“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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.

Read More…

When Small Businesses Should Turn to Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a buzzword right now. Companies, large and small, are seeing the benefits of outsourcing and taking advantage. However, more often than not, the larger companies are the ones who truly take advantage of outsourcing. This is mainly because they have the funds and the work to do so efficiently. That doesn’t mean small businesses can’t benefit from outsourcing. They just have to approach outsourcing for small business wisely. And be sure to only use it when it is sure to benefit the company. So, where does a small business owner start when considering outsourcing? With just that – a consideration.

Pairing the consideration that business could benefit from moving work outside the office with an assessment of the business practice is a good place to start. This way of thinking will ensure that small business owners are making the right decision at the right time. Only once a lot of thought has gone into how outsourcing can help your business will it be time to look into outsourcing options. Follow along to learn what should be considered when looking into outsourcing for small business and where to start.

Four Signs Outsourcing for Small Business Could Help Your Company

1. The Same Problems Keep Coming Up

Every business, big or small, experiences a problem that continues to come up. Maybe it’s a part of a quality assurance checklist that is constantly overlooked. Or, perhaps, the team is unable to effectively deliver one of its promises time and time again. If there’s a particular aspect that the company continues to struggle with, it may be time to outsource that aspect.

There are a couple of questions business owners can ask themselves to determine if outsourcing is the best option. First of all, is there someone within the company who can take the work on? Can they do so without compromising their own set of day to day tasks? Secondly, can the company afford to pay this worker less than what it would cost to hire an outside agency? It’s time to outsource that work and keep the company moving forward if “yes” is not the answer to both questions.

2. Requested Work is Out of Your Wheelhouse

Another time to consider outsourcing is when work requests are coming in that your team cannot handle. Perhaps they don’t have the bandwidth to get it done effectively. Or perhaps the experience just isn’t there. Regardless of the reason, if there is work that needs to be done and your employees don’t have the ability to do it, it may be time to outsource that work. Another opportunity to outsource when work is not in your wheelhouse is when it concerns a chief officer within your company. There are plenty of agencies that supply CMOs, CFOs, or CISOs to companies struggling with filling those positions or functioning without them. That’s one of the beauties of outsourcing — no matter what it is you need, someone out there has it.

3. A Lot of Your Time is Spent on the Same Tasks

Do you find your day-to-day within the office is spent on the same tasks that could be chalked up to housekeeping? Perhaps you’ve observed that some of your most competent workers are spending too much of their time on tasks below their skill level. Regardless of the reason, if you can automate mundane tasks then do so by all means. Find programs to help with social media posting, billing, and additional clerical work, data entry, and the like. For all other tasks that you’d like to delegate to someone that is not a crucial member of your team, outsource. Some tasks can be outsourced to interns, so look at local colleges for interns interested in a career in IT. Other tasks can be outsourced to third-parties, both nearshore and offshore, depending on what kind of turnaround time you’re needing.

4. Your Creativity is Not Meeting What’s In Demand

Most companies that deal with website design, inbound marketing, or social media management have a grasp on creative tasks. Whether it’s an entire design team that remains in-house or a single person who is an expert in all things creative, if your company is cranking out design work, there is a designer on staff. While a single creative member or a team of designers can get a massive amount of work done, what will you do if a client requests video work? It’s not feasible to hire an entire video department for a one-off project, but you can adjust your pricing to cover outsourcing a video project.

Outsourcing may add a few lines to your company’s month-to-month balance sheet, but the benefits of it often far outweigh the cost. When applied correctly, to the appropriate aspects of a small business, outsourcing can be extremely beneficial. At Number8, we offer nearshore outsourcing services to a variety of business across the United States who need help with developmental work. If you’re looking for a team of experienced developers to help your small business churn out software development, contact us by calling 502-890-7665 today!

How Business Practices in Costa Rica Differ from Those in the United States

business practices in costa ricaBusiness, like language, varies from country to country across the world. From common practices to appropriate communication techniques, there are a lot of nuances to take into consideration when working with someone from another area. In some countries, like Japan, silence is valued over constant conversation. In others, like Germany, punctuality is preferred over flexibility. While some differences are vast, others are minor. When it comes to how business practices in Costa Rica differ from those in the United States, the differences are vast.

