Custom Development Solutions

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Press: Agile Implementation

Agile implementation trends have changed, as we inspect and adapt.

I was recently interviewed for an article in the Midlands Business Journal’s technology section as a contributor to their technology trends overview.  Here are some snippets from that conversation:

MBJ: What do you think our business-owner readers should most know in the 2016 version of this annual section, as it relates to technologies or industry developments of interest?

In the past during Agile implementation, companies were more apt to start with one Agile methodology and then later experiment by adding pieces of other methodologies.  As Agile becomes more understood as a set of values and principles vs just a process or set of processes, we see a trend toward mixing Agile methodologies from the beginning of an initiative.  

At One80 Services, we see a lot of companies begin their Agile journey with perhaps a basic Scrum framework, incorporating aspects of Kanban and XP into their process right away, rather than waiting a year or more to experiment with combined methodologies.

It’s encouraging to see this trend, as people become more and more familiar with the basic principles and values that Agile exists to sustain.

MBJ: What are some examples of memorable current or recently-completed projects or initiatives your team has taken on, which illustrate some of the aforementioned technologies, approaches to solutions, or broad industry developments?

One80 Services is currently working with several clients in highly competitive industries. Each client is hoping to complete a number of projects in the next 12 to 18 months in order to satisfy customer demand. The projects address a range of clients goals including project visibility, improving ROI, strategic planning, capacity planning, collaboration and accountability, and others. 

Agile puts individuals and interactions above processes and tools – meaning that how things are working for you is always more important than which process you choose. We customize solutions to each client, and in some cases even to each team. 

This means that in one company, we may have several different teams implementing different pieces of varying methodologies. One80’s clients are delighted and often surprised by the flexibility that exists within an Agile framework.

MBJ: What would you describe as the biggest 2 to 3 changes in the 6 months to a year, as it relates to some of the aforementioned products, solutions, and approaches?

As mentioned previously, One80 Services has been working with clients on multi-methodology approaches from the beginning of their Agile implementation.  This is a change from how we and others in our industry would previously implement Agile. Rather than teaching a course about pure Scrum, we now go in and show a mix of methodologies that would work best for each client’s specific needs.  People are really open to using pieces of several methodologies together when they see how well it fits their situation. 

Coming at Agile training from this angle makes it imperative to begin with a conversation. It’s really important to understand the dynamics of the organization and the projects involved – how the teams are formed, what they are focused on, and what challenges they face – before a process is created.

At One80 Services we call this an Agile Kickstart. It’s a conversation followed by training and backed by coaching. This seems to be a magic potion for Agile success.

Really understanding the needs of the company, the team, and the customer before an Agile implementation is key.   Many Agile failures are caused by a lack of understanding or upfront planning.

MBJ: What are the implications of the changes highlighted in the preceding question for our employer-readers?

The competitive edge of Agile development has been proven over and over again.  A willingness to blend methodologies to create the best possible process for your project is the best way to achieve Agile success.  

You can achieve improvement in a variety of areas such as better, empowered, self-organizing teams; a greater focus on delivering value to your customers; faster project delivery times; and improved overall company culture.

If your outsource partner doesn’t use Agile, consider contacting One80 to see how our expertise can help your company to achieve its goals.

Contact us today.

 
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Custom Software: The Lean Approach

Recently One80 was asked to provide an estimate to a small startup company.  They were looking to build custom software to enhance their existing platform.  The company had a nice set of high-level features that they wished to build, had spent some time interviewing potential users, and even had commitments from several to beta test.

With all the due diligence completed, the client was ready to hire someone to build the new platform.  They had taken the “build it and they will come” approach.

We came in and reviewed their feature set.  We asked a lot of questions about the new custom software, about the problem they were attempting to solve, and the users that they planned to target.  It quickly became clear to us that building the entire platform may not be the best path.  

One80 reviewed the Lean Start-up approach with the client.  We quickly transitioned to the idea of testing the product idea and generating data to help validate the product.  We settled on the Wizard of Oz approach.

For those who are not familiar with the Wizard of Oz approach to custom software development, let me explain:  Just like the iconic movie, what a user sees is not necessarily the whole picture. 

agile software development

The Wizard of Oz approach validates learning by building a functioning user interface. The user interface is nice and it works, but behind the scenes the process of completing the transaction is done manually.  

The business completes the fulfillment of the application manually while tracking data, learning about custom behavior, establishing process, and reviewing potential options.

By completing Lean Start-up testing, the business can validate if the user will actually use the system the way the stated in the interviews and if the new platform will actually solve the users problem.  

Is this cheating? NO! It is Learning.

Why spend cash to build a platform that you are not 100% sure will actually solve the problem?  By building this small piece of custom software the business can quickly learn and pivot if necessary or continue to build the platform. 

Build a partnership with One80 Services, and build the right product. We start by asking the important questions. 

Contact One80 Services Custom Development today and see how we differ from other custom development companies.  

 

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Custom Software: Products vs Projects

Custom Software: Products vs Projects: Making a shift in technology projects and teams that focus on products rather that projects can be a seismic shift.

Stop thinking in terms of technology projects and begin the shift towards product thinking.

Many companies kick off individual projects with specific goals, timelines, budgets and resources.  These teams are tasked with a singular focus – clear the backlog and finish the project.  They rely heavily on the Product Owner to work with the stakeholders to determine features and priority.  They trust that the Product Owner is making the right decisions, and why should they ever question the Product Owner?  Scrum indicates that the Product Owner is responsible for the backlog and that the team is responsible or the execution.

Sometimes this is referred to as: Product Owner controls the ‘What’ and the Team controls the ‘How’.

A project is a planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations.

This thinking is quickly becoming a limiting factor of organizations that are in highly competitive markets or industries.  Companies are finding that thinking in terms of a bunch of horizontal projects instead of vertical products is hindering their ability to adjust to ever shifting customer demands and to drive innovation.

Individual project teams are normally chartered to work set of deliverables.  Often these teams work in a limited vacuum blissfully unaware of other projects or company objectives.  This approach creates silos that makes it difficult to track and coordinate dependencies.  These silos generate gaps in knowledge, skills, and architecture platforms across the organization making it difficult for companies to shift project between teams without huge retooling costs.

The business dictionary has an interesting definition for product under it’s marketing category:

A product is a good or service that most closely meets the requirements of a particular market and yields enough profit to justify its continued existence. 

Building a product focused company required a shift in strategic and tactical thinking across the organization.  Companies must begin to empower teams to build products and services that meet current customer demand.  Teams must be allowed to shift priorities and to begin to innovate to drive customer retention and acquisition.  

software that allows them to identify what customer really want, and will retain and attract new customers, what they are will they will pay for.

Allowing a team to become Product focused required change in team dynamics.  The Team and Product Owner must begin to develop tools and approaches to developing software that allows them to identify what customer really want, and will retain and attract new customers, what they are will they will pay for.  Only when a company makes a shift in this thinking can they start to leverage the software to build a completive advantage.

Benefits to product focus:

  • Focus on Customer
  • System Scalability – efficiency of scale (services, web components, hardware…)
  • Consistency 
  • Quality
  • Modern software development practice
  • Building a better, more innovative product
  • Understand the customer – likes and dislikes, needs, wants, what they are willing to pay for, nice to haves, must haves…

Reach out to One80 to Ask us how we can help you make a shift to a product culture or for your Custom Software Development needs.

The Pros and Cons of Custom Software Development Outsourcing

In our previous blog post, Custom Software Development Outsourcing vs Partnering, we review the reasons why you should consider partnering with a development firm over outsourcing the work.  This blog post will focus on more the traditional outsourcing model and review some of the pros and cons with an outsourced technology strategy.

Traditional outsourcing is referred to as the contracting or subcontracting of noncore activities to free up cash, personnel, time, and facilities for activities in which a company holds competitive advantage. Companies having strengths in other areas may contract out data processing, legal, manufacturing, marketing, payroll accounting, or other aspects of their businesses to concentrate on what they do best and thus reduce average unit cost. Outsourcing is often an integral part of downsizing or reengineering. Also called contracting out.

 

Pros of Custom Software Development Outsourcing:

The pros of outsourcing positively reflected by enterprises across industries include:
  • Reduced labor cost and quicker return of investment (ROI).
  • Allows companies to focus on core competencies while not being concerned about outsourced routine activities.
  • Reduces cash outflow and optimizes company resource utilization.

Cons of Custom Development Outsourcing:

When considering outsourcing, it is important to weight the disadvantages before any decision made. The following represents some of the cons experienced when outsourcing custom software development:
  • Possible loss of control over a company’s business processes.
  • Problems related to quality and turnaround time.
  • Sluggish response times coupled with slow issue resolutions.
  • Lower than expected flexibility and innovation.
  • 50% of employers report quality of their service providers and a reactive versus proactive attitudes are the most frustrating issues to deal with.
  • Language barriers and cultural differences. 
  • Reduction in employee morale.

By partnering with an Agile company rather than outsourcing, each of these cons, or risks, can be dramatically decreased or eliminated.  The Agile Manifesto and the Agile Principles, when applied correctly, directly challenge all the underlying symptoms which cause these problems.  

Contact One80 Services Custom Development today and see how we differ from other custom development companies.  

 

 

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Custom Development: Outsourcing Partnerships

There is no disputing that custom development outsourcing can be cheaper.  You can hire development firms outside the US (offshoring) that charge half the normal local rates. 

If you are thinking about custom development outsourcing, you’re doing your business a great disservice if you don’t consider partnering. 

The most common reason for custom development outsourcing is the reduction in cost. The reality of cost saving are complicated with 30% of companies reporting that it’s an effective strategy to reduce costs; 55% percent say it’s somewhat effective while 15% claim that it’s not effective at all.

 
If you are thinking about custom development outsourcing, you’re doing your business a great disservice if you don’t consider partnering.  Partnering, in this context, is about building a long-term strategic relationship with a local IT vendor who will help satisfy your strategic goals.
 
Partnerships allow for two companies to sync core competencies, expertise, and efficiency of scale to help each other achieve long-term success.  Partnership can be established in many forms:
  • Short-term development efforts
  • Long-term support and maintenance
  • Ad-hoc hourly support
  • Equity based ownership

Choosing a partner to complement your company’s culture and objectives can be challenging.  However, when done right each company can reap benefits.

custom development outsourcing statistics

Custom Development Partnering Benefits:

  • Collaboration
  • Sharing the burden and potential risk.
  • Access to more skills, knowledge and experience. Partnerships provide for a wider skill base, complementary experience, and knowledge. 
  • Better, more effective decision-making. 
  • The ability to look at problems from many angles can help to achieve better, often more creative, and innovative solutions.
  • Flexibility to use company resources on the highest priority strategic objectives.
  • Resource reduction: shifting the burden of staffing professional IT personnel and allowing a partner to do the staffing to accommodate fluctuating IT needs.
  • Infrastructure: Shifts the burden of purchasing, maintaining, and supporting costly IT infrastructure to a partner.

One80 Services is ready to partner with you on your next project.  Give us a call today.

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One80 Services Announces Custom Development Solutions

One80 Services is launching a new core offering: One80 Custom Development Solutions. This new offering includes the development and maintenance of:

  • Custom Applications
  • Software Development
  • System Modernization
  • Mobile Software Solutions
  • Website Design
  • Project Recovery
  • Automating Manual Processes
custom development solutions There is a trend for organization to outsource development of technology solutions.  Many of our clients are asking us to step in and work with these vendors on their behalf. One80 Custom Development Solutions will bridge this gap, providing our clients with the technology solutions they require as well as the communication, processes, experience, and guidance they’ve come to appreciate from One80 Services.

Our Agile Training and Coaching services will continue – helping teams improve by examining and modifying processes is our passion.  Custom Development Solutions are just one more way for One80 Services to help your visions become reality.

Rather than watching from afar and waiting for someone to tell you how your project is progressing, with One80 Custom Development Solutions you will be an integral part of the process from start to finish.

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