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Kanban Versus Scrum in Agile Software Development

Kanban versus Scrum in Agile MethodologyThere are always new and different ways of software development. To stay relevant and efficient, it’s important for software developers to be informed about all the different varieties. The Agile Method of software development is widely accepted across teams. However, there are different processes within the Agile Method that are more or less appropriate for different projects. Below we break down the main differences between two popular forms of Agile: Kanban versus Scrum.

Agile Method

The basis of agile software development is that it can adapt over the course of a project. Instead of in-depth planning at the beginning of a project, agile methodologies allow for feedback and change. There are 12 core principles of the Agile Method that reiterate the idea of flexibility including:

Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage

Working software is the primary measure of progress

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly

The main focus of agile is to produce a well-functioning product. So, in order to get there, companies enforce frequent face-to-face communication, teamwork, and accountability.

Within the realm of the agile method, there are other varieties of software development including Kanban and Scrum. You should choose between the methods depending on what kind of software that your team is working on at the time.

Kanban

Inspired by the Toyota Production System and Lean Manufacturing, the Kanban method follows visual queues to frame the development processes. The processes are adjusted based on what to produce, when to produce, and how much to produce. Kanban promotes small scale changes to already implemented processes so that developers can overlay the method on top of established workflows.   

As the Kanban blog explains: “Kanban is a technique for managing a software development process in a highly efficient way.”

Scrum

One of the most popular frameworks for the Agile Method, Scrum manages complicated software development. The method follows a set of rules that never change, including the roles of developers and the processes they use. These processes include “sprints.” Sprints are fixed-length iterations that usually span from one-two weeks. This structure allows for accountability, project visibility, and flexibility.

Kanban Versus Scrum

Both Kanban and Scrum help to simplify difficult developmental processes by breaking them down into smaller, more comprehensible parts. But, each method has its positives and negatives.

Scrum is more rigid than Kanban. Scrum requires teams to adopt a completely new way of developing software. Everyone will have to learn about the ceremonies, specific roles, and the iterations. Whereas with Kanban, teams will more or less be able to follow the same framework they are accustomed to.

When it comes down to it, there is no real winner in the fight Kanban versus Scrum. It all depends on your team and the project you’re working on. Both methods are efficient and successful and it should be up to you to decide which you enjoy implementing more.

At Number8, we all work to stay on top of the latest news in software development. Because we follow the agile method, we deliver top quality products. To learn more about the methods that we use, read our informational page here. And give us a call today at (502) 890-7665 for help with your latest project!

How IT Outsourcing Benefits Medical Facilities

How IT Outsourcing can help Medical Facilities Most all business can benefit from some amount of outsourcing. The medical field, however, is able to thrive much better with the assistance of outsourced software development and other IT services.

In 2015, Black Book surveyed a wide range of executives in the medical field. A variety of people were represented, from hospital CIOs and IT leaders, to managers of care facilities. They were all asked to contribute their opinions on outsourcing services options in 2015.

The survey revealed that 73% of medical facilities with a capacity over 300 beds are open to looking for technology solutions outside of their staff. It also showed that 81% of facilities under 300 beds also place a higher priority on IT outsourcing.

An article published in July of 2017 in Modern Medicine, discusses the outsourcing benefits for medical facilities. It mentions that healthcare practices would benefit by outsourcing workload such as medical billing processes, and IT management. The author, Ben Walker also mentions Black Book’s 2015 survey. He writes:

“Perhaps the most convincing argument from the survey came from the 600 respondents who were either former or current IT outsourcing users: Ninety percent said they were either at or near full returns on their investments within three months, if not sooner.”

Below, we have gathered a few more of the IT outsourcing benefits for medical facilities:

More time to focus on the quality of care:

If healthcare facilities are focused too heavily on overseeing the company’s IT, then they lose critical time that could be spent on directly working on developing their core services. It is also true that many medical facilities aren’t in a position to hire and train their own IT staff.

Reduce operating costs:

Running any type of medical facility can be extremely expensive. Funding an in-house IT department is not necessarily feasible. By outsourcing, these businesses can afford to channel their funding directly into the care of their employees and patients.

