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Wednesday, 19 October 2016 10:50

Off-the-Shelf Software Vs. Customized Software

                                 

     Are you torn in between off-the-shelf software and customized software? Maybe, confused which of which is the best investment for your business? or Perhaps, what would be the wisest choice in simplifying and automating your business processes? Well, these are just some of the nerve-wracking questions that a business owner may come across with.

Nowadays, growing companies are moving a step forward to conquer far more greater heights in terms of expansion and reaching a wider market sector. This initiative is evident by using aggressive market strategies to equalize the playing field between modern competitors. Hence, given such need to improve and strengthen business operations, the use of IT systems has been the trend for addressing business needs and meeting customer demands and expectations.

Undeniably, the use of software system is prevalent in the market due to its promising and effective results. Thus, how can you necessarily know what is the best way to go for your business? Should you have an off-the-shelf “readymade” software (a kind of software that is already made for a specific need HR, Accounting etc.) or a customized or “tailored” one software to match your needs (a kind software specifically designed for you, to target your business needs)?

In this dilemma, we can look at 5 different pointers to help you in making the decision.

  • Scalability & Scoping

           Off-the-Shelf software are normally limited in terms of scoping and targeting business needs in the long run. For instance, you already have an Accounting Software or a SAP System to do everything for your business, but since it’s a “readymade” type of software, you can’t easily adjust it. It may take a lot of time and effort to build another system under such. Unlike customized software the scalability and use of the software is broader. The software will adjust to your needs and it can even accommodate business growth issues and needs in the long run. Off-the-shelf software features are somehow generic and limited in terms of performance and scope.

  • System Integration & Competitive Advantage

            In terms of this criteria, off-the-shelf software are normally available in the market. Thus, most of its content and features are not editable. Just like “Microsoft Word” you can’t easily change its features if you want it to have a “PowerPoint” like, presentation within it. Just like in SAP, you cannot just integrate a feature or add additional elements on your own. It is possible but it will take a lot of time, cost and effort. Unlike, customized software most of its items are editable and dependent on the set of requirements provided by the company so the reports, information and files can be updated and be changed over time. It is anchored on what the company wants.

In terms of competitive advantage, if you want to drive away from what’s already used by a lot of companies, the best way to go is the “customized software” wherein you are flexible to make the system/software work in line with your business goals. More likely, it will deliver more appropriate results since it is rooted on your needs.

  • Saving More Time and Money

              If we are going to weigh both kinds of software, it is clear that each one is an investment for a business. Off-the-Shelf software are normally paid because of its license which may keep on increasing overtime. One good example is SAP software wherein you need to pay millions just  to have it or a part of it. Unlike customized software, the cost is also high in the beginning but its being “future-proof” can justify the cost. Why? It is because 90-100%, this type of software can handle even your future business needs. Since it is customized, any business can ensure that the software is a perfect fit for their needs. It also helps to save time because even the owner can customize and edit the software system if they want. After production, the customized software and the codes used will be given to the company to whom it is designed for. They have the exclusive right for the ownership of the software.

  • Security

       One of the most alarming issues of today is security. Protection from business threats and hacking is always a priority even in software and systems. Thus, it is a must that if you will consider off-the shelf- software, please make sure that it is licensed. Most of the cheaper version of software available in the market seemed to have predictable features and content that even hackers are already familiar with. SAP and other higher priced software are much more reliable in terms of security. But if you want a unique and mutually exclusive software and content just for you, customized software is the best way to go.

  • Support and Maintenance

As time goes by, customized software is much more advantageous to use for its maintenance cost is decreasing. Once you already have it, customized software are easy to manage and maintain. Unlike, off-the shelf software sometimes you have to renew your license or what not. Some off-the-shelf software are also easy to use and install but may be hard to maintain for its limited features, add-ons might require an additional cost.

These are just some of the pointers that can help you to decide which will work best for you and your interests. If you are having a hard time to decide, which of which, you can also compromise in between.

Some IT companies can create a software system that contains both. It is somehow a mixture of commercial/readymade software which are modified to make it fit for the requirements of a company. What is important is to choose the right people to who will develop the software. I suggest that you can read our previous blog about choosing a good and reputable software company.

At the end of the day it is normally the prerogative of the business owner if they want to have an off-the-shelf software or a customized one. But in terms of profitability and future use, customized software would be a wise investment especially for growing companies or SMEs who might have different and changing needs in the long run. Off-the-shelf software is also good but may have limited features and recommended for multinational companies.

