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6 Top Success Factors for Agile Software Projects

27/01/2015

There are many factors to consider when undertaking an agile software development. If you have ever wondered which are the key factors that you would need to focus on and why, here is the answer. This article also suggests the significance of the most influential factors compared to others too.

Software Success Measurements: Scope, Quality, Time, Cost

Measurements of software development success

In this post I present my summary of a piece of research conducted by Tsun Chow & Dac-Buu Cao on critical success factors in agile software developments. The success of software developments can be measured in may ways. The four criteria used to measure the success of a software development in this study are: Quality, Scope, Time and Cost. The top influential factors in the success of an agile project are:

  1. Correct Delivery Strategy - Considered to be the most influential factor on the success of a project and has a significant influence on Scope, Timeliness and Costs of the development.
  2. Agile Engineering Techniques - Considered to be the second most critical influential factor and impacts the Quality and Scope of the project.
  3. High-Calibre Team -  The final factor that is considered to be critical to the overall success of the project and directly impacts the Timeliness and Cost of the project.
  4. Good Agile Project Management Process -  The fourth most influential factor and is concluded to have a specific impact on the  Quality of the project.
  5. Agile-Friendly Team Environment also has an impact on Quality.
  6. SCRUM certified - WorkshopStrong Customer Involvement – is shown, perhaps not unexpected, to impact on Scope.

Interestingly the study also concluded that factors often widely considered to influence the success of an agile project, namely: strong executive support, strong sponsor commitment, ready availability of physical Agile facility or Agile-appropriate project types, could not be attributed to success in the software developments studied.

This study was conducted using 109 varied software projects via a web-based survey. One of a small number of limitations of the study cited by the authors, is that a not all agile approaches were represented in the study and over 50% of the projects used an extreme programming (XP) approach.

The full study is published by Science Direct.  I would like to hear from you what, in your experience, are the critical success factors in your software developments?
 

If you would like to learn more about Agile and SCRUM project management methodologies we recommend our "Certified SCRUM Product Owner" course taking place on March 18th in Swansea.  Register your place here.


Article by Dr Matt Roach, Software Alliance Wales

Email: m.roach@softwarealliancewales.com

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Experiencing the Benefits of CompTIA Membership

28/11/2014

On November 5th my Software Alliance Wales colleagues and I were lucky enough to attend the annual CompTIA EMEA London Channel event at the Queen Elizabeth II Exhibition Centre.  We were there to pick up a Special Recognition award but also to learn more about the channel meetings by networking and experiencing at first hand the benefits of CompTIA membership.

The two days were a fantastic mix of talks by industry experts, panel discussions and networking opportunities. 

The event really hit home for me the value that CompTIA members get from their membership.  Not only do you get the chance to mix with some of the best and brightest from the IT industry and swap contact details but you get to learn about other people’s journeys from small businesses with big ideas to accredited, successful and sustainable businesses. 

One workshop in particular stood out for me, demonstrating the new CompTIA website and its features.  The website has a vast library of free resources for members to help grow and improve their IT companies.  From a range of “Quick Start” guides to numerous e-learning modules.  There are also assessment wizards into which you input your business details and processes, the wizard then generates a free risk assessment report.  Other features include templates for creating your staff hand book, legal templates and a marketing pack helping you leverage your accredited status to help you win bigger contracts.

As somebody who used to be self-employed I know that growing your business and putting in place the policies and procedures to enable growth can be a daunting prospect.  Not knowing how to prepare your business for hiring its first employees for instance, putting HR policies and the infrastructure in place to guarantee sustainability can put off a lot of one-man-bands from up-scaling into larger more successful companies.  CompTIA’s resources and the accreditation process itself give you the support and the raw materials you need to help your business reach its potential and to give it the best chance of succeeding.

Time is running out for Welsh businesses wanting to take advantage of subsidised CompTIA accreditation.  Eligible companies can still benefit from up to 80% funding towards completing the IT Business Trustmark which is an excellent business improvement tool.

 


Article by Chris Rees
Software Alliance Wales – Communications Team Lead

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Guest Blog: Finding our way in GPS Transformation

27/10/2014

New levels of robustness, accuracy, and resilience in positioning, navigation and timing provided by the advent of multiple constellation Global Satellite Navigation Services (GNSS) offer truly transformative opportunities for many markets, both where GPS is a current feature and where not.

Funded by the EU, the Galileo constellation and associated service layers are in their testing phases prior to full operating capability, with a clear national and regional interest in finding strong market pull for Galileo’s capabilities.

QinetiQ has been involved in Galileo for many years, with world firsts in open and encrypted test signal receivers, as well as high performance GPS receivers for niche applications. QinetiQ’s principal interest is in the receiver technology itself, yet we recognise the opportunity for UK and in particular Wales to be a hub for Satellite Navigation technology, applications and services, which is where the Welsh Assembly and Software Alliance Wales’ interests join ours on what is a global stage.

