IT Industry


6 Top Success Factors for Agile Software Projects


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



Experiencing the Benefits of CompTIA Membership


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


GIS Day Wales launch


Software Alliance Wales launches GIS Day Wales

As GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology advances and the opportunities for individuals, business, and government to use it broadens there has never been a better time to acknowledge the opportunity and the challenge that this technology presents to Wales.

Book your place at GIS Day Wales

Software Alliance Wales will be celebrating worldwide GIS Day and launching GIS Day Wales with an event on 19th November in Lampeter.

The celebrations begin on Tuesday November 18th with a pre-event dinner and talk in Lampeter’s Town Hall where Ian Holt, Head of Developer Outreach at the Ordnance Survey, will be talking about his volunteer work with Map Action, who provide emergency GIS support during humanitarian disasters.

On Wednesday 19th, attendees are invited to UWTSD’s Lampeter campus for a day of talks, discussions, networking and tours; showcasing the diverse ways that businesses and academics are using GIS. The day will be a mixture of old and new as attendees will visit displays and demonstrations in the University’s Roderic Bowen Archives and the newly installed hub of Wales’ High Performance Computer network. 

Professor Rod Thomas will also be providing an overview of High Performance Computing in Wales, giving attendees an insight into the state-of-the art technology, training and support available here in Lampeter. He will be officially opening the new HPC Wales workstation on the day, which offers SMEs and academics local access to Wales’ National Supercomputing Network. Attendees will learn how they can benefit from using the technology and find out how they can get access to it along with the software, training ad support required to utilise it effectively.

The day is truly set to inspire innovation in the GIS community with Ordnance Survey, QinetiQ and We Predict being just a handful of a wealth of speakers who will be sharing their expert knowledge and experience with delegates.

GIS Day Wales is open to everyone - whether you want to present, exhibit or simply attend please get in touch.


GIS Day Partner Logos


Help Create a Machine Vision of the Future


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



Wearables - A new set of design challenges


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



SAW & Ordnance Survey - GeoVation Challenge


SAW partners with Ordnance Survey to host GeoVation Challenge Masterclass

On 16th October Software Alliance Wales will host a free GeoVation Challenge Masterclass at TechHub in Swansea.

The challenge, organised by Ordnance Survey in conjunction with Land Registry, is asking for people to combine the use of geography, technology and design skills to come up with solutions to address the challenge in hand which is ‘How can we enable people in Britain to live in better places?’. The most compelling solutions will be offered the opportunity to win a share of £101,000 of funding to bring the solution to reality.

What will happen at the masterclass?

The masterclasses combine theory and practical sessions, giving users the chance to use open datasets from Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Government open data. Attendees can expect to follow the journey of downloading the data, importing it into open source software and mashing with other open datasets to provide analysis that addresses the following two GeoVation housing issue themes that are featured within the GeoVation Pow Wow output: Affordability and Accessibility and infrastructure.

Should I attend the masterclass?

This class is ideal for those new to working with location data or anyone wishing to brush up on their skills and the overriding goal of the session is to identify where affordable housing is accessible in areas of lower deprivation for the average household.

Open to anyone, whether entering the GeoVation Challenge or just wanting to develop their skills generally, the sessions run from 9.30 am until 4.00pm. There are up to 40 places at each session. 

Sign up for your FREE place today -



A Welcome Return to Familiarity


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



Low-Tech for Virtual Reality


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 ( 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



News: Tech-Wales breaks new market


Trustmark+ helps IT business get on the right track

Tech Wales Logo

Swansea, UK; 11th July 2014: Accredited IT company, Tech-Wales Ltd, has doubled its revenues, increased its employees by almost 50% and won a major contract with a car-part manufacturing company in Birmingham. 

The Baglan-based IT solutions provider broke into this new market after earning the CompTIA Accredit UK Trustmark+ in August 2013. 

Adrian Williams, managing director, at Tech-Wales explains: “Since founding the company in 2012, we had primarily been providing IT services to local businesses but we had ambition to grow our business and break into new markets and win bigger projects, which would in turn enable us to recruit local IT talent, maintain customer service levels and build a sustainable business in Baglan.”

“Having Swansea University on our doorstep has been an invaluable business resource for us. It can be difficult to achieve differentiation in this competitive market but thanks to Software Alliance Wales and CompTIA we were able to win customers that would have previously been unobtainable. We’re now full steam ahead and excited for the future!”