 

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Published in Software Development

                                                                      

              New digital capabilities have changed the world and even how businesses run. Indeed, rapid advancement became an impetus to harness and utilize technology in business management and operations. Technology provided the leeway for companies to adapt and to choose from a sheer range of options available in the market. But with a lot of fishes in the sea or let us say a wide spectrum of software systems, how do you necessarily know what is the right software system for your business? or maybe, what type will actually help you to boost your company’s productivity and profitability?

Hence, there are a lot of mind-boggling questions that may come into your mind when you hear the word “software system.” A software system is just an aspect of an IT system. On a bigger scheme, an IT system is encapsulating not only the software but even the hardware aspect as well. A system includes the database, infrastructure, process, people and security.

But in this article, we will mainly talk about the software system alone. It has interconnected components working together to facilitate the flow of information and inter-process communication.

A software system is vital for business success. It helps in supporting the operations and standard procedures of an enterprise. Everything seems to be easy with the use of software system. Yes, as compared to the manual way of doing things, using an automated system is much more convenient, faster and maybe error-free. With the use of a software system, you can also plan and design a corporate and/or strategy that will coherently help you to achieve certain business goals. A software system is made up of different parts, procedures or modules which is specifically designed to address and target business problems. 

Big corporations or even Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) face a barrel of responsibilities due to the increasing number of clients and even products and services. Actually, this kind of problem is a “good” problem, because it is a testament that your business is growing and expanding! Thus, it is a must that you impose certain mechanisms on how you can deal with such changes and improve your business.

One of these mechanisms is by having a software system which can help you to make efficient operations without compromising the quality of your service and product. Voila! This is where a software system comes into play. But how can you know if it’s the right one for you?  Here are some suggestions.

  • The right software system for your business should always be anchored and customized based on your needs. Yes! your needs will define what kind of software system should you have. And your needs are very unique to your business which is different from what businesses with the similar business model have. You even have to identify the set of issues and problems that you want to address by using such.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Different kinds of software system can address your specific needs. For instance, if your problem is how to streamline your Human Resources and Payroll processes, you can go for a Human Resources Information System (HRIS). If your needs are more of managing customer inquiries and complaints, you can plan on having a Client Management Information System (CMIS). If your need is more of managing the content, you can go on having a Content Management System (CMS). If you want something that will manage your Sales funnel and the financial flow of your company, you may want to have a Sales Management System or Financial Management System. Other software systems are Inventory System, Operational System or an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System.
  • The right software system for your business should serve your purpose, interests and business goals. In other words, the software system should be purposive. It should solve your problems, address your business needs and help you achieve your corporate goals and objectives. For instance, one of your goals is to reduce the number of employees complaining about errors in their tax computation. Thus, as a solution you’ve think of acquiring a Payroll System which will yield accurate data and exhibit computing techniques to be able to achieve your goal. In this way, this can also promote productivity and time management for your employees.
  • The right software system for your business can help you in managing and documenting data. One of the special features of a software system is its capacity to store, process and manage information. Keeping track and monitoring your data is much easier with the use of a software system. Thus, the right one for your business should be able to have this feature to help you in dealing with data management problems and documentation.
  • The right software system for your business can boost your productivity and profit. Any business would want a system that would help them save more time in their operations. Yes, a software system that would complement with your business strategies is a must have. Sometimes business transactions will run smoother and faster with the use of a software system. Nowadays, even banks, offices and media establishments are using such to speed up and manage their company information. Thus, it helps in stimulating productivity and profit.
  • The right software system for your business will leverage your business towards growth. The right software system should be able to support your growth as a business. It should be able to function as tool for improving and supporting your internal and external procedures. Who knows? This software system can pave the way towards your advancement and future expansion.
  • The right software system for your business is a wise investment. If you want the right software system, you should also look for the right people who are capable of making things right for your business. You should also acquire the services of a good and reputable software company if you don’t have an in-house developer, or simply, your in-house developers are not sufficient to address your needs. For this part, our previous article located in the blog section can guide you. After all, deciding to venture with system development has always been an investment. Thus, it is important to look at the cost and the Return of Investment (ROI) that the software system can actually bring your business. It is like investing and sowing right now, then reaping the fruits in the long run. Make sure to make a wise decision, go for the best that will pay you off larger in the future.

These are just some suggestions on how you can find the right software system for your business. Even on your own you can keep on asking several business questions and unravel mechanisms on how to find the right software system for your business. Just remember that the urgency to address certain business needs is also a consideration might as well the cost of production. Go for a software system that will work best for your business!

