SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

With the rapidly growing popularity of digital entrepreneurship and business process digitization, demand for software products is at an all time high.

Due to the accelerating demand, global competition, as well as other factors like the increased use of outsourcing, low development costs and faster time-to-market are quickly becoming top priorities over product quality.

 

“Why should I care?” you might ask.

If you are planning to, or already in the process of developing a software product, ignoring the quality side of the process can easily lead to wasting the entire development budget and severely hurting your business.

Throughout our work we’ve encountered many software projects that were struggling to move forward because the code base had gotten so unstable that it was difficult, or straight up impossible to develop further. In a few cases, more than 12 months worth of development investment would have resulted in an unusable product without intervention.

 

The goal of this article is to highlight the importance of maintaining high source code quality throughout the software product life cycle. We will talk about the possible effects of low-quality code on your project (and entire business) and list effective ways to ensure high product quality.

 

 

What does high source code quality mean?

To avoid being vague, first let us try to elaborate on what we mean by high source code quality.

High quality code means that your source code must perform well with regard to the following:

  • Optimization – The code is written in an optimized structure, meaning that it’s not overly complicated and convoluted.
  • Readability – The source code is easy to follow, standards of indentation and formatting are met, so that the code and its structure are clearly visible.
  • Maintainability – Signifies the efficiency by which the code base can be understood, repaired, or enhanced.
  • Compatibility – The software’s ability to properly run on all intended devices and operating systems.
  • Security – The code base is continuously being checked for vulnerabilities like malicious code that can be discovered and exploited by outside parties.
  • Understandability – The code is easy to understand for new developers in the future for increased time-efficiency.
  • Documentation – All-inclusive and up-to-date source code documentation is written throughout the project.

 

 

What does low-quality code look like?

Now that we’ve established what high source code quality actually means, you probably have an idea about what poor code looks like. If a code base is lacking in the qualities listed above, it is considered low quality.

To be more specific, low-quality source code:

  • is written in an unnecessarily complicated structure,
  • is difficult to read and understand for developers,
  • is difficult (and expensive) to maintain and develop further,
  • has compatibility issues with different devices and operating systems,
  • has easily exploitable vulnerabilities,
  • is poorly documented.

 

In our opinion, it’s a bad idea to wait to check the quality of your product’s source code before live release. By that point, fixing these issues becomes much more expensive and time-consuming than it should be.

This is why source code should be written following high quality standards in the first place. We talk about ways to achieve this in the sections below.

 

How does poor source code quality affect a project or business?

Technical debt is “a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.”

It’s pretty much the software development term for sweeping issues under the rug that you’ll have to deal with later. Constantly choosing the easy way out has real consequences for long-term projects. Too much technical debt can eventually cripple the development process entirely.

Technical debt has to be “paid” sooner or later. Even if you change development teams mid-way, the new team will have to deal with the extra work left behind by their predecessors.

Simply ignoring mandatory periodical maintenance and refactoring tasks also creates a lot of technical debt during long projects.

 

technical debt source code quality

Dilbert by Scott Adams

 

The symptoms of low-quality code only start to appear in later project stages, by the time software features are getting more complex. This only makes them more dangerous.

If developers don’t review the source code frequently, by the time they notice something’s wrong, it’s usually too late. Development tasks start to take longer to complete, bug fixes take up more and more of the team’s time, missing deadlines and prolonging crucial updates.

Spaghetti code causes even more headache if there is a decent amount of fluctuation in your development team. New developers will have trouble understanding the code base and it will take weeks until they can effectively contribute to developing it further.

Poor code quality also makes it impossible to predict how long it takes to add new elements without breaking others. This causes future development estimations to become highly inaccurate as well.

 

From a business perspective, software product development is an investment from which you expect a return – so just like any other. This return can come in the form of revenues if we’re talking about an SaaS solution, or cost savings and increased efficiency if we’re talking about software for internal, organizational use.

However, with a low-quality product that doesn’t sell, or effectively improve internal processes, your chances for a return drop significantly. In more severe cases, if the final product doesn’t reach live release at all, the development project can be considered a complete loss. This can mean multiple tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pointless spending, which can be crippling for most businesses.

If you can’t maintain an acceptable level of code quality, the “best case” scenario is that you’ll eventually get a working product, but at a much higher total investment cost.

Poor source code quality can also negatively impact customers’ perception of your product, and the whole organization. If a new release receives overly negative reviews from early users, it will take a lot of time and effort to win them over. While experience shows this isn’t impossible, it’s still better to prevent a fire from starting than having to put it out!

 

How can you ensure high code quality?

If you don’t have the necessary technical knowledge, it will be difficult for you to assess code quality without help from the development team. You’ll most likely only notice client-side issues related to speed, device compatibility and others directly affecting the user experience.

A good practice is to ask for frequent reports from the development team (sprint reports, release reports, etc.). These reports must contain the key project and code quality indicators. If you don’t have a technical background, ask the team to explain these indicators as many times as necessary.

If you still need help evaluating them, you can hire a third-party consultant who could even check the source code if necessary. If this is not an option, however, the development team must introduce their own quality assurance and code review processes for quality management.

 

Quality assurance

Quality assurance, or QA should be an essential part of the software development life cycle. Its goal is to validate the quality and functionality of the software before release, and make sure that the final product provides the best possible user experience.

Note: QA focuses on testing the quality and functionality of new product versions, not the source code directly.

However, quality assurance still plays an important role in detecting bugs and errors in the software before it gets released.

 

Here are a few widely-used types of quality assurance:

  • Usability testing – Checking if end users will be able to easily use and understand the software. Helps identify usability issues and improve user experience.
  • Compatibility testing – Verify that the software works perfectly on devices with various screen sizes, running different operating systems. In case of web applications, this includes testing cross-browser compatibility as well.
  • Functional testing – Checking whether the software works in accordance with feature specifications and business requirements.
  • Performance testing – Also known as load and stress testing. It means testing the robustness and stability of the software under extreme conditions.
  • Security testing – Systematically checking the software for exploitable vulnerabilities. Today there’s a whole separate field in IT specializing in security testing called Ethical Hacking.