Gaining access to world-class services:

By outsourcing IT, these health care providers will have access to the best support in the world. Instead of spending valuable time training IT employees, they can work with already established professionals. 

 

If you work within a medical facility and are in need of IT and software development services, give us a call today at (502) 890-7665. Here at Number8, we prioritize providing the best services possible to our clients. For more information on the work we do, and the clients we help, visit our About Us page.

 

Tech Advice for Startups

To get your startup off the ground, no matter the nature of the business, you must be involved with technology. You may have the best business plan in the universe, but without a way to disseminate that information, the idea is virtually useless. Technology and tech advice is necessary on almost every level in the process of starting a modern business. All the tech advice available may seem intimidating at first, especially if your startup is not tech related. But, below we have assembled just a few bits of advice to help guide your startup down the path of success.

Tech Advice for Startups

Build Reliable Security:

Security should always be at the forefront of every business venture. Once you have a  great idea, you will need to make sure you can protect it. One way of ensuring protection is through technological security. Something as simple as developing strong passwords can help keep your intellectual property safe. Don’t give away your login information or let employees use your email or computer. If you aren’t a tech-oriented startup, or if you don’t have your own IT department, it might be wise to reach out to an outside company that could assist in strengthening your business’ security.  

Invest Wisely:

Starting a business isn’t cheap. However that doesn’t mean it should break the bank. Don’t get caught up in superficial elements of your business, that can come later. Use investor’s money as directly and efficiently as possible. Focus on the product and the mission of the business as a whole. Once you’ve built a strong base and web of connections, then you can step back and channel energy back into developing your business’ image.

Make Communication a Priority:

Whatever your business, strength in communication will no doubt be a benefit. Whether that means communication with investors, employees, or clients, you need to hold those relationships with high regard. One way to do so is through transparency and keeping everyone informed. There are many ways that technology can support those relationships. For one, maintaining an active and consistent presence on the internet and social media is a great way to communicate across multiple platforms. Investors and clients won’t be participating in the day-to-day goings on around the office. So instead, use tools such as Instagram and Facebook to allow them to feel involved and in the know. Social media can help to create a more personalized image of a company and in turn stronger connections with those that support them.

If you are in the process of putting together your own startup and are in need of IT help, we’d love to hear from you! Give us a call today at (502) 890-7665 to learn more about our services. 

Improve Your IT Team’s Velocity with These 10 Tips

IT Team Velocity in Agile Methodology

An example chart of an IT team’s velocity.

A core aspect of agile methodology is the concept of velocity. Velocity is determined through the sum of the estimates of delivered features per iteration. It refers to the amount of backlog a scrum team can handle during a sprint period. This quickly becomes essential to agile teams as it helps plan for future projects and estimate completion times. It is also helpful in determining which specific teams and methods are more productive.

Ways to Enhance Your Team’s Velocity

Enhancing velocity, and therefore increasing a team’s capability to produce high-quality work, is a main objective for IT companies. Below we have listed a few ways to help improve your team’s velocity:

  1. Set Goals– Even as agile method allows for adaptive practices, it does not mean that a team should jump into a project without specific end goals in mind. The methods that you use to get there may vary along the way, but a successful project means reaching the goals proposed with the initial project.
  2. Communicate– A scrum team may be comprised of as many as seven individuals. While each person’s abilities will be necessary in achieving the goals of a project, too many people could lead to an overflow of ideas. Before getting too deep in a project, each team member should be aware of their exact responsibilities. Everyone on the team should remain in contact and communicate their progress throughout each iteration.
  3. Collaborate– Introducing new team members through outsourcing can be extremely helpful in team velocity. An experienced outsourced team will bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to a project.
  4. Be Flexible– Flexibility is essential in the agile method. As a team, you should mimic the flexible nature of the method in your work and your mindset. Don’t get caught up in work that isn’t directly benefiting the project. Be aware of when an idea isn’t working. Don’t waste time on a method just because it worked for a project in the past.   
  5. Streamline– Always analyze the workflow of you and your team. Make sure there are no habits within the process that are negatively affecting your velocity. Are there reports, paperwork, emails, memos, that don’t actually add anything substantial to the process?
  6. Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings– While communication is key, it is also important to avoid long, drawn out meetings that don’t accomplish anything. Be cautious of built-in meetings. Instead only host them when they will actually be beneficial to the team.
  7. Minimize Distractions– If you are able to stick to a plan throughout the course of a project, then it will be easier to stay on task. Everyone gets distracted sometimes, it is only human, but if you can set out specific goals each day then it will be easier to notice when you are falling behind and when it is time to refocus.
  8. Trust the Employees– Micromanaging can decrease confidence and productivity in employees. Trust that your employees and coworkers are just as motivated and involved as you, and that they are capable of producing quality products. There is no use in stressing over the work of others; instead spend your time focusing on your own work.
  9. Keep Track– One of the many benefits of using velocity is the ability to record each iteration of each project and use that data to predict future productivity. To get to that point you must be vigilant about keeping track of each move within each iteration. Before beginning a project you will need to notice how many team members will be working on the project, and how many hours they will need to spend. Be aware of how the velocity changes with each iteration. It should fluctuate within a reasonable range, but if it changes drastically between more than one or two iterations, you may need to renegotiate the plan.
  10. Plan for the Future– Take advantage of the velocity! By following the steps above you will be able to develop a backbone of each team and their capabilities. Use this to help predict and plan for future iterations.

For more information about agile software development and improving team velocity, give us a call at (502) 890-7665.

Common Mistakes Agile Software Development Teams Make

Common Mistakes Made When Using the Agile Method In recent years, agile methodology has become increasingly popular among tech development teams in part because of its adaptability. Teams are attracted to the flexibility within the agile method because it addresses the difficulty of trying to solve a complex problem through predetermined processes by allowing those processes to change throughout the course of the project. Rather than having to remain within a strict set of guidelines, teams are able to embrace more creative ways of problem-solving.

Since the agile method is still a relatively new approach for many teams, there are a few mistakes that occur consistently. If you are thinking of adopting the methodology, here are a few frequent mistakes to be cautious of:

Fear of Failure

One of the benefits of using the agile method is the freedom to fail. It seems counter-intuitive to strive for failure, but often it will guide you toward success. If you focus all your energy into believing every project will be a success, you could potentially waste time. It is important to admit when something isn’t working so you can instead bring your attention to finding a solution or a new approach.

Overcrowding

Teamwork is extremely valuable when it comes to tackling a new project. However, having too many people working on the same thing can quickly become counterproductive. You should assign employees to a project based on its estimated time-frame and how demanding the work may be. Sometimes a project only needs one or two people; others may require the brain power of your whole team. Be attentive when working with large teams. Don’t let employees lose their voice or have their ideas overshadowed by their coworkers. Working in a team should promote collaboration rather than competition. 

Not Consulting with Clients

A client’s opinion should be just as important as any team member’s. Not including your client in the development process could allow for problems that will force your team to back track and lose valuable time. Ultimately the success of your work is dependent on the satisfaction of your client. Without involving their input, you could create a product that fails to fulfill their needs. After each new progression, you should be checking with your client to ensure they are in agreement with the direction of the project. 

Waiting Too Long to Test

Efficiency does not always look the same. In terms of agile development, the focus should be on building a quality product and ensuring its capabilities rather than on creating a product quickly. You may save a few hours if you eliminate testing in the beginning, but they are sure to catch up with you when the product fails to function properly later on.

Lack of Skepticism

Using the agile method is attractive not just for its flexible qualities, but also because it is new. It is important to remain critical and thoughtful when using new software development approaches. Just as the waterfall approach is starting to be scrutinized a little more heavily, the same will surely happen to the agile method. Take a note of advice from the agile method itself and remain flexible. Analyze each assignment on an individual basis and decide what method would be most appropriate based on the details of the project. Don’t just believe a project will succeed solely because its development has been based on agile principles.

