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10 Agile Project Management Terms You Should Know

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. 

2. Scrum

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.

4. Stakeholder

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.

5. Backlog

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.

6. Story

The story tells the software system’s requirements from the consumer’s point of view. For example, as “a <type of user>, I want to <perform some task> so I can <achieve some goal.>”

7. Burndown & Burnup Charts

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.

9. Timeboxing

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.

10. Sprint

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!

Working Remotely? Try These 3 Things To Cultivate Work Community

Working remotely can present many challenges, everything from resisting the urge to fire up a movie and veg out, to feeling that creeping sense of isolation that comes from sitting alone behind the screen. As a company who promotes remote work opportunities, we’ve identified several ways to cultivate a thriving work community. Below are three tips that should keep your presence so embedded in the office, your coworkers will swear they hear your keyboard clicking away beside them even when you aren’t there.

3 Tips to Cultivate Work Community While Working Remotely

Tip #1: Be open to feedback.

One of the most important parts of forming any close-knit relationship is trust. The person on the other side of that monitor is most likely depending on you to complete a task. To your coworker, they’re placing a lot of trust in someone they can’t see. Put their mind at ease by telling them upfront that you’re open to feedback and willing to work through things. Making this clear initially will help them understand you share the same goal and will make them feel more comfortable as you continue to work together. Build trust by responding to feedback graciously. Every smooth interaction makes way for future smooth interactions.

Tip #2: Be humble.

If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s our tendency to overthink things. When you work remotely, it’s easy to convince yourself that it only happens to you. Fear that you’re alone with your thoughts, and pride in your ability to handle things on your own can be a deadly combination that results in isolation! Instead, be humble and reach out to your coworkers with any questions or concerns you have. This goes a long way to cultivate trust. Your coworkers will feel more connected with you when you’re open with them, and in turn, they will be more likely to reach out to you when they have questions of their own. Once you realize you have friends ‘on the inside’ you’ll find it easier to tune out that inner voice that tells you you’re on your own. Remember that you’re in it together.

Tip #3: Get social.

In this age of social media, it’s easier than ever to connect. Find a few coworkers you feel comfortable with and send them a friend request immediately. Becoming connected on social media offers you and your coworkers the chance to put a face to the name that pops up in the inbox every day. Getting to know each other better in this casual manner strengthens your bond and your understanding of one another as you continue to work together professionally.

BONUS TIP: Live that meme and emoji life. A true favorite! There is great power in a well-placed meme or emoji when communicating with a coworker. Not only do they lighten the mood, but they also offer visual cues to help people understand your tone and intention, which is a wonderful thing in the absence of body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

At Number8, we provide high quality technical talent to businesses of all sizes and sectors. We specialize in application development, custom software, website development, mobile solutions, database design, client/server, web application development and Q/A testing. Learn more about what we do and how to get started with Number8 by calling 502-890-7665 today!

5 Things You May Not Know About Jeff Bezos

Amazon is the leader of e-commerce as we know it, and no doubt a household name. It’s CEO and founder Jeff Bezos however, has just recently begun to make headlines.

The richest person in the world, Bezos is said to have a net worth of 112 billion. After graduating from Princeton with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, he worked for an investment bank. In 1994 he launched Amazon out of his garage. What would become a multi-national tech company began as a virtual bookstore. Bezos sold his first book in 1995, a copy of Douglas Hofstadter’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

Amazon has since grown to develop and offer many products and services ranging from the Kindle, movies and television shows under Amazon Studios, as well as the cloud-computing service known as Amazon Web Services. As a result, Amazon has catapulted Bezos into the spotlight. For those interested in learning more about the serial entrepreneur, here are 5 things you may not know about Jeff Bezos:

1. He originally wanted to name Amazon “Cadabra.”

As in “abracadabra.” Bezos wanted to convey something magical about the convenience of shopping online. However, his advisers convinced him otherwise. Bezos instead chose the name Amazon because it began with the first letter of the alphabet. It also represented the earth’s largest river and he was aiming for opening the world’s largest bookstore.

