Ready to transform the way you do business? In the spirit of learning something new, we thought we'd share our favorite agile reads! In no particular order, these books are chalked full of professional insights on how to embrace the agile mindset and workflow in order to reap the benefits of a fully agile organization.
1. Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos
While many businesses aspire to operate in an agile manner, the reality of their day to day work often flies in the face of this goal. In Doing Agile Right, authors Rigby, Elk and Berez are keen to dismiss the popular misconception that the agile method can be a quick cure for all. Instead they argue that the key to success is balance, stating that "Agile has the power to transform work--but only if it's implemented the right way." Included in their road map to success is the importance of understanding the method fully and applying the agile principles at scale.
2. The Agile Enterprise: Building and Running Agile Organizations
Mario Moreira's The Agile Enterprise offers practical ways to implement agile methods at every stage of business, from innovation to delivery. As an experienced agile coach, Moreira demonstrates how to adapt to micro changes in the market, arguing that in order to be truly successful, every employee must operate from an agile mindset and be focused on meeting the needs of the customer.
3. Agile Transformation: Structures, Processes and Mindsets for the Digital Age
In today's digitally driven world, Neil Perkin's Agile Transformation illustrates just how the traditional structures of the past no longer fit the current rate of change. New operating models must be embraced, and Perkin's encourages business leaders to think big but start small. This deeply insightful read includes case studies from disruptive tech companies like Amazon and Netflix and proposes that going agile is not an excuse to fail to plan.
4. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
Those familiar with the agile manifesto will surely recognize Jeff Sutherland for his efforts in helping to cultivate it. He is also responsible for building the first scrum team and fathering the movement that drives most of the world's top tech companies. All that aside, who couldn't benefit from being more efficient in all areas of their life? In this book, Sutherland sets out to solve our dysfunctional way of operating and offers solutions to increase productivity as much as 1200%.
5. Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership
In Scrum Mastery, Geoff Watts draws from his vault of knowledge and decade long experience coaching scrum teams to offer valuable leadership skills for those looking to increase the performance of their team. Watts philosophy to leadership stems from that of a servant-leadership model in which the primary goal of the leader is to serve and therefore enable their team. By embodying the principles of a servant-leadership role, Watts outlines how one can better foster creative collaboration and generate long lasting engagement. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.
Project managers juggle several tasks at the same time. They communicate with all teams, make sure everyone is reaching their targets, keep an eye on the budget, and much more. While most project managers get project management training or formal education in the field, they learn several skills on the job through hands-on experience. Here’s a brief look at some of the skills you learn on the job as a project manager.
Project Management Skills, Explained
Project managers must learn the fine art of delegating if they want to keep a project on track. People fresh out of school or working on their first few projects find it very difficult to delegate important tasks. They don’t trust their team members or even understand their competencies enough to delegate effectively. Experienced project managers eventually learn how to delegate important tasks to people who will get things done effectively or on time. They also know how to hold people responsible and determine whether a team member deserves a second chance if they make mistakes. If a project manager doesn’t know how to delegate, they won’t be able to grow as a team leader.
Choosing the Right Project Management Team
Project managers rely on their team to get work done. They need to select people they can trust to do a job well. In most cases, project managers break work down into sections, determine what kind of skills each section needs, create an employee profile based on that, and then recruit. Most experienced project managers know that this approach, while useful, is often limiting. A more direct approach of hiring as many competent, talented, and qualified individuals for the project as possible provides more flexibility. In this approach, project managers aren’t restricted by their employee profiles and can recruit more versatile candidates with multi-disciplinary skills. These people end up bringing more to the table on a project, which has a positive impact on the results.
Most school courses place a great deal of emphasis on communication, but it is still something project managers learn on the job. Every manager develops their method of approach when it comes to communication. They learn how to express their expectations, issue reprimands without discouraging team members, and praise good work without making others feel left out. Project managers with excellent communication skills also know how to remove people from their teams if necessary. This can be quite challenging for those new to project management because firing people is never easy. Most inexperienced professionals linger over the matter for weeks, or even months without acting on it. That can slow down a project or also harm the final results.
Where there is a team full of competent individuals, there’s bound to be some form of conflict. People have different opinions, approaches, skill levels, and temperaments. These can clash and create conflict in a team, which ultimately affects a team’s overall productivity. Someone with good project management skills learns how to handle different personalities and negotiate between them. They know how to read a situation and diffuse an argument without looking like they’re taking sides. This is an important skill to develop as it ensures your team remains productive. Conflicts will happen regardless of how carefully you choose team members, especially in the initial stages. People who have just started working together will take some time to become comfortable and adjust to different personalities. It is a project manager’s job to ensure everything goes smoothly. Managers must also be flexible enough to handle changes in project priorities, goals, and targets. They need to come up with ways to alter their plans smoothly, add more people to the team, and ensure everything keeps moving without any significant disruption. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.