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Published in Software Development

 

Enduring the rigorous process of System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is never that easy and it will never be!  Why? It is because it doesn’t just stop there. As a matter of fact, after the testing phase, you are still one step away into having that dream system of yours.

Do you even know what’s the last phase? Well, it’s no other than the production phase where the real challenge begins!  This stage entails the actual creation or migration of of the system from testing and staging environments based on the standards and specifications identified during the previous stages.

Relatively, this is the real deal before reaping the fruits of your labor. But how can you be sure that you are now 100% prepared to launch that system for production? Have you seen the green light telling you to go on or have you seen that red light or the red flags waving you to stop?

Given such, it is important to remember and consider some things before putting a newly developed system in production environment. Doing such things might help you to avoid poor execution and project failure.

Thus, why not try to do these things before production?

  • Identify and review all the requirements, specifications, resources, people needed before production. 

It is important that all the requirements are clearly defined and the resources are allocated before production. Conducting the testing and staging phase might have given you the idea on what are the issues that may transpire during the actual production. It can give you the edge to review and to plan ahead.

  • Verify the approach to be used and if adheres with the standards, needs and goals of the project

In software development, the model and the approach used to create the project is very vital. Thus, during the testing, the team should be able to verify if they are using the right model and approach. This should be done to avoid huge errors and too much costs during production. Hence, it is wise to know during the testing part if the mechanisms used were efficient and in line with the needs and goals of the business. During the testing, the team can also evaluate if there is still the need to do other approaches if the previous ones which were used were not effective.

  • Conduct thorough testing

Before production, it is important to conduct thorough testing, as much as possible close to the production environment. Every system has its own procedures when it comes to this stage so better follow such and do this seriously and exhaustively. This will be done to prevent and predict issues and threats that may arise during the actual production phase.

  • Fix bugs efficiently 

In creating any system, bugs are also inevitable so the QA team should be able to find the bugs efficiently. Fix and solve it with minimal time and effort. You can also strategize and focus on bugs that needs urgency and may pose bigger threat with the system that you are going to create. Be efficient, focus on issues that are important.

  • Ensure server and system security and its performance

Security is very vital especially if you are using (Software-as-a-Service) SaaS or open source codes. Thus, before production it is important to impose security measures and evaluation on the server and the system itself. This is required especially if the system will be hosted by using the Cloud. Relatively, system performance should also be evaluated at all cost during the testing so that during the production you can assure that optimal performance can be achieved. Performance risks should also be identified.

  • Simulate the testing environment and the data used for the production environment

It is very crucial to produce the same environment that you’ve used during testing including the data or the information. The very purpose of testing is to copy the production environment in order to validate if all the elements work. But before production, it is also necessary to remember that since you’ve already conducted testing, the elements that were efficient during the testing, should be simulated and copied to the production phase. The same pipeline should be used for both phases. 

  • Review the processes for every element of the project and implement Quality Control procedures

The team should be accountable for reviewing and checking every element of the project/ system. They should review every step to ensure that everything is working and every element is compatible with each other. Make sure that you are following your timeline without compromising the quality of your output. You should not put the quality at stake so make realistic deadlines and put your best foot forward.

  • Validate the system/product by running a regression cycle

The process of regression cycle is also known as the final phase to stabilize the system/product. It is presented by using a hierarchy with several branches. Normally, this has components that will make the client/customer to understand the system/product on their own perspective. This gives the team the opportunity to validate and impose some changes if it is deemed necessary. If the system passes all the tests, you can now see that green light which tells you to “Go” and proceed to the production phase.

  • Test if the system works by running a sanity test

In order to test if everything works, a sanity test is conducted. The results matter for it also evaluates if the third-party system works. It can also say if there are compatibility issues. Project success should be seen at this phase.

  • Document, Document and Document

All changes and configurations made from the test environment to the production environment as well as changes to the programs, the databases and any auxiliiary applications should be properly documented.

  • Provide and assign the right people to do the tasks

Choosing and assigning the right people for the development team is integral to attain access. Having the right people with the right skills can help you to avoid pitfalls and failure in developing a system. Just make sure that their tasks are clearly defined and they are designated properly. Sometimes due to the current trends, much more are expected for developers and the QA team. More often than not, they have to break the traditional ways and learn the contemporary methods of software development. 

These are just some of the few considerations that you need to remember before you put that newly developed system in production. These might be some ordinary guidelines for you but you’ll never know, extraordinary results might come out of these!

