Why you should pay attention to online learning

A game changer for education?

When any technology enabled industry is showing growth rates as high as 25% in certain countries it is time to sit up and take notice. In a report by Docebo the world wide market for self paced e-Learning is growing at a compound rate of 7.5%. The highest growth rates are between 20-25% and are countries in Asia and Eastern Europe, closely followed by Africa and Latin America. Even in the most mature markets like the USA, a solid growth of 4-6% per annum is being observed.

Online training

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How to get your customers involved in software development

Set up a customer advisory board

Companies that sell software solutions to enterprise customers should consider creating a customer advisory board (CAB). In many situations the CAB is the result of a properly functioning user group. Users elect a committee to act on their behalf to influence the direction of the product development. If you sell software to businesses and don’t have a CAB you may be missing out on a great opportunity to engage at both a personal and very strategic level with your customers.

Customer_led

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Should consultants re-think their model?

An information business is one where you are compensated for sharing your expert knowledge and experience through various means such as consulting, training, coaching, writing, entertaining etc. You are compensated by the hour.

Consultant

An online information business is the delivery of this expertise through the web, using new media such as video, eLearning, collaboration forums, books, consulting, webinars etc.

An online businesses can be scaleable and can reach more customers.

The new challenge for a consultant is to leverage his or her specialised knowledge in a world now totally flooded with information.

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Can you afford to outsource your IT?

A few days ago I read of a major national IT outsource contract ending after five years.  In 2009 the service provider had acquired the incumbent vendor and most of the in house IT resources of the customer and signed an IT service contract to continue to deliver services.  The decision to end the contract will now affect thousands of IT professionals who now stand to lose their jobs.  Over the years I have known the customer quite well and observed many problems in the execution of their IT.  So it was no surprise that the contract was ending – misalignment between the client and service provider was evident on the ground, and a radical change was necessary,  even to an outside observer. The implications to the service provider are now significant.   This contract had been a significant contributor to their business and the termination now poses a real threat to their sustainability.  I hope they have a contingency plan.

Wrestle

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Starting out? Why you should consider becoming a software developer

There has never been a better time to become a software developer. I realise that not all my readers are geeks and this topic may not be relevant to you. So forgive me for a somewhat technical post, but I feel the subject is important to anyone in a technical career.

Mobile

This post is for those who are wondering whether learning new software development skills is worthwhile. Whether you are in IT looking to extend your influence, or starting out as a developer, or even feeling that you have grown out of the technical world and need need something challenging and exciting, this post might be just what you need right now to get started in development.

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Small marketing budget – no problem!

Aside from salaries, marketing typically comprises a big percentage of operational expenditure in an information business (such as a software or consulting company).  Much of this expenditure can certainly be put to more effective use.  Smaller companies have to learn to “punch above their weight” with very limited marketing budgets. The good news is that with a few simple strategies, you can dramatically increase the impact of your marketing activity even as you reduce the cost.

Marketing

If you are in a smaller information business such as consulting or a software startup, ask yourself, how would your business be enhanced if you could reach significantly more prospects with more targeted and effective marketing without extending your marketing budget, or needing to employ more sales people? (more…)

How Kanban can help software project teams

Like many people I am a sucker for good books. The crisp feeling of a new book with its unexplored chapters is irresistible, enhanced by that “new book” and rich coffee smell you can only get in the best bookshops.

So it was that I revisited my old University bookshop in Cape Town and for nostalgia’s sake, purchased a brand new copy of “Software Engineering, a Practitioner’s Approach” by Roger S Pressman. This was prescribed for one of the courses in Computer Science.  The book helped me through several years of software development in my own company; until it found its place on a shelf in my study, untouched for months, until today.

In the world of modern software engineering over the past few years we have seen the rise in popularity of the Agile manifesto as a response to the problems associated with cost, productivity, functional fit and quality of modern software.  Several Agile practitioners now also advocate Kanban as an approach to  transforming development team projects by smoothing the flow of work.

Out of curiosity I checked the index of my 2001 copy of Software Engineering, a Practitioner’s Approach” for the word “Agile”.

“Agile” wasn’t in the index!   Nor was “Kanban”!

That surprised me, surely before 2001 people successfully wrote good software and apparently before Agile was part of mainstream software development process?  Or perhaps the specific academic text was flawed in that it did not consider Agile worthy of any real attention.  (In the 2001 edition at least).

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Considering Agile? Then understand the risks

Agile, in the world of software development refers to a set of values and principles that result in a more collaborative and iterative development process together with the customer.  Agile is sometimes seen as THE alternative to traditionally “planned” software development projects that usually run over budget, are late and deliver a product that hardly ever matches up to what the customer actually wants.

agile-boat

I recently had a catch up discussion with a colleague and friend who works in software and it turned out that her company is now changing their development methodology to adopt agile.   Now I know the company concerned well,  and started thinking about agile and the risks faced when embarking on agile in an environment that has in the past always been very standard process oriented.  Their specific SDLC (software development life cycle) was always prescribed by the customer and regarded for decades as the “only way” to deliver good software products.  So what changed?

Coincidentally, later in the week I spent 3 days with another client who was also embarking on exactly the same initiative, changing the established SDLC and introducing agile processes into a big ERP software rewrite and upgrade project.

Clearly companies are increasingly adopting agile in preference to plan driven development – but at what risk?

A transition to agile can be exciting and yield many benefits, provided the transition itself is well managed in the specific circumstances.  If not, agile can unfortunately prove to be an unmitigated disaster.  There has been little evidence that software project failures will be eliminated through agile, in fact there is real discontent around agile, for example:

Agile promises solutions it cannot deliver. It promotes sloppy requirements, hides the true cost of development and prevents effective management. Contrary to what we’re told to expect, this leads to long-running projects, dissatisfied customers and an overall IT ineffectiveness. – Lajos Moczar (more…)