Costa Rica could not be much more different than the United State. From the landscape to the climate, there aren’t many similarities to be found between the two. However, both countries have growing populations with even faster-growing interests in web-based work and software development. Because of this mutual interest, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a go-to for U.S.-based companies needing nearshore development. Due to this growing interest centered around international business, it is important to understand business practices in Costa Rica and proper business etiquette.

7 Important Business Practices to Remember When Working with Costa Ricans

1. Appointments Are Always Flexible

Costa Ricans are not known for being the strictest of people when it comes to punctuality. Due to their more relaxed approach to time management, business appointments do not always start right on time. In fact, some websites who cover business practices in Costa Rica recommend bringing a book to your next meeting in case you have to wait for an extended amount of time. Due to this approach, business meetings often last longer than scheduled.

2. Consistent Reminders of Meetings Are Necessary

This differentiation between Costa Ricans and Americans stems from the Costa Rican pura vida lifestyle and their flexibility with time. Due to their busy lifestyles, Costa Rican business partners need constant reminders of pre-scheduled meetings. It is recommended to send appointment reminders a week before the meeting then two days prior to the meeting, with a final reminder going out the day of.

3. Put An Emphasis on Small Talk

Most differences between how business is done in the United States and Costa Rica stem from their pura vida lifestyle. While businesspeople in the United States often get straight to the point, Costa Ricans like to take their time. It’s important to emphasize small talk during business meetings with Costa Ricans. Speaking on topics like the weather, general news, or the latest sports scores are completely acceptable and welcome.

4. Networking is Highly Important

When compared to the United States, the population of Costa Rica is small. With only 5 million people in the country, networking plays a huge role in business growth. It’s important to get out there and discuss current business ventures and possible future business endeavors with the community. The small, tight-knit community can open up partnerships and opportunities with fellow businesspeople that may have gone unnoticed without networking. Due to the closeness of the Costa Rican community, and the importance of networking, it is crucial that you keep your comments respectful and your intentions honest.

5. Business Attire is Still Preferred in Professional Settings

Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and lush jungles may lead you to think that casual attire is acceptable throughout the country; however, the opposite is true in a business setting. Despite their laid back lifestyles, Costa Ricans still hold looking professional to high regard. Men are often found in dress pants paired with long sleeve shirts. Most opt for a jacket over a tie, unlike businessmen in the United States. Women’s wardrobe choices vary from business suits to more fanciful dresses, with plenty of accessories, depending on the event.

6. Titles Are Very Important To Costa Ricans

Titles are very important to Costa Ricans, especially those that hold professional or political titles. While professional titles are important to businesspeople in the United States, too, the titles of Costa Ricans differ greatly. Costa Rican men use both their father’s and mother’s names in correspondence, but only use their father’s names when introducing themselves. While businesspeople in the United States often have one surname and are fine with being called by their first name, in Costa Rica one must be invited to refer to the other by their first name. It is even seen as rude to call a Costa Rican by their first name without being invited to do so.

7. Negotiations Will Take Time

Business decisions are expected to take longer in Costa Rica than they are in the United States. This is because business decisions are made between all involved parties within the business which means there is a lot of bureaucracy to navigate. Additionally, because of the close community of networkers, business decisions and negotiations are often made over dinner, in a more relaxed environment, which can stretch out the process.

While Costa Rica is not on the other side of the world, business culture in Costa Rica is quite different when compared to the United States. With the more relaxed approach to time management and decision making, Costa Ricans do business at a slower pace. The close-knit community throughout the country means that there is a personal level to the business whereas there is often a strict line between business and personal life in the United States. Despite the differences, partnerships between businesses in the United States and Costa Rica continue to thrive in web-based work and software development.

At Number8, we connect businesses in the United States looking for development work with nearshore developers based in Costa Rica. We focus on assisting companies with improving their internal IT processes to ensure smoother business for everyone. If you are interested in learning more about what we do at Number8, give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

The Top 3 Locations for Outsourcing Software Development

Outsourcing software development has become an increasingly popular path for startups and small businesses alike. Instead of taking on the overhead of hiring employees in house, utilizing a remote workforce allows you to focus on your core business functions while growing at an affordable rate.

When it comes to outsourcing, there are a myriad of options available. One can opt to go Offshore, Nearshore or Onshore in terms of finding a remote workforce. Countries farther away are Offshore, those nearby are considered Nearshore, and Onshore means operating within your own country. Depending on your company’s origin, there are many pros and cons that come with selecting a specific location to outsource your software development needs.

