6 Reasons Why Agile Software Development Will Remain Relevant for the Foreseeable Future

Every development methodology has its pros and cons. Depending on the size and culture of a company, the structure and plan best used to oversee the process of developing a system can vary. However, it seems that as of late, the Agile Methodology is winning out as the best way of managing a both a company and software development team’s resources. 

Here are 6 reasons why Agile software development will continue to remain relevant, perhaps even as a management approach within other industries.

  1. It’s Collaborative

    The Agile method runs around daily meetings or “scrums” that cultivate accountability and teamwork. During any given scrum, each team member shares their accomplishments from the last work day, announces what they are currently working on, and mentions any possible impediments to progress for the team to help them problem solve. These meetings keep everyone on schedule, and create a cohesive atmosphere where each person is able to work cross-functionally and continuously learn from one another.  

  2. It Offers Flexibility 

    Setbacks are common when it comes to software development. The Agile methodology’s time frame offers flexibility in that it builds in time for future corrections. By embracing the ideology from the start that not everything is going to go to plan, Agile prevents errors from halting a development project by making time for them. 

  3. It Promotes Efficiency 

    With this flexibility comes a sense of urgency because of the level of communication that exists within Agile. Problems are tended to efficiency because of the cyclical like feedback and level of interaction between all team members. The speed at which corrections are made is key in that they save time and resources; allowing a company to stay within budget.  

  4. It’s Adaptive

    As it’s adaptive in nature, Agile welcomes changes in requirements and feedback. This way of thinking is value adding as it encourages innovation and risk taking at every stage of the process. 

  5. It Tests for Quality

    The focus of agile is test driven. Software is developed in a way that continuously tests for quality. Problems are identified early on in order to achieve the best possible end product.  

  6. It Offers Transparency

    Agile is inherently transparent. Therefore, stakeholders and product owners can ensure a proper return on their investment. Additionally, the customer, developer and project manager remain on the same page and achieve a desired level of communication. 

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.

 

Meetings At Work – 4 Reasons Why They Are Useful

When it comes to meetings at work, they can either be really informative or drag on past the point of productivity. For those in the IT world who have embraced the Agile methodology, meetings are a daily occurrence called “scrums.” Development teams lead these gatherings to regroup and give status reports concerning their specific projects. Additionally, even when working with remote workers, it can prove beneficial to touch base with them face to face via a video conference, as things can be misconstrued in other formats like email and chat. 

No matter what industry you’re in though, meetings are an essential part of business. In fact, if done right, they can propel a company toward success. 

Just in case you’re not sold, here are 4 reasons why meetings are useful in the workplace: 

The Power of Brainstorming 

Sometimes it takes meeting with your team to get a new perspective on a project or problem. Collaborating collectively allows for new ideas to be shared in a safe and confidential space. Innovation is best nurtured when everyone feels they are heard and have been given the opportunity to contribute.  

Providing Information 

Meetings are perhaps most often used for providing information and dispersing tasks. If structured properly, they don’t have to be the drudge most employees have come to know and fear. These kinds of meetings work best if there is a clear agenda and a leader who is not afraid to interrupt and push forward. To some extent, everyone should be given the opportunity to speak. This is a great time to discuss priorities, air grievances, and gather help from those less bogged down with assignments. Providing information in a meeting is constructive in that everyone is on the same page at the same time.

Strategic Planning 

Usually a company participates in annual strategic planning to set the course and pace for the upcoming year. Planning strategically can be helpful in setting goals and motivating your team to seek action based results. Doing so can also ensure everyone is kept accountable throughout the year. Additionally, meeting within this context gives leadership the opportunity to recognize potential in members who may be interested in taking on more responsibility or growing their role within the business. 

Re-centering

Without meeting from time to time, a company’s policies have a way of falling through the cracks. Convening from time to time just to give everyone feedback and have a general review of the proper procedures can be immensely helpful in keeping a growing business on track. Not to mention it helps to rustle everyone up and out of their respective nooks and show some appreciation for a job well done. 

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.

8 Traits of a Skilled Project Manager

A project manager’s job entails moving a project from conception to completion all the while ensuring a client’s needs and wants are being met and that the team is reaching it’s deadlines. This requires a lot of planning and executing. Additionally, finding the right person for the job can be quite the task as the role of project management requires a specific and well sought after skill set. 

Whether you’re searching for a good candidate to fulfill a project management position or looking to become a skilled project manager yourself, here are some important traits to hone in on. 

