Our new website is buzzing with a bee-utiful, fresh design.

You may have noticed that our new branding incorporates bees and honeycomb-evoking hexagons, with an emphasis on the color green.

Bees—and the honeycombs they create—have a hidden meaning within Taazaa’s new brand identity.

You’re probably guessing that it means we’re “busy as a bee,” and yes, that’s part of it.

But that’s far from the full story.

It Starts with the Hexagon

Before I tell you about the bees, let me reveal something about the honeycombs they build.

Back in the 18th century, Charles Darwin noted that the honeycomb is “absolutely perfect in economizing labor and wax.” Darwin realized that the hexagonal construction of honeycombs is the most efficient use of beeswax.

Like the construction of this honeycomb, custom software development requires efficiency

Beeswax takes a lot of energy to produce, so it’s critical to the health of the hive to make a little go a long way. Hence, the hexagon.

And as Philip Ball explains in his article, “Why Nature Prefers Hexagons,” the shape is incredibly efficient:

“If you want to pack together cells that are identical in shape and size so that they fill all of a flat plane, only three regular shapes (with all sides and angles identical) will work: equilateral triangles, squares, and hexagons. Of these, hexagonal cells require the least total length of wall, compared with triangles or squares of the same area.”

We chose hexagons as a brand element to represent efficiency and economy—the foundation of every great software solution Taazaa creates for our customers.

Our agile teams work iteratively to reduce risk, keep costs down, and rapidly deliver custom software meets or exceeds your goals.

In other words, our efficiency and economy help you succeed faster.  

But hexagons represent something else, too: “evidence of a fundamental creativity and artistry in the natural world,” to quote Ball.

Our creativity and design-led thinking results in fresh solutions to your problems, and our technical artistry makes those solutions clean, functional, and easy to use.

Efficiency, economy, creativity, artistry—all symbolized by the hexagon, and all fundamental aspects of every software solution Taazaa creates.

We’re More than Busy Bees

Bees serve as a reminder to be productive every day, but they are so much more than that.

It’s become increasingly clear that bees play a critical role in creating and preserving the world’s food supply. A third of the world’s food production depends on bees!

It’s just one of the many ways bees give back to the world—and therefore represent one of Taazaa’s core values.

We seek to give back to the world by making people’s lives easier with every software solution we create.

And we believe great software should be more accessible to the people who need it.

To those ends, Taazaa’s hive of more than 170 employees works as a unified community, dedicated to serving our clients with humility, empathy, and dedication.

And like the bees, we do our work with good cheer, humming happily all the while.

We’re Fresh, Green, and Growing

The final element of our new brand identity is the color green, which represents Taazaa in a few different ways.

Green means fresh, and at Taazaa, that reflects our fresh thinking, fresh designs, fresh solutions to your business needs. Think new and organic, not canned. Fresh-made is the best way to tailor software to fully meet your exact needs. (Fun fact: “taazaa” means “fresh.”)

Green also represents growth—both yours and ours. We deliver solutions that help you grow your business by fulfilling a need, automating a process, or removing an impediment. As we help you grow, we’re growing, too—learning the latest technologies, adding new experts to our hive, and expanding the scope of our services.

And green means go. We help you go forward, go faster, go further, and go higher. Give us the green light and we’ll design and build secure, high-quality digital solutions that propel your business forward.

Fly Around Our New Site

We hope you’ll take a spin through our new website and see how these new design elements truly represent us.

And if you have a fresh idea for an app or need our custom software development services, give us a buzz!

The thriving Low-Code/No-Code space has become an amazingly disruptive movement in the enterprise digital world. Gartner predicts that more than half of small-to-medium-sized companies and large enterprises will have implemented Low-Code app development platforms by 2023. The disruption is hugely associated with the need for citizen developers and professional developers to quickly build applications without writing endless lines of code.

In reality, traditional software development is often slow and expensive. It’s also complex and requires hiring additional technical resources. Low-Code/No-Code platforms are addressing some parts of this complicated process, allowing enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation.

At a glance, it’s easy to confuse Low-Code and No-Code. But the main difference is the type of individuals utilizing these modern platforms to build more advanced applications.

In the No-Code environment are the “citizen developers” – users who can build applications to facilitate the processes of business operations using development guidelines of IT.

The Low-Code space, on the other hand, focuses on professional developers who streamline and simplify their work to deliver high-class applications with little or no coding.

Now that we have gotten the confusion out of the way, let’s look at what Low-Code/No-Code platforms have to offer in terms of how it works, advantages and disadvantages, and when to use a Low-Code/No-Code platforms. We will also highlight some of the top Low-Code/No-Code vendors in the market.

What is Low-Code/No-Code?

Both Low-Code and No-Code development platforms are built with the same thing in mind: speed. These visual software development environments allow citizen developers and enterprise developers to drag and drop applications, connect them, and create mobile or web apps in real-time.

The Low-Code software development approach enables users to design and build apps fast without having to write massive lines of code. The method utilizes visual interfaces with simple logic and drag-and-drop features rather than extensive coding languages to build apps. Low-Code enables professional developers and programmers to skip hand-coding, speed up the app development process, and shift their efforts away from time-consuming programming tasks to more complex and unique tasks that have greater value to the organization.

According to Gartner, Low-Code will be responsible for more than 65 percent of application development by 2024. Forrester’s report further shows that the Low-Code market will likely hit an annual growth rate of 40 percent, with the spending expected to hit $21.2 billion by 2022.

Slightly different, No-Code development allows non-technical users to build software applications using drag-and-drop functionalities in a visual setting with little or no prior coding experience and programming language skills. These citizen developers can easily build, test, and deploy business apps, provided that the tools used align with these commodity functions and capabilities.

Appealing to a lot of industries, Low-Code/No-Code environments are witnessing a speedy adoption because of three critical factors: you don’t need any developer’s skills, it’s cost-effective, and the potentials for growth are unlimited.

Why Low-Code/No-Code?

Low-Code/No-Code platforms are like the megastars of application development, utilizing small components to build many large structures easily. The best part is that these components are intuitive, users can make changes without tampering with the rest of the solution under construction, and projects of a large scale can be completed quickly.

Businesses and organizations alike have decided to dump the traditional application development process, and are continuously implementing a Low-Code/No-Code approach to handle their app development needs. The main advantages of implementing these application development approaches lie in the speed, simplicity, and agility they deliver.

Understanding how to build apps with the help of a Low-Code/No-Code platform is easier, thanks to the intuitive drag and drop features. Every development stage is simpler and fewer resources are required. The apps created on these platforms are easy to customize based on the user or business needs.

Low-Code/No-Code platforms also speed up the software development process. Because the platform involves automatic generation and deployment of code, there is less risk of error during the coding process, which eliminates the lengthy steps of each development phase, as seen in the traditional methods.

Low-Code/No-Code app development are agile, which means that changes can be made after the planning stage. Since they utilize smaller components to construct large structures, it’s easy to separate these components and recycle them if any changes are needed throughout the development process. This gives way for a more flexible application development process.

Evolution of Low-Code/No-Code

Although the concept of Low-Code/No-Code app development came to light in 2014, its roots go back to the 1990s where rapid application development (RAD) tools such as Excel, Microsoft Access, and Lotus Notes put some form of development-based capabilities in front of business users. The only problem with these tools is that they required users to have enough understanding and experience with business apps and their development environments to create apps.

In contrast, Low-Code/No-Code options make the application development process smoother with drag-and-drop functionalities, visual models, automatic code generation, and business process maps, allowing users with minimal or no coding knowledge to build business apps. Applications produced by Low-Code/No-Code platforms are robust enough to be used by multiple departments and throughout the entire organization. Other external users such as business partners and customers can also use these platforms. They shorten the learning curve and make app development more quick, simple, effortless, and accessible.

Most importantly, these platforms allow users to deploy apps once across all devices. Application creators do not need to know much about coding, traditional programming languages, and form of development work that may be required to build the platform’s configurable components.

How Do Low-Code and No-Code Platforms Work?

Traditional app development requires programmers to have in-depth knowledge of coding, deployment process, development environments, and testing protocols to create functioning business apps.

Low-Code/No-Code platforms compress all that work behind the scenes. They help you select visuals and connect reusable elements through drag-and-drop features and link them together to create the required computerized workflow.

Low-Code platforms are a good choice for developing standalone mobile and web applications that are most likely to require integration with other systems and data sources. They can be used for most app development processes except the highly complex, mission-critical systems that require integration with multiple backends and external data sources.