 

Code review & analysis

Code review is also a kind of quality assurance activity, where a software developer checks if the written source code complies with coding conventions and style standards. It is also used to examine whether the best possible technical solution was used by the developers or not.

Apart from manual code reviews, there are also a lot of automated tools available for static and dynamic code analysis.

Code review is a process by which developers review each other’s source code. The two roles present in a peer code review are:

  • The author: the person responsible for developing the code being reviewed.
  • The reviewer: the person who is responsible for examining the code.

 

Some commonly used code review methods:

  • Over-the-shoulder reviews – When the author writes a code and simply calls the reviewer over to have a look at it.
  • Pair-programming – Two developers write code together at the same workstation.
  • Tool-assisted code review – Reviewers and authors use specialized tools designed for code review. The tools are used for collecting metrics, transmitting and displaying files, commentary, collecting files etc.
  • Email pass-around reviews – Most open-source projects used to prefer this form of code review. Here, the author emails complete files to reviewers. Reviewers then examine the files and suggest changes. It is rarely used today, mainly as an alternative if tool-assisted code review isn’t an option.

 

Apart from improved source code quality, code reviews also make it easier to train new development team members. In the long run, they lead to the team having a more consistent coding style overall, improving the whole development process as well.

For both larger and smaller code bases, your team will likely have to use automated code analysis tools as well. The difference between static and dynamic code analysis is already in their names.

Static code analysis tools examine the source code without executing it. Dynamic analysis is conducted while the code, or a part/unit of it (for example unit or integration testing) is being run. Code analysis tools help developers save a huge amount of time on fixing errors by identifying them in a matter of seconds.

 

Our own team mainly uses these code analysis tools:

  • Checkstyle – a static code analysis tool used in software development for checking if Java source code complies with coding rules.
  • StyleCop – a static code analysis tool from Microsoft that checks C# code for conformance to StyleCop’s recommended coding styles and a subset of Microsoft’s .NET Framework Design Guidelines.
  • PMD – or Programming Mistake Detector is an open source static source code analyzer that reports on issues found within application code.
  • CPD – or Copy/Paste Detector is PMD’s duplicate code detection for (e.g.) Java, JSP, C, C++, ColdFusion, PHP and JavaScript code.
  • ESLint – a static code analysis tool for identifying problematic patterns found in JavaScript code.
  • TSlint – static analysis tool that checks TypeScript code for readability, maintainability, and functionality errors.
  • ReSharper – a group of products that provides a series of features for Visual Studio developers including code analysis, refactoring, navigation, test runner, build runner, etc.
  • JUnit – a unit testing framework for Java often used in test-driven development
  • JaCoCo – an open-source toolkit for measuring and reporting Java code coverage.

For version control:

  • GitHub – one of the world’s largest software development platforms that provides hosting for software version control using Git.
  • GitLab – a web-based DevOps lifecycle tool that provides a Git-repository manager providing wiki, issue-tracking and CI/CD pipeline features.
  • Bitbucket – also web-based version control repository hosting service for source code and development projects that use either Mercurial or Git revision control systems.

 

So what should the development methodology look like?

There is no such thing as a perfect, one-size-fits all development methodology for all teams and all industries. The recommendations in this section are based on our own experience and preferences.

Note: While the main topic of this article is code quality, these development methodologies also focus on assuring the overall quality of the finished product.

We recommend using an Agile methodology based on Scrum or Kanban. Scrum in particular can be very beneficial for product owners to keep a close eye on the project’s progress. Frequent communication and product demos allow you to have a good overview of the newly completed features and even test them yourself.

This methodology also helps your team break down large and complex projects into smaller, more manageable chunks called sprints. These are 2 weeks long by default, and they contain a previously agreed-upon set of user stories and development tasks.

 

dedicated project manager scrum board

Scrum board example

 

As for team composition, QA experts and senior code reviewers should be integral parts of both small and larger teams. We also recommend to regularly include less experienced developers as code reviewers for training purposes. In these cases they must still be assisted by a senior colleague.

If you have to coordinate the work of multiple parties, a dedicated project manager can also be a valuable addition to the crew.

Here is an example of our own team’s composition for most projects:

 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all methodology. Copy-pasting the Agile manifesto for your team won’t be an ideal solution.

This is why we only recommend it as an outline for your process. It will be up to you and your team to optimize each aspect of the methodology to fit your organization and in-house team composition as much as possible.

We also do this sprint after sprint with our own clients, which is why we recommend it to others. For example, it might not make sense for a small team to hold daily stand-up meetings, if team members are working really closely together and they already know what everyone is working on at all times.

In these cases, it might be better to organize a single, longer weekly team meeting instead. It should also be examined whether sprint planning and retrospective meetings work effectively in their standard forms, or if they could be organized in a better way.

Most other aspects of this methodology can be optimized in similar ways as well.

 

To Summarize

While low code quality is rarely among the leading agenda during product management meetings, it is an increasingly important topic for businesses that rely on custom-built software to grow.

Apart from drastically increasing development costs and time – hurting profit margins -, low source code quality also negatively impacts customer satisfaction.

When it comes to software products, you only have a few seconds to form a positive first impression with users. If their first experience with your product is slow, clunky, or results in a crash or any kind of bad experience, you will need to invest a lot of time and effort to better their opinions.

Instead of having to put out the fires, prevent them by integrating coding standards, quality assurance and code review into your development process as early as possible. While it may just seem like extra work early on, it will most definitely save you a lot of headache and resources in the long run.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

The company’s CEO Nat Friedman announced on the 16th of March that GitHub has acquired NPM, the world’s largest software registry.

 

 

The npm Registry is a public collection of packages, open-source code for Node.js, front-end web apps, mobile apps, robots, routers, and countless other needs of the JavaScript community. The registry was created in 2009 to help JavaScript developers easily share packaged modules of code. Since then, it has largely contributed to the expansion of JS technology and its community as well.