Quality Assurance (QA) is an essential aspect of the software development process. Experienced professionals carefully comb through every feature, addition, and component of a software program or application to determine if it lives up to their standards. In this highly competitive world, companies can't afford to put out lackluster products. QA Testing is especially crucial in the software development industry because customers directly interact with and rely on software products. They'll immediately notice if something isn't working as it should. Here are some of the best practices for QA testing during software development:
Always Keep User Experience in Mind
When a company develops a product, the end goal is always to delight the user. You don't want to create something clunky, slow, inefficient, or challenging to navigate. QA testing teams often miss the bigger picture while examining minute details. If the overall user experience is poor, these small details won't matter.
Know Who Your Audiences Are
Different audiences have different expectations. Developing a software program for millennials can be very different from developing a platform for an older audience. QA teams must keep the target audience in mind while assessing products to ensure it provides a good experience.
Optimize QA Testing by Focusing on the Most Important Sections
Oftentimes it isn't feasible to comb through every aspect of a software program's code during quality testing. Teams must optimize the process by prioritizing sections that are most important or relevant. Focus on testing components that directly impact users, since their experience is vital for a program's functions.
Arrange Bug Fixes Based on Usage
Every software product has bugs that must be fixed to improve user experience, and QA teams need to focus on flaws in the most relevant sections of a program. For example, bugs in the order placement or complaint registration components of an app should be addressed immediately.
Maintain Communication with Developers
QA teams and developers must work together during the testing process. Open communication between these two departments can optimize both testing and the development processes. Testers get a clearer idea about the developer's intentions, while developers understand how to improve the quality of their products actively.
Run QA Tests in Real and Relevant Environments
Your program should work on platforms that users commonly use. Most people don't have supercomputers or the latest operating systems. A large portion of your audience will want to run programs on slightly dated systems. Make sure every aspect of the product is working well on various platforms and real-life conditions.
Have a Dedicated Security Assessment Team
Typically it’s important to have a dedicated team that focuses solely on security operations. Modern users have a healthy distrust for software applications and won't trust any program without a reliable security system in place.
Maintain a Dedicated Performance Assessment Team
A performance assessment team will navigate a program or application from a user's perspective. The process helps them identify issues in the performance of the end product and provide detailed reports on it.
Test Third-Party Systems
Applications and software programs often use third-party components like social media plug-ins, shopping carts, etc. Users will only have a smooth experience if all third-party systems work efficiently with your program. Always check them carefully for compatibility issues or related problems.
Always Take Customer Feedback into Account
No system is infallible, and QA teams are no exception to this rule. Fortunately, you have a large group of thousands of users willing to provide feedback on an application's performance. Always take their inputs into account during the QA testing process.
A well-planned and well-executed QA routine will ensure the product that reaches your audience is as reliable and efficient as possible. Companies should also review their QA routines regularly to ensure they remain useful, especially if you notice that too many issues are slipping through the cracks. At Number8, we believe in developing software that is user-friendly, reliable and completely functional. As a result, we are always recruiting talented QA professionals for quality assurance jobs on our team. To learn more about how we can help you complete and successfully launch your software project, contact us at 502-890-7665.
Software development is an intricate process that requires skill, planning and team effort. There are several stakeholders involved in the project, from company executives to various departments within the company. It isn't possible to satisfy all of them completely, but you can take their concerns into account before working on the project by asking the right questions. Doing so can help you understand their priorities and plan the development process accordingly. Here's a list of 5 questions to ask before starting a software development process:
What is the Product?
Projects tend to get out of hand if you don't have a clear vision in mind. Software developers need to understand what the end product should look like before they even start planning for it. For example, does the company want an app that will help users find the best online deals? Does it want a software program for its HR department? Stakeholders can provide a list of features or ideas for the end product to make things easier for a development team. If there's any dispute about the final product, this will be the best time to resolve it. Make sure everyone is on the same page before proceeding.
What is Not a Part of the Product?
Developers can sometimes go overboard and add features or elements that aren’t necessary. That happens if they don’t know what should be excluded from the final product. For example, if a website is only delivering to the US, there’s no need to include a feature to convert prices to other currencies. In many cases, stakeholders assume their development team is going to deliver something, but the latter is unaware of it. It is essential to establish what you will and won't deliver.
What is a Successful Product?
