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News for December 2012

Client Spotlight: Delegate It – “We Sweat the Small Stuff.”

Our client spotlight this month gives us an inside look at Delegate It led by Melissa Serpico. Delegate It helps entrepreneurs and small businesses run more efficiently by handling the day to day tasks that are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of running a business. Serpico DEV works closely with Delegate It as the developer of their company website.

Helping Small Businesses With Everyday Tasks

The Company

It’s a small business owner and entrepreneur’s dream.

Getting behind on those everyday tasks while working to make your small business successful? Delegate It helps businesses catch up by providing a diverse team to handle the tasks that get lost in the chaos that comes with running a business. Whether it’s a Flash presentation or inventory fulfillment, Delegate It gives businesses a peace of mind that the small stuff is getting done right.

The goal of Delegate It is to provide as much value as possible for their clients. They do this by only charging for the tasks completed, saving the business time and money. When a new business doesn’t have the resources to hire full-time employees, Delegate It steps in to handle the tasks that aren’t high priority, but still must be completed.

The wide range of services, skills, and abilities of the Delegate It team allows them to take on almost any project from any business. “We are always up for a challenge and the opportunity to learn something new” said Serpico in an article recently featured in Really Great Magazine. They work to align themselves with a business’s goals to create a synergy that can yield incredible results.

Delegate It provides everything from data entry to custom web design. They can also assist in delivering superior customer service for a business to keep clients coming back again and again. If you’re a small business with tasks and projects that keep getting pushed back on the priority list, Delegate It can step in and get things done in an efficient and cost effective manner.

For more information on Delegate It and their services, visit their website and drop them a line.

Our Job

Serpico DEV’s job was to create a web presence for Delegate It that was very professional and modern while still being user-friendly. The website was built using PHP combined with an HTML front-end user interface. Delegate It and Serpico DEV’s development team collaborated daily using an Agile approach to ensure the project was moving forward on schedule. This open channel of communication between Delegate It and Serpico DEV helped the project be delivered well ahead of schedule, saving both companies’ time and money

For more information on Serpico DEV and our software development services, please contact us.

Posted: December 20th, 2012
Categories: General
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Switching to Agile Development? Don’t Forget QA

QA Testing with AgileSo, you’ve decided to go Agile? Congratulations on taking that first step towards faster project delivery, higher quality software, and improvement on your ROI. Transitioning from the traditional waterfall approach to Agile can be an involved process but maybe the most difficult thing is making the decision to do so.  And you’ve conquered that.

Several things have to take place in this transition to Agile. Updated documentation, training, and new roles have to be defined to accommodate the change. Terms like Product Owner and Scrum Master are the new talk.

Businesses have to make this transition carefully. With so many new processes being implemented, things get overlooked and sometimes just plain forgot. One of the most important parts of the software development life cycle often falls victim to this: QA testing.

While QA testing is rarely forgotten completely in Agile development, it does require one of the biggest changes. What used to be a process of testing at the end of development with waterfall has morphed into constant testing throughout the entirety of the project. That’s a whole new way of thinking for traditional testers.

But a little massaging and nurturing of the traditional QA process can make it very successful in Agile. Here are a few tips to help make the transition smooth and successful.

Involve the Entire Agile Team

In Agile, everyone on the team—from tester to developer to product manager—needs to be aware of quality throughout the development process. Making it part of their daily workflow can lead to faster discovery and remediation of defects helping reduce time, effort, and cost in the process.

While the tester is the person in charge and ultimately responsible for the quality process, it never hurts to have another set of eyes looking at the product.

Test Early and Often

In Agile projects, development takes place in small iterations called sprints that always end with a functional release. This means testing has to take place early and often in the project. Unit tests, functional tests, load and stress tests should be included with every sprint beginning right away with the first one.

Some changes in the next sprint may require going back and testing something again. But consistent testing, even if it requires some repeat, will ensure earlier detection of issues that could otherwise stall the entire project. Earlier detection easily offsets the cost of some retesting.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Sound familiar? We’ve stressed the importance of communication in the Agile setting over and over and you won’t find too many Agile pros that don’t agree. The same thing applies for QA.