GitHub itself is one of the world’s largest software development platforms that provides hosting for software version control using Git. Microsoft acquired the company back in 2018. At first, the developer community was concerned about the future of the platform and its open source projects.

Since then, Microsoft hasn’t done anything to risk losing the trust of the GitHub community. On the contrary, they have added new features to aid the community such as Actions and Projects.

Nonetheless, the same concern rises again now that GitHub has acquired npm. The largest one is that Microsoft now controls an overwhelming part of the JavaScript ecosystem, which has always been open source.

 

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Of course, the company promises to keep things the way they are and only improve on user experience and introduce new features.

In the announcement Friedman promises that npm “will always be available and always be free”. Their key focus after closing the deal will be to:

  • Invest in the registry infrastructure and platform. This is crucial because of the rapidly growing JavaScript ecosystem. They promise they will make the investments necessary to maintain speed, reliability and scalability.
  • Improve the core experience. Improve the everyday experience of developers and maintainers, and support the ongoing work. They also promise to introduce some bigger features, Workspaces and improvements to the publishing and multi-factor authentication experience.
  • Engage with the community. Engage with the JavaScript community to get ideas and help define the future of npm.

GitHub will be hosting a Reddit AMA to answer further npm-related questions in the coming days.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

There is a wide selection of cloud solutions available for businesses and individuals worldwide. Choosing the right solution may prove difficult if you aren’t familiar with frequently used cloud services such as IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and others.

This is why we are dedicating this article to clarifying the meaning, benefits, risks and common use cases for these popular cloud services.

 

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a service provides consumers with access to fundamental computing resources like processing, virtualization, storage and networks. IaaS solutions allow you to deploy and run arbitrary software such as operating systems and applications. The cloud service provider (CSP) controls and manages the underlying cloud infrastructure, but you have control over operating systems, storage and deployed applications.

 

Practical use and benefits of IaaS

Using IaaS solutions allows you to:

  • Avoid the high costs of buying hardware and setting up a new server infrastructure on your physical location
  • Access your files and data with higher security
  • Save several days or even weeks worth of time spent on setup and installation
  • Scale your computing resources up or down quickly, to meet your changing business needs

 

Potential risks involved with IaaS:

  • It can be more difficult to guarantee compliance with data management regulation. You must clearly establish accountability and control over sensitive information in your systems from day one.
  • Potential data loss is another risk when you choose to rely on a cloud service provider. It is essential to have a reliable disaster recovery plan in place to minimize the damage in case of an incident.
  • With the flexibility and accessibility of the cloud also comes reliance on the CSP. If your IaaS provider’s system goes down, so will yours. It is essential to check if they have a comprehensive recovery plan and policy in place before making your decision.

 

Dilbert by Scott Adams

 

IaaS Examples

Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, IBM Cloud, HP Public Cloud, Cisco Metapod, DigitalOcean, Linode, Rackspace

 

Who is IaaS for?

IaaS is a flexible solution that can be utilized by everyone who wants to manage software without having to worry about hardware. It is also a great choice for organizations that only need computing power on the short term, or for certain operations that require high capacity computing resources (e.g.: large batch processing).

 

Potential users of IaaS solutions:

  • Startups that are delivering a proof of concept, or require fast scaling within a short period of time.
  • SMBs that need a fast start and scaling without investing in too many resources in hardware.
  • IaaS is an ideal solution for Agile teams as well. It provides them with high flexibility while decreasing their reliance on corporate bureaucracy.
  • Also a viable solution for side/personal projects. Low-cost starter packages of CSPs allow anyone to set up an infrastructure quickly, without having to invest in physical systems.

 

What is PaaS?

Platform as a service provides a cloud platform allowing customers to develop, run and manage applications. As a customer, you only control the applications and data on the platform, while the cloud service provider manages operating systems, middleware, virtualization, servers, storage and networking.

 

Practical use and benefits of PaaS

Using PaaS solutions allows you to:

  • Reduce the costs involved with software development and deployment
  • Avoid the need of setting up additional server and storage space that would lie dormant once the development process is complete
  • Reduce the costs of managing software updates and maintenance
  • Achieve a faster time to market, greater speed and agility throughout the development process

 

Potential risks involved with PaaS

Same as with IaaS, you will also be susceptible to server malfunctions or compliance issues if you choose a dodgy PaaS provider. To be safe, double check accountability, control and disaster recovery principles and guidelines. Another potential issue worth mentioning is that these solutions require a very stable connection, and enough bandwidth to run smoothly at all times.

 

PaaS Examples

Heroku, Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, OpenShift, Force.com, Apache Stratos

 

Who is PaaS for?

Teams that need extra computing power without wanting to worry about operating systems, server administration, and associated costs (energy, acquisition, maintenance, human resources etc.). Organizations that experience frequent spikes in computing requirements, don’t have the resources or don’t want to manage IT infrastructure internally.

 

Potential users of PaaS solutions:

  • Development teams who need a highly scalable and flexible platform to manage their applications and data during projects.
  • High-growth businesses that would likely experience a higher ROI from scaling a virtual platform, compared to developing their own physical systems.

 

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  • Interesting case studies and news about IT innovation
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What is SaaS?

Software as a Service solutions are ready-made software products built on the cloud, and made available for customer’s use on a subscription basis. You can most often run this type of software as a web application without installing anything on your local devices. Everything, including applications and data, is stored and managed on the cloud. Chances are, you have already used multiple such software products. SaaS solutions are mostly available to use for a monthly or yearly fee, and they often have a more basic free-to-use option as well.

 

Practical use and benefits of SaaS

Using SaaS solutions allows you to:

  • Integrate new software solutions into your business processes quickly, without losing time and money on installation
  • Access applications and data from any location, at any time, on multiple devices
  • Let the software provider deal with hardware and software updates, removing this responsibility and workload from yourself
  • Scale your selected application by simply upgrading your subscription as your business grows, or more users need to access the software

 

Potential risks involved with SaaS

The lowest cost among other cloud solutions comes with the highest level of reliance on the software provider. Everything, including applications and user data is managed by the CSP, which can easily lead to privacy and data security compliance issues. Also, you often have to sacrifice customization for high accessibility, if you decide to use a ready-made solution. This can result in you subscribing to a software product that doesn’t serve your business as well as an in-house solution could.