No-Code platforms are often used by businesses that aim to digitize various processes using cloud-based mobile apps. They are commonly used for front-end use cases. They can accelerate the software development process by reducing the time, budget, and app development capital resources. By combining a wide variety of drag and drop functionalities and tried and tested templates, No-Code platforms can help add layers of user functionality to a wide variety of business systems.

The impressive feature about Low-Code/No-Code platforms is that they have components that allow users to experiment, test, and deploy apps in the software development lifecycle.

Benefits of Low-Code/No-Code

Whether its business users creating apps themselves or shortening the software development process for developers by automating manual processes, Low-Code/No-Code platforms make it easier to create flexible apps for certain tasks.

Here are the most valuable benefits of low-code and no-code options.

Empowers Non-IT Professionals

Low-Code/No-Code development has given way to a new class of developers: The citizen developer, a non-IT professional creating business apps based on their knowledge of the company’s or customer’s needs. Using codeless tools, citizen developers can turn that knowledge into applications that help solve customers’ pain points. These tools put more problem-solving capabilities into the hands of non-technical professionals, to help build the application demanded by your customers and overall IT teams.

Increased Speed

Of all the benefits of Low-Code/No-Code developments, the ability to speed up the process of application development and delivery is the most important one. This significantly reduces the development time and delivers apps faster.

Low-Code/No-Code platforms utilize drag-and-drop functionality, pre-built templates, and models for business processes to enable the quick development of full-stack, cross-platform applications. The easy-to-implement connectors and APIs integrate seamlessly with other tools that developers use, eliminating many time-consuming learning, deployment, and operations processes.

Business Agility

Business agility enables enterprises to adapt to the ever-changing digital world using innovative, digital solutions that solve pressing business problems.

Since Low-Code/No-Code development features drag-and-drop functionalities built visually with pre-built modules, it means that apps are developed faster – with little to no coding. One study shows that 72 percent of Low-Code developers build apps in three months, compared to six months or more to develop the same apps using traditional development. Testing is done automatically which further cuts down development time.

Since Low-Code and No-Code options are highly extensible, they allow direct integration with major vendors and some legacy systems. This increases the time to integrate and deploy new tools and technologies, thus helping enterprises stay ahead of consumer demands and market trends.

Greater Productivity

By increasing the use of automation and streamlining the software development process, IT teams aren’t overloaded with endless requests from other departments in the organization. What used to take weeks or months can be reduced to days or even hours. Development teams can utilize these platforms to create apps faster and then make improvements to deliver even more value to the business.

Low-Code/No-Code Challenges

While many businesses have embraced Low-Code/No-Code platforms to rapidly develop new business apps, they also have to contend with the challenges that these platforms generate.

Here are the main challenges facing Low-Code/No-Code platforms.

Lack of Visibility

Since Low-Code/No-Code tools are relatively cost-friendly, it can be difficult for enterprises to keep track of what their employees are building. If an employee creates an app using an installed app development tool on the desktop, it doesn’t have visibility to the IT process.

The lack of visibility for businesses could mean that there’s no oversight and accountability to the data being generated, used, or even exposed inappropriately in apps.

Vendor Lock-In

One of the biggest fears surrounding Low-Code/No-Code platforms is vendor lock-in. Some vendors generate clean, standard code that works anywhere. These are simple to maintain within and outside the platform. Other vendors lock you in such a way that they generate intricate code that’s nearly impossible to maintain outside of the platform.

In other cases, the code and security control that Low-Code/No-Code platforms vendors put in place may not be visible to an enterprise and it’s hard to edit or move your applications to a different platform once you stop using the tool.

Moving to Low-Code/No-Code development options that don’t have this kind of transparency takes away some level of control from security teams. Ensure you understand the vendor’s policies before using a tool and find out whether or not you can be able to maintain applications outside of the platform.

Top 5 Low-Code/No-Code Platforms

Low-Code/No-Code platforms have notable capabilities and approach to support the app development lifecycle. While some focus on rapid, simplified development, others go a step further to offer different experiences as well as integrated capabilities that allow citizen developers and professional developers to collaborate on application development.

Here are the top Low-Code/No-Code platforms in the market that enable application development, extensions, integration, deployment, and testing.

Salesforce

For the longest time, Salesforce has been building and presenting new platforms targeted solely to users who aren’t tech-savvy. The platform now includes a range of exceptional tools designed to help businesses and organizations alike in their application development process. These tools include Salesforce Lightning, Salesforce App Cloud Platform, and Force.com.

Salesforce Lightning provides business users with an intuitive platform and Pro-Code tools such as Lightning Flow, SalesforceDX, App Builder, and more to help them create mobile apps with advanced security. These tools allow you to use any programming language to build apps. It also provides features such as AI and IoT and integration with Salesforce and other programs to accelerate the production process.

Microsoft Power Apps

PowerApps by Microsoft is a Low-Code/No-Code platform that allows users to build applications instantly using pre-built templates. It’s among the most robust development platform that is well integrated with a range of Microsoft products and work with enterprise data stored in the primary data center or on-premise or online data sources such as Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Dynamic 365, and more.

Skilled developers can create more modern apps with the help of advanced Azure functions, workflow extensions, and plug-ins. Developers can also leverage the tools on Power Apps to build custom connectors and integrate with other data systems using webhooks and virtual entities. The tool also has other features such as cloud-based workflow automation, services integration, app running, app sharing, and more to streamline the app development process.

OutSystems

Designed to be a game-changer in the world of Low-Code/No-Code platforms, OutSystems allows users to build web apps, mobile apps, and enterprise-grade applications that can be improved based on business and technical requirements.

It’s equipped with a wide range of features including an editor, drag-and-drop functionalities to build your apps visually, and an app marketplace with pre-built templates and apps to make the development process quick and easy.

A skilled developer can use OutSystems to create new extra features with the help of customer codes in the app scripts. The security features provided by this platform offer advanced security to your apps. And you can be sure your apps can be integrated with any system.

Appian

Appian enables developers to build applications for enterprise at a speed that is 20 times faster than typical hand-coding. It transforms application development into a collaborative, social, and productivity-driven experience for business users with no prior coding knowledge.

Applications created through Appian feature drag and drop tools and integrate seamlessly with AI/ML platforms through Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google. The platforms also harness machine learning to give recommendations for the next stages during the application development process.

Businesses can use Appian to create solutions to enhance customer experience, optimize business operations, analyze global risk management, and enforce compliance with regulations and policies.

Quick Base

Quick Base is among the most popular platforms with Low-Code and No-Code offerings. It’s a widely used database software and cloud-based RAD software that automatically generates and hosts applications. With powerful features such as centralized data capabilities and end-to-end process automation, Quick Base extends and connects processes, data, and workflows to drive even deeper insights across different systems.

Developers can use Quick Base sandboxes to test functionality, RESTful APIs to extent functionality, and Quick Base Pipelines for automation capabilities and drag-and-drop integration.

When to Consider Low-Code/No-Code

Many software companies are looking for effective ways to reduce time, cut costs, and speed up a product launch. A perfect solution to achieve this is to leverage the power of Low-Code/No-Code platforms.

Such companies should consider using these platforms to create apps aimed at achieving operational efficiencies, such as automating manual processes and developing business-critical solutions to contribute to business management efforts.

Low-Code/No-Code platforms can help improve a business’s digital operations and transformation by bridging gaps in IT skills, reducing time-to-market, and boosting efficiency. They can also help improve the agility of these digital platforms and facilitate effective risk management and overall governance.

If you need to minimize operation costs, optimize your business processes, and facilitate transparency across different kinds of operations, Low-Code/No-Code are your best options.

Start Your Low-Code/No-Code Journey Right

With the right structures, strategies, and models, Low-Code/No-Code platforms will unlock a new era of advanced innovations in the enterprise.

Industry experts agree that Low-Code/No-Code options will continue to drive the future of application development. Gartner estimates that the low-code market will grow to $13.8 billion come 2021, a 22.6 percent increase from 2020, and is expected to grow even further in the coming years. Forrester further projects that about 50 percent of businesses today use Low-Code development, and this number could rise to 75 percent by the end of 2021.

Both professional developers and citizen developers alike stand to reap a lot from the fast and reliable Low-Code/No-Code development processes. Since these platforms are flexible, they allow these groups of developers to create a range of apps, from simple dashboards to complex, enterprise-based solutions.

With all the benefits associated with Low-Code/No-Code platforms, businesses can expect this trend to become more prevalent in business processes now and beyond.