Constant collaboration back and forth between QA and the development team ensures little bugs don’t turn into project-halting rework. Scrum Masters should try to create wide open communication channels with constant status updates and daily scrum meetings that makes sure everyone is on the same page. Not only will this help find defects quicker before they spin out of control, but also improve teamwork that can often speed up overall project delivery.

Oftentimes a tool such as Spotlight can help manage QA tasks and communication among the team to make sure nothing gets swept under the rug. It helps with organization and tracking of detected defects throughout the entire project.

Conclusion

QA testing can be very successful in an Agile setting and actually much more effective than with traditional waterfall. Defects can be found quicker and remedied sooner, saving the Agile team lots of headache later on. While it might be a new experience for developers and testers, the end result will be a new level of teamwork that can move software projects through the development life cycle much quicker. Plus, increased and improved teamwork just makes everyone’s job more enjoyable.

For more information on our software development services, please contact us.

Posted: December 13th, 2012
Categories: General
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Manage Remote Project Teams? Spotlight People & Project Manager Can Help

Spotlight Software will launch Spotlight People & Project Manager, a cloud-based application that merges Agile project management with social network communications to enhance collaboration among remote project teams. SerpicoDEV is proud to be the software developer for Spotlight People & Project Manager. Below is their press release.

Spotlight Software Boosts Communication and Makes Remote Project Teams More Effective with Launch of Cloud-Based Spotlight People & Project Manager

Project management has gone social. The launch of Spotlight People & Project Manager at spotlightppm.com solves the communication and collaboration issues that face remote project teams today. Spotlight merges the efficiency of Agile project management with the power of social networking to create a cloud-based project collaboration platform that increases productivity and decreases time to market for projects driven by remote teams.

Spotlight People & Project Manager

Remote teams are now able to communicate more effectively with the launch of Spotlight People & Project Manager, a SaaS solution that combines the efficiency of Agile project management with the power of social network communications. All remote project teams face the challenge of fragmented communication, which can result in a project failure rate of up to 50% (Source: Aberdeen Group). Instead of focusing solely on tasks like other project management tools, Spotlight takes the added step of focusing on communication among the team through a social network interface on top of a lean, agile task management system. Launched by Vincent Serpico, founder and CEO, Spotlight was born from a need to effectively manage his own remote development teams for his software development services company, SerpicoDEV.

Spotlight ingeniously addresses the currently troublesome communication problem through a dashboard of “Status Cards” that each team member calls their own. Built on the analogs of Facebook-like wall posts and Twitter-like Tweets, the Status Card keeps the project manager, client, and fellow team members apprised, real-time, of what each person is working on at any given moment via Spotlight’s exclusive free-form status and availability update. The Status Card empowers team members to chat with other team members and/or request status updates.

Because of Spotlight’s multi-channel communication focus, project managers also have the power to quickly initiate a phone or conference call directly from Spotlight if needed. The Status Card can be conveniently “flipped over” to reveal quick links and information for contacting the team member via Skype or their mobile phone; including immediate geo-location of the team member through a Google map. To enable leaders to see the path of activity and decision making, Spotlight also features a history of all status updates by every team member.

The social network-like interface is combined with an enhanced task management system that goes beyond other project management tools currently available. Team members update their status with the tasks they are assigned and the system tracks time spent on each task. Via Spotlight’s robust reporting engine, reports can be created that show the progress of a project, its estimated delivery date, and the progress of each team member.

Spotlight also has a mobile application for the iPhone and Android for those managers and clients constantly on the go. The mobile versions offer the same functionality as the web application and allow project managers to monitor their team from anywhere in the world at any moment. Team member status updates, availability, tasks, and project progress can all be accessed from the mobile application.