Book your place at GIS Day WalesWhat could be achieved with routine centimetre-level positioning accuracy outside and even inside buildings for instance, receiver miniaturisation into flat tags or the robustness of location logging that is resilient to interference? In order for the transformational performance offered by these new constellations and associated receivers to be fully exploited, users and developers need to think about areas where these benefits will find novel application. These could be as far and wide as fisheries monitoring, autonomous systems, disability aids, logistics, sports and leisure, law enforcement, safety – there are so many applications where the benefits of next generation GNSS will be realised  by someone: your mission is to make sure it’s you!

Key performance transformations include:

  • 10-20cm accuracy becoming routine for low cost receivers
  • Greater resilience to jamming, spoofing and accidental interference - an increasing problem
  • Strong performance in densely built up areas (urban canyons) and inside buildings, with further assistance from other complementary services
  • Opportunities for much smaller form factors and power requirements
  • High dynamics performance – very fast moving, accelerating or spinning applications

There is no question that the world will see major transformative benefits from the advent of multi-constellation GNSS services and together Wales can lead the way in novel Satnav applications.


By Mark Stead, strategy lead, at QinetiQ 


On 13th October Software Alliance Wales, QinetiQ and Welsh Government hosted a joint workshop in Swansea entitled 'Next Generation Global Positioning'. The workshop addressed the major economic opportunities and challenges that are faced by this evolving technology and in particular what Wales and the UK can do to embrace these opportunities and face these challenges. If this is something you are interested then come along to GIS Day Wales in Lampeter on 19th November. To find out more and register visit http://www.softwarealliancewales.com/gis-day-wales

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Help Create a Machine Vision of the Future

22/10/2014

The 26th British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC) will take place in Swansea University (Singleton campus), 7-11 September, 2015. The British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC) is one of the largest international conferences in computer vision and related areas, and is organised annually by the British Machine Vision Association (BMVA).

The 2015 event will be hosted by Swansea University from 7th to 11th September, will be a high-quality single-track conference composed of both oral presentations and poster sessions, as well as two keynote presentations, one conference tutorial, and a PhD student workshop. The conference covers a wide range of topics in Machine Vision research, such as statistics and machine learning for vision, face and gesture recognition, video analysis, and so on.

The deadline for paper submission is 24 April, 2015, and the early registration is due on 24 July, 2015. The Swansea University Singleton Campus is set in a rolling parkland overlooking the majestic sweep of Swansea Bay, the start of the famously dramatic Gower coastline comprised of twenty-one bays and coves. BMVC regularly attracts about 200 vision researchers and engineers from around the world, which provides an excellent platform for global networking, advertisement and recruitment in vision engineering. If you are interested in sponsoring the conference.

For more information, please visit the conference website. You can also follow the conference on twitter @bmvc2015
 


Article by Feng Zhao, Workshop Developer, Software Alliance Wales

Email: f.zhao@softwarealliancewales.com

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Wearables - A new set of design challenges

15/10/2014

Wearables such as Google Glass, activity trackers and smart watches, to name but a few, are becoming the next big thing and a growing number of companies are beginning to establish a presence in this new, exciting and potentially lucrative market.

Indeed, research conducted by YouGov plc, a market research agency based in the UK, suggests that the wearable market is on the rise, and have predicted an increase in market penetration from 6% to 13%, over the next year.  That’s a jump from 2.8 million to around 6.1 million people in the UK alone. And, if the smart phone market is anything to go by, the popularity of wearables will be driven by the various apps people will be able to purchase.

Wearable technologySuccessful apps, those that people download, use and generate revenue for your business are likely to be those that deliver great user experience. Google has been quick of the block to provide developers with advice about the types of things to consider when conserving and developing a wearable app. The key message behind this advice is to consider people’s needs and the form factor of wearables. To quote Emmet Connolly a designer on the Android Wear team “Designing for wearables is not about shrinking a smart phone UI to a tiny screen instead, think about the problems your design will solve.

What is interesting about this approach is that it is promoting the human centred design process, a design approach that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, by applying human factors/ergonomics, and usability knowledge and techniques.

In the forthcoming series of blogs I will be talking about aspects of the human centred design process and some of the advice provided by the Android Wear team at google.
 

Useful links

 


Article by Niren Basu, Workshop Developer, Software Alliance Wales

Email: n.basu@softwarealliancewales.com

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A Welcome Return to Familiarity

02/10/2014

Common UI Conventions - Play, pause and rewind iconsMicrosoft has announced it’s next operating system, Windows 10, which has brought back some key features that Windows 8 removed.

The infamous Start button had been present on Windows operating systems ever since Windows 95, allowing us as users of the platform easy access to all of the features and programs on our computers. Yet, Windows 8 removed this feature, perhaps to allow easier navigation on touch screen devices. After we had all become so accustomed to a particular method of interacting, the entry point of a significant proportion of our engagements was removed.