If you want to know more about implementing a Low-Code/No-Code tool into your business, Taazaa, a robust customer software, and development service can help you get started. We help you design and create secure, fast, and high-quality digital solutions that fit your business needs to better serve your customers and propel your business to new heights.

Get started now!

For the longest time, development and operations teams worked separately in silos. Developers wrote code while the system administrators were in charge of its deployment and integration. This negatively impacted the enterprise’s overall productivity because there was limited communication between these two modules.

Fast forward to the 21st century, Agile and continuous workflow are among the most widely used methodologies in software development, which renders this model ineffective. To match market demands, brands are adopting a DevOps approach to streamline the development, deployment, maintenance, and management of software at scale.

This article introduces the concept of DevOps and why enterprises need it. Find information on the crucial DevOps principles and best practices including how implementing them can help your organization get the most out of DevOps. Get insights on how to select the right DevOps partner and the appropriate tools to help you create value for users and strategic business processes.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a set of practices and cultural values that ensures collaboration between development and operations teams to make software production and deployment faster in a repeatable and automated way. It helps increase the speed of delivering software applications and services.

The word “DevOps” is a combination of the words “Development” and “Operations.” It allows organizations to serve their customers better and become more competitive in the market. Simply put, the DevOps lifecycle removes the barriers between traditionally siloed teams, development, and operations, and fosters better communication and collaboration across the entire software application life cycle.

Why Do You Need DevOps?

A good working relationship between development and operations teams can be the difference between a good organization and a great one.

DevOps teams comprise a team of developers and IT operation professionals that makes teams well-rounded, and multi-gifted. By utilizing a shared codebase, test-driven approaches, continuous integration, and automated deployments, DevOps teams are quick to identify critical IT glitches and perform real-time system performance analysis to clearly understand the effect of application changes on an organization’s operations. They are also able to resolve IT problems as fast as possible.

Additionally, the DevOps teams will also be more flexible to adjust to increasingly changing market conditions, which helps the organization save big on the bottom line.

To accomplish all these goals, DevOps teams have to build a cross-functional environment. Trust and shared responsibilities reign among DevOps teams. They also leverage the best automation technologies to streamline and cut down costs in transformation, configuration, and deployment processes to achieve continuous delivery.

DevOps Principles

The adoption of DevOps as a service has produced several principles that continue to evolve constantly. All these principles have a holistic approach to DevOps, and companies of all nature can adopt them.

Here are key principles that are essential when adopting DevOps:

Foster a Collaborative Environment

The main idea behind DevOps is to develop trust among developers and IT operations. To achieve this, Dev and Ops teams need to communicate, share ideas, and collaborate throughout the whole development and deployment cycle.

The groups are also responsible for ensuring the application produce results. This requires continuous optimization and improvement of the performance, costs, and service delivery while focusing on user satisfaction.

Fostering a collaborative environment furthers involves embracing a cultural shift within the organization. In this setting, executives and DevOps teams need to be working together to deliver realistic software solutions that bring value to the organization and its customers.

Customer-Centric Action

It’s imperative to have short feedback loops with customers and end-users. To achieve this, organizations need to create products and services centered around fulfilling the client’s needs.

DevOps requires organizations to act as lean startups that can innovate continuously, adopt new strategies if the current ones are no longer effective, and invest in new features that will deliver the maximum level of customer satisfaction.

Additionally, to deliver customer-centric action, organizations must focus on the right data. In this case, focus on the metrics that deliver results to your company including focusing on the actual kick-off of software development, changes that occur during production, incidences of errors that may occur during deployment of new software, and the recovery time whenever there are service interruptions.

End-To-End Responsibility

The traditional software development model involved development and operations teams working in complete isolation. DevOps brings the two together to work as a team that is vertically organized and accountable for the development process from concept to grave.

The teams take full responsibility for the IT products and services they create. They provide end-to-end performance support, which significantly improves the responsibility level as well as the quality of the products created.

Foster Continuous Improvement

In the fast-changing world characterized by constant technology innovations, changes in business goals and consumer demands, end-to-end responsibility means that organizations must adapt continuously to these changing circumstances.

A DevOps culture ensures that organizations strongly focus on continuous improvement to get rid of process waste and optimize performance, cost, and speed of delivery.  It helps unites teams to support continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) pipelines through optimizing processes and automation. Such an approach promotes efficiency during the development and deployment process while automation allows for rapid application releases with minimal downtime.

Implement Automation

With continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), there’s no time to waste, releases are made much more frequently, and automation is what keeps the process running.

One of the critical DevOps practices is the automation of the software development cycle. Automation enables instant response to customer feedback, which comes in handy when organizations rapidly release new, highly anticipated features. By automating workflows, developers are able to focus entirely on writing and improving code as well as developing even more advanced features.

In a DevOps setting, teams can use various software solutions to create and test different applications by running one simple command and determining if it works in the production phase.

In addition to CI/CD, automated testing is imperative to ensure successful DevOps practices. These tests may include integration tests, end-to-end testing, performance tests, and unit tests. By automating all the steps in the development and deployment process, machines can be trained to deploy software faster, safer, and more efficiently than ever.

DevOps Best Practices

The DevOps as a service approach utilizes key practices and methodologies to streamline software development and operation processes. They include planning, development, testing, deployment, release, and monitoring.

Let’s have a look at the core practices that make up the DevOps.

Agile

Agile is an iterative approach to software development and project management that helps teams deliver value to their clients faster and more efficiently. Unlike traditional approaches of project management, Agile organizes tasks in short iterations or sprints to increase the number of releases.

In this setting, teams need to break large projects into smaller manageable tasks and respond to changes in needs or scope as they arise. Testing is implemented early on so that developers can fix problems and make necessary adjustments while they build, providing better control over their processes and reducing many risks associated with the waterfall methodology.

Continuous Development

The concept of continuous development involves interactive software development. In this phase, instead of improving software in one single batch, the development process is divided into small development cycles where updates are made consistently, enabling software code to be delivered to customers upon completion and testing. Automation is key to secure continuous development.

Automated Testing

Regular testing of software is necessary when it comes to composing quality code. Automated testing involves automated, prescheduled, and continuous code tests as application codes are being written or updated. With automation, the team in charge of testing can spend time coming up with innovative test cases while working with developers to prevent bugs.

Continuous automated testing also reduces the cost associated with testing while helping the development teams balance speed and quality. Additionally, it eliminates testing problems with the help of virtualized services and facilitates the creation of virtualized test environments that are easy to share, deploy, and update as systems change. Not only do these capabilities cut down on the cost of provisioning and maintaining test environments but also shortens the testing cycles.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery

The earlier you identify the defects in the software, the better the quality of the product. Teams can achieve this by shifting tasks to the left early in the software development cycle.

In this setting, instead of sending multiple changes to a separate QA team, a variety of tests are done throughout the coding process and developers get to fix bugs or improve code quality while they continue to build the codebase.

The continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) approach support the ability to shift left. It encourages developers to integrate code to a central repository several times a day and obtain rapid feedback on its success during active development.

Some of the main goals of continuous integration are to eliminate integration issues, reduce time to release, improve quality, and allow feedback loops that are necessary for daily deployments. Continuous integration leverages automated testing systems and continuously addresses critical problems to keep the system in a good working condition.

Continuous delivery (CD) is all about frequent building, testing, and releasing code changes to a production or testing environment in small chunks after the creation stage. CD approach helps to eliminate any risks of frequent interruption and other system performance problems since the team is only dealing with minor code changes. Additionally, it enables companies to release top-notch features faster, ultimately removing any costs in the deployment stage, and increasing time-to-market.

CI/CD approach needs constant testing to ensure that the new code experience defect and other performance issues. Additional tests that scrutinize the security of the code and its structure can also be applied during the integration stage.

Continuous Deployment

At this stage, there is a continuous release of code in versions and continuous deployment as the code builds. This provides a continuous delivery pipeline that automates critical processes. The ultimate goal is that as long as the build has passed different automated tests, the Operations teams can deploy the code in the production environment.

This process reduces the number of manual processes, rework, as well as wait times for resources by enabling push-button deployment. As a result, there is an increased number of releases, reduced errors, and transparency.

There are various automated tools available to facilitate continuous deployment. The most popular are Chef, Azure Resource Manager, Puppet, and Google Cloud Deployment Manager

Continuous Monitoring

A business process is considered effective if the teams can monitor, send alerts, and tackle any underlying problems. The same applies to monitoring in DevOps.

Continuous monitoring involves implementing monitoring technologies to proactively monitor, alert, and take necessary action in key areas to gives teams visibility into how the application is performing in the production environment.