Having streamlined business processes, the company has also managed to doubled its revenues and almost doubled its headcount in its second year of trading.

Mr Williams explains, “We have achieved what we wanted to and more in just two years and there is no doubt that the Trustmark+ accreditation scheme has been instrumental. We now have complete confidence that we are in a good place for this success to continue, and we look forward to winning bigger contracts and recruiting more talent.”

In the News ... 

PCR: Accredited IT company, Tech-Wales, thanks CompTIA UK after doubling revenues

Are you ready for accreditation?

CompTIA offers the opportunity to earn an IT Business Trustmark and an Accredit UK Trustmark+ to UK IT companies that can demonstrate sound business best practices while providing quality IT services.

For clients and collaborators, CompTIA Trustmarks demonstrate that your IT company is committed to excellence and has pledged to follow a robust code of practice that meets or exceeds the industry standard level of service.

To enjoy the same benefits, find out information more here. Alternatively get in touch to set up a meeting with one of our advisors.


Case Study: Tech-Wales


Tech-Wales - Doubles revenues and breaks into a new market

Tech-Wales is an IT solutions provider, based in Swansea, with over 30 years IT experience. It provides a nationwide base of customers with a suite of Microsoft products, including Office 365 and SharePoint, and bespoke IT support services.

The challenge:

Tech-Wales was ambitious and was looking to grow and strengthen in order to recruit the best staff and win the biggest contracts. The company’s MD, Adrian Williams knew his company would need to operate like a larger service provider if it wanted to act like one in the market. He set about looking at how he could do this without impacting on operations and customer service:

“We wanted to streamline our businesses processes, which would lay the foundations for us to grow and scale in terms of project size and head count. Being one of the only companies that don’t tie customers into 12-month support contracts, customer service is especially important to our business, which meant we needed to find a way of changing our business processes without impacting on our service levels to customers. After talking to Software Alliance Wales about the CompTIA Trustmark programme, and how it was designed specifically for the IT industry, we signed up straight away!”

The solution:

Tech-Wales worked closely with Software Alliance Wales, CompTIA and an independent assessor to go through a comprehensive assessment of the company’s current processes and procedures, taking a close look at how they can be improved in order to grow and scale. They were then offered an improvement framework that would allow them to make gradual steps towards more flexible business processes that worked for them and their business.

“We were set achievable goals with realistic deadlines which worked great as this meant that things couldn’t get missed and we had something tangible to work towards – this is something that would have been impossible if we had tried to go through a similar process alone. In addition, the knowledge and expertise from our assessor were invaluable.”

The result:

Upon completion Tech-Wales was recommended to CompTIA by the assessor to be recognised as a ‘best in class’ IT provider and was awarded the CompTIA IT Business Trustmark in April 2013. The company then went on to earn the CompTIA Accredit UK Trustmark+ in August 2013, and is now one of an elite but growing number of accredited companies in the UK.

CompTIA Trustmark + and IT Business Trustmark

Since becoming an accredited IT company, Tech-Wales has doubled its annual revenues, it has also gone on to break into new markets - winning its biggest contract to date with a large automotive manufacturer – and has almost doubled its headcount. Adrian is confident that this success is set to continue:

“Since having all the right procedures in place, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted and we’ve been able to focus more on evolving the business and working towards achieving our company vision. In just over two years we’ve been able to break new markets, win new contracts and recruit some great new staff – there is no question that our CompTIA Accredit UK Trustmark+ was crucial to this success and long may it continue!”

Looking ahead, Adrian plans to continue working with Software Alliance Wales and CompTIA and intends to retain Tech-Wales’ Trustmark+ status so that he can continue onwards and upwards. He explains, “we want to stay on the path to success that we’re on and accreditation is paramount to this.”

Adrian Williams, Managing Director, Tech-Wales Ltd

Are you ready for accreditation?

CompTIA offers the opportunity to earn an IT Business Trustmark and an Accredit UK Trustmark+, to UK IT companies that can demonstrate sound business best practices while providing quality IT services.

For clients and collaborators, CompTIA Trustmarks demonstrate that your IT company is committed to excellence and has pledged to follow a robust code of practice that meets or exceeds the industry standard level of service.

To enjoy the same benefits, find out information more here. Alternatively get in touch to set up a meeting with one of our advisors.