Category Archives: IT Industry

Tech Tools to Boost Productivity in the Digital Environment

Tech Tools to Boost Productivity in the Digital Environment

A happy and stress-free worker is a productive and focused worker. Happy workers finish around 12% more work than unhappy ones, and it all comes from their better motivation. But, since motivation is influenced by wages, office culture and most of all good office optimization, you must concentrate on providing your workers with tools and gadgets that will boost their productivity and increase their motivation. Here are some of the best and most efficient productivity boosters in the digital environment today.

Dual monitors

One of the best investments for productivity boost in the digital environment is dual monitors. With dual monitors, a person can have more browsers displayed at the same time. This feature is particularly useful for programmers who work with code, designers and any sort of research scientists. It’s also practical for people who have to fill out various tables and forms or compare critical information. Dual monitors have many benefits and the worker will get a chance to make their work easier, faster and more comfortable.

Avoid distractions

The digital world is full of distractions everywhere you click. There’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, memes and all sorts of funny and interesting articles you can stumble upon that can take away the time from actual work. Some people decide to make separate Google accounts for home and work, while some opt for apps that block certain distracting sites. For instance, an app called Self-Control will block all sites you deem distracting forcing you to focus on work and tasks ahead.

Use collaboration apps

Make team communication much faster and easier by using collaboration apps. Apps such as Slack allow you to use a single service for all team communication that can be searched from anywhere at any time. When you combine Slack with other apps such as Asana, you’ll create an ultimate communication platform for your team. Asana allows your team to share, organize and plan tasks as well as track the progress of projects. It’s also possible to use it to create subtasks and assign them to members of your team. You can also combine Slack with Google Drive or Dropbox and eliminate all need to send documents to different individuals by sharing files in-app. These apps will make your team more efficient and more productive because they eliminate many unnecessary steps of traditional communication.

Tech Tools to Boost Productivity in the Digital Environment

Silent peripherals

No matter the size of the office and office culture, it’s a fact that workspaces can get a little loud. Many office workers complain that they are unable to focus because of all the chatting and clattering around them. Luckily, there’s an easy way to block and reduce the noise and make the office a more pleasant space. You can buy headphones for your employees and get silent keyboards and mice to further reduce the noise. When you combine those two, you’ll provide your workers with space that doesn’t destroy focus and provide constant distractions.

Tech Tools to Boost Productivity in the Digital Environment

Smart use of time

No matter how much people love their job, they usually tend to procrastinate with their tasks. Some tasks that can be finished in half an hour sometimes get indefinitely postponed thanks to procrastination. If you want to eliminate that problem in your office, you can try the Pomodoro technique. The tomato timer will divide your work time into 25-minute periods of intensive work combined with 5-minute breaks for stretching and eye recovery. This method prevents burnouts and the guilt that comes with procrastinating. Workers who use Pomodoro technique also take fewer sick days which saves money and makes work more efficient.

There are many great ways for you and your employees to be more productive in the digital environment. You can try some of these individually or combine them for the maximum effect. Your workers will be much more productive, motivated and happy, while you’ll save money and time you can later spend on rewarding your employees and even taking a day off.

 

Did Digital Kill the Traditional Marketing

The omnipresence of internet has sparked a lot of debates about the traditional media, making us wonder: Are the newspaper dead? Is there no more need for the printed books? And finally, did digital marketing defeat the traditional forms of advertising? It makes sense, advertising your product on the web is free or costs next to nothing and it gives you a chance to have a more personalized approach to marketing. However, that doesn’t have to mean that the old-school marketing doesn’t have anything to offer any more. In this article, we will try to determine the difference between the two, the benefits of each of them, and the possibilities of combining the two.

Did Digital Kill the Traditional Marketing

What is traditional marketing?

There are many methods of traditional marketing, and they include tangible advertisements, such as posters, brochures, flyers, business cards and print ads in magazines and newspaper. Commercials on radio and TV are also considered a form of traditional marketing. Additionally, promotional products, referrals, and reward programs can also be classified into this group.

What is digital marketing?

It is difficult to precisely define digital marketing since it grows and develops each day with the advancements of technology. Some examples of this new way of marketing are social media mentions (page, posts, games, etc.), websites, YouTube videos, blogging, as well as search engine optimization and banner ads. Digital marketing is currently more popular because it requires fewer investments.

The good sides of the old-school

Traditional marketing is still something that people are accustomed to, and that’s why they can easily understand and relate to it. This old-school marketing method enables businesses to reach a local audience with ease. Besides, the promotional materials can be kept for future reference, so you don’t have to google for company info every time you want to make a call.

The bad sides of the old-school

One of the primary flaws of the traditional marketing is that there is not enough interaction between the customers and the used medium. The medium is used merely to provide information without asking for feedback. Also, as we have already mentioned, these marketing materials can be very costly. And finally, it is very difficult, not to say virtually impossible, to measure the results of a marketing strategy which employs traditional marketing approach.

The good sides of the new kid in the block

Digital marketing allows you to target an international audience, as well as to tailor your campaign to specific properties, such as age, gender, location and interest. The audience has a say in receiving the product and they can also provide a meaningful feedback. It is cost-effective and the competition is less relentless. Above all, the results are immediately measurable.

The bad sides of the new kid in the block

Even though it seems like a DIY arena, digital marketing can fool you into thinking you can do everything on your own. However, given that online marketing includes a multitude of fields and potential strategies, that is virtually impossible. Fortunately, there are plenty of experienced expert companies, such as The Pipeline, to which you can outsource your marketing sector, at least until you get the hang of it.