Think of DevOps monitoring at different levels. On one level we have infrastructure monitoring that enables teams to recognize and respond promptly when there is a defect in the system or when they’re underperforming.

Next are the tools to help in monitoring and capturing metrics related to automation in DevOps. These monitoring tools require more attention as more developers and services continue to be deployed.

Then we have the last set of tools for monitoring performance, application uptime, and other runtime insights. These monitors act as frontline defense mechanisms to alert DevOps lineups when applications or APIs are operating beyond the recommended service levels.

Infrastructure as a Code

Initially, when waterfall methods were popular, automation and management of infrastructure were difficult. Immediately an architecture was chosen, operational teams had to go to numerous infrastructure components to build and configure them as per the requirements.

Today, instead of using web interfaces and manual configuration, DevOps has made it possible to automate the entire process with code. Infrastructure as a code (IaC) allows teams to automate their entire infrastructure setup and management.

IaC uses scripts to automatically set the deployment environment to the required configuration no matter its nature. It’s a type of IT infrastructure that operation teams can manage automatically and provision with the help of code, instead of using a manual process. This process also allows the operations team to track changes, monitor environment configuration, and simplify the rollback of configurations.

Containerization

Sometimes, problems may occur when moving the application from one computer environment to another. For instance, moving from a developer’s laptop to a virtual environment for testing.  A powerful tool to solve such problems is containerization. It entails packaging an application along with its necessary files, libraries, frameworks, and configurations to ensure it can run in various computing environments efficiently.

With containerization, DevOps teams can focus on their priorities. In this case, the Dev team focuses on efficient coding of applications that are easy to deploy, and the Ops team prepares containers with all the required dependencies and configurations.

This automation helps teams to eliminate errors, accelerate time to market as well as efficient utilization of resources. Other benefits of containerization include a guarantee of the highest application density and maximum utilization of server resources.

Microservices

Microservice architecture is the design approach that involves building a single application as a single package of small pieces of functionality and is made available as a service. Because it consists of independent building blocks, they make it easier to create, test, and understand an application. The advantage behind this approach is that multiple DevOps teams can build, test, and deploy microservices in parallel.

DevOps practices support the idea of dividing large snugs into smaller batches and working on them on an individual basis as a team. Microservices allow organizations to utilize a small team and formulate actionable solutions to current problems one after the other.

To eliminate manual errors and speed up processes, DevOps teams building microservices leverage automated continuous delivery pipelines that allow them to experiment with new features in a safe and secure environment while allowing them to recover as quickly as possible from failures. Ideally, the independent nature of microservices allows DevOps teams to accomplish more in less time.

DevOps Tools and Technologies

To successfully implement DevOps best practices, certain tools have to come into play. These tools should be able to automate and facilitate different DevOps processes, help teams manage complex environments, and maintain control among cloud DevOps engineers.

Here are the most popular DevOps tools and technologies.

Server Configuration Management

Puppet

Available as a free open-source and paid-versions, this configuration management tool allows you to configure, deploy, and manage several servers. It automates critical manual tasks associated with software inspection, delivery, and operation. It has numerous modules to help manage multiple teams and is easily integrated with many other platforms. 

Chef

This powerful and ruby-based configuration management tool allows teams to turn infrastructure into code to manage data, roles, attributes, environments, and more. It supports numerous multiple platforms and easily integrates with other cloud-based platforms.

Ansible

Described as the most effective IT orchestration and configuration management tool in the market, Ansible is a simple but powerful tool that automates simple and complex multi-tier IT applications. The tool is primarily used to push new changes within the existing system, as well as configure newly deployed machines.

CI/CD

Jenkins

Jenkins is an open-source CI/CD automation tool that automates the complete build cycle of a software project. It allows continuous integration and continuous delivery of projects through DevOps. The key highlight of this tool is the Pipeline features which can be used by developers to automatically write code into the repository, perform different tests, and gather reports from these tests. It offers several built-in plugins, that help to integrate all the DevOps stage efficiently.

GitLab CI

GitLab CI/CD is a free and self-hosted tool built into GitLab for software development through continuous methodologies such as Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment. This tool can automatically detect, build, test, deploy, and manage your application by utilizing Auto DevOps. GitLab also provides repositories, hence the integration of Gitlab CI/CD is simple and straightforward.

Containerization

Docker

Docker is a Linux-based open-source platform that is used to create, deploy, and run applications using containers. It allows secure packaging, deploying, and running of applications regardless of the running environment. Each application container contains the source code, run time, supporting files, system config files, and more which are responsible for application execution.

OpenShift

Developed by Red Hat, OpenShift is among the containerization software that helps improve developer’s experience and allows them to be more productive. The OpenShift Console provides an optimized experience in the web console with new features and workflows that they’re most likely to need to be productive.

Administrators can also present their views on this tool to allow teams to monitor container resources and health, manage users, and work with other operators. OpenShift also provides a command-line interface (CLI), to create applications and manage OpenShift Container platform projects from a terminal.

Kubernetes

A relatively new open-source container orchestration platform by Google, Kubernetes is a solution that manages containers at a large scale and propels containerization to the next level. You can deploy a set of containerized apps to a group of computers, and Kubernetes will automate their distribution and scheduling.

Monitoring

Nagios

Nagios is an open-source monitoring tool that allows DevOps to monitor applications, systems, services, as well as the overall business infrastructure. The tool comes in handy for large companies that have countless circuitries including servers, routers, switches, and more. It alerts users when there is an outage or failure of any device. It also keeps a performance record of these outages and failures.

Prometheus

Originally built at SoundCloud, Prometheus is an open-source monitoring system often used by DevOps to generate alerts based on time-series data. It collects data and metrics from configured targets and stores them based on a unique identifier – the metric name and a time stamp. By monitoring data in Prometheus, you can quickly generate more precise alerts and visualizations which can be used in creating more meaningful business insights and engineering outcomes.

How to Select Your DevOps Partner?

Embracing a DevOps culture comes with numerous benefits, and choosing the right DevOps partner can make or break the transition. The right deployment of DevOps requires extensive knowledge and expertise in both development and IT operations.

Many businesses may not have that sort of expertise in-house, which is why a partnership with a DevOps partner could make sense. Here are several factors to consider when choosing the right DevOps partner.

Does the Partner Match Your Business Needs?

Before you start searching for the right DevOps partner, the first step is to define the scope of your project. Do you need a simple lift on some tasks on your project, or do you need an entire team to run, manage, and support your infrastructure?

The answer to that question will give an idea of the type of partner you want. The right DevOps partner should have enough experience to handle projects of that nature.

Review the Experience and Competence of Your Potential Partner

Partners have to consistently invest in training and development to gain the relevant certifications. Similarly, they should be constantly adding competencies and experience in your business vertical. They should have the right expertise in the system’s functional area of your project as well as enough experience using Agile and DevOps techniques.

Partner’s Understanding of Your Tools and Industry

Yes! Scope matters, but so do the technical capabilities and tools used. Automation especially when dealing with DevOps makes it possible to eliminate bottlenecks in the software development cycle and ensure a smooth transition.

Closely related to the right tools of work is matching industry expertise. The right partner should be familiar with your ideal industry including the compliance policies associated with your field.

Does the DevOps Partner Team and Culture Match What You Need?

There is so much information about DevOps and its methodology out there and it’s easy to get lost. Working with any DevOps partner means that they’ll be working hand-in-hand with your internal team. This can only be possible if the partner’s company culture aligns with yours. So, before settling on a working relationship with a DevOps partner, ensure the teams understand each other’s problems and are eager to help one another. Furthermore, DevOps is all about breaking down silos, and your partnership with a DevOps partner should represent this philosophy.

The Key to Successful Adoption of DevOps

Moving to DevOps is a journey that requires philosophical and cultural change plus a more practical implementation of tools, principles, and best practices. The starting point to achieving a successful DevOps adoption within your organization should ensure your development and operation teams are fully committed to the cause. After which DevOps tools and best practices should come into the picture.

Given all the benefits that are associated with DevOps, it’s safe to say that organizations that fail to implement DevOps are missing out on the deployment speed that is thirty times more than the traditional method with 200 times shorter lead times. Taazaa, a reputed customer software and development company incorporates both Agile and DevOps to promote collaboration between the Development and Operations Team, and facilitates continuous migration of new software to increase overall productivity and revenue.