2. Bezos owns The Washington Post.

The tech savvy entrepreneur purchased the newspaper in October of 2013 for $250 million after being approached by publisher Donald Graham. Under Bezos’s leadership the paper has adapted to the digital age. After reinventing itself as a media company, it has doubled it’s web traffic and even turned a profit. No small feat in today’s world of online journalism.

3. He owns a private space company.

In 2000, Bezos founded the aerospace company Blue Origin. The space flight operator is supposedly launching a crewed space tourism flight before the end of this year. Bezos’s long-term goal is to eventually aid in the colonization of space. The company is the first to invent reusable rockets. No other rocket in the history of spacecraft has been used twice. The ability to successfully launch and land a rocket multiple times will help to significantly lower the cost of access to space.

4. He’s a huge Star Trek Fan.

Bezos has reportably admitted that both the smart speaker Amazon Echo and it’s virtual assistant Alexa were inspired from the Star Trek computer. In 2016, he begged Paramount to let him have a cameo in the movie Star Trek Beyond. While his scene only lasted 8 seconds, he did have a speaking part.

5. Bezos makes $2,489 per second.

According to Business Insider, “Bezos makes more than twice what the median US worker makes in one week. That’s $149,353 per minute.” He is also “nearly 38% richer than the British monarchy.” And to think he once was a McDonald’s fry cook…

 

The Secret Hollywood History Behind WiFi

WiFi has become essential to our professional and personal lives. It has changed the way we communicate and altered the way many of our devices work (thanks to the Internet of Things). While it’s now nearly effortless for us to install, connect to and use, how did it come to be?

While WiFi wasn’t accessible to consumers until 1997, it has a long history dating back to the 1940’s. At it’s core, WiFi uses wireless transmitters and radio signals to exchange information and connect to the internet. In the 1940’s, Hollywood starlet Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed the radio frequency hopping technology that would become the foundation for the wireless communication we all enjoy today.

The History of Radio Frequency Hopping

According to a recent documentary, ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,’ the popular actress Hedy Lamarr often ran experiments in her trailer between takes. Upon meeting Antheil, who famously synchronized pianos to hop from one note to another, the pair came up with a plan that incorporated radio signals. At the time of their work together, World War 2 was in full swing and the U.S. Navy needed a way to protect their underwater missiles form Nazis detection.

Together, Lamarr and Antheil joined the war effort by inventing the concept of radio frequency hopping. Their invention used perforated rolls of paper, much like the ones in pianos, to change frequencies from one point to another via the holes in the roll. This discovery helped guide radio-controlled missiles underwater without risking enemy exposure in that both the radio transmitter and the receiver could simultaneously change from frequency to frequency.

Modern Wireless Communication Methods

Fast forward to 1985, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowed several bands of wireless spectrum to be used without a government licence, and communication via radio frequency energy became revolutionized. In order to operate on these bands, devices were required to steer around interference from other equipment. They did so using the frequency hopping technology developed by Lamarr and Antheil.

While the duo were granted US Patent No. 2,292,387  in 1942, they signed it over to the Navy during the war. It wasn’t until 1997 that they were recognized for their frequency hopping technology by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It is no doubt that WiFi’s many applications, including gps and bluetooth wouldn’t be possible without Lamarr’s and Antheil’s invention. As the technological wonder continues to evolve and become faster and more reliable, we can take more than our fair share of inspiration from it’s unlikely source..

How To Overcome 7 Common Software Development Obstacles

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.

How to Develop the Digital Skills Necessary for Remote Work

Remote work can offer an employee the flexibility needed to be a caregiver, world traveler or student; making it an ideal form of work for most of the population. For an older employee however, the idea of working from home can seem overwhelming and fraught with technological difficulties.