Software programs are tools designed to achieve a specific goal or purpose. A company creates a website if they want to establish a presence online. They design an app if they want to build a robust and long-term customer base. They develop a software application to make daily processes easier. If the product fulfills these goals, it is considered successful. The end goal isn't to deliver a good product; it is to provide a product that succeeds in the market. There's a clear difference between these two goals. For example, a website can be beautiful and functional but still not provide all the services the target audience needs. Stakeholders should define what a successful product means to them at the start of the project.
Do We Have a Single Point of Communication?
This is one of the most challenging aspects of project management. The project starts with one team and one client, but eventually, a large number of people start becoming part of the process. The IT guy must approve one aspect of the design, the other should please the marketing expert, and so on. If these people start offering suggestions or requesting changes, the project can quickly get out of control. It is crucial to establish a single point of communication between stakeholders, clients, and development teams. You can maintain a smooth flow of information while keeping track of numerous requests.
What are the Potential Roadblocks or Problems?
No one likes to discuss problems before they work on a project, but you need to address it. Gather all stakeholders together and ask them about possible hurdles. Can the project run out of money? What happens if some temporary contractors don't live up to expectations? What if the client changes their mind in the middle of the project? If you know about possible hurdles, you can develop systems to counteract them. These questions will help a team start their project on a firm foundation. Don't hesitate to ask questions to stakeholders; the answers will help improve the quality of your end product.
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.
On top of delivering a project on time and within budget, developers must test for quality assurance upon completion to ensure stakeholders' expectations have been met. However, testing for quality after a product is built, usually results in far too little, too late. The agile model of software development encourages practicing quality assurance throughout every phase of the project. The agile way also prioritizes quality by making it the responsibility of every team member, not just the QA testers. As a result, the QA team coordinates efforts with the development team at each iteration, providing continuous testing. Implementing a feedback loop is a fundamental step in the quality assurance process. In order to guarantee that the product meets all of the requirements (feature functionality, design, reliability, usability and efficiency), it can be helpful to enlist the perspectives of those with varying backgrounds. This can include those proficient in testing, business and or development. Quality assurance testing can be both manual and automated. While both approaches are proficient at mitigating bugs, automated software testing is often more beneficial in that it is quicker and more effective at checking for code correctness. It's important to remember that the goal of Q & A testing is to find faults within the software so that an error-free application can be delivered to the client.
The following are integral software testing methods when best practicing quality assurance:
Test Driven Development (TDD)
TDD works by building a project's code around the QA tests. The programming team first designs and builds tests for functional code, and then creates code that will pass them. This development method helps everyone gain an understanding of the code's purpose before development; guaranteeing the initial functionality of the code and effectively building in quality.
Behavior Driven Development (BDD)
Similar to TDD, in that the test is written before the code, BDD tests the behavior of an application under specific conditions. This is done with the end user in mind. As development progresses, BDD often proves to be more reliable than TDD. BDD is also written in English instead of code, allowing for a more streamlined feedback loop.
Acceptance tests are simple pass or fail tests that check whether or not a feature behaves as it should. These are often automated to meet customer and business requirements.
Once one feature is functional, regression tests ensure it's stability throughout the software's other modifications. As more features are built, these automated tests check that the others aren't being negatively affected as a result.
Exploratory tests are usually manual, in that a human operates the software looking for unknown unknowns. These tests are meant to identify new situations that the development or QA teams haven't thought of. Once a product thoroughly meet's it's intended purpose and performs well under pressure, the QA testing is complete. At Number8, we believe in developing software that is user-friendly, reliable and completely functional. As a result, we are always recruiting talented QA professionals for quality assurance jobs on our team. To learn more about how we can help you complete and successfully launch your software project, contact us at 502-890-7665.
Whether you're planning on managing a project the agile way, or just want to stay up to date on the latest developments in the field, here are 10 agile project management terms you should know:
1. Agile Manifesto
The agile manifesto is a great starting point for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the agile methodology. The manifesto outlines the 4 values and 12 principles of agile software development and was actually created by a group of software developers in an effort to provide a clear and alternative set of processes for developing software. The agile way of doing things prioritizes individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan.
A scrum is a daily stand up meeting with the sole focus being to review each team member's progress on any given project. Scrums help to keep everyone accountable and on the same page, ensuring no one falls too behind or gets too far ahead in the development of a project.
3. Scrum Master
A scrum master oversees the development process and acts as a problem solver for the team; preventing roadblocks and enforcing the agile way of doing things.
A stakeholder refers to anyone with a vested interest in the product. This can be the client, the end user, sales people, legal representatives etc. Stakeholders have an informative role in the development phase, and are critical in defining the project's requirements.
