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All companies have IT-related issues. This is a fact. It could either be that a new application may need to interface with an existing system or that a company would just to automate or computerize a business process to enable business and operational efficiency, or just simply, to generate appropriate reports needed by management to make critical decisions in the course of the business. While large companies may have the resources like money and manpower to create such requirements, most smaller companies do not have this luxury due to limited resources. Then this is where these small companies have several options namely:

  • Just do everything manually. Forget about efficiency, and forget about accuracy.
  • Just buy a new software and let our business operations adjust based on what the software can do.
  • Outsource the creation of additional functionalities.

These options hinder the business, per se on a short to long term basis. For one, efficiency and accuracy of operations and reports are critical. The business may not be aware of revenue leaks that arise from inefficient operations or erroneous reports. Secondly, it is a “strict” rule in business that the software should adjust or handle business requirements, not the other way around. Allowing business operations to be dictated by what an application or software can do limits a business flexibility. A company cannot just say to a customer that “We cannot support what you need, because our IT systems do not support it”, is definitely wrong.

Smaller companies do not have their own internal IT team to support applications development and even management of their infrastructure. They may have a small team, but it is utilized for critical functions or core functions. The rest? They would really have to outsource them out, if they feel that specific systems functionalities are really required to support their business.

This is the issue. Because of limited resources, most small companies either hire or outsource these tasks to freelancers who definitely charge lower than those of established consultants. Since these freelancers are either newly grads, or just simply do programming as a hobby, the quality of output is questionable. No one can force a Mitsubishi Mirage to do 250 kph on Autobahn right? While not that generally speaking, freelancers do not have such skills that are acquired in building an enterprise-like application systems. Since small companies do not have that internal resources in doing quality assurance, it would be left to these developers to deliver, albeit of the quality. “As long as the system runs, and we can get what we want.”

While it is not that abhorable, tend to look at it in a bigger perspective. Who supervises them to ensure quality? What is their measurable key result areas (KRAs)? How do they code things? Are they following coding standards? Who does the software maintenance? Are they documenting everything? What will happen if they suddenly leave while in the middle of the project? And what if they suddenly leave after the project?

This is where outsourcing everything to a reputable software outsourcing company comes into play. Sure, costs could be higher, but for an outsourcing company doing such outsourced work, quality is the most important. Outsourced development companies work closely with the customers to ensure that all current and future requirements are factored. Quality Assurance Testing is important prior to turn-over and everything follows a strict coding standard to ensure continuity. Everything is also documented so that after the project turn-over, any maintenance work that needs to be done can be properly followed. Not only that, small companies who outsource their software development requirements have that key result areas that are properly defined, wherein project plans are properly laid out prior to the start of each activity. Outsourcing companies also provide maintenance services to ensure that the software developed are properly fixed as soon as possible, patches are immediately done and new modules can be added based on business requirements ensuring continuity of operations for the small business. 

Although it is really hard to quantify the costs involved between outsourcing software development to freelanced individuals and outsourcing companies specializing in software development on a face value basis (amount vs. Amount, apples to apples comparison), the long term effect of outsourcing these services to a reputable software development company can be paid of in such a reasonable time. Quality control failures effect business operations that result in loss of revenue and reputation and this has an immediate effect on the business. Sadly individuals or freelancers cannot deliver such quality results. It would be better if everything can be outsourced to an institution compared to individuals for proper protection. Continuity of the project as well as maintenance activities are guaranteed even though people from the outsourcing companies leave. Imagine what it would do if a small company is working with an individual or a freelancer and he or she leaves. Then everything will go to waste.

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Published in Software Development

 

Most companies these days would claim that they are “reputable” enough to handle your software development needs. But what does the term reputable mean?

The word reputable is variable. The term reputable comes from the root word “reputation”, which means, a belief that someone or something has that particular habit or characteristic. In all honest terms, every company, institution or individual have their own reputation. An individual may be reputed to as “industrious or hardworking” even though no one has ever worked with that individual. A company may be reputed as “dynamic or customer-centric”, even though no one has ever engaged this company into business.

In the world of software development, reputation varies. Some companies are reputed to be “expensive” or “delivers high quality outputs.” But would these be enough for small to medium enterprises? It would depend on how these companies view as such, but let us discuss here the characteristics of a “good-reputationed” software development company.

  1. A Good Software Company Must Have An Extensive Record of Delivered Solutions

            It would be easy to create an off-the-shelf timekeeping system and it would be easy to create an off-the-shelf accounting system, but timekeeping and accounting are just slices off the pie in a business environment. What sets good software development companies apart are its extensive experience in delivering solutions for various industries, supporting various business processes. It should not be limited in delivering specific off-the-shelf solutions for the software development processes require extensive experience in the areas of all business aspects.

  1. A Good Software Company Must First Listen, and listen and listen, and listen.

Each business has its own specific process that sets it apart from its competition. If a software company does not listen to what you specifically need then how can they deliver what you need? “I need this automated solution, but I really do not have that much money to pay for it.”

 Software development companies who hear these lines go out as soon as they can. But good software companies would try to work out a solution with you. Flexible payment terms? It can always be done, for the good of the client. Of course, business is business, but would the clients deserve more? 

  1. A Good Software Company Focus On Quality

Some software companies go in, install, configure and leave, leaving the clients hanging. A good software company listens, listens even more, understands your business, understands your problems, installs, configures and stays with you until such time that you are running perfectly. Of course, it comes with a bit of cost, but quality and perfection always comes with costs.

  1. A Good Software Company Supports

 Some software companies, again, go in, install, configure and leave. After sometime, your business processes requires change and no one knows on how the software installed can fit into the business process. Some companies throw the software to the garbage, but good companies make sure that they are there to make the software adjust to your business. This makes sure that good return of investments are realized by the client.

  1. Good Software Companies See the Big Picture

Need to link your existing systems to another systems in the future? Some companies do not realize that their deliverables may require interface to new or existing systems in the future leaving a thick wall on their software products so that it can’t be linked to other systems or software in the future.

Need to put up that system into the Internet? Some companies would just say, they cannot, but good companies have designed their products so that it can support everything.

  1. Lastly, Good software companies are customer-centric and deliver quality results. 

Who would want to work with companies who do not listen to what their customers need and just shove down their products to the throat of their clients so that they can make the sale, get paid and go? Again, good software companies exist because they value what their customers need, not just on the revenues that they are about to make. Sudden adjustments into the software? Good software companies knows that. It would be ok to make adjustments, just as long as the software fits into the users requirements. Good software companies work closely with the clients and communicate well so that even the smallest detail of issues can be ironed out.

Have you experienced a software that you installed in your smart phone that after installation, the phone does not work as normal as before? Then after installing, you call up their support, but no one can help you? It’s quality. Good software companies ensure that their products would work and commits that these products can still be improved, making them work better.

These characteristics are vital. It’s not just about reputation. Sure, good software companies may charge higher, but then again, quality may come at a higher price and that higher price would be going back to your business in the future. Cheaper companies may charge low, but would be leaving you as soon as they are paid leaving their customers hanging and may decide just not to use the software, throwing investments to the bin. Good software companies are there to support you in your every little need, and are there to support you in your pain and victories.

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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

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