Top Technology Stacks for Enterprise Software Development

enterprise-software

When designing enterprise software, prioritize business goals and long-term viability by choosing these business-oriented stack options.

Enterprise software has its own special set of priorities. The architecture needs to be scalable but cost-effective, secure yet user-friendly, and above all should deliver the kind of high-quality user experience that gets results.

Trying to balance business pressures with technical realities can be a challenge for even experienced developers.

What gives those experienced developers the edge is knowing the best tools for the job.

Every technology has distinct advantages and limitations; using ones whose strengths play into those enterprise priorities leads to superior software.

Here are some of the best back- and front-end technologies around for building powerful enterprise software.

Back-End Technologies

NodeJS

NodeJS is at the top of a lot of technology lists for good reason. It lets developers build with JavaScript from front to back.

Having a single language across the stack breaks down communication barriers among the team and makes for more easily maintainable software.

Built on Chrome’s v8 engine, Node features non-blocking IO.

It can handle multiple requests simultaneously, meaning apps scale better, run faster, and take up less system RAM.

The Node Package Manager (NPM) is one of Node’s biggest draws. It houses an expansive repository of packages created and tested by other developers, that’s growing every day.

Incorporating reusable JavaScript like this shortens development timelines and lets teams focus on innovating instead of reinventing the wheel at every turn.

.NET

The continued value offered by Microsoft’s .NET is a compelling argument for using mature technology over tools which are “cooler” but less tested.

This open source cross-platform development platform is used to build, deploy, and run modern Windows applications across devices and environments.

Technically, .NET has a lot to offer. It’s easy to write and maintain, which both contribute to lower development costs.

Developers have plenty of tools for building in security from the start. Plus, .NET lends itself well to horizontal scaling.

That combination of value and enterprise features is what’s kept .NET popular even as newer tools are released.

PHP

Despite being developed back in 1994, PHP is still the most common language for server-side development. About 79% of all websites use at least some PHP.

PHP’s popularity is due in part to budget concerns. It’s open source, and all features and updates are free to use.

Since it was designed specifically for the web, developers need less time to create websites with dynamic features.

Open source tools and shorter development cycles translate into a smaller upfront investment.

The other half of PHP’s appeal is ease of use. One of its core strengths is powering database-enabled websites with intuitive content management systems (CMS) that can be managed by non-technical employees.

Employees are able to update and query their own system without having to do more than a short tutorial.

Python

As of 2018 Python is the fastest-growing programming language out there. It emphasizes clarity, simplicity, and versatility, putting developers in the best position for high productivity.

The fast edit-test-debug cycle makes it useful for Rapid Application Development, too.

What’s really fueling enterprise growth is Python’s data science applications. Companies that want to stay competitive need to make the most of their data.

As a flexible, high level programming language, Python can create the machine learning tools and analytics software to help turn that data into actionable business insight.

Front End Technologies

ReactNative

In a mobile market where companies have to balance development speed, platform coverage, and budget, it’s easy to see why ReactNative is gaining ground.

It takes an innovative approach to cross-platform development by using native user interface (UI) building blocks and assembling them with React’s special brand of JavaScript.

Apps look and feel like native apps because they render like native apps.

Besides providing near-native performance, ReactNative has the same economical appeal as hybrid apps.

Developers can build one app, then tailor it to cover multiple devices with only minor changes.

Maintaining that single code base is both easier and less expensive than juggling a collection of separate native apps.

AngularJS

Angular, part of the enterprise-oriented MEAN stack, is a flexible tool for building organized mobile and web apps.

It focuses on simplicity as well as ease of testing and construction.

The newer versions come with a variety of “starter seeds” for different purposes, and there are in general a lot of ways to do the same thing.

That gives developers the flexibility to design exactly what they need. Privacy-conscious customers also like that Angular is optimized for security.

Angular is suited to CRUD client-side apps, though Single Page Apps (SPAs) are the most popular applications right now (especially those that require a lot of data retrieval).

