Why Projects Fail?

 

By Syed Mamnun Quader, Managing Director & CEO, Southtech Group

25 April 2018




 


Estimating and Budgeting Software Development Projects in Government Departments

By Syed Mamnun Quader, Managing Director & CEO, Southtech Group

8 February 2018

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This paper addresses the difficulties of estimating and budgeting software development projects for government entities in Bangladesh. Thereafter, it outlines a framework that practitioners in the IT Industry can use to arrive at their own estimation and costing depending on their internal processes and pricing strategies.

As this paper focuses on government projects, it is important to understand that certain constraints exist in government administration. It is highly important to understand these constraints to avoid errors of judgement. The primary constraints are:

(1) A budget has to be fixed before any project can be initiated, (2) Requests for budget are mostly not fully approved, e.g., where 500 workstations are required for realizing the full potential of automation, only 100 are approved resulting in partial fulfilment of automation benefits, (3) Lack of sufficient IT expertise within government entities during project scoping, (4) Usually during budget preparation, hardware is given a much higher priority and allocation of funding than software applications, whereas in reality the difficult and more costly part is in the development of bespoke software applications and data conversion, (5) There is always a weighting on the financial offer from the bidders and so all bidders try to be most competitive in terms of costing, (6) There is usually no arrangement of allocating adequate number of procurement entity personnel to engage during solution development, this is especially true during the time of requirement confirmation and data conversion. Architecting the data conversion process can become a huge hurdle and can become a more time consuming task than the development of the software itself, (7) Budgets mostly do not include the cost of departmental personnel required to take over the system when the project turns into “business as usual”, (8) Hiring IT professionals or consultants or even data entry personnel follows a separate departmental process which is mostly very time consuming, (9) Once an automation project is deployed after much struggle, many projects fall into disuse because of (a) lack of ownership (b) tenders mostly require financial offer to include post-implementation support up to a certain time but no further budget is allocated after contract expiry.

Realistically speaking, it will be very difficult to make significant changes to the above-mentioned Points 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 in the immediate future. However, the other points mentioned may perhaps be taken up by A2i and BASIS to bring about the necessary changes in the short to medium term.

In the context of the above, it is also important to discuss software development methodologies (e.g., waterfall, incremental, V-model, iterative, agile, etc.) where each methodology follows a particular life cycle and involvement of stakeholders in order to ensure a successful outcome.  Each of these methodologies has its own system development life cycle (SDLC) and software testing life cycle (STLC); I am assuming here that the STLC is incorporated in the SDLC process. Regardless of the methodology chosen, there are generally six phases in every SDLC, which are: (a) Requirements Gathering and Analysis, (b) Design, (c) Implementation or Coding, (d) Testing, (e) Deployment, and (f) Maintenance.

In government projects, the budgets are fixed before official tendering. Vendors are required to bid for projects with a financial offer and winning bidders are held responsible to complete the project within set deadlines and within their financial offer. Since every phase of the entire SDLC process has cost involvement, estimation and availability of financial and other resource at various stages of the project are vital for successful delivery. It should also be recognized that not all methodologies can be applied in government projects, e.g., agile methodology requires close involvement of knowledgeable project owners at the end of every 14 or 30 day sprints, a requirements almost impossible to fulfil currently. Most often therefore, scope and budget are difficult to reconcile.

Government departments usually have a mindset for the waterfall methodology. Their focus is to arrive at an “accurate” budget and schedule before publishing a tender. They normally believe that to do so, a “comprehensive” list of requirements has to be prepared without realizing that these requirements are actually very brief for the purpose of development and therefore each requirement branch out to many other requirements. Furthermore, the schedule is not based on how complex the project is but by the pressure imposed on them by high-ups to implement certain objectives within an arbitrary deadline.

Software practitioners know that determining the scope of a project is the most critical and time consuming exercise of the SDLC process. Technical architecture, component design, coding, testing, training, documentation and resource allocation at every stage of the project’s work breakdown structure (WBS) depend on this scope. Unfortunately, most projects are not properly scoped, even though it is a known fact that poor project scoping leads to spectacular project failure at worst or partial success at best.