Choosing the best software development partner is important no matter what your project is. But when you’re dealing with healthcare software, it’s essential that you decide on a partner who understands your unique needs. The last thing you want is a “finished” project that puts your patients and business at risk. Below, we go over the criteria to consider when choosing a healthcare software development partner.

General Criteria for Choosing a Software Development Partner

Before we get into the specifics of healthcare software, let’s first discuss how to choose a software development company in general. Here are 8 important questions to ask your software development partner, regardless of what field your project is in:

  1. Have you worked on similar projects previously?
  2. What is the structure of the team, and who does it consist of?
  3. Who will be my point of contact?
  4. How will we communicate about the project?
  5. What does your approach to software development look like?
  6. Can you estimate a timeline for completion?
  7. What support will you offer post-delivery?
  8. Why should I choose your company?

The information you collect with these 8 questions should help guide the decision-making process, and you should keep these tips in mind even if you’re building a specialized project.

Specific Criteria for Healthcare Software Development Partners

Healthcare software development comes with additional needs specific to the healthcare industry. Let’s now consider the criteria for choosing a healthcare software development partner.

Familiar with Health Information Regulations

Perhaps the most important stipulation when choosing a healthcare software development partner is that they have a foundational understanding of the information regulations surrounding healthcare data. You shouldn’t expect your partner to be an expert on everything healthcare-related, but an understanding of PHI is necessary in order to develop a healthcare software project that is HIPAA compliant. Here are the primary requirements in order for software development to be HIPAA compliant:

  • HIPAA Rules: Adhere to all aspects of HIPAA rules, which are the Privacy Rule, Security Rule, HITECH, and the Omnibus Rule.
  • Security Safeguards: Abide by the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards described in the Security Rule.
  • Transport Encryption: All ePHI (electronic health information) must be encrypted before it is transported or shared electronically.
  • Backup: Back up all ePHI in case it must be recovered or restored.
  • Authorization: Only authorized personnel should be granted access to ePHI, so restrictions must be in place.
  • Storage Encryption: ePHI must also be encrypted during storage, not just during transport.
  • Integrity: ePHI must not be subject to unauthorized changes, improper destruction, or other prohibited interference.
  • Disposal: Once the ePHI is no longer needed, it should be destroyed safely and permanently.
  • Business Associate Agreement: Software companies that store or transport PHI must sign business associate agreements with the entities for which they will be working. These agreements must be stored on secure servers.

Has Strong Information Risk Management

With an understanding of PHI and the requirement for HIPAA compliance, your healthcare software development partner must have developed procedures for information security, otherwise known as infosec. Infosec refers to the practice of mitigating information risks in order to protect sensitive electronic information. PHI is arguably the most sensitive information transported and stored electronically, so it must be protected with top-of-line infosec practices. When choosing a software development partner, be sure to assess their approach to information risk management.

Has Proper Policies and Procedures in Place

In order to achieve a quality end-product, you should ascertain that your healthcare software development partner operates with regulated policies and procedures. An excellent way to be sure that your partner will be capable of delivering a project that meets your standards, as well as the standards in place regarding PHI, is to ask if the development firm is ISO certified. An ISO certification indicates that the team meets global standards for software development created by experts in the field. It’s also important that your software development partner meticulously follows secure coding practices, especially when dealing with PHI and the healthcare industry. Secure coding practices require software developers to eliminate security risks at every level of development. Teams that are committed to implementing secure coding practices don’t simply assess risks for information theft once a project is complete, but they remain constantly vigilant for security risks throughout the entirety of the project.

Understands Interoperability

Software created for the healthcare industry must have interoperable capabilities when it comes to electronic health records (EHR). If you’re unfamiliar, interoperability refers to the electronic sharing of PHI among separate EHR systems and healthcare providers. It enables data and information to be accessed, shared, and used collaboratively so as to optimize health for individuals and the public. Your healthcare software development partner must understand interoperability and be capable of successfully producing software that is interoperable with EHR. What’s more, your software development partner must also understand HL7 standards, which regulate and facilitate interoperability among health information systems. It guarantees that all information maintains consistency across all EHR systems, regardless of whether or not the systems are operated by separate organizations. FHIR, the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource, is a specific HL7 standard aimed at identifying and regulating patient information. A successful healthcare software development partner will not only be familiar with these standards for interoperability but be prepared to uphold them.

Experienced in Healthcare Software Development

The best way to ensure that your development partner is capable of meeting the strict and specific needs of healthcare software development is to choose a team that has experience developing projects for the healthcare industry. Healthcare software development demands mature and experienced teams that can mitigate security risks and meet regimented standards.

Taazaa as Your Healthcare Software Development Partner

Taazaa has been trusted to develop multiple projects for the healthcare industry, ranging from electronic medical records system development to telehealth and remote patient monitoring software development. We understand the standards for safe and successful healthcare software, and we are prepared to fulfill your software development needs. Get in touch today to learn more about our company and our willingness to create high-quality healthcare software.

Perhaps the central issue when beginning a software development project is deciding to insource or to outsource. This decision factors in questions of cost, time, and quality of work. It is often the difference between a successful project and a waste of time and resources.

Insourcing is what is traditionally known as in-house recruitment. When a company decides to insource their software development, it requires that they hire a team of employees to build their project. With this approach, the company directly manages the team of developers, rather than it being a third-party organization.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, is when a company uses an outside software firm to develop its project. In recent years, we’ve seen more and more companies choose to outsource their development projects in an attempt to cut down on in-house numbers and save time and money. According to Stratistics MRC, the global IT outsourcing market is expected to reach $481.37 billion by 2022. It’s a big business.

So how do you choose? Below, we compare issues of cost, time, and quality for insourcing and outsourcing. We also discuss the common pitfalls associated with choosing the wrong software development option. To expand on this, we consider use cases of both options, offering a better understanding of both development approaches. Finally, we break down the decision-making process of choosing between insourcing and outsourcing, as well as consider a hybrid option. By the end, you will be fully equipped to make the best decision for your software development project.

Primary Considerations of Insourcing vs. Outsourcing

When deciding to insource or to outsource, there are a few primary issues to consider. Namely, how much will it cost, how much time will it take, and what quality of work will be provided. These considerations will likely be the deciding factors when choosing a development approach.

Cost

At the end of the day, you’re only able to do what your budget allows. As such, the cost of software development will determine how you approach your project.

Because insourcing requires that you hire employees, you will have to pay them accordingly. This means a gross salary, benefits, pension contributions, and taxes. You will also have to consider the expense of office space and equipment, as well as additional IT costs. Additionally, there may be recruiting and training costs for new employees.

When you outsource your development project, you and the contracted team will agree on a fixed hourly or team rate for the duration of the contract. The firm or individuals that you work with will be responsible for the office space, software, and other financial requirements needed for the project. They also handle all of the recruitment and training costs necessary to build out a successful development team.

Bottom Line

The question of which will be the more cost-efficient option is typically dependent on the timeline of the project. If it will be an on-going project that will take years to build and maintain, it could be cheaper to take on all of the costs associated with insourcing. If it’s a short-term project that is mostly a one-and-done deal, then it will likely be cheaper to outsource the work.

Time

Insourcing tends to be a time-consuming process. When you decide to hire a new team of employees, you have to market the positions, interview applicants, decide on team members, get them acclimated to the office, and train them for the work you need to be completed. After all of that, you can finally begin the project.

All in all, the insourcing process can take months. What’s more, recruiting software developers is quite competitive. It’s difficult to find experienced and talented developers who are available within your local market. Recruiting high-quality developers often demands competitive wages and limits you geographically.

Outsourcing software development grants you access to the global market. Because geography is no longer an issue, outsourcing allows you to tap into talent from anywhere in the world. As a result, you have exponentially more options when it comes to available development teams. And because you don’t have to assemble and train the team yourself, all you have to do is find a team that fits your needs and can work with your budget. In the end, it can take as little as two weeks to begin your project.

Bottom Line

The added time associated with insourcing can be worth it for long-term projects. Investing the extra time to create your internal team can be beneficial if your project demands years of work. For shorter projects, however, it just doesn’t make sense to waste so much time starting your project. Outsourcing is your friend when it comes to short-term software development.

Quality

The last thing you want is to put time and money into a project just for it to leave you wanting more. Unfortunately, the question of quality of work with insourcing vs. outsourcing isn’t as cut and dry as the issues of cost and time.

With insourcing, the quality of work you receive will be entirely dependent on the team you assemble. Because you’re more limited on the developers you’ll be able to recruit, you may not have access to the same levels of talent and experience that you would have with outsourcing.