Plus, as a Google property it’s a solid choice for projects which rely heavily on other Google technologies.

Vue.js

This JavaScript library has a narrow focus with broad impact. As its name suggests, Vue handles only the view layer of the user interface.

It’s lightweight, easy to learn and use, and integrates well with other JavaScript applications.

Vue can be used to add interactive elements to an existing project or expand a page’s functionality instead of building a whole new SPA.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are a common Vue application.

Although it isn’t a complete framework like React or Angular, it shares benefits like faster development and lower costs.

In addition, Vue’s small size and lazy loading of components gives it an edge in speed.

It’s a perfect example of a tool that does a few things well rather than dividing its focus across a huge feature set.

Building a Business-focused Stack

While these are all enterprise-friendly stack options, keep in mind that there’s no magic technology that fits every business plan.

Each project has unique priorities.

Sometimes performance is the overriding concern. Sometimes it’s more important to cover as many platforms as possible in the least amount of time.

Be sure to choose stack technology that supports the client’s business goals. It may take more consideration up front, but it’s the best way to avoid the hassle of being stuck with an ill-fitting stack.

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How to Define Stakeholders for Your Software Development Project

Stakeholders

A good discovery process is critical to software development. The requirements generated here set the stage for the entire project, laying the groundwork for success or failure.

Involving all stakeholders from the beginning is the single most impactful step developers can take- but identifying those stakeholders isn’t always easy.

Companies who rush through this phase might overlook a group whose support they need down the road. That’s why defining the stakeholders should be a deliberate process during the early stages of discovery.

What Do Stakeholders Do?

The term “stakeholder’ refers to the people or groups affected by a software development project. Stakeholders exist both within the organization and outside of it.

They may be end users, or they might simply be affected by the process. Either way they have a vested interest in the final product.

Input from stakeholders tells the company what kind of software is needed, suggesting ideas for features or problems it needs to solve.

They construct use-case diagrams and map workflows which guide the new software’s UI design. As a group they evaluate the merits of each others’ ideas, assigning an initial priority to the prospective feature list.

Stakeholders are in the best position to offer specific input on needs at their level. They know what will or won’t work within their workflows.

Plus, as representatives of their category’s interests they have a handle on any unique needs that may conflict with other stakeholders. Having that knowledge early helps developers find a compromise before serious problems arise.

Collaboration doesn’t stop after discovery, either. A more limited group of stakeholders is active during development to review prototypes and provide recurring feedback throughout the development process.

Why Are They Important?

Neglecting stakeholders is a risky proposition. First and foremost, without their input developers are working from an incomplete list of requirements. Surprise needs are bound to pop up during development.

These sudden additions cause scope creep, where the project grows past its original boundaries.

The initial time and budget requirements are forced to stretch to cover the new requirements. That isn’t always possible. It’s much more likely that some features have to be cut to meet deadlines.

Even when deadlines and budgets are satisfied, missing contributions have consequences. Lack of adoption is a serious risk. Sometimes software turns out exactly as leadership wants but isn’t used by employees.

They might already have more effective tools or find the new software doesn’t have features they wanted, or they’re just not sold on the software’s value.

Whatever the reason, their lack of enthusiasm translates into a wasted investment. This is especially true for smaller and niche groups whose needs tend to be overlooked.

There is room within development to add new requirements. However, those should come in response to ongoing feedback instead of being a band-aid for a weak discovery process.

Who Is Considered a Stakeholder?

While every development project is unique, there are some universal categories that can be used to guide stakeholder identification.

End users and beneficiaries

These are the people who will be most directly affected by the software. Their buy-in is essential. No matter how flashy or efficient software is, if end users don’t like it they won’t use it.

End users fall into three main groups:

Direct users

Those who will use the software directly are usually most concerned with how it will fit into their current workflows. They want to know that it solves a significant problem or otherwise makes their job easier.

Secondary users

Direct users interact with the software itself. Secondary users rely on the products of the software. New software needs to produce results in a format that fits into secondary users’ workflows.

