Back in the days of old, before Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird, Google’s PageRank formula sifted through and served up relevant, quality content to its users helping them find what they needed quickly and efficiently. As the web has grown, and websites have become a better marketing tool than ever, the space has become competitive and black hat practices for ranking cropped up. Almighty Google developed guidelines to stop black hat SEO hackers in their tracks, enter the Penguin update.
In software and in nature, not all bugs are created equal. Thank goodness, (we’ve seen our fair share of both)! When we head out into the mountains for a weekend of camping with our families, we know that we should pack at least one canister of Off! Deep Woods. We also know that when we head back into the office on Monday morning, we need to arm our programmers with the bug protection they need.
Avoiding a “black swan” project is every organization’s plan, but actually developing successful software within the budget and scheduled timeline is easier said than done. A whopping 52.7% of software projects cost 189% of their original estimates. On top of that, the average software project is delayed beyond its predicted schedule by 33%. With stats like these, it’s no wonder custom software development projects are enough to make CEO’s cringe.
Building the home of your dreams is no easy feat. From location to style and finishing options there are tons of elements to account for all while keeping comfort, aesthetic, and price in mind. While much of the process is exciting, some of it can be downright daunting. Choosing a builder alone takes hours of research and making sure you’ve found the right one takes even longer. Based on the builder you choose, your new home can look any number of ways if not given blueprints to guide the construction team. Building a house is complex. It takes many people with varied skill sets to complete the finished product. Sounds like software development, doesn’t it?
Effective communication can solve so many day-to-day problems in business. Communication can become hindered by several things, but often it's a difference of personality. Designers and developers historically have different personalities as their work product is entirely different. Miscommunication occurs when one party can’t understand the goals or reasons behind decision making of the other. Ensuring that designs are correctly interpreted, and features are understood avoids compromise on both sides. With a little extra effort and the ability to step into the other party’s shoes, the gap between design and development can be closed.
Updating your organization’s software seems like one of those preventative things that everyone knows they should be doing, but it is often pushed to the back burner. While time is always in short supply in a startup environment and waiting 10 minutes to restart your computer doesn’t seem like a great use of time, it is. Whether you're installing an automated systems update from Windows or Apple, or connecting with your developer on improvements he’s made to your code, software maintenance should be a top priority for companies big and small. There are several negative side effects to having outdated programs. We’ll convince you that it's important by giving you five reasons to update your software.
You know that feeling when you’ve completely lost every ounce of bandwidth you have? You become known for being the person who has meetings on the way to their meetings. This feeling is the epitome of being the lone Product Owner who desperately needs their CEO to realize that it’s time to scale. Product Owners who experience this don’t work efficiently, as they are extremely burned out, making scaling up the product department unavoidable. It’s best to realize that your team needs to scale before there is a complete breakdown. Read on to get tips for recognizing when it’s time to scale.
In the last article, we established the importance of prototyping before building your product: It’s a crucial step in the product design process that allows you to validate the customer need, get feedback on the essential features that make it useful, and prepare your idea in more detail so development can begin.
You have an amazing new idea; the gears have been spinning, and you can’t wait to get started. You know it solves a real problem that many people experience, and you think it’s worth your time and investment. But do other people want to solve the problem the same way you do? Will they be as excited about your solution as you are?
If you’ve got a new product idea that requires software you’ve probably researched off-the-shelf solutions. Some popular off-the-shelf products are Pipedrive, a CRM tool, or Shopify, an ecommerce tool. Many companies find buying off-the-shelf software to be a workaround to developing a custom solution; others believe that off-the-shelf software is harder to scale, as it may not integrate well with home-grown systems. In the buy vs. build dilemma, it’s difficult to make the right choice.
So you want to be a tech entrepreneur, but you’re not a technical person? It sounds impossible, but contrary to popular belief, it can be done. This quote from Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, explains my philosophy on startup success in today’s tech world:
I personally have a deep-seated love for startups. I love the ride or die mentality that stakeholders have even when the days get long and the entire team is running on caffeine alone. I’ve worked for startups that grew to enterprise companies, startups that grew really fast and fizzled out, and startups that grew at a nice, linear rate. I’m here to tell you, it’s the steady growers who make smart moves that become enterprise companies. So what are these “smart moves” when it comes to growing a development team? I’ll give you the rundown but the jist is employing the right tools at the right time.