While the U.S. and Canada each have tech reliant economies, the cost associated with doing business there tends to be higher and the demand for skilled workers has resulted in a shortage. Therefore, most businesses are left with the option to take advantage of the resources of a more global market. Here are the top 3 countries for software development in terms of quality and cost:

Latin America

While many South American countries including Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are becoming increasingly adept in the tech world, Costa Rica is a popular choice when outsourcing software development work. Their top notch IT programs produce good programmers and their culture has embraced innovation in technology as well as the agile methodology of project management. 

Asia

While India and the Philippines are known for their IT services, China is the leader when it comes to the outsourcing industry in Asia. China produces twice as many graduates as the United States, and as a result has a vast tech advanced work force. Coupled with it’s growing economy, China is a hot bed for outsourcing software development tasks. 

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, Poland and the Ukraine dominate the field of outsourced software development work. Both have an abundance of educated software engineers as a result of rich STEM educational programs. 

Before outsourcing your company’s software development, you’ll want to properly vet each agency to ensure a high quality of work. Take language, cultural barriers and possible travel expenses into account as well. Countries with a stable and supportive government offer a more favorable business climate to operate in, and a difference in time zone could reduce the time to market or make communication difficult. 

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!

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!

Blue Zones: What They Are & Where to Find Them

In 2003, journalist Dan Buettner discovered 5 places in conjunction with National Geographic, where people tend to live longer and healthier lives than those around the rest of the world. Dubbed the “Blue Zones” because of “the blue circles researchers drew to identify the first one on a map,” the inhabitants of these locations have a high average life expectancy, with large percentages of people living to be over 100.

People who live in these 5 regions do so often without the aid of medications and hindrance of chronic illness. Their longevity can be attributed to a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise and low stress levels. A sense of purpose stems from family, religion, and regular social engagement within their communities. Food is consumed fresh, and consists mostly of plant based dishes made from native vegetables, fruits, fish and nuts. Daily activity dictates that locals traverse by foot, so physical movement, sustainability and socialization come naturally.

Visit one of the 5 blue zones and you’ll find warm beachy weather and a love for nature. However, even if you never jet set from coast to coast, perhaps there is still a lot one can glean in the hopes of pursuing a better life style. 

The 5 Blue Zones

  • Sardinia, Italy

    • The first zone to ever be identified, Sardinia is home to the biggest population of male centenarians in the world. Due to it’s geographical isolation, genes have been passed down from generation to generation containing the M26 marker. This M26 marker has been linked to a longer life span. 
  • Okinawa, Japan

    • Okinawa makes up the south pacific islands of Japan. Here the women happen to live longer than other females across the globe. They value support groups, or what they call “moai” a lifelong group of peers there to help you through life’s struggles. They also work hard to develop “ikigai” or a reason for being that helps center, motivate, and fulfill them. 
  • Loma Linda, California

    • The only zone within the U.S., Loma Linda is a city in San Bernardino County, California. The Seventh-day Adventist Church (a Protestant Christian denomination) is prominent in the community. Those that reside here outlive their fellow Americans by a full decade. This is possibly due to a strict adherence to the Sabbath (a day of rest), the fact that their health is central to their faith, and that they don’t partake in tobacco or alcohol use. 
  •  Nicoya, Costa Rica

    • Located on Costa Rica’s pasific coast, this Latin American paradise has a thriving healthcare system and economy.  The locals have what they call a “plan de vida” or life plan that provides them with a purpose and enables their elders to continue to seek an active life.  
  • Ikaria, Greek

    • Ikaria is an island in the Aegean Sea known for it’s islander’s pride and traditional values. Here it is normal to live into your 90s. The people come and go as they please, as the concept of time is less rigid than in the modern world. 

No matter where your company calls home, Number8 can help your business connect to top tech talent. If you want to learn more about our consulting process and why we are the perfect offshore software development company to help you reach your company’s goals, then give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

Business Process Outsourcing Most Startups Should Consider

Sometimes hiring full time employees can actually slow you down and prevent your business from growing. That’s why so many startups are looking to business process outsourcing for help. Instead of bogging employees down with clerical work, outsourcing could enable your organization to grow faster by focusing it’s talent more on the core of the business.

What is business process outsourcing?