As the remaining phases of the SDLC process are left to the vendor to complete without any mention of specific involvement of the procuring entity’s personnel at different stages of the SDLC process, costs can suddenly escalate unexpectedly and inordinate delays may result causing overall financial loss to the vendor. Furthermore, as the budget and schedule are “official”, any opportunity of refining the requirements or proposing re-engineering of processes to achieve better results, are not easily approved due to budgetary constraints, ownership issues and accountability concerns in the procurement entity’s chain of command. The absence of any Change Control Board (CCB) in government contracts often leads to scope creep (without proper remuneration) which has become the usual but unfair practice of the day. The escape route for vendors is therefore a tendency to compromise on the quality of deliverables to reduce costs.

Fixed price bids and contracts are bad ideas for both the vendor as well as the procuring entity although sadly that is how government contracts are structured at present. Procuring entities think that they are reducing the entity’s financial risk with a fixed bid, but the reality is that it forces them into a position where their money is almost always wasted and for the vendor it almost always motivates them to compromise the delivery quality due to the realities of the “iron triangle” comprised of scope, resource and timeline.

Given the state of the situation where the scope is not so well defined, one of the strategies that can be adopted is as follows:

  1. Ask as many penetrating questions as possible during the pre-bid meeting. From the answers received, one has to develop a model or framework of the solution sought and estimate the gaps in the procurer’s understanding, since many questions are not properly answered. Unless the person asking the questions has sufficient understanding of the domain, he or she is unlikely to extract enough information to determine the gaps.

  2. The major components of the deliverables should be identified and a high-level architecture designed with an estimate of the number of processes, user interfaces and reports of the software solution. The bidder may or may not include this cost in the final financial offer (this will depend on the bidder’s internal policy and the cost may not be recovered if the bid is lost). [Let us call this A]

  3. Determine which method of man-hour estimation you will apply (e.g., expert judgement, poker planning, COCOMO II, function point, etc.). For example if you choose function point estimation technique, estimate the minimum and maximum number of function points and multiply that with the internal costing of each function point of your organization (factors that come into play are the salaries, infrastructure cost and other overhead costs, etc.). This should give an estimation of the lower and higher boundaries of production cost of the solution under normal circumstances.  [Let us call this B]

  4. Estimate the time and cost that will be required to verify the understanding of the requirements as determined in Point 2 above with the user community of the procuring entity (when the tender is won). [Let us call this C]

  5. Add any other costs not related to production (outside the WBS). If the tender includes data conversion responsibility, then the huge time, effort, and cost must be added. [Let us call this D]

  6. Add your Organization’s Error Factor based on previous experience (this is a percentage of A+B+C+D+E). [Let us call this E]

  7. Add your own margin based on your policy / strategy. [Let us call this F]

Your financial offer should then be: A+B+C+D+E+F

As can be seen, the constraints and consequent methods adopted to overcome these constraints can lead to a “hit or miss” situation. Consequently many government entities and vendors have suffered enormously in the past. While procuring entities have often “imagined a QE II initially and got a dingy at the end”, many vendors have also come out much poorer with a feeling of “ছেড়ে দে মা কেঁদে বাঁচি”!


From the Land of the Thunder Dragon to the Land of Golden Fields

By Phurba Wangdi

Like a tiger waiting for its prey, I was awaiting for my flight to Dhaka on 24th of August. A whole new segment of life waiting for me to explore “Golden Bangladesh”. As I waited for my flight, I could feel the adrenaline rush through my veins.

The flight from Paro Intl. Airport to Hazrat Shahjalal Intl. Airport was very short, but it marked a milestone for me as it was my first visit to Bangladesh. It is not the flight that mesmerized me, but the place that I would be living for two months and eight days. Skipping all my flight details and arrival to Dhaka, I will start off with my first day at Southtech Limited.