The backlog is the ever changing list of the software's requirements. It's not to be seen as a to do list so much as a prioritized list of desired features of the product provided by the stakeholders.
A burndown chart visually measures the progress of a project over time (the vertical axis is made up of the backlog while the horizontal axis represents time). A burnup chart displays completed work (the vertical axis shows the amount done over the horizontal axis, time). These charts are essential to inspiring the team as they work and help provide a realistic time frame for the project's completion as well as a working scale of the project.
8. Feature Creep
While changes are expected, and certainly embraced in the agile way of doing things, the phrase "feature creep" refers to features that are added after development has begun. Adding too many features during the development phase can result in feature creep and software that is too complicated or difficult to use.
Timeboxing is kind of like time blocking in that it assigns a specific time frame to accomplish a goal. The definitive feature of timeboxing however, is that the work stops at the end of the timebox, instead of when the work is complete. This is extremely helpful in terms of productivity, and controlling the scale of a project.
A sprint is a short development phase usually lasting anywhere from 1 week to a month. Sprints help prevent projects from feeling overwhelming and allows feedback to be given at appropriate junctures. 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!
Launching a newly developed software is as challenging as it is rewarding. Developing software from the ground up is no easy feat. It takes a lot of planning, time management, and knowledge of the ins and outs of information technology. When the launch of a software development project goes off without a hitch, it’s an IT miracle. It’s known that with software development, as with most IT projects, there can be some obstacles to overcome. More often than not, things go wrong within the coding or through a development process that must be fixed. Sometimes developers even have to go back to square one and start the entire project over. However, that is not always the case. Developers prepared to overcome obstacles are often successful in doing so. The key is knowing how to overcome common software development obstacles. This way you can ensure that the launch of your software goes smoothly. You may be asking yourself if every software development project is different, what are common software development obstacles? And that’s what we’re here to help you with today. Follow along to learn how to overcome 7 common software development obstacles before starting your next project.
7 Common Software Development Obstacles You Can Overcome
1. Poor Time Management Sets Unrealistic Expectations
Mismanaged timelines and missed launch dates are common obstacles that people overcome during a software development project. Whether it’s due to unforeseen roadblocks or issues that were expected to come up, there’s not much worse for a project than an extended delay. One of the best ways to avoid missed deadlines is to brainstorm with your team before starting the project. What could go wrong? Which pieces are expected to break? Where do you foresee there being delays? Being prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road is the best way to get over them smoothly and without too much delay. When a problem does come up that threatens the timely delivery of a project, stay calm, get the team together, and work as a group to find the best way forward.
2. Issues with Integration
Compatibility can be an issue with any project. When developing new software from the ground up, how do you ensure it pairs with all the tools the client already uses? One of the best ways to go about integration is through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). Another option is to partner with the other tech brands that the client is prone to use. Find ways to work together with already utilized tools and teams of developers experienced with said tools.
3. Breakdowns in Communication
No software development program was launched alone. Depending on the size of the software development project, the team working on it can be as small as 5 people or as large as 20. When a communication breakdown occurs, it can have disastrous effects that could put the entire project in jeopardy. One of the best ways to avoid a communication breakdown is by hiring an effective project manager. Someone who can divide tasks among the team then ensure each of them is done and any changes which may affect the entire development outcome are communicated effectively is imperative to a successful project.
4. Overloading the Software with Features
While some features are necessary, others can be downright frivolous and simply load a software down. There is such a thing as too much and, when it comes to software, the line between just enough and too much is very thin. One of the best ways to circumvent overloading your software is to focus on features that truly embellish the core goal of the program. Less is always more in software and features that help the software rise above other programs are useful, but the goal of the software is to solve a problem, not create more, so keep features slim.
5. Not Understanding Exactly What the Software is For
One of the best ways to succeed in software development is to have a clear vision of what success looks like. Being able to completely understand how your software should work if it is working well will make it much easier to get to that finished point. Determine the “why” of the software before beginning the development process. Once you start, do not waiver from that why without good reason.
6. Not Realizing the Importance of Quality Assurance
Customer satisfaction is dependent on extensive quality assurance. Sending a software development project out into the world without assuring it is working as well as it possibly can is IT suicide. In order to achieve a high-performance product, the quality of the coding needs to be reviewed and tested continuously throughout development. Consider hiring a tester from a third-party source or create your own quality assurance checklist, in-house, and employ it repetitively.