Forgetting about this group can cause one problem while solving another, like suddenly generating reports in a format secondary users can’t integrate into their analytics.

Beneficiaries

These are all the people affected by the software’s products. The term encompasses a huge base of customers and vendors who focus more on results than process.

Their input should revolve around the services or information the software will provide.

Project build team 

Good software development is a balancing act between dreams and reality. End users sometimes create an unrealistic list of features and requirements.

The build team serves as the voice of reason that keeps the project within a manageable scope.

Their job is to find a way to fulfill as much of the “wish-list” as possible while meeting business goals and hitting time and budget targets.

Each member of the build team has a different focus:

  • Managers and company liaisons make final decisions about timeline, budget, and scope. They’re the ones authorized to add time or cut features.
  • Project managers shape the development process. They keep track of all the moving parts to maximize efficiency and serve as the point of contact for other stakeholders. Their primary interest is creating a solid product and leaving clients happy.
  • Developers build the software based on feedback from other stakeholders, but they’re also stakeholders in their own right. They have the technological expertise necessary to advise executives on which features are feasible and how long each would take to build.
  • Partners refers here to outside groups involved in the actual development process. They may be owners of third-party tools or a client’s business partners who need to ensure compatibility with their systems.

Authorities

Some people aren’t directly involved in the project but do have authority over it in some way. This includes legal and regulatory bodies, shareholders, and company owners.

Although they don’t have daily interaction with the software, they govern its usage. Be sure to get their input during discovery to avoid being shut down later.

Each of these categories can be further divided into internal versus external stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders are part of the client company: executives, employees, board members, and shareholders.

Their goal is to solve pressing business problems through optimized processes, increased sales, better insights, or some other measurable benefit.

External stakeholders lie outside the client company, such as customers, regulatory bodies, legal officials, and surrounding communities. They want to gain the most benefit from the project with the least risk to their own interests.

Both groups have what seem like conflicting motives, but in practice there’s a middle ground where everyone can find value. Collaboration by a diverse group of stakeholders is key to finding this middle ground.

Stakeholders-Software-Development
Source: Concepta, Inc.

Defining Stakeholders

Including every individual stakeholder in discovery would be insanely costly, both in time and resources. Fortunately, that’s not necessary.

Choosing representatives from every relevant group provides a good working picture of a project’s needs.

Look at all stages of the project from conception to actual usage to identify stakeholders.

Consider these questions when building the stakeholder list:

  • Who will use or be affected by the final product?
  • Who uses the current tool or software that the new software will replace?
  • Which departments use the products of both the current and proposed software?
  • How will workflows change? Will positions be modified or created?
  • What legal restrictions and regulations apply? Who knows enough about them to advise the development team?
  • Who has authority to make changes to the development plan once it’s finalized?
  • Are there any people whose support is absolutely vital to the project’s success? Whose buy-in is needed?

Stand-ins are often used for external stakeholders. Legal counsel can cover regulatory bodies and local government, for example, and focus groups serve as barometers of public opinion.

It’s also useful to consider who wants the project to succeed and who isn’t on board yet.

Bringing someone who’s reluctant to adopt new technology onto the stakeholder team can be a way to give them a sense of ownership that might change their mind.

Similarly, enthusiastic supporters can lend energy to a project others aren’t sure about.

Key Players for Ongoing Support

Interim progress meetings don’t need to include every stakeholder whose input is used during discovery.

Developers can gather requirements and suggestions from a larger group in the beginning, then identify key players to provide running feedback during development.

What sets key stakeholders apart? Look for those with two or more of these characteristics:

  • Will have direct contact with the final product (project managers and end users)
  • Are the senior representative of a group of important stakeholders (department heads)
  • Have unique knowledge or insight to offer which can shape development process (Subject matter experts)
  • Are so vital to success that the project can’t easily succeed without their support (executives, business partners, end users)

Think about whose input or approval is needed on an ongoing basis as opposed to those who simply want to approve the concept.