Number8’s Agile Method Software Development Team

At Number8, we’ve been in the business of software development for almost 20 years. Our on-shore and off-shore developers are familiar with the agile method and mistakes are both few and far between. If you are in need of an agile method software development team, contact us today. We can provide high quality IT talent to your business no matter the size or sector.

How to Identify a Team Player for Your IT Department

Everyone is familiar with the phrase “there is no ‘I’ in team” and the meaning behind it. We’re all taught from a young age that achieving a goal is much more probable when you work with others. This school of thought is usually applied to sports; however, teamwork is crucial if you want to succeed in the world of IT, too.

Often in the field of IT projects are not assigned individually, but in more of a scrum approach. This approach to product development and problem solving makes it impossible to avoid working as a team member in order to complete the assignments at hand. To have a successful work environment where teamwork is embraced and applied to daily tasks, employers must hire team players. This begs questions to any company looking for great tech help. What is a team player? And how do I look for one?

Looking for a team player?It’s hard to identify a team player if you don’t know what to look for. Unfortunately, in most situations, employers aren’t able to see if their hires have the qualities of a team player until they are put in the group environment where those qualities are used. Most team players do share certain qualities, though. And if employers can identify those qualities through the interview process then they will be able to identify potential hires that would work well in a team environment.

Three Traits of a Team Player

  1. They work well with others.

    The most tell-tale sign of a team player is their ability and willingness to work with others. If an employee resists working with co-workers then teamwork is going to be very challenging. By working together, coworkers build relationships and strengthen communication skills. These qualities can take a team far in the work environment. By having a better sense of community through strong relationships, employees are able to act as one in many situations. Whether that situation may be supporting one another in tough client situations or coming together to address a company-wide issue – being a strong team as a whole will make those hurdles easier to jump over.

    A team comprised of players that work together effectively also brings more focus in meetings and throughout the work day. If one employee does not want to be a part of the team then this has the potential to cause a rift in the social settings of the work environment. This usually leads to distractions on an interpersonal level among coworkers.

  2. A focus on common goals.

    Another trait of a team player is willingness to help others in order to reach common goals. When set in a team based environment, projects are presented to groups of employees. If a new hire is a team player then working in this situation will be beneficial to them. Furthermore, employers will watch them flourish. A team player that can set aside personal goals for the common good is optimal for an IT team. Even better is a team player who helps with common goals as well as others individual goals. Helping others speaks volumes about a person and guarantees success within the team environment. By helping others to reach their goals and group goals, the sense of community becomes even stronger.

  3. Being able to handle disagreement effectively.

    A third trait common among team players is the ability to listen to a coworker’s point of views. Even if they may not agree with them, they can come to an agreement on issues within the work environment. If a person is too stubborn to give way on issues then the team environment is not one that they will flourish in. Putting aside personal issues when in the work environment and also having the capability to listen to other’s points of view and find a middle ground is very important in a team-based office environment.

Offices that are built on collaborative team environments and focus on a building teamwork oriented cultures are becoming more popular. Seeing how effective the ideology of teamwork is when applied to sports, CEOs are borrowing that concept and applying it to office environments. In order for this to be a successful approach, hires and contractors must be team players.

Finding good team players means focusing on skillsets that include: working with co-workers, helping others reach their goals, and being able to concede on personal points of view to come to mutual agreements in the work environment will guarantee success for the new hire in the office environment.

At Number8, we provide high quality IT talent to businesses of different sizes and sectors. Our success comes from how our team works best as an extension of our client’s team in their office environment. We are a company built on team players and this is an important part of what makes our entire business model a success. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8, or hiring a Number8 IT team player to join your team, give our offices a call at 502-890-7665 today!

3 Trends in Global IT Outsourcing

Global IT outsourcing is a common practice for many different industries. Not only do American companies outsource information technology to countries like India, Japan and China, but several European companies are making the transition to global information technology outsourcing as well.

This movement towards IT outsourcing is often decided based upon a number of factors including: available resources, costs, needs, talent and time. Instead of hiring and managing employees here in the states, many find it increasingly convenient to reach out to foreign companies to supply the workforce. Global-Trends-in-IT-Outsourcing-min

Additionally, tech industries (like software development, web design and engineering) require a specialized set of skills. For in-demand skillsets such as these, global outsourcing may be more a necessity than an optional choice since it can be very difficult to find available local talent.