On the other hand, insourcing gives you more control over your team of developers. This makes it less likely that you’ll run into unexpected problems once the work is delivered. And if issues do arise, they can be addressed immediately. You’re able to groom your team to meet the needs of your project as they evolve

Because outsourcing grants you access to more developers with diverse abilities, there is a greater chance that you will be able to find niche developers with experience doing the work that your project demands. With developers who already have the knowledge and training that your project needs, there isn’t as much of a need for grooming and direction. Outside teams are often elastic and capable of expanding in short bursts when additional skills or expertise is required. With a good development team, outsourcing can produce quality work with few hiccups.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the quality of your software depends on the quality of the team building it. If you’re able to hire a team of developers who have the skills that your project requires, insourcing will likely produce higher quality work. The advanced collaboration that is facilitated by insourcing software development just can’t be beaten. If your project demands more niche developers, however, outsourcing could be the better option because it grants you access to a wider range of experienced developers.

Common Pitfalls

The biggest problem associated with choosing the wrong software development approach is typically the result of companies inaccurately assessing the needs of their project. We’ll elaborate on the decision-making process below, but you’ve probably been able to conclude that insourcing is better for long-term projects and outsourcing works best for short-term projects. When a company believes their project will need months or years of building and maintenance, but it only needs a month or two of work, they will likely find that they’ve wasted time, money, and resources insourcing their team of developers.

More issues arise when companies try to force their project through, even though their development team — insourced or outsourced — lacks the knowledge necessary to complete the project. All too often, companies are eager to get started, so they just hold out hope that whatever skills the team lacks will resolve themselves in the end. Unfortunately, this doesn’t usually work out. Companies are then forced to either hire more team members or send the project to be completed by yet another third-party development firm.

What it comes down to is assessing your needs and taking the time to find a team of developers that has the skill and training to complete your project. Trends in software development move quickly, so it’s understandable to want to start as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, rushing into a project will almost always take more time in the end. It’s better to invest more time in the beginning to find or assemble a team that will be able to meet your needs than to pay for it later when your project cannot be completed.

Use Cases of Insourcing

As we’ve discussed, insourcing works best for long-term projects. But how do you know whether or not your project is long-term? Well typically, long-term projects are ones that will require consistent updates and changes to maintain. These are ongoing projects that take three or more years of work and building.

Long-term projects are usually strategic or aimed at providing services. Strategic software development projects affect a company’s organizational structure and offer qualitative results — think coverage, integration, and image. Software projects that result in usable services tend to be user-defined. These can be quantitative — create value for the company — or qualitative — increase the quality of the services provided by the company.

Insourcing can also be a good option if the project does not require niche skills. Because onboarding development employees limits you geographically, you may not be able to find developers with the niche skills required for more unique projects. If you’re building a big project, but one that is relatively run of the mill, insourcing can be a successful development approach.

Use Cases of Outsourcing

Outsourcing works best for short- and mid-term projects. Short-term projects are ones that can be completed in less than a year, and mid-term projects are ones that can be completed in one to three years. Projects like these are generally smaller in scope and are aimed at offering quantitative benefits for the company — think cost, schedule, and performance.

Alternatively, outsourcing can be a successful option for unique projects, regardless of the timeline. If your project demands niche skills and training, outsourcing can be the easiest way to find developers that know how to build it.

How to Decide Between Insourcing vs. Outsourcing?

Deciding to insource or to outsource comes down to assessing your needs. You must first layout all of the necessary components required to complete your project. These include:

  • An end-product conception
  • How much the project will cost
  • The timeline of the project
  • The software needed for the project
  • The hardware needed for the project
  • The number of developers required to complete the project

Once you have a developed understanding of the needs of your project, you can then determine your development approach. If your project has a long-term timeline and is relatively common, insourcing could be a successful development option. If your project is short-term or requires a niche skill-set, outsourcing is likely your best development option.

A Hybrid Solution

A scenario that we have yet to consider is the hybrid solution. Sometimes, the worlds of insourcing and outsourcing fuse together to make a development project work. It’s a little unconventional, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get a project up and running.

Say your insourced team has been working great. They’ve made lots of progress and you can see your idea coming to life. But then they hit a snag in the thread. All of a sudden, progress stops and the project comes to a halt. In this case, outsourcing a portion of your project might just be the thing that gets your project moving again. Typically, software development firms are more than happy to work on part of your project, just to get you from point A to point B, and then hand it back off to your team of insourced developers.

As we said, the hybrid solution is a little less common, but it can be a successful way of developing a software project. There’s no reason to limit yourself — or your project — to the false dichotomy of insourcing vs. outsourcing. Why not have both?

Conclusion

Hopefully, we have provided you with a better grasp of the question of insourcing vs. outsourcing. With a fleshed-out plan and an understanding of your needs, you should now be able to make an informed decision when choosing to insource or to outsource your software development project. And don’t forget — a hybrid solution could be the approach that works best for your project.

The DevOps movement is already over one decade old, with foundations in hundreds of leading companies. But even at those companies, the early stages of software development can be overwhelming. The complexity of modern software projects makes delivering quality results more difficult.

This is due in part to shifting priorities. Software development has evolved to focus more on providing business value, and value for customers. This means boosting collaboration across teams during development; but also, limiting inefficiencies like excessive WIP and unnecessary feature development.

As software requirements grow, inadequate practices can delay or even hurt business and customer value. Fortunately, new strategies are emerging that prioritize, simplify, and accelerate the delivery of value to customers. The following guide highlights three best practices for realizing this goal in a timely and effective way. They include:

  • Prioritizing value by developing only features customers want
  • Implementing organizational techniques that align resource with core DevOps goals
  • Leveraging automation to improve testing processes and outcomes

With these three best practices in place, teams can build more connected environments that deliver lasting, positive changes to software development processes. When teams continuously provide value in these ways, they consistently deliver value for customers and the bottom line as well.

I. Align DevOps with Customer and Business Value

Although DevOps is a “given” at many organizations, it has only gradually begun to align directly with business value. The result is a greater emphasis on features that work to add value for customers over features that might be of interest but ultimately unnecessary. DevOps teams therefore must prioritize business ROI. They must always factor those goals into individual project initiatives.

The YAGNI (“You Ain’t Gonna Need It”) principle in software development is central to this approach. It’s a simple concept—prioritize features you’re going to need and bypass those you won’t. In practice, that means prioritizing only tasks that are part of the “value stream” that leads directly to customers. The result is a greater frequency of releases and a shorter overall timeline for realizing business results.

Starting with YAGNI means first applying new KPIs to development teams. Those KPIs should align with customer value and faster time-to-delivery of critical end-user features. When the DevOps team focuses on what’s important to customers—and collaborate with key departments with those priorities in mind—they ensure they are aligned with the rest of the organization.

II. Adopt Techniques That Put These Goals into Practice

DevOps leaders must design and plan ahead of development to achieve these goals as well. That means revisiting their core techniques and adapting them for individual projects to ensure the right results.

They must make appropriate estimates in terms of costs and resources for individual projects. They must also determine new projects’ feasibility. This way, they avoid wasting those resources on high-risk projects that don’t align with quality results.

Once they identify the right projects, they can begin by aligning resources for individual tasks. Using user story maps and Kanban boards, teams can reduce risk and eliminate extraneous features and tasks that lead to “dead ends” in terms of value. (Team leaders, let alone business leaders, will regret paying for projects that ultimately cannot deliver meaningful end results.)

Here is a closer look at three opportunities for improving DevOps techniques with these goals in mind.

A. Develop Cross-Functional Teams

DevOps leaders can involve the appropriate, customer-oriented employees from other departments with teams developing features that will impact them. This way, they draw on organizational expertise as they enhance essential features or tasks and eliminate unnecessary ones.

Remember, even features that are desirable might ultimately be unnecessary. Interdisciplinary support can help identify these unnecessary features. Aligning teams in this way helps build long-term collaborative capacities for future software development as well.

B. Eliminate Dependencies and Other Unwanted Complexities

Creating unwanted dependencies between features is a classic error in software development. Avoiding these dependencies has grown more important as teams look to eliminate unnecessary features and deliver customer value in more streamlined ways.

Dependencies quickly create development “deadlocks” when the completion of one feature is dependent on another. These can create delays when a supporting feature must be changed or eliminated as well. These dependencies, therefore, reduce organizational as well as DevOps agility.