Southtech is my first workplace and my first job as a programmer. Like a mother’s care, Southtech cared for me during my stay in Dhaka and provided me with the best possible working area. At first, I felt like an alien looking for a work place to explore. Later on, I was surprised with the work environment, where no one is considered as a senior or a junior, but treated as brothers and sisters. It is not your everyday cup of tea to see such a unique working place.  Southtech is not like other software companies that I know of. It is not like Google nor Microsoft, but it is on par with those companies. It is not the facilities that makes me say that, but Southtech itself makes me feel different. I always wanted to work for a company, where I would be given necessary attention to help me learn. During my stay there at Southtech Limited, I met people who always helped me in every aspect that I needed to work and learn. That helped me to grow as a developer, as well as a person. Southtech provided everything that a beginner would need to learn about work ethics.

Talking about my boss – I would not call him that but rather a guide who encourages and understands you. He leads the company by working together with all our colleagues. I had never come across a boss talking with his staff individually, but he changed my views on how senior management can be. I can’t get enough words to describe a man who is lot more then my words to begin with.

Bangladesh is indeed golden, for I can find different foods to taste, and explore the culture that I know little of. Except for the traffic, I love Dhaka.

Words cannot describe my gratitude to Southtech. It has provided me with a platform to learn and grow, and they have given me much more then I could have asked for. Learning starts but never ends and that is what Southtech has taught me. It is one of the most essential ethics I have learned as a person; something an employee should have. It’s hard to describe but I know I have grown as a developer and as an individual.

If you ever get to work with Southtech, I would say you are blessed.


Bitcoin: Past, Present and Future

By Ahmed Kabir Chaion

Product Specialist, Strategy and Relationships

Past

From the beginning of human civilization the concept of currency has evolved so much. Trade and commerce depended hugely on what both parties had to offer (material goods, services, etc.) for the transactions to happen; “Exchange”- a more appropriate term. Rice was exchanged for cloth and eventually cloth was exchanged for currency. Now fast forward to the 21st century, we not only have actual currencies but virtual and digital ones as well. A wide range of payment options have reduced the existing barriers of buying and selling regardless of the location or region. The power of technology has allowed us to entertain and utilize the latest form of currency called “Cryptocurrency”.

Present

bitcoinPaying for a cup of chocolate latte in the streets of China using a mobile app (Internet Banking, PayPal, etc.) would have been unrealistic to even imagine about a 100 years ago – now it’s a thing of the present. Such methods of technology not only fasten the transaction but also provides greater levels of security than conventional methods without costing additional fees.

Cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, created and stored electronically within the network. Each completed transaction gets added into a block of decentralized ledgers called the “Blockchain”. Once a transaction gets added to the Blockchain it becomes permanent and cannot be altered. Cryptocurrencies have no physical form as it only exists in the network. Bitcoin is the most common and widely used form of cryptocurrency among 700+ different Altcoin (alternate Cryptocurrency like Litecoin, Dogecoin, etc) types. With record-high exchange rates, (1 Bitcoin = 2730+ USD on 21 June 2017) Bitcoin now has created a hype that is enough for millions of users to sign up for a Bitcoin Wallet Account. Similar to the concept of WeChat Wallet (in China), Bitcoin is slowly progressing towards the wide acceptance in countries such as Japan. However, it is important to know that not all countries or states allow Bitcoin to be used legally as the supply of Bitcoin is not determined by a central bank. Here is the list of countries that have banned the use of Bitcoin:

country

Conceptually, Bitcoin is still new and there are so many unknown areas. The very basic requirement of Bitcoin is that the transactions need to be made over the internet and there won’t be any central authority to process each transaction. A single user can have as many identities over the network and those should be anonymous and can only be identified by their virtual identity. User identities are cryptographically hashed (takes an input or message and returns a fixed alphanumeric string; this string is called the hash value). Bitcoin is generated by “Miners” and unlike conventional digging of piles of dirt, the main job of the miners is to validate each and every transaction on the network by confirming them.

The miners usually look into the history of the transactions that is available in the network for anyone to see. They will confirm that the person who is sending Bitcoin had sufficient funds in their account historically and generate a specific hash value. This hash value will consist of the record date for the transaction and the miner’s proof of work. Thus making them entitled to a transaction fee (generated from this particular transaction) which is then stored to a specific database format known as the Blockchain.

