Software Product Development-the Unsolved Mystery of High Tech

One of the most puzzling things in high technology, especially for executives on the business side of things, is the software development process. It’s the high tech equivalent to the “Black Hole” phenomenon made famous in Astronomy. Endless resources can be poured into a software development project, yet there never seems to be an end in sight. Monitoring the progress of a software project can be like peering into the darkness of a seemingly bottomless pit.

And why is this so? It seems that in such a typically high tech, yet now familiar activity, we would have long ago figured it out. We’re in an age where PCs, with the power of supercomputers from just a few years back, are slapped together like bicycles, and don’t cost much more than a bike. You would think that the process of software development would, by now, amount to simply turning a crank–yet it seems it hasn’t advanced much since the dawn of the PC age.

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic here. But I have been in the high tech and software industries since 1983, and I have never been involved with–or even personally known of a software project–that came in on time and under budget. Never. Not even ONCE. That’s pretty incredible. Now, I realize that there are almost certainly examples of on-schedule projects out there, but they are in the overwhelming minority of all software that is developed.

THEY ALWAYS SLIP

It’s just accepted in the software business that projects will slip, particularly when the end result is an actual commercial product. The businesses I’ve been involved in have tried everything. When I’ve had direct responsibility, we’ve taken every approach imaginable. We’ve tried an approach of “No upfront planning”–starting coding as soon as possible. We’ve tried “extensive and laborious upfront planning”–with a detailed spec, and a prototype, completed prior to initiating production coding. I’ve seen many projects that tried using intermediate steps, falling between the two extreme approaches above. We’ve tried to start projects by purchasing as many “pre-written” modules as possible, used various languages and platforms, hired dedicated debugging personnel, tried code-generators, assembled both small teams & large teams, you name it–we’ve tried it. Project schedules have been written with the utmost conservatism, at the insistence of senior management. No matter. Across a number of different companies, EVERY project has slipped out beyond the wildest nightmares or everyone involved.

ONE LINE OF CODE, TWO WEEK DELAY

Once I asked our lead programmer to change ONE LINE OF CODE in a well-established product. He estimated it would take just a few seconds to make the change, and a few hours to test it. The change would be final by the end of the day, at the latest. Two weeks later I was still waiting for a solid product.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not writing this to bash software developers. While not every developer I’ve worked with over the years has been a world-beater, I’ve had the fortune to work with quite a number whom I consider to be outstanding. Many have been extremely bright, dedicated and hard working. But no matter how much thought, time and effort went into it, our projects always slipped. A lot. We usually ended up with a commercially successful product, but how much better we could have done, had we figured out a way to bring the product to market on time? The only saving grace was the competition had the same problem.

MORE ART THAN SCIENCE

The reason, I believe, is that writing software remains much more of an art than a science. This statement is a bit surprising, until you look a little deeper. There is certainly much methodology available to guide a team to use sound, time-tested practices in developing software. However, a software program is really just a document written in a foreign language. That’s why C++ and Java are called Programming Languages. It’s also interesting that many programmers who aren’t classically trained in computer science come from an English, Music, or other language background. Just like in writing a novel you are guided by syntax, grammar and writing rules, writing a software program is very similar. In writing a novel you are essentially creating a unique work that has never been done quite the same way before. Also true for a software program. If you knew exactly how the writing of a novel or software program would go before you began, there would be no need to write it–it would have already been done. While there are plenty of rules (representing the science) to writing good software, at the end of the day it’s a unique, written creation (the art).

COMPLEXITY OVERWHELMS EXPERIENCE

Another key reason why conquering the software development process has appeared to be impossible, is the vastly increased complexity associated with software projects today. Let’s face it, the average piece of software today does a lot more, and is quite a larger in terms of the number of lines of code, than at the dawn of the PC era. The creation of graphical user interfaces really started the explosion in the size of software code. So much more code is needed, to bring the user-friendly products of today to life. And what enabled this, of course, was the dawn of the modern operating systems, especially the overcoming of the 640K limit that the original DOS operating system required PC programs to run in. Windows and other modern operating systems almost eliminated the need to write software efficiently, at least from a code size perspective. Today the embedded systems world is pretty much the last bastion where writing code efficiently lives on–it’s pretty much a lost art to most of the software world. It’s interesting to speculate–if we were still writing in the 640K box, would software development have evolved to a more predictable science today? Maybe, but the world would be a less productive as a result.

WHAT TO DO FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE?