Can they work together

In spite of being completely different, you shouldn’t be exclusive when it comes to these two methods of marketing; rather, always try to combine them. Since this is a mostly digital-based world, it makes sense to invest more in an online marketing campaign and use hard copy materials to support your online efforts or reach an audience which is not very tech-savvy (e.g. senior citizens). Also, there is one twist on the traditional marketing which rose in the ‘80s, but reached its true potential only today, and that is guerrilla marketing. Some of the biggest successes include UNICEF’s “Be a mom for a moment” campaign, IKEA’s “Everyday Fabulous” and The Sopranos taxi stunt.

Did Digital Kill the Traditional Marketing

There is no doubt that the world is changing and that we need to try to catch up. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we will renounce everything we are used to. We don’t have to abandon the principles from the past, they just need to evolve and be complemented with innovative methods.

Learn How to Use and Exchange Digital Currencies

The most popular and well known digital currencies these days are Dash and Bitcoin. However, the focus of this text will be on Dash as it has a lot more advantages over all other digital currencies. In general, the simplest explanation is that Dash is digital money; you can trade and exchange it for products. It’s also a lot more secure and safer to use compared to other digital currencies. You may remember that Bitcoin has been really difficult to get and manage but the times they are a-changin’, so that’s no longer the case.

What makes Dash the best digital currency?

To put it simply, Dash is so popular precisely because you can spend it whenever and on whatever you want. Also, all transactions are private. In a way, Dash is the closest thing to cash even if we are talking about online spending. It’s an easy way to get what you want and need without leaving an obvious trace. In that sense, it’s very similar to cash transactions. Moreover, the payments can be confirmed instantly, which makes it almost impossible to become a victim of double-spending. Quite nifty isn’t it?

Why should you choose Dash over Bitcoin?

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Dash is an anonymous way to perform transactions online, and unfortunately, Bitcoin protocols are everything but that. This is why Dash has gained an incredible popularity over Bitcoin. Moreover, if you have ever used Bitcoin before, you know that the whole process is fairly complex; using Dash, on the other hand, is quite simple.

Dash wallet possibilities

To make the whole thing even more personal, the process of buying Dash involves the use of a Dash wallet. There are different wallets depending on whether you’re dealing with large sums of money or just trying it out for fun. In the first case, it’s recommended that you get a hardware wallet. This is the most secure way to store your online currency over a longer time period. In case you just want to try this digital currency out, Dash mobile and desktop wallets are the best options for you. There are several wallet applications for mobile use, as well as Dash wallet software designed specifically for the computer use. Check the feedback online as well as all the available functions of each wallet option in order to choose the one that suits your needs the best.

Ways to get Dash

There are several different ways to buy Dash. Now that you have your Dash wallet, you can get your Dash through a wire transfer. If you’re looking for the best cryptocurrency exchange options, definitely check out BitPanda, BTC-e, Kraken and AnyCoin Direct. You can also purchase Dash with cash! However, there are very few ATMs that actually have this feature, so this might be a bit trickier. WallofCoins is also a place that allows users to purchase Dash directly. Finally, you can also exchange any Bitcoin that you might have for Dash. Again, there are several exchange sites to choose from. Take a look at ShapeShift, Changelly, Poloniex and Bitfinex in addition to Kraken and BTC-e for a secure Bitcoin-to-Dash exchange.

Make sure you store your Dash

So, you have your Dash wallet installed and you’ve found a way to actually buy Dash coins in a manner that suits you the best. However, there’s also one extra step you have to do. Basically, never leave your Dash coins on the exchange place you used for the purchase. Your coins are not safe there, and you may regret your negligence later on. Make sure that you move all your Dash coins to the wallet you’re using as soon as you can. Only then can you consider your digital coins safe.

To sum up, using digital currency may seem too futuristic to some people, but the future is now. Dash allows you to buy whatever product or service you want quickly and efficiently, which makes it one of the most secure and private online transfers today.

10 Essential Tips and Tricks for Ecommerce Websites

The way people shop changed a lot in the last few years and that’s why each year we’re getting more and more web shops. Nowadays, you can buy practically anything online meaning there’s a lot of competition in the eCommerce business and every good tip matters for eCommerce website owners. Here are the top 10.

Have and use your USP

What sets you apart from your competitors and why would the customers choose you are two main questions to ask yourself. Once you do that, you’ll know your unique selling point (USP) and how to use it. Always keep the customer in mind – your products or services should benefit them, so that can become your most effective tool for advertising.

Provide security

Although internet shopping has been around for a while, people are still dubious about payments and they want everything clean and transparent. Trusted payment options must be on display on your website so make sure you put it alongside the banner. It’s for your customer’s peace of mind – show them they can trust you and they will be yours for good.

Don’t forget about SEO

Having the best site in the world means nothing if people can’t find it online so doing a search engine optimization should be a priority. Do a research on keywords to make sure you use the hot ones on your website, optimize your pages, and be active on social media platforms. Be aware that poorly implemented SEO can damage your business so hiring a professional to do it is a good idea.

Offer live chat

To avoid your business being declared as impersonal you must include live chat on your website as a good alternative to face-to-face contact. Keep your email and phone number on display (and reply timely) but it’s even better to establish a live chat feature and show your customers you’re always there for them. Nothing beats talking to a real person!

Ensure photo quality

Whether you’re selling products or services, making your website visually pretty is essential. No one will decide to buy a product from a blurry or badly photoshopped picture, so pay attention to quality. Your gallery should be easy to navigate while products should be visible from all sides. Zoom option is also great, so keep that in mind when posting your images.

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Leave logistics to the pros

If you’re selling products, your biggest problem will be storage, inventory, packing and shipping your goods and that’s why it’s a good idea to leave it to the experts. Ecommerce logistics experts can receive, manage and dispatch your goods so you won’t have to worry about that. It’ll improve your customers’ satisfaction as well because they’ll know their order is in good hands.

Encourage reviews

You know what they say: only those who did something wrong are afraid of the reviews. But the thing is: real people’s experiences are valuable to your business. Nothing beats a satisfied customer since people will always take other people’s words when it comes to shopping online. It’s good for the SEO as well because reviews make unique content for your website thus making the search engines happy.

Optimize search option

Practice showed that site search users are more likely to convert than the average user so optimizing this feature is a must. The search box should be easy to spot, big enough, and provide autocomplete options for maximum results. There are some other tricks that can make searching your site a better experience, so make sure you take this advice and implement what you can.

Deal with out of stock products

Anyone who has ever shopped online knows that out of stock is the worst thing you can see on the ecommerce website. Knowing how to deal with this is important because that’s the way to address the biggest issue from the customers’ point of view. If your product is no longer available, link similar items to the page or contact link to the manufacturer so your customers will know there’s hope.

Create buying guides

For each category you have on your ecommerce website, there should be a detailed guide for shopping. For example, if you’re selling clothes, offering style and trend guides to your customers is a nice idea. If you’re selling wallpapers, providing home décor ideas, tips and tricks is a must. This will enrich the shopping experience and leave your customers in delight.

Think of your website as of the heart and soul of your business and make it both pretty and functional. That’s what keeps the customers coming and, more importantly, staying loyal to your business.

5 Traits that Make a Digital Workplace Unique and Productive

Digital workplace
The concept of digital workplace is not strictly tied to a physical space. More importantly, digital workplace is actually an organization strategy, which helps the employees be at the top of their game as they work. Thanks to the digital technologies used, one can break the communication barrier. Moreover, digital workplace is used to boost the motivation and productivity of the workforce. Basically, it can be very difficult to define a digital workplace. In general, it can be said that a digital workplace combines the modern technologies, tools and the whole work environment so that it can bring out the best from and provide the best to its workforce.

1. Better and faster communication

Digital workplace provides easy ways to communicate, exchange information and solve potential problems to everyone involved in a particular work project. This makes everyone’s work a lot more efficient. Colleagues in the office and at home can communicate effectively. Clients and other businesses can be reached instantly regardless of their location. Dynamic situations are encouraged and perfectly implemented into a working day without pressure or anxiety.

 

2. Strong, yet open form of leadership

Thanks to the digital workplace concept, the notion of leadership is getting a bit blurred. Of course, there is a need for a leader. However, the leader is no longer the boss who sits in his own office. Again, modern day digital technologies allow for integrated leadership as well. The “boss” can easily be a part of the team since the team is encouraged to solve problems and make decisions on their own. Moreover, because of the better communication mentioned in the previous paragraph, a lot of issues can be solved before presented to the leader. In that respect, digital workforce operates coherently and dynamically by involving everyone at work equally, which creates a more relaxed and at the same time more productive work environment.

3. There’s no physical barrier

Just like the location is not a problem when it comes to effective communication at a digital workplace, location is not a problem when it comes to work itself. Virtual project platforms, cloud storage and other digital tools make it possible for workers to do their job from any location they want. This is extremely beneficial for companies and employees alike. Companies can hire the best candidates without worrying about their geographical location while employees are not limited to their local job opportunities. Working from home is a great perk for many people, but coworking spaces are becoming increasingly popular as well. For example, a Shared Office Space in Melbourne offers 24/7 membership precisely because of the rising popularity of this particular aspect of a digital workplace.

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4. Time-efficient and data-driven

If a digital workplace is completely implemented into the work environment, the need for physical storage will cease to exist. Because of the possibility to quickly store all the important data and information on a cloud, it will be possible to save a lot of space in the physical office. Moreover, any new information will be processed and saved with ease. Because of that, there’s a lot less chance for error as well as less need for time-consuming data organization and filing system.

5. Track your business success

Since digital workplace encourages more independence in problem-solving and decision-making ordeals as well as clearer and more measurable business values together with a better insight into the products and services of the company, digital workplace also allows any business model to be easily tracked and measured. This leaves a lot of room for immediate changes and adjustments where necessary, which saves time, money and resources.

Digital workplace is necessary in this day and age. Technology cannot be observed separately from a workplace or an employee anymore. By combining these elements together and making them work as a whole, the workforce’s creativity, productivity and empowerment will lead the business to success.

How Release Management Helps with Outsourced IT Services

The IT ecosystem within companies is becoming more and more complex as time goes by. This is especially true for large corporations that employ thousands of people and who have a whole number of IT teams working on various projects for the company.

Due to a variety of needs and reasons, many such companies hire outside partners who help them with certain projects and releases. In essence, these companies outsource certain aspects of releasing new software and, unfortunately, things often get messy.

Just an Example

Let’s imagine a company which features a business analytics department. Their analysts will in the vast majority of cases be in-house. They will work using a certain type of software and since the company does not develop its own business analytics software, they have it developed somewhere else (updates included).  The company has its own test managers in-house, but since they do not have the capabilities to run the tests, they outsource this too, to another vendor.

In short, in order for the business analytics department to operate with the latest software and at the fullest capacity, the company employs two outsourced partners. When you consider how many such operations and processes a large company has to handle on a daily basis, the potential issues become very apparent.

For one, there are always potential problems when working with outsourced IT services which can, fortunately, remedied by hiring the services of someone like Globality Consulting who will find you only the best vendors.

However, even when everything goes right, there are simply too many processes and releases to be handled that some kind of release management is simply a necessity.

Release Management 101

Release management was invented for cases like this, where big companies have to deal with a copious amount of various software releases across their operation and where some kind of a unified “headquarters” is a must.

Release management is envisioned as something of an action center where all of the development teams, test managers, their superiors and everyone else involved in development, testing and final release of software can come to find out what is “on the program” and how they should move from there.

Furthermore, with a release management department in place, other important pieces of the company can find out what is happening and voice their opinion. Moreover, they can get better insight into what the different parts of the IT machinery are doing and what is happening with their software.

Of course, the ultimate goal of having a release management team is to streamline all IT processes and ensure software is released in the best possible condition, within the shortest possible timeframe and by using up as little of the company’s resources as possible.

Enabling the Best Release Management

There are a few things that a company needs to have in order to get the best possible release management. For one, they need to find the right people who are, at the moment, still quite rare. These will usually be people with long IT management experience and who have been involved in overseeing a large number of projects at the same time.

In addition to this, the company will also do well to start using some kind of release management software that will help their new team do its job flawlessly. This will involve such subspecialized pieces of software like test management tools, continuous development management and so on.

Finally, the company and all of its most important decision makers will need to understand that release management is there to help them and not simply to add another CC to their internal email correspondence.

Closing Word

Release management is not just a new buzzword. It is a concept that can help large companies save millions in man-hours, test environments, and other company resources.

Why All Serious Businesses Have an App (and why You Need One)

Look down at your phone. How many apps do you have on it? How many of those apps belong to large corporations? How many apps do you have on your phone that were launched by smaller, local businesses? In many parts of the world, it is not at all surprising to feature a whole bunch of small business apps on one’s phone. The reason why this is so is that business owners are becoming more and more aware of the fact that an app can do wonders for their brand and the overall success of their business.

Today, we will be talking about what an app can do for your business and why it might be a good idea to develop an app yourself (or more precisely, have someone develop it for you).

Apps Make a Brand Stand Out

Perhaps the best way to explain this is to use an example. Let’s, therefore, imagine that you live in a city with 1,000,000 residents and you run a business which has 99 competitors that are nearly the same in size, the type of service/product and every other aspect. The only difference is that you are the only one in the 100 to have an app that your customers and potential customers can download. For this mental exercise, let’s even forget that your app can be useful. We are talking the pure psychological moment here.

When potential customers are making their decision, your business is immediately going to stand out. Not only do you have a great website (we expect that you have a website), but you even have an app that they can download. They immediately think that you run a professional, successful business which is looking to future. From the very start, you are positioning your brand ahead of your competition and that can have incredible effects on the number of your customers and your profits.

Apps Enhance the Customer Experience

In the modern business world, it is all about the customer experience. The days of customer service are all but gone and this outdated concept has been assimilated into a much more comprehensive concept of customer experience. A business app can do wonders for the experience your customers will have with your brand and this is only going to increase their loyalty and inspire them to recommend your brand to their friends and loved ones.

With an app, you can allow your customers to get in touch with some type of customer service 24/7, 365 days a year. This is something everyone can appreciate. In addition to this, with different features, you can turn your app into a tool that will make your service so much better for the end user, your customer. For instance, you can connect your app to your project management software and set up automatic notifications when your customer’s service is finished, for example.

Apps Allow More Effective Marketing

While business apps can be great for improving the relationship between the customer and the business, they can also be used by business owners to do some direct marketing without seeming too eager, which is always something that is better avoided.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this and also the most common one are push notifications, i.e. notifications that your app will send to the users when you have something to say. For example, you can send a push notification to your app users when you come out with a new product or a service. One thing to be careful about is not to do this too often. Notifications can become bothersome and annoying and if you are not careful, you might alienate your users and cause them to remove your app.

How to Develop an App

By now, you are probably convinced that your business might benefit from an app and you are probably wondering how you can go about building one. Well, the first option is to approach one of the many app development agencies that you have in your area. You can even choose someone thousands of miles away. If you choose to do this, you need to be prepared to pay heftily for their services. Apps do not come cheap and you will need to spend upwards of $10,000 for even the most basic apps.

For small businesses that are more limited when it comes to their finances, there is another option, an option that makes app building much more affordable. This option entails approaching an app building website where you can purchase apps that have been pre-developed to a certain stage and that you can then modify and personalize for your business. For the end user, such apps will not be any less amazing and attractive while you will not bankrupt your company to have it developed.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Bug reporting

Software TestingUltimate goal of bug reporting is to make an application more stable and allow developers to fix it without any trouble.  Bug reporting is a skill and art that needs to be practiced regularly. Efficient bug reporting depends on your understanding of business requirements, scenarios you tested, ability to differentiate between an average bug and good bug, details you capture and how simply you present to developers.

There are noticeable differences between developers and testers over bug reporting. Every now and then bug is rejected by developers as irreproducible and it doesn’t go well with testers since they can reproduce it. This is one of the minor differences that raise several misconceptions about software testing.

I work closely with QA and development teams in IT industry and have created an ultimate cheat sheet on bug reporting. Points mentioned in this cheat sheet are tried and tested and have been approved by several project managers and clients. These points and template will certainly enhance the efficiency of your bug reporting skills.

Art of Bug Reporting:
Art of Bug Reporting
There is certain type of result that is expected in every bug reported by a QA team.  As a tester, bug reporting is more of a documentation of your findings due to which it should be very simple. Developers, project managers or even a layman should be able to understand and reproduce that bug.

Simplest 4 point format which I and my team use in for bug reporting. Bug description should include:

  • Scenario: List all steps that tester took that will help others to replicate the bug. These steps can also include basic information such as name of browser on which you tested, clearing cache etc.
  • Expected result: The final result which is expected based on business requirement and which end user will see by following above steps.
  • Actual result: The result which is currently visible to user and which could be correct or incorrect.
  • Additional Data: Any additional information, observation or special instruction which is useful for team to replicate it, including which browser and OS used, relevant screenshots, any video recording that captures any intermittent bugs, adding references to the specifications etc.

Once you have described the bug based on this template, you will notice that not only that you have captured required information relevant to reproduce the bug, you have also answered any potential question from developers. You will also find it relatively easy to fill following important fields of any bug tracking tool:

  • Bug Title: This has to be one liner, crisp and precise. You have already covered details in bug description
  • Product Name: It will be name of the product, project or module you are testing
  • Version: Version of build, module or product
  • Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux etc. along with their versions
  • Priority: It is generally set from P1 to P5. P1 means Bug needs to be fixed on highest priority and P5 means Fix the bug as time permits
  • Severity: Business impact of bug. There are 6 types of severity and one needs to be selected:
    1. Blocker: Further testing cannot proceed
    2. Critical: Application crash, Loss of data etc.
    3. Major: Major loss of function
    4. Minor: Minor loss of function
    5. Trivial: UI enhancements
    6. Enhancement: New feature or Change request
  • Status: Bug status which shows whether it is new, fixed, reopened, verified or won’t fix
  • Assign To: This is critical – Be very sure which developer is responsible for this. If you don’t know whom to assign, leave it blank so that manager can assign to developer. In this case, add manager email in CC so that he gets notified.

I have experienced a huge improvement in quality of bugs reported, higher bug closing rate and overall coordination effort using this bug reporting template and process. Yes, initially it seems a time consuming process but this is a key for any good but report. This is main communication between developers, testers and project managers which can be easily tracked in case of any disputes.

I am sure this ultimate cheat sheet of bug reporting will be remain handy for all QA managers and project managers as quality bug reporting saves lot of time that goes in explaining and reproducing bugs, maintaining good relationship between testers and developers.

This article is based on my learning and experience. I believe there could be more changes, scenarios based on which we can customized bug reporting template and process.

Do you have recommendations or examples which could be helpful for others? Share with us – we are open for learning.

What You Can Get From Outsourced IT Services

We have talked about outsourcing your IT department on a number of occasions on this blog. We have talked about why it is a good idea, we have talked about finding the best people to handle your outsourced IT services and we have even talked about the mistakes that you should avoid when hiring outsourced IT partners. Then, we realized that we have only touched upon the actual work that they can do for you – the services that they can provide. So, we decided to talk about these in more detail today.

Managing your Company’s Data

One of the things that your outsourced IT services will do for you is store and manage your company’s data. This is particularly useful for larger enterprises which handle copious amounts of data which would require a number of servers to handle. One of the most essential things to check when taking advantage of this service are the security measures that your new partners employ to keep your data secure. It is of paramount importance that your data is safe at all times.

Setting up a Website for You

These days, if a business does not have a website that people can visit and explore, it is as if they do not exist. This is true for pretty much every type of business these days – from a local restaurant to a large manufacturing operation. If you outsource your IT services, they will design and develop a website for you. Once it is up and running, they will maintain it and ensure it is working the best it could. Sometimes they might hire outside partners for web design, but they will answer for them, so to say and you should never worry that you will get a subpar website.

Setting up a Network

Most businesses these days need a network that will allow the employees and everyone else to collaborate without having to rely on the internet connection or any outside factors. This is where networks come in and it is one of the main things that an outsourced IT service can do for you. They will be using the latest in network technology and software solutions, ensuring your network is running like clockwork and enabling your people to work in perfect conditions.

Some businesses choose to set up their own networks on their own and while these may work, they are rarely on the same level as professional solutions. They will often involve subpar equipment and budget cheap computers. With outsourced IT services, you are getting the latest technology at a fraction of a price.

Moving your Business to Cloud

Cloud computing is becoming more and more popular with each day and it is no surprise. Moving some of your digital operation to the cloud will have a number of benefits for your business – you will be able to work remotely, the data will be dispersed so that no disaster can compromise it, collaboration on different projects will be improved and so on. Once again, if you decide to do this (and it is something your outsourced IT partners might suggest), you need to check the security protocols and ensure your information is secure at all times.

Keeping your Business Operational

One of the most important services that outsourced IT partners will provide for you is in-office support. What we are talking about here is making sure that your hardware and your software are working at full capacity, not giving you any troubles. This is where your new partner’s expertise will come in handy, as well as their equipment that will allow them to take care of any problems in record time.

There are plenty more things that your outsourced IT partners will be able to do for you and the only thing you need to take care of is determine your actual needs and requirements. If you are unsure about your ability to find the best IT outsourcing partners, you can always turn to Globality Consulting, of course.

 

Choose the Perfect Managed IT Service Provider

ball-63527_1280We have already talked about whether outsourcing the IT department is a smart idea some time ago and we have come to the conclusion that it is the smartest choice for a vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses that simply do not have the means to support their own systems and their own IT department. Now that we have established that, we feel it is a good idea to say a thing or two about how ensure that the managed IT service provider you hired is the best and that you are getting your money’s worth.

Establish what You Need

Before you do anything else, it is essential that you understand what you need at the moment and what you might need in the future. Perhaps you just need someone to set up your business network. Perhaps you want to take your cyber-presence to a cloud. Maybe you need a comprehensive solution that will require a lot of work on the part of your provider. Maybe you will need someone who will be able to provide a 24/7 network monitoring service. All of this will play a huge role down the line.

Ask Around

The first step in finding that right managed IT services provider is to ask around. For instance, if you have business partners who have already hired such services, ask them if they are happy with their provider. There are also plenty of online communities where people will discuss various providers and where you can find out more about them. You might also want to check which managed IT services providers have received awards lately and who is recommending them.

Look at Their Packages

Once you have narrowed down your search a bit, it is time for you to dig deeper and see whether they will be able to take care of your particular needs. Different providers offer different kinds of services and some of them might be quite narrowly specialized. In addition to this, some providers may be better at a certain aspect or even offer significant discounts on certain services.

In addition to this, not all businesses require the same services and you might make significant savings by deciding on a provider who will offer a package that will take care of your needs without other services that will just make your bill bigger. Some managed IT service providers even offer customized packages where you tell them what you need and they come up with an offer that was tailored to you specifically.

Learn about Their Expertise and Experience

It goes without saying that you will want to go with people who know what they are doing and who have years of experience. We talked to Brisbane-based managed IT service provider and they told us that the number of subpar providers is a staggering one and that you need to ensure that the people you hire have the expertise and the experience to handle your needs. Ask for references and check up on every one of them. Only if you are certain these people are proficient enough should you hire them.

Think about the Future

As time goes and your business grows (hopefuly), you may require different services from your provider. You need to make sure that they will be able to handle these in advance. For instance, if you are worried that their infrastructure and their expertise may be insufficient for future growth of your business and your needs, it might be a better idea to go with someone else. One thing you do not want to do is hire someone only to have to change them after two years because they cannot handle your new needs.

Closing word

If you think that all of this is too much and that you might get lost in the terminology, it might be a good idea to hire someone to find you a managed IT service provider. A company like Globality Consulting is the perfect example of someone who can help you with this.

25 Common Misconceptions about Software Testing

Misconceptions about software testingTeams involved with developing, managing, and maintaining software often have misconceptions about software testing. Potential workers and new testers feel lot of frustration due to these common misconceptions and misbeliefs and make them unhappy about their work. Companies have lost their clients when they failed to counter these myths, understand the importance of software testing, QA project plan and difference between goal and mindset of testing which is different for developer and for tester.

I’ve worked closely with IT industry in past 10 years and especially with software testing business units. I have seen how management formulates the career growth plans for developers and testers based on these misconceptions. They promote a strong belief that software testing job is inferior to software development job. I have seen projects falling apart due to these misconceptions and partiality of management towards developers. They don’t understand that both software development and testing are equally valuable for the quality of the software product and they are interlinked for project success.

I have listed few common misconceptions about software testing which are popular in IT industry. Few of these can raise series of arguments, but objectively these are very common misconceptions and practices that are followed in mid and small level software vendors across globe. In my case, I hear point 1, 2, 16, 22 and 24 on daily basis. Let me know yours.

  1. Software testing is no brainier job and doesn’t require any specific skills. I found this interesting image to convey exactly what management and software developers feel about testers.Tester Profile
  2. Testing efforts are standard 20% of overall development estimates.
  3. Involving testers in early stage of project is just a formality and can be skipped.
  4. Testers are required to act as business analyst and understand the project flow by themselves without participating in any kickoff meeting and project discussions.
  5. Testers shouldn’t give recommendation as it causes unnecessary project delays.
  6. In entire team, only testers are required to have excellent communication skills as they report bugs.
  7. Developers make good testers and both have same goals in deliverable.
  8. Website, desktop or mobile testing is less prestigious then software development.
  9. Manual Testing is inferior to Automation Testing.
  10. Unit testing should be done by tester not by developer.
  11. Testing team is a liability and an expense to company as only small amount of testing is required to validate the development.
  12. Testing process is only meant for corporate website and marketing collateral.
  13. To save time, testing can be done on developer’s machine.
  14. Testing with agile methodology means less documentation.
  15. Testers should follow developers work schedule.
  16. Testers don’t get along with developers. Myth which is majorly promoted by management as their divide and rule policy. This is one myth which can tarnish any project if not proactively controlled by project managers.
  17. Involving developer will speed up the implementation of test automation.
  18. Automation testers do not have to bother themselves with manual testing.
  19. Automated testing requires minimum of tester’s activity and attention.
  20. Testers are mad, bug hunters and they are the forever skeptics.
  21. Testers do not need any professional training and certifications. They can train themselves while working on their projects.
  22. Exhaustive testing can make software Bug Free.
  23. Software Testing has nothing to do with creativity, all they do is write or design test cases.
  24. Quality testing means number of test cases executed by tester in a day.
  25. Test case Reviews are a one-time effort.

Techniques for Effective and Active Communication

Remote TeamsEffective and active communication is one of the important key for better results especially when you need to work with teams stationed globally or even if in the same premise. Irrespective of location, we should feel connected with our teams at all the time.

There are several easy and known ways to remain connected, but thanks to our busy schedule we don’t notice and use them. Here is a well-known and easily available list of techniques which we can use as checklist to connect with teams whether remotely or within same office.

1. Stick to meeting scheduler and avoid unplanned meetings till its super urgent. Manage and update the schedule regularly.

2. Prepare the meeting Agenda and RACI in advance. It will allow each participant to know their role in meeting and help them to engage actively.

3. Keep the meeting agenda light, don’t cram it and give team a chance to connect and breathe.

4. Before you meet or start any meeting, send all the required assets in advance so that others can follow the agenda.

5. In remote session, Always ask for the inputs in FIFI way as in First In & First Input and then pull in others quickly before they feel left out of discussion.

6. Plenty of online tools are there to connect with remote teams visually, such as Skype, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts etc.

7. Motivate all the team members to participate in electronic calls if you are managing a specific team instead of sticking to one point of contact – it gives sense of responsibility to all members of the team and also make them feel that you are a good leader who thinks of everyone.

8. Organize team building programs in every 3-6 months, it will help cross functional teams to improvise their bonds.

9. Never forget special days related to your team – imagine how you feel if your boss shouts at you on your birthday without wishing you?

10. Break the ice with team if they are nervous with light discussion. Don’t carry your title to meeting, keep it open for all. After all it’s your team which delivers the project, not your title or tag.

11. Appreciate the good work, you can either walk to the person & congratulate or send quick note over an email/chat or just a small hand written note will also do.

12. Maintain free flow of communication, involve team in discussions and maintain transparency on decisions so that team can learn to work together.

Importance of QA Project Plan

Software TestingManaging QA in outsourcing mode has been one of the biggest challenges for all business owners. Lack of factual QA project Plan makes entire engagement so costly that businesses owners don’t feel secure and end up spending more efforts than required.

It is highly recommendable that testing service providers and business owners collectively should define a high-level project plan and a test strategy to accomplish desired QA results. A typical outsourcing QA project plan should consist following (no fix sequence):

  1. Introduction and Overview: Document should include a brief introduction about the team and company supporting the project along with QA objectives on this project.
  2. Scope: Should contain exact scope of the work as in what will be covered, possible action items and information/tasks which will not be covered in QA.
  3. Assumptions and Exceptions: Should list all the possible assumptions and exceptions which QA team will take based in defining the strategy based on the requirements. This will also include the list of exceptions and limitations related to the test infrastructure.
  4. Team Chart: This will help to understand roles and responsibilities of respective QA members and stakeholders associated with this project. It will also help client to reach a relevant person directly in case of any clarifications.
  5. QA Workflow: This will define the how the QA strategy will be met. It will describe methodology proposed and why, validation methods and type of test data required and if work is divided into test groups to easily manage major functionalities. This will also define what type of testing will be done in the project such as Regression, Unit, Integration, System, GUI etc.
  6. QA Recommendation: This will include any recommendation which QA team will provide to client. It will depend on the review of development work, requirement etc. QA recommendations could be anything starting from automating the test process to filling any missing gaps in requirement. This will be done at different stages of the development and has to be aligned to client requirement.
  7. Review of Test Infrastructure: It is important to assess the test infrastructure so that once project starts team doesn’t face challenges related to time consumed in loading the data etc. Clear information on test infrastructure is one of the perquisites for final production.
  8. QA Tools: This will detail all the processes and tools which will be utilized in the project. It will include list of project management, configuration management, bug tracking or any test case management tool along with framework and names of the recommended automation tool. This will also cover the usage details of any tool which is picked for the project.

Recommended ReadHow to Choose a Right Outsourcing Partner

We believe above list will work as a checklist for developing a reliable QA project plan and will come very handy while working with QA teams.

How the NSA Revelations Impact Businesses

NSA spyingEdward Snowden’s big reveal about the NSA invading the privacy of individuals has thrown up a number of disturbing issues, not least of which is the feeling among ordinary people like us that Big Brother is really watching.

It is a violation of human rights to privacy, undoubtedly, but it also reveals the scale of control that is exercised over other nations and people. And, as this early discussion by Bloomberg contributing editor Richard Falkenroth shows the fallout of the reveals has been big even in the sphere of international relations and business.

Impact on Businesses

The discovery that the United States government has its eyes on you can have all sorts of repercussions on all types of businesses, small or large, in the US and across the world.

 

1. Rising Doubt: Business Data Is Not Safe With The Government

When you share important business data on the US government’s data hubs, you have to trust that these centers will keep your data safe. This data can be anything from website passwords, proprietary product recipes, trade secrets or billion dollars’ worth of research.

Some businesses spend a lot of money to protect their information from the prying eyes of competitors.

US tech companies like Apple, Yahoo and Google lead the world’s technology industries and thus far, have had the best security systems in place to protect the confidentiality of clients and users in their internal networks.

But the NSA leaks have made it clear that governments are constantly spying on each other and hacking into each others’ computers. If even Yahoo and Google servers were not safe from the US government’s surveillance teams, this means that your billion dollars’ worth of research can easily be accessed by international competitors if your government’s systems are hacked into.

