Agility Requires Active Customer Involvement

A technology company somewhere in the Southwest contacts its software development outsourcing partner to request a new application. After learning basic details about the application, the development team leader must then decide how to set the project up. Will the team use the waterfall model, or will they opt for agile software development instead?

A team that regularly uses agile software development usually does so for several reasons. First, agility makes it easier to remain flexible throughout the development process. Second, agile software development tends to be leaner and more cost-effective. And third, agility is designed to keep the customer actively involved in the process from start to finish. This third component is critical if agility is to offer maximum benefit.

Customer involvement is really at the core of agile software development. By keeping the customer actively engaged, software developers find it easier to make sure the project is always moving in the right direction. The waterfall approach to software development is counterproductive in this regard because customer involvement is not active. It is passive, if it exists at all.

Treating the Customer like a User

In a typical waterfall environment, it is possible to get very valuable feedback through the testing process. Groups of consumers that represent a particular demographic can use the software, test its capabilities, and offer their feedback at the later stages of the development process. But because waterfall development is based on cascading stages that all follow previous stages incrementally, testing has to be limited to milestone completion. Agile software development is not restricted in that way.

In an agile environment, the customer is actively engaged as a development partner throughout the process. Even before developers reach a point of being ready to test software with users, the customer has already tested various aspects of the software. In that sense, the customer is a ‘micro user’ who gets to participate in determining the direction of the project as it goes. Rather than being an end-user, the customer is a development tester offering immediate feedback that will help shape the project moving forward.

Keys to Active Customer Involvement

Now that we have established how important active customer involvement is in agile software development, it is important to note that there are helpful and not-so-helpful ways to engage customers. The eight keys to successfully engaging customers are as follows:

  1. Excellent Communication – Team members and customer representatives need to be clear in communicating all requirements and expectations.
  2. Establishing Priorities – Customer priorities must be established at the start of the project; they can be evaluated and adjusted along the way.
  3. Developer Accountability – Every member of the development team needs to be accountable to the customer.
  4. Iteration Testing – The customer should have the opportunity to test the software in each of its iterations.
  5. Progressive Development – With every iteration, the software should be more functional and easier to use.
  6. Respect for Deadlines – Nothing kills active customer participation more than missed deadlines. If you want to keep them involved, respect deadlines at every stage.
  7. Complete Transparency – Customers appreciate transparency. Don’t try to hide anything, or it could come back to bite you in the future.
  8. Team flexibility – Agile software development is, by nature, flexible. Maximum flexibility is necessary to keep customers happy.

If agility is to be cost-effective and efficient without sacrificing the quality of the end product, the customer has to be involved in the development process. If the development team limits customer involvement, they might just as well abandon agile software development and work in the waterfall model instead.

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3 secrets to powerful website design

Your graphic designer has promised you a brilliant job, but the results fail to live up to your expectations. Even if you are not a trained professional, you can determine what is and what is not good with regards to graphic design. If you desperately want a website that will help you succeed online, then you need to get involved in every step of the process. But how are you supposed to do well if you do not have insider knowledge? Even if you are not particularly talented when it comes to producing or even maintaining websites, there are ways for you to accelerate your talent. All you need is to get your hands on the top 3 secrets that web design experts prefer to keep to themselves.

Pretty design does not always matter

Great designers are always looking for innovative web design secrets. This is exactly what you should be doing as well. If you want to achieve results similar to those professionals designs, you should be constantly educating yourself. The way your website presents to visitors is of the highest importance, but pay attention to the fact that visual impact is not the most important aspect. When trying to sell your service or your product, you should focus more on providing guidance. Visitors will definitely love a website that is easy to navigate in the detriment of one that is pretty but is difficult to use. You should use a 12-column grid because it will make the process of navigating a whole lot easier.

Communication is key

In the course of the project, you will still be required to collaborate with a web designer. As easy as things may seem at first glance, coding is not for everyone. In order to ensure the success of your project, you have to maintain an open line of communication from the beginning to finish. No matter what idea you may have, it is better to convey your vision to the graphic artist. It is important to give a lot of valuable information from the very beginning in order to make sure that your wishes are made clear. It is necessary to start out differently, but you need to pay attention to the fact that you should not break the rules. You should not insist on this point and you should take into consideration the suggestions of the web designer.