As you can tell from this discussion, I don’t have a great set of answers on how to bring software to market on time. It’s one of the great frustrations of my career. I still strongly believe that getting the best people you can get will make the problem better, even if it can’t be solved completely. I also believe in keeping development teams small, with the minimum of structure necessary to run the project. It’s also wise, in my opinion, to structure your product releases to be more frequent, while adding fewer new features per release. This should at least minimize the pain of each release slipping, since the slip time of each release should be less. And knowing what you’re going to be coding, developing a spec document and sticking to it (no feature creep!) is also sound practice, although I’ve found it to be no panacea. Beyond that, I’m at a loss. Maybe one of you has a strong opinion on how to bring projects out on time? If so, send me a comment–this is a discussion worth having.

Phil Morettini is the Author and President of PJM Consulting, a Managment Consultancy to Software and High Tech Companies. PJM Consulting executes special, strategic projects and can also supply interim senior management in General Management (CEO, COO, Division Manager), Product Marketing, M&A, Distribution Channels and Business Development. You can contact Phil on the PJM Consulting Website (www.pjmconsult.com) or via email at info@pjmconsult.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Phil_Morettini/39629

 

Tech Support For CRM Hosting

You can never be confident about your CRM knowledge as so many CRM vendors are working around the world to develop newer technologies. So, as the old saying says, the more you learn, the more knowledge you realize you lack, is proved to be true once again. As tech support experts explain, technological developments always follow upcoming market trend and customer needs. Being a business owner you must always stay well informed about present market strategy to get the best suitable technology that will add value in your business process. So, ask yourself if you really know CRM Software once again!

Tech support or computer support services explain, CRM Software application is the most accepted way of Customer Relationship Management. This Software enables organizations to better manage their customer base through a reliable and dynamic process of interaction. But, to keep pace with the growing development of marketing strategy and survive in a competitive business environment, you need a specialized knowledge and utmost skill set to use CRM Software the best possible way; a successful CRM software solution can never be implemented by only installing and integrating. Huge business processes are tempting CRM tech support providers to offer better quality solutions for lower cost to beat their competitors.

Computer services given online provide comprehensive idea on CRM software and its application utilities. As their tech support experts suggest, there are mainly two types of CRM systems available; on-demand CRM and on-premise CRM. There are various factors should come into consideration while deciding upon a specific CRM application. The foremost thing is, you must determine your employee strength or the number of expected CRM users. If your company has a limited number of employees, say around 100, on-demand CRM software applications would be ideal for your purpose. Now if you own a large business process having thousands of employees, better you go for an on-premise CRM application. This specification is mainly because the on-demand CRM is charged on monthly usage of each user while the on-premised CRM is priced wholly upfront.

Now you need to concern over the strategic approach as it is essential for an effective and efficient CRM policy. Tech support is given to help users learn the approach which should include needed modification of business processes as per customers’ needs, training of employees and of course and perfect adoption of a relevant IT CRM system. Proper implementation of IT CRM Services enables organizations to follow their CRM strategies the best possible way.

An integrated CRM software application is also known as front office solutions as they deal directly with the customer. So, you must also concern over the availability of technical knowledge in your company. Implementing on-premise CRM system requires fair knowledge of software. Therefore, having a functional technical department, you can go with on-premise CRM software, else it is wise to stick with on-demand policy which are relatively easy to install and customize accordingly.

Besides all these, you must evaluate the sensitivity of your business data and of course consider the data security measures. This way you need to consider the issues most relevant to your purpose.

Today remote computer repair and network support services have become one of the most essential services to deal with frequent computer issues instantly and effortlessly. Log on to myetchsupportstore.com to find oodles of tech solutions to solve your every single issue not really burning a whole in your pocket.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/James_Mark_Madison/551584

 

MS Dynamics GP Tech Support For Retail Business

Before starting with the discussion about Dynamics GP implementation in business process, let’s know what Microsoft Dynamics GP is all about. This specialized software application was developed by Great Plains Software. Microsoft has launched its tenth version recently with significant changes and improvements. As tech support specialists suggest you can get two editions of this software, Business Essentials and Advanced Management system. Microsoft Dynamics GP can help your business with effective manufacturing support, reliable financial management, human resource management and many more.