8 Characteristics of a Skilled Project Manager

1. Organization

In order to set realistic timelines and stay within budget for each and every project, a project manager needs to be a well oiled and organized machine. Seeing a project through from beginning to end in an organized and proficient way often entails being able to utilize the right tools to set goals and milestones, as well as schedule meetings and assign tasks. 

2. Communication

As with any role, communication is important. However, for a project manager, excellent communication skills are paramount. This is because their role acts as an information pipeline for both the client and company as a project progresses. A project manager must be able to manage expectations both within her team as well as when consulting with a client. Communicating in an honest and respectful way leaves no room for misinterpretation and fosters good working relationships. 

3. Leadership

A good project manager is also a good leader; someone who can managing people effectively. Keeping up with your team’s level of productivity on a current project as well as being clear about what should be prioritized and the best way to manage time takes real leadership. Additionally, a successful leader can comfortably delegate tasks, track their team’s progress, hold them accountable, and even share credit for a job well done.   

4. Vision

As a project manager, one must be able to see and account for an infinite amount of possibilities. Planning ahead means accounting for potential pitfalls and necessary revisions. This way,  if and when they happen, the project does not fall behind schedule. Additionally, by having enough foresight, a project manager is able to anticipate and prevent mistakes before they can halt a project. 

5. Drive

In order for any given project to be successful, it’s essential that the project manager is passionate about it’s development. One who lacks drive will not be able to motivate their team properly to meet deadlines and reach new levels of innovation. By having a stake in the company, a skilled project manager is likely invested in the outcome of their projects and more likely to prosper because of it. Additionally, those who enjoy helping others naturally have a drive and passion for their work because they want to see it do well. 

6. Problem Solving

Setbacks are inevitable no matter the project. A skilled project manager is able to quickly problem solve an issue before it has a domino like effect and causes the whole project to lag. Good problem solvers are creative and not afraid to take action. 

7. Composure

When things don’t go as planned or a project is right up against a deadline, an experienced project manager is able to keep their cool under pressure. This trait is vital in making sure projects reach completion. Staying composed when dealing with a difficult situation, whether with a client or a glitch in development, allows for things to get back on track quickly.   

8. Team Building

Part of a project manager’s job is to oversee his or her team during a project. In order to inspire coworkers to do their best work, a project manager needs to be an effective team builder. Team building often entails showing compassion when needed and cultivating an environment where everyone feels they can approach you and ask questions. When your team is comfortable asking questions as they work on an assignment, they’re less likely to make mistakes that will need to be corrected down the road. Encouraging this kind of participation and offering helpful as well as positive feedback streamlines projects. 

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. 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!

How to Encourage a Culture of Continuous Learning Among Your IT Team

It should come as no surprise that providing professional development opportunities for your employees often results in new found innovation, creative problem solving, increased levels of productivity, and even upward mobility within the company. As a chief officer or project manager, here’s how you can support continued education for your IT team.

1. Provide The Resources & Time

If your team has to take it upon themselves to continue their education, chances are they’ll struggle with finding the right course and fitting it into their schedule among their many responsibilities. One way you can ensure your employees don’t get stuck or remain stagnant in their skill set, is by incorporating education into their work. Offering a set amount of hours of uninterrupted, paid learning not only motivates employees to seek growth, it makes it realistic. Whether it’s learning a new software tool or a strategies on improving performance in general, enabling your team to continue to develop will allow your company to keep up with the pace of the always evolving world of Information Technology.   

2. Tailor it to Your Work Culture

Continued learning doesn’t have to look the same for every business or IT team. It can be formal, informal, in the form of a quarterly retreat, weekly seminars, or online classes. What’s important is that you tailor it to your work culture. Depending on the size of your company, it may even be beneficial for employees to offer up topics they’re interested in and start from there.  

3. Lead By Example

Before you can establish a culture of continuous learning you must first create an environment where one is not afraid to ask questions. It can be scary to admit you are weak in a certain area or don’t exactly know how to do something. However, just because one works in the field of IT, doesn’t necessitate that they are skilled in it’s every specialty.  

4. Set and Share Goals

One way you can lead by example is to set and share your own goals for increasing your knowledge, both short and long term. This can be in the form of an action plan that details how you are going to reach these goals. Once you have established a means of providing educational opportunities, it’s beneficial to follow up with your team’s goals to ensure that there needs were met as well as learn how your employees plan to implement what they learned. When your team understands what they’re doing and why, they’ll be more engaged in the process and more productive overall. 