 

References:

TechBeacon Online Website. (September 29,2016). Retrieved from http://techbeacon.com/10-best-practices-qa-teams-deliver-quality-software-fast

 Image Source: (Freepik Online Website) http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/businessman-in-front-of-a-choice_765208.htm

 

 

 

 

 

Published in Software Development

 

 

             Across all business strata, the concept of “database” has been a crucial aspect of Systems Development. Indeed, it is tantamount to say that, nowadays, almost all business establishments are investing to venture upon it, after all the database is the lifeblood of business operations aside from Sales and Marketing. Name all of those from the big corporations, institutions, government agencies down to the Small-Medium Enterprises (SME’s).

Apparently, this is no surprising because before you drive that line towards the concept of Above-the-Line (ABL) advertising or marketing, a company needs to establish itself first and manage its own knowledge bank.

One better way to do this, is to have an organized and established database. Take note, not just a database but a good and well-structured one!

Talking About the Database

The heart of a database is the data itself. It contains all the quantitative or qualitative information about a company, its customers, their people, its services, products, sales, etc. These pieces of information are collated inside the database; which is an integral part of systems development. It serves as the content and meat of any system or application. Hence, it is indispensable to know what type of data should you use in creating a database.

Unstructured data is a set of information that lacks categorization and arrangement. One simple example would be having too many email messages with a different subject and sender. Imagine how chaotic it may appear, right? But once you categorized it into folders, your life will be much easier. This is where structured data will come into play.

Structured data is a set of information that has a fixed format and arrangement. It has a high-degree of organization and flexibility rather than the previous one. It is arranged in a manner that can easily be accessed by anyone either by order, name, location, gender etc. It follows a data model which depends on the type of business data available and how they are stored, processed and accessed. Thus, it is important to define the values first to organize your data in a database. (Webopedia, 2016). 

Companies and SME’s with a growing number of clients and employees might have been facing a lot of issues due to unstructured and cluttered data. Imagine how much information they need to compile? Or how much information that they need to collate using voluminous and multiple sources of data just to create a report?  This is the very reason why having a database became the most sought after solution for data management problems.

Knowing the Importance of a well-structured database

According to Global Industry Development Network (GIDN), a well-structured database is paramount to the success of a business. Keeping all  information into a one secured place to be accessed anytime by any business. Here are some of the top reasons why there is a need for a well-structured database.

  • Accessibility and Availability of Data

A well-structured database can make information easily accessible anytime and anywhere. Any information in a database can also be searchable due to its categorization and fixed arrangement of values. You can now eliminate the hassle of manually going through a lot of papers or multiple sources before finding the right piece of information that you need.

 

  • Sharing of Data/ Multi-User Scheme

  A well-structured database is beneficial for the sharing of data. A database is designed for processing transactions, storing these transactions and sharing data with a lot of users. Yes, it follows a multi-user mode where anyone can access the information at the same time. If you are a developer, normally structured data is done by using Structured Query Language (SQL) a programming language used in data management systems. 

  • System Performance

   A well structured database allows systems or applications accessing such information to perform much better by just going through a structure piece of source, instead of an application or system to browse several sources just to get or acquire specific values.

  • Security and Authorized Access to Information

A well-structured database is better on how it sis being controlled and managed. . User-level access mode is used to verify a number of people who can use and access the database. Security measures are also included to limit the access to some information which should not be for everyone. By having a database, you can ensure that information is stored safely and efficiently. Database Administrators are the only people allowed to change or revise the database according to their needs as well as perform the necessary optimization of these structured databases for it to perform efficiently.

  • Easier and Simpler Storage & Backup

A well- structured database requires less effort for storage and backup. It helps in preventing data loss and storing important files for monitoring and growth tracking. With the available technology right now, you can even store your database by using Cloud.

  • Analysis and Verification of Data

 A well-structured database is also important and helpful in analyzing data. Since information is structured and categorized, analyzing data won’t be that difficult. You can easily get all the figures and details that you want and turn it into a report. The database can also verify if the data is valid, you can set up some values or verification codes to test the integrity of data.

  • Time, Effort and Cost Efficient

A well structured database minimizes the effort of browsing all the locations at your library to look for some details about the client. More importantly, this is cost efficient especially if you have a daily operation where the transactions need information from a database.

These are just some of the benefits why it is viable to have a well-structured database. On a pragmatic level, having a good database is also used to complement with certain marketing strategies and business approaches. Some companies can also use this to bridge the gap between the company and its clients or even an organization and its members. This is also a reason why having a good database is becoming not only a solution but more of a necessity and business philosophy.