Specialized online tech support service providers can help you get the needed software package and license in a hassle free way. Here the initial cost may be high but its essential capabilities to support a business process can recoup the expense very soon. You can either get specialized computer support from online forum or can go with Microsoft Dynamics GP consultant resellers. However, while hiring a consultancy firm it is essential to make sure the company is quite capable of addressing your business requirements and provide the needed tech support efficiently. It is always advantageous if you get Microsoft certified professionals at your service. Some of the computer support or tech support companies offer a free consultancy in order to give you an initial application idea and price up the job in hand. This can give you a fair knowledge about Microsoft Dynamics GP and how they can work to support your business.

If you are running a retail business process and planning to implement the Microsoft Dynamics GP, get the opinions of certified experts about the matter as retail businesses are very different and success of the operation is highly relative. As tech support specialists suggest, appropriate selection of Store Management system, Point of Sale, perfect Corporate ERP or Accounting application is essential for a successful software implementation. Shop around and once you find a capable consultancy firm, consider their service quote before making a final deal. Another essential factor should come into your consideration is what their service policy is on after sales care.

However, in this software application you will find Dexterity chunk, which has been designed to integrate GL transactions and to some extent acquisitions. According to tech support professionals, Microsoft Business Solutions directly generate such Dexterity coded integration which is relatively simple and well documented.

You can also build the integrations in Integration Manager with expert technical assistance and take more challenging approach to GP Sales Order Processing module in turn. Consultancy firms can also help you deploy your existing configurable Alba Spectrum integration on SOP, RM and POP modules level. With such act you can map multiple setups in Dynamics GP.

So, by now you must have understood how to implement such advanced software suite in your business process. Search over net, online technical support service providers or companies are there to suggest, develop, and implement integrated business processes best suiting your purpose. They also can help you pick the software systems that have a direct impact on your business success.

Remote tech support companies employ Microsoft certified technicians to answer your critical queries through advanced knowledge sharing. Hire a remote computer support technician today to get resolve your issues in minutes.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/James_Mark_Madison/551584

 

High Tech Risk

In the corporate arena and also in our daily lives falling behind in technology is quite a bad idea. But getting out in front is also a bit risky and not so smart either.

I read in a magazine that a German company Vitaphone recently brought out a new cell phone with only three buttons, each intended to allow an elderly user to speed-dial an emergency contact. It’s a clever idea with a potentially big market. But what I liked reading about the phone is that its main appeal is that it has less, not more, functionality than everything else on the market. The three-button cell phone also has people wondering: Is it a high-tech product?

The answer, of course, is something along the lines of maybe. But you do not hear much about sort of high-tech stuff. Instead, most things are pigeonholed as either high-tech or low tech, a false duality that ignores the fact that to thrive, nearly all businesses need to reside in a zone best characterized as medium tech.

We all know that companies that resist new technologies risk giving their competitors the edge in creating better, more efficient products and services. No one wants to be left behind because of a dumb or shortsighted tech decision. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs overcompensate for these fears and wind up underestimating the risks that are part and parcel of technology or assuming that technology is a business solution in its own right. Take for example, Mercedes that in 2002 proudly led the auto industry into the brave new world of computerized brake systems. These brakes would take over the driver’s duty in case of an emergency. No one ever thought of something like this and no one ever asked Mercedes for this feature. This system did not work so well for Mercedes, in terms of increasing its sales.

The challenge for people and companies as such, is how to prevent getting in deep with technology without completely neglecting it. Even putting up new software, like installing a computerized billing system, can be very complicated, and the multifaceted efforts can fall apart into really expensive nightmares. Any effort to implement new technology becomes high-tech if you have not done it before. The brighter way of doing things here, is to manage the technology risk the same way loan officers and mutual fund managers manage financial risk-by spreading it around. It is intelligent to assume that your technology decisions are quite like a stock portfolio. You should want to think that your technology decision is risky in some areas but not all areas. There is no such a thing as a new technology with no risks involved

A lot of the times, you have no choice but to be innovative. But if it is not high-impact, and you can buy the technology somewhere else, that is the way to go. To do so, one company went to the trouble of acquiring a software developer that was already working on similar technology somewhere else. A year later, that company had a software program 5% the size of others, which was simple and user-friendly with less complexity. That company is enjoying continuous revenue growth and is now making profits.

Some companies start investing a lot of money in building high-end software without looking at the market scenario or analyzing the market trends. The need therefore, before building any software is to focus on the market trend: are factories buying ERP solutions, have they started relying on process automation and are they in a stage where they can take to change management. Some companies are not wise enough to research well and begin to build a very expensive and high-end software like an ERP for which the market is rather dry.