Now the obvious question arises, “How do you control the supply of Bitcoin?” Well the first rule of Bitcoin is that there can only be a maximum of 21 Million Bitcoins generated. For the record, this number is yet to be achieved. Current trends suggests that this number may be reached by the year 2140 or earlier. The Bitcoin system supports fractional values down the eighth decimal (0.00000001). This smallest unit of Bitcoin is called a Satoshi, named after the individual or group of developers who referred to themselves as Satoshi Nakamoto, who are behind the concept of Bitcoin protocol. The process of new coin generation happens while rewarding miners for validating transactions. The reward amount decreases over time and eventually will be set to zero once the total number of coins issued (21M) has been reached. Similar to the upper limit in maximum number of coins there is also a limit in daily production of new coins. Enabling this limit on how fast and how many new coins can be generated, the Bitcoin system is effectively controlling the money supply.

Future

So what is the future of Bitcoin? Well, that is an interesting question to say the least. The advantages of using Bitcoin are:

  1. No third-party seizure

  2. No taxes

  3. No tracking

  4. No transaction costs

  5. No risk of charge-backs

  6. No risk of Bitcoins being stolen

On the other hand the disadvantages of using Bitcoin are:

  1. Bitcoins are not widely accepted

  2. Wallets can be lost

  3. Bitcoin valuation fluctuates

  4. No buyer protection

  5. Risk of unknown technical flaws

  6. Built in deflation

  7. No physical form

  8. No valuation guarantee

The growing number of users by the minute, more and more communities accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, trading of coins becoming a source of income for some and the entire concept has broadened in the past couple of years. We may see more and more countries end up banning cryptocurrencies and at the same time we may also see far greater use of cryptocurrencies that we haven’t yet thought of.

References:

  1. http://www.coindesk.com/price/
  2. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/financial-services/fintech/bitcoin-blockchain-cryptocurrency.html
  3. https://www.toptal.com/bitcoin/cryptocurrency-for-dummies-bitcoin-and-beyond
  4. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-23/pboc-is-going-digital-as-mobile-payments-boom-transforms-economy

Increased Importance – Cyber Security

By MD Fahim Alam

Account Manager, Strategy and Relationships

The increased number of automation in business environment is growing at a rapid pace with the evolving of new technologies which includes cloud computing, social networking, mobile applications, and interconnection with various networks for conducting various online business. The traditions role of IT professional and corporate infrastructure has to be stressed by rapid it advancement. This calls for a much secured data, network environment, and eminence architectural base for any software development.

The recent most common forms of breach has been Cryptolocker ransomware. As per a statistical report trend shows that 65% of the ransomware attacks were performed against SMEs. It is a form of virus that creates hostage situations for the organizations until a successful money transaction has been made. According to a publication of April Glaser the most recent attack was made to the giant television broadcaster HBO and claimed $7.5 Million. The hackers who allegedly seized 1.5 terabytes of data from the hit-making television network, released even more stolen loot, including script summaries for the next five episodes of Game of Thrones, as well as scripts and entire seasons of other HBO shows. The leak also included a month’s worth of emails from an HBO executive as well as what appears to be the contact list of HBO chief executive Richard Pleper, which the Guardian reported contained the personal phone numbers of Game of Thrones actors.

 

The best way to secure yourselves from such activities are:

  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone or via email unless you’re absolutely sure of whom you’re giving it to

  • Keep your software up to date

  • A password that’s difficult to crack, instead of one that’s easy to remember

  • Never click on links sent to you via email


Is AI going to do more harm than good?

By Syeda Wedad Quader

Consultant, Strategy and Relationships

Untitled

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is known to be a branch of Computer Science that aims to create machines that are as smart as humans. As technology is developing and becoming ubiquitous day by day, many things once considered good examples of AI are now not treated with the same level of awe. The best example of this is Optical Character Recognition (OCR). There are those who consider it as routine technology, while others defend its capabilities.