Also, keep in mind that stakeholders don’t have to show up in person to be included. For instance, agile development practices like continuous delivery open the door for gathering regular feedback from end users in the form of feature requests and reviews.

Sample Stakeholder Selection

What does stakeholder selection look like in practice?

Imagine a mid-level retailer – call them ExampleCorp – who’s working through digital transformation. ECorp wants to make their sales, marketing, and inventory data accessible by leaders throughout the company.

They decide to build a unified reporting dashboard that collects incoming analytics streams and displays them in an intuitive, easily understood format. Who are their stakeholders in this project?

ECorps starts by compiling a list of everyone whose input should be considered during discovery.

For this analytics project, they should consult:

  • Executives
  • Company liaison
  • Marketing team
  • Social media manager
  • Sales staff
  • Customer service department
  • Legal department (for advice about data protection regulations)
  • Administrative staff who currently pull reports
  • IT department who will maintain and train on the dashboard (including the database manager)
  • Company shareholders
  • Project managers
  • Development Team

Their key stakeholders, who come to progress meetings during development, are a smaller group.

The project manager, IT team, and company liaison still attend themselves. The sales, marketing, and customer service departments simply send representatives to report on how the most recent updates are being received by end users.

If a particular feature leans heavily towards a certain department more employees might want to come, but otherwise the representatives can carry concerns to the meetings instead of the entire team missing work to attend.

Final Thoughts

Effort spent during discovery translates into money saved during development. Take the time to gather input from all stakeholders and reap the benefits of a smoother, more focused development process.

Struggling with putting together your key stakeholder list? Take advantage of Concepta’s decade of experience to highlight the essential players for your next software development project. Your free consultation is waiting!

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FEMA: Modernizing Disaster Response in Texas with Real-Time Inventory Tracking

Trucking Management System

After meeting with emergency response teams from Texas and FEMA, Concepta put together a Trucking Management System to address inventory control.

Over the last 50 years Texas has experienced the most natural disasters of any US State. At least one major natural disaster is declared every year, and with such a large variety of terrain they range from hurricanes to wildfires.

The Texas government established dispersed special response stations with supplies and personnel, but transportation gets complicated fast during an emergency. They needed a better way to coordinate supplies. That better way was the Trucking Management System built by Concepta a system that has saved Texas time and money through increased efficiency.

Logistical Challenges Of The Lone Star State

Texas is the second biggest state in the US, stretching across two time zones and nearly 800 miles east to west. Even with satellite offices there’s a lot of territory to cover.

A misdirected truck could take hours to get back on track. Unfortunately, mistakes are all too common amidst disaster efforts- and made more so by an inefficient inventory control system.

The old tracking system was hard to work with at the best of times. Leaders weren’t exactly sure where supplies were after initial dispatch. Drivers weren’t able to change delivery details on the road, meaning updates were slow getting back to the command center.

Routes weren’t always consistent due to emergency conditions, so no one was completely sure where trucks were at any given moment.

As a result supplies were being sent where they weren’t needed while other stations ran low or even out of food, water, medicine, and personnel.

Trucking Management System (TMS)

The TMS provides real-time data on every shipment and all resources, including the current route of each truck. Drivers update as they deliver or pick up supplies. They can also add updates from each station as needed.

The TMS built a living picture of emergency supplies which officials at the federal, state, and local level can rely on when planning. Leaders can now redirect drivers in response to changing orders.

In the long run, they have the information necessary to better forecast what supplies will be needed and where.

National Coordination

The TMS connects to the systems of FEMA, Red Cross, Texas Health and Human Services Commission and more for seamless state-wide coverage of supply transport.

This connectivity allows for smoother inter-organizational coordination during a crisis. Because it’s already in place and familiar, incoming groups can simply log in and be on top of the situation.

Results

The new system has led to faster, more effective delivery of medicine, food, clean water, and support personnel in emergencies. Leaders state- and nation-wide have the data they need to help improve future operations. Most notably, the TMS is easy on Texas’ budget.