The combination of these features results in a product that allows remote teams to communicate and collaborate via the best of social networking, while tracking task management using the proven lean, agile method. Spotlight is true cloud-based, social project management that helps remote teams deliver their projects faster and more efficiently. Visit Spotlight People & Project Manager and sign up for one of our packages starting at $29.

Posted: December 7th, 2012
Categories: General
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Making Remote Teams Successful With Agile

Agile Remote Team SuccessElance recently celebrated its two millionth freelancer. What does this mean for the software development industry? Remote development and design teams are sticking around for the long haul. With access to lower cost talent worldwide at their fingertips, businesses will start incorporating the practice into their long-term strategy.

The recent rise of agile software development raises some questions about implementing it with remote teams. Communication, cultural challenges, and time zone differences all combine to make it sound like it’s more work than it’s worth.

But those who made it work have reaped some major benefits. Projects can be delivered faster while still maintaining high quality. Costs can be cut dramatically. The key to making this combination successful? Efficient teamwork driven by communication.

Good communication just doesn’t happen overnight with remote project teams. Several things in the Agile approach contribute to making the communication platform more effective, resulting in better teamwork. It’s sort of a chain reaction – maintain good scrum practices to ensure quality communication that improves teamwork.

Below are some tips that help a remote agile team be more effective. It may take some sweat and tears, but making it work will benefit project stakeholders at every level.

Teamwork Depends on the Agile Team

The abundance of low cost talent available remotely doesn’t mean you should just pick the lowest cost team with the best resumes. Pick people who fit your organization. Sure, you still must consider experience and education but also see that they fit the company culture and there aren’t huge language barriers.

Also, take into account the team members enthusiasm and readiness to collaborate. Good spirits and open conversations during daily scrums can motivate team members tremendously. It may also help relieve some of the pressure to contribute for those that are a little quieter.

In the end, the team members selected should always respect the project goals and do everything they can to reach those goals.

Consider Culture

Always consider the culture of your fellow team members dispersed around the world. Work hours and days, holidays, and religion can all play a major part in a team member’s schedule and availability. Be prepared ahead of time with this knowledge and communicate extensively to minimize the culture gap. This can save you a lot time and confusion.

If you know ahead of time the some cultural challenges are too difficult to overcome, try to work with countries that have traditions close to yours. Difficulties can also arise with already assembled teams. If this is the case, it may be worth it to find a person who better understands the culture and not go through the next few months trying to figure it out.

Keep the Daily Scrum (and other open discussions)

Just because your team isn’t in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful scrum. Our company does it all the time via Skype and Go To Meeting. Keep the same format with everyone speaking on the tasks they did yesterday, the tasks for today, and the problems they have encountered. But just remember, being remote makes open communication that much more important since facial expressions cannot be seen.

Besides the daily scrum, encourage open communication and discussions throughout the entire day. This can often generate new ideas or find a solution to a bug. After all, open communication is the cornerstone of a successful project.

Divide and Conquer

Divide your project into even smaller iterations and require regular software integration. This will give you more control of the real project progress and help identify where issues may arise.

Working in remote teams does come with an increased chance of misunderstandings. But by breaking the project down into smaller iterations, misunderstandings and problems can be detected much earlier. With clarification of requirements and immediate code fixing, the project can move forward in a timely manner.

Clean and Crisp

Clean, well-shaped source code can prevent headaches down the project road. Part of the agile framework includes constant updating and revising of existing code. Ensuring the code is clean, crisp, and commented can minimize the response time tremendously for requirement changes.

At the end of all agile software development projects, the code has to be handed off to the client in some manner. Well prepared documentation makes this knowledge transfer easy and cost effective. Because at some point, the client will be calling back for help.

The agile method with remote teams can indeed work and work well. There may just be a little more prep work ahead of time to ensure the project goes smoothly. Maintain proper agile practices throughout with wide open communication and you’ll be on the way to success. Borders no longer limit who we can work with so it’s best to get prepared now by embracing the trend.

For more information on SerpicoDEV’s software development services, please contact us.

Posted: December 5th, 2012
Categories: General
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