 

SaaS Examples

Office 365, Semrush, Asana, Salesforce, Planning Pod, Dropbox

 

Who are SaaS solutions for?

Depending on their specific needs, anyone can benefit from the right SaaS. There is a wide range of applications available out there that provide solutions for businesses and individuals alike. SaaS are ideal for organizations that don’t want to invest into building their own in-house software solutions. They are also handy for individuals or freelancers who don’t have access to as many resources as enterprises.

 

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS – A Simple Comparison

Your choice of cloud services should coincide with your organizational needs and overall business plan. The core benefit of using any cloud solutions is the ability to digitize and scale your business in a much more time- and cost-efficient manner.

 

iaas paas saas comparison infographic

IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS

 

Read more about why you absolutely should digitize your business processes here:
7 Reasons Why You Need to Start Business Digitization Right Now

 

When should you run your server internally (on-premises)?

Having your servers set up internally can also carry significant benefits for your organization.

Most notably, you can guarantee a higher level of security and resilience compared to having external storage. Holding internal systems behind firewalls and backed up as part of a standard set of security procedures makes your data inherently more secure against external attacks.

Also, without using outsourced suppliers, you can guarantee GDPR compliance with much less difficulty.

Consider internal, external and even hybrid hosting options in accordance with your unique organizational needs. It is generally advised to host your software and data internally if you only use it internally. If you have to share your data with external parties (partners, customers, etc.), it’s typically best to host it externally.

Choose the hybrid option if you need to use data in-house and with outside parties as well. The latter is the case for most organizations today. Hybrid hosting guarantees them the optimal combination of security and collaboration.

 

Summary

Today’s IaaS, PaaS, SaaS solutions (and their different combinations) help you digitize and scale your operations faster than ever before. This also means that things can take a downturn just as fast.

Taking your business to the cloud requires careful planning, research and coordination. It is important to be familiar with CSP policies and procedures in  order to make use of their benefits and minimize potential risks.

We hope that this article managed to help you see the world of cloud services more clearly. Happy cloud diving!

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT Solutions

There are a ton of reasons why a project can suffer, including poor planning and execution, or a lack of coordination. You can avoid project failure by deciding to hire a dedicated project manager. He or she will enable you to reap the promised benefits of the project.

Companies invest a considerable amount in projects to upgrade systems, develop new applications, or to roll out strategic initiatives. However, sometimes the development teams dedicated to these projects fail to deliver the desired results. This tends to happen more often in case you are working with an offshore development team.

 

What is the role of a dedicated project manager?

If you have hired an offshore development team, successful collaboration between it and your on-site team is crucial for achieving success in projects. For that, you need proper planning, clearly defined goals, and effective communication. If you also hire a dedicated project manager, they will make sure that all the requirements are met. They have the skill set to plan, organize, execute, and bring the project to a close.

 

dedicated project team

 

Dedicated project managers also play a vital role in improving the performance of the team. They make sure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, and the goals of the project. Not only that, but they also regularly monitor and assess the team’s performance.

There is no one right project management methodology for all cases. There are plenty of options to pick from, and the dedicated project manager selects the approach based on the specific requirements and scope, so that it doesn’t fail to deliver the expected results.

Additionally, as the onus of the project’s success is on the project manager, you are free to focus on other aspects of your business.

 

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Let’s take a look at how a project manager ensures that the projects are completed on time and on budget. They:

  • Create a clear vision.
  • Provide a framework for the project-related tasks.
  • Identify resources needed to achieve project goals.
  • Set milestones, gauges progress, and ensures they are achieved.
  • Coordinate activities between different team members — offshore team and onshore team; and mediate if there is a conflict.
  • Motivate team members.
  • Identify potential risks that are present throughout the project’s lifetime, assess them, and proactively respond.
  • Keep work on the track.

 

What to Look for When You Hire a Dedicated Project Manager

Dedicated project managers must possess the ability to oversee complex processes and break them up into smaller, more easily manageable chunks. For this they have to understand the role and objectives of each work group (designers, developers, quality assurance testers, etc.).

Of course, each task must also be communicated in a clear and precise manner. Expert communication skills are essential for every dedicated project manager. The ability to write concise and easy-to-understand project descriptions is a must-have as well. It is also very beneficial if your project manager speaks multiple languages. because internationally distributed teams are quickly becoming the new norm.

Communication skills are especially crucial if your team is working as a supplier for a group of clients. In this case, the project manager is usually also tasked with communicating with clients directly, presenting the results and handling issues or complaints.

Knowing how to use all of the most popular project management tools shouldn’t be an absolute requirement. These tools (we mention a few of them below) can be picked up relatively quickly for anyone with a basic affinity for using software. However, having some experience with a few of them can help speed up the onboarding process.

 

dedicated project manager cta

 

A Few Project Management Tips

As the business environment is changing fast and there is high uncertainty, companies can no longer take their time to complete a project. Every business has to work with limited resources, and employees often handle more than one responsibility. So, how do you defy the odds and become a successful organization? A competent and resourceful project manager can make a big difference and help manage projects effectively.

Here are some suggestions for selecting tools and methodologies:

 

Project Management Methodology

An adaptive project framework can be the best approach today, as it continuously adapts to the changing circumstances of each project. It allows you to change the project’s scope. Moreover, as the projects progress in iterative stages, the team can evaluate the previous performance at the end of every stage. Based on the evaluation, they can improve their performance.

We recommend using Scrum or Kanban project management methodologies most of the time.

Scrum is a project management framework that breaks up longer development processes into two-week periods (or sprints). After completing each sprint, the progress is demonstrated to the product owner, who can then give feedback and make adjustments to the project if necessary. Close communication and constant inclusion of the Client makes the project much more likely to stay on course and deliver positive results.