Luckily, many of the skills needed to succeed in the office translate quite easily to working from home. Time management, self-sufficiency, communication and teamwork for example are all key remote work skills. And chances are, anyone whose had office experience, is familiar with a computer. However, there is a level of tech savviness required to operate out of the office full time.

For those looking to make the transition to remote work for the first time, but are afraid of getting left behind in this new digital age, here are some of the most popular web applications to get up to speed on before you apply for the job.

It’s worth noting that many of these applications have free tutorials, videos, and training available as well as free versions to help you get your feet wet.

File Storage & Sharing Platforms

When you’re working on the go, you can’t be tied down to your desktop. Instead it’s common for remote workers to operate exclusively from online or cloud based platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Apple iCloud. These make it easy to access your work files no matter where you are or what device you’re on. As long as you have the app downloaded, you can work from anywhere.

Long gone are the days of losing your work because your computer crashed. These applications automatically save and sync everything as you go. Not to mention, you can effortlessly share files with others by giving them access via a link or email address. Google even offers a full suite of applications including word documents, slide shows and spreadsheets well suited for every field of work.

Video Conferencing

Unfortunately, even remote workers can’t escape meetings. Zoom and Skype are popular video conferencing options for meeting outside of the office.  Zoom offers free video calls with up to 50 people as long as you don’t talk for more than 40 minutes and Skype is free as long as both parties are using the app. Both of these applications (and many others) offer chat options, screen sharing and recorded calls. Just make sure you’re well equipped with the right headset for the job.

Collaborative Applications

While email is everyone’s go to in-office communication platform, remote workers often utilize project management software to stay in touch virtually. Both Trello and Slack are excellent examples and offer many collaborative features for working with a team remotely. These shared applications make it easy to generate a task list and delegate the workload. They also show each member’s progress as well as what stage any given project is in and give the option to offer feedback to one another. Additionally shared calendars ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to meetings and out of office time periods.

At Number8, we provide high quality technical talent to businesses of all sizes and sectors. We specialize in application development, custom software, website development, mobile solutions, database design, client/server, web application development and Q/A testing. Learn more about what we do and how to get started with Number8 by calling 502-890-7665 today!

5 Must Read Career Books

We all face challenges in our careers at some point or another, and the truth is, we spend most of our lives at work. So why not make the most of it? Whether you’re feeling stuck in your current position and need a boost or are transitioning to a new role, we are firm believers that even in this age of technology, some of the best answers can be found in a book!

To help give you a leg up, we’ve compiled a list of must read career books chalked full of advice and tools to help you tackle everything and anything.

1. Master Your Next Move by Michael Watkins

Experiencing a lot of change in your career? Master Your Next Move offers insight into some of the most important transitions that occur within our careers. From overseas assignments and on-boarding at a new company, to getting promoted and having to lead former peers, sometimes even a good career move can be challenging. In his latest book, Michael Watkins lends a helping hand to those in leadership positions looking to excel as they climb the ladder.

2. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

Looking for more fulfillment at work or in general? Designing Your Life suggests that in order to live a life of fulfillment, one should apply the concepts of design to both their personal life and career. After all, every design begins by solving a problem. If you want to rework your career, start by rethinking your approach.

3. Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness by Kerry Hannon

Hate your job? According to a recent Gallup Poll, 85% of people do. Kerry Hannon’s Love Your Job explains how you can make the most of your current position by changing your perspective. Hannon offers tips on developing positive thought patters and habits that will reinvigorate you and give you a new found purpose at work no matter what stage of your career you are in.

4. Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin

We all know that in this new age of the workforce, innovation is key to staying relevant. Seth Godin’s Linchpin paves the way for anyone looking to make a lasting impact. The book begins by posing the following questions, “Have you ever found a shortcut that others missed? Seen a new way to resolve a conflict? Made a connection with someone others couldn’t reach? Even once? Then you have what it takes to become indispensable.”

5. The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle

Anyone who has ever been in business, knows about failure. For those who have recently experienced a set back at work, Megan McArdle’s The Up Side of Down is an inspirational guide to reinventing yourself in the face of failure by learning from the experience instead of allowing it to debilitate you.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT 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 here!

