An Overview Of Software Development Lifecycles

A software development lifecycle is a term that describes all of the tasks and activities involved in developing an application or program. A lifecycle includes everything from initial planning and consultation to final launch as well as ongoing maintenance.

There are different approaches to software development and every approach has some advantages. Many development teams choose lifecycle systems based on their benefits and their particular requirements. Here’s a brief overview of some of the different software development life cycles used today.

4 Popular Software Development Life Cycles

1. Waterfall

This is one of the most commonly used and popular software development cycles because it is so simple. It works like a waterfall, consisting of a linear sequential flow with one phase of development following the other. Developers only start to work on the next phase after the first phase is complete.

This approach to software development offers several advantages. It is easy to explain to other team members so there’s little room for miscommunication. The structured approach ensures the project remains on track more easily. All stages and activities of the project are clearly defined so all of a team’s members are on the same page. Verification at the end of every phase reduces the chances of error.

Unfortunately, this approach has several disadvantages as well. It is rigid and inflexible so developers are more likely to assume that all requirements are locked in. There’s little room for adjusting the scope or requirements of a project. The waterfall approach is much less unsuitable for large or complex development projects.

2. V-Shaped

The v-shaped model is similar to the waterfall model, with an added advantage of an early unit test phase. The model follows the Waterfall process until software plan implementation, after which it moves upward from unit testing to maintenance. Like the waterfall model, this approach is fairly straightforward and easy to understand.

The biggest advantage of the v-shaped model is that it has specific deliverables at every phase. Developers create test plans early during the lifecycle, which reduces the room for error and improves flexibility.  The v-shaped model is ideal for small, straightforward development projects with clearly defined goals and expectations.

However, this model is still very inflexible and it is difficult to adjust its scope once a project has launched. It is not possible to generate early prototypes using this model and there is not a clear structure for correcting errors.

3. Spiral

The spiral model or SDM is a great solution for large-scale and complicated projects. This model combines design and prototyping systems, making it more flexible. It still uses the main elements of a waterfall approach as the foundation, assigning different sections for planning, risk assessment, prototyping, and simulations, but offers more options to move backward or forward in the project.

The SDM system has several advantages like more realistic estimates, early developer input, and better risk management.

However, this approach to software development has some disadvantages as well. It can be very expensive and time-consuming. Developers need specialized training to utilize this approach effectively and the system has limited re-usability across different kinds of projects.

4. Agile

The agile approach has become very popular because it offers maximum flexibility and is suitable for all kinds of projects. This approach requires collaboration and movement between different teams as well as phases during the development process. Developers can go back to earlier phases after learning from their mistakes to optimize an application.

This approach has several advantages like decreased development time, time to take input from the team, customers, and stakeholders, and no guesswork. You get high-quality software that fits a customer’s requirements perfectly at the end of the process.

However, agile requires special training and skill which can involve an investment of time and money.

Choosing the right development lifecycle is essential to keep a project on track and ensuring the result lives up to the original specs. A successful software development lifecycle can produce software with the highest quality and lowest cost in the shortest time.

At number8,  our measure of success is delivering working software faster. That's why when it comes to meeting a project's full potential, we believe in embracing the agile development model. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we can help any team adopt the practices, processes, and tools needed to deliver with more agility. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

Comparing Smart Assistant Software: Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa

April 23, 2020 / in IT Trends, / by Number8

Smart assistant software like Siri, Google, and Alexa have made life much easier for technology users. It is now possible to ask questions, look for directions, call people, or even send a message without physically interacting with your mobile device. Smart assistants have also expanded out of the mobile phone platform over the years. We now have smart speakers, devices like smart TVs, home security systems like Nest, and so much more. All of these devices are powered by Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa. Every AI assistant has something unique characteristics. Here's a brief comparison of each system.