DevOps leaders can solve these dependency problems and other issues in two ways, each with its own advantages and drawbacks:

  • Using “quick fixes” that create additional technical debt
  • Developing long-term solutions that add to WIP (“works in progress”)

Generally, teams should try to limit WIP as much as possible. Establishing WIP limits reduces the number of projects on which teams must work at any given time, allowing for speedier time-to-value for each individual project. Without WIP limits, teams have fewer opportunities to focus on the overarching goals of projects, to reduce operational inefficiencies, and to commit to other organizational priorities not associated with each individual project.

Unfortunately, limiting WIP often requires the use of “quick fixes.” These are codes that work perfectly well for what they’re meant to address but which sets up roadblocks for future progress (i.e., create technical debt).

C. Take Responsibility for and “Pay Off” Technical Debt

Technical debt is undesirable; however, technical debt can be individually prioritized and incorporated into the normal flow of work. As we stated previously:

“Just as there are times it makes sense to go and take out a bank loan—to buy a house, maybe, or to tide yourself through a lean time— there are times that you may do well to take out technical debt. When you’ve got a looming release date, for instance, and some super quick coding is the only way you’re going to meet it.”

Technical debt is an unavoidable reality, after all. Teams must simply keep track of their technical debt and prioritize “paying it off” as part of normal development.

As DevOps best practices, these three techniques reduce unnecessary work while speeding up time to true business value. As we will find, automating key processes throughout the software development and testing can accelerate these benefits as well.

III. Leverage Automation for Analysis and Testing

Automation reduces the need for human-driven manual processes. Although automation is not new, it has become especially powerful when applied to repetitive and iterative DevOps processes. These include catching bugs, testing code, and providing quality assurance.

Most modern software development processes now include automated testing. It is especially useful as teams look to increase the variety of testing phases before implementation. Automation can also be used to analyze source code and other data about software development. These include records of project schedules and delays, as well as application defects and their fixes.

Automation contributes to faster delivery of value to customers as well. Specifically, it contributes to continuous delivery (CD), or the widely adopted best practice of delivering new code releases to customers as quickly as possible. Here is a closer look at several testing functions to which automation can contribute.

Unit testing automation

Unit testing consists of functional testing of individual components or modules within the new software. These processes are often simple, but there are typically a lot of them. Manual unit testing is therefore especially tedious, making it a great candidate for automation. Automating unit testing is not only affordable, but it can also be executed rapidly and at scale.

Functional testing automation

DevOps teams use functional testing to measure the efficacy of software from a business perspective. Rather than look at individual processes, function testing involves measuring the business value of those processes’ results.

DevOps teams can automate functional testing by defining the parameters for the success of the function based on the companies desired business results. They then need only apply those standards to the machine learning tools driving those testing functions.

User experience testing automation

There is no automated replacement for thorough alpha and beta testing. But automating key aspects of the user experience testing can provide human testers with a better experience during those phases. With fewer glaring problems, testers and developers can refine more nuanced aspects of user experience to make it truly exceptional.

Automating user experience testing might include imitating user typos, providing bad data “by mistake,” or making incorrect commands to see if those errors break the software. In these ways, automated tools attempt to “break” the software so that users cannot.

Automating key aspects of testing also helps to ensure an effective developer experience as well. The less time developers must spend encumbered by rudimentary problems, the more time they can spend on adding value and driving business results.

The Future of Successful DevOps is Defining and Aligning with Customer Value

As Forbes describes, “A company cannot become customer-centric if different parts of the organization operate separately from one another.” Considerations for the customer experience must therefore begin at the project planning stages, and extend throughout the lifetime of each project, even after delivery.

Therefore, “customer value” can and must be defined, measured, and translated into iterative processes as part of software development. This is perhaps the most important lesson of modern DevOps. And as customer value becomes more complex, the impetus for eliminating inefficiencies, building cross-departmental collaboration, and automating key processes only becomes stronger.

Fortunately, a new generation of AI-powered tools is enabling software professionals to deliver exceptional end results, even under the most stringent business requirements. Taazaa provides fresh, innovative software solutions of this kind the deliver on evolving digital health, logistics, and IoT-related customer objectives. Contact us today and speak with one of our software engineering experts to learn more.

Investing in custom software is a big step for any company, regardless of size. The process can be filled with risks, particularly for someone who doesn’t have experience overseeing a development project. Protect yourself by identifying your exposure to these common threats and take steps to manage your risk levels, and you’ll avoid serious consequences for the company.

Common Project Risk Factors

Aside from the obvious risks of natural or other disasters, the death of key players in the project, and national lockdowns such as the Covid19 pandemic, three specific issues affect software development projects most frequently. These are cost and time overruns and dissatisfaction with the results.

Cost Overruns

Two-thirds (66%) of enterprise software projects experience cost overruns, according to a study by McKinsey. This happens when unexpected expenses go beyond the initial budget estimate, and it can happen at any time during a project.

Typically, cost overruns are caused by specific factors, so it’s important to understand and address these to contain them. Some of these factors include:

  • Estimation errors: One of the primary causes of higher-than-expected project costs, this often happens unintentionally because inexperienced sponsors and project managers (PMs) are excited to see their ideas come to life. They miscalculate the project’s complexity, the cost of the total development, or make errors as a result of forecasting bias.
  • Scope creep: Having requirements added to a software development project after the budget has been finalized is a huge headache for every project manager. Sometimes it’s inescapable because the business environment is constantly changing. Scope creep means setting new deadlines, revising, activities, and even changing technologies, all of which cause additional expenses.
  • Poor stakeholder communications: Often, company execs who sponsor projects don’t fully understand how the software works, so they don’t communicate requirements properly. This leads to unclear instructions and inaccurate scoping of the project.
  • Bad project design: The project design process needs to include all components of the project, how these are carried out, supervised and completed, and the results they should produce. If a design process is flawed from the outset, problems might only be spotted at an advanced stage in the project. Wasting complete work and redoing tasks and testing all increase the costs and cause overruns.

In an ideal world, you’ll want to prevent cost overruns altogether. At the very least, identifying the risks presented by these common problems can help you to mitigate them and reduce the impact on your company.

Time Overruns

An accurate estimation of the time it takes to complete a software development project is critical to success. In a Harvard Business Review study, almost one-third of 1,400 IT projects reviewed overran their schedules by up to 70%. Time overruns can be compounded by interdependencies, for example when one member of the team takes longer to complete a task, others waiting on the outcome of that task are also delayed.

Estimating a project’s duration depends on the:

  • team’s makeup and experience,
  • project complexity,
  • number of iterations planned for,
  • methodology used, such as Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban or Agile,
  • number of system integrations required, and
  • budget available.

If the circumstances are ideal for all of these factors, the team will have greater velocity and be able to make more progress in a shorter period of time.

Disappointing Results

There can be many reasons why a company’s executive team is disappointed with the results of a project. Some PMs choose developers known for working quickly, who can meet aggressive, unrealistic deadlines. Often, the reasons are technical shortcuts such as inadequate testing, code that’s hard to maintain, and bug fixes that don’t last.

Reduced functionality can occur from trying to avoid time and cost overruns, but whatever the reason the outcome is unsatisfactory. Imagine investing in a software development project aimed at growing your ability to fill orders by 50%, only to have it deliver a 10% increase in fulfillment? We aren’t kidding– on Nov 17, 2020, the Australian stock exchange had to be shut down after defective new software went live. Disappointment is an understatement in this instance.

5 Risk-Reduction Tactics to Consider

So how do you manage these risks in ways that improve the chance of success? Here are some proven tactics to do so.

Tactic #1: Prioritize Investment in Design

“Getting it right the first time” is an age-old mantra for success, because it avoids going back and fixing mistakes, paying people to redo tasks, and wasting precious person-hours you can never get back. To do so, a software development project must be accurately designed from the outset. This is not a task for a beginner, and even if your budget is limited, the design process needs to have the highest investment priority.

Good design starts with identifying the user’s requirements and finding ways to address them, which means understanding the problems and the goals. Most companies have processes that depend on flawed legacy systems. No software, no matter how well-designed, can overcome a bad business process. An experienced software design team asks questions to determine the root of the problem, before trying to come up with a way to resolve it. This can involve analyzing the user’s ideal journey, designing an interface that follows it, and making it error-proof for maximum usability.

The design needs to be tested on users and their feedback incorporated into revisions before any final development work can begin. A good design process that addresses the right problems and delivers the right solutions is time-consuming, and it must be factored into both the budget and the schedule.

Tactic #2: Opt for Agile Methodology

Agile project management is an iterative approach to product delivery, which builds up in increments from the project’s start to completion. It breaks tasks down into smaller pieces of functionality and delivers them in short cycles called sprints or iterations.