So you got an interview with Google. Nice work! Google, amongst other big tech companies like Amazon and Facebook take the best of the best so even getting to interview is a huge accomplishment. That said, it’s not a walk in the park for even the best engineers… While you may walk into the office super prepped and self actualized, the moment you’re asked to whiteboard with a tenured Google Product Manager you might feel a little different. Just try not to pee you pants, ok?
When you go out to eat, it is highly likely that more than one person had a hand (literally) in creating your dish. Prep chefs are the first hands on your meal–cutting vegetables, trimming meat or baking bread. Next, an expediter will call in your order once it’s received from the server to alert the cooks of what’s coming up that they’ll need to prepare. Then, line cooks or sous chefs will grab the necessary prepped ingredients, season them and take them to the flame! Once all the ingredients are cooked to perfection, the head chef will masterfully plate your meal with artistic flare and make sure your items are the correct temperature. Once it’s ready to be devoured, your server will be beckoned by the kitchen to deliver your meal. How does it taste? Amazing! It had better taste good for a $40 entree…
Every year, our US team takes at least two trips to our India-based office in Pune, Maharashtra, India. This trip has been a long-standing tradition for our CEO, Cache Merrill and has become a favorite for several other members of our US team. While the teams talk online everyday, it’s nice to get everyone together in person to talk about client projects, plans for Zibtek’s future, and to enjoy some lassi on the beach.
Retention is difficult for any organization. Good employees will always be looking for a way to advance their career and sometimes that means moving to a new company. As technology has continued to change the world we live in, it’s also changed the types of companies that software developers can work for. Back in the day, working for a tech company meant choosing from a few in only metropolitan areas, but now working for a tech company can literally mean working for a family-owned farm in the middle of nowhere. As a culture, we’ve embraced technology and use it in so many cool ways, but tech-reliant industries proliferation leads to concern for developer retention. Let the bidding wars begin.
What is .NET
To start off, WTF is .NET? .NET is a programming framework used to build web and mobile applications, created by Microsoft. Developers use frameworks to call in code without having to actually write it. Frameworks like .NET are typically used as a way to access web services, databases, and communication tools. Pretty useful, I’d say. With the insurgence of new technology coming out of Silicon Valley, some have argued that the .NET framework is old news. On the other hand, the world is full of .NET proponents who have high hopes for the framework’s future. We’ll cover the opinions of both sides and give you our take on why the bay area is still using .NET.
An Agile product owner’s four main goals are to maintain flexibility with the scope of the project, to receive team feedback or input, to always focus on continuous improvement, and finally to deliver the highest quality products. I’m Jared Cambra, one of Zibtek’s product owners. I am a California native who enjoys spending time with my family and beard growing competitions. Just kidding, but I do have a great beard. I am absolutely fanatical about technology and I love working with people too, which makes being a product owner a great job for me. I have long standing experience in customer success and Zibtek is no different. Not only do I get to work with my clients to create a killer products, I also get to work with Zibtek’s development team. I’ve learned so much from them about how to help my clients and they are always supportive of new features. The Agile methodology works great for us as a distributed development team because our priorities are always shifting. We do everything we can to make sure that we’re building the ideal product for our client. But enough about me, here is my spiel about why Agile project management is the only way to go for your next development project.
The Silicon Slopes is an area you may not know. It rests between Salt Lake City, UT and Provo, UT at the base of the Wasatch mountain range. While the name suggests that it’s a technology hub like its big brother, Silicon Valley, it’s a new breed of entrepreneurs, developers, and family-focused folk that you’ll want to know.
What does MEAN Mean?
My favorite author, Simon Sinek, writes a book called “Start with Why”. The basis of his point in starting with why is that understanding why a business functions the way it does is not based on profits but on the emotional reason for existence. Sinek argues that people don’t buy what businesses make, they instead buy why the business makes it. The what and the how are important factors too, but follow the why in Sinek’s Golden Circle.
Startup life is hard, especially in the tech space. You’ve got no money, no time, and your office is often your kitchen. The upshot is that you’ve got boat loads of passion and tons of drive to turn your groundbreaking idea into a reality. With no money and no time, startup success is easier said than done. Because you have no money, you need a cost-effective way to build your new product or app. Why not hire a software freelancer? The internet runneth over with software outsourcing hubs that will help their clients get connected with “top tech talent.” If it sounds too good to be true… it is.