 Content management

Any web designer will be able to tell you that content rules. To be more precise, you should focus more on content than on other upgrades. If your content is not of superior quality, then it does not really matter how many great ideas you have or how good your products are. By quality content it is understood body copy that contains relevant keywords, namely those that users are likely to type in the search engine. You can change your copy or even add a new page. You should also update the information as often as you can. Make sure that prices are always up to date.

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Bespoke software development – do you need it?

Software development is such a complex domain that has become increasingly important in the past years, in a world dominated by technological evolution. No company or virtual product can exist without this process, which involves a multitude of computerised operations: programming, documenting, testing, bug fixing – to mention only the major ones. All these are aimed to create and maintain everything necessary for a software release life cycle and the resulting product. Taking into consideration that each project is different and has its own particularities, in case you are in need for software development services, the best thing you could do is hire a company that provides custom made solutions. If you are interested in bespoke software development, you can click here or read this article to find out some basic information that may come in handy.

What is bespoke software?

As with any other bespoke service, bespoke (also known as custom or personalised) software development is a service you receive that has been created or at least adapted to your personal needs. As same as tailoring, for instance, if you choose this alternative, you will have an expert assessing your situation, discussing your needs and then proposing and implementing a series of particular solutions. You may think that there is no need for that, but there are actually plenty of situations when companies request the service. For example, if you are about to launch a product completely new and innovating, one that has never been done before, then you will have to look for a developer providing some specific services. These should definitely match your requirements. The part of this sector, dedicated exclusively to serving each client’s needs, is different from common software packages available for the mass market, also called COTS (commercial off-the-shelf).

How does bespoke software work?

Generally, software development consists in a fixed series of operation. However, if you decide to go for the customised offers, your solutions will be developed to meet your exact requirements, avoiding useless elements. If you hire a dedicated company, they will have to talk to you about what you want and what you expect to achieve. In addition to this, they should also understand the current methods and strategies you are using, because these may be the perfect starting point for the services they are going to deliver. Furthermore, since you and your staff are then going to implement their work, they have to use the same terminology people in your company are already familiar with.

Which are the characteristics of bespoke software development?

To begin with, the first and most important thing you must know is that custom software solutions are really flexible. There is a certain scheme that will always remain the same, but in case your company or product evolves, software solutions can get flexible. Of course, they will still be based on your original investment instead of being created from scratch. All in all, you can get bespoke application now, and then adjust or even expand it, if necessary.

 

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How to handle your salon expansion

If you listen to the success stories of some of the world’s most prolific hair salon owners, you will discover the surprising fact that they all started out small and they worked almost for free before making a name for themselves. Entrepreneurs who now own glamorous hair salon chains all across the United States and get loyal visits from singers and movie stars got into the business by opening a small salon in their neighborhood and became a household name by constantly improving their quality standards, investing in customer service and increasing loyalty.

 

Sadly, one of the many reasons why small local hair salons do not become successful businesses is that their managers do not know how to handle day-to-day operations once the salon starts to become famous. The change can be overwhelming and it’s easy to lose track of what really matters when helping a small business evolve.

 

Technology can be your helping hand

 

Once your small salon starts building a reputation, the first change you will notice is an increase in the number of appointments. This is where things can become a bit disorganized, so make sure you keep a plan of all your appointments. Otherwise, things will get chaotic very quickly and your staff will have to deal with queues, angry clients and bad reviews. Instead of using a notebook, look for the best salon software and add all your appointments there. This way, you’ll have a clear overview of the week ahead of you and plan accordingly. Don’t forget to set up social media pages to increase business exposure and keep in touch with loyal customers.

 

Stock up on popular salon products

 

There more clients you have, the more likely you are to run out of essential hair salon products, such as hairspray, hair masks and hair dye. To prevent your best-selling items from going out of stock, keep track of the inventory by using an online salon app. Not only will you know exactly how many products of each type you have, but you’ll also receive alerts when you are running low on something and need to restock.