Millions of dollars have been saved by reducing wasted trips and duplicated supply efforts- as much as $3 million in one single two day activation.

You’ve seen what we did for them-  now find out what we can do for you! Schedule your free consultation today!

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Everything Executives Need to Know About NodeJS

nodejs-executives

NodeJS is a rising star in the enterprise software world. It’s being used by everyone from fledgeling chains to entertainment giants. For those tasked with leading software projects, though, popularity is the least important aspect of technology.

They’re more concerned with tangible benefits – what NodeJS is, why developers love it, and how it can boost their digital initiatives.

Read on for answers to the most common executive questions about NodeJS.

What is NodeJS?

NodeJS is an open source platform for developing server-side and networking applications. Written in JavaScript, it’s quick to build with and scales extremely well.

What do people actually use NodeJS for?

NodeJS may be best known as a tool for real-time applications with a large number of concurrent users, but it also sees use for:

  • Backends and servers
  • Frontends
  • Developing API
  • Microservices
  • Scripting and automation

Why do developers like NodeJS?

Being easy to work with makes a tool popular with developers, and NodeJS is both lightweight and efficient. The Javascript is written in a clear, easy to read format.

Because developers can use the same language throughout the project developers find working with teammates assigned to other areas of the stack less disruptive.

The Node Packet Manager is another major draw. With half a million NPM packages available for use, developers can find something to suit all but the most specific needs.

There’s also the fact that technical tasks that are usually difficult – for example, communicating between workers or  sharing cache state – are incredibly simple with NodeJS.

Finally, many developers just like using NodeJS. Creating performant apps can be fast, easy, and fun. There’s an active and engaged community full of peers to share ideas or coordinate with on a tough problem.

When a tool makes their job more enjoyable, developers are going to want to use it whenever possible.

How does NodeJS benefit enterprise?

When it comes to business value, NodeJS brings a lot to the table.

  • Faster development: NPM packages help reduce the amount of code that must be written from scratch. On top of that, using the same language end to end makes for a smoother, more productive development process. It’s faster than Ruby, Python, or Perl. Testing goes faster, as well.
  • Scalability: NodeJS uses non-blocking I/O. Processes aren’t held up by others that are taking too long. Instead, the system handles the next request in line while waiting for the return of the previous request. This lets apps handle thousands of concurrent connections.
  • High quality user experience: Applications built with NodeJS are fast and responsive, handling real-time updating and streaming data smoothly. They provide the kind of user experience that makes a positive impression on customers.
  • Less expensive development: Open source tools are a great way to lower development costs. The productivity offered by NodeJS pushes savings even farther; developers spend less time building the same quality app as they would with other tools. NodeJS can be hosted nearly anywhere, too.

How are companies using NodeJS now?

  • Netflix: The largest and best-known streaming media provider in the world reduced their startup time by 70% by integrating NodeJS.
  • Walmart: As their online store gained popularity, Walmart experienced problems handling the flood of requests. NodeJS’ non-blocking IO improved their ability to manage concurrent requests for a better user experience.
  • Paypal: Originally there were separate teams for browser-specific code and app layer-specific code, which caused a lot of miscommunications. Switching their backend to NodeJS meant everyone was now speaking the same language. More cohesive development allows the Paypal team to respond faster to issues.

Are there times when NodeJS should not be used?

Although it’s a powerful tool, there are times when NodeJS doesn’t fit. Using it for CPU-intensive operations basically cancels out all its benefits.

It doesn’t support multi-threaded programming, meaning it’s not the best choice for games and similar applications.

The best use cases for NodeJS are when there will be a high volume of concurrent requests and when real-time updating is key. Other benefits – low costs, smoother development – can also be found with other tools, but performance at scale is a serious advantage.

Is NodeJS the right tool for your next project? Talk through your options with one of Concepta’s development team to find out!