When it comes to global IT outsourcing, a growing number of options are available. In the past, certain regions like India tended to be recognized for offshore talent. Yet in recent years companies specializing in IT outsourcing have opened in a variety of regions.

IT Outsourcing – 3 Global Trends to Understand

For those interested in the global IT outsourcing, there are some trends to be aware of this year. If your company is already engaged in outsourcing or is considering this option, here are three things to understand:

1. Technology Standardization: With cloud storage, phone technology, and the popularity of .net software development, there is a greater standardization in the approach companies use to manage technological needs. Many companies are spending less on tech support costs due to an increasingly tech savvy consumer base, and other types of customer service assistance for consumers and employees.
2. Data Protection and Tracking Services: Global outsourcing can be a little intimidating for some companies and organizations. Protecting private information seems to be more difficult and more important all of the time. It is reassuring to learn that global IT outsourcing companies are taking extra precautions to protect sensitive and private information. Along with privacy initiatives, global outsourcing has begun to not only provide data and information, but also answers detailed analytics. This information is becoming increasingly valuable for insight and research into consumer behavior.
3. Moving Nearshore: While there are a number of benefits to outsourcing IT services offshore, many companies are moving closer to home by choosing nearshore companies. This transition is resulting in reduced costs, more frequent and open communication, fewer time constraints and greater collaboration. American companies turning to convenient locations like Costa Rica, Venezuela and Brazil to find top-notch technical talent. These countries are close in proximity, operating in similar time zones to the U.S. and with very high rates of English fluency.

The 2016 Trends in IT outsourcing are proving to be successful for many American companies. The move to collaborate with offshore IT talent is becoming increasingly commonplace in today’s global economy. And IT outsourcing offers a particularly compelling opportunity for companies interested in saving money, increasing efficiency or expanding aggressively. For more information about outsourcing information technology services to Costa Rica, give number8 a call now at 502-890-7675.

What Does a Scrum Master Do?

Scrum Master OverviewThe word “scrum” originally comes from a term used in the sport of rugby. In rugby, a scrum refers to a method for quickly restarting the rugby match. In the software development world, scrum explains a flexible, holistic strategy used with the agile development methodology, especially when compared to traditional approaches like waterfall software development.

A scrum master serves as the facilitator for a product development team that uses an agile software development framework. Scrum masters are sometimes compared to coaches who help software development teams do their best possible work throughout course of a project. Scrum masters typically serve as leaders over the process through which a project is managed.

The scrum methodology enables software development teams to self-organize by way of close collaboration and daily communication. Scrum also encourages a shared vision among team members which may include the product owner, scrum master, software developers and other stakeholders, to do all that is necessary to envision and create the best products possible.

Agile software development teams use the scrum methodology to enable quick changes and adjustments, maximizing their ability to act responsively to emerging requirements throughout a software development project.

5 Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

A scrum master has variety of responsibilities throughout a software development project, but their main job is to help the product development team perform their best. In order to get the best work out of a team, a scrum master is responsible for the following:

    1. Organizing and facilitating daily meetings, called scrums, where team members share project status updates.
    2. Building team consensus around what needs to be achieved on the project, over a specified period of time.
    3. Working closely with the project owners to make sure the project backlog is on track.
    4. Claiming responsibility for any obstacles that may impede the team’s progress.
    5. Protecting the product development team from any distractions that may slow down progress or hinder their ability to do their work.

A scrum master may seem like a project manager in the general sense of the word, yet they typically go over and above to make sure their team is able to perform to the best of their ability. Scrum masters offer ongoing guidance and leadership to a product development team that needs to successfully reach a shared common goal that an individual team member could not achieve if they were working alone.

People interested in the agile scrum approach to software development often join the Scrum Alliance, a non-profit membership organization that encourages the widespread use of scrum. Prosoft Nearshore founder David Easterling is a certified scrum master and member of the Scrum Alliance.