Posts

An Overview of Scrum Certification

What is Scrum?

The term “scrum” is borrowed from the team contact sport rugby. In rugby, everyone has to work together for the duration of the game. Applied to the world of information technology, scrum’s holistic approach assures that no one is left behind or too far ahead during a project. In fact, development teams that utilize scrum, lead daily meetings or “scrums” to ensure everyone is on the same page. During these, team members give status reports on progress made for their specific project.

Though the concept of scrum predates the Agile way of thinking, it is a subset of the Agile methodology in that it is a development methodology that supports a more cyclical, flexible and adaptive way of working through a software development cycle. A typical scrum team consists of a product owner, a development team, and a scrum master. The owner envisions the project, while the team follows through with it from beginning to end. Meanwhile, the scrum master provides leadership and acts as an authoritative figure for the development team.

Becoming Certified

For those that work within the product development game, becoming certified in scrum is a valuable asset to cultivate. Demand for this certification has only increased alongside the growing popularity of the Agile methodology.

While receiving a scrum certification is quite the investment, it is a relatively quick process. Depending on if you’re seeking a junior or senior level course, it can take anywhere from hours to days to complete. Those that become certified in scrum are usually scrum masters. Scrum masters are tasked with inspiring, enabling, and guiding their teams through the process of product development. They also facilitate collaboration and productivity from the team and resolve any issues that may impede the unit’s progress.  

It’s important to note that scrum is not only used in agile software development. It can be immensely helpful when it comes to managing projects in an array of other fields as well. Before you enroll in a scrum certification course, be sure to properly evaluate the accreditation. This ensures that the class is from a credible organization that your employer respects and values.

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.

4 Artificial Intelligence Trends to Watch

We probably haven’t fully realized the extent to which AI has already been incorporated into our everyday lives. The Internet of Things (IOT), commonly thought of as smart devices, have now come to include household appliances, as well as handheld phones and speakers; all of which are voice activated and designed to follow through with commands. This much is clear: how we are currently interacting with technology is vastly reshaping the tech industry, and it has everything to do with artificial intelligence. 

Both companies and governments are racing to develop the latest artificial intelligence platforms, with potential even in the medical and political arenas on the horizon. As automation continues to grow, so do cloud based solutions; providing the need for on demand storage. While people are quick to jump to the conclusion that AI is going to create a mass job exodus, it could very well fuel job creation as well. For example, there is a shortage of AI researches and engineers, and demand for those who can compile data efficiently. What follows are 4 AI trends to watch, and how they might affect the industry as we know it. 

4 Important AI Trends

  1. Logistics

    When it comes to coordinating facilities and supplies on a large scale, the robotic workforce is already taking over. Warehousing and distribution companies like Amazon are putting AI to work sorting and finding packages; a job that was once labor intense. 

  2. Automobiles

    The auto industry has grown leaps and bounds from OnStar vehicle and safety features. Artificial intelligence has allowed Tesla to bring the very first self driving cars to the street. Additionally, assisted driving features like automatic braking, parallel parking, and traffic alerts are now standard. The future holds more innovation, as Uber looks to implement driver-less cars. AI also continues to improve everything from automobile testing to software updates, problems and repairs.

  3. Data Analytics

    Many platforms are already running off of AI because it is simply better at analyzing data. AI algorithms are determined by machine learning from large amounts of data. Intelligent apps are able to make decisions based on patterns of behavior from said data. This is how music apps like Pandora and Spotify are able to recommend songs. Facebook for example already predetermines what users will or will not see, based off of their user data.

    As a result, AI platforms tend to be better at detecting security threats, fraudulent transactions or behavior. Additionally, when it comes to customer service, chat-bots are becoming popular with financial institutions in that they enable them to have virtual assistants 24/7. These chat bots are able to answer a customer’s questions based off of prior frequently asked and answered questions. Even e-commerce is utilizing AI in terms of price fluctuations and targeted ads. For example, an item’s price can change on it’s own based on how many times it is being viewed, or sits in a cart. Specific buyer habits and personas are also being gathered via membership or reward cards.

  4. Content Creation

    Surprisingly, AI will affect both white and blue collar jobs as many marketing strategies now include some form of AI wether it be via custom videos, social media posts, or emails. In fact, articles are already being published from many reputable news outlets using not journalists, but artificial intelligence. AI is specifically useful when it comes to writing many variations of the same message, or financial summaries and earnings reports where numbers are merely being translated.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. 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.

Interested in A Career In IT? Here Are the Top 10 IT Jobs of the Future

Job growth in IT is increasing at a pace unmatched in other fields. Innovation in artificial intelligence and virtual reality alone have resulted in a redefining and merging of current roles as well as new positions in the tech world. While all of these require a diverse set of skills, they present a great opportunity to jump start and grow a career in Information Technology.