By opting for an agile methodology, you benefit from:

  • having everyone involved at each stage of the process, so no important aspects are overlooked
  • early detection of problems, before the development progresses too far to make changes without increasing the cost and time
  • rapid feedback for each cycle or iteration of the software, which the team can use to make immediate improvements
  • an ongoing, iterative learning curve that allows the team to implement feedback immediately
  • the ability to customize applications during development, based on the feedback for each iteration
  • a more predictable performance against budget and timing

The agile approach enables development teams to concentrate on short-term cycles, identify problems and make course corrections quickly, and deliver a higher quality product with fewer glitches.

Tactic #3: Focus on Quality Communications

The success of a software development project depends on how effective communication is. Methods used in planning and execution can be verbal, written, electronic, or in-person interactions, but always involve the flow of information. Every team member needs full information to do their job, and nothing must be misinterpreted or overlooked.

High-quality communication improves productivity and reduces wasted time. It helps prevent confusing or unclear instructions, which are two big productivity killers. Every team member should have a clear picture of their role and responsibility to make the process run smoothly. All team members need to participate in planning, discussions, and feedback, to face challenges and resolve potential issues together. Good communication between stakeholders and developers helps to keep everyone on the same track and to complete each task or project phase in a spirit of collaboration.

Tactic #4: Appoint an Invested Product Owner

The Product Owner (PO) is a member of an agile team who is responsible for the delivery of the final application on time and within budget. To achieve this, s/he oversees and maintains the technical integrity of the product during development. This includes presenting the goals at the start of each sprint and engaging with non-technical stakeholders to make sure the team is developing the right product for their needs.

The PO needs to be fully invested in the project, taking part in daily meetings, defining user stories, and prioritizing backlogs. By conducting frequent sprint reviews and resolving conflicts, the PO keeps their finger on the pulse of the project and delivers on the milestones.

Tactic #5: Use Metrics to Track Progress

Data is the secret sauce when it comes to keeping track. Choosing the right metrics to monitor project progress enables you to identify risks before they can escalate and become serious issues. The team can plan for identified risks from the outset, share them transparently with the project sponsor, and address the risks early using an agile development approach. The right metrics make it possible to stay on top of both the C-Suite and the team’s “temperature.” They help to maintain morale, work ethic, and commitment, keep track of project scope, timeline, and budget.

For more information on how an experienced development team can help you reduce your software development risks, please contact us.

Digital transformation is everywhere these days. Companies that were in the process of making the shift to digital before Covid-19 have found their plans fast-tracked beyond all expectations. Organizations that weren’t yet quite there have realized they need to catch up in the shortest possible time.

Almost every company and organization uses software these days, whether it’s just for simple email communications or complex eCommerce processes, inventory management, or business intelligence. Often, off-the-shelf software doesn’t fulfill business needs, and spending money on a custom software solution is often the only viable option.

Investing in Custom Software

Building custom software is an investment that brings multiple advantages for companies, such as scalability, customization options, increased efficiency and accuracy, optimal security, and specific, advanced functionality.

There are many models to choose from when it comes to developing software, including the most commonly used waterfall and agile methods. The prototyping model is popular, however, because it offers users the chance to get involved ahead of the project implementation. This allows companies to reduce the development time (and costs!) and gives users a more thorough understanding because of their involvement.

How Iterative Prototyping Works?

The principal behind iterative prototyping is to develop a minimally viable product that can be tested, with a view to continuing the development based on feedback as fast as the information is available. This allows users to test out aspects of the design before the entire project is ready for use, which gives developers the opportunity to incorporate user feedback into the process early.

Over the long term, iterative prototyping results in better quality and functionality, more satisfaction among users, and other benefits. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider this model for your custom software project.

10 Ways Iterative Prototyping Is the Best Model

There’s a big difference between using traditional prototyping methods and the newer, iterative prototyping methods. Here’s how these can save you time and money, and why:

#1: Delivers a Faster Time to Market

With traditional prototyping, development teams typically wait until they reach a pre-identified milestone before creating a prototype and testing it out. The design needs to first be finalized, tested, revised, and then start over again with testing of the revision. With an iterative model, they can develop a “working design” and create prototypes based on it much earlier in the process.

In addition, it’s possible for the project team to get multiple iterations of the product tested simultaneously. This speeds up the final time to market noticeably and delivers value to the business faster.

#2: Results in Greater Efficiencies

Iterative prototyping makes better use of companies’ resources, partly because end-users get to test the product earlier in the game. Instead of first going through an internal testing process and only then getting user input, the two can happen simultaneously. Iterative prototyping also works well with parallel development to deliver greater efficiencies.

When the project reaches the final stages, prototypes include all the feedback gathered during the iterative process. This means the last stage of testing uses a more complete product than it would otherwise.

#3: Entails Lower Development Costs

The iterative prototyping model uses a range of technological tools such as:

  • low fidelity wireframes
  • clickable yet codeless digital prototypes for software user testing
  • 3D printers, and
  • computer numerical control (CNC) machines for physical and mechanical devices.

These types of tools make it possible to produce multiple prototypes at the same time, which lowers the cost involved in each one and takes advantage of the resources available. If one prototype doesn’t meet users’ needs another one might, without having to expend labor and resources all over again for the next one. This economy of scale lowers development costs overall in the long term. In companies where resources are scarce, the opportunity to keep costs down while producing an MVP can be a game-changer.

#4: Provides Exhaustive Testing Opportunities

No software product can be brought to market without thorough, exhaustive testing, so there’s no escaping the fact that it has to be done. The speed with which all possible prototypes can be tested counts significantly, though, in the overall duration of the project and the final return on investment.

Instead of starting the prototyping process all over from scratch each time, it’s possible to repeat this phase as often as needed in the same period until the design satisfies the users. With iterative prototyping, developers can move forward confidently knowing what functionality works and what doesn’t.

This vastly improves the chances that end-users will like the final product, as well as minimizing the risk of going live with a defective product.

#5: Produces Early Detection of Defects

One of the primary benefits of iterative prototyping is that developers and implementers can get valuable feedback from end-users earlier in the project. Engineers can determine whether the software matches the specifications used in the design and identify any problems and defects early. Updates can also be made iteratively, without having to wait until all feedback is received before fixing any bugs.

#6: Enables Adherence to Budgets

With iterative prototyping, project managers and software developers have ongoing insight into how accurate the initial project estimates were. This helps them to calculate whether deadlines and milestones are likely to be achievable and whether the budget and time allocations are going to be enough.

At the same time, an iterative process allows for more flexibility, because issues that arise can be addressed without impacting the entire project, and project sponsors and managers can easily evaluate development progress.

#7: Reduces User Training Requirements

If potential end-users are involved during prototyping stages, they need less training when the software is finally rolled out to the organization. This improves the likelihood that users will find the end product useful and reduces both the time and costs associated with training and upskilling them to use the tools.

Often, it can be difficult to predict what a user’s pain points will be until they actually begin using a program. With iterative prototyping, issues can be addressed one by one as they occur, without waiting for a major update to take place. Users also end up with a better understanding of the functionality if they have been involved during the prototyping stages.

#8: Necessitates Fewer Redesigns

Having to perform a complete redesign slows a project down considerably, which not only delays the time to value (and ROI!) but also increases the overall project costs. With an iterative process, developers are able to address any serious defects early in the process, instead of waiting until after the prototype is complete. This avoids spending time on designs that may be flawed from the outset and reduces the number of redesigns required over the life of the project.

#9: Delivers Robust User Feedback

User feedback is a major advantage of iterative prototyping because it provides a valuable resource that developers can use. This allows a stronger focus on the value to users, which impacts the customers’ experience. If a company finds users are leaving at a particular point in the journey, user testing and feedback can help to discover why it happens. This ultimately leads to more user-friendly products in the long term.

#10: Provides Valuable Analytics

Software development is an inexact science, so updates and redesigns need to be evidence-based and non-subjective. During an internal testing phase by a limited number of users, particularly if they are tech-savvy, it’s hard to imagine the issues less knowledgeable users will come up against.

With iterative prototyping, developers gather valuable analytics on which they can base redesign decisions. Metrics like overall user satisfaction, the number of usability issues, and the time it takes to complete a task offer important clues to where improvements are needed.

An Obvious Choice

If your company’s mission is to increase revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and boost productivity through custom software, the obvious choice is a product development team that uses iterative prototyping. You’ll reap benefits such as a faster turnaround time, more involvement with the final product, and less wasted time and resources.

For more information please contact us.