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Outsourcing Challenges Around The World

outsourcing-technology-talent

Outsourcing software development is a necessity for businesses who want to get ahead of the technological curve. It’s impractical for a company to create every app and tool necessary for digital transformation efforts in-house, especially not when there are firms with experienced teams ready to tackle those projects for them.

Where many stumble, however, is in choosing which development company to trust with their digital future. Too often price is seen as the most important factor.

It’s thinking like this that drives companies to outsource their software development to areas of the world with favorable exchange rates. For a growing number of businesses, that choice is leading to disaster.

That’s not to say that international outsourcing is always a bad idea. There is a real opportunity to get quality, low-cost software development overseas – as long as companies are prepared to take on the additional challenges that come along with this strategy.

Read on for a look at four popular outsourcing destinations and the unique challenges they present.

Outsourcing to India

Western companies have been drawn to Indian software developers since as early as the 1980s. There are strong benefits to outsourcing to India, though low cost is easily the biggest draw.

Low overhead allows Indian development firms to vastly undercut the standard prices of American or European firms.

The savings arise from how much stronger the US dollar is than the Indian rupee. Right now the US dollar is worth a little over 65 rupees. As a consequence hiring developers is much cheaper.

The average American software developer makes $100,080 annually, but the average Indian software developer earns around 400,000 rupee (or $6132 USD).

Price isn’t the only motivating factor for Indian outsourcing, of course. India has an enormous workforce available for hire.

Around 5 million people across the country list their profession as “software developer” or “engineer”.

Why so many? Those working in the tech industry command four times more pay than those with positions at similar levels in other fields.

The relatively high salaries drive the idea that tech careers are the surest path to a prosperous future. Many of India’s best and brightest learn to code to gain skills that make them more employable internationally.

Working with Indian developers offers options for flexible scheduling as well. The time zone difference between America and India is approximately 9 hours, depending on location.

Indian developers work the bulk of their time opposite American business hours. This is highly conducive to productivity since work will be ready for clients to review and approve when their business day begins.

Challenges of Outsourcing to India

Despite the lower price and large workforce, outsourcing to India carries some very real risks that have become more common over the last few years.

First and foremost are concerns over weak technical skills. There may be a deep pool of available developers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into the average developer being good at their job.

This is an unfortunate side effect of the disproportionately high salaries in the tech industry. Some young Indians go into software development just to get a good job or comply with family pressure.

They may have little passion for the work. That apathy leads to a lack of innovation and a desire to follow stale routines just to get the job done.

A study by Aspiring Minds, a company that evaluates employability, found that 95% of the Indian developers tested lack the most basic programming skills.

The study assessed 36,000 students from 500 colleges. Less than 5% could write the correct logic for a program, and two thirds couldn’t even write code that compiled.

A mere 1.4% could write solid, efficient code on demand. Weak skills lead to buggy, inefficient software.

Bugs might not be caught before release, either. Some Indian software developers struggle to maintain consistent quality control across the lifespan of a project because of unusually high employee turnover.

That might be surprising given how many developers are looking for work, but it makes sense considering India’s typical benefits structures. Pay starts out higher for engineers than for other fields, then stagnates quickly.

Raises aren’t common without promotions. It’s common practice to leave a position every 2-4 years for another job instead of waiting for a raise that probably won’t come.

Companies find it difficult to remain consistent and keep good quality control when their team is constantly shifting.

Outsourcing to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a hidden gem when it comes to technical talent. It’s been a territory of the United States since 1898 and falls under most federal regulations, so companies there are very experienced with following regulatory guidelines.

Work done there is protected by the same intellectual property laws American companies use.

Many Puerto Rican developers were trained at branches of American colleges, meaning their quality standards are familiar (and high).

The country is close to the American mainland, too. Travelling there to meet with potential partners is inexpensive and relatively short.

The cost of living is lower in Puerto Rico than in the United States. Developers earn around $55,000 annually compared to the American average of $101,000.

Though this isn’t as steep a difference as seen in farther countries, it’s still a considerable discount. The government compliments this with generous tax incentives for companies who outsource.