Here are the some of the top up and coming IT jobs:

  1. App Developer

    The apps on our tablets or smart phones have become the way we all communicate with one another, do business, and even consume news and entertainment; so it’s no surprise that mobile application developers are in high demand. App developers not only dream up ideas, they execute them. To do so, an app developer must be knowledgeable in designing code, debugging it, and problem solving in general.

  2. Security Specialist

    As technology advances, new risks arise in terms of securing data, networks, assets and a multitude of other IT systems. Hacking into a business’s or consumer’s private information for example, has become more and more common. Therefore, an analyst’s job is crucial to the success of any and every company. Security specialists not only fight cyber attacks, but are experts in risk management and preventing future crises.

  3. Database Administrator

    A database administrator is charged with compiling data in way that can be easily analyzed. Data is the most important building block in terms of how products and services  work properly. Administrators often have a background in security and are well informed in terms of the cloud.

  4. Dev Ops Lead

    A dev ops culture is one that is focused on a software’s turnaround rate. A dev ops lead is one who bridges the gap between those that run code and those that write code all in an effort to increase the quality of development and delivery.

  1. Machine Learning Engineer

    A machine learning engineer works to develop AI machines that can learn from and apply data in a useful way. Such engineers are advanced programmers that can utilize algorithms to train systems.

  2. Web Developer

    In the modern market, every business needs to have an online presence in order to properly compete for business. Whether you’re using a laptop or cellphone, websites should be able to work on any device no matter how they vary in terms of size or layout. A web developer can offer clients a competitive edge by creating web applications that are easy to use and provide excellent customer service.

  3. Network Analyst

    As more and more company’s are utilizing the internet to conduct business, analysts are needed to ensure networks are secure, speedy, and operating efficiently no matter the amount of traffic.

  4. Software Engineer

    Software engineers design and develop software that enable computer systems to perform their applications. They also offer technical support by implementing software solutions.

  5. IoT Designer

    The internet of things is a term given to any device or object that is connected to the internet. These days, our thermostat, fridge, or car is an IoT in that they are connected and working to exchange information. A IoT designer therefore has a deep understanding of sensors and wireless communication, and works to enable objects and devices with the latest technology.

  6. Business Intelligence Analyst

    Business intelligence analysts interpret popular trends in their industry that shape how they can improve a company’s business. To do so they compile data from within their own organization as well as from competitors.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in agile product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. 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.

5 Myths of Working With an Offshore Development Team

Working with an offshore development team is becoming a popular alternative staffing solution in the software industry. Not only does it reduce operating costs, but it allows a company to build a team at their own pace. However, offshoring work comes with it’s fair share of misconceptions.

Here are a few common myths about the pitfalls of working with an offshore development team.

  1. The quality of the work will be poor.

    While trusting remote workers is reasonably hard for any employer or company to do, reputable offshore development teams have proven to help tech companies advance within the industry. As long as a partnership and relationship is established, and industry standard benchmarks are relied upon, the quality of work received will not be lacking.

  2. It takes jobs away.

    The fact of the matter is that U.S. based tech companies are facing a shortage of IT professionals. Offshoring some of the workload actually frees up current staff to work on reaching their goals. Developing the company’s end products is always more worthwhile than working on lesser routine and task oriented maintenance.

  3. It’s a security risk.

    Depending on the type of work that is being offshored, data privacy and intellectual property breaches can be a concern. Unfortunately, these security risks are just as likely to happen onshore as they are off it. Detailed contracts outlining who is liable can help curb risks and ensure everyone is compliant in terms of security needs. 

  4. We won’t be able to communicate with one another.

    In addition to the possible language barrier that comes with having offshore employees, there are also varying idioms, gestures, customs, and behavior norms that can throw communication off kilter. However, it is in no way impossible to find an offshore team that is either fluent in english, comfortable with a specific dialect, or capable of communicating through the right channel. In today’s world we are all connected online, and the agile project management method is specifically known for enabling more transparency between working partners. The idea that one cannot work in unison with those from other cultures is at most an antiquated idea as email, video chatting, and instant messaging allow for those from around the world to communicate with one another better than ever before.

  5. The time gap will mean a lag in productivity.

    In the IT world, completing projects quickly is crucial as ideas and and new technologies are always evolving. Depending on the geographical location of overseas partners, offshoring can often mean a difference in time zones and work day hours between teams. While this understandably seems worrisome, it’s important to remember there are many countries where part of the work day overlaps. Therefore collaboration can take place. If this isn’t the case, many companies make the difference in time zones work for them with round the clock support between both countries and teams.

Finding the right partners to grow your team and business is an essential ingredient for success. Why not utilize resources from around the world and open your company up to the best the industry has to offer?

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

Business Process Outsourcing Most Startups Should Consider

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

What is business process outsourcing?