Here is how dedicated teams usually visualize development tasks with Scrum:

dedicated project manager scrum board

 

Unlike Scrum, the Kanban approach is not iterative, so it allows the software to be developed in one large development cycle. This cycle has no predefined end point. The software requirements get broken up into smaller work items, which then enter the development process in a prioritized order. A work item is not allowed to move on to the next phase until some capacity opens up ahead. This approach is more useful if fixed time frames aren’t sustainable for the project.

This is how teams visualize development tasks with the Kanban Method:

dedicated project manager kanban board

 

As you can see, in Kanban, tasks are carried out in a specific order.  New tasks have to be added at the end of the Backlog queue, and they will be executed in order.

This is not possible in Scrum, because once a set of tasks in a sprint gets defined and approved, tasks cannot be added or modified. New tasks must be added to the upcoming sprints instead.

 

Voice Communication Tools

For excellent teamwork, effective communication is essential. With voice communication platforms such as Skype and Google Hangouts, which offer audio and video group calls, remote team members can easily plan, communicate and work as a cohesive group.

 

Chat & Messaging Apps

Slack, Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace, the group chat tools, enable distributed dedicated teams to collaborate successfully. WhatsApp, the cross-platform messaging and VoIP service, also lets the team members to plan, organize, and share work updates.

 

Task management

Leveraging task management software such as Asana, JIRA, and Confluence, the startup’s team members can manage, organize, and track the progress of project-related tasks.

 

If you need help deciding which tools to use to track and carry out your project management tasks, have a look at this list of the best software development tools for project management.

hire a project manager cta

If you would like to learn more, read about our approach to dedicated project management here.

 

More useful Agile project management advice and resources:

Overcoming Communication and Cultural Challenges

Overcoming Challenges During the Work Process

Overcoming Challenges with Day-to-Day Operations

Overcoming Challenges from a Lack of Experience

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

Code review is a process by which developers review each other’s source code. Peer code review not only makes a better code but also makes better teams.

The two roles present in a peer code review are –

  • The author: A person who is responsible for developing the code being reviewed.
  • The reviewer: He is the person who is responsible for examining the code.

 

Commonly used forms of peer code review

 

Over-the-shoulder code review

In this type of review, the author writes a code and calls the reviewer over to have a look at it.

Benefits

  • Easy to implement
  • Fast to finish

 

over the shoulder peer code review

 

Email pass-around reviews

Most open-source projects prefer this form of code review. Here, the author emails complete files to reviewers. Reviewers then examine the files and suggest changes.

Benefits

  • Works with remote software developers
  • Easy to implement
  • Easy to involve other people
  • Doesn’t disturb reviewers

 

Pair-programming (review)

In this form of code review, two developers write code together at the same workstation.

Benefits

  • Effective at promoting knowledge-transfer and spotting bugs.
  • The reviewer is very close to the code and can provide a detailed review.

 

Tool-assisted code review

Reviewers and authors use specialized tools designed for code review. The tools are used in all aspects of the peer code review: collecting metrics, transmitting and displaying files, commentary, collecting files etc.

Benefits

  • Automated file gathering
  • Workflow enforcement
  • Automated metrics collection

 

peer code review cta

 

Why do you need to devote time for code reviews?


HIGHER CODE QUALITY

While QA testing is absolutely essential to improve the performance of your final product, code reviews are just as important. Source code reviews guarantee a higher quality code base. Not only do they improve software performance, they also allow you to expand your product and add new features much more easily in the future.

Higher code quality also leads to less time spent in handling technical debt and resolving errors. Technical debt, also known as code debt, is the expense a software company pays out due to poor development processes within its existing codebase. These debts should be resolved as quickly as possible.

Codacy conducted research and found that software developers spend about 26% of their time working on technical debt and on fixing bugs. According to the same research, code reviews have the greatest impact on the quality of the code, followed by coding style and standards and testing.

 

REDUCED COSTS

The earlier a bug is spotted the less it will cost to resolve it. Discovering and resolving errors at the early stage of development is relatively less costly as compared to the expensive process of bug fixing happening at the advanced stages of software development. An external reviewer can quickly and easily spot mistakes made by software developers.

 

IMPROVED DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

In addition to fixing bugs and improving software quality, code review improves your software development processes and the team as a whole.

 

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TRAINING NEW, LESS EXPERIENCED DEVELOPERS

Code review helps development teams train new developers and familiarize co-workers with other modules. The process of code review encourages the sharing of ideas across the team and provides an opportunity for new developers to acquire skills and improve their code’s performance. These younger developers also get an opportunity to sharpen their skills and become experts in their field. The reviewers also get to learn new ideas and techniques from the code they are reviewing.

 

BETTER ESTIMATES

Code review helps in sharing of knowledge between the reviewer and the author. The reviewer is quite familiar with the known issues in the code base and the complexity of the project. Therefore, the development team members get to know the product in detail and the software developers learn to make better estimates of the future work from the reviewer.

 

CONSISTENT CODING STYLE

Code review enforces a consistent coding style throughout a software project. This makes the code readable by developers who might have joined the project at any given time during software development.

While this might seem like a trivial matter, you can save a ton of time and resources on the long run if the source code is easy to read. This is especially crucial if we are talking about a huge code base.

peer code review coding styles

To Summarize

Peer code review should be an integral part of every software development process. Apart from fishing out errors in time, your team will also learn to work together more effectively. Less experienced developers can also learn a lot from their senior colleagues during this process.

Choosing which method you’ll use depends on your preferences and team setup. The important thing is to start implementing reviews into the development process as soon as possible.

If you would like to learn more, read about our team’s approach to conducting code reviews.

In here we talk about our process, what tools we use and what are the most crucial aspects during reviews.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

Dedicated TeamBY RabIT Solutions

With the rapid development of communication and project management technologies, the popularity of remote business cooperation is also on the rise throughout the globe. Today, you can outsource business processes easier than ever before. Be it offshoring or nearshoring you are after, there is a plethora of new tools and platforms that you use to set up a working partnership within just days. This can work really well for more simple business processes like copywriting or graphic design projects. However, when it comes to complex work processes, there is a need for deeper involvement from both parties. This is where outsharing comes in.