 

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. 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.

8 IT Security Trends To Keep Your Eye On

2018 alone has seen many high profile cyber attacks. Therefore IT security is now at the forefront of every consumer, business and software developer’s mind. Here are a few trends to keep a close watch on to ensure your risk management is up to snuff.  

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is making waves as of late, but especially in the realm of security as machine learning means its easier to both prevent and launch cyber attacks. Just as hackers could potentially use this latest technology to develop more sophisticated attacks, security professionals are utilizing AI to learn from and identify possible threats to help them put together a more successful defense.

2. Cloud based security 

Cloud based security is becoming more and more necessary as more businesses rely on digital data. Information must be stored on secure servers in order to be deemed safe. According to SC Media, “cloud-delivered security products are more agile and can implement new detection methods and services faster than on-site solutions.” 

3. Multi-factor authentication 

For the many of us that use the same passwords for all of our accounts, it should come as no surprise that weak or stolen passwords are a major cause of data breaches. However, multi-factor authentication can circumnavigate this kind of security gap. By requiring more than one credential to verify a user’s identity, it ensures that a stolen password doesn’t have a domino like affect on other accounts.

4. Remote browsing 

Remote browsing allows you to browse the internet via a browser that is hosted by the cloud instead of an application on your device. It has become an effective way of isolating and protecting user information from malware.

5. Evading Sandboxes

Sandboxes have been successful in the past at detecting and preventing unverified parties from accessing operating systems by providing a controlled space for them to run in. However, malicious code bypassing sandboxes is becoming a more prominent issue in security. Viruses are now able to detect that they are in a sandbox. Instead of attacking immediately, they stay inactive and undetected until out of the controlled environment.

6. Internet of Things Ransomware 

Ransomware has always been a popular attack method. Encrypting files that cannot be regained or used until payment usually means a big pay out. However, such an attack could be more dangerous than once anticipated in terms of the Internet of Things. As many connected objects don’t yet have a well developed security system, they’re easy pray. While IoT’s like home appliances and gadgets seem to be of low risk, smart cars and manufacturing organizations could by critically targeted.   

7. Cryptojacking 

An alternative to ransomware, cryptojacking generates currency instead of holding your software hostage to get it. Cryptojacking occurs once a hacker has gained access to a computer and installed software that mines online currency such as bitcoin. Except for a slower functioning computer, users don’t usually notice and are able to use their computer as normal.  Access is mostly given via a malicious link in an email, website, or online ad. 

8. Email security 

Email security is of the upmost priority for individual and business accounts. This is because email is one of the most common applications attackers use to gain unauthorized access. Measures like encryption, utilizing strong passwords and spam filters can go a long way to protect against potential leaks. Additionally, avoiding public WiFi connections, being careful of revealing sensitive information, and only opening messages from trusted contacts will ensure you are not compromised.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. 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.

An Overview of Scrum Certification

What is Scrum?

The term “scrum” is borrowed from the team contact sport rugby. In rugby, everyone has to work together for the duration of the game. Applied to the world of information technology, scrum’s holistic approach assures that no one is left behind or too far ahead during a project. In fact, development teams that utilize scrum, lead daily meetings or “scrums” to ensure everyone is on the same page. During these, team members give status reports on progress made for their specific project.

Though the concept of scrum predates the Agile way of thinking, it is a subset of the Agile methodology in that it is a development methodology that supports a more cyclical, flexible and adaptive way of working through a software development cycle. A typical scrum team consists of a product owner, a development team, and a scrum master. The owner envisions the project, while the team follows through with it from beginning to end. Meanwhile, the scrum master provides leadership and acts as an authoritative figure for the development team.

Becoming Certified

For those that work within the product development game, becoming certified in scrum is a valuable asset to cultivate. Demand for this certification has only increased alongside the growing popularity of the Agile methodology.

While receiving a scrum certification is quite the investment, it is a relatively quick process. Depending on if you’re seeking a junior or senior level course, it can take anywhere from hours to days to complete. Those that become certified in scrum are usually scrum masters. Scrum masters are tasked with inspiring, enabling, and guiding their teams through the process of product development. They also facilitate collaboration and productivity from the team and resolve any issues that may impede the unit’s progress.  