If we consider this from a usability point of view, using Ben Shneiderman's "Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design", the removal of the Start Menu breaks the first rule of good interface design - strive for consistency. The removal of such a prominent feature led to many users struggling to use the operating system.

Consistency is a crucial concept, which allows us to interact with a wide variety of devices, systems and applications in our daily lives. Consider the symbols for play, pause and stop that we see on nearly all media devices. As they are now so universally consistent, we know immediately what will likely happen when we press one of these buttons.

When designing our own digital solutions, we should be mindful of how our creations are in fact consistent with universal expectations, as well as similar or pre-existing similar systems.

 

 


Striving for consistency is one aspect of creating usable and engaging designs, if you want to learn more on this subject try our 2 day 'Software UI & UX' workshop which covers it in detail .


Article by Tom Owen, Workshop Developer, Software Alliance Wales

Email: t.owen@softwarealliancewales.com

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Website First Impressions

16/09/2014

Most businesses invest a lot of time and money developing a presence on the web and then fine tuning their search engine optimisation (SEO), but this could all be for nothing if you have not created the right first impression.

 “You get one chance to make a first impression” so the saying goes and in the case of websites that one chance is determined in just 50 milliseconds, that’s less time than it takes to  blink an eye, which takes around 100-400 milliseconds. That’s all the time it takes someone visiting your website to decide...

  • Whether to continue engaging with your website

  • What it will be like to conduct business with you
  • Whether or not you are credible or trustworthy

Web Usability Workshop - Bangor October 7th 2014First impressions, are those immediate or gut instincts we make about people places and things, what Don Norman calls the visceral level, a legacy left over from the early days of our  evolution which decides if something is safe to approach or should be avoided. For the web, research has indicated that first impressions are predominantly based upon the visual appeal of your website.

This initial first impression then becomes the lens through which all other judgements about a website and business are based upon. This is due to what is known as the Halo effect, a tendency for a positive or negative first impression to spill over onto other judgments that we make about the website.

Positive emotions induce a positive first impression which makes us see a website and the business in a more positive light. We become more willing to engage with the website, see what it has to offer, we feel it is credible, trustworthy and usable. We are even more willing to forgive minor usability mistakes. In short, all the effort invested into the SEO is more likely to pay off.

For negative first impressions, the opposite is true; people will avoid the website and the business. In short, business is lost along with the possibility of conducting future business and all the SEO is wasted.  

You can find more out about this topic in Software Alliance Wales'  Web Usability course found here http://www.softwarealliancewales.com/web-usability


Article by Niren Basu, Workshop Developer, Software Alliance Wales

Email: n.basu@softwarealliancewales.com

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Low-Tech for Virtual Reality

08/09/2014

Google recently announced an exciting new product at its annual I/O developers conference. Google Cardboard is a low cost Virtual Reality headset and is a fantastic piece of equipment.

The Oculus Rift has long been thought of as one of the VR headsets that would become available to everyone, even prompting Facebook to get in on the act for a large sum of money (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/22/facebook-oculus-rift-acquisition-virtual-reality). Yet, Google’s low-tech solution has reached the market first.

Google Cardboard is made from what the name suggests and is a true DIY project. All that’s needed to create an immersive 3D experience is; a sheet of cardboard, lenses, magnets, velcro and a rubber band. By following Google’s instructions, the end result should look like a set of glasses that you can wear.

To stream the content for the glasses, Google has also released an application to create content for your phone (View the APP). By using the application and the glasses, you can walk down streets of far-away places and look around as if you were there.

The product raises the question about how high-tech do our digital solutions need to be? Google Cardboard might not have the power that Oculus Rift has, but does the experience diminish? Is there more value in the Cardboard because it’s a DIY project that we engage with more fully? With the Cardboard, we will likely know how the system is working, as we have been involved in the process. Knowing the intricacies of the inner-workings is something that is often lacking in the products we buy.

Does this also allow the device to be more widely used? The low cost approach perhaps means that we are more able to share our device to let others experience virtual reality. The chances of us sharing our high-tech, expensive digital devices with friends and family are sometimes low, as the value is too great. But low-tech solutions don’t carry these issues. Should the Cardboard get broken, it’s both cheap to replace and we know how to repair it.

The Google Cardboard is a great piece of fun; you should all try it out! For a demonstration of how the Cardboard works, take a look at this introductory video below:

 


Article by Tom Owen, Workshop Developer, Software Alliance Wales

Email: t.owen@softwarealliancewales.com

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Start Your E-Commerce Journey

17/06/2014

Online Selling can be easy and at the same time it can bring challenges but with the right mind set and tools you can start your journey on the path to online success.