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

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

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

Companies can outsource to a variety of locations.

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

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

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

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

At Number8, we help fast growing companies find quality remote workers that creatively contribute to your business’s success. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

Distracted at Work? 3 Simple Tricks to Get You Focused

tips for focusingIn the world of technology, distractions are everywhere. Pinging notifications have a way of popping up on our phones and computers, and then an hour later, we find ourselves trying to remember what it was we were doing in the first place. However, when it comes to staying focused at work, it’s just a matter of building good habits that will stand the test of time (or at least get you to the end of the work day). Here are a few tips for focusing amidst the mountain of emails and instant messages that are sure to come your way. 

3 Tips for Focusing At Work:

  1. Set specific goals.

Part of the reason we get distracted at all at work is that we are bored or overwhelmed by the task at hand. However, knowing your priorities and setting goals can help minimize any attempt at procrastination. One of the best tips for focusing is proper goal setting. Proper goal setting works best when you break down each goal into reasonable time blocked tasks. Outlining all the steps it will take to accomplish what you want and then giving yourself a time limit for each one will help motivate you to meet your potential and fulfill your deadlines. 

Make sure the goals you set are SMART; meaning they are specific, measurable, assignable, relevant, and timely. This will ensure that you aren’t overwhelming yourself or wasting time on unattainable projects. Also try tackling the hardest tasks at the beginning of the day when you’re most energized and have loads of time ahead of you, and save the more routine things on your to do list for the end of the day when you’re brain and attention span is winding down. This way you won’t be as stressed or pushed for time on an important project.

  1. Take breaks.

It’s important to step back every once in a while, and if you do so regularly, you’ll find yourself less prone to give into the little distractions that present themselves throughout the day because you’ve already taken a break. For example, after spending a period of time hard at work, try rewarding yourself by getting up and walking around, grabbing a cup of coffee, filling up your water bottle, or even eating a mid afternoon treat. You can control the temptation to constantly check emails, social media, and text messages by setting aside a specific about of time in your workday for it. Catch up with your peers during lunch, so you don’t find yourself chitchatting at your desk instead of working. It also helps if your work space is somewhat enjoyable. So if you can, listen to background music to pump you up or keep your brain relaxed.

  1. Regulate technology.

When you’re in the office, why not make your devices work for you? Take advantage of the many apps out there that can track your time spent on certain sites, and even block those that you are prone to linger on for too long like YouTube or Facebook. Additionally, consider disabling your phone by turning it on silent, or having calls go directly to voicemail so you’re not interrupted unnecessarily during work hours. Keeping any handheld devices in your bag, or face down on your desk so you can’t see if the screen lights up, will also help prevent you from being pulled off track.

At Number8, we believe one of the keys to achieving your business’s goals is great IT that supports your company. We help businesses access great IT by connecting them with remote workers that utilize best-practice tools and processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

5 Things Top Project Managers Do To Stay Organized

project managersProject managers have to juggle the needs of various team members in order to keep the whole machine running towards a company’s eventual goal. It can get very hectic, very quickly, and it’s easy to drop the ball every once and awhile. The thing is, when project managers drop said ball, they are likely setting back the overall project and letting down someone on their team.

To be an effective project manager, you have to be organized. Not JUST organized– we are talking type-A-Virgo-Batman-meets-Leslie-Knope organized. Most of us don’t have those kinds of innate organization skills on our own, though. Here are some of our best tips from top project managers on how they stay organized in order to reach their goals.

Organization Tips for Project Managers

1. Set Milestones and Expectations

Sometimes when you are on a long journey, it’s best to focus on one step at a time. If your team is all working towards a long-term goal, it’s easy for certain members to get ahead of themselves while others may become stuck getting bogged down in the details. Setting weekly or even bi-weekly milestones everyone has to work towards will create a steady pace. It will also encourage others to work as a team.

2. Communicate Often

Even if you work with a remote team, it’s important to talk as a group on a regular basis. Thanks to chat applications, it’s easier than ever to connect with those you work with. While not everybody can be plugged in for the whole 8 hours a day, set aside at least an hour a day where everyone can discuss what they are doing, questions they have, and ideas on how to improve operations.

3. Delegate Tasks

Chances are, there is someone on your team who is dying to take on something that helps them stand apart. Delegating tasks to people on your team is a great way to free up your time so you have more flexibility to address issues as needed.

4. Get Your Least Favorite Task Done First

Every day before you start the rest of your work, evaluate what needs to be done and choose your least favorite task. The first thing you should accomplish is that task. Once you have your least favorite thing completed, the rest of your day is easy in comparison.

5. Encourage Questions

When your team hesitates to ask questions, they’re more likely to complete operations in a way that requires future corrections. Being open and inviting to questions encourages the people you work with to approach you. This can help you and your team correct problems as you go, so you have a more organized process altogether.

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!