How Good Is Your Software Team

Just how well does your software team rate? Answer the following questions it won’t take a minute honest.

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Do you do daily builds?
  3. Do you use bug tracking?
  4. Do you fix bugs before adding more code?
  5. Do you have an up to date project plan?
  6. Do you have a specification?
  7. Do your developers have a quiet environment?
  8. Do you have testers?
  9. Do you do UAT testing?
  10. Do new developers have to write code at their interview?

Didn’t take long did it now let’s look them in turn.

1. Source control is a must have, not only does it keep your precious source code safe but developers don’t usually know what the last developer did, how good he was, whether the code he checked in actually builds. A good source control versions your code, keeps a history and allows roll backs to an earlier version.

2. Unless you perform regular builds on your code you never know what state it is in till you come to work on it. The process can be automated not only to build the whole codebase on a regular basis but to create single step checkout and builds (overnight if required) the more steps you need to get to the point of building the code the more prone to errors. Daily builds on the whole code base will highlight errors such as a developer checking back in the code but forgetting to checking new classes or libraries, the code will obviously build on his machine but won’t for anyone else checking out the code (even worse if he locks his machine and goes on holiday).

3. Without an organised listing of bugs you are going to ship not only low quality code but probably re ship the code with reported bugs unfixed, you can’t keep all of the bugs in your head. As a minimum your bug tracker must keep:-

  • Steps to recreate the bug
  • Expected behaviour (without the bug)
  • Who spotted the bug
  • Who is to or has fixed the bug
  • Current status of the bug

4. If you are not fixing the bugs before adding more code you are simply compounding the problem, not only will it make bug fixing harder (you can’t even attempt to debug till the current code compiles) but you could well be introducing new bugs to the existing ones.

5. The code is important to the business, it is important for them to know when the code is going to be ready, developers are notorious for saying “however long it takes” unfortunately that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) cut any ice with the business,  they have to plan in advance for  when they expect to get ownership back of the code and the only way to do this is to plan ahead and keep the plan up to date, from the developers point this means that there is a good chance that you won’t suffer from “feature creep” and end up working on the code for the next ten years.

6. If there is one thing about spec’s it usually that everyone agrees you should have one but no one provides one.  As a result, when teams consisting solely of developers  approach the problem they go straight for a solution and dive straight in to coding resulting in much higher costs to fix any design or code issues. Software which wasn’t built using a specification quite often results in a badly designed product which doesn’t meet requirements and timelines spiral out of control.
7. We all know the developers work best when they can get into “the zone” where they can fully concentrate on their work, the trouble is that it is hard enough to get into “the zone” as it is without constant distractions, phone calls and the ever present “can you do this for me it won’t take you long” interruptions.

8. If your team doesn’t include at least 1 tester (ideally to every 3 developers) you are probably at best using a highly skilled developer to do a lower skilled job and at worst delivering buggy code to the business, saving money on not having testers is a false economy and can dramatically cut delivery times.

9. You simply have to have UAT testing, how many times are users given a new system and told to get on with it, more often than not they have had no input as to how the system works, scarily end users won’t even be asked what is wrong with the old system. UAT is an invaluable must have step in the process; no code should be delivered without first going through UAT.

10. Is there any other professional you would employ without first checking their work or at the very least have them highly recommended by someone you totally trust.You are placing a lot of trustthese people not to bring your business down, not to destroy the trust you earned for your business with your clients, every new developer should be asked to show competence to the level that the position requires.

 

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

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What is cloud computing and what can it do for me

The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet. Cloud computing is a general term for anything which involves delivered hosted services over the internet.

In broad terms a cloud service has three characteristics which differentiate it from traditional hosting, these are;

  1. It is provided on demand (by the minute or hour in some cases)
  2. It is scalable (a user can have as little or as much as they want)
  3. the service is fully managed by the vendor (you typically only require a computer and internet access)

Cloud computing promises to speed application deployment and lower costs, whilst increasing business agility. It has transformed the way we design, build and deliver applications to the users. Have you used a search engine today?, have you accessed web mail if so you are already using cloud services.

There are public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds but don’t let the jargon put you off, everyone agrees that cloud computing is the key to the future of I.T but lots of these people are unsure of what it is. Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon to offer “cloud services” so it is worth understanding such terms as SaaS (software as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) or IaaS (infrastructure as a service) to name a few if you need to evaluate a suppliers claims.

Cloud computing has some real benefits but also has risks such as loss of services if your provider has downtime or worse still goes out of business also regulatory concerns over data security so choose your vendor carefully.

I recently setup a really simple system for a plumber who lives down the street; he already had an iPhone, an Apple Mac and an iPad although in his words he wasn’t really sure what to do with them. During our conversation he mentioned that his wife mans the phone at home and jots down all of his incoming appointments then rings him at regular intervals to give him the new list, if the call is urgent she tries to call him straight away, within 10 minutes we had connected his Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad calendar applications up to iCloud (he was familiar with the calendar app anyway), now when his wife enters the call details into a time slot on the calendar app on the Mac the appointment appears on his iPhone and iPad almost instantly and any Urgent appointments are highlighted in red, he now knows exactly when and where he should be, what the problem is before he gets there, the address and customer name and contact details and it cost him nothing as he already had the technology simple, but had this come up a year or two ago it would have been a little more difficult and a lot more expensive to achieve, it’s certainly not the best solution to his problem but it works for him and cost him nothing.