Outsharing stresses on working partnerships and encourages collaboration. An outsharing partner thoroughly examines your business case, reads beyond the specification lines and suggests optimization solutions. They focus on value whether it’s designing and creating new functionality, optimizing the processes, or improving the user experience.

Over the past few years, outsharing has been gaining in popularity. Many companies consider outsharing to be the next level of outsourcing software development. It is believed that in the coming years outsharing will replace outsourcing.

 

Reasons for outsourcing

Outsourcing can provide solutions to software companies and businesses anywhere in the world. Depending on where you live, you can save about 70% on hourly rates by outsourcing software development to development shops or freelancers. When you outsource your work, you don’t need to go through long and costly hiring processes.

You only need to look out for the quality of the companies’ previous work. You get access to talented and skilled labor at a low cost during outsourcing. That’s why businesses and companies consider outsourcing development in the first place.

Outsourcing partners hire talented people in their team who know how to manage different business situations. They understand how a company’s goal can be attained. External service providers are fully aware of the latest technology of the industry and are capable of providing their clients with the best services at a much faster rate.

Most importantly, outsourcing allows you to focus on the core of your business processes or invest in research or marketing.

 

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Risks associated with outsourcing

No doubt, there are numerous benefits of outsourcing internal business processes to professional outsourcing companies. However, it has its own set of flaws. There are many risks associated with outsourcing, such as potential cybersecurity attacks, poor communication, lack of cross-cultural awareness, misuse of sensitive corporate information, insufficient product quality, and management difficulties due to a lack of centralization.

Most businesses fear a lack of direction and authority when an outsourcing company is doing their work. Company personnel loses control over their own process and technologies when certain services are outsourced. The consequences can be fatal or serious. Contractual disputes can occur or the quality may suffer.

Many outsourcing companies do not bother to understand their client’s product vision and strategies. Their involvement in the product development is limited to delivering the code that matches the list of specifications. Many of these clients don’t get the product they envisioned and the quality they deserve.

Keep in mind that it is very important to choose the right outsourcing partner. Engaging with the wrong outside service provider could cost your business in terms of performance, productivity, employee morale, and financial outlay.

Read more about the most common reasons why outsourced software projects fail.

 

What exactly is outsharing and is it better than outsourcing?

Outsharing means having an equal remote partner, who is completely involved in realizing the client’s product vision and helping them reach their strategic goals. Outsharing partners not only deliver code but also function as a remote Chief Technology Officer.

They offer well-reasoned and valid opinions about your product roadmap and enlighten you on how to reach your goals and objectives in the most effective manner. Outsharing partners will also tell you about new technologies that are worth adopting for your company. They also have the soft skills to build strong relationships with their clients.

Outsharing partners need to share the same product vision, and truly understand each other’s organization. Both parties need to invest time and effort and communicate openly. Keep in mind that open communication is essential to remote business success. You should encourage your outsourcing partners to share their concerns and ideas, both negative and positive. This will give them the sense that they are valued. Ineffective communication, on the other hand, can easily lead to project failure.

Outsharing is necessary to develop and create complex technology solutions and products that make life better and easier. It is for companies that want constructive expert input and deeper involvement from their outsourcing partner.

 

To sum it up

If you have concerns about the risks that are associated with traditional outsourcing, outsharing could be your solution. Think about your outside IT service provider more like a strategic business partner. By gaining full access to their unique perspective and technological expertise, you can gain even more value than you would from an in-house IT department. The principles of outsharing help you gain more and more value over the long term instead of focusing on the completion of single projects.

If any of this sounds appealing to you, we would love to talk more about the topic. Visit our website and feel free to drop us an email with your questions. Thank you for reading!

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

Today we are all users of many different software products, websites and applications. We all know the frustration of trying to stumble through poorly designed, clunky user interfaces. We also how easily they can make us rage-quit them after the first few tries. From these experiences we all know why usability testing is important, but to understand the whole process, we need to start right from the beginning.

Usability testing involves observing and recording the behavior of test subjects who are assigned to complete a set of tasks on your app, website, or other software product. The testing helps you to know whether your site works and how to improve it.

 

There are some elements involved in the usability testing process. These are:

Participant: The participant will perform the activities for which you want to test your software.
Usability tester:  The job of the usability tester is to explain the participants their role and the tasks they have to complete during the test, and pay them when they finish their task.
Shared screen:  Screen sharing software can make the test much more effective. You can easily include the product team into the usability test without stressing the participant. Further, executives will get to know how users see the product or company website.
Recording software: With recording software, you can record the test and analyze it later. It allows the usability tester to focus more on the testing process.
Pre-written usability testing script: It helps you walk the participants through the test smoothly.

 

Make the usability test process as time- and cost-efficient as you can by planning each step of the process in detail. Keep in mind that a detailed script will help the tester to effectively explain the tasks and process to the participant. Most importantly, users should know that they are not being tested, you are testing the software.

The usability tester should not influence the user’s actions in any way. They have to solve their problems and find the solutions on their own. The main work of the usability tester is to provide information about the tasks and the usability testing process. He or she should encourage the participants to actively share their opinions and thoughts. Participants need to be vocal about their thoughts.

Know that the participants may feel frustrated when they are not able to find the solutions right away. When the users reach a level of frustration where they want to leave your website and search elsewhere for solutions, your site fails the test.

Have a meeting with the responsible team after the usability test. Based on the results of the usability test, choose the top three problems that need to be addressed. You need to resolve these issues this month and after one month, repeat the complete process.

 

why usability testing is important

 

Is there a difference between usability testing and user testing?

Sometimes, usability testing is confused with user testing. Usability testing and user testing are two different approaches to reaching different goals. User testing involves interviewing your target audience to determine market demand for your service or product.

Usability testing is also different from focus group testing. In focus group testing, you learn about the experiences and opinions of a group of users regarding your website or product.

Usability testing, on the other hand, is more about seeing if users can understand or use your website or product with common sense. You can choose anyone to be a test subject who views your website with a fresh eye and provide useful information about ease of use. Beginning usability testing with your family members and friends is a good way to get a new and fresh perspective.