 

 

References:

Global Industry Development Netowork. (September 14, 2016). Importance of Structured Databases. Retrieved from http://gidn.co/news/the-importance-of-structured-databases.html

Bright Planet Online Website (September 14, 2016. Structured & Unstructured Database. Retrieved from https://brightplanet.com/2012/06/structured-vs-unstructured-data/

Webopedia Online Website. (September 14, 2016) Structured Data Retrieved from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/structured_data.html

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Published in Software Development

 

Guys who have just gotten out of college and looking to have a career in programming or simply those guys who would just want to make programming a hobby are basically in a whirlwind these days due to the presence or availability of several programming languages that they would want to decide to use. However, it is noted that most programming languages these days are becoming more general and all-purpose compared to the programming languages available decades ago. They still have their own specializations and each language has its own pros and cons.

 

Programming languages can be divided into a few basic types, though languages support general programming styles that can be applied in basically all languages.

  1. Procedural type. This is the most common programming language type. This type of language executes a sequence of statements that lead to a result. This type typically uses many variables and heavy loops.
  2. Functional type. This is a contrast of the procedural type which makes minimal or no use of stored state (or data stored in RAM) which is typically used in the procedural type. The primary focus of this type is on the return values of functions. Normally these languages are simpler in syntax which makes it easier to work on problems.
  3. Object-oriented (or OOP). OOP views everything as a collection of objects that have specific data on their own and creating external means of accessing parts of data. Think of it as several databases with several fields inside, in which OOP extracts some fields on several databases and uses it to create results.
  4. Scripting is normally used outside of any compiler-based languages but uses components of OOP.
  5. Logic programming allows programmers to make declarative statements and allow the computer to reason about the consequences of those statements.

 

To call these types is misleading. An example is that it is possible to program OOP-style in C++ or a functional type in a scripting language. In reality, all modern languages have this features and ideas from multiple languages that serve to increase the richness and usefulness of these languages.

 

So what language are you in? In order to decide, you have to decide what platform or application would you prefer doing? Are you more into mobile applications? Or into enterprise applications? Or stand-alone applications that you may want to interface to some other applications in the future?

 

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Published in Software Development

 

 

Do you have what it takes to be a developer? Welcome to the world of programming language where innumerable codes exist. Truly, being a developer is a rewarding job but I can also tell you frankly and straight in the eye that, it is not a “petiks” job.

"Petiks"

In the Filipino culture, the word “petiks” is a word used to denote an act of resting or just merely doing nothing with no pressure at all. Nowadays, people are fascinated with the idea that developers and programmers have a relaxing and high paying job. In one way or another, it can be true, but you really have to work hard for it.

If you aspire to climb that ladder of success, you can’t manage to turn that “petiks” mode on. You have to be focused, patient and determined into making that system right. You are also compelled to meet the deadline even if you have to sacrifice your own personal time and work over time. Moreover, developers are not complacent because they need to cope up with the ongoing trend just like upgrading your phone to a new operating system. Application developers need to learn the latest updates and changes as well in order to adjust with various technologies.

Learning how to program is like teaching a person how to speak a language. Imagine a child learning the alphabets and numbers. For a developer that is equivalent to teaching a person on how to do simple tags and using it to create a simple website/application/systems. Then, just like how a child use the alphabets into words and sentences, developers can now use the learned tags and syntax to start the developing process.

It seems to be simple, right? For a normal person, learning one’s language might be enough but for developers, it doesn’t even come close to be called as “pa-petiks”.  For a developer to survive and be slightly noticeable by a good company, you must be a “jack of all trades”.It means that you must have to learn as many skills and language as you can just like JAVA, PYTHON, RUBY, PHP, VB.NET, C,C++,C#, Object C and etc. Moreover, learning these things are not enough. You still have to put a lot of effort and dedication in this kind of work.

At the end of the day, developers must also have a good grasp on what, why, who, and how they will create a system. After all, no matter how hard their work is, it was all worth it! The feeling of getting a task done is truly rewarding and incomparable. Just like how smitten and giddy you are when you had that first Iphone 6s plus  with (128GB) storage on your birthday!

Developers don’t have a magic mouse that can make coding as easy as ABC. In this globally competitive world,they must be fully equipped with technical knowledge, skills and undying passion for their craft. Kudos to all the hardworking developers out there! Keep your mechanical keyboards down!

Being a developer, is never that easy and it will never be as “petiks” as you think.

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Published in Software Development

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