Reputed marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Notonthehighstreet are good places to start. All of these channels work differently but the end result is more or less the same, you sell!

These sales channels can also be important if you have plans to expand internationally as it is lot easier to sell to customers in Germany through these established platforms than it is to open your own shop in Germany …

Let's talk about eBay. It boasts 17 million unique visitors in the UK every month. Probably eBay is the best place to start your eCommerce journey as it is very easy to start. If you would like to start casually simply start listing your products with easy to follow step by step listing wizard. You may also like to take a jump and open a store, which costs you £19.99 per month and with up to 11% commission. This is affordable cost for any startup business and would help you explore your potential online. If you are not sure about the eBay costs why not check out the cost for building your own store and marketing it, you will be amazed! Saying this, it is good to have your own webstore development in your digital marketing plan. 

We have seen many retailers starting online journey with eBay as it is the affordable and safest way whereas others have spent quite a bit of money on building their own store and have since opened an eBay store to increase their online revenue. Either way, eBay is found to be an essential part of an online business.   

Amazon has been a great success for many businesses. Similar to eBay, you can test the water with as an individual seller and when you are ready you can choose to be Merchant seller with £25.00 per month with average of 17% commission.  Amazon is constantly evolving. Its Prime program, costs £79.00, delivers Unlimited FREE One-Day Delivery orders and is an excellent customer loyalty tool while its' recent Sunday delivery service is being followed by many retailers. Amazon's FBA programme which allows you to send all your products to Amazon's warehouse for storage and to process your orders has been to lot of many one man businesses. This eliminates any storage needs and helps you concentrate on sourcing or producing the right product with Amazon handling the operations. It is a good idea if you want to turn your inventory more with less profit. On the other hand, unlike eBay, its UK account allows you to sell to Germany, France, Italy and Spain easily. Simply, choose the listings you would like to sell in other marketplace, the price and your listing will be exported within 24 hours. This is an important step that we ought to take advantage of growing online population elsewhere.

Etsy is more focused on creative products. You can find more handmade unique items along side vintage items for sale. If you are in handicraft business, Etsy is definitely a good place to be. Its low cost fees have been good initiative for many ($0.20 USD per listing and 3.50% commission). Checkout this Lola and Me store which started selling selling on Etsy and has now grown out to have its own webstore. You may get inspired!

Notonthehighstreet.com is quite picky about who sells on its platform. It claims to choose innovative sellers with well-made products to inspire shoppers looking for style, originality and quality, which cannot be seen on the high street. It has grown nationally and internationally and it is good place to be if you class yourself as “innovative” and your products not similar to the high street! I could not locate seller fees on their website but here’s how it looks on Google Search result, £199.00 joining fee with 25% commission. Compared with previous three platforms this is very costly place to be and suits best for higher value products with low cost of production.

All in all, these platforms bring you higher traffic and customers. They have all worked hard to build trust amongst buyers and have got better visibility on search engines. All of these are responsive to Mobile devices which we know is very important. All crucial elements for you to succeed online are there in these platforms and all you need to think about is listing your products at the right prices!

So, start your eCommerce journey today … Contact Prabhat Shah via email: daytodayebay@gmail.com  or give him a call on 07518839629 


For a comprehensive list of the courses and workshops available this year, take a look at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please signup up to our fortnightly mailshot.


 

 

 

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Why Beacons Technology?

06/06/2014

Participants in the Software Alliance Wales Live Hackathon Challenge will create commercially viable and innovative concepts based on state-of-the-art beacon technology. 

 

The technology is of particular interest to companies who want to tell a unique interactive story or provide contactless payment and identification services. Examples include:

  • Showing customers product options and stock inventory when standing next to the merchandise
  • Sending customers menus or product catalogue as they walk through an entrance
  • Targeting promotional offers at potential customers when they enter a store
  • Allow customers to pay for products or services via smartphone at point of sale
  • Create an interactive tour of a venue or business premise  

Recent surveys have shown that consumers are more willing to receive location-based, direct messages from retailers on their smartphones and tablets than had previously been anticipated; with consumer research specialist, eDigital Research, claiming earlier this year that 45% of smartphone owners would be ‘very willing’ or ‘somewhat willing’ for retailers to send messages to their smartphone.

For a high street retailer, this means shoppers could receive a personalised experience such as guidance on men’s or woman’s clothes or information on who best to speak to about personal shopping services.

Similarly, smartphone and tablet users may want to be informed about the closest place to grab a coffee or where a specific exhibit is located in a museum or arts gallery.  

This is of particular benefit to the visually impaired who may need help finding their destination;  their seat at a concert, a meeting room in their office, a specific store in a shopping centre, or their car in a car park.


For a comprehensive list of the courses and workshops available this year, take a loot at our events calendar. And, if you would like to be updated regularly on Software Alliance Wales activities please sign up to our fortnightly mailshot.

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