 

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Tools for Usability Testing

Usability testing tools are essential to the success of your website. Here are some tools that can help you conduct usability tests.

Optimizely

This A/B testing platform allows users to track visits as well as conversions. Optimizely offers many features such as visitor segmentation, mobile website testing, multivariate testing, and cross-browser testing. The basic plan is free of cost. However, if you want some extra features, you need to pay for them.

 

Crazy Egg

You can use the tool for 30 days as a free trial, and after that, you have to pay $9 per month. Crazy Egg offers a number of features such as heatmap, scrollmap, confetti, and overlay.

The Heatmap allows you to see where each visitor has clicked on your website. With Scrollmap, you will get to know how far down on the web page a user has scrolled. The Confetti gives you valuable insights regarding visitor sources, search terms etc. The Overlay helps you to know the number of clicks each element on your web page is getting.

 

Five Second Test

UsabilityHub operates this tool. Five Second Test captures a visitor’s first impression of the site. You can run a test in seconds. The process is easy and includes

1. Uploading a mock-up of the web page or uploading a screenshot with a question about the design or functionality included.

2. Five seconds are given to testers to view the web page. After that, they are required to answer the question given.

3. The responses of the testers are then compared.

The paid plans cost about $20 per month.

 

 

Now that you have a clear understanding about why usability testing is important, you can make the first steps to integrate it into your development process. There is no such thing as too early to start usability testing. Be it your new website, blog, mobile app, or custom software, it is always recommended to collect first-hand information about the way the end user sees your platforms as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading!

Other ways to collect early user feedback for your product: Which Type of MVP is Right For Your Business

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT Solutions

The methodologies used in an Agile development process follow the Agile Manifesto. The Agile Manifesto is a guideline that is based on continuous improvement, the input of the team, flexibility, and the delivery of results with good quality.

Although the principles of Agile are well-defined, companies that have nobody with Agile experience will most likely face many challenges while adopting these methodologies. They should not try to adopt an Agile development process word for word. Instead, they should experiment and create a version that best meets their projects, clients, team members, and organizational structure.

 

Resolving budgeting problems

Unplanned or poorly defined product requirements can easily make a project run out of money and time. This can give rise to conflict between the development team and clients.

Clients say that the development team failed at estimating time and money for tasks. The development team, on the other hand, says that the unplanned tasks were not on the initial list of requirements.

Actually, it’s the mix of both. Clients did not talk about important details while communicating their requirements. If one can’t communicate important details to other people, it makes their jobs more complicated. At the same time, the developers do not have the same level of in-depth knowledge into the client’s industry. That’s why they were not able to estimate these requirements.

Understanding the client’s business is key to collecting requirements effectively. Knowledge of the business of the clients will allow you to form a positive professional relationship with them.

To resolve the budgeting problems, communication between the clients and developers should be improved. Unplanned tasks will not come up if more detailed information is shared.

You should stay away from fixed budget projects. Accept such projects only if the initial requirements are well-defined and documented to the letter by a very experienced expert.

 

Do not allow outside people to estimate project size

Do not allow inexperienced product owners or SCRUM masters to estimate the size of the project. They are inclined to present an unrealistic version to stakeholders to make the estimation more appealing. This creates problems for the team later.

Also, avoid allowing individuals outside the team to estimate for the developers. The members of the development team absolutely have to be included into the estimation process.

 

Use performance metrics to measure your team’s performance

Use performance metrics (Velocity, Estimated Complexity) to monitor the efficiency of your development team throughout the Agile development process.

Velocity, which is a key metric in Scrum, helps to measure the progress of your team. You should pay attention not to inflate tasks only to increase your agile team’s velocity. Organizing every small change into separate tasks will mean that your team completes more tasks, but your team’s velocity metric won’t show real progress.

 

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Make the daily stand up meetings effective

Hold daily stand up meetings with discipline. Do not keep meetings too long. Keep them short and focused. Give one minute to each member of the team to speak. If you want, you can also organize separate stand-ups for SCRUM team leaders. Keep in mind that each meeting is an opportunity to resolve problems, improve focus, set direction, create alignment, and move goals and objectives forward.

 

Develop your own solutions

View the Agile Manifesto only as a set of guiding principles to enhance your software development processes. There is no need to implement them in exactly the same way. Use these guidelines to develop your own solutions.

You will need to do a lot of experimentation. You should assign the person who has the most experience working with your clients, development team, and methodologies the task to create the first version of your new Agile methodology. This, together with every later iteration, should be customized to meet the requirements of your clients and company.

For example, decide the number of meetings according to how efficiently the development team interacts. If the meetings do not result in the exchange of important information, reduce the number of meetings. Use email and Slack instead. You should customize every individual work element of your new Agile methodology in the same way.

With all said, you can still follow Agile methodologies word for word. Odds are, you will be much better off if you find a solution that fits you and your clients best.

 

More helpful resources about the Agile development process:

Overcoming Communication and Cultural Challenges

Overcoming Challenges During the Work Process

Overcoming Challenges with Day-to-Day Operations

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

IT ProcessBY RabIT Solutions

The development team is the heart of any Agile software development process. It takes the idea of the product owner and converts it into a product that creates value and meets a pressing need. The development team is involved in the process of developing the software product and ensuring its quality.

Often, they face issues and challenges with Agile methodology such as planning and executing tasks and flow of information and overcoming those issues can yield big results.

 

Too many meetings wreck productivity

Agile should not involve too many meetings. Fewer meetings allow your developers to concentrate on doing the actual work. Meetings should be designed carefully to increase the productivity of developers, not the opposite.

An unplanned meeting can become confusing and messy and can hamper the development work. The efficiency of the sprint can be greatly affected by having too many meetings.

Developers are often inclined to spend time during meetings talking about work instead of actually writing code. You should decrease the length and number of meetings and allow an open flow of information outside of these meetings.

Go for Ad-hoc communication as it is more effective than organizing 4-hour meetings to discuss the finished work. Flexibility and robustness are the benefits of this system.