It’s important to note that scrum is not only used in agile software development. It can be immensely helpful when it comes to managing projects in an array of other fields as well. Before you enroll in a scrum certification course, be sure to properly evaluate the accreditation. This ensures that the class is from a credible organization that your employer respects and values.

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.

7 Industries Making Remote Work Commonplace

With greater schedule flexibility, it’s no surprise the trend towards remote work is growing. Whats more, cloud based technology has made working from home easier than ever before with files and data readily accessible. According to CNBC, “More than two-thirds of people around the world work away from the office at least once every week.”

Working from the comforts of home (or anywhere with a good wifi connection that is) is enticing when you factor in all the time not spent commuting and sitting in traffic. Additionally, remote workers tend to have more control over their workplace environment, and can usually juggle home and work life responsibilities with more finesse.  As happy employees make for a more productive workforce, many industries seem to be embracing this new kind of work culture.

Here are 7 Industries where Remote Workers are becoming Commonplace:

1. IT 

Remote work is no doubt ripe in the field of information technology. Jobs in security, website development, software engineering, app development, and database administration (just to name a few) can all be done remotely. In fact, many IT companies look to utilize remote workers in order to better offset costs and streamline projects. 

2. Accounting & Finance

Bookkeepers and accountants can usually work from anywhere, often computing payroll and or taxes for clients both big and small. 

3. Customer Service

 Companies that function primarily online through a website rather than a store front need customer service just as much as brick and mortar businesses do. Online tech support jobs tend to be remote and act as a virtual help desk for customers or clients, including assisting with online orders as well as payment processing.

4. Healthcare

 Many administrative jobs in the healthcare industry are now remotely operated. These jobs include handling billing, insurance claims, as well as scheduling appointments.

5. Marketing

 The advertising industry has largely transformed in recent years due to the rise of digital platforms. Whether it’s as a graphic designer, content writer, influencer or social media manager, long gone are the days where you need to be in an office to run an ad or promote a business or product. Marketing jobs now come in many different shapes and sizes and can be done from anywhere. 

6. Education

Due to an increase in online classes being offered, there are more opportunities for teachers to work remotely. For example, many college level classes are being taught online by adjunct professors to better serve non-traditional students. Additionally, those homeschooling or looking for help to prepare for the SATs can do so via virtual tutors.

7. Sales

 Just as the marketing world has changed, so to have sales jobs. Now generating leads is more plausible through the use of social media channels, as well as email or text message marketing. All of this can be done remotely, especially if you’re in the real estate industry.  

At Number8, we believe one of the keys to achieving your business’s goals is great IT that supports your company. We help businesses access great IT by connecting them with remote workers that utilize best-practice tools and processes. 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!

6 Facts About the Cloud Computing Industry You Might Not Know

For those of you still wondering what the cloud is exactly, think of it as a metaphor for the Internet. Cloud computing is simply a way of storing and accessing files online. One’s cloud can be accessed via multiple computers as long as you are connected to a network. The information is then stored on remote servers. The cloud makes accessing data easier, and allows for the storage of large quantities of information. Therefore the future of business is no doubt cloud based.

6 Facts about the Cloud Computing Industry You Might Not Know…

  1. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft are receiving an ever growing portion of their revenues from the cloud. In 2017, Amazon generated 3.2 million from their public cloud computing infrastructure division known as Amazon Web Services.

  2. Security concerns about cloud computing are waning as more and more IT experts feel confident in trusting the cloud with sensitive data. A reported 60% feel adequately safeguarded against the potential risks of their databases being hacked.

  3. According to Forbes, “More than 50% of IT spending will be cloud-based by 2018.” An increased investment in cloud computing will likely be seen across all industries as the cloud helps businesses save money by using staff more efficiently.

  4. Almost half of the agencies within the U.S. Government utilize the cloud. In fact, the government is thought to be the largest user of cloud computing technology.

  5. Banks are the most active users within the cloud as a result of mobile banking apps, virtual transaction services like Paypal, and developing currencies like Bitcoin.

  6. For most companies, the cloud is used to store files and as a means for backup and recovery. Currently the cloud is being utilized for storage more than it is used for things like application deployment. However, this could change as the demand for cloud services grows and enables new business models.

At Number8, we provide high quality technical talent to businesses of all sizes and sectors. Whether you specialize in application development, custom software, website development, mobile solutions, database design, client/server, web application development and Q/A testing we can help. 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.