Alexa

Alexa was developed by Amazon and introduced with the Echo speaker in 2014. Since then, it has become one of the most popular smart assistants available on the market. Alexa has the longest list of compatible devices. It works with FireStick, FireTV, Echo devices, and even third-party products like FitBit and some cars. That's one of Alexa’s biggest advantages. The compatibility with different devices ensures it is one of the more versatile and user-friendly products available today. Alexa can be used to perform several tasks like playing music, setting reminders, running timers, finding information, reading news briefings, and even shopping. You can use Alexa to buy products on Amazon without logging onto the app. However, Alexa isn't as genuinely mobile as Siri or Google Assistant. While there are ways to ingrate it with Google or Apple Devices, people often use it on native devices. If you're looking at a smart home assistant, Alexa is the best option. Alexa’s compatibility with Amazon FireTV or Stick makes it an excellent tool for regular users. They don't need to browse through content through a mobile phone or even use a remote. They can request different movies or shows through the smart assistant.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant may not be as popular as Alexa, but it is the most dynamic, versatile, and robust AI assistant available today. It was launched back in 2016 as a part of Google Now but has grown considerably since then. Google Assistant is highly compatible with a wide range of devices, including some third-party products. It works seamlessly with all other Google offerings like Play Music, YouTube, Google Calendar, Contacts, Gmail, and so much more. It is also compatible with home devices like Google Home Speakers, Nest, and a few other third-party devices. Some companies have incorporated the AI into their consumer electronics like Smart Displays, Wear OS watches, earbuds, headphones, Nvidia Shield, and more. Google Auto has gained popularity in the automobile industry and is used in many cars. This AI assistant does everything Alexa does, but it has a truly mobile reach. You can carry it with you on an Android device or even download it on an iOS device. The AI gives users access to Google Maps and other such useful applications while they’re outdoors.

Siri

Siri is a relatively popular and very well-known smart assistant, but it lags behind Google Assistant and Alexa in terms of both functionalities as well as compatibility. It is one of the oldest AI assistants and has a cult following among Apple users. It was first introduced back in 2010 and has evolved considerably over the years. Siri has a great personality, which is one of the reasons why it is so popular. It does all the tasks you can expect from a smart assistant but isn't as effective in pulling information or understanding commands as Google Assistant is. Unfortunately, this AI is also only available on Apple devices, so there is no third-party compatibility. All AI assistants are evolving constantly and will continue to become more refined as the years pass. 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.

Seven Reasons Why a Growth Mindset Is Better for Business

April 9, 2020 / in IT Trends, / by Number8

Many leading global corporations consider Growth Mindset as a defining leadership principle and a core skill that helps people adapt and succeed in increasingly disruptive times. Having a Growth Mindset is about staunchly believing that every failure is a learning opportunity and that it is possible to improve. The idea is to challenge oneself and let one’s attitude and efforts determine one’s abilities. The principle also propagates the idea that criticism and feedback are constructive and that trying new things is something you look forward to. Here’s a look at how a Growth Mindset is good for business.

How a Growth Mindset Helps Improve Your Business

1. Improved Revenue

Applying a Growth Mindset culture keeps your employees more engaged and makes them more resilient in times of constant change. As your team evolves and learns, it leads them to success in the workplace.

2. Risk-Taking and Accepting

Failure is an inevitable component of growth. Adopting a Growth Mindset is about accepting the possibility of failure at some time or the other. However, creativity, innovation, creativity, and boosting business success would not be possible if you aren’t willing to take risks. This risk-taking approach starts at the top rung of the ladder in any organization. Leaders have to set an example while empowering their staff to adopt leadership roles. They need to allow employees the flexibility to try new things and fail sometimes; this is how they can learn from their experiences and failed attempts.

3. Change Adds Value to Your Business

When you allow your employees to move out of their daily routine, it becomes more than just their regular job. It helps them develop new skills that may be outside their day-to-day work, which can prove valuable to them and your business.

4. Improves Productivity

Learning other's roles and understanding more about them go a long way in promoting collaboration, empathy, and encouraging new ways of doing things. When you allow your employees to set some time aside to build skills like leadership and collaboration, it inspires them and improves their productivity.

5. Creating New Opportunities

When a business owner uses the Growth Mindset while honing the culture of their company, it has a positive impact on the operating model. It helps them and their teams look at challenges as opportunities rather than threats, and reinvent themselves and boost their effectiveness at work.

6. Gets Teams out of Their Bubbles

Openness to change and self-reflection become the foundation of success. It isn’t difficult for employees and managers to get caught up in ideas that reinforce their beliefs. The Growth Mindset is about seeking out sources of new information and questioning existing beliefs to widen your perspective.

7. Encourages Commitment From Employees

Employees at companies that focus on a Growth Mindset feel much more committed to their work. They feel they are given the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. They are more motivated because they realize that their hard work and development is valued. Research indicates that people working in Growth Mindset companies pursue more innovative and novel projects. They cut fewer corners, behave more transparently, and work collaboratively. These motivated employees drive innovation and catapult the business forward. Overall, the Growth Mindset is about expanding, advancing, and developing horizons and opportunities for learning and evolving. It's about encouraging people to recognize potential and opportunity in every failure and success. 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.  