Challenges of Outsourcing to Puerto Rico

Besides the comparatively lower savings, there are some other drawbacks to using Puerto Rican companies. There are different standards for business ethics at the corporate and government level.

Companies will want to explore those before committing to be sure they’re staying in line with their own operational strategy.

It’s also worth mentioning that the country is prone to hurricanes that sometimes disrupt electrical service. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, two thirds of the country was out of power for an extended period.

It didn’t affect international business as severely as local residents since those companies often had the political pull to get their power back on sooner (or used generators and contingency locations). Still, weather remains a potential risk.

Outsourcing to Bulgaria

Located just north of Greece, Bulgaria has distinguished itself in recent years as a leader in IT outsourcing. It’s ranked first in popularity within Europe and ninth in the world for outsourcing.

Big name clients like Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and CISCO use Bulgarian software developers.

The country’s highly educated workforce is behind much of its appeal as an outsourcing partner. Over half the adult population has a college degree.

Bulgaria has an impressive 99% literacy rate with 45% of citizens speaking at least 2 languages. 85% study English and 25% speak it fluently.

Among the technical community Bulgarian software developers have an excellent reputation for their deep knowledge of programming languages.

While planning for their entry to the European Union the Bulgarian government made regulatory reforms which have standardized some business practices.

These include increased protections for data and intellectual property that were lacking in the past.

Bulgaria lies within a two hour plane journey of most major European capitals. The local cultural traditions are similar enough to their European neighbors to limit misunderstandings between American and Bulgarian companies.

Challenges of Outsourcing to Bulgaria

Bulgaria is close to Europe, but far from the United States. It’s 7 hours ahead of the Eastern Standard Time Zone, which leads to the same kind of problems with communication oversight seen in India or Asia.

Business protections have increased, but they still may be complicated to navigate. For example there is no specific regulation for the outsourcing of IT processes, including for cloud services.

Also, clients are legally liable for actions taken by their outsourcing partners, even without their knowledge. The loose guidelines for outsourcing mean contracts must be exceptionally thorough and specific.

When it comes to savings, Bulgaria is only a little cheaper than America. A Java backend developer can expect to make around $42,000 USD annually.

Wages were lower in the 90s, but the local cost of living is going up as international investment rises.

Outsourcing to Egypt

IT outsourcing is a growing field in the middle East, with Egypt as the most prominent example.

Egyptian colleges and tech schools have a strong focus on IT skills, leading to a larger talent pool than found in other countries in the area. Also, 35% of the general population speaks English.

Price is probably the biggest advantage of working with Egyptian developers. Egypt has the lowest relative cost of living in the world.

Software developers earn an average of 58,270 Egyptian Pounds (or $3,296.33 USD) annually.

Though the cost is low, quality is still good. Egypt’s wide IT talent pool is heavily skewed towards young, educated workers with international-level skills.

The combination of low price and good quality has even drawn branches of major Indian development companies to open branches there.

Challenges of Outsourcing to Egypt

The political situation in Egypt is volatile and has been for some time. That can disrupt projects. There’s also the potential hazard of becoming mired in political red tape cause by the general uncertainty.

Weak intellectual property protection is the second most pressing concern. Egypt technically has laws against IP violations but they’re not well enforced.

The country is on international watch lists for IP violations, which tend to be geared towards entertainment software and pharmaceuticals.

Worse yet, foreign companies generally lack the pull to get government intervention when there are violations.

Being in the Middle East means there are the usual disruptions due to time zones and the difficulty in overseeing operations in a timely manner. Egypt is 6 hours ahead of America, which is just enough to cause problems.

outsourcing-around-world
Source: Concepta, Inc

Impact on the Bottom Line

When all things are considered, the lower price of offshore development can be deceptive.

What seemed like a low bid quickly balloons out of control. There are many hidden costs to consider, including:

  • Travel and other costs related to vetting the developer or solving problems
  • Repairing bad code
  • Pricey schedule overruns
  • Opportunity costs from flawed products
  • High maintenance cost of complex software

As a practical note, it’s possible to use a domestic agency to ensure the project gets done within time and budget constraints.