The sense of the vulnerability of data shared on US data centers is bound to create a sense of doubt regarding whether you can trust the government to keep your data confidential and safe from global competitors.

There is certainly reason enough for such doubts. If a ‘high school dropout’ like Edward Snowden working alone was able to gain access to sensitive and top secret information, it is a foregone conclusion that your data is not safe from far more skilled hackers across the world. What does this mean for the security of your data in the future?

 

2. Growing Mistrust Of US Businesses and Tech Companies

The hacking of US tech and Internet giants has also revealed a web of lies that can have a great negative impact on the business world. These companies have claimed that they were not aware of the government’s surveillance activities, but later went on to retract their statements by saying that they were under orders to reveal millions of records from their internal servers on a daily basis. This has led to a growing mistrust among people of US tech companies. While that may not impact the regular Windows user or iPhone owner, if other countries are becoming vocal against the US tech industry, it becomes a big issue.

Cisco’s revenues have slumped as a result of the NSA leaks. The company says that ever since the leaks, orders in China and from other overseas customers have plummeted. Shareholders are also expressing their great discontent, with one IBM shareholder suing the company for failing to disclose the risks of cooperating with NSA’s spy program. Other Silicon Valley companies like AT&T and Verizon are also facing their shareholders’ wrath with investors similarly filing lawsuits against them.

 

3. Businesses Moving Away From Data Centers Ruled By US Laws

When you store data on a global server online, the laws of the location of the server apply rather than the laws of your country of residence. Cloud storage for frequent business travelers has been a much-lauded innovation. The idea behind it was to reduce the risk that business travelers face when they carry important data on hard drives that they are at the risk of losing during travel.

But more and more people are becoming wary of US data centers for cloud storage, because it is US laws that apply to data stored on such servers. As a result, companies like MacquarieTelecom are providing data storage in locations other than the US. The Australian government is a big client of the company’s local data centers which hope to help reduce cyber attacks against the government’s systems. More such companies are flourishing to meet the greater demand for cloud storage in locations outside of the US.

This MT’s video tries to depict current issue:

So, are the NSA leaks bad for business?

Yes. The fallout of the leaks is unfolding as we speak. It is clear that US businesses are suffering from a lack of trust, not only from customers but also from shareholders. The importance of trust in business is unarguable.

And global businesses that depend on US tech companies have also been losing out as a result. Since they can no longer trust the safety of their data, they have to look for alternate solutions. But there aren’t many of these yet, with US tech companies leading the field of security solutions.

And it is only a matter of time before smaller companies feel the trickle-down effect of the leaks. Businesses that have been spending loads of money to get their data secured are going to realize that there is little point in doing so if all of it ends up on a government hub that puts it beyond their control. The very idea of data security in our global world is at risk today.

Tech privacy concerns are already leading to big losses for IT companies across the world.

According to a Forrester Research analyst, if something is not done to restore confidence in data handling, the US technology industry could suffer losses of $180 billion by 2016.

Add to that the fact that we are living in an increasingly connected world and like me, ordinary people are starting to wonder how private our social media interactions really are. The media has not been laudatory of Edward Snowden, but it is clear to a layman like me that the powers he is working for are the monsters here.

One disturbing question that clearly arises from Snowden’s role in the whole fiasco is how was a man who was so unqualified allowed access to such sensitive information?

Google’s Balloon-Powered Internet For Everyone – Project Loon

google-project-loonGoogle’s dream to provide internet access to everyone around the world covering rural and remote areas made Google’s research and development team to come up with a unique solution under the name of Project Loon, Balloon-Powered internet for all. Project Loon began in June 2013 with an experimental pilot in New Zealand and tested this technology in Christchurch and Canterbury.

As per Wikipedia, this project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 20 km (12 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds.  Interestingly, the desired direction and speed of the Balloon can be determined using the wind data provided by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and users can access the internet through balloon network using special internet antenna’s which will be on their buildings or roof tops.  For balloon-to-balloon and balloon-to-ground communications, the balloons use antennas equipped with specialized radio frequency technology.

There are many interesting (Must Read) facts available on internet on the technology used, how the design is prepared and how Balloon will fly in space and how each balloon will communicate between them. I am more excited to see its design and its concept of charging it’s electrical components through solar panels due to which I believe there are low chances that it will disconnect occasionally.

Google has explained it in a very simple way on how Loon balloon is designed to stay aloft for three trips around the globe on Loon’s Google+ site. To us, it might sound easy and small thing but imagine how difficult it will be to manage Loon Balloon’s which are floating 12 miles above the earth with no human in it and they are flying in different zone, oceans etc.

I believe the idea to design this technology will allow countries to avoid using expensive fiber cables, where cost of installing underground fiber is high and at times impossible to reach rural and remote areas.  This will also increase the usage of internet and will allow us to explore and connect with those areas, which are yet untouched.

Google-LoonProject Loon has been welcomed with warm hands. However, there are many concerns, which also cropped up.  Since Google does not yet define the cost of this project, talks are there that it will not be that cheap for rural population to afford and hence might lose the determination and will might end up being an another tool for government or agencies to invade privacies. Some experts also criticized it by saying that it is an an attempt to increase market share.

Bill Gates criticized Project Loon, stating that: “When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you. When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there is no website that relieves that.”

Despite of all the criticism, project loon is making its way to go public and positively soon we will see them in our air. I am anxious to see how these balloons going to float in our space and what will be our reaction.