Distributed Teams: What You Need to Know

Distributed teams have been commonplace in many industries for years. With the recent uncertainties faced by companies in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, remote work has become a necessary adaptation for even more organizations. As many teams adapt to a distributed model in the short term, it’s helpful to consider some of the pluses and minuses involved. Fortunately, there's a lot to learn from teams do distributed work. Here’s what you need to know about distributed teams.  

What is a Distributed team?

A distributed team is a team that works together remotely across any distance. Unlike in traditional office models, they do not share physical office space. People in a distributed team can be located anywhere- they may be in the same city, or all over the world. 

Challenges

One of the most challenging parts about distributed teams is relationship cultivation. Without regular and spontaneous physical interaction like in an office space, it can be hard to develop and maintain rapport as a team. This can have a negative impact on spur of the moment clarifying questions, feedback, and general information sharing. One way to mitigate this is to schedule regular check-ins through a communication channel. A daily or weekly meeting can really help curb unnecessary delays in communication or misunderstandings.   Another challenge for distributed teams is related to boundaries. When people are working remotely, there is no shared sense of physical space and time. As such, it can be difficult to navigate expectations of when work should occur, where it is occurring, and the like. It can be especially tough to set boundaries between home life and work life for teams, especially if they are working at home. Further, if team members are working across time zones, work overlap can vary drastically.  It’s important for everyone to discuss time boundaries for working and communication. The relative degree of flexibility or rigidity required for different teams and team members should be explicitly defined up front. When everyone has a clear sense of their role, they can better adapt to challenges as they arise. 

Benefits

Despite the challenges, there are a few notable benefits of distributed teams. For one, if the team is distributed over time zones, around-the-clock work may be reasonable. If planned for properly, this can help lead to extremely efficient work timelines.  Remote work also allows a large degree of flexibility for teams. Team members may be able to easily work at times they normally wouldn’t in the office. This can lead to both high productivity and the ability to meet challenges on the fly. With the right balance of team overlap and individual flexibility, a team can truly thrive when distributed.   As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to build distributed teams. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

3 Tips For Conducting Remote Job Interviews

Conducting a remote interview can require a bit of an adjustment if you haven’t done one before. There are a few guidelines you can follow that will help you streamline the process and get the most out of your interview. Here are 3 tips for conducting a remote job interview.

Choose the Right Technical Setup

One key part of a successful remote job interview is selecting optimal communication and collaboration channels. It’s important to choose the right setup based on what you want out of the job interview. For example, if you want a face-to-face mode of communication along with the ability to look at specific elements of websites and documents in real time, you might use a tool like Zoom to incorporate video chatting and screen sharing. You would have a much less efficient interview if you tried to coordinate the same activities by phone. Overcomplicating your interview should be avoided as well. Too many tools that aren’t being used will only cause confusion and create barriers to getting to know job candidates. Overall, you should pick the tools that will best align with your goals for the interview. 

Establish Expectations and Give Directions Ahead of Time

The best way to allow job candidates shine is to give them clear expectations before interviews. This is especially important with remote interviews, where technical setups can add layers of complications. Some of these expectations can be purely practical. You might want to ask candidates to position themselves in a quiet space so you can hear them clearly. Or, if there are multiple steps involved with getting into a virtual meeting space (like in Skype or Zoom), you may want to give detailed instructions for these steps and ask candidates to go through them prior to the interview. This can help avoid issues and delays due to platform updates, device incompatibility, and lack of familiarity with tools. If you want candidates to conduct any work before the interview as part of the process, these same ideas apply. Make sure you give instructions on preferred file types and how to upload or share documents before the interview. 

Prepare for Multiple People in an Interview

If you are conducting an interview with multiple people at the same time, either with your team members or multiple interviewees, this is all even more important to get right. The more people who are involved with the interview, the greater chance there will be a technical difficulty that could hinder progress. It can be helpful to establish a point person on your team to handle any setup and technical difficulties that may arise. Provide their contact information to candidates to help streamline communication. They can also be the go-to person for everyone internally. If you take the time to go through these steps, your interview will be well on its way to success!  As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to hire remote workers. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

8 Amazing Ways Technology Has Transformed Business Over The Past 20 Years

March 5, 2020 / in IT Trends, / by Number8

Technology has changed significantly in the past 20 years and, as a result, has influenced every aspect of our lives. People rely on modern tech for everything from daily chores to complex tasks. Technology has had a significant impact on the world of business as well. It has disrupted several industries, abolished a few, and transformed how we work on an everyday basis. Here's a look at some ways in which technology has changed business.

Instant Communication

Instant communication, regardless of distance, has been one of the biggest influences on businesses. It allows different branches of a company to interact seamlessly, for multiple teams to work on a single project without any delays in communication, and so much more. Rapid communication has improved productivity and also influenced how customers interact with businesses.

Impact on Customers

Technology has changed the way customers shop. It has given them access to all the information they need so they can make informed decisions. People can now read online reviews, watch demo videos, and see ratings or testimonials before making a decision. They're also not hesitant about sharing their experiences online or approaching companies with complaints if a product or service doesn’t live up to their expectations.

Access to Data

Data is a gold mine for businesses. It gives them insight into customer mindset, competitors, industry trends, and the impact of cultural and political trends on the business. Entrepreneurs can then use this information to refine business practices and reach a wider audience.

Greater Access

Modern technology has made it easier for people to start ventures. Prospective entrepreneurs can open an eCommerce store or sell products on websites like Etsy or Amazon with very little investment. Even people who don’t have much capital can start their own business, which wasn’t as easy 20 years ago.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has proven to be an equalizer, helping small businesses with limited resources shine. Companies can approach customers through different channels with minimal investment. It is easier for entrepreneurs to advertise online, create effective digital marketing campaigns, and make content to draw people in. Even regular smartphones can shoot professional-quality marketing content like pictures or videos.

Global Reach

Many modern businesses have an international presence, regardless of their size. Technology has made it easier for a small business in Japan to then sell products to customers in the UK. It is easier to expand, get global customers, and communicate with them seamlessly. Social media helps companies connect with a broad audience too. Products go viral and draw attention from unexplored markets.

Transparency from Businesses

Modern customers hold companies up to a different stand compared to customers a few decades ago. For example, many customers care about personal products being cruelty-free or technologies being environmentally-friendly. They also expect businesses to follow modern ethics by providing an environment free of discrimination, racial bias, gender bias, and other oppressive factors. Technology has facilitated this- people online don't hesitate to raise their voices against companies that don't live up to these standards.

Influence of Influencers

In the past, companies would hire actors, musicians, and other such celebrities to promote their products through advertisement or other marketing content; however, modern technology and platforms like YouTube or Instagram have given rise to influencers, who are much more effective in promoting products than celebrities. These influencers are people entrenched in the industry. They test different products, provide opinions, and offer recommendations. Influencers can sway customer opinions, which makes them an excellent investment. These are just some of the many ways in which technology has changed the way businesses are run. 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 so we can get the conversation started.

Facts About Data Security You Should Know

February 27, 2020 / in IT Trends, Tech Advice, / by Number8

As a result of increased data collection and data sharing by government institutions and companies, cyber threats have now become widespread and incredibly challenging to handle. Irrespective of the nature of your personal or business records, you can now quickly become a target of a hacker set on destroying your business. Here are a few useful facts that will provide you with a better understanding of data security.

Facts About Data Security You Should Know

Small Business Are a Target of Roughly 50% of Cyber Attacks

In most cases, a small business typically lacks the data security of a multi-million dollar business. This gives hackers a clear path to hack into a small business' affairs. Most small business owners often feel that they aren't vulnerable to hacking because they have nothing worth stealing. However, hackers often steal consumer information and personal data from businesses of all sizes. Roughly 60% of all businesses experience malicious hacks like DDoS attacks, phishing, and more.

Damages from Attacks Will Reach $6 Trillion By 2021

Based on data collected by Forbes, damages from hacking will amount to around $6 trillion in costs by 2021. For reference, this is a figure significantly higher than damages from natural disasters in the United States annually. This threat looms large in the future partially because of the easy availability of secure VPN services. Attackers can now hide their identity as well as their location, which makes it nearly impossible to track their activities online.

Bad Actors Use Bitcoin for Illegal Activities

Bitcoin has introduced a unique system of digital currencies. It has presented users with a quick transfer option, safety, and anonymity. However, as a result of this anonymity, bad actors are now using Bitcoin to carry out illegal activities.