A good way to stay safely medium tech is to do what Vitaphone did and focus on less feature-rich versions of high-tech products. But that is no simple task. A clever enough marketing twirl, as with the emergency cell phone, may also do the trick, but more often getting customers to buy a less advanced product requires a sharply lower price and lowering the cost of a high-tech product can be a technology achievement. For that matter, Vitaphone is not placing all of its bets on a three-button cell phone. It is also throwing some high-tech into the mix, producing phones that integrate a GPS chip so that emergency response crews can pinpoint a caller’s location, and even a built-in heart monitor for a fast reading in the case of a cardiac event.

It is as such always wise to keep in the middle order to reduce the risk factor. The ideal thing to do is to bring out a simpler version of an already complex solution and to have a lower price on it. This will also give you a good marketing pitch.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Malika_Zuberi/63440

 

Which Point of Sale (POS) Software Should I Choose?

Which POS software program should I choose? Well, that is the $10,000 question, or $2,000, or $1000, or below depending on what you ultimately decide on. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of POS software programs to pick from. In fact, there are so many choices, it can be mind boggling. If you find yourself in that situation now, hopefully this article will help you keep your sanity in tact.

If you own a retail store consider these important questions:

Do you want remote access into your POS software?
Do you want to offer gift/loyalty cards?
Do you want the freedom to choose your own credit card processing company?
Do you want to gather customer information for email or snail mail advertising?
Do you want to offer a layaway program?
Will you need to combine different SKU items to offer a kit under one SKU for resale?
Will you need a wireless barcode (batch) scanner for inventory and upload scanned data to your POS?
Will you want to offer integrated digital signage with your POS system?
Do you plan to open more than one store?
Will you need to print barcode labels?
What type of reporting features do you want the POS software to generate for you?
Will you want to take items on consignment?
Do you need integration with a third party accounting program?
Will you need to sell items by weight? If so, you will need scale integration.
Will you need after hours and weekend phone software tech support?

If you own a restaurant consider these important questions:

Do you want remote access into your POS software?
Do you want to offer gift/loyalty cards?
Do you want the freedom to choose your own credit card processing company?
Do you want to gather customer information for email or snail mail advertising?
Will you need a wireless barcode (batch) scanner for inventory and upload scanned data to your POS?
Will you want to offer integrated digital signage with your POS system?
Do you plan to open more than one restaurant?
Will you need the ability to print product labels? i.e. label on pizza box
Do you need integration with a third party accounting program?
Will you need to sell items by weight? If so, you will need scale integration.
What type of reporting features do you want the POS software to generate for you?
Will you offer modifiers for menu items? i.e. extra cheese, extra mayo, etc
Will you need servers (waiters & waitresses)? If so, then you will need the following:
*Ability for split ticket payments
*Ability for table assignments
*Ability for tip calculation/charge
Will you want to integrate a guest paging system for full service restaurant?
Will you want to take phone orders and offer home delivery?
Will you need after hours and weekend phone software tech support?

The above list of questions to consider are not all inclusive, but, in my opinion, are some of the most important in order to get the software features you need for your business. Of course, the more feature rich a POS software program is… the more it will cost. But you will NEED a POS software program that has the ability to run your business the way you want it. Your POS program should not hinder or frustrate you daily business operations in anyway. If that happens to someone, then chances are he/she made the wrong choice. Once you have narrowed down software vendors you like, then look at the support services they offer. Does the POS program you are interested in have tech support available? If so, what type of tech support? Also, checkout how much they charge for tech support? The ability to get good after sales tech support can be just as important as the POS software itself. There are few things more frustrating then your POS software giving you an error message saying it can’t print to the receipt printer while you have customers in line, so you frantically pick up the phone, call your software vendor and no one answers; now that is a worst case scenario, but it is something to consider when making a final choice for your POS software. Know for sure your chosen POS vendor will be there to support you when needed.

Definitely do your homework and ask the POS software vendors as many questions as you need to in order to make an informed decision. List all all the software features you think you will need on paper, and also list all of the questions you can think of to ask a software vendor. Ask other business owners in your industry what POS software they use and get their advice. If you follow this process, you should be able to make a confident, informed decision and go with a POS software vendor that will be a business partner with you for many years to come.

I am a Point of Sale (POS) professional, and I have been serving the POS industry for 10 years. I have made my extensive industry knowledge and good reputation its own brand within the point of sale industry over the years and have loved every day of it! To know more about me and get current with more POS news and articles, please visit http://www.pointofsalecorner.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Shaun_F_Kiely/1353522