The reason for the anecdote above is to show that the “Cloud” isn’t frightening or intimidating, it’s not the answer to everything but in certain cases it does exactly what it says on the tin.

To conclude, here are a few more terms you may want to research if you want to know more, it is a fascinating subject.

Utility Computing
SaaS
– Software as a service
PaaS – Platform as a service
IaaS – Infrastructure as a service
RIA – Rich internet application
Multi-tenancy
Public, Private, Hybrid Clouds
Virtualisation

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

 

Tips on improving your copywriting skills

Now is the time to start taking advantage of all the existing and emerging social media platforms currently available to you. Whether you are a business looking after your own social media campaigns, or a consultant working on behalf of a client, it important to get it right and this is where learning even the basics of copywriting skills will pay dividends.

Social media has been around for some time, initially these were great platforms to help build brand awareness and gain user interaction in fact they still are, however, in some instances they can be used to help drive traffic and improve conversion rates as well as playing a huge part in a business’s rankings with the many search engines.

Now is the time to start taking social media more seriously, whether it’s getting the basics right, or in understanding social media strategies, the following copywriting tips are worth remembering when using any media platform:

Spelling and Content

There is nothing worse than visiting a site that contains spelling mistakes or content that doesn’t read well, from a business perspective this will at best this makes the company look unprofessional and careless and at worst it can put a stop to any user interaction, rendering the whole process pointless.

Don’t beat about the bush

Whether you are writing a full page or trying to tweet a message in 140 characters or less, it is important that the message is to the point, any followers will simply lose interest if the message is “wordy” and not to the point, this doesn’t mean avoid having a personality it just means be clear and concise in what you are trying to convey.

Don’t lose the connection

Keep a clear connection between your brand image and social media personality it is an all too common mistake for many brands using social media, for example, a company may have the perception of being vibrant, new and exciting, but their social media activity may not reflect this, so write in a way that will enhance your brand image, whatever that may be.

Be creative!

It is important to focus on getting the user to click on a link, or to look at something you have shared, one way to do this is to be a little more creative with your posts or tweets, so instead of tweeting, “Here are some copywriting tips”, you could create more interest for example by saying, “For tips on improving your copywriting skills, follow this link”.

Make time!

It is all too easy to forget about updating social media content, especially if you are busy, however, every little helps, one way is to set yourself reminders to send out a tweet or update your status at various intervals during the day even if you can’t find time to post a full article.

Set aside some time to actually engage in online conversations with others, the more “active” you are the better this will be for your company’s exposure.

Most of all – Enjoy it!

The whole point of social media is to engage with others this is why it is important to enjoy the experience and not go for the hard sell which will put people off.

Potential customers or clients would rather take time to talk and engage with a company that is actively seeking their interaction rather than abruptly trying to push their products or services onto them.

Above all have fun! this will show in the way you write and the way other people perceive you or your business don’t see it as a chore but rather an integral and important part of online marketing.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Bespoke Software Fills The Gap!

Bespoke software fills the gap between off-the-shelf solutions and your business requirements.

Purchased off-the-shelf solutions often provide most of the functionality a business needs, but often they find that their business processes don’t quite match the generic processes these solutions provide, not only that but often you are paying for functionality you probably don’t want and functionality you don’t need.

An example is where businesses use a standard accounting package that doesn’t match their sales order processing process, bespoke software can fill this gap, enabling you to take advantage of the lower costs associated with these types of applications and investing in the specific needs that these solutions don’t provide.

There are numerous other examples where bespoke software can help you, as a business, make the most of your existing investments

Examples of where bespoke software can help are with duplication, where information has to be entered multiple times into various different applications, this is not only a labour intensive operation but often leads to errors resulting in data varying between one application and another.

Don’t discount your existing solutions just because they don’t quite fit as often bespoke software can provide a viable solution without having to re-invent the wheel! Customised solutions of vertical market applications can offer huge savings and enable you to harness the functionality that drew you to the specific product in the first place.

At CodeSpinner, we focus on working with SME’s, these are our core market and we believe we understand them because we are one as well. This is important because we understand the business issues that our clients face.

Some questions you should be asking are:

  • Do we know what our business needs in order to be able to choose the right solution?
  • Does the software developer understand our business? Do they have a process that will enable them to find out?
  • Do they undertake a full requirements capture that challenges our needs?
  • Do we go down the off-the-shelf route, or do we go for a bespoke solution?
  • Will the end product give us the functionality we require to solve the key business issues which highlighted the need in the first place?
  • Can we live with 70-80% of the functionality we require if we utilise an off-the-shelf solution?

Whilst this not a definitive list of questions these will certainly help kick-start the process you then start to think about your requirements more fully.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk