Advantages of Customized Software

The advent of technology has made it important for companies to adopt new software and solutions to digitize their business operations regarding internal and external affairs. Almost every business nowadays uses some form of software to up their online strategies through the use of new tools available online or from an agency.

When looking for the right software for your company, you might be doing a quick search for the best, most popular ones you can use. Of course, the developers have made a name for themselves, and the software they create is sure to provide a lot of benefits for your company. But is it really the best option? 

Although popular software is used by many, there may be some items critical to you that it doesn’t provide. You may have specific needs that conventional software cannot offer a solution for. That’s why you should be looking into customized software. 

Customized software, or sometimes called tailor-made software, is developed for the specific needs of your company. In building it, everything about your business is taken into consideration to create a tool that perfectly fits and accommodates what you’re looking for. This type of software is available only to you, as compared to conventional ones that cater to a larger audience. 

Customized software is the best option for you, being able to provide exactly the things that you need.

  1. It provides solutions to your exact needs and specifications.

The number one advantage of having a customized software is being provided with exactly what you need to scale and grow your business. Part of the provider’s efforts to build it includes learning about your company and what specific problems you’re trying to find solutions for. They then create software on account of those needs and personalize the functions and features to help you meet them. 

  1. It can be easily scaled.

Remember that customized software is yours and built for your specific needs. Hence, you can develop it over time, adding new features and functions that you find fit as your business expands. More often than not, your software company will provide added services based on corporate changes or goal changes that you are anticipating or will need in the future. In essence, customized software grows with you and your business. 

  1. It costs less in the long run.

At first glance, you might not be keen on customized software because of its price. Because of its specified and tailored nature, it’s a more expensive service compared to ready-made software that’s available for a large audience, especially the upfront cost. But think about it this way. With ready-made software, you’re paying for a service that does not specifically target your needs, hence contributing only minimally to your business growth. It’s not a viable option in the long run. 

On the other hand, customized software has a good return on your investment. Because it provides you with exactly what you need to grow, you’re able to get more out of the cost that you shelled out to get it. Also, customized software only has an upfront cost but it doesn’t charge you long-term recurring fees. 

  1. It belongs to you exclusively.

When choosing ready-made software, the product is not yours. It belongs to the company creating it. Hence, you become bound by their decisions — whether they want to change features, remove certain functions, create updates, etc. You have no control over what you want to add or remove from the software.

But a customized software is under your sole ownership. And because of that, you are the decision-maker. You can always go back to your software provider to adjust certain things you think will be better for your business. With customized software, you have more control, so you can make decisions based on what your business needs. 

  1. It’s a long-term investment.

Subscribing to ready-made software is like renting a property. You have less liberty as to what you want to do with it and there’s nothing you can do if the owner decides to end the lease. It’s the same thing with software companies, whereas the owner or provider has the final say. A lot of software available today is no longer developed and maintained by its creators. 

This all comes down to ownership. You, as the owner of customized software, can make decisions as to developing and improving the product. It’s a viable solution if you’re looking to invest in a software solution for the long term. 

Customized software provides a lot of benefits to companies. It’s more specific in terms of approach, it provides your exact needs, and the most important thing is that you own it. Hence, customized software grows with your business, giving you a good return on your investment. 

Common Issues With Outsourcing Software Development Overseas

Whether to see these common issues as pros or cons depends on the project manager’s perspective. However, if the issues are completely overlooked, the consequences of the decision may become pivotal for the project and for the company as a whole. 

Lack of a risk assessment or risk assessment plans

Outsourcing software development overseas creates problems such as the lack of risk assessment plans. A lack of risk assessment means that the team is not ready for problems and the troubles of the project in the long run. It could be hard to detect the main causes and analyze solutions when risk assessment is poor or completely lacking. 

Lack of awareness on local laws on intellectual property

Your team will be sharing ideas and confidential files with the team offshore. Not knowing the scale of the area’s local laws is risky ignorance. If not foreseen, all your designs, symbols, trade details, and inventions could be in peril if you cannot protect your intellectual property in a place where you have zero ideas about the present policies.

No clear definition of the project requirements and deliverables

When the specific and measurable deliverables and requirements are unclear, it’s like sailing without a map. Since the development is overseas, the scope of work can appear blurry with poor communication. Even in-house software development teams need to have accurate information about where the project is going — all the more when working with overseas developers.  

Not measuring key performance indicators 

The challenge of monitoring and using key performance indicators to run the project is tripled when the development team is offshore. KPIs such as cumulative flow, sprint burndown, velocity, code coverage, and test automation can be overlooked and condoned. 

Not understanding the timeframes working across timezones

Software development overseas means that teams will be working in different timezones.  If the team has trouble understanding the timeframes, it may be impossible to maintain a proactive approach and manage the process upfront. 

Lack of training on the product line or service expectations

With firm and adequate virtual planning, this issue is off your plate. Otherwise, the most important expectations are at serious risk if the provider is not well oriented to the product line’s critical elements. Meeting the investors’ service expectations is what fuels the company in any business. 

Remember that this is not a face-to-face arrangement. So the only solid evidence of the partnership is the legal agreement. Other teams underestimate the effort to have such documents in place. However, having legal agreements and documents aligned helps the team ensure that the project is going well as originally planned. 

Inadequate prototype development plans

A prototype tells the status of development and lets you know if it is advancing in the right direction. It is a step closer to finalizing the designed product. Hence, this particular area of software development is critical in both in-house and offshore outsourcing. When the requirement is unclear, the key elements of the prototype can be highly affected. 

Failure to set milestones and clear deliverables

The one strong factor behind every global software development outsourcing assignment is the failure to set milestones and clear deliverables. In this case, the team should have frequent discussions in order to aid the gaps and fill the necessary blocks for the project. Tracking progress is even harder to pull off since there’s no intelligible goal to achieve. 

Lack of a feed­back loop to influence outcomes

A feedback loop concept for innovation is imperative for software development teams to ensure that the outcomes, proposals, and influences of the whole project are intact. It is an internal review of the user function, systems, teams, and the rest of the factors that compose the development process. 

Outsourcing software development overseas is beneficial, considering that it offers cost-effective and quality approaches. The common issues listed above are the subtle red flags that you must be aware of, to help your team assess the setup with precaution and conduct active decision making. 

Where Software Projects Go Wrong & What To Do To Prevent It

Software project development is no easy feat. Even with a team full of professionals in your arsenal helping you accomplish the project, plenty of things can go wrong — especially in the absence of proper planning and strategizing. In fact, statistics show that 3 out of 10 software projects fail.

They say that failure is not something to be afraid of. But the same thing cannot be said for a software development endeavor. A failed software project has a lot of dire consequences that can harm the company. Other than being expensive, it can even cause the failure of the company itself.

But mistakes can be avoided with proper preparation, planning, and strategizing. Being aware of the common mistakes that people make in a software project can help you avoid pitfalls, conduct solutions, and emerge successfully. 

Why Software Projects Fail

A lot of things can go wrong in a software development project. Here are the most common factors that cause a project’s failure: 

Lack of proper planning

What is the most important and crucial phase of a software project? Some people might say it’s the development phase itself. Others might say launching or testing. But contrary to popular belief, the most crucial part of a software project is actually what should happen before it even begins — planning. 

The planning phase is a very important step that the team should take before starting a project. It’s the backbone of the entire endeavor and is what gives structure to the whole thing. Without proper and adequate planning, the team will not be equipped to handle developments. And worse, they won’t know where the project is heading. 

Lack of proper communication

Like any project, proper communication is needed for a team to succeed. Every course of the project must be communicated to the relevant employees clearly and properly. Even the slightest miscommunication can cause detrimental problems. 

Lack of clear and defined goals

One common problem in software projects is going off course. This is the result of not having clear, defined, and attainable goals. Make sure that you outline the results that you want to accomplish. Set milestones throughout the course of the project so that the team knows what they’re aiming for. 

How to Prevent a Failed Software Project

Now that you know what causes the downfall of most software projects, here’s what you can do to avoid them: 

Create a concrete, detailed, and clear plan

Never skip the planning phase and get ahead of yourself when undertaking a software project. Proper planning is crucial for the success of your team and the effectiveness of your output. 

To help you plan your software project properly, here are some key things you need to consider: 

  • The project’s purpose and goals
  • The target market and their pain points
  • The timeline of the project
  • The strategies you will undertake
  • The costs involved. 

Set goals and communicate them to the team

Having clearly defined goals not only motivates the team, but it gives them a clear path to walk through. Set attainable and realistic goals for every phase of your project. To determine if your goals are helpful, consider these questions:

  • Are they realistic? 
  • Do I understand them? 
  • What does it fulfill? 

Hire and train the right people

A software development team is made up of a lot of different professionals, each undertaking their own tasks and contributing to the project’s success. Hiring the right people for the job is extremely important because you need professionals that you can trust when it comes to getting the work accomplished in the best way. 

Remember that IT skills are not the only things that you should be looking for in the potential members of your team. They also have to be able to work well with others, communicate effectively, as well as share their ideas, feedback, etc. These are the kinds of people who can pave the way to your project’s success. 

Further, training your team is also necessary before beginning your software project. Make sure that they know your goals, how they can contribute to them, what to do in case of conflict, etc. A team that is trained can align with your goals and work together to achieve the best results. 

A software project can be complex. And because there are so many things going on, it’s easy to overlook seemingly minor things that can end up harming your efforts. Everything starts with a solid plan. Take these insights and make your way to a successful endeavor. 

Best Practices to Ensure Your Software Development Team Works Efficiently

A software development project is a long, complex journey. For a company, that means they have to invest a lot of time and resources into completing and perfecting software. But costs can be reduced if a software development team is able to employ the best practices to ensure their efficiency and productivity. 


Other than saving the company time and resources, an efficient software development team also ensures the quality and effectiveness of a software project. Efficient working should be a pillar that software development teams take seriously and proactively aim for. 

Efficiency can be improved by implementing various best practices in different phases of a project timeline. Right off the bat, the basic tenets of developing efficiency are forming the right team, adopting a productive work process, and measuring performance through comprehensive KPIs and metrics. 

  1. Choose the Right Team Structure

A software development team can either be generalists, specialists, or hybrid. The structure you select will depend on factors like the project’s complexity, timeline, and budget. 

Here are the differences between each type of team structure:

  • Generalists – team members contribute and work together across different tasks, improving productivity and guaranteeing a quicker delivery time. They are focused on building the software as a whole instead of just limiting themselves to their specific responsibilities.
  • Specialists – team members create modules that help them focus on and simplify their specific tasks. 
  • Hybrid – composed of both generalist and specialist teams. 
  1. Opt for a small team

Having a small software development team may sound like there is less manpower, hence prolonging the work and delaying the timeline. But actually, smaller teams are more productive than bigger teams and are more likely to hit their goals. This is because it’s easier for them to collaborate as a team, overcoming communication and coordination problems. 

The ideal number of members in a software development team is 4 to 8 people. If you are working with a big team, a good practice would be to divide them into subgroups and assign a team leader for each group. 

  1. Use effective project management software

A project management software has a host of benefits for development teams. It helps them stay organized and lays down all their pending tasks to achieve a smooth flow of progress. These types of software also automate repetitive tasks, helping save time and effort on mundane activities. 

A project management software helps you get a wider glimpse of the project and what needs to be done. This will give you more insight and help keep your priorities laser-focused — as well as that of everyone in the team. 

  1. Improve communication processes

Probably the thing that takes the most toll on a software development project’s efficiency is miscommunication. With everything that has to be done, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused. 

But it will be easier for every member to stay informed if all phases are properly documented. Make sure that you’re keeping a record of notes, feedback, progress reports, etc. This will allow everyone to be on the same page with regards to the project and the direction that it is going. 

Also important here is to establish a clear path of communication. Create a streamlined communication approach, use instant communication apps, consider using workflow management software, etc. 

It will also help to encourage effective offline communication. To do so, you need to build a culture of trust and transparency where the members are not afraid to voice out their opinions, share their ideas, and air out their concerns. A transparent team can better overcome challenges, resolve conflict, and implement more effective solutions for the success of a project. 

  1. Have a conflict resolution strategy

In a full-on software development project, conflict is inevitable. It’s important to know how to address and resolve conflict so that the project doesn’t become affected. You can create a guidebook for member behavior and workplace culture to ensure that everyone knows what is expected from them and is aware of the proper process of conflict resolution.

  1. Measure performance

Measuring the performance of the team will help you pinpoint areas that need improvement. You get a clearer idea of shortcomings and issues during the project so that you can make efforts to avoid them in the next one. 

Some important KPIs to look at are productivity, how fast a particular task is finished, the quality of work, the ease of communication, etc. 

An efficient software development team has a higher chance of success compared to one that is not. Establish and apply these best practices to improve your team’s efficiency and guarantee the success of your project.

Software Development Trends Explained With Benefits and Use Cases

The software development industry, like other niches, gradually grows and develops. Every year, as external factors change, the industry is affected. But either way, companies and individuals who wish to succeed in software development need to be aware of trends. 

Staying up to date on developments and news on the industry will help a company make good decisions and position themselves where success is predicted. Many of today’s leading companies have foreseen the value of trends and relied on them for their business growth and operational development. If you’re looking to hire custom software developers, you should be aware of the trends of the industry.

So we list and analyze the latest software development trends that you need to know and why your business or profession should take them into consideration. 

  1. Low-Code Development 

Low-code development is the process of building applications without the use of coding. Instead, visual interfaces are utilized, and developers simply transfer prebuilt widgets and components. 

This method of software development has been around for quite a while, but it wasn’t until recently that its functionality was extended to all low-code applications. With this new and widened functionality of low-code development, it is predicted that the method will be used in 65% of software projects by 2024. For a business, that means they get to enjoy faster processes, less intensive labor, and fewer risks and costs, among others. 

Benefits of Low-Code Development

  • Faster processes – Creating applications using the low-code method requires less time and effort. Hence, businesses become more able to meet deadlines and reduce the cost of specific projects. 
  • Reduced risks – Because of the reduced labor and time spent on projects, low-code development enables businesses to reduce risks in case a project does not work out as planned. The method also allows for a cheaper MVP. 
  • Improve UX features – Low-code development platforms have ready-made widgets and blocks that are already geared to provide a user-friendly interface. 

Low-Code Development Case Study

The low-code development method to application building has been explored and utilized by Schneider Electric, an energy provider. Low-code development has enabled the company to produce 60 new apps in a span of 60 months.

  1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is slowly becoming the starting point of software development projects. More and more businesses are beginning to utilize AI as it comes with a wide array of benefits, including simplifying tough decisions, enhancing service, improving quality control, and preventing risks, among others. 

Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Software Development

  • Simplifies decision-making processes – Because artificial intelligence allows businesses to foresee patterns and trends, they can better make good decisions for the benefit of the company. 
  • Enhanced services – Artificial intelligence opens the doors to an improved mode of customer service. Businesses can create AI-first software for virtual assistance or customer support purposes. 
  • Improved quality control – An analysis of trends and forecasts can help businesses foresee risks and issues that may arise in the process. Therefore, they can better conduct measures to avert risks and assure quality. 

AI-First Software Case Study

One notable company, ScienceSoft, has been utilizing artificial intelligence in their software operations. They created an AI-based app that can be used by doctors and surgeons to conduct and analyze MRI scans. This has fast-tracked the diagnosis and treatment processes. 

  1. Progressive Web Apps

These are similar to mobile phone apps, except they do not have to be downloaded and installed. They do not require any additional memory to function and do not burden computers or mobile devices’ functionality. A recent survey showed that companies are looking to develop progressive web apps and begin their efforts by 2020. 

Benefits of Progressive Web Apps 

  • Improve responsiveness – Progressive web apps have been proven to be 2-3 times faster than mobile phone apps and require fewer data and memory to function. Users also report the reduced tendency of crashing and server overloads. 
  • Universal use – Progressive web apps can be used across any device, able to adapt to screen sizes and requirements. Because of this, it also takes less time to develop them and the production is more cost-effective compared to having to develop different interfaces to suit different platforms. 

Progressive Web Apps Case Study

Forbes, a global media company, has adopted the use of progressive web apps. As a result, their website opens 4 seconds faster compared to a regular site interface. The company also found that the use of progressive web apps also increased the user session length by double. 

  1. Blockchains

Data is encrypted across computer systems in a blockchain, allowing for data safety and transparent record sharing and record keeping. This is compared to the conventional method of having a single intermediary or centralized server to store data. 

Benefits of Blockchains

  • Increased data security – Data is now more protected thanks to the encryption features of blockchains. It reduces the damage when a centralized server is hacked as the data is spread across multiple computer systems. 
  • Transparency – Businesses and their partner companies have more access to transparent data and related records. 
  • Automated contract execution – Contracts can be executed automatically once all the terms are met. There is more security in terms of protecting the dignity and terms of a contract because it cannot be tampered with or be circumvented in a blockchain. 

Blockchains Case Study

Blockchains become increasingly significant for companies who have to manage a huge bulk of inventory and reach out to numerous suppliers and networks. This is proven in Walmart’s case, which used blockchain to trace its inventory and coordinate with their suppliers in a matter of seconds. 

Software development practices and technologies are ever-growing and changing. Your ability to utilize these new innovations will put your business in a good position to drive yourself forward. 

Software Development Metrics & KPIs

The process of software development, in order to be successful, needs to be properly planned, monitored, and controlled. That’s where software development metrics and KPIs come into play. This data helps businesses, project managers, or software development teams measure the success of the project and determine quality and effectiveness. 

To ensure that your software development project yields the ideal results, you need to know what metrics and KPIs you should be looking at and paying attention to, especially if you plan on hiring a company to do your software development. 

Code Quality 

Your project’s code quality needs to be at the ideal goldilocks level — not too basic and not too complex, but just right. You need to find the perfect balance in order to prevent functionality errors and difficulties in the long run. 

There are a lot of tools available that can help you measure the core metrics for code quality. Some data you need to be looking at include: 

  • Class coupling
  • Cyclomatic complexity
  • Depth of inheritance
  • Lines of code
  • Maintainability index

Solution Availability 

Solution availability shows you how easy to use and how accessible your software is and how competent your software development team is in troubleshooting and finding solutions to issues. 

The solution availability KPIs that are crucial for you to determine and improve include:

  • Number of page unavailability instances – This measures how many times a page has failed to load. 
  • Load time – The longer it takes for a page to load, the poorer the user experience will be. Hence, your team needs to find quick solutions to improve a web page’s load time. Ideally, a page should load between 2-3 seconds. 
  • Time between failures – This is how fast a software development team can monitor failures and execute repairs. 
  • Time of repair – This is the time a team takes to repair an issue and make the software fully functional again. The time of repair should be kept at a minimum to prevent revenue loss and extensive downtime. 

Solution Security

While the speed of repair and solution building is a viable metric, you also need to consider how secure the solution adopted is. The efforts must be free of or have minimal vulnerability to ensure protection from security risks. 

Some important KPIs include:

  • Number of vulnerabilities – This measures how exposed the solution used is to security risks. To keep these numbers at bay, production should be as quick as quality assurance will allow. 
  • Number of unresolved vulnerabilities – This is how many unpatched vulnerabilities weren’t resolved after the second phase of solutions management. 
  • Severity of security risks – This is how severe the vulnerabilities neglected are and how strongly they can affect the reliability and quality of the software. More detrimental risks should be addressed as a top priority. 

Testing Quality

Every software development project must undergo tests to determine if the software is ready to be rolled out. This is the phase when teams need to pay the most attention to additional improvements and bug fixes that need to be addressed. 

The effectiveness of testing needs to be measured to ensure that the software retains its quality once it launches. To determine the testing quality, these metrics should be watched: 

  • Coverage of the test – The test should address all phases and aspects of the software. This metric shows how much of the software was actually tested. As much as possible, you want to have a high coverage percentage to ensure that every part, no matter how small, meets quality standards. 
  • UAT defects – The percentage of defects found in the user acceptance testing is a valuable metric to keep track of in order to determine how ready the software is to be rolled out. In this phase, the uncovered bugs and errors should be addressed and fixed.
  • Production defects – Before software is ready to launch, you want to make sure that 90% of the bugs and errors have been fixed during the production and post-testing phases. 

User Satisfaction

When the software has been launched, it doesn’t mean that you should stop paying attention to metrics and KPIs. After the launch is the most important phase that you need to be measuring. This is when you look at how satisfied the software end-users are with the platform. 

To measure user satisfaction, you can make use of surveys and feedback mechanisms. The results of these can help you determine what you need to improve on in the next iteration. 

Some parameters that you should include in your user satisfaction surveys are: 

  • Performance stability
  • Convenience of the user interface
  • Functionality 

Paying attention to software metrics and KPIs is important to help you measure your software development project’s success and set proper goals. These data can also be valuable as references for your next iteration and improvement procedures. 

Hidden Costs of Software Development Outsourcing

Software development outsourcing is a mandatory practice for companies who do not have adequate resources to apply technological advancements into their business. Outsourcing implies that the company will seek software development services from external sources. These services are considered necessities to the company, but they lack the in-house employees who have the capacity to perform them. 

However, software development outsourcing does not always turn out smoothly, particularly when it comes to costs. This complicated set-up can bear problems such as disorganization, transparency, technical issues, and the possibility of hidden costs. That’s why many companies opt to work with I/O Technologies for their custom software development needs. Sure, matters like liquidation are not new to companies — not even for a start-up. But it will boil down to the missing pattern of where the budget was specifically allocated.

Reasons Behind Hidden Costs of Software Development Outsourcing

Resource-Level Outsourcing

  • This is a type of outsourced operation that is managed by teams or as team augmentation. Weak Architecture – Deciding the structure of an architectural design without weighing all the necessary factors could lead to poor choices. Consequently, the team will have to rework the software development cycle and release costs out of the plan. The best solution to amend the action is to direct the design management responsibility to mature software professionals or designers who have been exposed to different experiences for such time that they have developed their skills and expertise.
  • Low-Quality Software – Every company desires a low-cost way of bringing their plans to life. Yet this is not always the case. More often than not, cheap approaches and dodging proactive activities can lead to low-quality software. For the first few weeks or months, regrets are not still realized until bug-fixing is urgently needed. Regular regression testing must always be on the list while planning for the project. 
  • Too many change requests – Clients and stakeholders of the software project all want their particular items included. Poorly managed stakeholders will pour out different recommendations and requests to the vendor. The actions will demand more costs and more budget. This is called scope creep. Since the changes are drastic, keeping track is no longer a priority. This will always lead to an explosion of costs, one which the vendor will happily charge you for. It’s essential to manage expectations with your team from the get go. 
  • Low performance of an outsource team – The outsourced team’s low performance is the fruit of ineffective remote projects, growing technical debt and scope creep, or communication gaps. Simple as it is, the issue might be overlooked. But such small things’ are reckoned from the team’s internal problems and can be a potential road block to moving to the next step of the plan. The team should have a grasp of what is ongoing, in progress, their backlogs, and goals they want to achieve. 

Process- Level Outsourcing

Outsourcing can be a self-managed operation following the respective process level.

  • Transition to another outsourcing provider – When talking about the costs, the team should look out for the hidden ones in major transitions. The costs could be pricey and overwhelming. Although this does not usually happen to most companies, it is possible. Even if the agreement and outsourcing transitions are looking good, the team should always be alert to unusual findings as the project is ongoing.

    It is best to have a physical agreement where signatures are embedded and the collaterals are all protected, including the tests, codes, descriptions, and designs. The files must be up to date and a sole repository must be given to the most trusted personnel in the company. 
  • Verifying a vendor’s competency – Your trust could mean two things to a vendor — either it will be truly honored or it’s just a form of manipulation dressed professionally. Verify your partnered companies and get to know their knack in the business. Avoid writing your signatures on papers without reading the terms. And most importantly, try to withhold sensitive software information that can be hacked anytime.

    Crush your expectations and pay attention to the real work more than what was promised or indicated in the meeting. 


Hidden costs are like software bugs. The interface issues build up into the system until it blows into bigger problems and becomes almost impossible to fix. Outsourcing is a risky move and does not guarantee any success. Avoid hidden costs by monitoring potential conflicts beforehand. 

Software Development Costs

Money fuels the overall structure of software development. To make things happen, funds need to be distributed in all the areas involved in producing a project. Investors of modern businesses are the ones who are usually exposed to complex costing considerations for a product to be realized.

While business people are willing to lay money on the table and hire a programmer, some of the stakeholders have no idea how the cost is exactly broken down. Nor are they aware of the factors that influence the total funds needed for a project. Being on top of costing allows investors to avoid unnecessary expenses, helps automate tedious tasks, and enhances complex processes.

Software development project costs can be estimated successfully when the next steps are sorted out earlier and the scope of possible solutions is considered. The overall completion time, for example, could be a good start to magnify the relevant details.

One private information technology company revealed that in 9 out of 10 situations, business owners fail to explain the business drivers behind a project during costing sessions and many times they don’t know what a software company actually does. This matter speaks volumes, especially to entrepreneurs who are familiar with software development projects. If the team lays down the variables at play in estimating the cost, it will be easier for the heads of a company and prevent unwarranted risks related to development. The specifics that influence the cost of a software development project include:

1.   Functionality

One of the software development drivers that covers the largest portion of costing is functionality. Functionality specifics will prepare the team by giving them an idea of the tasks, workload, and necessary costs.

Aside from affecting production cost, functionality considerations also raise the expenses for other areas, such as software architecture design. If the product has more features, then naturally, the cost will become higher.

2.   Project complexity

Project complexity is the all-inclusive environment where the production of software development products takes place. Here are the main factors that define project costs and complexity:

  1. Novelty – Software development needs to apply cutting-edge technologies. These include technological devices, achievements, or techniques that can bring the latest high-level developments into a software product’s system.
  2. Security matters – As security is essential in any application, the software requires special arrangements and further development efforts to create the most critical features with security at the top of the head.
  3. Uncertainty – The possibility of software development changes is part of an agile development plan. There is a tendency that a customer’s needs do not remain the same throughout the whole project period. Apps and similar software products must adapt to the complexities of its systems to provide long-term services.

3.   UI/UX design complexity

The price for UI/UX design varies depending on the volume and complexity of its functionalities, which are depicted in custom illustrations, buttons, screen transitions, and animations. Complex technologies such as 3D motion design and modeling also add weight to the cost.

4.   Data migration

Storing two different data and reshaping them from one system to fit the other come hassle-free through data migration. Data migration is a systematized approach in preparing custom scripts, making adjustments, figuring translation rules, and performing tests.

The tailored process aims to enhance the whole software development production’s efficiency, maintain an organized way of applying the necessary actions, and staying on track, even while other items might pop up.

5.   Human resources

Software development production is broad and includes a lot of tasks that need to be delegated to other staff. Developers and engineers also need the assistance of more team members to accomplish the workload.

With different skill sets, completing a successful project is possible. BA’s, architects, developers, designers, testers, and other roles that can support the whole software development production should be employed and considered in estimating the project’s cost. The hourly rates of staff members depend on the level of their experience.

6.   Software integrations

Examples of common integrations are third-party services, two or more business applications, and cutting-edge technologies such as AR./VR, AI, IoT, and blockchain. For example, Paypal is under third-party services that require very complex planning, analysis, and verification of results.

Integrations in the software require additional development efforts to pull off the necessary services. Others could be challenging to employ, but a development team has to go through all the hardships to finish the product successfully.

Make an Realistic Budget

The cost indicates how far the team and business owners can go to fulfill a software development project by a reputable software company. Considering the factors that could affect a product’s cost in financial planning will help prevent problems along the way. As money is not the only resource at stake, the staff’s effort and skill could be put to waste as well if proper actions and preparatory procedures are not applied. 

Agile Software Development Culture

The Agile culture of development arose during the IT boom at the turn of the century. Since then, companies have been applying this approach to apply a framework within their business systems. Though agile culture applies to all businesses, it is most effective in the realm of any custom business software development.

Agile software methodologies have been evolving throughout the years. Each advancement allows customers and users to enhance and modify their products in the best state possible. Moreover, the agile method is smart to be on top of modern technology systems.

Knowing the customers’ ever-changing needs is a challenge that all development teams are facing each time they try to produce a software application. With agile culture as the center point of the production environment, figuring out the current customers’ demands is a step-by-step approach that is easier and more systematized. Transforming every business team has always been the raw intention behind the birth of the agile culture.

To formalize the agile culture in a working system, it must be composed of specific sets of values and principles. Agile culture can only be applied if the team is open to change and determined to accomplish their tasks. A team could get lots of advantages from the approach when the needed cultural elements are present, whether they’re in-house or outsourced.

1.   Embracing changes

Agile culture provides a framework that has an allowance for change requests. The possibility of software development production changes is already included in the project documents from the planning stage. Embracing changes should not be implemented at the expense of functionality.

The two best solutions would be the following:

  1. Build a flexible architecture – Software engineers are advised to invest time and effort in designing an architectural structure that is easy to maneuver or transform when there are changes that need to be applied.
  2. Move-in small steps – Developers can set up an automated-testing verified CI/CD pipeline to accommodate minimal code changes. The process is a lot more risk-free compared to rush solutions to deploy multiple changes for integration.

2.   Understanding the business side

End users or customers must be thoroughly understood at all levels and must know what a software company does. The staff must be on the same page with one another to fully integrate their responsibilities with each other. Most developers solely focus on the coding scope without weighing or checking if such a task correlates with the business’s needs.

To meet halfway, the team must exercise:

  1. Updating the team – Project managers play a significant role in keeping the team on tabs through updates and active communication. They are the bridge that connects the clients, customers, on-site visits, and the team. That way, changes that need prompt action will be addressed, and objectives will be met.  
  2. Share a business perspective –  The whole point of planning sessions is to give the staff a chance to peek at the designed features from an end-user point of view. While the importance of timeframe will always be considered, the staff will be able to understand the complexity behind a project.

3.   Communicating often

The heart of an agile culture is communication. It is where a cross-collaboration of internal and external staff takes place. Ineffective communication could result in a stressful obstacle while the team is on its way to achieving development goals.

Follow these guidelines for effective touchpoint communications:

  1. Implement project management and communication tools – Helpful tools are available to supplement the working system among the staff. It helps employees avoid communication gaps and see the entire project overview.
  2. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  3. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  4. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  5. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

4.   Taking responsibility

Software development teams must generate trust within the production environment. After all, agile culture is all about accountability and conviction. You don’t want to discourage your team so use the following guidelines:

  1. Blameless practices – The team should create a safe environment where anomalies and issues are easily detected and the staff is not hesitating to report problems. Blaming one another instead of taking real action will not solve anything.
  2. Common responsibility – It is healthy to have shared ownership within respective tasks to avoid finger-pointing. Hence, agile culture serves its purpose and there is a sense of openness among the working staff.

5.   Focusing on speed without affecting the quality

Reducing deployment time is one of the greatest advantages of applying agile culture in the workplace. Keeping up the deployment pace includes:

  1. Automating testing – No matter how time-consuming automated testing is, it is still fundamental in safeguarding software quality and saving a lot of project time.
  2. Measuring code quality early on – Using code scanning tools and peer reviews, code quality can be measured early on to prevent the rise of technical growth debts. 

Develop an Agile Team

Agile culture provides a systemized way of making things more streamlined and collaborative within a software development production environment. It not only enhances the core processes, it also ignites strong synergy between the staff.

3 Principal Goals of a Software Development Team

Successful software development is possible through internal and external collaboration, a skilled and talented team, and most importantly, careful planning. Mapping out the ways to achieve the desired goals requires a solid structure that only competent and efficient associates can deliver. The key members of a team should work hand in hand for software development projects to move forward.

Engineers and developers are the two main professionals in a software development team. With their programming and engineering languages expertise, they will be the pillars in building a software product. Above all, the team needs experienced developers to ensure that the product is user-friendly and cost-effective.

To reach software development goals, a team needs staff like product designers, project managers, and business analysts. Product designers guarantee the product’s success; the project manager ensures that the team is motivated, highly performing, and follows standards; and the business analyst helps the team avoid product failures.

If the team and structure are already settled, it’s about time to start figuring out a software development project’s goals. A team could envision a long list of targets, but there are 3 principal goals you should focus on to achieve the software development company’s priorities.

1.   Maintain outstanding quality

Every project follows a timeframe to see results in a limited period, but this should not cause the team to accelerate to a point where they start sacrificing quality for speed.. If the worst-case scenario happens, the team will have to deal with technical debts rather than focusing on the development course. The best way to fight thiss is to set a firm quality standard before moving on to the actual process.

Software products must be safeguarded with the following fundamentals:

  1. Code Reviews – Complex codes are customary in developing software. The developers run automated code reviews to calculate code quality. It is a significant routine that aims to block problems and software maintenance issues that the team may encounter later on.
  2. Continuous testing – The team should initiate continuous testing to be able to spot any potential risks and make adjustments while it is early. 
  3. Agile principles fostered in the team – The market is fast-paced and continuously changing. Consequently, development teams must produce high-quality software to meet demands. Agile principles will keep the team on track and enable the staff to deliver results aligned with the standards.

2.   Meet the project requirements

Requirements are met if a team indicates a detailed product specification while staying open to flexibilities and changes of requests. The team must do the following:

  1. Prepare a full-fledged change management process – Since changes of requests are inevitable, especially if the team encounters a client who is not into one-time decision making, the business proposal must be tailored to the project roadmap. This will ensure that handling the changes will not affect the existing functionalities. Necessary aspects like the amount of work, goals, effects on the project, and time estimation should be included in the business proposal.
  2. A shared understanding among the parties is a must. In the early stages of production, the business analyst should organize on-site workshops with the team and customers’ stakeholders to tackle the finalization of the software’s concepts, architectural designs, and requirements. Through the orientation, the two parties will be ensured that they are on the same page.

3.   Deliver on time 

Whether it’s a short or long-term project, the team should respect deadlines. To meet the expected turnover time, there are certain aspects to consider:

  1. Consistent progress tracking – Recording tasks and monitoring their accomplishments helps track a project’s progress. The team can put up a velocity chart and burndown charts. In the team velocity chart, the staff will be able to scheme reasonable workloads and determine the amount of work needed to finish the task. On the other hand, burndown charts are visual presentations of how close a staff is to completing a particular task.
  2. Routine Automation – The whole team will lead the delivery channel from a DevOps perspective. Doing so will smoothen the integration of the current functionalities equipped with solutions that might be helpful in the long run.

Use the Right System

Setting the 3 Principle Goals is an effective way to maintain structure, procedure, and working system within a software development team. The course of careful planning and mindful decisions before the production starts dictates a software product’s results.

What Does a Software Development Company Do?

Let’s face it – the process of building software is a complicated job that requires in-depth knowledge of development, design, and testing. For this and other reasons, many people turn to professional custom software development companies.

But what does a software development company do, exactly?

While some companies focus on specific aspects of software development and production, others take more general approaches and are responsible for creating custom projects and providing consulting services.

Keep reading to discover more about how a software company works and what type of services you can expect from one.

What’s the Difference Between an IT and a Software Company?

Many people think IT and a software company are one and the same, but this is not true. We can understand why – every software company offers IT services, but not every IT company offers software development or coding services.

IT stands for Information Technology, and IT specialists are responsible for computers’ operation, including storing, sending, and retrieving information. Besides making sure the computers are properly working, they make sure that people know how to use devices and systems to keep a company’s tasks running smoothly and efficiently. They help departments and workers access information, automate tasks, and communicate via technology.

On the other hand, software companies create software products that help make possible communication and task automation that use computers. Software engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and programming the coded products that businesses use daily to complete their tasks and projects.

Without a software product, the IT sector would not be able to exist. Every computer, tablet, or smartphone operates on software, and without a solution in place, the company wouldn’t be able to complete the tasks.

While many different roles exist, a software company usually consists of a software designer and developer, a user-experience designer, a project manager, a graphic designer, a technical writer, a maintenance engineer, and more.

Different Types of Software Companies

Now that you know what a software company does, it’s helpful to become familiar with the different types of software companies and how they help businesses operate.

Service-Based Software Companies

Service-based software services work directly for businesses and corporations to develop custom-made software solutions, provide project teams or dedicated individuals, or deliver tech knowledge and expertise.

The benefit of working with service-based software companies is that you don’t have to worry about hiring in-house teams, paying salaries, buying software equipment, or setting up workstations. The software company takes the burden off your shoulders by setting up the consulting team and providing your business with the products and solutions you need.

When partnering with a software development company, you can access their technical experts, internal proficiency, and talents. Such companies have broad experience designing custom solutions and can assist businesses in different aspects – from software architecture to product development.

Product-Based Software Companies

Product-based software companies work on developing custom products and solutions and delivering them to individual customers or businesses. These companies invest money and time into developing custom solutions that clients then implement into their daily activities (whether for personal or business uses).

Microsoft and Google are two examples of product-based software companies. They offer unique solutions that can be customized to match a company’s specific needs.

What Is The Purpose of a Software Company?

The best way to understand the purpose of a software company and why such companies are crucial for your business’s success is to learn what they do daily.

Building software products (solutions), developing corporate systems, and delivering savvy tools are some of the most common software companies’ activities. Some also include IT consultancy as part of their services.

The primary focus of every software company is building custom-made software products and solutions. Usually, each company specializes in a different area—for example, mobile development, web development, programming, and more. Others combine all of these services, offering all-in-one solutions for businesses or specializing in unique technologies such as blockchain.

Software companies can accommodate different types of company needs, from startups and small businesses to enterprises. No matter the kind of company you are running or the business niche you are in, you can undoubtedly benefit from a software product/solution.

Why Choose I/O Technologies for Your Software Development?

Suppose you are looking for a software development company that can assist you in different areas and help make the most of IT science for business progress. In that case, there is no better than I/O Technologies.

Software development is our specialty, one of the most popular areas for customizing software products and solutions for different businesses. Our qualified team is passionate about delivering first-rate solutions that will help your company complete tasks quickly and more efficiently, eliminating errors or unwanted failures.

We are the best custom software development company on the market that can solve business problems and help brands overcome their challenges through modern technology.

Contact us today at I/O Technologies for more information about our software development services, and we’ll prove why we are the best option for your startup, small business, or corporation.

How to Hire a Programmer for a Startup

We all know how hard it can be to hire that exact person you need who can add just the right skills and energy to your team. All companies and business brands want to have a qualified team of professionals who deliver unmatched value and impeccable service. But you also want someone whose personality will click with the other team members and who can contribute to that synergy you’re seeking.

Having an outstanding team is crucial for your company’s success in the software engineering niche. The task of spotting and hiring the right programmers for the job is vital to any business’s prosperity—especially for a startup.

Hiring programmers can feel overwhelming due to the large pool of applicants to sort, given the job’s complexity, the technical experience required, the talent needed, and the prospective candidate’s ambition. However, once you find the right people, you know you will create a team of unstoppable machines to take your company to the top.

We’ve put together a few tips, tricks, and best practices to consider when hiring a programmer or even a full custom software development company for your startup business.

Five Steps to Finding the Right Programmer for Your Startup

If you follow the steps below, you’ll soon be on your way to hiring the best programmers in the field.

Step 1: Look for Talented and Skillful People

When interviewing potential candidates, give advantage to those who bring expertise, talent, and knowledge to the table. During the interview, ask them why they decided to become programmers and not settle for something else.

While it’s good to have educated and intelligent people on your team, you still need someone skillful enough to handle any problem they might confront. It would be best if you had a fast learner, a trained professional who could quickly adapt to (and help shape) your corporate culture.

Step 2: Be Real About the Challenges They Will Face in Your Startup

To find the right match for your startup, you need to reveal all your cards. That means you should be upfront with the candidates, informing them about the challenges they will face in your field.

The ideal candidate should be up to any challenge, regardless of how difficult it may sound.

Step 3: Be Flexible to New Approaches, Technologies, and Principles

In some cases, a fresh, innovative approach might improve the way you’ve been solving coding problems or completing programming tasks.

Experienced programmers can often bring cutting-edge technologies, principles, and trends in software engineering to your business, so don’t be surprised if candidates propose a new technique. In fact, you should award a bonus point to a candidate who suggests new ways of solving problems. That means they can bring creativity and innovation to your company.

Step 4: Focus on Communication Skills

Some of the best programmers in the field sometimes have trouble communicating with other team members—or with people in general. While this may not be a big problem, especially if the candidate otherwise does the job perfectly, having someone who can clearly convey information and work well with others in team projects is a must. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll have to turn down a project just because your software engineers can’t communicate well enough to work with the clients.

Step 5: Ensure That Their Programming Language Skills Are Flawless

Don’t hesitate to test the skills of your potential candidates. Most programmers should enjoy being tested, considering it’s a chance to show how good they are at coding and programming. Testing their skills is essential for you to gain a sense of their experience, creativity, and knowledge level so that you can determine which position on your team might be best for them.

Why Is it Crucial to Find Good Programmers for Your Startup?

Startups rely on the success of their first weeks or months of operation. Without the right team, you can’t expect to deliver results or amaze clients with your professional abilities. With the combined energies of the right people on your team, on the other hand, the sky is your limit! You should find no challenges or problems you can’t face or projects you can’t complete. A clever programmer—or three!—can be the difference between your startup’s success and failure.

Given the expansion of startups needing software engineers, developers, and programmers, the best talents are in high demand. It’s a competitive market, so you should have many candidates from which to choose. Rather than hiring individual job-seekers, you might also look at the alternatives and hire a consulting team.

Why Choose IO Technologies for Your Software Development?

At IO Technologies, we pride ourselves on our developers, software engineering professionals, and quality teams. You can end your search for the best programmer for your startup company here because we have the right candidates for your project at IO Technologies.

Our dedicated team of professional programmers and experienced workers will soak up every aspect of your startup’s identity, routines, and principles. With our team at IO Technologies, there will be no software development project you can’t tackle.

Allow us to support you on your journey – please call us today to discuss your needs, and we’ll provide you with more information regarding how your company can rely on our programmers and coding experts.

In House Software Development vs. Outsourcing

Outsourcing software development continues to expand as a global trend. As the demand for technology talent increases, companies are finding themselves needing expert talent that may not always be available in-house. Regardless of their industry, many companies face the same problem: Should we outsource software development or hire in-house?

The short answer is it depends. Both outsourcing and hiring in-house have their own benefits and downsides. The nature of the project will determine the best path to take, so it’s crucial to weigh your options.

Here are some of the most critical benefits and drawbacks of each approach so you can choose an option that will support your business goals best.

In-House Software Development Pros and Cons

Benefits of In-House Software Development

Engagement and cultural fit: Software developers who are permanent members of a team are more aware of the company’s business needs. They’re more dedicated to achieve better results and deliver better value.

Increased agility: An in-house team is familiar with the product, allowing them to make changes and add project features faster. They can also deal with errors and bugs more quickly.

Efficient communication: A streamlined communication process where workers work from the same office and within the same hours helps save time and avoid misunderstandings, eventually accelerating the development process.

Drawbacks of In-House Software Development

High costs: In house development can be quite costly. The final price of end products typically includes everything from office rent and overhead costs to benefits, training, and more.

Difficulty in finding skilled personnel: The high demand for tech experts makes it difficult to find and hire the right professionals in some regions of the world. Finding the right experts and assessing their skills before hiring them generates additional costs.

High staff turnover: Software developers tend to change their jobs quite often due to the ever-increasing demand for their skills. Finding a new developer for your project can slow down projects significantly.

Outsourcing Software Development Pros and Cons

Benefits of Outsourcing Software Development

Cost reduction: Outsourcing skilled developers allows you to avoid incurring all the costs of hiring and maintaining an in-house software team.

Easy scalability: Working with an outsourced team allows you to scale teams to quickly match the product’s changing needs.

Achieving the same level of flexibility with an in-house team can be a challenge. Hiring new team members can be time-consuming, and firing them could ruin your reputation and team morale.

Fast time-to-market: Outsourcing software development means you can start building your product almost right away; building an internal team, onboarding them, and setting up processes takes much more time.

Proven processes and workflows: Outsourced teams have worked with numerous clients and built plenty of applications for various sectors. They’re efficient at collaboration and use proven workflows and processes to deliver quality end products.

Top talent: Software development companies can hire top IT specialists, giving you access to unique skills and expertise.

Potential Risks of Outsourcing Software Development

Business failure: If the software company you’ve outsourced goes out of business or is forced to scale down dramatically, this could pose a risk to your project.

Low-quality code and documentation: If an outsourced team develops low-quality code and documentation, transferring the project to another group can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if the entire project has to be redone from scratch.

Communication issues: While outsourced teams are experienced at delivering optimal services regardless of their location, partnering with a software company located in a different time zone comes with the potential risk of communication problems.

Limited control over the development team: Outsourcing software development projects that carry a high business value may be risky because of the limited control over the development team.

Little motivation: Monitoring the engagement of an outsourced team can be challenging.

Summary

When deciding whether to outsource or hire in-house, it’s essential to consider the project’s budget, scope, and deadline. Having an in-house team that’s highly trained and experienced to handle any project that arises is tough. But outsourcing allows you to get the skills you need fast.

When selecting a software developer to outsource a project, ask how they handle the challenges mentioned above. A software developer should be a flexible, critical thinker. It’s also important to ask about their background, work experience, and technical expertise.

At Iotechno, we provide top-notch custom software development services for businesses. Partner with us to leverage our skills and experience to build custom software for your company. We have a diverse portfolio of successful projects and take pride in exceeding client expectations.

Three Short Case Studies

“You mean you can do that? I didn’t know you guys could handle this kind of technology.”

It’s not unusual to hear comments like this from customers and prospects of our custom software company. So today I thought I’d share three examples of how to leverage custom software to take control of your business and drive sales to the next level.

Control devices from your phone system (or PC, or web page).

door strike

Soon, our company will be moving into a new building. Since our offices will be on the 2nd floor, we installed a video doorbell next to the first-floor foyer door, so we can communicate with our visitors in the foyer. The door already has an electric door strike like the one to the right. But what would be the easiest (and least expensive) way to open the door remotely?

The former tenants used several hard-wired push buttons, which were situated in odd places that wouldn’t meet our needs. So we rerouted the wiring to a USB relay in the server room, and wrote custom code to control the relay. Now, by dialing a special extension, we’ll be able to open the door from any phone, anywhere.

Maybe you don’t need to open a door remotely. But the same techniques can be applied to controlling lights, fans, motors, heaters, bells—virtually any device controlled by a switch.

Link your website to local data.

Many companies use local desktop software systems to handle payroll, quote preparation, order entry, and invoicing. When employees can’t come to the office, but still need to access that data from outside, what can you do? Or maybe your customers prefer to check on the status of their orders without calling your office.

Link Website to Local Data

In cases like these, a custom website might be the best solution. We can build a site tailored to your needs, along with functionality to sync local data to the site. In fact, we just finished a project where field service reps enter data on I-Pads, which then synchronize via a website to the local database. With a system like this, employees (and potentially, customers) can view and update data in your office, no matter where they happen to be.

Send event-driven e-mails and text messages

E-mail and SMS notifications

Now and then, unexpected events are bound to crop up at your business. Some might rise to crisis-level. How much time and money does your company spend needlessly putting out fires that could have been prevented, had you known about the issue earlier?

Custom software can monitor your systems and send notifications to key people automatically. Here are just a few examples:

  • The number of hits on your company’s website changes dramatically.

  • Inventory levels dip below a preset threshold.

  • A brand new customer submits her first order or support request.

  • Account balances in your accounting software fluctuate in unexpected ways.

  • Key employees fail to clock in or out.

The Bottom Line

If you can envision it—and describe what you need—we can code it. Which applications could use some updating at your company? Contact us to discuss your project. There’s never a charge for the initial consultation.

How an SSL Certificate Can Boost Your Sales

If your company’s website doesn’t have a working SSL Certificate in place, it might be doing more harm than good. 

SSL certificates help you gain customers, by making visitors feel safe when they visit your website.  They’re more likely to trust you and, consequently, to do business with you. And thanks to Google, SSL certificates also have a huge impact on how high your site ranks in web searches.

SSL Padlock

You can easily tell whether a site has a valid SSL certificate. The address starts with “https” (rather than “http”). That’s what determines whether a padlock appears in the address bar before the address itself. This might not seem all that important. But that little padlock can spell the difference between landing a new customer, and losing them to your competitors. Contact our custom programming company to get your SSL certificate properly installed.

Appearances matter. Safety even more.

Cybersecurity has become an increasingly important topic in recent months, as more of your potential customers work from home due to the recent Coronavirus outbreak. More business has moved online than ever before.

In this environment, what’s the greatest challenge companies face in attracting new customers? Safety.  Ever discover that someone used your credit card number for purchases you didn’t authorize?   Stolen credit card data and identity theft are still top-of-mind concerns.  We’ve all become more suspicious when someone asks for personal data online.  Is it any wonder that over the years the average user’s trust in internet security has decreased rather than increased?

Frankly, if your web site doesn’t have a functioning SSL certificate, it sends the message that a visit to your website just isn’t worth the risk.

Give a green light for surfing your site

Which web browser do you use? Hands down, Google Chrome has quickly become the most popular browser in the world:

StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share
Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

Why does this matter? Because Chrome actively warns users when they visit any site that’s missing an SSL certificate. Most people—and I’m one of them—click away from a site that’s identified as unsafe. I’ll bet your prospective customers do, too. Appearances matter.

But are SSL certificates really worth the hassle and extra effort? After all, you and I both know that there’s no dangerous content on your site. You’re not trying to cheat or defraud anyone. But visitors don’t know that. Prospective buyers won’t stick around long enough to learn about your great products and services—unless your site has a working SSL cert in place.

How SSL protects visitor data

Remember back in grade school when you tried passing notes to your friend without getting caught by the teacher? Ever get caught, and then embarrassed by what you had written? What if you and your friend had used a secret code, so that even if someone did intercept your message, nobody could understand it? That’s the premise behind SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

When users press the Submit button on a site, any data they’ve entered passes through several computers before reaching its destination. You want to guarantee that the journey to and from your website is safe, no matter what. An SSL certificate makes this possible.

Encryption Keys

How does it do this? SSL uses a set of encryption keys—one on the web server, the other on your browser (the server sends a key to your browser when the first page loads).

Just as a safety deposit box requires two keys, so also with SSL traffic: both keys are required. Unless an eavesdropper has both encryption keys, they can’t access your valuable information. This makes sure that data encryption will shield the path between your computer and the website. So all messages exchanged with the server are secure. No one else can read them—not even those who are bent on stealing your data.

With a working SSL certificate in place, your web browser encrypts the data so that only the server can read it. This is especially important if your website collects personal data from your visitors, such as:

  • e-mail addresses
  • personal information
  • payment details
  • survey data

Thanks to SSL certificates, users can rest assured when visiting your website, submitting confidential information, answering personal questions and ultimately, buying your products and services.

SSL certificates are good for Search Engine Optimization

Taking care of your visitors’ data security will help your search engine ranking too. Google has taken a clear position about SSL certificates, advocating their wide scale adoption already back in 2017.

Today, Google assigns a higher SEO ranking to websites that have a SSL certificate. All things being equal, between two competing websites, the one with an SSL certificate will rank higher in web searches. Sites without an SSL cert won’t appear anywhere near the top of the search results.

Not all certificates are the same

Different websites need different certificates. For most sites, a standard SSL certificate will be enough. But if you have an enterprise-level site, or if your company operates in a regulated industry (finance, for example), check with someone who knows the difference. Since there are different types of SSL certificates, their cost may vary considerably.

There are different types of SSL certificates because each must meet specific requirements and has different authentication processes. Companies that issue them must go through a lengthy and complicated vetting process by a Certification Authority (CA). This vigilance extends all the way down to your web developer. Before your company can receive an SSL certificate, you (or your programmer) must verify your identity, and be able to prove that you really are who you say you are.

If you want to be sure of the type of certification that best suits your business, contact us. We’ll cover what you need to know and suggest the best solutions for you.

To sum it up

Here are just some of the benefits of installing an SSL certificate on your company website:

  • No loss of visitors: users won’t click away when their browsers display frightening messages about the trustworthiness of your website
  • Data encryption: visitor data is transferred securely
  • Identity verification: no risk of phishing
  • Higher SEO results.
  • Keep up with the times: like the milk in your refrigerator, SSL certs expire. Keeping a certificate current demonstrates that your site hasn’t been neglected.
  • Customer confidence: if visitors know they are safe, they are more likely to do business with you.

Running a successful business is challenging enough already. Don’t make things even more difficult by leaving the impression that your site is “unsafe”. An SSL certificate will go a long way toward instilling confidence that your company is one of the good ones.

Visual FoxPro Migration

Departing Fox

The time has come. Your trusty custom VFP application has served you faithfully for years. But it’s getting harder and harder to find competent VFP programmers. So your company has decided to embark on a Visual FoxPro Migration, moving to a new custom software application. Are you wondering which way to go? Well, here are three different paths that you might want to consider:

1) Upsize your FoxPro application to a Website

Migrating your VFP code to a web-based solution can be challenging. Because websites behave very differently than desktop software. But this might be a great option if your workforce works remotely. When you choose this option, your salespeople and remote workers will be able to access data from anywhere in the world. And several web development platforms are available, including ASP.NET, Node and PHP.

Desktop To Cloud

Here’s another question to consider: which database should you use? Your answer will depend on several factors. First, how much data are we talking about? Will your project require an enterprise-level solution? Or can you start with something smaller? And keep in mind that some companies have written policies about databases. Does yours prefer open-source, or commercially-developed databases? The three most popular databases our customers have chosen recently are:

  • SQL Server – a relational database server from Microsoft
  • PostgreSQL – an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) which emphasizes extensibility and SQL compliance. It has been growing in popularity over the past several years.
  • mySQL – another very popular open-source RDBMS

(If you’d like a detailed list of relational databases ranked by popularity, check out db-engines.com)

2) Migrate to C#.NET

Microsoft stands behind C#.net, its desktop platform. C#.NET offers all the user-friendly desktop features you love in your custom VFP application. Plus, it adds more cool bells and whistles than ever before. When you migrate from one desktop application to another, the form layouts and reports will look very familiar to end users. So your company won’t have to spend a lot of time retraining users.

If you go this route, we recommend migrating the VFP databases to SQL Server (or SQL Server Express). Why? Because C#.net is tightly integrated with SQL Server. Opting for a different database is possible, but might take more time to program.

3) Stagger Your VFP Migration

Migrating Visual FoxPro apps can take a lot of time and resources. And if the source code spans hundreds of thousands of lines, it might take even more time. That’s why several of our customers prefer to divide and conquer. That is, they break their project out into phases.

Phase 1 usually involves redoing the user interface so that it talks to SQL Server rather than VFP tables.   This phase includes several smaller steps, including:

  • Remapping every database transaction
  • Normalizing database tables
  • Adding primary/foreign keys
  • Adding CursorAdapters, special data classes which help make the transition to phase 2 much easier

Phase 2 often comes months–or years–later. This phase involves migrating the user interface to another platform. Often this will be C#.NET, or ASP.NET. But Node or PHP are other possibilities.

Staggering the migration over a longer time frame gives you the added advantage of staggering the cost as well.

The Upshot

The prospect of a Visual FoxPro migration can be overwhelming. Since this can be a complicated process, it often makes sense to create a Systems Design Specification which fleshes out your project in much greater detail.

If you’d like to get objective, unbiased input about your VFP migration, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to discuss your unique situation, your goals, and your timeline. And the first hour is always free.

Expand Your Business Phone System

If your office uses Asterisk PBX to handle incoming and outgoing phone calls, or if you’re planning to install Asterisk in the future, you’ve made an excellent choice!  (Asterisk is open source telephony software that offers all the functionality you’d expect from expensive business phone systems, at a very low cost). Now, maybe you’ve been perfectly happy with your PBX for years. But with Asterisk, you can expand your business phone system any time. And it can grow and change right along with the company as your needs change.

Leverage Open Architecture

For me, one of the most appealing features of Asterisk is its open architecture.  Because it’s incredibly flexible and open source, so you can expand your phone system and tailor it to how your company does business.  Here are just a few examples of how you might opt to expand the capabilities of your phone system:

  • Add an intranet web server. And then, migrate your company’s phone directory and frequently-called external numbers into an online phone directory.  This phonebook-on-steroids lets users simply type a few letters of the contact name or company into a search box.  So, once they click on the phone number, the system will dial the contact and make the connection automatically. For screenshots and more information, check out this earlier post.
  • Integrate inbound calls into your order entry software.  Any time the system recognizes the caller ID, it can bring up that customer’s record on screen before you even answer the call.
  • Blacklist known telemarketing numbers and robocalls. Now, your phone system will automatically hang up or send them to company voicemail.
  • Search call history by date, by extension, or by external number.
  • Forward calls to another extension or external number from a web interface.  So whether you’re in the office or working remotely, calls will follow you wherever you are.
  • View or listen to voicemails online.

Even more ways to expand your phone system

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Do you need to route inbound calls to different offices across the country or around the world? No problem. Or do you need your remote workforce to make and receive calls from their home office? Let’s do it.

Want to learn more about how to put your company’s phone system to work? Contact us. There’s never a charge for the initial consultation.

Why Not Migrate to MS Access?

For years, our software company has offered programming and support for Visual FoxPro. And we still do today. Some of our customers are running large VFP programs, that span millions of lines of code. But Microsoft no longer supports VFP. So people often come to us and ask to help them migrate their applications to a different platform.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is db_250x145.png

Sometimes customers ask whether we recommend Microsoft Access. In a word, “No”.
There are several reasons why…

Access comes in handy when you need to capture, manage and generate professional-looking reports. It’s relatively easy to install. If you’re into merging data, you can integrate it with Word or Excel. And if your Access application is well-written, it can handle multiple users before heavy usage and larger file sizes start bogging down its performance.

While Access is still fairly popular, it has several limitations. First, Access has been around for a long time. But it hasn’t kept up with recent features that you’ll find in other database apps. Second, there have been issues with opportunistic locking on Windows file servers, which can lead to data corruption.

Thus, Access often isn’t the best solution, even for small businesses. Here are even more reasons why we recommend other database solutions:

  • Size Limit. Any company that has more than 2GB of data will soon bump up against the upper file size limits with MS Access. If you run a large company or department, Access will almost certainly be too small to meet your needs.
  • Internet Access is Problematic. While we’ve seen a few clever attempts at making Access data available over the web, today there are better alternatives for web development.
  • User Limitations. Access works best for smaller businesses with only a few concurrent users. Any more than that, and you’ll start serious noticing performance problems as soon as multiple users try to access the database at once.
  • Design issues. While it’s true that Access databases can be created by almost anyone, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Oftentimes we encounter Access tables that could have made use of relational data structures. Instead, they’re laid out as flat files, with duplicate data fields across multiple tables. When data is updated in one table, the designer didn’t know how to handle updating related fields. Then, users scratch their heads, wondering which field is correct?
  • Can you say “Data Corruption”? It’s not unusual for us to receive frantic calls from folks who can’t get into their database any more. We can often repair the damage—but if given the choice between Access and other more reliable database applications, why entrust your mission-critical data to Access?

So, what are our options?

Fortunately, there are several great alternatives available. Here are just a few:

  1. Migrate your data to SQL Server or SQL Express, and the user interface to C#.
  2. If you want to make your data available over the web, and you’re more inclined to use open source solutions, you might consider PostgreSQL for the database and Node.js/Express for the user interface.
  3. When you need to incorporate mobile devices into the mix, there are several additional factors to consider.

This article might raise more questions for you than answers. But not to worry! We’d be happy to walk through your specific situation and recommend a solution that would work best for your company.

Five Advantages of an Online Payment Interface

Automated payment processing

How does your office handle credit card payments? Does your assistant connect up to a virtual terminal and manually key the customer’s credit card data? Did you know that most merchant service providers allow you to automate this process, so that customers can make payments online?

Here are just a few of the benefits your company can enjoy by setting up an automated payment interface with our custom programming services:

Save valuable time. No more time required to take card numbers and billing information down over the phone. This can add up to significant chunk of hours over the course of a year.

Reduce the possibility for data breaches and fraud. Years ago, before we set up an integrated payment system, my wife’s policy was to immediately walk over to the paper shredder and shred the payment data. But what if you’re not married to the person you’ve hired to handle accounts receivable? With an automated payment system, there’s no need to worry about what to do with sensitive credit card information after a payment has been made over the phone. Employees won’t be tempted to misuse credit card data, because they will never see it.

Reduce PCI compliance requirements. If your company processes credit card payments, then you’re probably familiar with the term ‘PCI DSS’ (the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).  With most automated solutions, a connection is established directly between your customer’s web browser and your payment gateway. Payment data never enters your web server. This can often lower the burden and cost of PCI compliance.

Customer convenience. When you embed a link to your payment page in your invoice and statement emails, customers know they can pay by credit card. Many will take advantage of the convenience factor. And as a result …

Get paid faster. With integrated payment processing, many customers will pay new invoices or statement balances immediately when they receive your e-mail.

If you have questions about how to set up an automated payment interface, contact us.

Asterisk Speed Dial

Wouldn’t it be great if all your contacts were readily available in a simple web page? And wouldn’t it be even better if you could simply click on their phone number, and let your phone server call your extension, then dial the contact automatically?

At our office, we have a page written in PHP that displays a list of names/ phone numbers matching whatever search string the user enters.  The phone numbers are displayed as a list of hyperlinks.  Those hyperlinks call a PHP page I’ll reference as dial4me.php (names have been changed to protect the innocent), passing the desired phone number in the query string.

Inside dial4me.php, the desired outbound phone number gets massaged (making sure the correct country code and area code are included), populating a variable called $num2dial.

The $sip_account variable is used to establish connectivity with the local extension somewhere inside our building.  It gets populated by looking up the appropriate value in a mysql table.  For example …

I also set up a special context inside extensions.conf to handle these types of calls.  There’s nothing magical about the 72x12231Nk32 extension—it’s just a random string of characters and digits that wouldn’t likely appear naturally.  (Also makes it easier to search for the relevant section in my excessively lengthy extensions.conf)

With that for an introduction, here’s the relevant snippet of code from dial4me.php:

// Asterisk eagerly searches for .call files.  We need to avoid file locking contention issues.
// So, fully populate the entire contents of the outbound .call file to a string before
// writing everything to the outbound .call file in one fell swoop.
// ——————————————————————————————–

define(‘CALL_FILE_TARGET_FOLDER’,’/var/spool/asterisk/outgoing/’);  // folder where call files
// should get dumped.  Asterisk will delete each file after processing.

define(‘CALL_FILE_TEMP_FOLDER’,’/var/www/html/tmp/’) ; // where to store call files temporarily,
// to avoid complaints from asterisk about inability to set utime or some such nonsense

        $lcOut = ‘Channel: ‘ . $sip_account . “\n”;
        $lcOut .= ‘WaitTime: 30’ . “\n”;
        $lcOut .= ‘Setvar: PHONENUMBER=’ . $num2dial . “\n”;
        $lcOut .= ‘Context: patch_me_thru’ . “\n”;
        $lcOut .= ‘Extension: 82x231Nk32 ‘ . “\n”;

       $cOutFile = ‘callnow_’ . time() . ‘.call’;
$cTmpOut = CALL_FILE_TEMP_FOLDER . $cOutFile ;
        $cFinal = CALL_FILE_TARGET_FOLDER . $cOutFile ;
        $nHand = fopen($cTmpOut,”w”) ;  // write output to tmp folder hanging off www/html

        fwrite($nHand,$lcOut);
        fclose($nHand); // write the file out to the calls folder
        chmod($cTmpOut, 0777); // change from 644 to 0777 so that asterisk doesn’t freak
// out about not being able to update the file timestamp

       chown($cTmpOut,’asterisk’); // change file owner to asterisk so we don’t see
// a meaningless message about utime
        rename($cTmpOut,$cFinal) ;
        chmod($cFinal, 0777); // change from 644 to 0777 so that asterisk doesn’t freak
// out about not being able to update the file timestamp

And here’s the relevant context from Extensions.conf:

[patch_me_thru]
; This context uses .call files generated by rd.iotechno.com.  See dial4me.php
include=>LocalExtensions
exten => 72x12231Nk32 ,1,Set(CDR(userfield)=${PHONENUMBER})
same => n,Set(CALLERID(num)=12624373239)
same => n,Dial(SIP/${PHONENUMBER}@trunk-VIout,120,mxX)
same => n,Hangup(); Clean up the local channel when we’re done with it.