 

Complex software development tasks should be broken into smaller doable tasks

Unplanned issues and tasks can be easily handled if the complex issues are broken down into doable small tasks. During sprint planning, assign work to your employees that they can complete in one day.

Include your quality assurance team into the sprint planning process. If you can calculate the time spent on QA testing and fixing new issues, you will able to meet important deadlines. Meeting deadlines every time is a foundation of a successful business.

You can use Estimated Complexity as an indicator to know the approximate time you need to finish a particular task. One Estimated Complexity equals 4 work hours.

Also, include the approximate work hours for quality assurance testing and resolving potential problems that come up. This will definitely increase your software development efficiency.

 

Poor flow of information decreases organizational productivity

Share information with others in enough detail. Avoid giving out brief instructions. Be aware of the fact that not everyone will understand instructions that are not well defined.

Remember to send out even the easiest tasks with as much detail as possible. This will help your developers to complete the task correctly. Formulate the instructions in such a way that an outsider who knows nothing about the project would understand them. However, you should check for understanding even after giving detailed instructions.

 

The following example will help you understand the concept.

INCORRECT – Insert the charts that we talked about into the middle of the analytics dashboard.

CORRECT – Insert Chart A, Chart B, and Chart C into the analytics dashboard as specified in Task[89], directly after the visitor analytics table.

 

To implement features of a product correctly during software development, make specifications as clear as possible. Features will not be correctly implemented in case of unclear specifications. The faulty features may even make it to release without a second round of review.

 

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Encourage employees to seek help when they need it

Encourage your development team to ask for help from your company’s senior technical leaders or trusted outside consultants if needed. Some developers discuss their work problems only with other members inside their own team. If they didn’t get the solutions, they try to resolve the issue themselves. In doing so, they may miss their deadline and fail to complete their task on time.

You should reward those who seek advice from technical leaders and the senior people. Make your developers understand that taking help of others is not a sign of incompetence or weakness. The development team should trust their senior experts. Everyone should work together to reach the same goal.

 

More helpful resources about challenges with Agile methodology:

Overcoming Communication and Cultural Challenges

Overcoming Challenges During the Work Process

Overcoming Challenges From Lack of Experience

 

Thanks for devoting your time to reading this article. If you have any unanswered questions regarding challenges with Agile methodology and software development projects, feel free to ask them during a free consultation.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

Dedicated TeamBY RabIT Solutions

For many software companies and organizations throughout the world, outsourcing or contracting out development has proven to be a huge success. Cost-efficiency has been among the main reasons to outsource software development, but company leadership around the world is beginning to focus more on other benefits as well. Outsourcing some of the functions also helps companies to minimize their internal costs and concentrate on their core competencies.

If you’ve already decided that you want to work with a software development outsourcing provider, here is some advice that can help you find the best development partner for your business, or read this step-by-step guide on how to successfully outsource software projects.

 

According to a survey carried out by Statistic Brain, about 43% of companies in the United States contract out programming jobs. Chief executive officers and chief technical officers from organizations based in the US participated in the survey. The survey found the following reasons that inspire organizations to outsource software development:

  • Reduction of cost – 44% of respondents
  • Gaining access to the IT talent unavailable internally – 34% of respondents
  • Freeing up employees – 31% of respondents
  • Improvement of the business and customer focus – 28% of respondents
  • Acceleration of the digital transformation – 22% of respondents
  • Fast software development – 15% of respondents
  • Access to the management expertise unavailable internally – 15% of respondents
  • Reduced time to market – 9% of respondents

According to the top management, reduction of cost is still on the top of the “reasons to outsource software development” list. However, other reasons are also important to achieve long-term company goals.

 

Other reasons to outsource software development

 

Addition of new skills

It is best to choose external providers who have a proven track record of success for software development projects that need complex skill sets. Complex skills require more concentration and are not so easy to perform. Many organizations and companies do not have these skills readily available in-house. External partners help software development companies to build highly advanced solutions with the newest technologies.

 

Access to exceptional engineers

Exceptional talent is always in demand. Companies may find difficulty in recruiting skilled engineers. They have to put in a huge amount of hiring effort or take the help of external partners to form an outstanding team. A leading outsourcing provider can help such organizations and software development companies to get access to talented engineers.

 

More efficient development processes

External developers can help a company make their software development processes more efficient and better. They have in-depth knowledge of agile methodologies, design patterns, and best practices and can offer tools and valuable advice for meeting your organizational goals.

 

Thinking outside the box

External members adopt new approaches and use out-of-the-box thinking to create great software products. They will give new perspectives that can bring about positive changes to your business. Their thoughtful feedback and innovative ideas will help you improve your software development project.

 

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Reduced time to market

Skilled domestic developers are not only expensive but also hard to find. That’s why you should consider outsourcing the task to an external partner. Software outsourcing can help reduce your time to market and ensure your product reaches the market efficiently and fast.

 

Acceleration of the digital transformation

Gaining access to a team of external developers can help you to skip the tiring and long recruitment and training process. You will also be able to digitize business processes and accelerate development to reach the target market as quickly as possible.

 

reasons to outsource software development

 

Free up workforce

Giving the simple but crucial tasks to outside developers will free up your employees and allow them to devote more time to critical tasks that are essential for the growth of your business. You will also be able to utilize the full knowledge of your talented engineers on new complex projects.

 

Improved business and customer focus

Recruiting an external project manager can free up your organization’s management and allow them to concentrate more on important activities instead of day-to-day activities.

Management will be able to concentrate on corporate strategy and develop a more customer-focused way of doing business. It is important to note that improving customer focus is essential to business success and growth. To ensure customer happiness, you should place their interests above everything else.

 

Summary

There are probably a lot more reasons to outsource software development. Together with cost-efficiency, all these benefits add true value to outsourcing relationships. Like any highly specialized service provider, industry-leading software companies can give you access to a whole new level of knowledge and expertise, that would be otherwise out of your reach.

If you would like to enhance the digital growth of your own organization and would like to find out if we are the right fit, you can schedule a free consultation here. Thanks for reading!

 

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.