Silicon Valley, the land of hopeful tech startups and prosperous tech giants like Google, Salesforce, and Apple. In recent years, there has been a major trend towards “local development” meaning onshore, and basically built in your backyard. Proponents of in-house only software development argue that the highest quality can only be found in the US, specifically in San Francisco. While some companies like Facebook, built their core product in-house, other San Francisco startups are looking for a high quality but lower cost option. The answer to this eminent need? Outsourcing.
The State of the Market
Like it or not, distributed teams are not only becoming popular, but the norm for many up and coming tech companies. In fact, as many as one in every five Americans work from home. Why this shift towards working in slippers? One word: Talent. It turns out, the best talent is not necessarily located in the same city as your company. Many early adopters of distributed software development teams have realized this fact and are not letting it stop them from having the best employees. These early adopters are no doubt companies you’ve heard of. Several of these companies are 100% remote, meaning they have no HQ, office space or communal coffee. #nopantsmeetings
With the recent creation of Ionic there’s been plenty of developers raising question as to its usefulness and how it compares overall to React Native. As a company full of developers, eager to continuously seek out new languages and technologies, we’re vetting the options.
When it comes to app development, the options are endless. You’ve got so many questions to answer; what’s your budget? Will your app be built to scale? Should you develop a native app or see what the hybrid hype is about? A good place to start is knowing what your options are for app development frameworks. We’ll give you the rundown.
Quality is important in every business and every industry all over the world. While nations are diverse in terms of how business is done, quality is imperative across the globe. As distributed teams become more popular, especially within the tech space, working with other cultures while maintaining quality product is a challenge. The key approach for outsourcers is to develop with clear objectives while tracking goals through code review. All while using the right tools to monitor progress. We’ve got four tips to help you maintain code quality while managing distributed software development teams.
You’ve heard horror stories from colleagues about offshore endeavors gone wrong. From companies who boast huge cost savings to companies who advertise “We do Englesh” there is certainly room for error. But what if you found a partner who had spent enough time in the software development saddle to work out the kinks and curate a model for offshore development that actually worked? Too good to be true, right? Wrong.
Offshore Software Development with Actual Cost Benefits
It's 2016. The global economy is as real as it ever was. Tools like Slack, Skype, HipChat, Facetime and Google Hangouts make communication with others around the world as easy as a phone call to a friend next door. 10 years ago, a lack of face to face communication was listed as one of the biggest "risks" associated with sending your software development offshore. Now that concern is almost laughable. Here are a few more former "risks" that now pose no more danger than hiring someone in house.
As the software industry has developed over the last decade, arguably the biggest change has been moving from the waterfall model to Agile. Though this is only one change, it's made a huge impact on how software is developed, trickling down effects on timelines, teams, and cost.
Standing still is never a good idea, and when it comes to software development it’s the kiss of death. Whether you’re bringing a software product or service to market or need an upgrade to your back-end databases and proprietary systems, you want your platform built with the newest, hottest tech out there. The latest thing that has all of GitHub agog. And the chances that you can find a software developer in India who truly knows how it works and can harness its power for your platform? Slim to none.
The Set it and Forget it Approach to Project Management Doesn’t Work
This article is part of a series on the problems we've identified with the traditional outsourcing model, and the ways Zibtek has set out to solve them. For more information on our unique approach to achieving high-quality, innovative software solutions that come in on-time and under budget, please contact us today.
In our last post, we told you all about our TechStars 2016 contest—an event that attracted more than 50,000 developers and 300 colleges and universities from all over India. 200 of the best coders in the bunch got a chance to really show off their skills with advanced practical tests, and three were ultimately offered full-time developer positions at Zibtek's Pune, India office.
As you might have heard, we do things a little differently here at Zibtek. We're not a fly-by-night outsourcing operator, matching barely-vetted developers with quickly-sold clients and disappearing. We build long-term relationships, with our clients and especially with our developers.
Moore's Law—the "rule" named after Intel co-founder, Gordon Moore, says that microchips effectively double their processing power every two years. This had been extrapolated to all sorts of things in the tech world: exponential growth in data creation and bandwidth usage, shrinkage in computer size, and so on. We think it’s time to add another to the list: programming languages.
Software engineering, web and mobile development, database migration, full system updates—they each have their own robust and growing body of languages, and we're constantly working to stay on top of them all. Here are just a few of the up and coming languages our team has added to their repertoire.