Regardless of this, AI is still evolving with it impacting industries such as the automotive industry, healthcare, manufacturing and many more. So, the question is, is AI going to do more harm than good? Industry leaders Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg seem to have extreme views on this. The former thinking AI is a threat to humanity while the latter believing that AI can only help humanity.

While we can leave them to lock horns on AI potentially killing or saving humanity, here are a few things we can put together ourselves. For the time being, AI can bring a lot more efficiency to the workplace. The manufacturing industry has already harnessed the powers of technology in their production lines but AI has the potential of allowing machines to assemble more complex items and make informed decisions on the fly. For example, sensors can identify faulty parts in the assembly line, with machines removing the part but also ordering another part to be manufactured through the cloud.

While the world suffers from unemployment, the healthcare industry will find itself even more understaffed than it is now. This means there will be a vacuum that will need to be filled. If machines are able to administer the right drugs in the right dosage by assessing the patient, it would significantly reduce the strain on an already stretched workforce.

Another application of AI can be in exploration. There are still many undiscovered parts of the world and space that we have not been able to reach due to the safety aspects of it for humans. However, if intelligent machines can be sent without having to worry about this, we are likely to know more about our surroundings and maybe even discover undetected resources.

However, while AI has many expected benefits, we’re still not out of the woods. There is actual worry that machines will not do as they are told. They may readjust the goals and objectives set by humans. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the machines will become ‘evil’, it just means that the outcomes expected by humans will not be delivered. This is what could lead to devastating results, especially in the automotive, transportation and healthcare industries.

While the benefits of smart factories and intelligent machines are boundless, this still means it could lead to severe unemployment in these industries. If machines become as smart as humans, the need for humans operating machines no longer exists. Machines will work even better than humans become they don’t need breaks or holidays. Additionally, if care homes and hospitals have robots caring for patients or robots teaching school children, there is no longer a demand for humans in those fields either. The risk of creating a dull, non-creative population persists.

If machines truly start taking decision for humans, we are likely to lose our ‘human touch’ – something bestowed upon us, something prized and treasured. Will the world depend on more advanced versions of ‘Siri’ to express feelings like love or hate? Will robots replace humans in more personal aspects of life, like marriage and child rearing?

It all really depends on governments and law-makers ensuring they safeguard humans first. Humanity has survived for thousands of years and we must ensure we do not lead to our own destruction. Laws should be put in place regarding how intelligent a machine will be allowed to become. As long as these safety measures are encouraged and enacted, the world can do with a bit more help of our robot friends.

References:


Demystifying Blockchain

By Ahmed Kabir Chaion

Product Specialist, Strategy and Relationships

The word “Blockchain” simply refers to blocks that are chained together. However, technically blockchains are ledgers of all transactions across a network (peer to peer) yet decentralized. What is cool about this concept is that the participants themselves can verify all these transactions. Conventionally a central certifying authority (a financial institution approved by a regulatory body) would confirm such activity whereas using this technology the processes can take place without having the need of such. Now the very first question that may come to your mind is that “isn’t this the first and foremost requirement to having a Financial Authority, to not only execute a transaction but also further manage it?”. Financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, investment companies, brokerage firms, insurance and mortgage companies etc. have established themselves, as a universally accepted mediums of financial activities. Now the inception of such a technology not only eliminates the need of essentially having to use these financial institutions (depending on the purpose) but also creates newer scope for technologies to evolve and possibly come up with a hybrid that can actually do so in the future. A humble request to my readers to not get confused with the idea that blockchain only deals with financial activities but the use of this technology goes beyond financial needs.

Demystifying Blockchain

Let us try to have a broader understanding of the entire process and how a single transaction takes place. So for starters, you need a peer to peer network and the participants (computers) are connected which we will title as ‘Nodes’. The network of nodes are the ones who validate the transactional activities and user status using an algorithm (process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations), especially by a computer. The transactions can essentially involve cryptocurrencies, contracts, records or other information based on the requirements. The first transaction is called the “Genesis Block” and all the transactions are listed in a chronological order. Once the verification process is over, the combination of transactions creates a block of data for the ledger. With the addition of this newly formed block into the existing blockchain the process is completed. Once added to the chain a transaction cannot be altered and becomes permanent.

