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8 Tips for Application Maintenance Outsourcing

8 Tips for Application Maintenance Outsourcing

Application maintenance outsourcing (AMO) is an important part of application outsourcing. With AMO, you can outsource all the maintenance activities, such as enhancements, corrections and patch developments.

NEC Corporation of America                                                                                    Image credit: Flickr

You can get the resources that you need for the maintenance phase of your project on a contract basis. These resources include the manpower with the required technical skills, technology and other required resources.

Application development and maintenance form about 80% of the total work that is outsourced. The number of outsourcing companies is also increasing due to the huge demand.

Thus, let’s take a look at the several pros and cons it comes with.

Pros of AMO

AMO is a cost-effective solution and improves your operations and technology well.

Here are some benefits of AMO:

  • Cost and time saving
  • It lets you have more time to develop the app and for other operations.
  • It lets you concentrate on the core business.
  • It makes use of external expertise.
  • Gives you access to industry experts without paying a big compensation as you would for a normal employee.
  • Allows your work to be flexible.
  • Gives you access to talented IT professionals, better tools, equipment, and technology.
  • Improves the performance, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
  • It allows work to be continued in different time zones.
  • Enables you to go without a payroll system.
  • Nullifies the worry about losing key employees.

Cons of AMO

There are many benefits of AMO. But, if you choose the wrong partner or if you don’t take care of the basic guidelines, you could end up losing rather than gaining.

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Here are some disadvantages of AMO:

  • You may lose control over the workflow.

You could have a conflict with the contractor about the differing workflows.

For example, you may want the contractor to use a different approach than what they usually use.

So, you should ensure that the approach that you want the contractor to follow is clear before you sign the contract.

  • The outsourced staff may be disloyal.

You may not have proper communication with your outsourced team and so you may lose control over the team.

  • There is a management overhead.

You will have to deal with extra management duties, since you also have to take up the management issues related to outsourcing.

  • There may be a slow response time to problems.

If there is no proper project management and communication, your customers will experience a slow response time and they may be less satisfied.

Tips to Implement AMO

Thus, you first need to choose the right partner for outsourcing. You also have to follow best practices and guidelines and you need to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Here are eight tips to help you.

1. Set Your Goals

You should set well-defined criteria and quantifiable goals.

You should know what you want from the outsourcing and you need to specify them as measurable objectives. You should then measure the progress of your project with these.

2. Understand the Process

The activities involved in maintenance outsourcing are:

  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Asset transfer
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Architecture reconstruction
  • Environment replication
  • Pilot programme
  • Process propagation
  • Work execution
  • Testing (verification and validation)
  • Deployment
  • Monitoring and reporting
  • Review and improvements

You should understand the workflow, other specifics and how the maintenance process will be carried out.

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You should clarify everything with the contractor and only sign the contract once you are clear about everything. This includes the approach that the vendor will use.

You must follow a well-developed maintenance lifecycle. Each phase (the planning, transitioning, delivery and close out) should occur at the right time and you should have a proper plan for each.

3. Documentation

You must ensure that the knowledge transfer is done properly. So, you must maintain a good documentation and keep it updated. This will also help you during training.

4. Hiring

You must choose experienced and skilled professionals. Such employees will require less training and you can use work trials to select key personnel.

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You should also set aside a budget for training. They need basic training; since they must understand the app they are working on. You can optimise your training costs by choosing employees with the required technical skills and experience and by having good documentation.

5. Make Use of Metrics

You must establish metrics to evaluate the performance and to determine whether the contractor abides by the SLA.

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You can these metrics:

  • Customer demand metrics
  • Enhancements work backlog
  • Maintenance work backlog
  • Priority request ageing
  • Performance metrics
  • Maintenance work volume
  • Enhancement work volume
  • Quality metrics
  • Rework requests
  • Efficiency metrics
  • Utilisation metrics

Verify your measurements using audits and monitor them continuously. You should also regularly hold review meetings and ensure that you are on the right path.

6. Team Integration

You must integrate your in-house team with the outsourced team. There should be good communication with your external staff to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts.

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You should also understand the cultural and geographical differences of the offshore team and try to bridge these differences to work as a single team.

7. Production Management

If you believe in productive work, then must establish a proper monitoring and reporting system as well.

You should also have a strong production management to help you smoothly carry out the joint operations. Everything should be planned and executed according to the plan.

8. Improve Your Infrastructure

If you have a mature infrastructure, you will achieve better results.

You should have a good communication platform, good connectivity and good technology support. Recovery features can also help you improve your efficiency.

So what’s your tip for AMO? Do you have any questions? Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!

 

Got a Brilliant Mobile App Idea? Here is How to Get Started

Got a Brilliant Mobile App Idea? Here is How to Get Started

“I have an idea for a brilliant app, but how to get started?” This is a common question people who plan to launch a mobile app ask us.

Thousands of people think that they have a great app idea. If you’re one of them, then pull up your socks, because you got a great competition ahead.

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“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”

- Scott Belsky, Founder, Behance.

But, don’t worry. Read on, if you need help fleshing out your idea to actually build a business around it.

Here we will walk you through the step-by-step instructions to make your dream project a reality.

So, by not wasting any time, and words, here we go.

Validate Your Idea

This is the first and most important step for every idea and not specific to any technology.

It’s good that you have a killer idea, but it’s not about what you think. Instead, you have to figure out what your ideal users or customers think about your app.

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You need to find out:

  • What pain points your app is going to solve?
  • Is the problem which your app will solve indeed a problem?
  • Do you have a competitor? If yes, why would your users prefer your app?

You also need to ensure that your app idea is unique or fills a gap which no other app is doing.

The best way to start validating your idea is to ask your friends and family. Ask people you can trust to give you valuable and eye-opener inputs.

This will not only help you conclude if your idea is worth something, but it will also show you how to make the idea worthwhile.

Decide the Type of App You Need to Build

Once you have validated your idea, you’ll have a clear idea of what you need to work on. The most important and immediate next step is deciding on what type of app it should be.

  • Do you want your app to be specific to any mobile platform like Android, iOS, Windows or Blackberry?
  • How can your users access it? Can they access it from an app store, such as iTunes or the Google Play Store?
  • Do you want a native mobile app or a web app that is optimised for smartphone usage?

Don’t get confused with too many choices. Just pick one and go for it. You can always tweak your strategy if need be.

Research and Read about App Development

This step may overlap with the second step.

If you’re non-technical, then you can find it challenging to decide on the type of app you need.

In that case, you may need to first acquire some knowledge about the basics of mobile app development. This will help you simplify your decision. Without this knowledge, you will not know what you need to know.

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But, if you are aware of the basics, then this step will come after choosing the type of app.

In either case, you need to have a good understanding of mobile app development to ensure you’re on the right path.

Here are a couple of tutorials which can help you get started:

But, don’t just stick to these tutorials. Read interesting and informative articles or blogs as well.

This will help you to keep abreast of the latest updates. Some popular blogs you can explore are ZdNet, The Next Web, CIO and Forbes.

Identify and Meet the Technical Requirements

You don’t need to buy an advanced PC with the latest configurations for mobile app development. However, it’s better to go for this.

For Android or web apps, you can create the app with Linux, Windows or a Mac.

But, for iOS app development, Mac is the only option.

Also, you need to have access to a smart device (iOS, Android or Windows) depending on the type of app platform you plan to design for.

If you plan to write the code yourself, then you also need an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

Here are a couple of free developer tools for different mobile platforms which you can explore:

The biggest benefit of IDEs is that it offers a virtual smartphone to test your app for both Android and iOS.

Keep a Budget Ready

You don’t need to invest in the developer tools, but it will cost you money to register and publish apps in different app stores.

If you plan to publish on the Google Play store, then you have to pay a one-time fee of $25 at the time of registration. For Apple and Microsoft, it is an annual fee of around $100.

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Also take note that you need to share around 30% revenue of every sale your app makes with the app platform companies.

We hope by now that you have a clear idea of how to move from the ideation stage to the execution stage.

Although you can develop an app on your own, we advise that you get help from a specialist. If you make any deadly mistakes during the development process, all your efforts would be in the vain.

Thus, consult with a mobile development company that has extensive experience in delivering projects like yours. This will also give you a clear picture of whether you’re on the right path or whether you need to make a change.

So, when do you plan to develop your app? Which platform do you plan to go for?

If you have any questions or need advice, drop us a note below and we will get back to you soon.

5 Reasons to Select Magento for Your Small Business

5 Reasons to Select Magento for Your Small Business

Have you been keeping track of the leading eCommerce platforms that have emerged in recent years for businesses?

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If yes, then Magento is sure to figure in that list of popular eCommerce solutions that have made lives easier for businesses to go online with their products or services.

Magento has been known to help businesses seamlessly build an online store across any category, customise it as per their changing needs, attract more customers and generate better sales.

This open source Content Management System (CMS) has been constantly evolving with new solutions and tools, due to which it has been trusted and utilised by more than 240,000 businesses across the globe.

This number is estimated to rise by leaps and bounds in the coming years as the demand for eCommerce increases.

So let’s check out the advantages offered by Magento, especially for small businesses, and compare it to other eCommerce platforms or CMSs.

1. A Customisable Open Source Solution

Magento (Community Edition) is open source and can be downloaded for free. Once installed, you are not restricted to the standard templates, but you can customise it as per the dynamic requirements of your business.

Open Source

Image credit: Flickr

You can boost your eCommerce store with several new features and functionalities by installing Magento extensions that are available at the Magento Connect marketplace.

For small businesses, this customising option is pretty handy since the eCommerce needs of these businesses may be pretty specific.

2. Strong Community Support

To enjoy a smooth experience with any new tool or CMS, like Magento, that you haven’t used before, you will always feel the need to have reliable and readily available support.

Customer Support

Since Magento is open source, it has an extremely large and knowledgeable community of developers who constantly work on it to ensure it stays updated and secure. If you are stuck anywhere or face any issues while handling the Magento tool, sound technical help is available to you at an instant.

Such support is ideal for small businesses which may not always have enough expertise with Magento to handle the issues. They can easily rely on this Magento community support to get solutions for several issues.

Most of the problems that you may face, while using Magento for the first time, may already have been discussed with solutions at the community forum sites.

3. One-Stop Shop

The best thing about Magento is that you can manage it from a single platform and do not need different solutions for different purposes.

eCommerce

Image credit: Flickr

You can manage all customer records, billing activities, store inventory, and so on from one place (the admin dashboard). You can create multiple online stores from a single backend CMS.

All your eCommerce apps can be handled from a single database, which further increases your company’s efficiency. This makes it easier for small businesses, as they will need fewer resources to manage and monitor their online store.

4. Support for Mobile Shopping Experience

The world is witnessing an increasing trend towards online shopping for mobile phones. This has led many eCommerce businesses to switch their focus towards developing their online store apps or making their eCommerce websites mobile friendly.

Mobile Shopping

The fact that the Magento platform offers multiple HTML5 capabilities ensures that your customers will have a superior mobile shopping experience.

5. Higher Flexibility and Scalability

With an open system architecture, the Magento experts in your company can create uniquely designed user experiences for various types of access devices.

You can have a fully flexible eCommerce workflow to meet the different business requirements of your company. In addition, this platform offers a higher scalability option at any point of time.

This means that your business can grow seamlessly with flexible eCommerce-based modifications and enhancements possible through Magento.

Comparison with Other Popular CMS

If you were asked about the most popular CMS in the world today, you would probably answer “WordPress”. There is no doubt about the overall popularity of WordPress, but it is not designed specifically for eCommerce.

To handle eCommerce requirements, you need to use WooCommerce along with WordPress. Similarly, if you want to design eCommerce stores using another popular CMS, like Drupal, you need to use Drupal Commerce along with it.

Yet, Magento is a platform specifically created for eCommerce requirements. It possesses countless eCommerce features and functionalities that give it a clear edge over other content management systems supporting eCommerce.

Magento is quite SEO friendly and you get the preloaded ability to give meta titles and descriptions as soon as you add products to your online store. You don’t need to install a separate SEO extension or plugin. Some other preloaded SEO features include sitemaps, URL rewrites and layered navigation.

For WordPress, you need to specifically download an SEO plugin, like Yoast, for SEO-related features.

A simple comparison table according to a Tomrobertshaw.net report , for the top eCommerce software in use across the globe is illustrated below:

Magento

It is clear that Magento leads the way for eCommerce software with a market share of almost 26%, followed by WooCommerce which is way behind with only 9.7% of the market share.

Now that you know Magento is the best eCommerce platform currently, you may be wondering about the ways through which you can opt for a suitable Magento development service provider.

You can do that by checking out the Magento community forums which are full of experienced Magento developers or you can find a suitable one via LinkedIn or Crunchbase as well.

You can also check out who has extensive experience in developing online stores using Magento and contact them to get the relevant services for your business.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started with Magento and grow your online business!

How Business Intelligence Can Revolutionise the Healthcare Industry

How Business Intelligence Can Revolutionise the Healthcare Industry

Business leaders are often highly reliant on every single piece of their business information to make profitable business decisions and further refine corporate strategy. This is where business intelligence comes into the picture.

Analytics

Image credit: Flickr

Designed to help people make better business decisions and turn the business into a profitable establishment, business intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process that involves the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information through historical, current, and predictive views of business operations.

While, there are many industries have started embracing BI, let’s see where does it stand in the healthcare industry.

Business Intelligence and Healthcare

As the amount of information being generated is increasing exponentially, big data revolution has left many industries with repositories of information that they earlier had limited or no access to.

Healthcare

Industries are now looking into the prospects of moving to a data-driven establishment. The healthcare industry is also on the brink of transformation and according to a report by KLAS, over half of all health organisations are planning to buy a new and more advanced business intelligence system over the next three years.

Gartner reported that one of nine deadly mistakes in business operations improvement (BOI) in healthcare is the lack of BI strategy.

“Most vendors working in healthcare and other industries observe that healthcare has the most complex data of any industry (possibly excluding government intelligence efforts),” the report states.

The report also cited that organisations are not yet fully handling their data the way it should be tackled. The total absence of a well-documented BI strategy, Gartner added, is the biggest folly of the healthcare industry.

Forward thinking organisations like Harvard Medical School, St. Joseph Medical Centre, and Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust realised the importance of business intelligence in analysing healthcare data and swiftly plunged into the world of BI solutions to better analyse the efficiency of their services.

In the light of such findings, it’s fair to say that bridging the distance between data created and data analysed is where the success of the healthcare industry lies.

The rapid proliferation of new technologies at lower costs with greater availability of patient data has given birth to an immense opportunity for healthcare organisations to improve their efficiency.

Every healthcare business solution comes packed with a myriad of business benefits for organisations to better handle their data and further refine their health strategy.

So, let’s take a quick look at the main benefits of business intelligence in the healthcare industry.

How BI Can Help the Healthcare Industry

There are categories of data that any healthcare organisation should ideally be interested in, such as  financial, operational, and clinical.

In order to make better decisions, healthcare BI could be applied to organise this data into a form that can easily be accessed, readable, comprehensive, and analysable.

Single Point Access to Patient Data

A single point access to patient data makes their confidential information easier to protect, and improves privacy.

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It also becomes easier for healthcare professionals to retrieve a patient’s data and create an assortment of reports and analysis based on the historical data stored in their system.

Improved Operational Efficiency and Better Visibility

Such consolidation of data and easy access to information not only results in improved operational efficiency, but it also increases revenue and reduces the overall cost of healthcare.

It does so by improving the visibility of their operations, helping distinguish the highly profitable ones from the underutilised services.

By establishing a concrete ground for evidence-based decision making, one that is essential for the healthcare industry, BI can help improve patients’ outcomes by giving medical personnel access to more accurate histories and reports during diagnoses.

Big Data Means Big Savings

According to a report by McKinsey and Company, if technological innovations in the realm of big data  taken into consideration, overall healthcare savings could be enormous.

Cost

Image credit: Flickr

A broader data analysis can provide healthcare professionals enough knowledge to determine what risks the population is prone to. These valuable insights can help providers proactively prevent risks before they even affect anyone.

More importantly, big data can pinpoint what is needed where more accurately and precisely, to produce healthier populations, thereby decreasing the overall cost of healthcare in the region.

Opportunities presented by business intelligence here may potentially change the dynamics of the healthcare industry. If you are a healthcare provider and are considering using your data more effectively, you should consult a functionally and technically well-versed BI specialist that can help you create an efficient and effective BI strategy for your business.

So is your medical institution working on implementing a BI strategy yet? What is the most challenging aspect of this implementation so far? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Is Drupal CiviCRM the Right CRM Interface for You? An Analysis.

Is Drupal CiviCRM the Right CRM Interface for You? An Analysis.

Are you looking for a CRM interface for your website? If yes, then it is possible to manage the CRM of your website with a simple open source relationship management system software like CiviCRM.

The best part is that CiviCRM is available for installation as a standalone software or as a component along with content management systems like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. It may also be installed as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Let’s take a detailed look at the benefits offered by CiviCRM, its features and how it can work seamlessly with a Content Management System (CMS) like Drupal.

Web-Based Synchronisation

CiviCRM is a web-based application which is a great advantage, as it can be easily installed and utilised by you with the help of an internet-enabled computer system.

It synchronises seamlessly with various CMSs for effective web-based relationship management, especially for school, church and other charitable or non-profit organisations.

As CiviCRM is developed by the community Hive Mind, you may not get instant direct support for any related issues. However, there are plenty of help forums that provide solutions for various CiviCRM based problems.

Key Features

Online Fundraising and Donor Management

It can manage and keep track of all the contributions or donations to your organisation from your constituents from a single screen within the application.

Fundraising

You are empowered to create customised web pages quickly in order to accept online donations. You also get access to updated details of every donation and relevant contact with no chance of data entry errors.

Online Membership Management

With CiviCRM, you can easily manage the online sign ups, renewals and membership summaries for your organisation.

Membership

It enables you to configure any number of membership types as well as customise membership rules and status.

It is also possible to create customised web pages for self-service membership sign up and renewal. You can break down the membership summaries by date (month), membership type, number of contributions, contact information and the total contribution.

Online Event Management

CiviCRM offers you the functionality of creating customised web pages to manage online events or meeting registration for your organisation and then track the number of people who registered as well as the number of active participants.

Online Mass Mailing Management

With this CiviCRM app, you can create or develop newsletters to be distributed to different members directly from your website instead of having to create the group mailing list manually.

It thereby saves a lot of time. You can keep your constituents engaged with timely newsletters for everyone or personalised emails targeted at only a certain group of members.

Thus, CiviCRM assists you with email marketing, social media marketing as well as personal email campaigns.

Integration with Drupal CMS

In comparison to other large CRM applications, CiviCRM may not offer a similar level of data analysis and reporting.

However, it does offer a free alternative to maintain data records of a wide variety of information related to the constituents of your organisation.

Drupal CiviCRM

It can easily be configured to work with your existing business processes as well as seamlessly customised according to your specific business requirements. Furthermore, it is a free CRM component that is designed to integrate and work with CMSs, such as Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress.

However, it is more popularly known for its integration with Drupal. This is because Drupal provides most integration options for CiviCRM and because the Drupal community is more of a developer community, which can handle the technical challenges easily and add to the CiviCRM documentation.

Your website enables you to create roles for site users and grant them permission to execute different tasks, such as edit, view, delete, administer contacts or access specific information.

The Drupal permission settings determine which tasks a specific role will perform and what information it can access. They override any access control setup in CiviCRM, which means that if the CiviCRM settings restrict access to contacts, but the Drupal permission settings allow complete access, then the particular user role will have complete access to contacts.

The Drupal Views module enables you to display website content and CiviCRM integrates with it in order to allow CiviCRM data to be publicly displayed on your website.

When we tried to combine them together for a client’s website, we had to do some configuration, as our CiviCRM and Drupal belonged to different databases.

The Final Verdict

All in all, CiviCRM has several features working in its favour, especially if your business is a non-profit, advocacy or a charitable organisation that has a website CMS like Drupal. It does not involve any licensing fees and so you can add users without any incurring additional costs.

However, you do require certain technical skills to ensure a seamless setup and maintenance of this CRM tool.

So have you explored Drupal CiviCRM before? Do you have any point to share? Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!