 

Get more staff and invest in their training

 

One of the biggest mistakes that managers make when starting to expand is keeping the same number of staff members and forcing them to increase the work load in order to increase profit. While this may be an inevitable situation, it’s not one that you should stay into for a long time, because the busier your stylists are, the more likely they are to make mistakes. Although hiring new staff and training them requires an investment, the results are worth it. Consider paying for professional styling classes and once the growth of your salon has become unstoppable, you can even pass on to bigger plans, such as renting a bigger space or possibly even opening a new salon in a key location.

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Social Media Marketing Software Tools for Your Business

Instead of spending too much time on social media marketing campaigns, you can resort to the help of the latest marketing software tools that will help you increase your yield. Some of these advanced tools will help you lead better campaigns that will improve the effectiveness of your websites. Although some of them imply large costs, you will find the investment well worth it as you will be pleased with the results. Here are the best social media marketing software tools that can improve your business.

HootSuite

This is the leading social media dashboard that can really improve your management because it can help you manage multiple networks and profiles as well as it allows you to measure your campaign results. HootSuite allows you to send messages to a Facebook page, to Twitter, or to Google+ Page and it can help you create profiles for internal communications, all for only $10 per month. If you are not familiar with using social media marketing software, you can visit www.candesco.co.uk and ask for their assistance in the matter.

Radian6

You can receive social media monitoring tools, social CRM, marketing, and social media engagement if you choose to use this software tool. The $5,000 per month cost seem very high, but there are many great features included in this software, like tagging a social media advocate for your brand and turning them into a contact withing SalesForce. However, this software can only be used if your business already has SalesForce and if you rely on the help of a full-time social media team.

Sprout Social

If you are looking for a software platform that will help you find new customers and grow your social media popularity, this is exactly what you need. It allows you to monitor your clients’ social media profiles and it can integrate with Google Analytics. This is an affordable and user-friendly software that only costs $39 per month for the basic package. The biggest drawback of this tool is that it doesn’t integrate Google Plus so it won’t be suitable for your business if you are promoting your Google Plus Local Business Page.

WildFire

This software offers powerful marketing for pages, ads, promotions, messages, and more and it’s advertised as being suitable for any type of business. There are two types of marketing plans included in WildFire, one is the Promotion Builder that only costs 435 per month and the other is the Social Marketing Suite that reaches up to $3,500 per month. However, it’s best that you use this software if you are a big company with a big social media marketing portfolio.

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Trading binary options – tips for new investors

Trading binary options has become a very popular type of investment lately. More and more people choose to follow this path, believing that they have a chance of building wealth. Binary options can bring you the success and money any person would desire, but there are many aspect involved. If binary options trades have raised your interest, you need to be very careful and to research the topic enough. Because choosing a trading software is necessary, make sure you do not opt for an unreliable platform, such as Free Money System. There are a few details that can help you start investing successfully.

Choosing a broker/ trading platform

The most important step in becoming a binary options trader is to find a reliable broker. The broker or trading platform you choose is the key to successful investments. Because there are so many brokers on the market, you need to make your choice wisely. You probably want your financial details to be kept private, and this is why you should inform yourself regarding the best and most reliable brokers or trading robots on the market. The easiest way to make a decision would be to read a few reviews. Find a platform that can offer you the accurate reviews you need and see which the most trust-worthy brokers are. There are many trading robots that are scams and you should avoid them at any costs. Make sure you are properly informed concerning returns, payouts, withdrawals and other relevant details. Trading binary options can bring a significant increase in your incomes, but the broker you choose will probably play the most important role.

Learning how to trade

The entire process of trading binary option is not difficult at all. Even though, the concept is not complicated to understand, there are a few things you should know before starting your investments. If you want to invest your money safely, you need to choose carefully an asset or a stock. Research the market trends and see which would be the most convenient option for you. There are many books written by experienced traders that will help you understand what binary options are all about. Because education is important in this domain as well, read as much information as you can find. Learn the most useful trading strategies, check the market movement on a regular basis and keep yourself permanently updated. If you really want to make money, you need to allocate this matter enough of your time. Research can make the difference between a successful trader and an unsuccessful one. Although, the simplicity of the process is what is most appealing about binary options, not everyone has what it takes to make it. Read reviews and books and make sure you have acquired enough knowledge on the topic before actually beginning to trade. Trading binary options can be very rewarding; you just need to have the determination and knowledge required. Only after you have every single detail figured out, you can start to invest safely.

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