How to Go Global for Real Results
You've been hearing about the low prices offered by offshore software developers and outsourced web development companies for years. You've also heard the horror stories of people who decided to "save money" with offshore assistance and ended up all but destroying their companies with delays, cost overruns, bad work product, or complete failure to deliver. Given this conflicting information, it's little wonder that you're still on the fence when it comes to the idea of working with an international team of developers and software engineers.
The problems with traditional offshore development methods are legion, it's true.
The tech world loves to talk about "disruption" as this positive, forward-driving market force, but some disruptions are far less welcome than others. For many mobile app developers, the end of Parse definitely seems to fall into the "bad disruption" camp... at first glance, anyway. Developers who know how to take control of the transition could find themselves with a more robust service and lower costs, using this disruption as a chance to improve efficiency and performance. Zibtek can help.
OpenMath was an innovator in the online education space when the vertical was still in its infancy. Their open source IMathAS platform enabled online math assessment and course management for a large and growing number of students at all levels of study. Schools, instructors, and students all liked the ease of use and the accuracy of results, and things were looking good. Except for one major problem. IMathAS was outdated. Built entirely from Plain Old PHP without an established environment/framework, implementing the platform meant extra work for learning institutions—what started off as the benefit of customizability and guaranteed compatibility was becoming a drawback in an age where everyone wants a ready-to-go software package. There were also some significant security concerns, and the platform as a whole wasn't built to scale despite the clear market demand. OpenMath needed help to give IMathAS the full-package makeover it needed, and Zibtek was there to lend a hand.
You don't have to sacrifice results when you decide to utilize offshore software development or other tech needs, and you don't have to blow half your annual budget on in-house or domestic talent when the quality of the product is absolutely essential. With Zibtek, you get international talent at competitive prices along with responsive and dedicated U.S.-based management. The end result is the best of both worlds.
We've given you insights on how to successfully outsource software development on your own, and we've given you case studies from some of our clients to show you how easy (and successful) outsourcing can be when you do it with us. Now we're going to describe a bit of the Zibtek process that enables us to deliver the on-time and high quality results you need at the outsourcing prices your budget demands.
Attitudes towards labor, outsourcing, management, and responsibility are always evolving. Current legal trends are holding companies responsible for US labor forces they may not technically employ, but who produce work for them—contractors, third party employees, etc.
When you contract with a provider, you want to know what you'll be paying and what you'll be getting. It's totally understandable, and we know that a fixed-bid budget seems like a very reasonable thing for your outsourced projects. Paying on a time and materials basis can seem way too open ended, and some clients—maybe even you—think this type of compensation scheme incentivizes foot-dragging and inefficiency in the name of higher billables. When it comes to software development, though, fixed budgets are a BAD idea. here's why.
Done right, outsourcing rocks. It gives you scalable, budget-friendly deliverables on a timetable that's second to none. Done wrong, outsourcing sucks. It gives you incompatible components that cost too much at any price, on indefinite schedules that can stretch on months beyond their useful life. Bridging the cultural gap is a big part of successful outsourcing efforts. It helps clarify goals and deadlines, establishes roles and responsibilities in a way everyone understands and appreciates, and it sidesteps a host of communication and logistical issues that are easily overlooked by those who don't have the outsourcing know how. Most importantly, it keeps our offshore team focused, on task, and motivated to deliver their best work without being micromanaged.
A recent article in CIO suggests that the rapid changes in the IT space are making traditional outsourcing models unwieldy, and that organizations will need to move to shorter contracts or limit their outsourcing in order to remain more responsive. Although the IT and the development world aren't precisely aligned, a similar argument could be made that the lag created in long-term outsourcing projects could lead to development stagnation, with outsourced deliverables causing releases to be a generation or more behind. And in some outsourcing scenarios this may indeed be a problem, but this article ignores a key solution that prevents such lag altogether:
Active outsourcing management.
Zibtek is more than a simple pass-through system for outsourcing your development needs. The connections and communications practices we bring to the table are a major asset to our clients, but they're just the beginning. We also bring years of experience and expertise working with offshore developers in enterprise-level environments with time and performance-critical demands. With Zibtek, we're bringing that enterprise-level expertise to small- and medium- businesses, letting them make use of the same cost advantages and scalability that outsourced development can provide.
Whatever your worries are when it comes to outsourcing your software/app development, we've been there, and we can guarantee they all boil down to one thing.