Malware Attacks Have a Serious Impact on the Healthcare Industry

Malware attacks affected approximately 75% of the healthcare industry in 2019. This includes various health insurance agencies and other treatment facilities. Typically, the personal histories of patients are targeted by hackers. Additionally, medical research is often attacked and sold to the highest bidder. The negligence of data security by medical institutions and hospitals is the primary reason for these attacks.

Data Security Is Now Mandatory

Both small and large business owners are now focusing on protecting their data by investing in cybersecurity software. Any highly-effective antimalware software can verify and segregate threats from the system before a malicious attack.

It Takes About 5 Minutes to Hack IoT Devices

IoT devices like smart watches, smart cars, and home control systems can easily be hacked under 5 minutes once they're connected. This is because they cannot escape the internet when being used. This makes it nearly impossible for them to disconnect from the internet altogether. Today, hacking tool kits and software are easily accessible on the dark web for as low as $1. Third-party apps are readily available on the internet as well.

Pernicious Emails to Organizations Are Rampant

Recent reports have stated that public administration organizations now receive one malicious email per 302 emails. Although this number may seem small, there are a large number of public organizations. Each organization has numerous employees with company email addresses. This increases the chances of an employee falling into a hacker’s trap. Fortunately, there are thousands of data security tools available online and of them are free or low cost. Once you have a better understanding of the usage and implementation of these security tools, you will gain a sense of confidence in protecting your personal information. 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.          

10 Things Desk Workers Can Do To Get Healthy

February 20, 2020 / in Careers, IT Trends, / by Number8

Desk worker health is a pressing issue. Individuals who work in office spaces are relatively less healthy than those who work at jobs that are physically demanding. Recent data suggests around 86% of all workers in the United States alone sit for the majority of the work day. This is a problem because of the negative health outcomes associated with high rates of sitting. These outcomes include an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and musculoskeletal disorders, just to name a few. However, there are several things that desk workers can do to get fit at work. Here are 10 things desk workers can do to get healthy.

10 Things Desk Workers Can Do To Get Healthy

Walk to Work

If your workplace is located close to where you live, consider leaving your car at home and walking. Although it might not be possible to do this every day due to bad weather or lack of time, walking will definitely get you fit.

Use a Standing Desk

Sitting all day is incredibly harmful to one's health. Health experts now say that sitting is the new smoking. If your job demands that you sit all day long, consider opting for an adjustable desk. This way, you can switch between standing and sitting when you are at your desk.

Use a Fitness Ball

Another great way to get fit is by replacing your chair with a fitness ball. You have to balance yourself on this ball while working, and although it looks a bit goofy, it's a great way to train the muscles in your back and legs.

Avoid Outside Food

Another major problem that several office workers face is that they cannot control themselves from eating food outside. Although it's convenient to pick out something from the cafeteria, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a healthy option.  An excellent way to stop eating outside food is to pack your own lunches and snacks every day.

Get Some Exercise Gear

You don't have to head to the gym to get exercise. You can always carry your own fitness gear and perform a few essential exercises during breaks. Keep a few lightweight dumbbells and elastics in your workplace. Perform exercises while reading notes or even while making calls.

Take Periodic Breaks

We always tend to wrap up our work as rapidly as possible so we can leave the office on time. But it doesn't mean you have to be glued to your chair all day long without taking any breaks to stretch. Those who avoid taking breaks end up feeling mentally inactive. Some believe that taking periodic breaks means they get less work done; however, that isn't necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, taking frequent breaks can be more productive. The idea is to take a short break to rejuvenate and get work done at a clipping pace.

Work Out During Breaks

Rather than sitting down during your lunchtime and other breaks, consider spending that time performing some basic exercises. If the weather permits it, you can also start going out for a walk as opposed to being cooped up indoors. Find a colleague to walk with you during breaks. Start doing this regularly, and you will feel healthier in no time.

Be Hygienic

While carrying out your daily duties, it may not be possible to get up and wash your hands each time you want to. However, you can always keep a hand sanitizer on your desk. This makes it easier to avoid infections that can spread from shaking hands with people that have a cold or cough.

Maintain Good Posture

People who use computers at work have to spend hours staring into a screen, and they're slowly drawn to it. This means they stretch their neck forward. Over time, this puts a considerable amount of stress on their spine and neck. However, you can easily avoid this by carrying out some basic desk exercises. It is crucial to remember that everything must be done in moderation. Just because you're keen on getting fit doesn't mean that you stop enjoying a beer with your colleagues. However, you must be watchful on how often you place one thing over the other. 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.        

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