So what are the benefits and risks of using such technologies? Being the obvious question at this point. Well starting from cost reduction to minimalizing the checkpoints, blockchain increases the overall transparency and creates the scope for accurate tracking as all the ledgers eventually becoming permanent. On the other hand, the overall acceptance of blockchain has constraints of possible regulatory implications and the challenges to be faced while implementing the technology. It is so complex that the risks may outweigh the benefits. The application of blockchain is definitely not limited to financial activities. A few possibilities (but not limited to):

  1. Automotive Industry: Fractional ownership can be managed of autonomous cars

  2. Financial services: Reduction of transactional costs with faster and cheaper settlement while maintaining complete transparency

  3. Voting: Votes can be cast using portable devices such as smartphone, tablet or computers resulting in immediate verifiable results

  4. Healthcare: Encrypted information about the patient’s health can be shared with providers without the risk of privacy breaches.

    Blockchain comes with endless possibilities. Even though it is mainly being used for cryptocurrencies but I personally believe this concept is going to prevail for a long period of time. As the leading giants are focusing on how to utilize this concept for different purposes that are not at all bound by legal implications, blockchain creates this immense scope for exploring the future in present time.

    References:

    1. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/financial-services/fintech/bitcoin-blockchain-cryptocurrency.html
    2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomgroenfeldt/2017/03/06/mobiles-blockchain-and-cryptocurrencies-can-expand-or-threaten-banking/#26fcfab05789
    3. https://www.toptal.com/bitcoin/blockchain-technology-powering-bitcoin
    4. https://datafloq.com/read/what-is-the-blockchain-and-why-is-it-so-important/2270

 


3 tips to become a highly successful individual at work and at home

by Syeda Wedad Quader

While there are many qualities and characteristics that make a person successful, there are a few things about association that are sometimes overlooked. Surrounding yourself with the right people both at work and at home can make a world of a difference in the kind of person you become. Being motivated and hard-working sometimes doesn’t make the cut if you’re working with ‘not-so-intelligent’ people.

3-tips

Though there is no secret formula to success or a definite routine to follow to become successful both personally and professionally, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  1. Associate yourself with smart people – your professional circle and your friend circle should consist of many different people but the one thing that should remain a common denominator is their intelligence. Smart people exude confidence and you get to share ideas with them. You are in a thriving environment with people who think out of the box and push the norms. This only helps you grow and think smart too. Associating yourself with unsmart people can lower your personal goals and limit your potential. Surround yourself with people who stimulate your thoughts and ways of working. Learn from them and teach them too.

  1. Compete with yourself – while competition around you might be fierce, you should always remember to challenge yourself. You should set realistic personal targets because no one knows you more than you know yourself. Others might work 50 hours longer or study double the amount of time you have but it could just be that you are more efficient than them. And even if they do work twice as long, your targets should be your own, because you know what you can take. Setting your targets based on others’ will significantly demotivate you and can even cause you to ‘miss the point’. Success is achieved not by beating someone else but by challenging yourself to excellence first. Understand your own potential, identify your own limits and set your own goals to overcome them.

  1. Do not find companionship with people who backbite or spread lies – spend time on doing productive things. While it is true that you must always find time to relax and unwind, always make sure the time you set away to unwind and relax doesn’t include these things. Also, never confuse networking with gossiping – they are two separate things. Your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances that you associate yourself with are very important in your life and the kind of people they are can somewhat shape you. Always surround yourself with people who speak the truth and those who constructively criticize. People who constantly see the worst in others will also always see the worst in you. You should associate with people who help you grow and who also teach you to see the good in others.

Associating with smart people can mean you see the world in a different light. They can open your eyes to opportunities and help you overcome problems. Self-assessment is indeed an important key to success. You need to know where you are and where you want to be – you can’t compare yourself with others. You have to be your own person. Participate in constructively criticizing others rather than backbiting about them. Speak the truth and be with those who do the same.