7. Not Having a Target Audience Defined
While you, and your team, may think that your new software project is the best thing since sliced bread, not everyone will. Defining a target audience can help to avoid wasting time and money once the project is launched. Outline the demographics of the ideal user of your software. Then build a marketing plan that will appeal to that demographic. There are third-party companies available to complete market research, including focus groups, which can help identify the perfect consumer and what rings true with them in regards to marketing.
There are a lot of dos and don’ts to consider when developing new software. These are some of the software development obstacles our team has learned to avoid.
The more dos you can accomplish and don’ts you can avoid, the more likely your project will launch smoothly. All in all, the more planning you can put into your project prior to starting, the better. The tips above will help you to avoid a variety of issues, but there are always unforeseen circumstances. If you are in the middle of a software development project and have hit a roadblock, Number8 can help. Our dedicated team of software developers located in Louisville, Kentucky and at our nearshore office in Costa Rica has worked together to launch countless software projects successfully. Contact us today by calling 502-890-7665 to learn more about what we can do to help you wrap up your project.
No matter how organized you may be, there comes a point where you get overwhelmed at work. Whether it’s due to growing responsibilities or a surge in clientele, we all get there. Thankfully there are a lot of helpful programs available to stay organized at work. From your evergrowing to-do list to client management, there’s a program for everything. Due to being busy, you may not have the time necessary to see what programs work best for you. This is why we’ve outlined 5 programs that can help you stay organized at work. Take a look at our list below and see if any of these programs will help you stay organized and manage your workload.
Stay Organized at Work with These 5 Programs
Trello is a great way to manage projects and tasks within those projects. Users can set up “boards” to denote projects, so each project is a separate entity. Within each board, users can create “cards” to represent tasks and “lanes” to track progress of tasks. With an easy-to-use interface, almost anyone can use Trello to their advantage. Trello also has an app that can be used on phones or tablets and features a compatible interface. Even more beneficial are the desktop and email notifications users can set up to make sure they don’t miss anything. If you’re feeling like you’re being pulled in too many directions, try Trello. With this helpful program, you’re able to keep all your projects in one place and track their progress.
Do It Tomorrow may sound like the procrastinator’s dream, but it’s not quite that. This easy to set up and even easier to use program is a quick signup away and completely free. With Do It Tomorrow, you’re able to consolidate your to-do list in one place (and even set it as the first page to open when you get to work!) The way this program works is quite interesting. First you fill up your to-do list with all your tasks. You can set tasks that need to get done today and tomorrow. Once your tasks are all in place, start marking them off as you complete them. Anything that doesn’t get done automatically gets pushed to the top of the list the next day. It’s a great little program that can really keep you focused on the task at hand and the task ahead.
3. Google Drive
If you’re aware of Gmail then you’re probably aware of Google Drive. However, what a lot of people don’t know is the limits you can push Google Drive to in order to work it to your advantage. With Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, and Gmail, Google Drive really has everything you need to manage your work. And it all stays in one space which can be accessed from any computer, phone, or tablet. One of the best things that Google Drive offers is practically endless storage space. So, if you’re looking for a storage program that you can access from your home, office, or vacation spot and offers a wide variety of functions check out Google Drive. It’s another user-friendly platform that most office workers utilize for at least some sort of organization tool.
Dropbox is another great tool for file management and photo storage. This program has been around for quite a while and has a large following, so it’s likely you’ve received a Dropbox link from someone trying to share files or photos with you. While Dropbox is a great platform for sharing documents, photographs, and large files, the platform has memory restrictions. If you find yourself falling in love with Dropbox, you’ll need to be on top of managing what you store in it or ready to upgrade your file storage size.
If you work with social media at all, it can get overwhelming and that can happen quickly. Almost all social media managers use some sort of online program to help stay organized. Hootsuite is one of the most popular programs for just that. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows users to schedule social media posts well into the future for publication. With the ability to manage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more from one place, Hootsuite saves users time and headache. Hootsuite, like most of the programs we’ve covered, also has a user-friendly app that can be used on phones and tablets alike. This allows you to take your social media management with you on the go and never miss a post. While these are five tools that we’re familiar with, there are tons of other programs to help you stay organized at work available. We recommend looking around and finding the programs that work best for you. Most are free and those that don't offer a free trial for some amount of time. Try out different programs until you find the right fit for you and your workflow. Being organized at work can help to reduce stress and increase job happiness, so find what works for you and use it to your advantage!At Number8, we offer onshore and nearshore product development support to companies large and small. Throughout our company, we hold high regard for job happiness and find that being organized at work helps to keep our employees happy. If you are interested in learning more about what we do or getting in touch with us, visit our Contact Us page or give us a call at 502-890-7665.
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