There are several who specialize in a specific region and can serve as regular intermediaries.

This eliminates many of the risks since the actual developer wants to maintain a relationship with the domestic partner and is therefore more motivated to provide better service.

At Concepta, we use carefully screened offshore partners to keep costs low while serving as a “bridge” across the risks. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about this balance between budget and quality.

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10 Ways to Avoid Budget Overruns In Software Development

Budget Overruns-In-Software-Development

Fierce competition for clients has led to a change in the way software developers work. Rather than sending an estimate up front and billing the total cost at project’s end, they’re bidding the full amount they will charge for a project. Additional investments have to be agreed on in written change agreements.

As a result, every budget overrun cuts directly into the developer’s profits. It’s critical that executives work with their project managers to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

Towards that end, here are ten quick tips for keeping budget overruns under control.

Use Agile methodologies

Agile project management is a big reason software failure rates have begun falling for the first time in over a decade. The iterative development process allows for continual feedback and adjustment; small corrections early on have more impact than large changes later on.

Don’t skimp on the Discovery process

Extra time in discovery is the single most influential factor on a project’s success. Taking shortcuts here gives developers a handicap they may never overcome. Without taking time to see the big picture of what clients need, they can’t fully understand a project’s scope. The danger here is that developers could underbid and commit themselves to delivering more than they expected.

Be realistic about how much teams can get done in a sprint

Use historical performance information from similar projects rather than hopeful estimates. When possible use data from the actual team that would be doing the project.

Leave room for error

The most urgent goal may seem to be outbidding the direct competition, but never bid so low that it becomes impossible to deliver profitably. There are always surprises, so plan for them. Include dummy sprints in the budget and timeline to allow for unplanned changes. If they’re not needed, the client gets a pleasant surprise when their software is done early.

Use (and listen to) experienced project managers

80% of high-performing projects are led by a skilled project manager, so resist efforts by the client to trim costs by cutting the position from the budget. Listen to the project manager’s advice and experience during the budgeting phase. Empower them to keep up efficiency and morale within their team with as little micromanaging from above as possible.

Use project management software (and make sure it’s adopted throughout the team)

40% of companies don’t use project management-specific software to manage their projects. There is no reason to juggle spreadsheets and calendar apps when there are powerful, easy-to-use programs (like Basecamp) designed to keep projects orderly and on schedule.

Stay vigilant against scope creep

Don’t view scope creep as inevitable. After all, a thorough discovery process should minimize its effect. This doesn’t mean developers should refuse to make any changes at all; it’s more a reminder that the bid was calculated based on specific requirements. Agreeing to additions and changes outside the scope threatens the budget and the timeline. If a change will affect the project in a large way, go back to the customer and negotiate a change agreement to protect everyone’s interests.

Prioritize automated testing when appropriate 

Automated testing provides wider and more consistent coverage than manual testing. It allows developers to catch problems earlier, when they’re easier to fix. It isn’t applicable to every project, but it saves time and money when it is.

Utilize risk management techniques to mitigate problems as they arise 

Project managers should have both contingency and mitigation plans in place before a project starts. Contingency plans are meant to handle situations which are highly unlikely but could kill a project if they occur. Mitigation plans should minimize the effects of lesser situations which are more likely to appear.

Emphasize communications at all levels 

Communication is the key to staying on budget. There should be a continuous flow of information and feedback between clients and project managers, project managers and their teams, and project managers and senior leadership. Check in after each sprint at the very least. Having knowledge as early as it’s available puts developers in the best possible position to plan, adjust, and act.

It’s impossible to see the future, but following these guidelines lays the groundwork for being prepared to meet unexpected challenges as they arise.

At Concepta, we believe that what’s good for clients is good for developers. Projects that stay on budget can be delivered on time and at a higher quality than those that run over. To explore how much we can achieve within your company’s budget, set up a free consultation with one of our experienced representatives today!

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