YOUR NEXT IT SOLUTION

by Mahzabin Chowdhury

 

Marketing and sales hypes are everywhere.  In this dynamic technology landscape, we are bombarded and overwhelmed everyday with ample number of IT choices. Selecting a software solution, be it a Financial Solution, Human Resources Solution, Enterprise Resource Planning Solution, Restaurant Management Solution or Point-of Sale software solution, is a challenging task.  Unless you are an IT geek, chances are there that you might end up spending a huge amount of money and dig up your own source of frustration.

Generally and traditionally, the selection process starts with a software requirement analysis, Request for Proposal (RFP) and identifying vendors. But does this process help to identify the right solution for you?  Not only that, through this process how do you tell which vendor will be trustworthy and provide you with consistent after-sales support and service?  It is important to have a game plan to choose your right software as well as the vendor that will work for your venture without breaking your bank.  So, how do you sort through all the choices that you are offered to and select your desired IT solution and vendor?

 

Let’s have a look at the factors to be considered while selecting your next IT solution vendor.

 

Know your software needs: Before you head out to the marketplace for vendor selection, identify your business challenges. The first step is to nail your real problems. Remember, these are the ones that you truly desire to see resolved and therefore needs to be pinpointed as accurately as possible. A vague set of requirements will only get you a vague solution. Therefore, gather your IT needs as accurately and articulately as possible. Once you have the big picture, you can now narrow your must-have list down and start looking for vendors.

cartoon

Know your budget: The next related step is to determine your budget for this solution. Always remember that you are paying for solving a real life problem and so you must establish a realistic cost associated with it. Going cheaper would often mean an unreliable solution and/or vendor. On the opposite spectrum, spending more than you need may often translate into procuring something that you may not even need. So, try to accurately predict your budget through looking at your problem areas.

Financial stability, expertise and reputation: When acquiring a software, be it expensive or not, it is mandatory to know that the software company is well-reputed, proficient and financially sound and will be around in the future.  You should consider their background and experiences (such as, number of years in the business industry, business trends, a good track record of successful completion of work, adequate staff members with required domain knowledge, credentials and certificates etc.). Client base and word-of-mouth are indicators of vendor reputation and their business strength. You should know the number of clients your vendor has, the size of clients and what other people are saying about your vendor in the industry.  Ask your vendor for references, if possible visit their client(s) to get a better understanding of the product.

Good assistance throughout the journey: During the technology partnership, you will be needing a lot of troubleshooting and software assistance. Therefore, know the vendor’s policies and practices regarding maintenance and support service, contract terms, service level agreement, user training, consultation and customization facilities.

Figure out the cost: Concerning the cost, you often hear businesses claim that budget is not a big deal, however, in reality, it becomes one of the prime factors that impacts your procuring decisions. Hidden costs! – always find out what the total cost of procuring will be. Make sure the price on the label is actually the final cost. Get all the necessary details and full cost of the software to get rid of any unwanted hidden and/or additional fees.

Last but not the least, keep an open mind and take your time to select your vendor.  Happy hunting!

 


Solar- powered Smart Phones

by Sourav Saha Ratul

Being an integral part of our lives, Smart phone brings a common problem “battery life crisis”. When you move out of your house for an average of 10-12 hours, you will certainly need to carry your battery charger along with you. But, the problem does not end here. For outdoorsy people, it is not always that easy to find a wall socket, right when your phone’s battery is about to drain out. Seems like the days of running after wall sockets are going to end pretty soon, with the evolution of transparent solar panel technology into the smartphone screens.

Solar Panel Smart phonePhoto source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3465946/Never-run-battery-Kyocera-concept-uses-solar-panels-screen-charge-phone-using-sunlight.html

According to Daily Mail, Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera has demonstrated a smartphone prototype, which features a solar panel in the smartphone screens. This solar panel device will add one minute of call time for every three minutes of sunlight charging. A French company SunPartner Group is bringing in these solar panel called Wysips. These solar panels will be less than 0.5 millimeter in thickness and as much as 90% transparent. The sunlight capturing component called Wysips crystal can soak up energy from sunlight. These transparent solar panels will not be an absolute alternative to the conventional charging system, but can provide enough support in emergency situation when there is no charger available.