practices your business needs help completing. Nearshore outsourcing provides greater efficiency and productivity in context projects so you can spend your working hours focusing on the bottom line.

Reducing Overhead Costs with Nearshore Outsourcing

Offshore outsourcing is affordable– there’s no denying that. However, there are hidden costs when you work with offshore developers:

  • Hidden transition costs
  • Productivity lags
  • Team management
  • Ramp-up costs
  • Contract management

Nearshore outsourcing is as affordable as offshore, but the benefits of working with people closer to your home office reduce the hidden costs. For instance, you are less likely to suffer from productivity lags when you work with people with whom you can communicate effectively right off the bat. Additionally, managing a nearshore team is much easier and travel costs are significantly more affordable.

 

At Number8, we help Texas businesses optimize their operations with nearshore 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!