Reviewing Some In Demand Tech Jobs That Don’t Require Coding

It can be hard for someone who wants to get into the field of information technology to do so without any coding experience. Coding is a huge money-maker in the world of business right now as more and more companies go digital. With the increased prevalence of smartphones, portable computers, and the like, companies have to be online to remain relevant. In order to do that, companies are pouring their funds into their IT department. They’re doing this to improve their online presence and their user’s online experiences. For this reason, most job descriptions that are related to IT work require some sort of coding experience; however, there are some fields out there that are offering in-demand tech jobs that don’t require coding experience.

Most jobs in technology fall into one of three categories: developer, designer, or manager. While almost all developer job opportunities require coding, often designer or manager positions are available without any coding knowledge. This is what we’re going to be discussing today. Follow along to learn more about five in-demand tech jobs that don’t require coding experience.

Five In-Demand Tech Jobs That Don’t Require Coding Experience

1. Designer for User Interface (UI)

If you have an eye for design, and experience in programs like Photoshop, there may be an opportunity for you in UI design. While the popular UX reference to User Experience, UI refers to User Interface. User Interface is how the software looks and feels more so than how it functions. UI Designers often brainstorm and engineer the visual design of a new program or software. Then they work with a team of UI Developers to make their wireframes, storyboards, sitemaps, and user flows come to life.

2. Software Quality Assurance Tester

Before software is made available to the public, it goes through numerous rounds of testing from software quality assurance testers. This job, which requires no coding experience, requires an employee that can put an upcoming software through various rounds of different user experiences and applications with the main goal of breaking the software. By putting new software through stressful scenarios that push the software’s limits in regards to functionality and scalability, software quality assurance testers ensure that the software is at its strongest and capable of any user experience before it goes to market.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist

Any company looking to launch itself into the 21st century must employ at least one Search Engine Optimization Specialist. A job opportunity as an SEO Specialist is perfect for those with a knack for analysis, research, and general knowledge of how Google works. SEO Specialists often work with a team of developers and designers to make sure that websites are using the best SEO practices they can while also researching search terms, creating keyword-rich content, optimizing web page copy, and analyzing the data collected through analytics and advertising campaigns.

4. Software Sales Associate

Any information technology or marketing company that’s creating its own software needs people to sell it. If you’re interested in learning more about information technology and have experience in sales, you may be in luck. Oftentimes there are companies out there looking for software sales associates. While entry-level pay is usually lower, with commission based bonuses incorporating big chunks of sales associate’s paychecks, the payoff can be highly rewarding for those with a knack for sales. For those who perform well in high-pressure and high-stakes situations, have the ability to learn the ins and outs of a software then translate that into why potential customers need this software for their own benefit, and can deal well with stressful situations, the position of a software sales associate may be the perfect step into the information technology field.

5. Technical Support Specialist

While there are some technical support positions that require a degree, there are others where having a college degree, or experience coding, is not an issue. There are a lot of benefits that come with being a technical support specialist. The ability to learn on the job is one while the often flexible hours offered for support specialists is another. Those who have an interest in customer service and the ability to be familiar with a variety of software and technical programs will excel in the role of a technical support specialist. Communication skills, patience, and understanding are all critical skills, but coding is not.

The information technology field may seem off-limits to those who don’t know how to code, but this is not the case. There are plenty of in-demand tech jobs that don’t require coding experience at all. And one of the best things about the IT field is that someone who may not have coding experience but has an interest in coding will have the opportunity to learn on the job. The world of information technology is always changing and growing. This expansion clears the path for employees to have internal growth within their company. Finding an entry-level job in information technology can open up doors of opportunity for those with or without coding experience.

At Number8, we employ a high number of software developers who have coding experience. But we also have job opportunities available for those with no experience in coding. Learn more about what we do and how to get started with Number8 by calling 502-890-7665 today!