Business process outsourcing (BPO) involves contracting out certain operations and responsibilities that either take place in the back or the front office to a third party.

Responsibilities such as billing, human resources, and finance usually make up the back office or internal business functions of a company. Back office contracted work encompasses the following: purchasing, payment processing, insurance, retirement, hiring and recruiting, accounting, payroll, and general bookkeeping.

Marketing, administrative duties, as well as tech and customer support, are operations usually performed by the front office. These are more external, customer and client related business functions. Any social media, telemarketing, app testing, help desk support, customer interaction via phone or email, scheduling, and data entry that needs to be done would entail front office outsourcing.

Companies can outsource to a variety of locations.

Offshore outsourcing occurs outside a company’s country, nearshore outsourcing is in a neighboring country, and onshore outsourcing happens within one’s own country but out of the state. There are pros and cons depending on the location of the contractor. For example, a dollar can go further in other countries, but time zones and language barriers may prove problematic. 

BPO is a popular startup growth hack in that it saves valuable time and money.

Outsourcing to skilled and flexible personnel allows a burgeoning business to build a team as they need to. This is ideal when compared to time spent searching for and interviewing the right candidates. Contractors are also flexible in regards to workload.  Additionally, they are an affordable solution in terms of benefits and the costs of training as well. Obtaining remote workers through an agency means they are already qualified and require less of a financial investment. 

Both back and front office functions are integral to keeping any company running smoothly. By outsourcing business processing, tasks can be completed with the utmost speed and efficiency. 

At Number8, we help fast growing companies find quality remote workers that creatively contribute to your business’s success. 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!

Considering IT Outsourcing? 12 Questions To Ask Any Offshore Software Development Company

offshore software developmentYour company is growing by leaps and bounds, but you may notice that the resources available are limited. Especially when it comes to development talent. In the United States, there is a shortage of software developers. To help deal with this problem, many experts suggest companies be flexible with their hiring and look towards alternative solutions such as offshore software development.

What is Offshore Software Development?

Offshore custom software development, or offshore custom software engineering, is the process of looking overseas for talent to help with information technology, project design, engineering, coding and other areas of expertise. Offshore software development provide a cost-efficient solution for the developer shortage American companies face.

There are three basic ways to use offshore developers:

  1. “Project based” outsourcing involves hiring remote teams to complete certain modules or some part of the programming before finishing as a collaboration.
  2. Companies can also remotely hire entire teams of developers led by a project manager who checks the code as it delivered between parties. These teams can be as small or as large as the project needs.
  3. Some software companies create and implement a product then outsource the complete IT application programming and maintenance to an offshore team.

What you’re planning to use offshore developers for will determine the questions you will want to ask them. We’ve listed 12 questions below that we feel you should ask any offshore software developer regardless of your business plans.

12 Questions to Ask Any Offshore Software Development Company

  1. If you think your company can benefit from offshore development, be sure to ask the following questions when searching for a reliable company to help with talent recruitment.
  2. How do you find and hire developers?
  3. Where are developers located?
  4. How will your offshore developers help our company save time and money on software development?
  5. Can developers communicate effectively using email and online chat during a specific time window every day?
  6. Are developers fluent in English? Are they comfortable with the American dialect and its nuances?
  7. How do developers complete their software development process? How do your developers test applications and document each bug they find?
  8. Do the developers have experience completing projects similar to the one being proposed? If so, please provide examples. If not, what qualifications do these developers have that make them proper candidates or hire?
  9. Will the same developers initially assigned to the project be on the team for the duration of the development effort?
  10. Who receives the source code and related materials and eventually owns the completed project?
  11. What methods of development problem solving do your developers utilize? Are they familiar with agile development methodology?
  12. What makes your offshore software development company unique compared to others?

Use these questions to determine if the offshore software developers are going to be a good fit.

If you are wanting software developers to be client facing then they should be fluent in English. They should also be comfortable with American dialect. If you are looking for offshore software developers that use a certain coding method or are well versed in agile methodology, be sure to ask for developers with that kind of experience. By asking questions and getting as many answers prior to hiring, you will avoid issues down the road. This will lead to a healthier relationship with your offshore development team and an improved work flow in your office.

At Number8, we help companies create software products with the help of offshore development. If you questions about our consulting process and why we are the right offshore software development company for your team to work with, then give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!